"This Isn't A CTU Thing"

Today's news includes coverage of last night's West Side hearing, a citywide look at charter variations from Medill, and the news that the student shot and killed earlier this week actually appeared in an anti-violence PSA.  What'd I miss?  What's the big issue at your school?


Feisty crowd fights to save West Side elementary schools Chicago Sun-Times: CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she will make school closing decisions based on “utilization” or school capacity. According to district calculations, these neighborhoods have lost lots of residents over the last decade.

CPS Hearing in Austin Tonight CPS Chatter: I just heard that tonight’s CPS meeting in Austin is so crowded that they’re overflowing the halls.   People are angry and this isn’t a CTU thing.  This is a “all the other schools in our neighborhood had and my child keeps getting shifted around” thing.

Walton Foundation Funds Community Engagement Catalyst: “District officials have said they don’t want to link the volatile issue of school closings with the equally volatile issue of charter school openings. But a major pro-charter foundation is providing financial backing for the current crop of school closing meetings taking place around the city this month.”

CPS School Closings Meeting Gets Heated as Protesters Shout Down Officials DNAinfo: Chanting "Save our schools" and "No school closings," several hundred parents, teachers and community members refused to let Chicago Public Schools officials speak during a public hearing on school closings Monday night in Uptown.


Plato and other charter schools up for contract renewal AustinTalks: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett wrote in a Jan. 8 letter to Raise Your Hand that CPS does not agree that the homeroom multiplier should be changed from 30 to 25.

The ins and outs of Chicago’s charter network expansion Medill Report: However, that doesn’t mean every charter school is seeing the same level of success [as Noble Street]. Chicago International Charters, another large charter network, has several campuses in the red, scoring below the CPS average. Chicago International’s Washington Park campus only scored a 19 for supportive environment.


On the killing of a star student in Chicago Washington Post: Here is a moving statement from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen GJ Lewis, t on the shooting death of King College Prep student Hadiya Pendleton, a star student who was gunned down a little more than a week after she participated in President ...

Teen killed appeared in anti-violence PSA WGNtv: Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis released a statement today saying, “the prevalence of violence on our streets is starting to reduce the wonderful qualities that kids like Hadiya possess… qualities we all want in our children… to homicide ...


CTU Opposes Standardized Testing System Southwest News-Herald: As a result, when academic outcomes are averaged across subgroups such as race and class, glaring gaps appear. “These issues are the things that are important to our families, not performance on standardized tests,” said Karen Lewis, the CTU president.


Filed under: Daily News Roundup


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  • OMG. What a story these Tweet roundups tell: http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/notebook/2013/02/01/20804/school-closing-meetings-week-1

  • I saw this at cpsobsessed, where it's veracity is being questioned:

    "From Tribune: 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."

    Does anyone know if the existence of a 10,000-applicant strong waiting list for CPS charter school seats has been verified? If so, who proved its existence?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I believe last year at a budget hearing someone from CPS stated the 10,000 number came from the charter schools and did they did not know if it included students who appeared on multiple wait lists.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I would suppose that each charter school or each group would have reported its wait-list numbers to CPS? Who would collect that? Can it be FOIAed?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    CPS may have gotten the wait list data from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, in that case the data could not be FOIAed in mass because INCS is a private organization. However, because the Charter School Act requires each charter school to move to a lottery in the situation that there are more applicants than slots some type of records need to be kept at the charter schools themselves.

    So the FOIA would have to be done on the level of the charter school boards which are the actual legal entity under the Charter Act.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Documents that a public agency has in its possession can be requested under the Freedom of Information Act. So if CPS has received copies of waiting lists from charter schools, then these documents are retrievable under the FOIA. There may be an access barrier to these lists because of some student privacy issues that may limit access to student names. But just because a document wasn't created by CPS doesn't mean that it's not retrievable under FOIA.

  • its

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    We welcome a call from CPD Superintendent Garry McCarthy to solicit the input and assistance of our members, because Hadiya is more than a statistic to us. She is family, she is innocence lost, and while we are not foolish enough to think she will be the last member of our family to perish, we will continue our efforts to fight for the more than 400,000 students in CPS so they have the opportunity to learn and grow up as leaders—and protectors—of future generations. -- CTU President Karen Lewis

  • Juan Rangel hawking his brand of BS on right-wing talker Hugh Hewitt's dumb gabfest:


  • Saw this message for Rod Estvan at cpsobsessed:

    162. Teacher4321 | February 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    @ 160 Rod Estvan

    Thank you for all that you do on behalf of SWD in CPS. It is much appreciated.

    Is there anywhere where there is a comprehensive list of which laws in regards to students with disabilities that CPS has waivers for? (such as class size, workload, amount of teacher and/or teacher to student ratio, rules for workload for clinicians, etc.) Is this located somewhere on the ISBE website?

  • There re no waivers-this is the BS that CPS spews forth when asked by savvy teachers in regards to gross violations. The case managers need to ask these questions. I was a CTU delegate and a special education teacher was told by the principal, case manager AND the downtown OSES representative that there was a waiver to allow for a five year age range in her classroom. She was sharp enough to ask for a copy of the waiver. While she was waiting for this non-existent paperwork to appear I called ISBE-the woman laughed at the question and asked if I was from CPS. The situation was rectified after I notified the field rep for the union. Of course, the principal and the case manager vilified both of us for daring to question this gross irregularity.

  • ISBE has given some districts special education waivers, especially in relation to the percentage of students given the IL Alternative Assessment. I do not know which if any waivers CPS has or has not requested. I am meeting with CPS next friday and I will try to ask in particular whether there have been waiver requests in relation to class sizes at particular schools.

    Rod Estvan

  • I realize that waivers are granted in extreme circumstances. For example: a child with special needs may be enrolled in a classroom which makes it over the limit due to geography. In order for the child to be enrolled in a program that was not over the limit the child would be on a bus for over an hour, etc. This happens in rural areas. CPS is not a rural area but oftens tries to override the law because it does not want to spend the money. Shared aides for non-ambulatory students, mis-labeling to keep in cross-cat, and self-contained classrooms nearing twenty. Let's not even get into the lack of support for children with emotional disorders in CPS....and the beat goes on and on....

  • Stats show that more and more children are presenting with emotional disorders and mental illnesses. I wonder how CPS is preparing for this expected growing percentage of its students who have educational problems stemming from ED?

  • .....I have had many children labeled LD who were ED, autistic or cognitively delayed. The psychologists need to label correctly as it is very unethical to lie to parents about their child nor is it fair to expect the child to show growth based upon the "supposed learning disability". I mean really, some of it is so blatant- an eight year old child who can not add two plus two using his fingers, a child who is self-stimming by licking/eating every thing in sight or a child in sixth grade who breaks down in tears if his mother is two minutes late to pick him up-these children are most likely mislabeled-CPS saves money in that these children usually need a smaller class size/more support services than those who are learning disabled. Sped teachers need to dissent-if they are tenured....

  • Although the school psychologist solely determines eligibility for specialized instruction to address cognitive disabilities; it is the entire specialized services team (including the general education teacher, the special education teacher, and the parents) that determines eligibility for specialized instruction to address emotional disturbance, autism and specific learning disabilities. If a teacher believes a student requires a change in disability; the teacher should request a special re-evaluation. If the teacher is not in agreement with the eligibility decision, a dissent should be written by the teacher.

  • In reply to Grace:

    How many gen ed or sped teachers have been inserviced on how to dissent? NONE-not in CPS...a few years ago you had to ahve someone come from downtown to test/label a child suspected of needing services for children with autism. Once the school psychologist says average or low average intelligence ( 69 or is it 65 these days then the child is not cognitively delayed and ends up in LD) I have very few true LDs-peaks and valley-sharp but not getting it...how will these supposed LDs test fro teacher evals) We need to wake up...

  • In reply to Grace:

    Grace I had an identification case three years ago at a CPS elementary school where the IEP team over ruled a school psychologist over identification. The psychologist in her report indicated the student had a minor possible cognitive impairment, but the assessment for maladaptive behaviors indicated the student did not qualify. The psychologist was opposed to an LD identification but the parent, myself, and the rest of the team effectively over ruled the psychologist. The psychologist filed a dissent and the CPS special ed lawyers backed the team and held that identification is all ways a team decision and psychologists do not have either veto power or carry greater weight in the discussion than any other member of the team.
    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    So a possible cognitive impairment goes LD-no surprise there....I always thought average or above average intelligence was step one in identification of a student with learning disabilities....exactly what is the criteria for identification of a student with learning disabilities in CPS????? is it the same outside of CPS?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Under a normal psychological protocol in order to be identified as having a cognitive disability the student must not only demonstrate intelligence globally well below the norm, but must also show what are called maladaptive behaviors. These behaviors are required to be based on an assessment that includes behaviors not just at school but also at home.

    CPS like all other districts in Illinois is required to use a response to intervention type process to determine LD. Psychologists can still use what is called a discrepancy standard via a comparison of an intelligence test and predicted academic scores on a standardized assessment, but only after RTI or a request by parents for such an assessment. Is CPS consistently doing assessments in this manner, well it depends on the school and the training of the staff in a three tier RTI process.

    Rod Estvan

  • George Schmidt famously refuses to post annoymous comments at his substancenews.net site, however he includes this in a story:

    "Charter school teachers in Chicago are facing problems similar to those faced by teachers in the city's regular public schools -- and then some. Classrooms without books because administrators are afraid to spend any money in fear of losing their jobs; relatives being given positions and paid higher salaries than other staff members; and teachers being penalized for union activity were among the complaints that the charter teachers, all of whom asked to remain anonymous for now, shared with Substance. These comments came from Charter School teachers."

    Hmmm. "...charter teachers, all of whom asked to remain anonymous for now, shared with Substance." Perhaps if one REQUESTS anonymous status, Schmidt would grant it. Whaddaya think?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Your comparison is dumb. A person who publicly complains about charters could very well lose their job. Besides, maybe Substance confirmed their identity. Comparing an anonymous whistleblower with an anonymous online commenter is silly.

  • George blew the whistle on the CASE exams ad was terminated so be very careful if you decide to use your name.

  • Hoping Cheatham gets this job and leaves CPS

  • Dr. Cheatham's competition, Dr. Milton has a sordid resume: a resume that listed degrees he had not earned, an unpopular plan to close several schools, foreclosed property, and his role in hiring a one official who was convicted of child molestation.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Didn't he withdraw?

  • I had missed this one: "Special education, preschools at risk in school closings" By: Sarah Karp / February 4, 2013 -

    "Teacher Antoinette Thomas talks to a student in her morning preschool class at a South Side elementary school.

    "On the first floor of Brown Elementary School is a room with colorful mats on the walls, a ball pit and calming low-intensity lights..."

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