Video: Closer Look At Skyway

ScreenHunter_08 Feb. 28 11.24Click below to watch WTTW's segment on the utilization / closing debate surrounding schools in the Skyway Network including Powell.

I don't think that anyone imagines all 10 of the Skyway schools on the list are going to be closed -- but as long as they're on the list it's still possible.

Video below.  Link here.


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  • I love how the CPS person at the Skyway meeting says that CPS doesn't expect there to be 30 kids in every classroom to be full. That's very interesting to me when CPS itself states that according to the utilization formula, there must be 36 kids in every single homeroom, sped or not (illegal, but they don't appear to care on the sped issue) to be considered fully utilized. They are so completely full of it.

  • Why doesn't the mainstream media cover the sped abuses in CPS? It's low-hanging fruit.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Because their mainstream news customers don't want to hear about it.

  • Powell's on the list because it meets their criteria. If the criteria is going to be fair it needs to be uniformly applied. But it would be strange to actually close Powell just as it's starting up.
    At the end they may just close a couple dozen schools who do the least complaining. Closing a hundred schools seems to carry substantial political risk.

  • In reply to Donn:

    I don't think so Donn. A minority (less than 25%?) of voters have kids in CPS. The interest that most voters have in CPS is property tax related. The elderly/fix income contigent has a disproportionate voting influence and are most acutely affected by property tax increases and most receptive to efforts to reduce government ineficiency.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    I doubt a successful challenge to the mayor would come from his right (to put it simply). Undoubtably crime and taxes will be electoral issues, but what's the collation that could successfully challenge the mayor?
    There's more energy to the left of the mayor. The school issue has unpredictability, which any politician would like to manage. Closing 120 schools is a giant political experiment. While a smart politician can perhaps fairly accurately predict the political outcome, there's still substantial uncertainty.
    If the next election is Rahm's to lose, he doesn't want to be injecting substantial uncertainty. But if he wants to further solidify his position as a doer and reformer, then he may close a large number of schools.

  • In reply to Donn:

    I bet its the later (image - and that's a key word - as doer/reformer) so he can take it on the road to his next political slot. No media will correct his crafted image. Remember how the NYT touted Arne as Ed Sec? Sheesh.

  • Ah. That must be why mainstream media is thriving! ;)

  • O'keefe should be closed. Yes, I teach there. It is a mess. Kids run up and down a mostly empty second floor pounding doors and locker, fighting, canoodling and worse. The only discipline is "call their parents" Their parents don't care. This past fall we had a parents night and less than a dozen showed up. We have over 500 kids! This is Sandy Jackson's ward who has been in hiding for the past year. No help from her. Some Classroom have no whiteboards or any thing to write on. I am afraid everyday here. There' gangbangers and kids with gang tattoos. Children claiming injury so the parents can sue the school is comment place. Close this school, I'll be fine. Retirement looks good to me. People need to understand how bad some of these schools on the list are.

  • In reply to 30 years:

    I don't think you really teach at O'Keefe. If you did you would realize the same children with the same behaviors will simply be pushed into other more crowded schools. O'Keefe didn't create the wild behavior or negligent parents. Closing it will not solve any of these behaviors, in fact it would likely exacerbate the issues.

    No whiteboards is the fault of the principal, area office, and downtown. Lack of discipline is a product of principals, the area office, and downtown trying to fudge numbers so the school appears safer than it is. A 30 year-old veteran would know this.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I'm not blaming the kids at all. And since I know you don't teach there or you would know everything I said is true. It needs to be closed for safety sake. Kids are beating each other up on a daily basis. And yes I do blame the Pricipal who is in his second year there. Half the school is not used, unsupervised. This is my last year. Retirement for me and O'K should be retired too!

  • Is that the mantra of every person working in a school? Blame the principal? Are you not the same group that just flooded the streets because people were blaming the teachers? I agree with you on one thing and hat is I do blame your principal for not writing people up and making sure that they are doing their jobs. This ridiculous idea that one person can do hundreds of jobs is ludicrous. If things are as bad as you say, why isn't your school working as a TEAM to fix the problem! This is why school's are closing. If school quality is only a principal problem, God help us all. Most of the principals were the non-accountable teachers at one time.

  • I learned at age 22 that "it is the principal". I subbed in the inner city my first year with CPS due to a teacher surplus. It was an invaluable experience. I subbed at two schools a block apart in what was the Robert Taylor Homes neighborhood. One school was a nightmare and the other was wonderful. Same population, same neighborhood, same teaching pool, same amount of monies from CPS so why the difference? Teachers cannot suspend unruly students, get rid of poor teachers/staff, order books, supplies and PD, and be a role model for staff, students and the community, only the principal.

    The teachers stood up in September as we have in the past. The 600+ principals have never had the cojones to stand up to CPS. Instead of "standing and delivering" they just stand by and wait-for the teachers. Teachers cannot run the school only the principals. Principals need to do their jobs and stop delegating so much to the teachers-our job is to teach-not write curricula, counsel/observe co-workers, act as nurses, social workers or the hundreds of things WE are asked to do.


  • Annie-

    I share your frustration with what I believe is the overabundance of bad principals in our system. Great leaders yield great schools. I think the conversation that teachers system-wide need to have is "what is a good principal?".

    The most effective principals I have work for delegated like their jobs depended on it (because they probably did). The principal I was most fond of made me feel like I was a vital and important member of the leadership team in all the work and the credit that came with the fruits of those labors. They made me feel like my extra time working outside of my teaching was the difference between my school being a fantastic place for kids...and a depressing one. I look back fondly on the "extra-curriculars" I have done in growing my school...they have made me proud of the educator I have become today.

    This shouldn't be confused with being unsupportive of our Union's efforts to fight for a decent living wage. I was front and center during the marches advocating for the future of our profession. I do however separate these from the day to day reality that teachers are the lifeblood of our schools. Principals can't do everything. I had one once who thought she could and she was an ineffective and boorish crazy woman. The job of the teacher extends well beyond the walls of our classroom during our lessons...and solidarity should never obscure this practical reality.

  • Thank you Patty23. When one is a children first principal, you are the only thing between the area officers, now called chiefs.
    Some chiefs have found a way to negatively pressure principals who then unfortunately, pressures teachers. A former principal recently shared that at their last meeting, the chief started with "you better get the scores up." This same chief does not allow the school to tailor professional development for school needs, requiring all network teachers to go to meetings that are unorganized and repetitive.
    Annie-have you seen the new principal evaluation? It is horrific. Great principals will be chased away by it because it does not allowing creativity or support of teachers. It is a gotcha process.
    Do you think principals asked for the new per pupil budgeting process? This process will rob Peter to pay Paul for larger schools
    Teachers do have some power and responsibility here. A former area officer was let go in part due to protests by teachers. Great principals stand against a dictator chief, but some are out for blood. Teachers need to back those principals who do this for the good of their school. Only hope is that the CEO and a strong CTU will do something about this. Alas, is no principal union.

  • New
    Labor Beat: North, South, West Sides Unite

  • Glad to see a balanced conversation on the role of the principal. There are always good and bad in every group, but everything cannot fall to one person or one group. The highest performing principals have teacher support and teams that help them do the work. Few principals inherit this - they have to build it. Many principals who are now considered great were considered to be ogres or witches during the first couple of years, but became well respected once the vision was clear and the work started paying off.

    Very few schools realize that they groom their leader. The more people work together, the better the situation is for the kids. Few people actually realize what it is that the principal has to do for a school to be high functioning - but we do know that if staff in general has problematic behaviors (poor classroom management, excessive absences, bad relationships), they are putting MORE work on their principal. Some principals manage this "hazing" very we'll while others lose their minds.

    So, while the principal is an important factor, they are not the only factor. I always encourage people to think about their behaviors as a whole; do 90+% of staff regularly attend work, complete required assignments (grade books, reports, etc.), treat each other respectfully? If not, you are most likely doubling or tripling the principal's workload because they legally must deal with these distractions and that keeps the principal from dealing with or working on the most important things. It also can make that person very unpleasant to deal with if they are overwhelmed or worse ignoring the problems.

    Very few discussions have revolved around the increased workloads of principals since Central Office has had so many reorganizations, and it is true that many principals will probably be either lured or driven away to districts where there are more supports.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    A few years ago, a new principal attempted to work at Clissold Elem and it turned into a hot mess. It's still unclear why that disintegrated. It seems that it was a pitched battle rather than a collborative effort. But, maybe there was a culture clash, too. Tough job.

  • There are so many other districts in Illinois and out that are much more suppportive of their principals. So many in CPS have to spend time applying elsewhere. Hope the CEO gets that.

  • There is a major snowstorm coming in tomorrow. How many principals have called the Network or CO to lobby to not start the ISAT tomorrow?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Wow, ISAT today, not good.

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