Get Ready For More Closings

Today's news includes word that CPS will be closing schools again at the end of the year for both performance and utilization reasons, plus the approval of the charter school extended day incentive program ($800 per teacher).

CPS Lays Groundwork for School Closings CNC:  CPS officials said they will rely on school performance as the primary factor in determining which schools to overhaul, but facility usage will also be taken into account.

Board sets the stage for more school closings Catalyst:  Sicat showed board members two maps, one on the utilization of schools and the other on the performance. If one were laid over the other, they would be fairly similar, he said.

CPS extends longer day incentives to charter schools WBEZ:  On Wednesday, the city's Board of Education voted in favor of a CPS plan to award up to $75,000 to a charter school that adopts the extra 90 minutes this year. Teachers from those schools could also get an $800 stipend.

Advocacy group wants revamp of state report cards WBEZ:  The state of Illinois next week is scheduled to release annual report cards for all Illinois schools. An education advocacy group wants evaluations to be more comprehensive.



Leave a comment
  • Most of the schools that will be closed or consolidated will be elementary schools and one high school will be turnarounded.

  • In other words, a whole bunch of teachers who are working in schools that have been systematically neglected, given intentionally damaging curriculum and pedagogical mandates for 'improvement' will soon be out of a job…CPS pulls the same tricks year after year - you'd think people would catch on…

    When CPS has their eyes on a financial plan for a piece of real-estate, everyone but the insiders get the shaft.

    There seems to be many variations of the legal process that the board deploys. Here is one abridged but common variation of the 'destroy a school' model:

    First, send a team to 'help' the teachers, you know, just to help…

    Next, strictly enforce the absolutely most banal teaching mythologies.

    Third, create tension between staff members by targeting 'renegade' teachers; burning them out with loads of trivial professional development and clerical work.

    Fourth, mandate a completely unworkable school-wide discipline model, guaranteed to escalate discipline problems.

    Fifth, pressure the principal to under-report the real number of discipline cases; mandate that the school decrease both in-and-out of school suspensions, empowering the most disruptive students to escalate terror for both students and staff…

    Sixth, require teachers to suffer a rigorous regiment of persistent and demeaning 'constructive' criticism from the evaluation 'support' team.

    Seventh, generate suspicion among all staff with frequent and secret 'closed door' meetings.

    Eighth, generate suspicious between staff and administration by deploying the administrative assistance team to 'monitor' instruction with the aid of highly subjective evaluation systems.

    Ninth, implement inconsistently administered 'standardized' district assessments (Note that these assessments are out of line with curriculum pacing guides, thus guaranteeing that what is tested has never been taught). Also, the assessments waste instructional time and can later build a case for teacher termination or school closing.

    All the while, the 'support' team compiles evidence of 'noncompliance'.

    When the school fails to make AYP, CPS sends a press release to the newspapers, explaining how the teachers were provided all the recommended instructional support yet still failed to demonstrate improvement.

    Consequently, CPS has to do what is 'best' for the children, you know, fire the teachers, close the school, send the kids off to travel through rival gang territory, award multi-million dollar contracts, split the cash, reshuffle the upper-brass deck, change their titles to protect the guilty, and start the same scam all over again.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    OMG! This is exactly what is happening at the 3Ms, Marquette, McKay and Morrill.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    And I can almost bet that Marquette, McKay, and Morrill all have above 90% low income students - it's easier for CPS to commit this injustice in low-income communities where people are less politically connected.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous, yes your nine acts are correct. I bet others can add 10, 11, 12 etc! Everyone, please add to Anonymous list.

  • One of the linked articles referred to "the district’s new chief portfolio officer." Has corporate speak totally pervaded the public sector, too?

    In any event, the only initiative on which Duncan got much press was school consolidations, which in the Austin/Clemente and Hyde Park/Englewood cases reportedly only caused strife. I know people move (and one of the articles said that they vote with their feet), but wouldn't one think that the situation would have stabilized by now? Especially since neighborhood schools seem to be a shrinking proportion of the schools compared to the 8 other types, although, at the moment, I am too lazy to count them up, and don't know what the comparative populations would be.

  • where is the list of charters taking the deal? I'd love to be a fly on the wall when the announce this great 'opportunity' to their teachers... wonder if CICS schools with unioned teachers will go for it?

  • In reply to eyeoncps:

    You must be assuming that charter school teachers will get to vote on this. Unless they are unionized (like the CICS schools you mention), I think it is the case that the decision is up to their Boards.

    Further, these teachers are already martyrs for the cause, earning significantly less than teachers in the regular CPS schools. An $800 bonus may be amenable to them.

  • Let me get this straight.
    2010: a thousand teachers fired and class size increases - check
    2011: thirteen hundred teachers fired; class size increase - check
    2011: secret memos are sent to principals pressuring them to target and fire three union teachers - check
    2011: strike requirements jump to 75% vote - check
    2011: teachers go back to work, denied their contractually obligated raises - check
    2011: top and middle administration give themselves pay increases - check
    2011: laws are passed that make it even easier to fire teachers - check
    2011: laws are passed to open even more charters - check
    ºº2011: SPED are systematically denied their rights by CPS - check
    2011: CPS illegally bribes schools into extended hours - check
    ºº2011: Teachers who work in low-income communities are systematically blamed by Arne Duncan, the Tribune and the Sun-Times as a major factor for a crumbled economy- check
    2011: a peer-reviewed study of the last 20 years of Chicago reform policy has resulted in absolutely no improvement whatsoever - check
    2011: Under Brizard, CPS targets for termination women of color, anyone over 50, anyone who earns more than $65,000, any male of any ethnicity working in elementary ed.
    Oct 27, 2011: Oliver Sicat sets the stage for 2012 school closings, essentially telling union teachers that another thousand or even more will be arbitrarily fired within the next year - check

    And let me bet,
    Tomorrow morning, roughly 30,000 union teachers will show up to work, take another round of abuse and by doing so, further smooth the path for their own demise…

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous, you are right- check!

  • RP

    But the question remains…what are teachers going to do about it? Today, in Chicago, roughly 30,000 teachers showed up to work and as they knocked themselves out on the front lines, without their cost of living increase, somebody with a typewriter, little or no teaching experience, a corporate agenda, and access to a local or national audience was busy writing something derogatory about them.

    Many will read and spread the misinformation; damaging anti-teacher sentiments will predictably grow.

    Because the teaching force has been reduced yet again, teachers working in low income communities will pay the greatest price, as reduced class sizes are about the only proven generalize-able, valid and reliable measure for closing the achievement gap.

    As it stands, CPS teachers are sending the message that 30,000 people can be kicked around, abused, permit laws to be written against them by a small wealthy group who barter and purchase legislation to gather greater power, prestige, and wealth for themselves.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous, the rubber has met the road! Yes, what will teachers do about it? It is all in your hands. Will you survive (CTU) or will you perish? We shall see, what we shall see! The ball in in your court.

  • Teachers work in isolation and are severely restricted from expressing their own personal views publicly.

    Social pressure is what frightens them most, more than being kicked around and losing their wages…

    I suggest that teachers secretly e-mail the union, indicating that a strike should be called until specific demands have been met -

    A secret e-mail and nobody has to know… even the school union delegate doesn't have to know - pressing the button on a home-computer would let Karen Lewis, Jackson Potter, or Jesse Sharke know that real action is braced up...

    - and I almost hate to say this - no concessions - none! who cares what the columnists write….most chicago newspaper writes have little credibility... everybody knows that most columnists are whipping boys who write what they are told to write - their job is to shape public opinion to match those of their employers.

    30,000 union teachers - drop an e-mail to Karen Lewis, Jackson Potter, or Jesse Sharkey. Nathan Goldbaum just sent a letter out to CTU members regarding HB 3793. Teachers should press the reply button, type in the words "let's strike" and press send.

    Let 5000 picket on a Monday, another five-thousand onTuesday, another five thousand on a Wednesday, five thousand on a Thursday, five thousand on a Friday…the next week, rotate!

    I suggest that teachers wait until March of 2012. I concede that some of them are kind of stupid, and might elect to strike during their own Christmas break!

    The CTA will make a fortune - Loop restaurants will make a bundle, too. it will be good for the economy, good for collective bargaining, and great for democracy. I'll bring the hotdogs! Who can afford anything else!

    If teachers don't show that 75% is not only possible, but inevitable, they will be dead in the water - and they will also be largely responsible for the loss of collective bargaining rights for all American worker.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous, I was a CTU delegate for over 15 years and walked many picket lines. I think all CTU members should read SB7 which is now Public Act ???? and plan to STRIKE! It's now or never. I mean, select the right date according to SB7, not during the Christmas holidays and start saving your money now. All CTU members should join the United Credit Union, so that if they offer a strike loan you could get it.

  • Yes! Public Act! Passed like a book of witchcraft..all CTU members, all teachers in general should read it.

    It reads like Kimberly Lightford hired Steven King and Clive Barker as the staff ghost writers. It comes out to around 80 pages…so the CTU needs to highlight the most horrifying sections, summarize the consequences, and stick it in every teacher mailbox. The CTU already has a summary posted at

    but the summary needs to be more comprehensive

  • CPS has lied about the budget and have lied about following a "policy" of closing schools. Let us be honest Chicago, Brizard was hired to flap his gums and not do any hard work. Brizard is here to complete the Ren 2010 deal! Brizard would not know how to build professional capacity in schools even if it hit him on the side of his big head! Ambitious Jen Cheatam, head of instruction, goes district with Common Core testing without pacing guides?!? Real smart Jen! Rahm, the "Tiny Dancer" keeps the circus going! Chicago is bush league in school district administration. That leads us the political problem, because in Springfield, they know Rahm has no clue about education and will keep dollars from coming to CPS because of Rahm's incompetent administration at CPS! It is no secret in Springfield. The problem is not the union but Rahm and his ego!

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    Since Emperor Rahm has been doing so much Bullshyt lately, is there a way to impeach this prick from office? He is as corrupt or worse that King Richie. Impeach Rham NOW!

  • In reply to CPSD299:

    This blog is a cocoon of like-minded thought on schools and school reform, and unless you can see out of it you will be utterly ineffective at convincing anyone outside the cocoon that you have anything to add to the debate.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    AMEN WestLooper!
    I am looking for a forum for constructive ideas and reasoned debate on education in Chicago. This isn't it. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    Westlooper, I'm not in a cocoon. I'm listening. What do you suggest? What are your thoughts? Because, if you're simply here to criticize other comments, your complaining is just as annoying. Try this: I think the Chicago Public schools should [fill in your thoughts here].

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anontmous, I agree!

  • I mean, Dear Anonymous, not Dear Anontmous.

  • In reply to WestLooper:

    I learned a lot more about CPS this past week. Let's see, Rahm spending our tax money on lobbyists in Springfield to screw the teachers by messing with their pension. Lot of love there by Rahm for the teachers! Rahm not lobbying for more money for Special Education programs, that is desperately needed. You really care for the most needy of students. Lot of heart, Rahm. Reading about big hunk of change lost due to shoddy materials by contracted project managers, range true to me, since I know of a couple of school improvement projects that had to be redone again due to the lack of really shoddy materials. There should be a hotline to the IG for that purpose! Was Brizard hired to be a PR man or run CPS? Note to Brizard, cut the too many questionable assessments that infringe on real instruction. Tip: Talk to the Professors of Assessment at UIC or any school of education to tell you, that assessments bought with our tax payer money is a waste of money! Invest in your teachers, Brizard.

    I sure learned some new things and confirmed some suspicions.

  • fb_avatar

    I don't think this is true. It's not like the blog has a selective enrollment policy. It doesn't have a high stakes entrance test or a complex application process. It doesn't have a mandatory volunteer requirement or counsel posters out for scoring low or chewing gum or uniform violations.

    It's a fair playing field where factual evidence often wins out over hollow clouted vitrole against educators, parents and students.

    Oh wait, that is really different than what corporate ed reformers are used to. I can see why they would stay away.

  • I do not like the name calling either, but some of the underlying arguments are in my opinion fundamentally correct. I mean the very concept and title of a "chief portfolio officer," is an attempt to present a public sector employee normally referred to in the private sector as a bureaucrat in a more corporate friendly manner. Having spent a good part of my working life in the private sector I know I would have had a very good laugh if directors of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission or Security and Exchange Commission started calling themselves "chief officers."

    So I understand where the animosity expressed in the posts is coming from. Part of the problem with this blog and most other education blogs either WestLooper or COwonk might migrate to is the fact that if people write as anonymous they are much more likely to state things in ways that they would not to people if they were open about their identities. When I write critical comments about CPS officals or others I have in the past actually heard from them and have had to defend what I have written.

    I also know why CPS staff and parents do not want to use their own names. But I am glad I do not have to hide and have the ability to be public about what I think, whether it is right or wrong.

    Rod Estvan

  • As long as Rod Estvan and others with front-line insight keep posting, I'll keep reading District 299 Blog.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous, I agree!

  • Shout out to RP too!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Anonymous thanks!

  • The portfolio officer is a corporate speak title. I don't put much stock in titles. One of the things that has been lacking at CPS is a central authority on which schools will open, close, re-name/vamp/organize themselves, etc. I'm not sure it needs to be a high level/profile position/office, but it does need to be done.

    Right now, the situation is disjointed. The facilities people are thinking about opening schools. The new schools office (which handles schools that have been open for many years, but not necessarily those opening in a particular year) is focused on turnarounds. the demographics people are making recommendations and trying to keep up with which ones are followed. The closings come from yet another office. Each year there is a mad struggle to update several lists of schools and their facilities as there is no definitive source of the information.

    I hope that this new office can serve as a "business owner" for these processes as well as make sure that the school locations and capacities match the distribution of students.

  • Well, maybe CPS doesn't know about what's happened to housing. Or maybe the mainstream reporters don't. Maybe those that don't live in these areas don't. ---

    From CPS Schools Wonk:

    ~125K students have seats in underperforming schools. Those map almost exactly with underutilized schools. That means we’ve got dozens of bad, half-empty schools. The strong implication? Close them.

    Provocative. Even more provocative is the given explanation: “Parents are moving their kids to where the good schools are located.” Huh? After reading about Sicat’s presentation a smart friend e-mails:

    “I find it staggering that this was presented as "parents voting with their feet" and no reference of any kind to the history of the state st corridor/ projects coming down. These schools aren't empty because parents voted with their feet (at least not exclusively). They are empty because the projects in which those children lived were demolished. They were probably shitty before, but that didn't help. Um... so... Do you think he just doesn't know that??”

  • Seth adds: "Other questions: what if the reason successful schools are successful is that the higher-need student population is sitting in other schools? How do we know moving a student to a school whose test scores are higher makes that student more successful? How can we be sure “high-performing” means “producing academic growth” and isn’t just a reflection of less poor areas having higher student performance than more poor areas? How are we equipping higher-performing schools to succeed with the influx of students whose performance far lags their new classmates’?"

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I can tell you how one school has done it. My kids go to a high-performing neighborhood school, about 25% low income. There's 60 4th graders. Assign the 40 kids testing above the ISAT failure cutoff. Put them in one class wth one teacher for math and reading. Take the 20 kids in danger of not passing the ISAT. Put them in another class with one teacher, 2 student teachers, and an aide. Tell the parents of the 40 kids that they are expected to provide any help their kids need. Refuse to help these kids when they don't understand. Tell their parents to hire a private tutor if they need help.
    This is working, if success is most kids passing the ISAT. Of course, there aren't enough high performing schools for everyone to do this.
    If you are a middle class parent who knows a 30% on the ISAT will lead to an ACT score that wll not get you into college, this is not success. This will force the middle class out of CPS, we are effectively being told to pay for our kids education or do it ourselves.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    25% low income is workable - a 25% to 75% ratio is one that socio-economic heterogeneity research supports

    you also make a strong case for reducing class size - another strategy research supports

    you suggest one teacher, one teacher aid, two student teachers = four adults for twenty kids, or one adult for every five kids.

    of course, the trick is to implement the same strategy over all grade levels, not just the fourth grade.

    unfortunately, CPS discourages this type of common sense.

    teacher aids are generally given positions in SPED only, leaving general ed students and teachers to their own devices.

    also, recruiting student teachers requires an astronomical amount of legal paper work, documents, university and CPS approval and such…not to mention scheduling, university and state requirements and approved activities

    Of course, telling parents that you refuse to help kids when they don't understand is totally illegal - we have no laws that require parents to help their children academically - truancy laws we have - in other words, the only legal requirement that parents have is 'out the door and off to school'.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I am curious about whether you think this is a well-thought out plan or not, and as a parent are you happy with it? I simply can't fathom an administrator or teacher telling parents that they will refuse to provide help if a student requests it. I also believe that if any teacher went along with this idea, they need to be removed from their position immediately along with the administrator. Whatever your school is, this isn't best educational practices by any means - I don't care how high test scores are! As both a CPS parent and a teacher, I'd be at Brizard's door about this. This totally gives me the willies!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I do not know the specifics of the case you are referring to but there may be extenuating circumstances.
    I am at a school with high achieving students but we do have some students who are below level due to attendance, lack of homework completion, lack of glasses or those who are prescribed medicine for attention disorders but who do not take it . The majority or our parents do support the teachers but there is a small minority who think they pay us to be their child's tutor. We teach groups of 32 and should not be expected to stop the curriculum because your child does not understand the lesson because he/she did not read the story over the weekend, left glasses at home again, or is not medicated because you did not have time to fill the prescription, again. I have children who are failing math in sixth grade and part of it is because they refuse to memorize the math facts as the other children have done. Sorry, I can not give individual assistance to one child at the expense of the class. A parent who tells me, I can't make him go to bed before 11, wear his glasses, do his homework etc. should not expect me to be a miracle worker.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    I agree completely with you about kids not coming prepared in terms of attendance, homework, bringing glasses, etc.

    My comment was in reference to the poster who stated, "There's 60 4th graders. Assign the 40 kids testing above the ISAT failure cutoff. Put them in one class wth one teacher for math and reading. Take the 20 kids in danger of not passing the ISAT. Put them in another class with one teacher, 2 student teachers, and an aide. Tell the parents of the 40 kids that they are expected to provide any help their kids need. Refuse to help these kids when they don't understand. Tell their parents to hire a private tutor if they need help." If the lack of understanding in the high achieving class of 40 is due to one of the factors that you mentioned, then I agree it should fall on the parent, however, if that's not the case, then something is seriously wrong here.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    the part about refusing to help kids is absolutely insane

    but the part about having at least one teacher, one teacher aid and two student teachers would be great! too bad it will never happen at CPS

    as class sizes seem to be swelling, teachers cannot give individual attention, no matter how much they try, to a classroom of 31, 32 or more kids. One person can only do so much!

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Oh, CPS is just using the sped teachers, under the "cover" of inclusion, to help all the non-sped students in a general classroom. So the general teacher now has a helper in the classroom --- and the sped kids are left to hang.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    very true in some schools - not true in others - depends how the principal deploys his 'human capital'

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Yes! This is true. Special education monies are being diverted to gen ed and no one is saying BOO! I wish someone would investigate how a whole special education population in a school including the self-contained students are suddenly doing so well that they need no services in a separate setting...all the IEPS are redone. OSES is pushing this via the case managers...saves positions. OSES can not deny this as the data is readily available via SSM on the electronic IEPs.

    I really do to understand why parents are allowing this travesty. I would dissent at the IEP meeting if this were done at my school. I know a teacher at another school who left because of this scenario. She was not allowed to pullout so she transferred to a school where
    the students are pulled out. The new teachers are afraid to complain about this and a lot of veteran SPED teachers are retiring in 2012 and CPS will push this because the SPED teachers can then give the washroom breaks to the teacher and sub when the teacher is absent. Follow the money....

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    No, I don't like it. The school considers work that passes ISAT standards an A, while I'm sure what I'm seeing come home is C work. It is hard to get a child to redo work when they've been told it is A work.
    Sadly, the special ed students are sufferering. They are sitting in class with the material going over their heads, and not enough time spent with them.
    Before NCLB I really felt my kids were challenged to do their best. Now, they aren't unless I do it. I don't think there's enough resources to have everyone meet NCLB and challenge everyone to their best. Too much time is spent doing standardized tests and practices.

  • Seth, you make an excellent point. Taking my students out of our school which is cited as underperforming and putting them into a school such as Disney Magnet I or II, or Skinner North, Nettlehorst, etc. and expecting them to perform on the level of those students who have had the advantage of high parent expectations, additional extra programs funded by the parents, the experiences and knowledge that come with a broader exposure to language and culture would be ludicrous. Until public education admits that a huge part of the problem is poverty, a less than ideal home life, and a lack of parental involvement and skills, nothing will get better for these children. All one has to do is look how some of these schools went from the lowest performing schools to being " jewels in the crown " of CPS. The change was unequivically due to a change in the demographics of the neighborhood. Maybe CPS and Emmanuel should push to gentrify the neighborhoods on the South and West sides of the city. When all the poor and minority students are shuffled off to Buffalo, the entire CPS school system will shine!

Leave a comment