100 New Schools (60 Charters)

UPDATED 11:50AM;  Finally some details on the proposed 100 schools we were hearing about last month, via the Tribune (here).  The gist is that CPS wants to create 60 more charters over five years, effectively doubling the percentage of Chicago kids who go to charters to 25 percent, plus 40 more other schools to make a round 100.  Sounds like Renaissance 2010 all over again, doesn't it?  They're looking for a $20M grant from Gates mostly for facilities -- which might be hard to get considering that the new Gates charter school expansion initiative is just $40M. The non-charter 40 would be turnarounds, magnets, IBs, and STEMS.  According to the story, CPS has 110 charter schools already, which is a higher number than I remember seeing previously.

UPDATED:  Here's the rest of the day's education news. Anything else going on that I missed, let us know.

Hackers take on science Chicago Journal
There were the more ambitious and techy like Yang's Arm Alarm, but there was also a Chicago Public Schools teacher who had written a children's book about astronomy who needed help illustrating it and creating a website and app.

Crunch time for high schoolers taking AP exams WBEZ:  If the 17-year-old in your life seems more stressed lately, it might have less to do with prom and more to do with school.

Voters side with CTU on school reform Catalyst: Chicago voters overwhelmingly back Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push to extend the school day, but far more of them side with the teachers union than the mayor on overall efforts to improve education, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows.

Teachers union sets big protest rally right after NATO Crain's:  The Chicago Teachers' Union has scheduled a big rally at the Auditorium Theater for Wednesday, May 23. The union is promising that more than 4000 members will show up for the event, and you can bet they'll be loud in making their case that they're not .

What about the neighborhoods? CMW:  The Grassroots Collaborative is offering visiting journalists bus tours of working-class neighborhoods struggling with violence, foreclosures, and clinic closings — and they’re questioning the millions of dollars being spent on entertainment at the NATO summit.

Chicago's charter school gamble Chicago Current:This strikes me as an easy way for the district, and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, to gain some attention on the school-reform front and appease some parents without spending a ton of money. But it will surely antagonize the union, and it may not actually lead to better-educated kids.

NATO Summit prompts police grievance by Chicago cops over OT pay Sun Times:Chicago police officers who work overtime during the NATO summit will be paid in cash — and denied the option of taking compensatory time — triggering a class-action grievance by the police union. The preemptive grievance — potentially affecting 3,100 police officers assigned to NATO duty if they all choose comp time over cash — was posted on the official website of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Scenes From The Pension Rally In Evanston School Tech Connect:  Very decent turnout for an almost spur-of-the-moment demonstration in front of Jeff Schoenberg's office in Evanston this afternoon. I know they're going to ramrod something like Quinn's proposal through, and as I've said before, it's going to lose in court. IFT's director of research, Bob Shaevel, basically confirms that analysis in the clip below.


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  • As in all things the devil is in the details. The Tribune article states: “There is a waiting list of 10,000 students for charter schools, which have been growing for the past seven years at a rate similar to what's planned for the next five, according to CPS.” If CPS is doing its analytics based on waiting list statistics, then it should present this data in a serious manner.

    First, of the 10,000 students how many are duplicates, who have applied to multiple charter schools. Second, of the 10,000 how many also have applied and are also on wait lists for CPS optional programs like magnets, etc. Third, what is the concentration of the waiting lists. By this I mean are there specific charter schools that have big wait lists because of perceived quality and others that have little or no wait lists once schools open for the year. If so then maybe based on market principles these loser charters should be closed, just like CPS is proposing to close down loser traditional schools that are under enrolled.

    The Tribune should be demanding detailed data on this issue and examining it carefully.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Is the charter waiting list really a waiting list? Many if not most charters do not enroll new students other than in the starting grade of the school. When students leave or get pushed out (at a much higher rate than traditional schools) they are not replaced with a student on a "waiting list".

    This fictionalized "waiting list" can more accurately be described as the number of students who applied but were not accepted. By the way, traditional magnets and selective enrollment schools have far, far greater "waiting lists" than charter schools.

    The implication of the waiting list talking point is that charters are more desirable than neighborhood schools. Neighborhood schools don't have waiting lists because they are required to accept all students within an attendance boundary. No one has to "wait" to get into a neighborhood school.

    Waiting lists are a concoction of marketing, something at which the charter and reform movements excel.

    Even a small degree of critical analysis shows how meaningless these PR sound bytes are. Unfortunately, most people, journalists included, are not critical thinkers.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I do not fully agree with your perspective on charter school waiting lists. I have worked with two families of children with disabilities coming out of early childhood special education programs who will be entering kindergarten next fall. Based on lottery results each of their children's names appeared on formal numbered wait lists for four to six different charter schools. In both cases I saw the letters they recieved because I was attempting to secure placements other than the home school that these families rejected as not being appropriate for their disabled children.

    One of the families was called by a charter school and given a spot about two weeks after being placed on the waiting lists. That family's wait list number was as I recalled #15, which I think clearly means a good number of the students accepted declined to enroll and a good number of the children on the list had already gotten slots. The other family is moving out of the city to the suburbs and I don't know if they were called up for a slot.

    So I do not fully argee that the waiting lists are totally "a concoction of marketing." But, clearly the reality of the numbers of children wanting to get into charter schools appears to me to be something less than 10,000, how much less I do not know.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, sure, 2 weeks into the school year. At that time schools are still trying to figure out who has enrolled vs. who has not and how to fill their enrollment numbers.

    But 10 weeks into the year or at the end of the first semester or even going into the next school year it's a different story.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Rod does not say anything about "two weeks into the school year".

    The point is that charter schools have no problem filling their schools (at the start of the school year) since there are students on a waiting list eager to get in.

  • In reply to casey57:

    Rod wrote: One of the families was called by a charter school and given a spot about two weeks after being placed on the waiting lists.

    But you're right. Most charters don't have trouble filling their schools. They just have trouble keeping the enrollment up when students leave or get kicked out, have trouble enrolling students from the neighborhoods in which they reside, and have trouble serving ELL and special education students.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    "If CPS is doing its analytics based on waiting list statistics, then it should present this data in a serious manner." Or... the Tribune shouldn't blindly regurgitate such unproven "factoids." Maybe the reporters should investigate instead. Naaaah.

  • i've asked INCS, CPS, gates, and new schools for chicago for some additional information about what's being requested -- so far no response but i'll keep bugging them.

  • here's the gates press announcement from december that describes what CPS is applying for:


    Several Communities Eligible to Compete for Grant Funds and Program-Related Investments
    Totaling More Than $40 Million

    Chicago – To support its goal of preparing more students for success in college and career,
    the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is proud to announce more than $40 million in competitive
    funding for cities that have signed Charter-District Collaboration Compacts.

    The Compacts, first announced in December 2010, are signed by leaders from district schools,
    charter schools and local communities who pledge to share best practices, innovations and
    resources among charters and districts. This strategic collaboration is designed to prepare more
    students for college by working collaboratively on areas like teacher effectiveness, college-
    ready tools and supports, innovative instructional delivery systems and school models, and
    improved student-level data use.

    The funds announced today are a mix of competitive grant dollars for Compact cities to scale
    their existing work, and Program-Related Investment dollars to support facilities investments in
    the highest performing schools.

    Leaders in Chicago and Spring Branch (TX) are announcing their Compacts today, and
    represent the two newest Compact communities. They are joining Baltimore, Boston, Central
    Falls, R.I., Denver, Hartford, Conn., Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Nashville, Tenn., New Orleans,
    New York City, Rochester, N.Y. and Sacramento, Calif., for a total of 14 Compact cities. In
    addition to these 14, the foundation is working closely with several other cities that are likely to
    announce their compacts in the coming weeks.

    “These communities are setting examples for mayors, districts and charter school leaders
    across the country to work collaboratively, learn from each another and build upon successful
    practices,” said Vicki L. Phillips, director of Education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda
    Gates Foundation. “Ultimately, they have the same goal—to ensure all students succeed—so it
    just makes sense for them to be on the same team. We applaud these communities for publicly
    committing to work together and do whatever it takes to radically increase the number students
    prepared for college and career.”

    While each of the Compact cities receives a modest investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates
    Foundation to advance the work outlined in the Compact agreements, the foundation has not
    historically made significant monetary contributions to this work.

    “We like what we’ve seen, and we’d like to see more of it,” added Philips. The RFP and PRI
    funds will be used to further the efforts in Compact cities to work together and accelerate
    student achievement and college-readiness in their communities. And, in conjunction with
    the larger grant eligibility, the foundation intends to make a small number of program related

    investments (PRIs) to support mutually beneficial financing and facility use proposals to
    increase the number of students in high-performing schools. These PRIs may be in the form of
    low-cost loans, credit enhancements or risk-sharing structures that leverage external funding
    and can serve as proof points towards the ultimate goal of open access to buildings for all high-
    performing schools, regardless of governance.

    “These Compact cities see common ground, rather than the battle grounds that have
    characterized the past,” said Don Shalvey, Deputy Director of US Programs, Bill & Melinda
    Gates Foundation. “They are committed to quality for every student, expanded public school
    choices and a “can do” spirit that honors teachers and the youngsters they serve,” he added.

    Each District-Charter Collaboration Compact is signed by the district superintendent and
    multiple charter school leaders, with support from other partners in the city, which can include
    the mayor, local teachers’ unions, and school board members. As part of these efforts, districts
    commit to replicating high-performing models of traditional and charter public schools while
    improving or closing down schools that are not serving students well.

    Additionally, the Compacts address equity issues that have often led to tensions between
    public charter and traditional schools, such as whether both school’s students have access
    to necessary funding and facilities and whether charter schools are open to all students,
    including those with special needs and English Language Learners. The Compacts also include
    commitments among district and charter partners to work together on areas like measures of
    effective teaching, implementation of the Common Core State Standards, and improved use of
    student data, to improve college readiness rates.

    “We have been at this for many years, and this Compact truly signifies a breakthrough for
    Chicago families,” said Phyllis Lockett, president and CEO of New Schools for Chicago. “By
    working collaboratively, we forged a real path to expand school choice and high quality charter
    options throughout our city.”

    The Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) at the University of Washington will
    publish annual reports to measure the overall progress of the participating cities and outline the
    steps being taken to ensure proper implementation.

    To learn more about the District-Charter Collaboration Compacts and the Bill & Melinda Gates
    Foundation’s education strategy, please visit www.gatesfoundation.org/education.

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    When has the Gates Foundation have been really successful in education? Really, what initiatives have they started that they finished on a good note. This is pure bunk. Besides, charters are not held accountable for their performance and use of tax payer funds. More smoke and mirrors with the empty "promise" of doing something good. If I read things correctly, even Rahm understands that besides a handful of the charters, they are not doing better than the regular public schools. Then again, what teachers really want to work in the charter school! They don't! UNO tries to get rid of teachers by their fifth year, so they don't have to pay them more.

  • here's the december edweek writeup of the initiative from gates -- i'm sure i posted this but i'm not sure i was really paying attention. i certainly didn't connect it to the rumored 100-school plan a couple of weeks ago:

    Charter schools in Chicago would get easier access to facilities and a likely increase in per-pupil funding under a proposed district-charter compact that would also make charters subject to some of the same testing and accountability standards as traditional schools.
    The draft agreement between CPS and its charters was handed out at a Tuesday conference for participants in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative called “District-Charter Collaboration Compacts.” Chicago Public Schools and Spring Branch Independent School District, outside of Houston, are joining the 12 districts across the country that already signed on.
    Mayor Rahm Emanuel said at Tuesday’s announcement that he hopes high-performing charter operators from around the country will “look at this as an opportunity to set up shop.” Chicago has historically had trouble bringing in some nationally-known operators because of its relatively low per-pupil funding.
    Yet Emanuel added that “just because you’re a charter, that doesn’t mean you get a pass. Creating more schools of excellence is my goal.”
    Chicago and the other cities will be eligible to compete for a pot of $20 million in implementation funding that the Gates Foundation will dole out over the next three to five years. The foundation expects about 10 districts to earn grants; two or three could get $4 million to $7 million, the rest $2 million or less.


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    My wife is a CPS teacher. She would LOVE to be able to kick out the kids that dont give a s#%&. She would LOVE to put more effort and time into kids and parents that WANT to get an education. So once traditional school gets the same rights as Charter schools YOU CANNOT COMPARE THEM!!! So please ask yourselves....are charter schhol better becasue they don't have "evil" unions - or becasue they have the autonomy and creative felxibility to serve only the students that want to be there?

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    The unions restrict, "autonomy and creative flexiblity" and force all teachers to be treated as the lowest common denominator teacher in the system.

    It is completely within the power of the CTU to make charters unnecessary. They need to provide the creative flexibility and ability to try new methods and adapt to the needs of strugglng students. The mentality now to force all teachers into one cookie cutter prevents this. The CTU can complain all day long about charters, but nothing will change until they realize that they hold all the cards to making charters unnecessary. Whining and complaining won't do it, action will.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    What you just wrote is the most insanely idiotic thing I've ever read. At no point in your rambling rant were you close to anything that can be considered a rational thought. All of us are now dumber for having read it. I award you no credit and may God have mercy on your soul.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Charter schools are free from a small number of union related issues: wages, work schedules, and due process.

    The most important obstacles charter schools are freed from are those imposed on the rest of us by the district and the state.

    The district implements cookie cutter academic solutions like scripted curricula and test prep, not the Union. The district declines to staff buildings fully on day one and refuses to lower class sizes in the lower grades. The district imposes its own convoluted discipline code. The district forces grades to be due well before the end of the actual school year. This list goes on and on and on.

    State code forces traditional schools to educate every child. State code (and other legislation) forces CPS to serve special education students and English language learners. State code exempts CPS from negotiating over class size if it wishes. This list also goes on and on.

    The biggest obstacles students face are 1) poverty, and 2) embarrassingly incompetent CPS policy..

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    Of course you can compare charters to CPS school. It just can't be done with simple aggregate numbers.

  • In reply to M Wesoloskie:

    So to be clear there are just "some kids who don't care" and "some parents" who don't want their children to get a good education? At what point does that happen? When do you think we should give up on these kids and parents and boot them out of the system? I always feel like age 10 or 11 is probably appropriate-really at that point if they just don't give a crap there's no hope for them! I mean how kids possibly be unmotivated...its not like they go to under-resourced schools in a dysfunctional system. And I can't believe that some people expect teachers to actually spend time building students investment in education and motivation for learning.....I hope this is the point you realize how ignorant your comment was.

  • Anyone know what happened to Delgado's Bill on charter schools and fines?

  • Here's a simple way to deflate the charter balloon of inflated success rates - once a charter enrolls a kid, he/she is yours. No dumping discipline issues or low performers back to neighborhood schools. High standards are great - but you need to raise the kids up to them, not just cut off everyone that fails to meet the bar. The grounds for a student being dropped from a charter should be the same as a CPS expulsion. The bottom line metric should be the percentage of graduates who started as freshmen. And don't throw mobility BS into this - everyone knows how the charters operate, and it's about damn time someone at the district started holding them accounatble for all the 'back door creaming' of students that happens through kids getting 'counseled out.' All we are asking is if you are going to compare neighborhood schools to charters, you need to hold them to the same policies as we beholden to.

  • In reply to eyeoncps:

    Would you support charter schools within the City of Chicago constituting their own school district with an elected school board? Assuming there are 50 additional charter schools in Chicago a Chicago Charter School district would effectively be the second largest school district in the state. It seems to me if we want accountability that is really the way to go.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:


    Isn't part of the problem at least at this early point in the Charter School game, that charters compete with neighborhood schools by opening shop down the street, then drawing off the better students from the more functional families, leaving the neighborhood school depleted and full of the least functional kids from the least functional families? Ultimately, the problem of what to do with these most difficult students isn't solved by charters. So in what way would a charter district establish accountability or address the problem of the unwanted lowest tier of young people. This is by far the greatest hindrance to the effectiveness of neighborhood schools and its the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

  • In reply to Donald:

    Donald, extremely well written and on point! Charters don't want to deal with English Language Learners and special education children. We have Rahm and his Jim Crow and Redlining attitude, wipes his hands of these children a la Pontius Pilate. Rahm this is for you, it seems you need to take heed of the great Jewish prophets. If you are a practicing Jew, you should understand the strong message of the prophets in regards to not protecting most vulnerable and weak of our society. Rahm, stop your minstrel act and work with the professionals that are working every day in in the classrooms. Respect and work with CTU. Rahm, your actions does not fly with your own Jewish prophets.


  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    I question Rahm's faith, since he contradicts the Jewish prophets that admonish treating the poor with such disregard. Rahm's rabbi needs to sit down with him tell him the gauntlet set down by the great Jewish prophets. Within the great Jewish tradition, Rahm fails miserably!

  • In reply to Donald:

    Parents of students with disabilities are applying and being accepted at charter schools. We know from the work Ms. Karp has done at Catalyst the overall percentage of students with disabilities at charters is on average lower than for CPS as a whole. But there are also now charter schools with 18 and 20 percent students with IEPs. Currently advocacy organizations, or private practice attorneys, formally cannot litigate against charter schools on behalf of families of students who are experiencing violations of their IEPs. The law requires that the due process filing be against CPS as the district. Far too often the solution is to place the child back into a traditional CPS school as part of a settlement agreement or informal deal worked out between CPS, the charter, the family, and in some cases an advocate like me.

    I have to assume charter expansion is going to continue and advocates are going to be dealing with more and more cases relating to charter schools. The irony of this is some of the families I have worked with who sent their disabled students with IEPs to charters left traditional CPS schools because of IEP violations and the failure of their children to show academic improvement. Ultimately under federal law the education of a disabled student can take place in private schools, traditional public schools, charter schools, or any other new type of school allowed by states that have accepted federal IDEA dollars.

    Because of the closure of traditional schools it is inevitable that more students with IEPs will be educated in charter schools, having these schools all in one separate school district creates a collective responsibility for these children because they will commonly be held libel as part of the same district. We believe that charter networks which have lower percentages of students with IEPs will be forced by the other charters in such a school district to increase their enrollment because of the competitive advantages those lower enrolling charters will have compared to the charters with 15-18 or 20% students with IEPs.

    The entire charter funding issue becomes simpler, the new charter school district would get a percentage of the property tax pot, General State Aid, etc, relative to the city as a whole based on total enrollment. Charter facilities would either be privately held or owned by the new district at the choice of the charter operator. I believe any charter school district should have a publicly elected Board by law.

    The expansion of charters CPS is now discussing would create actually more students in charter schools in Chicago than in New Orleans and it is too big to fit under the CPS in my opinion. Now, if you ask me if the massive growth of charters is a good thing for public education as a whole I would say no. But I am not getting paid to fight charter schools expansion, but rather to make sure students with disabilities are getting some semblance of an education, preferably better than now where only a small percentage of disabled students by grade 11 have basic literacy skills.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:


    Thank you for your response. It seems like something like that will have to happen because charter funders will demand it. Your plan sounds like the "High Priority District" plan only looked at from the reverse angle--if you take out the charters from the district, then what are you left with? The high-end magnets and the military academies won't be far behind the charters.No one wants to be in a district that is dedicated to controlling schools rather than enabling them. A charter district would presumably have to work cooperatively with the powerful charter organizations and their wealthy sponsors. The district you would leave for neighborhood schools would have no such counterweights to the stifling bureaucracy.

    While some students with IEPs are definitely among the unwanted--Los Olvidados--in my experience, many of the most difficult students do not have IEPs and are simply suspended and suspended until they drop out.

  • In reply to Donald:

    Flip the question.
    How can most neighborhood high schools provide "high quality seats" to prepare capable students for university? History says they can't.
    Mixing the kids from the the most dysfunctional families with the students that have academic potential has meant almost no one in the school gets a true high school education. What's the point of continuing that?
    There's not going to be more money per student. There's not going to be an improving socioeconomic environment in poor neighborhoods. Is the CTU plan to keep all the poor black kids stuck in the hood?

  • Headache299
    Get ready teachers!
    The mass teacher-firings and lower wages have just begun!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    what does this mean?

  • Notice all the hard work Alex put into the charter school issue. Alex why not come back to Chicago and work in a charter school if you think they're so great? Oh but you won't because that would mean a cut in pay, longer hours and no protection from a psycho administrator.

  • In reply to FrontRow:

    Yeah, Alex seems to have jumped the shark. Hmmm, just when did the 299 blog go south?

  • On the topic of Charter expansion, from the CTU

    Oppose HB4277. This bill forces school districts to divert more funds from neighborhood public schools to charter schools. While public schools are funded almost entirely by taxes, charters receive private money from corporate privatization proponents.
    Despite what charter proponents say, this Charter School Bill (HB4277) is not about reform or the betterment of our communities. Charter school advocates claim they need this full funding to pay and retain their teachers. However, the bill makes no mention of teacher pay. This bill is really about transferring a public good—Education—to private non-profits, where taxpayers have NO recourse or chance for accountability.
    Fact 1 CPS faces a $712 million deficit due to the serious fiscal crisis as federal, state, and local revenues have decreased. By increasing the required funding for charters, the state would decrease the amount available for neighborhood public schools that serve the vast majority of CPS students.
Fact 2 The FY 2012 budget already includes a funding increase in 2011-12 for charter schools. Charters already receive:
    • $348 million in annual support for charter and contract schools
    • $9.7 million in new funds to open 4 new charter schools in 2011-2012
    • $6.7 million in new funds to support 1,000 expanded slots for new students at currently operating schools in 2011-2012
    • $22 million in new funds to add additional grades for 3,000 students in 2011-2012
    Fact 3 Because of the district’s financial crisis, CPS reneged on a negotiated 4% pay increase for teachers and other staff, saving a mere $100 million. CPS, per state statute, will be required to implement a longer school day, a new teacher evaluation system, and the new Common Core State Standards. These new responsibilities beg the question: how will CPS fund these new initiatives while simultaneously increasing funds for the Charter Schools?
Fact 4 Negotiated Charter legislation that passed in 2008 included a moratorium on new charter laws specific to Article 27A of the school code, which includes statutes on local and state finance for charters, until June 30, 2013. The proposed legislation is a significant change to charter law, thus violating the spirit and intent of the agreement.
    Tell your representatives to Oppose HB4277 Amendment #1.
    House Sponsors of the bill are listed below. If one of these individuals represent you and your family in Springfield, give them a call and send them an email explaining your opposition to the proposed legislation.

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