Byrd-Bennett Honeymoon

There's lots of honeymoon thinking in the sentiment and the coverage surrounding the appointment of Barbara Byrd-Bennett to replace Jean Claude Brizard, but there's also a growing awareness that neither the strike nor the removal of Brizard changes the problems CPS faces: the budget, the excess seats, the dwindling enrollment, the achievement levels lower than other big cities.  The Sun Times analysis echoes many of the things that I and others have been saying about the structural problems in the City Hall-CPS relationship that need to be changed.  Oh, and Matt Damon was spotted wearing a CTU hat.


Emanuel needs to give new CPS boss space Sun Times: Whether the professional marriage between Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett will last longer than the 17-month-long and newly annulled first marriage between the mayor and his schools CEO will depend on Emanuel’s willingness to grow, change and above all, let go.

Challenges abound for new CPS chief Tribune: Having played a key role in negotiations that ended the rancorous teachers strike last month, new Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett now faces a coming battle over school closings. "There is a process," Byrd-Bennett said of the potential ...

New Chicago Public Schools chief's hardest task: restoring trust Mary Mitchell

Mark Brown: Mayor’s caginess on Brizard irritating Sun Times Mark Brown: Let’s put this right on the table: when you’re stuck paying an employee more than an extra year’s pay for him to just go away barely 18 months after he was hired, then somebody made a mistake.


Local teacher wins People mag honor Sun Times: People Magazine chose a Humboldt Park native as one of five winners in its inaugural Teacher of the Year contest. Robert J. Vega, 31, teaches band to 350 students at Rauner College Prep High School, a Noble Charter campus in West Town.

5 dead, 25 wounded in weekend shootings Sun Times: On Saturday night, a 16-year-old boy was killed and an 18-year-old was seriously injured when they were shot while hanging out in the front yard of a building in the 6300 block …



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  • GRRREATTT NEWS for an 'angry' Prosser principal Ken Hunter.
    Now that Brizard is gone. Hunter can now concentrate his ranting and complaining
    on the remaining thorn in his aside, David Vitale.
    One gone, one to go.
    Hang in there Ken,
    Prosser can be GRRREATTT again.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I don't know Ken Hunter, but he works at a "have-not" high school and he works with CPS students every day. Anger with the know-nothings and posers at 125 is something most CPS educators harbor. David Vitale has no real experience with schools or students. He has no business sitting as the president of the BoE.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Vitale was the CPS CAO 2003-2007 and is a current CPS parent. Very few Chicago natives with the skill-set and experience that he brings to the table.

    Here is his bio:

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    I don't know where his children attend school, but it probably isn't Fenger or Farragut or Foreman. Having your kids attend a CPS school is one thing, understanding the issues faced by 90% of neighborhood schools is another. Caring enough to actually make a difference? I don't see it.

    His skill set involves a lot of banking, a lot of sitting on boards, and a lot of finance. I don't see any background in actual education. I'm not impressed with him or most of his fellow elites on the school board. They are not representative of most Chicagoans. Despite their resumes and credentials they have not gotten the job done.

    We've had 17 years of mayoral appointed school boards. Many CPS schools are much worse off now than they were in 1995. High time we had real democratic control over schools.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Everyone currently affiliated with CPS that has kids or relatives in public schools (Vitale, Swanson, Ruiz, Pritzker) attend selective enrollment/magnet programs. Not a single one attends an open enrollment or neighborhood school. None of them attend schools that are on the watch list of closing schools and none of these schools will absorb any of the impact of the upcoming closures. So, CPS Parent (clearly a CPS hack), take your contortions elsewhere.

  • In reply to vitales:

    Maybe we should only select senior leadership from the homeless. They would understand the neediest students, right?

    Why would anyone with a choice send their child to a south or west side neighborhood school? What kind of parent chooses to diminish their child's education to look good to CTU supporters?
    Making the choice to raise one's children in the hood isn't a virtue.

  • In reply to Donn:

    You can't come from where you ain't been, Donn.

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    In reply to Donn:

    i actually agree with you there Donn. But I do wonder if the board knows what is needed from the other schools becasue they have no perspective.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I wish I could get a year of salary that extends beyond my contract for "asking to quit" and being totally incompetent. Why isn't everyone as outraged as me that Brizard gets $250k to "resign" after getting a bad review.

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    In reply to westofwestern:

    Probably for the same reasons that we weren't outraged that JCB was paid more than any other CEO becasue of "expanded job responsibilities." That was a quote from Rhamny himself. In turn he tried (and failed) to expand the respobsibilities of teachers with givng them more pay.
    CPS is so rediculous that the commen observer has probably actually come to expect such things from this joke of an organization.

  • 3B is here to close schools--watch!

  • 3B thinks she wll stay for 10 years!--already not facing reality. Although harder to get rid of a black woman than a black man, but not 10 years--please. (She is 62.)

  • This job is no picnic. The honeymoon is short. Making the right moves will lengthen her stay. This means changing the structure by removing know-nothings from key positions. This is huge. It makes no sense to have someone over programs they have no expertise in. Why is Jen Cheatham, Keesha Craven and Jen Loudon over programs they know nothing about? Shouldn't officers be individuals who are experts in the areas they oversee? These 3 are not thus they hold up productivity of programs. Lengthening her stay will also require appeasing the community by allowing input and give and take as schools close. It won't be easy. She will be a senior citizen in 3 years and this job will accelerate the aging process x 7. Central office years are definitely dog years.

  • As she closes schools, 3B must close area offices. So much money wasted in these offices--it is sinful.

  • District 299 reader is on point. Elite Board members who are millionaires cannot relate to the needs of common folks. None of them have been educators except Mahalia and I think she's out of touch having retired about 10 years ago. We might as well try an elected Board. In 17 years the mayor's handpicked boards have not made a difference. Time for Napoleonic rule to end.

  • In reply to sammy:

    So Sammy you are looking for a Board made up of current teachers who are parents, live in poor neighborhoods and send their kids to the local school and can read a financial statement and make policy decisions for a 5.5 billion dollar per year enterprise with 40,000 employees?

    Good luck with that.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    Is Rod Sierra qualified for such work?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yes, substantial experience in business and government and an MBA from Kellogg.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    I thought Sierra came from media and worked in communications. Now marketing for Johnson Publishing.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    He knows city hall from the inside, CPS has similar public relations/communication issues that Peoples Energy has. My idea of a Ed. Board is not a bunch of ed. wonks. A variety of skill-sets, including some who have direct experience with education systems and a proven high level track record in the private or public sphere is what I would look for.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    Sounds great. How has he contributed so far. Do we know? How would we know? Has anyone from the public met with him during the board members' new office hours?

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    You're a paid PR flack. Commenting on this blog on behalf of the administration is part of your day job. What a desparate little man Rahm Emanuel must be.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Isn't John Rogers six (or fewer) degrees of separation from all these board types?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You know, now that you've got me thinking about it, it actually does make me feel less like bothering to vote for Obama in November

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Good work, PR flack! Job well done!

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    What is a " Ed Wonk"?

  • In reply to rbusch:

    One of those undesirable people who actually knows something about education.


    Stand for Children's parent column

  • Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale's direct quote on Prosser's Principal Kenneth Hunter, "How the hell is this guy a principal?"

  • In reply to district299reader:

    One of the kinder posts on

    "Typial CPS 'underachieving' principal that brings in his people to make six figure salaries and doesn't get anyhthing out of his students at Prosser. The community can't get rid of him because he has his people on the LSC and they vote him contract after contract."

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Mr Vitale could ask that question in a least half of the schools. If you read this blog the stories of principals gone wild is quite astonishing. This situation will worsen as we are woefully short of competent administrators. The residency requirement is killing us.
    Ms Byrd-Bennett will have her hands full. The administrators in special education need to stop with the illegal unwritten mandates.
    Doesn't anyone find it disheartening that 600 administrators have no sense of shame that they just go along with inept policies, practices and mandates from central office. It had to fall on the teachers' union to bring up issues during the strike that the principals should have addressed. There seems to be a dearth of leadership in CPS these days. If Ms Byrd-Bennet is as sharp as people say I do believe she will echo Mr Vitale's comment hundred fold.

  • BBB is both the ed officer and exec officer. She has all the levers and needs to immediately:
    -- Put the "talent" office on notice. Most of the problems can be traced back to them. Insist on accountability at 125 and the schools will benefit.
    -- Reduce the behavior problems by allowing neighborhood schools to send the students to an alternative school or have in school suspension or something so the other kids can learn.

    For next year:
    -- Calculate charters last payment of the year based on the students that FINISH the year.
    -- Make everyone (including charters) take the same tests and fewer of them.
    -- Fix the budget process and funding inequities between schools. This is hard and any progress would be to her credit.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are there really funding inequities between school? I never see numbers with these claims.
    I expect it's expensive to run the highest poverty schools when all costs are included. Fairness may not be as easy as providing similar funding.
    Should Lincoln Elementary receive relatively less per student funding because of the great need in tier 1 schools?

  • In reply to Donn:

    It probably already does since it has fewer Title 1 students.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "-- Reduce the behavior problems by allowing neighborhood schools to send the students to an alternative school or have in school suspension or something so the other kids can learn."

    To address behavior problems, it's critical to start identifying and evaluating the youngest students for disabilities. I fully expect her to COMPLETELY ignore this, as her predecessors have done.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    "I fully expect her to COMPLETELY ignore this, as her predecessors have done."

    Some of the poorest schools have 20% IEPs. While most of these students don't get the needed services, it's not ignored.

    How big should class size become to provide more services? I have a 9th grade teacher in my family whose smallest class is 30 students.

    The number of young students in CPS with identifiable disabilities that would be addressed in a wealthy community is probably enormous. Wealthy districts easily spend $100K+ per year on many SPED students.

    What 299 can do is 1) Fill all the SPED positions. 2) Make the effort to recruit and retain the people who really want these jobs. A good SPED teachers makes a huge difference in the quality of life for his/her students.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Yes, it is enormous. An enormous and real need. Pay now, or pay later.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree that giving local schools vast powers to local schools to administratively transfer students to alternative schools would be a form of insanity. I also would note that not every significantly disruptive student should have an evaluation to determine eligibility for special education services. I also don't know of any simple way to determine which disruptive child should be evaluated and which one probably should not. It is a quandary for urban educators and administrators. But using one of the universal screening approaches that are available clearly can't hurt.

    Anyone who has examined the success record of CPS alternative schools has to be aware that generally placing a student in one of these schools is effectively an academic death sentence. We need only look at the data for Youth Connections Charter Schools to see how bad the situation is. Actually YCCS's data is probably better than many alternative schools for disruptive students. But at any rate only 45% of YCCS students ever graduate and the average student has a little better than a 15 ACT composite score with about 12.2% of students reading at or above state standards by grade 11.

    What needs to be done is effective implementation of a Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports approach (PBIS), but PBIS implementation requires funding and neither the state nor CPS is providing elementary schools with those funds. My honest opinion is that implementing PBIS with disruptive high school students doesn't work well because they have usually been disrupting educational environments too long to have an easy fix. Unfortunately for some of these students an alternative setting may be the only option, but that is very clearly not the case for students at the elementary school level.

    Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive systems approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture and needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional, and academic success. It is a variation on the Response to Intervention model, PBIS applies a three-tiered system of support just like RTI is supposed to do in theory, and a problem-solving process to increase the capacity of schools to effectively educate all students. But in my opinion CPS has not invested sufficiently in this approach with either staff, training, or money. CEO Huberman began to attempt to use this approach as part of the culture of calm, but then it largely fell apart due to budget cuts.

    Lastly I fully understand the exasperation of teachers in schools with numerous disruptive students who have limited structure in their own homes. But from my own experience adopting a policy of getting rid of the problem students only reveals new problem students once the ones pushed out are gone. Sending kids to alternative settings in no way impacts the next disruptive kid. Having said this I will admit it is far easier to write about this in the abstract than it is to survive trying to teach when you have several students who are making your life as an instructor hell and lessening your effectiveness for those students who are there to learn.

    I recall being told about implementing effective classroom management techniques as a teacher and thinking my principal was simply crazy because I just needed to get through the day with some students, not try to fix them. Probably we have to try both to get through the day and fix some students to the extent we can. Shipping them out quick to alternative schools won't do that and probably giving students an IEP if they are really border line emotionally disturbed probably won't fix these students either.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Is Montefiore being used to it's potential? Are students' needs being addressed as EARLY as possible? Pre-natal? Pre-school? Early intervention? Parenting support? Grow your own teachers. There seem to be options for slow change.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    Seriously...if BBB really backed a philosophy that is the child/parent do not want to put in the effort and behavior required to get a world class education - then get out...EVERY RANK AND FILE TEACHER WOULD LOVE HER AND IT WOULD BE THE BEST CPS/CTU RELATIONSHIP ANYONE HAS EVER SEEN.

  • What did teachers think of Brizard? Word in Central Office is that he was generally liked... is the true? The thinking seems to be that the breakdown in the relationship with CO and the teachers was other leaders at CPS, not Brizard.

  • Breakdown ultimately is with Rahm. Brizard never connected with principals. Rahm picked him. Chiefs of schools mostly run over principals rather than support them--they were the arm of Brizard,whether he knew it or not, which is another problem for him. Bounded autonomy a joke--Principals never included on selection of their chiefs--get no say or not heard on school, students or teacher needs.
    In-fighting before Denoso left with Little and Cheatham and other females, clawing ahead--Brizard should have gotten between the cats and halted this. Cannot blame teachers (I am not a union member) Too many new directives with wrong informaiton-overwhelmed teachers, no professional development, helped to get the way over 75%.
    Leader must follow-through with a few projects, done well- first, get people on your side. Whether Brizard followed Rahm's directives or even his own, he was not a leader. Yet, he made off like a king.

  • TRUST for Prosser Principal Hunter is only good for Unity Walk posters (which he had made), but, not for Prosser's teachers as they lack trust in him.

    A University of Chicago survey of Prosser Career Academy High School teachers doesn't bode well for Prosser Principal Kenneth Hunter. One glaring area that needs support and is well below the average for CPS schools with a '37' rating is in the "Effective Leaders' area due mainly because of the poor Teacher-Principal Trust.. Other areas which Hunter is well below average in are: Principal Instructional Leadership and Program Coherence.

    Check out the survey here:

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Are me making the job of Principal impossible? It seems to me that a lot of young CPS teachers are not willing to consider this career track anymore.
    I don't know anything about Hunter. I do know the trend in CPS has been towards unintentionally setting up many jobs for failure. Too many hours, too much pressure, too many conflicting, ambiguous goals.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Donn:

    I agree with you here Donn. This all goes down hill and picks up speed by the time it gets to teachers. Conflicting goals, too much pressure to execute on some flavor of the month program, from some CEO of the month. I actually have some hope for BBB. She needs to bitch slap the mayor and tell him to stay out of it.

  • "[BBB] She needs to bitch slap the mayor and tell him to stay out of it." What a luscious image.

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