Weighing Brizard's Proposals

This morning's news includes stories about expanding magnet and all-day kindergarten programs, whether the new disciplinary and community engagement policies will work, and the new curfew, among other things.  Check it out and let me know what I missed or what's important.

CPS chief promises more magnet, all-day kindergarten programs Sun Times: The magnet schools expansion represents a $5 million investment to reach an additional 2,300 students at both new and current magnet schools, Brizard said.

More tolerance in new CPS code of conduct WBEZ: Chicago Public Schools has adopted a new student discipline policy that one parent group says moves the district a step away from zero tolerance.

CPS updates policy on dealing with head injuries Tribune: Hoping to keep student athletes who may have suffered a concussion off the field until they get a medical clearance, Chicago Public Schools has approved a new policy for dealing with head injuries.

CPS Expanding Full-Day Kindergarten CNC:  Chicago Public Schools plans to add thousands of full-day kindergarten slots along with more seats at magnet and charter schools for the upcoming school year, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said Wednesday at the Chicago Board.

CPS Effort to Engage Parents Arouses Skepticism CNC: In the past, the Office of Local School Council and Community Support took responsibility for much of the district’s parent and community outreach. Last year, the office had a budget of $3.1 million, with 17 full-time staff members downtown but none elsewhere.

Local Dignitaries Celebrate Opening of Decatur Career Academy MarketWatch: DeVry created the first Advantage Academy in partnership with Chicago Public Schools under the leadership of then-CEO Arne Duncan in 2004. A second Advantage Academy program opened in Columbus, Ohio in 2006.

Will A Stricter Curfew Help Reduce Crime? Huffington Post:  The Chicago City Council approved, without debate, a more strict citywide curfew for children 12 years of age or younger Thursday. The new curfew law goes into effect Sept. 18.

 

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  • Brizard, never had the intention of helping and supporting neighborhood schools in a genuine and real way. It is apparent that Brizard continues the policy of his predecessors. All the fancy new titles will not provide the necessary support in terms of staff needed to work with the most challenged students.

    The most challenged students are in the neighborhood schools. There is where the need is greatest. Neighborhood schools need more qualified staff to help in the RTI interventions and other supports.

    For all the talk about caring about the neediest children, CPS is either all talk and no action or just plain mean inaction.

  • Progams sound great...for the schools that get the benefit. But I thought CPS was broke. Where did they find the money for these programs? Cut administration...I thought that was just to balance the budget.

  • I am attempting to understand CEO Brizard's "collaboratives." Here is what the CPS press release states about this concept:
    "The new network system will pair elementary networks with high school networks to form 5 different collaboratives that will be accountable for student success throughout the entire PreK-12 pipeline."

    Since elementary school graduates can apply to any high school, attempt to enter any charter high school, how can these collaboratives be accountable for students? I assume CPS does not plan on preventing students who graduate from a network elementary school from applying for admission to high schools out of the network. Where do the selective high schools fit into this concept of collaboratives? Am I the only one confused about this idea or is there something here I am not seeing?

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    In the new networks, selective enrollments and magnets are grouped with other schools in the geographic area. The accountability comes from a shift in focus from ISAT and PSAE to Common Core, which is a K-12 curriculum. The value of the networks is articulation, so results can be talked about across elementary and high schools and CIOs. This was not really possible before. Even if students choose to attend outside networks, the mechanism for reporting is created by the networks. This is supposed to identify issues. The collaboratives are a mechanism to solve the issues collaboratively, learn, and pool resources.

    The model is based on what occurred in England and is based on systems thinking, which is the idea that there isn't just one thing that leads to improvement. It also emphasizes that schools cannot overcome structures imposed on them; for them to be successful, the system must change to support the schools. If this is taken to heart, then expert agencies will also be brought in ( i.e. community agencies) to address barriers to success rather than depending on schools. This approach is being taken in many school districts, notably Canada where there are good pre-lim results (I have not looked at the literature on this in awhile).

    It seems like the hope is that by having all schools work together, all will improve leading to real school choice and not segregation. The big issue will be, however, is are the right people in the right places. This includes everyone from the Board down the teachers. Big things could happen now because for the first time in a long time there is alignment from the feds to the state to the LEAs and communities.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    A sincere thank you for more details on Brizard's plan. A couple (actually three) of achilles heels of CPS is leadership, successful experience, and implementation. CPS has failed on all three for the longest time.

    If these top administrators have not lived genuine school reform based on respecting and investing in their teachers, this plan is stillborn from the get go.

    Watch, document and be vigilant on how this plan launches.

  • Good questions. Where did Brizard get his ideas? Mostly likely torn from some recent text book. It represents lazy thinking. When missing details are present, you know CPS is flying by the seat of their pants, again. Lazy thinking and not paying attention to details already shows. Then again the experience of those around him does not add up to much!

  • There was supposed to have been an announcement yesterday with which schools were in each network/collaborative (area/area cluster). Does anyone know if it got posted and where to find it?

  • here's an email i'm told (but haven't confirmed) comes from brizard and explains some of the new plans:

    Date: Fri, Jul 29, 2011 at 6:24 PM
    Subject: Letter to all LSC from Jean-Claude Brizard
    .
    Local School Council Members:

    It has been an exciting week here at CPS as we have begun to implement the first phase of an organizational redesign, which we believe will establish greater coherence and reinvent CPS, ensuring we are better prepared to support our school leaders and improve student achievement.

    As part of Phase 1, we are redesigning the Areas into a more cohesive, neighborhood- and community-based set of Networks. This shift will create more effective PreK-12 collaboration and result in greater support of principals, teachers, and students.

    As a result of this transition, there will be some immediate changes impacting the Areas:
    • First, we will be calling the individual elementary and high school Areas “Networks,” and the elementary/high school networks will be grouped geographically to form a “Collaborative.”
    • The Chief Area Officer title will be changing to “Chief of Elementary Schools” and “Chief of High Schools,” to reflect accountability for the school portfolio.
    • With the old Area boundaries redrawn to keep neighborhoods and communities whole, each portfolio of schools and principals is changing.
    • Finally, the new Network leaders will work collaboratively to create a seamless PreK-12 learning community. There will be a climate of professional collaboration and sharing of best practices by establishing structures that foster shared learning, information and resource exchange across schools, networks and within the collaborative.

    To view the Map of Networks and Collaboratives, visit http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/NewAreas_ElemNewNames_NetworkLegend.pdf. To view a list of schools and managing Chiefs per Network, visit http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/SchoolsByNetwork_7_27_11.pdf.

    We are excited to take these first steps and ask for your continued support as we move the District forward. I am confident that if we work together, we can continue to make great progress in helping each and every child succeed in the classroom.

    Sincerely,

    Jean-Claude Brizard
    Chicago Public Schools | CEO

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Brizard and his team are great at finding and using a lot of "in" tag words that sound great. They are just tag words. Too bad. NO ONE on his immediate leadership staff has the breadth of successful experience nor track record of implementing systematic change in a meaningful way. That is what happens when you don't hire by merit! Rahm take note!

  • So what does this all really mean? I mean, really?

  • Yes, what does this all mean for the students? Will special education services be improved? Will CPS meet with CTU to implement the J-Car ruling as the rest of the Illinois school districts did three years ago? When will the students in special eduaction receive the minjutes on their IEPS? We are going to increase the number of all day kindergarten slots but not increase the number of blended Pre-K programs which are vital to our students with disabilities. How many pre-schoolers with disabilities are on lists waiting to be placed in non-existent blended pre-ks, we do not place according to LRE and then we just assume they can handle an all day kindergarten-where is the common sense? How many parents bring their pre-schoolers up to the neighborhood school with a request for an evaluation from a pediatrician, private pre-school program or Child Find only to be stalled by CPS personnel so that a whole year goes by without an evaluation. All day kindergartens are great but we need to start with three years olds who need early intervention or we are wasting tax dollars on all day programs for childern who are simply not ready because of little or no pre-school interventions.

  • And who or what will oversee the charters?
    And Fraynd over the west high schools-an insult to the African-American population he will oversee.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Why is that?

  • Charters do not enroll the same kids. According to CPS only 35% of students at charter schools come from the neighborhood in which a charter school resides. Obviously, neighborhood school students come from the neighborhood.
    ELL students, poor students, and students with disabilities, again from CPS itself, are all significantly under represented in charter schools in Chicago when compared to neighborhood schools.
    Charter school discipline policies and codes of conduct are different than those for neighborhood schools. Charters are not subject to the same state laws and Illinois School Code as neighborhood schools when it comes to discipline.
    Charter school policies on enrollment and dis-enrollment are subject to different state laws and school code regulations than neighborhood schools.
    Charter schools may cap their class sizes and may cap their enrollment. Neighborhood schools may not.
    Charter schools require applications for enrollment before they select their students. (A blind lottery does not negate the fact that selection takes place.) Included in most charter applications are grade reports and discipline reports. Others include essay questions, letters of recommendation, and parental requirements for involvement and/or volunteerism. All this *before* a student is allowed to enter the lottery. If the lotteries were truly blind charters wouldn't need any of this information until after was selected for enrollment.
    Charters may remove students for poor academic performance or minor disciplinary offenses. Neighborhood schools may not.
    Some charter schools require parental involvement and/or volunteerism as a condition of enrollment. Neighborhood schools may not.
    And this is just a short list. There are dozens of other ways in which charters and neighborhood schools differ in significant ways, primarily based on the regulations under which they may operate. So, you see, these are not excuses. This is recognition of the fact that charter schools and traditional schools must operate under very different circumstances and rules.

    Charters routinely:
    - lie to parents about their ability to properly serve and educate children who do not speak English when they have absolutely no ESL support for them.
    - tell parents who yanked their children from public schools where they had failed or were about to be held back that they would be able to make up the entire year and graduate on time.
    - keep children on the books long after even the parent has abandoned hope and not bothered to check if the child is in school or not, again in order to keep enrollment numbers up.
    - push out female students who get pregnant, students with emotional problems and those with behavioral problems.
    -offers cash or a free laptop to parents for one year of their child’s enrollment that never materializes.

  • "According to CPS only 35% of students at charter schools come from the neighborhood in which a charter school resides. Obviously, neighborhood school students come from the neighborhood."

    No need to read any further than this double-wrong remark.

    It makes no sense to claim that "charter schools" enroll x% "from the neighborhood" because every charter is different. There are some charters where 95%+ live in the neighborhood and there are some charters where less than 20% live in the neighborhood.

    The second quote--"Obviously, neighborhood school students come from the neighborhood"--is the most egregiously wrong quote I've read on this blog. Quite to the contrary, many traditional "neighborhood" public schools enroll a majority of students from outside of the school's neighborhood boundary.

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    In reply to PezChicago:

    Are you saying that because there is variation in a sample, all aggregate data is worthless? I don't think that's true.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    No, the data are not worthless. The data are valuable to the extent that the unit of analysis is a specific school compared to one or more other specific schools, i.e., does UNO-Tamayo charter enroll more or fewer students from its neighborhood as Healy does from its neighborhood? And when we ask these questions, what are the implications when a given neighborhood has many strong educational options vs. none?

    What is worthless is when commenters refer to "charters" as a monolithic, homogeneous entity. I have often heard principals of traditional public schools say that charters don't enroll "their children". Yet we celebrate "magnet" schools and I'm not sure I understand the difference from the standpoint of a parent who is searching for a high quality school option.

  • In reply to PezChicago:

    The difference is that magnet schools generally speaking provide a high quality school option and charter schools generally do not.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Anonymous:

    Yes, and many charters claim to be non-selective while magnets--our charters' closest comparison don't make such claims. When you compare charters to magnets, they fare quite poorly as an aggregate. Some do well.

    It's inconsistent though for us to attack any grouping of charters. Charters are a well-resources, politically connected special interest group that has state lobbyists pushing for special law written specifically for dealing with them. If there is no such grouping as charters, then repeal those laws and work within the system for greater local control and autonomy of schools without the special brand.

  • The explanation of the theory behind the collaboratives was very interesting and I want to thank the author for it. I will be meeting with CEO Brizard next week and understanding the theory behind it will be very helpful.

    I am not sure the Common Core will have the power the CEO's team believes it will. Unfortunately because the US education system is state and local based (there is no Constitutional provision directly addressing education) there is resistance to the concept of national curriculum, similar to Canada and most of the world. This opposition is developing now on both the right and left of the educational spectrum.

    When Illinois joined the Common Core, members of the General Assembly voted for Race to the Top funds, not for a national curriculum. I can also see that there will be charter schools created that will reject the Common Core and then CPS will have to decide whether or not to reject them.

    Access Living is now in the editing process of a white paper that deals with the Common Core, linked assessment, value added measurement of teacher performance and special education. My impression of the Common Core having spent some time studying them is that they are so generalized they will not be able to provide much guidance to schools when compared to the former Illinois Learning standards. The generalized nature of the Common Core was done in order to get states to opt in.

    At any rate the explanation of the theory behind the collaboratives was coherent and thoughtful. That is extremely refreshing, even if theory and actual practice fragments as part of implementation.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I'm surprised you think they are so generalized. Common Core provides a much higher quality of objective than the Illinois Learning Standards, which were either too numerous or too shallow depending on the subject.

    I think there should be some understanding that Common Core is just that - a core - it cannot be a stand alone curriculum, but it does provide the minimal expectations for students that we should have as a nation. I think one of the promising aspects of Common Core is that it still gives states and LEAs the opportunity to build curriculums that will benefit their students and communities.

    I do, however, agree with you that the Board is making too great of an assumption. The teachers and principals across the nation are facing a significant shift in job expectations with very little training and a big stick behind them. It is unfortunate that this big step forward might be thrown to the side because people will not invest in really do some solid PD. The district could really move forward if they invested an excellent YEAR in training, coaching, and PD, and then moved forward, but most likely we will see disjointed efforts as everyone takes the year to shine and outdo each other for recognition.

  • here's a slightly different version of the brizard letter, with a link to the webinar presentation from wednesday, for you to look at. does what he says make sense and seem workable / better than in the past? what do you think about the area heads that have been named to head the new system?

    Dear Colleagues,

    It has been an exciting week here at CPS as we have begun to implement the first phase of an organizational redesign, and I want to thank so many of you for attending the Town Hall Meeting to learn more.

    We believe this new structure will establish greater coherence and reinvent CPS, ensuring we are all better prepared to support our school leaders and improve student achievement.

    If you were unable to attend the meeting, we encourage you to view the webinar presentation at http://cpslive.cps.k12.il.us/sml/join.php?id=50c47aeb94616ebb0f4338365ff9e004&afid=0&pw=&r=a9059742981b6480e3cf38ed2cbbe6d9 (hit the play button to begin the presentation).

    As we explained, to better reflect the new CPS vision, we are redesigning the Areas into a more cohesive, neighborhood- and community-based set of Networks. This shift will create more effective PreK-12 collaboration and result in greater support of principals, teachers, and students.

    As a result of this transition, there will be some immediate changes impacting the Areas:

    • First, we will be calling the individual elementary and high school Areas “Networks,” and the elementary/high school networks will be grouped geographically to form a “Collaborative.”

    • The Chief Area Officer title will be changing to “Chief of Elementary Schools” and “Chief of High Schools,” to reflect accountability for the school portfolio.

    • With the old Area boundaries redrawn to keep neighborhoods and communities whole, each portfolio of schools and principals is changing.

    • Finally, the new Network leaders will work collaboratively to create a seamless PreK-12 learning community. There will be a climate of professional collaboration and sharing of best practices by establishing structures that foster shared learning, information and resource exchange across schools, networks and within the collaborative.

    To view the Map of Networks and Collaboratives, visit http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/NewAreas_ElemNewNames_NetworkLegend.pdf. To view a list of schools and managing Chiefs per Network, visit http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/SchoolsByNetwork_7_27_11.pdf.

    We are excited to take these first steps and ask for your continued support as we move the District forward. I am confident that if we work together, we can continue to make great progress in helping each and every child succeed in the classroom.

    Sincerely,

    Jean-Claude Brizard

    Chicago Public Schools | CEO

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    if you don't like reading PDF links like the one above, you can read the list of new chiefs and the schools each will oversee at the tribune here:

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-met-cps-chief-of-schools-20110729,0,6317988.story

    i wonder if there are any obvious stars or duds among the new chiefs, and whether their real-world influence over the schools will change for better or worse

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    The new chief of the Pilsen/ Little Village, I hope knows more than a little about how to work with the largest grouping of ELL learners in the Chicago Public Schools. That "network" does not need someone ignorant of ELL best practices and understand the needs of ELL learners.

    I hope you had a clue Brizard!

  • As Catalyst-Chicago has reported all of the magnet and charter schools, such the STEM Academy on the Near West Side, were approved by the Board of Education over the past school year. At the board meeting Wednesday, the board, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard committed to provide funding for the already-approved schools. Also, it is unclear whether the district will be adding more kindergarten slots or just providing additional schools with funding for the slots. As Catalyst-Chicago has reported, CPS has no policy to provide full-day kindergarten and only provides general operating funds for half-day programs. Principals who want to offer it must fund it out of their discretionary money. (Sarah Karp, Catalyst-Chicago)

  • Brizard setting up principals and their school for failure. Keep all blame off Central Office and Chiefs!

    It seems Brizard makes generalizations about schools as if all are playing on an even playing field. What planet is he from?

    Supposedly principals will be given more "autonomy" but without more resources? Well, unless you are a magnet school. Hmmmm
    What does autonomy mean? If a school falls short as measured by NCLB and ISAT, it is totally the principal's fault.

    If there is a new "program" should we not be able to judge and assess Brizard and his Chiefs on their roll out of this new initiative?

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