The Plan! The Plan!

The Plan! The Plan!

There's lots and lots of coverage of the Byrd-Bennett plan -- and lots of questions and skepticism (and job worries) in just the first few hours since it was rolled out.  More to come.  Also: would someone please connect The Plan with the $1B budget gap closing plan Crain's talked about last week -- miracle, it's fixed! -- and the pension crisis?  


Byrd-Bennett wants to get CPS students prepared for college Sun Times: Within weeks of confirming the closure of a record 50 Chicago Public Schools, the schools chief unveiled some details of an ambitious five-year plan to get the city’s students prepared for college.

Chicago Public Schools issues 5-year plan Tribune: An annual scorecard on the district's performance and greater accountability throughout the system are some of the promises outlined in the first long-term plan for Chicago Public Schools issued since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office.

CPS five-year plan lacks specifics WBEZ: The 28-page, glossy booklet is broken into five parts—or pillars—that CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said will improve the public schools.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Five-Year Plan WTTW: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett joins us to discuss her Five Year Plan.

Big on ideas, short on money Catalyst:  Byrd-Bennett’s announcement at Westinghouse High School raised immediate questions about how the board would pay for the initiatives. And following the announcement, Board President David Vitale confirmed that principals, who received their school budgets just last week,  will have to make do with less: On average, school budgets are a few percentage points down from last year, although the cuts varied from school to school.

CPS Boss Releases Five-Year Education Plan, 'Not Abstractions.' DNAI: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett made a major policy speech outlining the next five years.


Parents call for boycott to stop closing of Englewood school Sun Times: As the school year winds down — for the last time in 48 Chicago Public Schools — some parents at Goodlow Magnet Elementary School are calling for a boycott for the rest of the week. The mothers say they’ve tried everything else to get the district’s attention about why Goodlow, 2040 W. 62nd Street in Englewood, should not be absorbed into Earle Elementary, and are urging parents to keep their children home through Friday.


In the News Catalyst: The U.S. Department of Education has released a report detailing Illinois’ work to advance comprehensive education reform during its first year under Race to the Top. “Illinois is off to a solid start after the first year of Race to the Top,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said.

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  • A friend at a "successful" neighborhood high school on the southside told me that their per pupil funding for next year was cut over 60% (from $13,000 this year to $5,030 for next year). Sounds like CPS is really trying to drive experienced teachers out of the system altogether (amongst other things)...

  • Where the heck did they get $13k per pupil in years past? Does not sound accurate to me.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    13k is the amount now.One can get that from school report cards.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The per student funding for next year is apparently not meant to cover all expenses. Building costs are probably not part of the new formula. The "all in" cost was $13K per student. There's no way they're cutting that 60%.

  • In reply to Donn:

    yes it is Don--neighborhood schools only have $4000 per student in this stinky backpack of $. We have to buy toilet paper from what once was the instructional line in the budge, school furniture--our instructional line, substitutes --our budget. There are school loosing 500K with the same students as last year--and then all that wasted $$ and time on printing the 5 yr plan--we can use that for toilet paper!
    CPS is funding neighborhood schools the same as charters- And if your school has more experienced teachers- your screwed more.
    Its rahms red wedding.

  • The $5,030 per student is before Federal and State low income funds, SPED staffing, other salaries, etc. The 13k figure would be all-in including the cost of buildings, utilities, repairs, etc. which don't show up on the individual school budgets. If I recall correctly the average for Illinois districts was about 9K , North Shore burbs go all the way up to 18K.

  • So librarians are gone. Done. Out.

    The silence is deafening

  • If the networks stay funded with all the cuts schools are forced to make against the students --this is sick!

  • Cleo, can you elaborate? Each principal has control over their own budget. While those budgets suck and aren't enough for even a bare bones school, its hard for me to believe that all librarians in CPS will all be eliminated. Do you mean they are eliminated at your school? I am very sorry to hear that if that is the case. I wouldn't ever consider sending my children to a school without a fully staffed and stocked, fully certified library/librarian. Libraries are one of the research proven things that ensure achievement.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    Not just my school. I talked to 3 principals today (all old friends) who said CPS is NOT funding librarian positions. If a principal wants a librarian they must buy one. They can fill the position with an aide if the want.

  • Yes, I understand and I am so sorry to hear it. CPS is actually not funding anything at all other than one clerk, one principal and sped teachers. Everything else, and I do mean every single thing including mops, toilet paper and furniture has to come out of the new budget. CPS isn't funding art, music, recess supervision, PE, computers, most bilingual pullout, etc. Our school has lost so many positions. I saw parents today of former students and those parents are so excited to send their child to my classroom next year. Of course I didn't say anything, but I wanted to say, "Run, don't walk, away from the city! Don't send your children here!"

  • Rahm is responsible--he forced LSD--now he makes schools suffer to fund it--teachers at my school want to conduct recess for 15 minutes, then end the school day 15 minutes earlier. Principal says we are not allowed to do this-- because central office says no. Principals have no control over the school's budget! CPS Board of Education:they do whatever the hell they want, even when it hurts Chicago children..

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Rahm forced a normal school day on a staff that already had three months vacation.

  • In reply to Donn:

    If you agree that this is a normal school day, equating to other neighboring districts, then you will too agree that this requires teacher lunch during the day (previously taken after school day ends) and scheduled recess time for students and prep periods for teachers. I hope you can agree that prep time is required for planning, grading, etc. All of this is done with a delicate planning for supervision of students which means... people... including recess supervision and special classes for teacher preps. Without adequate funding being provided, the principal must now scramble to determine how to cover these costs. Something has to give to fund the longer school day initiative... will it be textbooks? teacher assistants? In already plighted situations, simply painting teachers as greedy doesn't get to the real issue.

  • In reply to urbanteach:

    You just need to work more. Or be replaced by non-CTU teachers who will work the hours the rest of society considers a full time job.

    Obviously the CTU is never going to agree to work more, so you need to be mostly replaced. The many charters who want to run a typical school day and year with high needs students are also part of the problem.

    Plenty of students in the U.S. who need typical school. Not many in CPS.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Clearly Donn what you are calling for is breaking the CTU. Any pretance of being moderate is gone from that last post.

    You have indicated you have an autistic child attending the Easter Seals day school. Let's think about the consequences of an intensified work day on staff working with students with very difficult behaviors. Teachers like parents of these children break down. Many CPS schools have almost no backup for teachers of these students other than instructional aides, and the quality of those aides are inconsistent.

    Any teacher of significantly disabled children who doesn't want a limited school day in the current situation where supports are being cut must either have rocks in their head or be so economically desperate so as to have no choice but to accept what ever working conditions that are imposed. I see students as violent as the 14 year old with autism who was murdered by his family this week in the same classrooms with students retreating into themselves on a regular basics. Teaching such classes is simply overwhelming. Your comments lacked any consideration for teachers in these types of situations.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Donn will be going due process (principals and teachers have had to file against CPS) when CPS places his child into a self-contained program with 15 students (one teacher and one aide-maybe) in a school in the middle of gang shoot outs. Our self-contained programs have the class size of suburban general education programs. Of course, the teacher will be new, because lots of experienced sped teachers retired in 2012 or left for the suburbs.

    I too, have seen the violent sociopathic types placed into rooms with children with autism or cognitive disabilities. Only when the less violent children are victimized by the violent children does CPS offer a less dangerous placement.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I believe Donn's child is tuitioned out. Not in a CPS school. Like so many other autistic children are.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I wanted a traditional school day for both my SPED and gifted children. None would benefit from a long school day, although the current CPS schedule is still not a "long day".

    For the high need, reasonably cooperative child that is the typical CPS student, however, there's only two paths to academic success: 1) Have only the best CTU teachers from K-12, or 2) A long school day in a disciplinary environment that makes the added time effective.

    I don't know what "breaking" the CTU means. The number of working CTU members is determined by where parents enroll their children. The CTU's efforts to force parents into their traditional schools doesn't seem to be working. But perhaps the CTU can take that choice away from parents in the next mayoral election.

    CPS has no problem educating truly elite students, and doesn't have nearly enough money to do a uniformly good job with students who can't do well in gen. ed. classrooms. CPS does have enough money to do significantly better with the typical student, as long as it's not bound by the CTU contract.

    While the recent CPS plan is sincere, it's obviously designed to be conciliatory. By actions (as opposed to words), their first priority seems to be to get students who can handle rigor into effective rigorous programs. That emphasis doesn't benefit most SPED students.

    It's the CTU, not me, backing the idea that rigorous schools such as Noble should take all SPED students into their eight hour day.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Donn- Your online persona is "too perfect". SPED and gifted children. Relatives that work at Noble St. and two that teach in real schools- one who teaches SPED. At this point you need to claim you have a child at a closed school and another who is at Payton.

  • In reply to Donn:

    What is your opinion of Sherman where the population (supposedly) was retained yet a new highly selective(prestigious degrees) staff was hired and scores did not rise.....?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Most school reform doesn't seem to work. It does seem to work with significantly increased instructional time combined with the right discipline and culture.
    I don't know the correlation between prestigious degrees and teacher efficiency. If a teacher has a track record I doubt the principal cares too much where they went to school.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod, we have a TMH program grades 1-8th and are fully LRE.
    CPS allotted no funds to provide TMH teachers with preparations or to allow students recess, art, PE, music, or library.
    We will be stuck having the aides cover. Whatever they are calling special education does pay for this program, but they completely forgot about LRE funding for these students. Can you speak to CPS about this?

  • In reply to Donn:

    Work more ? Let's see I am in my classroom at 7:30 am. I don't leave my classroom until 5 pm and that is usually with a bag of papers to grade when I get home adding another 3 hours each day.
    Talk to my husband about working more hours.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Demanding an initiate (longer school day) providing funding for it and then removing that funding on an already plighted budget has nothing to do with the greedy teacher. I hope you can find it reasonable that teachers now take a lunch during the LSD and that requires supervision of students (people) and of course, the greed in a prep period to grade papers, plan, review, collaborate... all requires supervision of students in special classes. The argument by many parent groups has been... how are you going to fund this? Well, I guess he isn't. What should go? textbooks? technology? assistants?

  • Meaningless Donn since lsd is not funded--and class sizes go to 33.
    wake up.

  • I love don we should all listen to him.he represents
    the views of a lot of people in this town.Unfortunately
    he does not know the real truth of what goes on in schools.
    I am now a day to day sub.The process i went through to get that
    little piece of plastic was epic,it took eighteen months.
    But now i see the situation from the ground, subbing
    is miles away from my former spot as a school librarian.
    I wanted to prove something to myself, that i still have what it takes
    to survive even at the bottom of the teaching food chain.
    Well i am still standing .So Don keep writing who knows perhaps
    Saturday night live will call.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    I believe Donn has reported that his family members are public (charter?) school teachers. But he is not.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Then he will never know will he?

  • What good is a plan when your school budget is down $780k? That's how much my neighborhood high school lost - Amundsen. Many of our neighborhood elementary schools are down around $400k some more, some less. Mitchell elem is down $788k. Right now we are all discussing which teaching positions we can do without in a system that wasn't providing basic standards in the first place. Meanwhile BBB is on some PR tour that doesn't gel quite well with the reality of the day.

  • This is all a sick joke on the children of Chicago, especially the students in special education programs. After fifteen years plus, I think I'm out. The special education students in my school really got the shaft this year. Next year will be even worse for them. None of the students received any minutes remotely close to what their IEPs stated, because the special education teachers were used as substitutes, lunch supervisors, and recess monitors.
    The new special education teachers were told to keep their mouths shut, unless they wanted it to reflect "unsatisfactory" in professionalism on their REACH assessment.
    And there's another focus, just how many new teachers are sitting in limbo until their summative ratings are calculated sometime in August?? I know most of the special education teachers in my school are sitting in that boat, since REACH doesn't address all the areas of practice special education teachers do, so administrators were rating them as basic.
    Special education students were crammed into general education classrooms with 33 plus students with no support outside the general education teacher because the special education teachers' caseloads were exceeding twenty plus students. Let's even forget about testing accommodations, since there's no one around to do it. And next year, it will be even more fun!
    The per student funding includes an additional backpack only for students who are LRE1 and LRE 2. LRE 3 students come with the same funding as the general education kids. Let's watch how many children with really severe needs will end up as LRE1 or LRE, thrown into a classroom with minimum support, just so the school gets more funding. And NOT that any of those kids will be seeing it, since it will be used for toilet paper and janitorial supplies. It has started at my school already this year: kids with some serious needs being placed with less support.
    Let the Hunger Games begin!

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    Sadly, what you are saying is all too true.

    CPS already mislabels students in order to justify a lack/reduction in services. I have had many students labeled LD who were really cognitively disabled, autistic or emotionally disturbed. How can sped teachers be accountable under REACH when growth is based upon an LD overview which does not take into account mislabeled students.
    I have questioned placement decisions and have even dissented but generally even veteran teachers' questions/concerns are dismissed even at Tier 1 schools. If CPS is focusing on hiring less experienced/non-tenured teachers who are afraid to question placement decisions I see less services for children with disabilities in CPS.

  • Donn, baby. This one's for you:


    156. JMOChicago | June 12, 2013 at 10:31 am

    @148–You must be joking, surely. Have you ever spent time in a school?

    Sorry, I don’t usually swoop in to comment in this manner, but this has to stop. This perception of teaching as a cushy salary for not enough hours with all sorts of flexibility and perks. After 14 years as a VERY highly paid consultant for a variety of well-known firms, I decided to put my MSEd to use and considered going back for my certification to teach in elementary classrooms. As a way to “check it out” while I was filling in for some lecturers at two area universities in the evenings, I took a day job as the media/tech coordinator for a smaller private school on the northside of Chicago teaching K-8 media/tech labs and helping them to coordinate the curriculum in the regular classrooms with emerging media/tech tools.

    I figured, meh, 8:00 am – 3:00 pm, 5 days a week. Should be straightforward enough even with teaching a few evening classes at the university. After all, I was used to billing 60-70 hour weeks and working 80-90 hours in order to bill that time. I didn’t have kids yet, enjoyed working immensely, but really wanted a change of venue…a “break” after the high-pressure world of consulting.

    Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah. Not.

    I had small class sizes, some of my classes were no more than 10 kids. I was teaching a class that wasn’t even something that kids were tested on. I didn’t have to call parents, deal with on-going behavioral problems, attend weekly staff meetings for vertical and horizontal curriculum integration, fill out all the required paperwork, etc. I “just” had to create the curriculum and assignments, show up and teach each class every day, engage in classroom management, keep the tech and media lab organized, grade their assignments, etc.

    It was the hardest job I’ve ever done. Harder than being a farm laborer in high school, harder than working as a consultant. Yes, that’s right. It was physically and emotionally more demanding than working as a globe-traversing, 14-16 hour work day consultant. Pretty equal for the mental challenge of it, but constant with few breaks, unlike the ebbs and flows of client work where you can take a mental rest and have back at it.

    I lasted a year. Then I fled back to MY cushy jobs teaching at university and consulting. Where I had an administrative assistant and the resources to actually get the things done being asked of me…having copy paper and a stapler that I didn’t have to purchase out of my own pocket never looked so good. Where I didn’t have to spend my break time correcting papers, calling parents, having impromptu meetings with other teachers, just getting stuff DONE.

    Since that time I have been in a lot of schools for my research and work and as a CPS parent. Sometimes there is the bad apple teacher. We all know one. This is exactly like ANY JOB ON THE PLANET, where there are bad apple accountants, managers, etc.

    Recess time does not happen all at once for everyone in the school. It is staggered, usually by grade, at different times. The teachers who have students outside eat while their students are outside. The other teachers in the school are TEACHING at this time. While the teachers eat, they sometimes have to use this time to call parents, coordinate their work with each other (yes! coordinating work between classrooms and having to make adjustments to the timing, sharing resources, etc. in a grade is a critical part of running a school.), fill out reams of paperwork for the school/district/state, re-organize a lesson plan that may have to be adjusted, work on that one student’s IEP, etc. They are supposed to be taking a “break.” Real breaks are virtually non-existent in most public schools I’ve spent time in the U.S.

    While school is in session, I’m going to estimate that teaching is approximately a 55-60 hour week (conservative estimate). With curriculum preparation + instruction time + classroom management/operations (parent conferences, etc.) + grading assignments/documenting progress + different internal school meetings + investing time in finding resources/supplies/materials. Which almost sounds a bit cushy compared to consulting (what’s not to love about the flexibility of 8 weeks in summer?) until you do it and realize that 50-60 school hours feel like 80-90 consulting hours in terms of intensity and needing stamina. I love teaching, LOVE TEACHING, but I physically could not do it. It was all adrenaline, constant vigilance, constant motion/engagement, constant negotiation/diplomacy, constant…constant…constant. Bathroom breaks? Ha! Going for a walk to clear your head? Ha! Breaking up a day of meetings or collaboration with being able to write reports for a few hours in the office, or run to a doctor’s appointment during work hours if needed? Forget about it.

    So let’s not hear anymore about how teaching is nothing more than showing up for a few hours while your kids are at school and eating a leisurely lunch midday and going home “early”. Unless you are willing to step up and teach.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Three Chicago high school teachers in my family. One Noble, two CTU (one is SPED). All are great. The Noble teacher works harder and gets fantastic results.
    There's no acceptable future for most Chicago students with a school day based on the CTU contract and CTU "advocacy". Who said an urban ed. teaching gig was suppose to be an easy job? There's always the burbs for a traditional school day.

  • harder....says who?
    .....gets fantastic results....says who....and shouldn't the results be fantastic? population.....

  • Donn, I appreciate your insight and comments. This blog is often so one sided that I simply ignore it. I think you having knowledge of 3 teachers in 3 different environments, while anecdotal, is very insightful. It would be so much more productive if the union looked at information like you provide more objectively. Instead of trying to stop any change, really try to innovate and improve. The union can complain about charters all they want, but in fact, the union has the power to make charter schools unnecessary. This would require the union to allow teachers to be treated differently, evaluated and given special incentives and try a variety of learning techniques to really meet the needs of low performing schools. Our low performing schools probably have a lot of great teachers who do not have the autonomy from union one size fits all rules to collaborate with principals and improve education.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You should know that 156. JMOChicago's comment/rant was prompted by my suggestion that elementary school teachers take turns supervising recess instead of paid "outside vendors".

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    Recess duty is forty minutes (two sessions) which would impact the teachers' lunch....maybe you don't realize this....

  • In reply to district299reader:

    These things you speak of are the domain of CPS, not the union. Autonomy and creativity went out the window with scripted lesson plans mandated by the Board. Get real.

  • Dear dist 299 .the union has the power to do exactly nothing.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Then why have the union? Truly curious? Seems a lot of you like to thump your union chest and then play the victim. Is it that your union has power, yet you feel powerless as an individual teacher? I really am trying to understand.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Every contract we ever had contains words to the effect that
    if the board has no money we have no contract.
    The CTU is an extension of the scum bag cook county democratic machine and exists only to further it's goals.I had high hopes that once the UPC faction was ousted there might be a change in direction.
    So what do we see? Acceptance of SB7and a contract ignored where it is needed in the schools.Union power exists only in the imagination of CTU members to anyone in a position of power over education it is a joke.
    I survived for 41 years because of my size and a nasty personality
    backed up by what I hope was a kind nature.The CTU never did anything to correct the outrageous ,sometimes downright lethal
    conditions me and my students were forced to endure.Our union is only in place to tom the folks.

  • fb_avatar

    Uhm... let's see, for work rule enforcement, safe and healthy work conditions and fair pay? We don't set policy. They don't even ask us. Our union keeps them from screwing us more than they already can. And lose the condescending attitude. You know there are certain things unions can negotiate on and certain things we can't. You think they asked us about the endless testing? The school closings? The funding cuts? How to use TIF money? No. They dictate policy. We just try to keep their craziness minimized.

  • In reply to Ed Dziedzic:

    I am really not trying to be condescending, but understand that this is a emotional and hostile blog to anyone that questions anything about the union. Not sure which came first, the chicken or the egg, but I think it has become a vicious cycle of poor policy that is in response to union demands that is in reponse to poor policy that is in response to union demands that is poor policy...... You can't hold your union harmless and just play victim. It is a two way street.

  • In reply to Ed Dziedzic:

    Thank you, Ed.

    Let's see I have had to use the union when CPS unilaterally fired all non-bilingual FTBs and allowed bilingual FTBs to stay regardless of whether one was teaching mono-lingual English students or not,
    when mold was growing up the walls of my classroom from a leaky roof ( I did give CPS three years to fix it but my students with asthma were getting sick), when I was transferred into a wood shop position
    ( I do not have the certification for wood shop and when I met with the district superintendent he babbled that teachers are supposed to know how to teach everything!) when class size at our overcrowded SW side school reached 50, when our principal put it in our evaluations whether we attended the region cocktail party, donated monies to United Way and told us we did not need a washroom break that as adults we were supposed to control bodily functions. I believe CTU filed to unchain access doors which was a common practice in the 70s and to remove nails from windows that were not able to be opened-unbelievable isn't it? I could go on and on a perfect world we wouldn't need a union but after observing the ineptitude of too many administrators in CPS thank God for the union. Teachers have had to file many grievance over working conditions which do have a direct impact on students.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Your story is a classic example of what is wrong with the CTU.I submit
    that if the union contract had any power those outrageous conditions would never exist due to fear of what would happen.Living through
    25 years in the toxic dump that was the old Simeon I can match war
    stories with anyone.That building was actually killing people .

  • fb_avatar

    So what, exactly are the CTU's demands that resulted in these poor policies? Compare our work hours and pay to any nearby districts. We are not overpaid and underworked despite what you union haters espouse. Just because charters (which most teachers can't get out of fast enough) underpay and overwork their employees does not mean that we should accept that.

    So, again, what has the CTU done to encourage the energetic idiocy at the board?

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