Site Improvement Update

Good news from ChicagoNow -- comments are now chronological and threaded like they used to be, which means that they read from top to bottom and that you can respond to a particular comment rather than just adding yours to the end of the pile.  They're still working on "recent comments" and a few other things, but I really appreciate you guys hanging in with me and visiting the site as much as you have.  (Welcome to the new folks, too -- we're glad you're here.)

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  • It was really great to see CORE members out supporting CPS students who need IEPs at today's Disability Pride Parade downtown. Thanks folks!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    As one of those CORE members and a special education teacher it was an honor to be there. The parade was great and I met a lot of people who work really hard for people with disabilities.

  • In reply to Anonymous:
    --- ...CORE teachers Jim Cavallero and Adam Heenan (this reporter) brought out the CORE banner in support of special education students, educators, and teachers with disabilities.

    "We all work with students with special needs," noted Garth Liebhaber, a teacher at Hammond Elementary. "The thing that struck me was the theme of diversity and empowerment, and CORE is an integral part of that. This is an extension of our teaching activities."

    COREs attendance did not go un-noticed. Dick Smith of CPS Office of Special Services walked directly up to CORE members to thank us for coming out. "I want to meet with you anytime," Smith said to this reporter and Jim Cavallero. ...

  • The more recent comments listed the better. It's the only way to keep up with the back-and-forth dialogue.

  • I know this is off topic but I keep hearing horror stories about new principals, lately. Some of these principals have only 2-3 years of actual teaching experience...I mean in the classroom experience not as a literacy coach or data specialist. There is no way I would have ever thought I wa ready to be an administrator after only two years of teaching. They are making really sophomoric mistakes based upon lack of experience/stupidity(?) such as breaking up successful grade level teams, getting rid of a particular ethnic group, laying off clerks because they are not bilingual, or telling everyone to remove small
    fridges from the classrooms. In non-airconditioned classrooms these small fridges are important for holding cold water, student treats, ice packs for real or imagined student injuries or holding leftover milk/juice from breakfast to give out at lunch.

    By the way, new principals who disparage the former principals to staff members only cause general distrust-very unprofessional and not what leaders do.

    New principals also seem to have no clue about the role of special teachers and the legalities involved in the IEPs.

  • "New principals also seem to have no clue about the role of special teachers and the legalities involved in the IEPs." You can say that again. You'd think CPS would be extra careful to make sure that all new principals (no matter how much experience) know their sped law. Brizard said he's going to judge his performance on how well CPS follows sped law, so ensuring all principals know and DO it right is a perfect place to start. However, in my own family's experience, two new principals failed miserably at sped. Did real damage. Never sanctioned for it, either.

  • Who would sanction them? ISBE/Cory H. monitors/ SSAs do not give a flying f--- if special education law is followed. If they did, I would not have 24 students in my caseload, no aides, minutes not being met and this is at an AMPS school ....special education is in sad shape in CPS. I used to think/hope that a new regime downtown would change things... I no longer have that hope.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    ISBE has issued findings letters to CPS about class sizes. Corey H monitors are guided by a settlement argeement and it does not provide for enforcement of class size rules. Unfortunately the case load provisions of the IL administrative code were revoked. Under 23 Illinois Administrative Code 226.735 (Work Load for Special Educators), districts are required to adopt a plan specifying limits on the work load of their special educators.

    The plan required by this rule must specify limits on the work load of special educators “so that all services required under students’ IEPs, as well as all needed ancillary and support services, can be provided at the requisite level of intensity.” “Special educators” includes, in addition to special education teachers, other service providers such as, but not necessarily limited to, school psychologists, school social workers, etc. The term does not include individuals employed as general education teachers.

    This plan was to have been completed in time for the 2009-2010 school year and the CPS and CTU were legally required to develop the plan together. It was never done as far as I can tell.

    Illinois’ special education rules previously equated class size and “caseload.” In addition to separating class size from caseload, ISBE undertook efforts to shift the focus from caseload to work load. CPS special education teachers need to demand that the CPS and CTU develop a work load plan for special education teachers.

    Illinois Administrative Code 226.735 as it exists allows special education teachers who are not instructing self contained classes to have unlimited numbers of students unless a work load plan is in place. On Fri Sep 26, 2008 I wrote on this blog (when located at Catalyst) warning special education teachers of this issue and nothing happened.

    My comment sparked a major discussion on this issue on the blog I would recommend going back and reading the discussion.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Have you picked up any information about the current status of the Corey H Settlement Agreement? Is it ending this summer? Many of the schools were audited by both ISBE and the Education Connection Monitors this immediate past spring and did not receive their findings when school ended.

    LRE Consultant(need to know what to expect in the fall)

  • In reply to Rodestvan:


    I am the chair of the CTU Special Education Committee. In the committee we discussed this but found it difficult to envision. I would love to talk to you about it. If you could email sometime perhaps we could work out a meeting.

    Jim Cavallero

  • has anyone heard about the removal of the CAO in area 2? what is going on here?

  • The Area 2 CAO has been replaced with Craig Benes as the interim CAO. It was announced last week. Rumor has it she was allegedly arrested at the Area 2 office by the police and she was allegedly under a federal investigation, something to do with mishandling of funds. Allegedly she was writing checks to herself and blaming staff members.

    Could this have something to do with the Field Elementary (an Area 2 school) principal/staff firings that happened in April?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Alex, please investigate this issue. Any other news about this situation?

  • Area 2 CAO has been playing fast and loose with money for years. She was taking kickbacks to allow vendors to hold "fairs" and have access to her schools and principals. The real issue is that it finally caught up to her and CPS is actually doing something about it.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Alex, please explore this rumor. It could be a huge black eye to CPS if this is true.

  • what to make of this? a female super at pershing west [Jessica Benuzzi] sued the principal [Cheryl Watkins] and the the board, etc.. the case was decided in part last week

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    more about the case -- apparently the decision means she CAN proceed with her retaliation lawsuit against the pershing principal

  • what happens when you take a golden apple winner, put them in a quick program to be principal and then make them a principal...

    On August 13, 2011, local volunteers are invited to gather at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. for Supplies for Dreams’ second annual “Build-A-Backpack Day” where they can give back to the Chicago community while enjoying free food and live music.
    More than 100 volunteers are expected to help package school supplies for 1,360 students who will receive the materials before school starts this fall. Volunteers will include local residents, high school and university students, educators and members of various local and national organizations. Everyone is welcome to attend this free summer event, which is appropriate for individuals of all ages.

  • Ronda the existing Corey H agreement was highly modified about two months ago. It is effectively winding down and should end completely next spring I believe. Apparently there are still disagreements between CPS and ISBE over district wide findings made against the district, there was a ruling against an appeal made by CPS over ISBE findings about two weeks ago. I have access to the Court records so I read up on the case every once and a while.

    Just so blog readers know Ronda and I have know each other and worked together over the years in the Corey H process. In my opinion she was one of the best CPS special education administrators in the city and the district lost a lot when Ronda retired.

    Rod Estvan

  • Rod,
    Thank you so much for the compliment. I read all of your entries on various sites with eagerness as you have so much knowledge about the schools, scores, school politics, budget information, etc. Wish that we could have worked together! So many wonderful and knowledgeable people left CPS within the past five years!

    Blog readers, I have visited outstanding general education teachers who embrace the sped students in their classrooms. There are principals who care about every child; parents who are frustrated; sped teachers who are over-loaded; and case managers who are the unsung heroes of sped who cope with too many responsibilities. I wish that I could return in a more active role rather than as an LRE Consultant to help effect change but it won't happen. I have great respect for all of you.

    Retired H.S. Sped Administrator
    Current LRE Consultant

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