Weekend Open Discussion

This is sad:  Poor kids are nearly twice as likely to score proficient or better in NYC than in CPS on the latest NAEP tests.  And though nobody likes to admit it there's blame enough to go around.  We voted (or didn't vote).  We gave time and money to the local school but didn't run for LSC.  We moved our kids to another school (or out of town) to get away.  We hunkered down, got the degrees and took the raises. We sat on the sidelines and did the easy thing of criticizing the efforts of those who were trying (that would be me, among others).  In our heart of hearts maybe we didn't really believe that entrenched poverty and big-city patronage were truly surmountable for more than a handful of lucky exceptions.  But poor kids are just as poor in New York City or any other place above us on that list as they are in Chicago, and the politics and the bureaucracy are just as bad.  They have the same idiotic leaders, righteous reformers, and good-for-nothing teachers as we do. At least one thing is clear:  blaming everyone else:  teachers, or communities, or the Board -- a particular favorite of commenters here -- doesn't seem to have gotten us very far.  And if elected boards were the answer then Los Angeles wouldn't rank even further down the list than we do.


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  • Alex, you sound like preacher! You mention idiotic leaders, righteous reformers, and good-for-nothing teachers. Why did you not mention bloglords?

  • yes,of course. i'm in there higher up as a sideline-sitting criticizer.

    that's your only complaint? blame the bloggers?

  • The answer is obvious. The NYC school day is seven-and-a-half minutes longer than the CPS day.

  • Having a brain freeze on a Friday night... can someone refresh my memory about the NAEP test ( who takes it , when, which students, etc) ? Need some background to the chart.
    Thanks !

  • here's a link to the page that tells you who and when NAEP tests


  • You don't actually think I'm blaming the bloglord, do you? I think that you provide an invaluable service. As an anthologizer, you neatly compress each day's press into an easily accessible package and invite an open discussion for all interested 'stakeholder'…but I do not think that assuming that I am a sideline criticizer is fair, either. As for the bloggers? Most seem genuine, concerned and passionate.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    "you" are an anonymous commenter -- i have no idea who you are or what you think beyond what you write. who are you, and what do you feel is your part in the current mess we're in?

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    I'm a cog in the wheel - simply a teacher - teaching in low income communities by choice long before it became a fashion statement

  • Well, when you're a kid and you're on free and or reduced lunch, maybe reading isn't quite the most immediately important and or necessary survival skill.

  • This is what 20 years of Chicago education reform has delivered? And why is anybody surprised? And why are we still pushing the same education policies?

  • the past 20 years weren't defined entirely by the reforms that were attempted during them -- many were small, or never fully implemented, along with being ineffective or worse.

    and things weren't any better before the past 20 years, so you're just doing what i described initially -- blaming everybody else.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    No one is apolizing for the pre-mayoral control days! Who thinks they were the "good ole" days? Mayoral control of CPS has had clown after clown run CPS. Alex, do your homework. For example, Arne Duncan, was a messenger boy at CPS, because they did not know what do with him. He was delivering papers between offices. When Vallas exited, Arne was tapped. That gives you a clue on what kind of non-leaders get placed at the helm of CPS. A sad and despicable practice by our mayors that has NOT stopped.

    If a business fails, you look at the CEO. If a school system fails, we look at the mayor and his CEO. Alex, go over the resume of the those leading CPS and you will see easily that they all can't implement systematic reform, because they have not lived it. No, not talking about privatization. That is the coward's way.

    You said it Alex,

    "The past 20 years weren't defined entirely by the reforms that were attempted during them -- many were small, or never fully implemented, along with being ineffective or worse. "

  • Well, we can't exactly blame any one individual for a system that produces 14% at or above. I imagine that everyone has to share some responsibility. Education is a cultural construct. Maybe we all need to appreciate the benefits of a good education for it's intrinsic value and not as a form of competition.

  • Alex will be surprised that I agree with some of what he stated. My objection is he implies all teachers were lacking in effort. That is not true. The system used to encourage apathy and those who tried to teach and asked for resources to do so were often shown the door by the principal. I remember I had only 19 textbooks for 140 students. When I asked the principal for textbooks, she told me, "We don't buy textbooks for students, they only throw them out on the highway." When I demanded a co-lab teacher for a classroom that had 17 students with IEP's, the principal told the chair, "this guy has got to go." When I complained to the principal about the mold that covered the upper half of the wall in my classroom due to a leak in the roof, she said, "maybe you need to find a job elsewhere." Despite getting a raving review by the region luminaries when they observed my classroom, I was rifted for all my efforts. Meanwhile subservient mediocre teachers kept their jobs. A jaded veteran told me later, "if you are going to survive in this system, don't ask for anything and keep your failure rate low. Dumb down the curriculum and don't make waves." This is the culture at many schools.
    The good side is that many of the new teachers coming in are much more dedicated and prepared than what I saw ten years ago. The good part about NCLB is that it put a certified teacher in the classroom and ended the nonsense of Teach for Chicago which resulted in a bunch of stiffs that never got certified. The UIC College Framework Project is actually making a positive impact at my school. However, it takes a smart and dedicated administration to ensure that it is implemented. Schools don't need vengeful administrators, but actual educational leaders guiding staff.
    Not all teachers are just collecting a pay check. Where I am at, I see a lot of dedication. Its not perfect, but the gloomy picture you paint is not representative of every school and every teacher.

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    CPS encourages and promotes the incompetent. Poor teachers often become CPS administrators and are very threatened by veteran teachers who are knowledgeable. Sharp teachers, especially those who question illegal special education practices are vilified. Some leave the system due to lack of administrative support. Strong principals are not threatened by teachers who "question" the status quo. It is getting harder and harder to find strong principals in CPS and we will need 110 strong principals in the next year. Where will we get them? What is CPS' plan? Does it have a plan? Three year boy wonders will not do in a system with as many problems as we have. We need principals who support strong staff members, encourage parental involvement and demand a safe school environment for the students. Why does CO retain poor principals? There are schools were 40% of the staff has transferred and grievances are filed almost weekly yet these incompetent principals keep getting paid, the scores are pitiful and parents are deliberately misled by LSCs.

    Where are our leaders?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Where is the permanent leader for the Midway Cluster?
    The current region/cluster leadership was unable to perform a simple task such as ordering enough food for a Common Core Workshop. Someone needs to take a close look at the "administrators " in the Midway cluster. Some are exemplary, some look good due to the previous school administrator/current teachers and some embarrass all of us.

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    True that!

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    the '19 books and 140 students' that you describe is more common that most people imagine -

  • 14% wow! When you see stats like this, from Hillsborough to Fresno, we're talking millions of kids and hundreds of thousands of teachers.

    They're all so bad, it seems ridiculous to compare one system failure to the others, and when the problem is this systemic, it's completely dishonest to blame the mass of classroom teachers…

  • Alexander, I think you are missing the bigger picture. Sure, 14% looks bad. However, should we be lauding NYC or any other district for failing 3/4 of students that come from low-income homes. The trend here is that poverty and the blatant inequalities in funding and resources that our low- income students receive are the key contributors here. Simple solution, you want to fix public education, fix poverty. Look at Dr. Stephen Krashen's research. When low-income students are removed from test data, the US consistently, outperforms all industrialized nations in scoring. It's the elephant in the room, but no one is talking about it.

    P.S. I guess those 4 extra years of extra classroom time made a huge difference in Houston, huh? So much for the "Texas Miracle".

  • To anonymous "CPS promotes the incompetent."

  • Funding isn't everything but per pupil spending in NY far exceeds Chicago. If you have $6,000 more per pupil to spend each year, you can actually make a difference - if it's spent wisely, of course.

  • If anyone would like to continue to help Pablo Casals School get off the Turnaround list , please sign and share the petition "Remove Pablo Casals from the Turnaround List" at change.org .

    It's just one more way to spread the word about the school. And BTW , Piccolo School had an after-school rally on Friday Dec. 9 to get the word out that they have a new principal & new network, like Casals, and the parents there do not support a turnaround either ! These 2 Humboldt Park schools are being picked on because they are feeder schools to Orr High School, and AUSL has not been able to improve Orr on its own and will not do so until it gets higher performing kids from its feeder schools. Right now, most of Casals' kids do NOT go to Orr.

  • If retired teachers cannot sub full-time in a position(rightly so since there are so many displaced teachers), then how can retired principals, former AIOs, former REOs, and former central administrators work full-time in CPS? I have learned of several names of retirees who have huge pensions and continue to work past retirement and not for $200 a day. I know that the law department warned retired teachers last summer of subbing in a full-time position. Why not the above list, as well!!!!!! There is something really quite wrong with this and how can the principals' association and the BOE allow this practice to continue! I suspect that there are displaced principals who can be put to useful work subbing in a like position rather than retirees. Would someone please explain this ridiculous practice to me!!!

  • In reply to RondaGoldman:

    First, there is an issue of quality. Do not assume the same quality level of retired administrators/AIOs/REOs, etc. with displaced principals.

    Next, retired administrators do NOT work full time. They are limited to 1200 hours a calendar year.

    Appearances from the outside do not necessarily mean that the observer is looking at or knows the entire situation.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    1200 hours equals how many school days in a school year?

    So, if a school is closed and the administrators and teachers are blamed, are we to assume that they were all incompetent? I don't think that we can make that generalization. There must be some really good displaced administrators in the system who can sub in an administrative vacancy.

    And . . . I was an administrator so I do know some facts!!

  • a quick update for ILraiseyourhand.org -- anyone here working with them?

    "Raise Your Hand has been busy working to bring a stronger parent voice to policy-making at CPS. We have held three community forums since September on the longer day issue, in North Center, West Garfield Park with the Progressive Action Coalition for Education, and in Beverly. In Garfield Park and Beverly, we were able to have representatives from CPS and the CTU to answer your questions, and we plan to have more forums in the coming months with the goal of hearing from different parents in different communities.

    We are continuing to attend the Longer Day Task force with CPS. There have been two meetings so far with a third meeting scheduled in December. We don’t yet know any specifics on what will be funded for next year but we do know that CPS has asked for a preliminary schedule from schools by the end of January. There are many unanswered questions that we need addressed by CPS. We will post any information we have on our website as we receive it."

  • I agree with Wendy about per pupil spending. However, that per pupil number needs to be the same for every CPS student, not an average number. That number needs to include ALL sources of funding. If you live in a poor neighborhood, you are not going to have a Friends of (fill in the blank of your Tier 4 neighborhood school here) that raises tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars that are exclusively used for (fill in the blank of your Tier 4 neighborhood school here). Certainly people would not be willing to share their Friends of money with other, less fortunate schools, just like the mayors and aldermen don't want to share "their" TIFs.

  • In reply to Anonymous Lee:

    I'm not sure. Do you want to distribute title 1 funding and sgsa money evenly? A lot of schools with "Friends Of" groups are fundraising because they lost significant money over the years as their f/r lunch population decreased. I know my son's school gets much less discretionary money to educate many more kids. I think instead of arguing about who gets what, we should acknowledge that cps needs to raise the basic standards for all children and we need funding to be distributed fairly. To me that means the basic standards need to be raised for all kids - they should have a full curriculum with PE, art, music, language, recess, etc. and then additional services as needed based on schools. Some schools need more resources but all schools need the basic standards and they aren't getting that.

  • Unfortunately, these stats have been about the same for a long time…poverty and employment instability have consistently correlated with low academic achievement for many years, and should be obvious to all by now. As Rahm says, "You never want a serious crisis to go to waste"

    So it seems probable that closing schools and terminating teachers only adds to the problem of unemployment, creating a perpetual education 'crises' machine. Somebody (look at the list of Rahm campaign contributors) is making big money at the expense of many.

    Expect no improvement in the next round of NAEPs. And if Houston is any indication of the direction we are headed, two years from now expect 12% instead of 14%. And keep your eye on the Tribune for editorials that praise the 'bold reforms',

    you know, the 'hard and difficult decision' to fire others while giving themselves pay increases.

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