Closing Conflicts

There's not much new news on the closing plan or its alternatives at yesterday's Board meeting, but Board President David Vitale lambasted a CTU official for threats against Board members.  Also: Raise Your Hand says that schools maybe be under-utilized but classrooms are overcrowded. Catalyst looks into all the new parent organizing efforts going on - STAND, StudentsFirst, CTU, etc.BOARD MEETING

School Board president lambasts teachers union for ‘spewing lies’ Sun Times: Chicago School Board members Wednesday accused Chicago Teachers Union officials of “spewing lies,’’ issuing threats and trying to “intimidate’’ them into not closing half-empty schools. One target of the attack — CTU vice president Jesse Sharkey — later shot back by accusing the board president of being “silly” and thin-skinned.

Board members get tough with CTU Catalyst: “Unfortunately, your organization does not seem to want to behave as civilly as we do. Your vice president is quoted in the Tribune as saying, ‘We are coming after you,’” Vitale continued. “You also threaten us, Vitale said.  “You had your members march on my home. No one was home except my daughter,” because schools were closed due to the strike at the time.

School board president scolds teachers union for tactics WBEZ: “Your organization continues to spew lies about us, particularly Ms. Pritzker,” Vitale said referring to a CTU march on one of Board member Penny Pritzker’s Hyatt hotels. “You also threaten us. You had your members march on my home. You shouldn’t be trying to intimidate people. So I really do hope, if you want to have us continue to act civilly to you, that you would act civilly to us,”

UNDER-ENROLLED BUT OVERCROWDED?

Three-quarters of CPS over class size limits Catalyst: “Apples to Apples,” an independent investigation of CPS, found that 76 percent of CPS elementary schools had entire grades above the recommended class size limit set by CPS in 2011. CPS’ recommended quota allocations on class size are 28 maximum students per teacher in grades Kindergarten – 2nd and 31 maximum students per teacher in grades 3-8.

School closings complicated by crowded classrooms WBEZ: Parents with the Raise Your Hand coalition say three quarters of the city’s elementary schools have at least one grade with average class sizes above what CPS recommends.

CHARTER PERFORMANCE

CPS promises tough scrutiny of charters Catalyst: In the past, the distrct has not been aggressive in shutting down poorly-performing charter schools. Only two CPS charter schools have closed in the past five years. Choir Academy leaders made the decision to shut their doors for financial and performance issues. ACT charter’s board of directors was pressured to close the low-scoring school, but the ACT charter remained active and was given to KIPP to open a junior high school this year.

Charters not immune from closings, CPS says Tribune: One of the charter networks under scrutiny figures to be Shabazz International, which oversees two elementary schools rated at Level 3. Also, less than 6 percent of students attending the network's DuSable Leadership high school met state standards on the Prairie State Achievement Examination.

IT'S THE PARENTS, STUPID

Parents call for more school options as CPS mulls neighborhood campus closings Medill Reports: As Chicago Public Schools officials consider closing up to 100 schools, a group of parents and community leaders called on the district to offer more alternative educational options like charter campuses. About 50 parents, students and community leaders ...

Parent organizing efforts gain steam Catalyst: With CPS and parent groups on all sides headed for a lengthy school closing battle – one that may now be headed to the Illinois legislature – both Stand and New Schools for Chicago are mobilizing increasing numbers of parents around issues of school achievement and quality. The new outreach parallels the Chicago Teachers Union’s focus on parent organizing this year, as heated contract talks led to a strike. Another new parent group on the scene, unlike other groups, says it will not do advocacy: CSF Parents, which co-founder Christina Shaver says will only conduct polls.

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