A Plan -- & Some Layoffs

A Plan -- & Some Layoffs

Here's what I've got: The Superintendent has a new plan.  CTU is upping its estimate of possible layoffs to 6,000. More questions about kids moving to receiving schools. STEM!  Harper High School's White House encounter.


Bryd-Bennett To Unveil Five-Year Plan For Improving Schools CBS2 Chicago: Bryd-Bennett will outline her plan in a speech at 1 p.m. at Westinghouse College Prep High School, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd. According to CPS, the five-year plan includes five “pillars.”

CPS Chief To Reveal 5-Year Education Plan NBC: While students look a week or two ahead for summer break to start, the CEO of Chicago Public Schools is looking ahead several years.

Per-Pupil Funding: Coming Soon to a School Near You cpsobsessed:  The question is whether the one big pot is actually shrinking the amount that schools get.  Rumors are circulating that schools are now getting their budgets and some (it seems to be neighborhood schools) have had quite a bit chopped out of their annual operating budget.  Like perhaps to the point of having to remove several teachers in some of these schools?


CTU keeps eye on Philadelphia schools, where 3,000 layoffs loom Sun Times: Jackson Potter, of the Chicago Teachers Union, said that based on the city’s deficit, in addition to jobs lost because of school closings, the city could see 6,000 layoffs. In the last school year, CPS recorded 41,498 employees.

Chicago Sun-Times Photographers, Supporters Protest Firings Chicagoist: The rally received a boost from Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis, who arrived to show solidarity with the photographers.
Younger CPS Students May Not Reap Receiving Schools' Benefits Progress Illinois:Younger Chicago students in areas where neighborhood schools will close at the end of June may not be sent to Chicago Public Schools' (CPS) designated welcoming schools when they are old enough to enroll, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago Public Schools students in new schools Tribune: These 12 closing schools reported that 100 percent of their students have been enrolled in new CPS schools for the 2013-14 school year: Louis Armstrong Emmet Henson Key Owens Peabody Pope Ross Sexton Stockton Von Humboldt West...

 Rift widens between Emanuel and Chicago teachers union, pillar of Democratic ... Fox News: Chicago's final decision to close 50 public schools – the single biggest reported closure in U.S. history – has again pitted Mayor Rahm Emanuel against the powerful teachers union.


Harper High School kids meet the president: 'My whole body just got weak' WBEZ: The trip was paid for through donations collected by Chuck Smith, a Chicago attorney at the Skadden law firm. Smith had heard This American Life’s reporting on Harper and was asked by Mayor Emanuel to raise money for the trip.

Harper High Students: White House Visit 'Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience' DNAI: A group of Harper High School students returned Friday after being guests of first lady Michelle Obama.


Report sheds light on out-of-school science learning Catalyst:  As leaders push Chicago schools to focus more on STEM programs--science, technology, engineering and math--a new study finds that more than 88,000 students are exposed to these disciplines outside of school and more than half of them are girls. But Latino children, in particular, are left out of these programs. And few programs are offered during the summer.

STEM schools WBEZ: How effective are STEM schools? A new study sheds some light.


New charter school proposed for McKinley Park-Brighton Park area Gazette Chicago: Despite support by Cardenas, the Chicago Public Schools first rejected Concept Charter's application before the Illinois State Charter School Commission overruled the CPS. Then, City officials pulled Concept Charter's request for a zoning change off ...

Quinn calls for a special session and the race for governor is underway! Chicago Tribune: But the budget crisis in the Chicago Public Schools could certainly change that. Without genuine urgency, the temptation to defer and delay and point fingers and jockey and preen will be too great. Meanwhile, is anyone up for handicapping the ...

New hires named to Madison superintendent of schools staff 77Square.com: School District on July 1. Fralin currently is the deputy chief of schools for Chicago Public Schools. Silvia Romero-Johnson will be the executive director of the Office of Multilingual and Global Education, replacing Josh Forehand, who served as ...

Northside College Prep's Principal Leaving CPS for the 'Burbs DNAI: Barry Rodgers is leaving Northside College Prep for Lake Forest High School.


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  • from CPS

    CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett Releases Five-Year District Action Plan, “The Next Generation: Chicago’s Children”

    Action Plan Establishes Comprehensive Accountability System Tied To Goal Of Providing Every Child in Every Neighborhood With A High-Quality Education

    CHICAGO – Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today unveiled “The Next Generation: Chicago’s Children,” a comprehensive, 5-year action plan designed to provide every CPS student in every neighborhood across the city with a rigorous, well-rounded instructional program that prepares them for success in college, career and life.

    “Every child in every community deserves a high-quality education in a safe learning environment with rich and robust investments that will give them all the tools they need to be successful in school and throughout life,” said CEO Byrd-Bennett. “While the District has made steady progress over the last few years, this plan will put every child on a path toward a 21st high-quality education.”

    “The Next Generation – Chicago’s Children” was developed based on feedback from parents, community members, principals, teachers and civic and faith leaders who expressed demand for better educational opportunities. The action plan builds on the Mayor’s educational priority of expanding high-quality options to neighborhoods across the Chicago.

    “As a city, the most important thing we can do is make sure we offer a bright future for the next generation, and a critical component is ensuring that every child in this city has an education that matches their full potential,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “This comprehensive action plan provides a strategic roadmap for achieving this goal, grounded in the idea that with teachers and principals, engaged parents and supportive communities working together, our children can succeed.”

    The action plan will act as a roadmap for delivering positive outcomes tied to the District’s five strategic pillars:

    Pillar 1: High standards, rigorous curriculum and powerful instruction

    CPS is raising standards and improving curriculum through a combination of transitioning to Common Core State Standards, setting more rigorous expectations, and putting in place new academic requirements that will provide children with a well-rounded education. In addition, enhanced professional development for educators and greater opportunities for student learning such as extracurricular activities, afterschool programs, and internships will help challenge students to think critically, spark their creativity, and support their diverse needs.

    Pillar 2: Systems of supports that meet all students’ needs

    CPS recognizes that every student is unique and high expectations must be coupled with an approach that systematically supports the individual needs of every student. Through the action plan, a greater emphasis will be placed on assisting all schools, especially struggling schools, in providing a safe learning environment, expanding social and emotional learning, using data to inform decision-making, and ensuring every student not only graduates high school but graduates ready with a postsecondary plan.

    Pillar 3: Engaged and empowered families and communities

    To improve the District’s ability to provide comprehensive support to every child in every neighborhood, CPS must engage and empower families and communities as partners in its work while also raising the rigor and expectations of CPS staff and school leaders. By increasing outreach opportunities and offering more transparent information about the District’s work, CPS will encourage active partnerships with parents and families as well as nonprofits and businesses, universities and community groups, faith-based leaders and government officials, and philanthropists and activists. With parents as active partners in our children’s education, the support and guidance from our great teachers, and community involvement, there is no limit to what our children can achieve.

    Pillar 4: Committed and effective teachers, leaders and staff

    To fill vacancies within our system, CPS will seek to promote high-performers while recruiting national candidates. For the professionals already serving in our District, performance will be evaluated more thoughtfully through improved evaluations, professional development will be tailored more specifically to meet schools’ and students’ needs, and success will be recognized and rewarded.

    Pillar 5: Sound fiscal, operational and accountability systems
    Overall, the action plan will be guided by sound fiscal, operational and accountability systems. Every position, program and expenditure will be an investment that is deemed essential to fulfilling the action plan and making progress on the Mayor and CEO’s vision of providing every child in every neighborhood with a high-quality education. A comprehensive accountability system will be put in place to measure performance and progress throughout the District, including in all public schools – neighborhood, charter and contract – and at CPS Central Office. To support the plan’s overall goals, CPS will issue an annual District scorecard that incorporates multiple performance metrics, including evaluations of school climate; feedback from parents, school staff, and students; retention rates of high-performing employees; student attendance; academic growth; graduation rates and college enrollment.

    From unprecedented investments in early childhood education to Full Day Kindergarten, a Full School Day, a single school year calendar, and ensuring there are quality principals and teachers in every school, Chicago is building a strong foundation that provides every student with the tools and resources needed to succeed.

    “High school graduation is no longer the goal, it is only the starting point,” added CEO Byrd-Bennett. “I faced many of the same challenges that our young people face today, but I know that they can triumph if the adults in their life make it their mission to ensure they achieve their dreams.”

    The Chicago Public Schools serves approximately 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school system.

  • from CTU

    CTU President Karen Lewis issues statement on CPS’s new “five-year action plan”

    CHICAGO –Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis released the following statement regarding today’s announcement by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) on its proposed five-year action plan:

    “Our schools communities do not lack inspiration, they lack revenue. It doesn’t matter what new initiatives CPS concocts from year to year if it has no way to appropriately fund them (i.e., the longer school day). Chicago has to break its addiction to tax-breaks and find ways to generate revenue for our schools,” Lewis said. “This so-called five-year plan is once again done in the silo of CPS without any stakeholders at the table. It is still widely driven by testing and a complete lack of democracy.

    “It is amazing that CPS’s first impulse, no matter who heads it, is towards an autocratic, top-down approach that people who actually work with kids are expected to implement without the appropriate resources or tools,” she continued. “When will CPS understand that having a ‘plan’ that never includes the voices of parents, students, CPS workers, and a realistic blueprint on how to generate revenue will continue to foster mistrust, alienation and lowered expectations, especially after the tragic closing of 50 schools?”

  • Same old broken record from Karen Lewis. It doesn't matter what is said or done. She would have the same response. No doubt that Karen Lewis refused to provide input or collaborate on this plan. She refused to participate in planning the lengthened school day. She refuses to try innovative approaches to improve failing schools because she is not willing to pay teachers more in the tough schools with combat type pay. She refuses to let the good teachers be recognized and instead stuffs all teachers---the stellar and the mediocre---into the same one size fits all box. All the CTU does is complain, complain, complain without offering any solution. I am so tired of the broken Karen Lewis record. This response is the same response to anything----longer day, recess, arts inclusion, improve neighborhood high schools, the list can go on forever with the exact same negative response from Karen Lewis. I really wish she would try to improve things instead of being the roadblock to everything except job protection for CTU members.

  • In reply to district299reader:



  • Could you indicate one individual( teacher, parent, student) that was included in developing this new plan? BBB wouldn't recognize real community/stakeholder input if it was in front of her face. The fact is, Karen Lewis is absolutely correct in her statements. If you want to concentrate on negative statements about CPS, perhaps you should focus on Rahm, the Board members, and the local plutocrats (Rauner, Griffin, Vitale, etc) They seem to have a monopoly on complaining about the neighborhood schools, the parents, and the teachers.

  • In reply to closeobserver:

    I attended Dr. Bennett's presentation today and we were given a written presentation in addition to the CEO's oral report. In that written version 8 schools were acknowledged for their contribution to the plan.

    The plan is very general in nature and is honestly pretty hard to object to. I mean how can you object to the idea that low income parents who have limited literacy skills should be provided with free GED and ESL classes, or increasing early childhood education, or trying to stop truancy. But the devil is always in the details and funding.

    I asked Dr. Bennett a question about how CPS was going to deal with the academic collapse of many students with IEPs at the high school level and what was the general plan for improving the low performance of these students at that level. CPS was based on her response not yet at the level of attack on a more detailed problem to address this critical issue, but Dr. Bennett did not deny there was a real problem.

    Dr. Bennett did indicate in response to a question from a CPS vendor on the social emotional supports component of the 5-year plan that funding was a reality in terms of implementation. Dr. Bennett is a very polished speaker and on the level of communicating a vision of something positive instead of negative stuff like closing schools CPS has been focused on she performed like a very experienced professional. But much of this plan requires money and that is in short supply right now not just in Chicago, but in many districts in Ilinois

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to closeobserver:

    Can you name one thing Karen Lewis has said yes to besides teacher compensation or job security?

    Better yet, an alderman asked CTU a great question. What is the CTU's proposal? What concessions is the CTU willing to make in order to improve education or improve closing schools? Then there was dead silence from CTU for such a long time that the alderman started humming the waiting tune from jeopardy. I think the tune is still playing because we are still waiting....................

    You are obviously reading from the union playbook. Truth be told it is a pretty shallow union playbook. (1) Say no to anything and everything that CPS tires to do, (2) Blame the mayor, (3) pretend it is for the students, (4) when all else fails and there are small numbers at the school closing protests, get arrested for press coverage. oh yeah, one new play revealed recently, (5) take the lowest blow possible and tell kids not to go to school if their school is closing. That certainly helps education improve.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You obviously do not work in a school, nor do you have children in CPS.
    I hear the promises, but have yet to see them come to fruit. Blame it on the teachers is getting old fast.

  • In reply to ladyfair:

    Wrong, wrong and wrong. I do have children in CPS. I do not blame the good teachers. I do blame the CTU and the mediocre teachers who just show up every day.

    My kids have benefited from many of the CPS promises including recess, school day longer than the crazy short 5 3/4 day, art/music/drama from longer day funding, intervention time to help all level of students, an long overdue more rigorous curriculum, and fewer tests but more meaningful MAPS results. They also have more high school prospects with more IB programs and a renewed focus on improving neighborhood high schools. Gosh, all in just a few years. Seems like promises to the students are being kept.

    I do want to repeat, that I do not blame the good teachers at all. I thank them and cherish them for putting up with their dysfunctional union that spews sound bites that add up to nothing.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The CTU is very unlikely to offer any concessions in return for promises that will not legally be binding on CPS. The reason for this is state law that prohibits CPS from spending money not appropriated by the Board regardless of contracts, any deal can be voided effectively.

    We need to get beyond these attacks on President Lewis, both she and the CTU attempted to delay the full impact of the pending pension payments along with CPS and the city. That attempt failed big time and for good reason in the IL General Assembly. CPS is now faced with this reality.

    Things like non-obligated TIF fund that could be sent back to CPS and other taxing bodies need to be honestly quantified and publicly discussed. CPS and the union need to be talking about layoff in a serious way, the burden herei is with CPS because existing law gives CPS exclusive rights in this area. This year's property tax increase will legally be allowed to be higher than last year's if the Board elects to go to the tax cap. But there are political considerations for all parties related to this increase too.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, agree that pensions need to be addressed, not kicked down the road yet again. Our politicians are cowards.

    Attacks on Karen Lewis will continue as long as she offers no solutions and continues to say no to everything. She needs to be part of the solution and in fact should be offering solutions. Instead she says no to everything and offers nothing.

    Why would offering combat pay to teachers in the most challenging educational schools be a "concession" that can't happen legally? It should be something Karen Lewis actively pursues. Why wouldn't that be legally binding? I believe it was offered to CTU.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Because a public entity can not be forced to spend what it doesn't have. It also can not be forced to borrow money. The reason public entities pay off their debts is because they do not want their credit line destroyed. Unions do not have that power, but lenders do. Service providers often have to wait in line for money owed them, it is the risk of doing business with a public entity.

    Gov Quinn won a case when he backed out of a promised deal involving a no lay off pledge signed by Quinn and Unionized state workers because the Assembly refused to appropriate funds. It went up to the IL Sumpreme court. The cards are stacked against public sector workers all over the US and even in Greece where numerous public sector workers had their wages and pensions cut. In IL public pensions are protected by the constitution, not contracts with the state or local governmental bodies like CPS. But the extent of the pension protections are now being questioned.

    So any deal CTU enters into with CPS could be shaky. So a no layoff deal could be voided if CPS again ran out of money the next school year.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Seems like pension crisis and inactive lawmakers in Springfield have shattered the credit rating of Illinois regardless. Are you really saying that unions have no power in this? Citing Greece as an example? These two things kind of cut into your credibility and certainly take away some of the perceived objectivity you generally provide.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    So here's what our small neighborhood school got: promised art teacher, cut after one year. 2 classroom teachers, cut, raising class sizes to 33 per class in our school, and forcing split grades, and eliminating intervention. Karen Lewis has a solution: increase funding. Stop the TIF drain, and put it into schools. Prioritize education as a city. I am sure it is the talent of your principal and the support and generosity of your parents that have allowed much of the support you are talking about. Watch the promises melt away. Just wait.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    And fewer tests? What school is your child attending? We spent an average of 11 days testing this year.

  • In reply to FairHair:

    Your teachers also spent far too few hours per year in front of students. Why aren't you mad at them too? I don't know much about primary school charters. But the high performing Learn schools in Chicago have a 200 day school year and a 7.5 hour school day.

  • In reply to Donn:

    We had the same amount of days and hours as the Catholic schools and let's be fair -charters have longer hours but not necessarily teaching hours...and not always with certified teachers

  • In reply to district299reader:

    No catholic school I know of has a 5 3/4 day.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn- Many HS charters have students taking vague "catch all/study hall" courses that can be used to plug into a credit wherever it is needed be it math, English, science, whatever. Once you subtract the charter hours dedicated to test prep and study hall their day isn't looking very good.

    Furthermore, despite all of their advantages charters are proof that more time isn't necessarily quality time. I know, I know you LOVE Noble Street, but most charters are tanking when you consider counseling students out, applications, fines, student harassment etc.

  • In reply to Donn:

    High performing? Relative to what? My basic threshold for beginning to consider a high school is an average ACT of 24. I would not allow my children to attend a high school with anything lower than that. And that's just the beginning for me in looking for a school. So yeah, Learn may be higher performing than some CPS schools, but it really isn't high performing. NSCP is high performing. Payton, WYHS, Jones, New Trier, Deerfield. Those are high performing high schools.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    High performance is growth. All the schools you mention are probably high growth, but aren't relevant to broad CPS policy. They also aren't available to 98% of CPS students.
    Why would a high average ACT necessarily indicate a high performing school?

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    and Whitney Young

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to district299reader:

    I'm sick of bad policy we didn't make getting blamed on teachers and yet our positive ideas earning praise for the perpetually changing district leadership.

    The lunch in the middle of the day is something that educators agreed upon. The 5 3/4 hour day is longer than what many of the policy makers experienced 40 years ago when they were in school.

    From what I recall, many schools didn't receive art/music/drama from "longer school funding", they got it from us striking.

    The IB programs were already around the implementation of the "wall-to-wall" IB has been counterproductive and dadaist.

    This entire school closings process has been a complete lie, and it is hurting children. I've lost count of the number of promises broken to the young people of the city of Chicago.

    I am my union, and I am an exceptional teacher. I hate when people try to attack my democratic voice and then claim they "don't blame me at all".

    Perhaps we should blame these anti-teacher and anti-neighborhood school children folks for destroying our public school system.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    The ideas CPS mostly listened to is from administrators who have ACTUALLY run high performing schools with a high need student population. Who in the CTU has done that? How does multiple decades teaching SE Math make one an expert in school policy?

  • In reply to Donn:

    I have to assume Donn you have more insight into the development of the 5-year plan than I gained by attending Dr. (Hon.) Bennett's speech yesterday. Because the CPS reference to the 8 schools contacted in relation to the development of the plan did not indicate the input came exclusively from administrators at those schools. Donn where did you hear that, Did Dr. Bennett reveal it in one of her media interviews last night, or are you just taking a shot at Xian?

    I would also add that I talked with a representative of the IL network of charter schools at Westinghouse who indicated they were not really contacted about the plan development. The video shown at the meeting called the "CPS way" included only comments from CPS central office chiefs and I did not see one school level or network level administrator in it. The principal of Westinghouse spoke during the introductions, but only about her school not the plan.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    What expanding in CPS, and what's contracting? A workable way forward, within real budgets, has been developed by the few charters willing to go beyond the usual school day.
    Kipp is growing. Nobel is growing. More testing and the longer school day for CTU schools. How is it even debatable where CPS gets it basis for policy?
    They're putting money and effort towards the school practices that have good evidence of effectiveness. That's not the historical practices of most CPS schools and most charters.
    As far as Westinghouse, they seem to do a great job with elite students who belong in SE schools, and not so great with their other students.
    The only people who have expertise in best school practices are those individuals who have achieved high growth with average students.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Donn:

    That was a strange comment. Not sure what or who you are referring to.
    Not sure who you are attacking either. I don't teach math, and I'm quite sure there are far more people who have successful run or contributed to the development of a strong neighborhood school in the CTU in one capacity or another than in Central Office--that's just size of the units. If you want to irrationally narrow it to just those who have been principals, I'd wager it's still a higher number.

  • In reply to ladyfair:

    thank you.

  • Chicago Public Schools Unveils Five-Year 'Action Plan' Broad In Scope, Lacking In Details: Chicagoist http://ow.ly/lTKi2

  • BBB is an honorary Dr.--so she should not be called Dr. if she does not have a formal degree. Talk to principals was disappointing today. Does she even know that many could not log in to hear her?--then it froze up and logged you off. Could that be why she did not get many questions from principals today? Great speaker, but all platitudes. Give principals real answers please; like when will you be able to get CPS tech to make it so we can hear you on a webinar? lord knows we cannot test on NWEA due to poor connections. (And schools pay for this; $ to CPS tech and schools then suffer invalid poor test scores since kids give up testing. BBB--I think your people are not telling you all the facts--maybe that is the culture there.

  • The silence is deafening.

    Are librarians gone?? I heard at the LSC meeting that if principals want a librarian, they have to "buy" one.


  • In reply to Cleo:

    If principals have so much control-he told our LSC that the chief of the network has to approve our budget. We are a level one school.
    chief is forcing all principals to meet with him and get his approval first.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    chief told principals that higher ups at central office were making him do this!

  • Our principal has already informed the librarian that the position will be cut. Same for the music teacher who was added this year as part of the "full school day." The kids lose every time...

  • In reply to district299reader:

    this is where the REAch system is stupid. the librarian is a poor teacher at school, but he would bump a good teacher--so the librarian gets to stay and the good teacher is out. some business model.

  • Watch, librarians and counselors- all CTU members will be cut. Ancillary staff loyal to the principal- "coordinator of this", "advocate for that" will be maintained.

  • re: Fiscal crisis in Greece and public sector workers. The point I was attempting to make was not comparing the current depth of the crisis in Greece to what we face in Illinois, but rather the fragility of public sector worker contracts and pensions in all,places when sovereign entities have fiscal problems. Effectively unlike contracts between private individuals which are enforceable up to the point of putting a private entity into bankruptcy, deals with the public sector are far weaker in terms of enforcement.

    The pension situation in Greece for retired public sector workers is basically a 33 percent cut. The House plan in Illinois would result in combined health and pension reduction of probably 5-8 percent over the life time of a retired teacher outside of the city. For future retired teachers the situation would be worse. The situation while bad in Illinois is not at the level of Greece yet. Contrary to the media painting of public sector workers unions their situation is not powerful, in fact many can't go on strike even if there wages were cut. That is why for so many years these unions tried to buy off politicians with PAC money.

    Rod Estvan

  • Donn,
    Learn charters aren't available to many CPS students either.
    And I wasn't referring to just CPS. Average ACT scores are related to individual ACT scores which are related to career trajectories, scholarships and one's future.
    A high ACT average indicates a smart, college bound student body. I want more for my kids than what any charter, or quite frankly, most of what CPS offers. I want small class sizes, true gifted programming, high parent involvement, stocked classrooms, safety, a nice playground, equipment that isn't falling apart, PE,Art, Music, Library, Computers, Language, Dance, etc. I want a district that values experienced teachers with graduate and post graduate degrees and doesn't do all the crazy stuff CPS does. This is why my children do not attend CPS.
    My children don't need to be in school 200 days a year for 7.5 hours a day. They need time to play, do sports, go to the park and see their friends. There'll be enough time when they are grown ups to work like dogs.

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