Emanuel Dismisses Dissenting Hearing Officer Reports

Emanuel Dismisses Dissenting Hearing Officer Reports

Today's news includes the City Hall response to the hearing officers' dissent (pretty much the same as the Board's), plus some more closing stories (Dodge!), a recap of the CTU debate last night (there's an election this month), and coverage of the charter school protests for fair funding.


Mayor isn’t promising to follow hearing officers’ school-closing recommendations Sun Times:Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday he appreciates the work done by hearing officers who want to keep open 13 of 54 Chicago Public Schools targeted for closing but made no promises to follow their recommendations.

Blood On Mayor's Hands? Rahm Accepts School-Closing Responsibility DNAI: Mayor Emanuel says school closings aim to keep more African-American male CPS students from dropping out.
Emanuel's approval slips, especially among black voters Tribune: Mayor's negatives rise, though most respondents still consider him to be trustworthy Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces growing voter disenchantment, particularly among African-Americans, even as the overall number approving of his job performance holds steady at the halfway point of his first term, a new Tribune/WGN-TV poll shows.

Emanuel not in touch, majority say in Tribune poll Tribune: A deeper look at the numbers reveals that Emanuel is viewed as in touch by just two subgroups: whites, who gave him a 50 percent mark, and those making more than $100,000 a year, who rated him at 55 percent.

CPS parents want mayor to walk new routes, reconsider school closings Sun Times: On Wednesday, dozens of parents, students and community members stood on the second floor of City Hall — and circled around the building outside — to ask him to join them in walking the new routes, in hopes of convincing him to keep the doors open at 54 schools slated for closing. Since April, groups of parents have walked the new routes to point out problems along the way.


Karen Lewis Wins the Brawl in the Electricians’ Hall CPS Chatter: At the CPS Delegates Meeting tonight there were debates for President and Vice-President.  Both were pretty lopsided victories for the CORE slate as the Salvation Caucus seemed to lack any sort of coherent plan for the future of the union beyond picking away at their current leadership.   It was clear that it was going to be a long night for the Salvation Caucus when vice-presidential candidate Mark Ochoa consistently ran out of things to say before coming anywhere close to the two minutes he was allocated to answer questions.


CPS wants to close first Renaissance schools WBEZ: Eleven years ago, on April 10, 2002, Duncan announced he would shut down three elementary schools—Williams, Dodge and Terrell—for chronic low performance. The idea was to start over from scratch in order to create something better. Five years later—it seemed to have worked. But fast forward another five years, Dodge is closing its doors. In fact, all three of the schools that would eventually help to launch Duncan’s signature Renaissance 2010 initiative are getting shaken up by the current CPS administration.

Editorial: School closings can't be wished away Tribune: The system can't afford to operate scores of underused buildings that must be heated and lighted and maintained, draining dollars that should go to educating 400,000 kids.


Hundreds Rally for Charter Schools NBC Chicago (blog): A mass of people converged on Chicago's Federal Plaza before marching toward Chicago Public Schoolsheadquarters on Wednesday afternoon in support of charter schools. The rally was organized by Charter Parents United. Supporters demanded equal ...

Charter school advocates call for fair funding at Loop rally Chicago Tribune: Asked Wednesday if the recommendations of the hearing officers would be heeded, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett "appreciates, as I do appreciate, their work." "Everybody is participating," Emanuel said.


Boston and Chicago Districts Roll Out Digital Writing Program For Grades 3-12 T.H.E. Journal: Boston Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools have launched BoomWriter Media's BoomWriter Technology Heroes Program, a content creation, delivery, and collaboration platform designed to reinforce the writing, critical thinking, collaborative, and ...

Stephanie A. Whyte is the chief health officer of Chicago Public Schools. New York Times: In February, the Chicago Board of Education passed a new policy on sexual health education, emphasizing age-appropriate instruction and medically accurate comprehensive sexual health education for all students in Chicago public schools.

Teacher who loved Cubs dies after choking on hot dog at Wrigley Field Sun Times: Palos Heights middle school teacher Maureen Oleskiewicz was such an avid fan of Chicago sports that she instituted spirit days for students to dress up in support of local teams, including her beloved Cubs, Blackhawks and Bears. On Sunday, the 28-year-old was with her brother at Wrigley Field when she met an untimely end choking on a hotdog, according to her family and authorities.


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  • There is a lot to digest here today. First in relation to the Mayor's comments about the hearing officer decisions effectively opposing a number of the closings. The Mayor seems totally oblivious to the fact that the formal evidence CPS submitted to the hearing officers was in many cases completely deficient and law department representatives at these hearings could not answer substantive questions posed by hearing officers. I attended three of these hearings and witnessed these things. The primary reason for some of these rulings was the evasive stance of CPS at these hearings and the district's failure to document appropriately. CPS did not treat these hearings as serious administrative law proceedings and some decisions reflect that.

    The Mayor needs to take a good long hard look at what is left of the CPS central administration and the increased concentration of power in office of Chief Administrative Officer since JC Brizard was removed. Far too many decisions that are educational seem to be turning into fiscally driven decisions. This could all end very badly for the Mayor once Dr. Bennett decides to retire and she is currently eligible for pensions from at least two school districts. It is highly unlikely that any superintendent of national stature would accept a situation where the Board President and Chief Administrative Officer are so heavily driving policy based on fiscal analytics. I would suggest that the eventual replacement for Dr. Bennett will not be a superstar although such claims likely will be made of whoever is appointed.

    Second the charter school protests. Charter schools are fully aware that they may not only not get equal funding, but they may get cut in a variety of ways in the future. The charter schools and the parents of children attending them are wise to become visible. Once Speaker Madigan reopened Pandora's box this week in Springfield calling for school districts outside the City to pick up their teachers pension tab the howling began from Republicans and downstate Democrats for CPS to take cuts. It is being argued that CPS was given breaks over the years in special education funding and in the formula for general state aid because CPS picks up its own pension tab and if the districts outside of Chicago are forced to pick up millions in pension payments CPS should have those perks revoked. The numbers I have been hearing run in the area of a $400 million cut to CPS which could be redistributed to downstate and suburban school districts if Speaker Madigan wants the cost shift deal to pass. With its increased pension costs, federal cuts to education due to sequestration, any state funding cut of the magnitude of $400 million would put CPS on the ropes.

    CPS as a district can if faced with this type of fiscal assault try to manage the cuts, but it can't insolate charter schools. Hence charters which survive on tuition dollars could take a hit and these charters have very limited reserves. This could force charters to raise class sizes and lay off teachers. That could have an adverse impact on student recruitment. This in turn hurts the overall CPS strategy of having a district that has a significant component of charter schools in it because knowledgeable Education Management Organizations that run charter schools will be reluctant to open operations in Chicago if funding is questionable. Yes there was a lot to think about in the links Alexander posted today.

    Rod Estvan

  • Did anyone catch that through much of the evening news cycle last night, Ch. 5 was reporting that the teachers marching in the loop were CPS teachers protesting school closures?

  • In reply to eyeoncps:

    Yes its true NBC did claim that I saw the report.

    Rod Estvan

  • OMG.

  • There were two demonstrations yesterday, one was parents protesting school closures in the morning, and later in the day was charter folks. That's probably the reason for the confusion....

  • How about some feedback, ideas about this REACH evaluation?
    I just got a wonderful letter from the Board stating that I’m not on track to being proficient and I’m being dismissed even though I’m not done with my formal observations or have yet to receive a summative rating. If I do become proficient in the mean time, I’ll be reinstated, IF my position is still available. Administration was surprised. I have no idea what my actual scores are or anything like that, I just got a whole bunch of print outs with dots in areas. Not to mention this was supposed to be a positive experience, getting feedback and growing. It's been pretty humiliating and punitive, especially for special education teachers who have been running around ragged all year. I think I’m done with CPS. Anybody else out there who got one of these? I know there were a lot of shocked teachers at my school on this wonderful teacher appreciation week.

  • Um...yeah No. Your administrators were not surprised. They lied. If they did your 3 evals this year then they knew what was in store ahead of time.

  • Um, yeah no. Your administrators were not surprised. If they did your 3 evals. they knew what they were rating you so how could they be "shocked". They lied to ya

  • Admin had to identify each PAT as either "renew" or "non renew" a month ago. That choice, along with your anticipated summative rating based on your completed evals (of which you should have received copies) determined whether or not you were renewed. So administration definitively was not surprised.

  • I got one of these lovely "surprises" today also. Needless to say I was shocked. Especially from the standpoint that my FIRST observation wasn't even done until the very end of Feb. (mix of basics and proficients). Can't offhand remember the date of my 2nd observation (which was better), but I am pretty sure that if what is being said about these decisions being made a month ago is true, I was probably given a "non-renew" on the basis of ONE observation. My 3rd observation wasn't even done until this week and hasn't even been entered into the system yet. The 4th and final one hasn't been scheduled yet. We need to do something about this. Can the CTU be of help? This kind of crap just isn't fair. By the way, I am a very veteran teacher, just new to CPS.

  • Teacher Appreciation Week... HA!!!

    BBB sent out a mass email telling all of us how much she thinks of CPS teachers. Keep in mind she sent the email out Friday around 6 pm after Teacher Appreciation Week ended. Ugh. CPS sucks.

  • Well, that makes sense.
    My first two observations were good and the last one, about a month ago was just awful. I wouldn't doubt if it was a set up, just to not renew me. I KNOW this principal doesn't like me, which is fine. I just want to do my job. Now, with this, I have to resign or maybe able to look for another job??? That doesn't even make any sense.
    Now that I have this letter and suffered this kind of humiliation, I still have to go through my final observations, submit my artifacts for professionalism, and know that I still don't have a job????
    Can I just quit on Monday? These next 6 weeks aren't worth the stress, pain, or embarrassment!

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    You can quit any time you want to. I suggest if you leave CPS take it as a retirment and take you pension $$ with you.

  • I am sorry for what has happened to you. The new CPS teacher evaluation system training to principals has been spotty, information has been incorrect, and time conduct the most important and weighted component of instructional leadership has not been thought through; in short, poorly implemented.
    May I quote: “evidence should be objective, free of judgment, void of any opinion or bias, and unambiguously give ‘proof’ of teaching practice.”
    That said, if the principal has not done this and you are truthful here, file a grievance now. Otherwise, you can resign, but there is a CPS process you must follow. Use your benefit days before you go.

  • Sure, I can resign, but I have to work through the end of the year. I'm tired and done. I don't want to give to much information since I don't need anymore trouble. A lot of people read this blog. I've worked hard, been given no direction from my department head. I've had schedules rearranged non-stop this year. I've been given personal opinions, though never officially or in writing, just "off the record".
    So what does this mean for me? The Union magazine says non-renewed PATs can look for other jobs in the system, but the letter given to me states I can look for another job if a pass the quality teacher pool? So what does that mean??
    What happens if I don't resign? This is all too confusing and overwhelming.

  • Just got my "official" notification by certified mail. Nice package with all the info one might need about unemployment and COBRA. Class outfit this CPS - just how long has all of this been in the works? What sort of instructions did administrators get from higher up on how many or what percentage of PAT's to screw over? As they can't f**k with the (CTU member) tenured teachers (yet...), I suppose it only makes sense that they would go after the low hanging fruit of the PAT's. Pretty heavy handed, but they certainly don't ever seem to be very subtle (remember the TeacherFit scandal of a couple of summers ago?) with anything. Anyway, is there any recourse for any of us? Especially if we only had one or maybe two observations before we were deemed "unfit".....

  • I also received a packet today. Problem is, I have not been observed even once this year (formally or informally). I am part-time, so it only needs/needed to be done twice rather than four times. So I am questioning how I can be evaluated based on nothing. Bullsh*t.

  • In reply to Teeeecher:

    I'm sooo sorry this happened to you also. Didn't you get called in to your administrator's office and told on Friday? I agree this is bull dung. I have no idea what my rights are and frankly, I'm just too tired and burnt out from this year. I have little faith in the Union right now. They're busy fighting school closings. This year started out badly with the strike and it's ended badly also. All I can say is, Adios CPS.

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    No, I did not speak with my admin on Friday. I got an email from the Talent Office on Friday and then received the packet on Saturday. Funny, because the email began with "as a follow-up to the conversation with your principal..." Something's not right at this school.

  • All PATs must be observed 4 times by May 24th, even if they were part time or if they started the school year later. You also should have documentation of those observations. If none of this was done then I feel you should have some sort of recourse through the union.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Thanks. I was wondering if there was some type of action I could take.

  • Hi everyone....I am in the exact same situation as all of you. I was completely stunned on Friday. I have had superior reviews all before this year and I have a new principal this year who came in and told everyone all year that it is ok to be Basic. She said we are all learning the system this year and we should just work towards proficient. Never mentioning that I was going to be possibly let go. I haven't even meet with her yet about my third evaluation and my fourth has not been set. Is there any way the union is going to fight this?? I put a call in on Friday afternoon and haven't heard anything. I was feeling like the only one at first...I can't believe so many people at in the same position. I would have been tenured at the end of the year.

  • It is NEVER ok to be basic. Report this principal to CTU.

  • For all the grandstanding, the letter was clear - if you make proficient after all calculations are completed, you will be retained. If all 4 observations are not completed, you will be retained, so if all of these claims are true, there is no issue. However, beware if you purposely avoided observations or if it is shown that you interfered with your observation cycles.

    The language for PATs in the contract was very clear - all PATs were to be evaluated every year. For tenured teachers, this is to be a learning year. PATs at basic are retained at principal's discretion. Your school delegate should be able to tell you this.

  • Such a simple answer to such a complicated process. Where do you get this?: "beware if you purposely avoided observations or if it is shown that you interfered with your observation cycles." ? Like teachers can interfere with this process. If you bothered to read the entries, there is concern that principals did NOT observe PATs the required number of times. Which would not be a surprise. Also, Domain 4 is not due until May 24--seems that if PATs completed Domain 1 and 4, it really did not 'count' for them in this process.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You can interfere by purposely being absent, skipping meetings, and requesting multiple reschedules. If the principal has documented this, there may be an issue.

    The four observations are required by the contract.

  • Just to clarify, you are saying that if I'm a PAT and I have not been observed four times by this point in the year they have to retain me? I am meeting for my post observation for my 3rd evaluation this week and not had my 4th. Also how did you hear about this? My principal basically handed me the letter and sent me on my way. Didn't address any of this.

  • Also...what letter are you referring to? The one I received from my principal said nothing about being retained if evaluations were not complete. Sorry for all the questions and thanks for responding. I have been in a panic all weekend.

  • You MUST call the CTU and give them the information your PAT/teacher evaluation case. You pay dues-it is your responsibility to call--get a name of who takes the message and who you are to speak with. Do this Monday.

  • This process is crazy: domain 4 isn't completed and test scores-map and reach-aren't finished yet and are 30% of evaluations. Is it possible that scores of non renewed pat's will get their jobs back once these are calculated? How can summative ratings even be calculated without these scores? Esp weird since 15% of a teachers rating is based upon a test that they themselves grade! Where is the ctu response?

  • It seems as if PATs are still being either renewed or non renewed in the same way - with a click by the administrator. It doesn't seem as if the REACH rating plays much of a role.

  • Why hasn't this become bigger news? I guess I get why they are doing this to me. It's a way to eliminate my position (newly created extended day position) to save $$. But why couldn't they just be straight about it? Rather that just massage my REACH assessments so they can make me a "non-renew", just tell me we have the $$ to fund your job next year. But this way they can just be extra nasty. CPS is just one "hot mess". I'll be glad to move on from this cesspool... But whey aren't more people coming forward? Why isn't there more outrage? Why haven't some journalists caught wind of this?

  • In reply to anonymous:

    Eliminating you doesn't eliminate the position or the funding. If the funding was withdrawn for next year (are budgets out yet?) there would be no need to be "nasty". Perhaps you and your principal don't see eye-to-eye or perhaps you just aren't progressing. There is no story for the press here as far as I can tell.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    When CPS is "non-renewing" 561 PAT's there is definitely a story. Especially when you read the many ways that some of the other posters on this site have been "evaluated" (or not). As for "progressing" - it's a little tough when your first observation isn't until March and the rest being jammed up before the deadline of May 24th! And please stop to think about it - once the warm body is removed form the position, it can be left vacant for a bit until it just fades away.

  • In reply to anonymous:

    Where did you read 561 PAT's were non renewed?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    An email from the CTU was sent out this afternoon about this issue, and what PAT's need to do to protect their rights. They specifically mentioned 561.

  • A story! Really! One PAT per school is not a news breaker. When I started in CPS we were FTBs (full-time basis substitutes) and we could be let go at any time for no reason. No observation. no discussion and no reason and you were back at day to day sub pay.

    The PAT designation has been around for about ten years. I have seen PATs come to school late, not call sub-center, not do lesson plans and just not teach-some feel they are protected because they think that the principal will not do all of onerous paperwork to non-renew. Obviously, some principals are doing the paperwork-if they are doing it incorrectly then the PAT needs to file a grievance. Personally, I wouldn't stay where I wasn't wanted or where the principal was too inept to follow the paperwork guidelines.

    This happens in the suburbs so why not in CPS? Teachers who do their jobs are tired of taking up the slack for poor teachers.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Any "back in the day" comparisons really aren't too valid in 2013, as much as we might like to think they are. My teaching career also began "back in the day", so I am long a veteran, but new to CPS. Why not just admit that the system (this new REACH thing) is terribly flawed, both for the poor administrators who are scrambling to complete everything by the deadline, and especially for the PAT's who are really getting screwed. This just all looks too much like an unsubtle attempt to get back at the CTU. Guess what, CPS vets? Next year they're coming for you.....

  • The PAT system is really much fairer than ten years ago when an FTB could be kept as an FTB indefinitely, no tenure and no due process rights-at least PATs are tenured after 3 years. FTBs were "let go back in the day"and PATs are being let go now and suburban teachers are RIFed......put on your big girl pants and move to another school where your teaching skills will impress everyone....

  • Did the FTB system suck? Undoubtedly. Is the PAT system "fairer"? Yes, probably so, compared to what proceeded it. But does that make this new system "fair"? Obviously, there are lots of problems, both in the way it was designed and how it is being implemented. If a teacher is lazy, not professional, or does not put in the effort to do their job, then fine, let them go. There are lots of people like that, in any field. But to penalize those new to the system, who are getting virtually no guidance, not being observed in due time and allowed to grow - that is unfair! About me, no problem. I know I'm good at what I do (with tons of great references to back that up) and I've got lots of options in my life. So moving on is no problem. But it seems that it took me (and I suppose most others) a number of years of experience before I could really say that I could even come close to mastering this job. My heart goes out to the new teachers who are expected to rise to "proficient" without any time or guidance or anything. Like babies being put in a ocean full of sharks. How many potentially good teachers are going to be driven off before they even have a chance? I would never, ever council anyone to go into this profession anymore, especially for a mess like CPS. Any of you CPS vets feel the same way?

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