State Funding, TIF Reserves

State Funding, TIF Reserves

UNO is in trouble again -- with the SEC this time. Lawmakers want to lower state education funding for CPS, and CPS parents want more TIF funding from City Hall.  Meanwhile, the budget deal to restart the federal government extends the TFA loophole.


Study: D.C.’s teacher evaluation system affects workforce Washington Post: Rewards and punishments embedded in the District’s controversial teacher evaluation program have shaped the school system’s workforce, affecting both retention and performance, according to a study scheduled for release Thursday.

Why we must accept Common Core writing standards Ray Salazar: For decades, many wealthy kids and students at magnet or selective-enrollment schools have been exposed to what Common Core pushes us to teach.  That's one reason those students gained more access to better post-secondary opportunities.  Let's give our low-income, minority students those same options.

In Laurel, 'intense' but promising shift to Common Core Baltimore Sun: At first glance, the bulletin boards lining the hallways of Oaklands Elementary School in South Laurel look like any typical display of students' work — drawings, short essays, a display of some dioramas.


New Bill Looks To Change State Education Grant Funding System For CPS Progress Illinois:
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, however, said Pihos' bill "deflects responsibility from the core issue Springfield must tackle to provide fair funding to every school in Illinois - comprehensive pension reform."

CPS Budget Cuts: Parent Groups Cry Foul, Seek Additional TIF Money DNAI: Raise Your Hand and the Common Sense Coalition demanded additional funding for public schools.

Parents want more TIF cash, transparency Catalyst: Unimpressed with the announcement last week that Mayor Rahm Emanuel will declare a TIF surplus that will garner about $20 million more for CPS, two parent organizations said on Wednesday they want to know more about TIF spending and would ultimately like to see the district get more money.


Senn High School's Big Transformation: 'What's Happening Here is Real' DNAI: Since Susan Lofton became principal in 2010, the Edgewater school has become a top-rated school for CPS.

The privilege of public education Tribune (letter): I am a licensed clinical social worker who retired last year after 33 years with the Chicago Public Schools. I'm concerned that the most fertile area for student improvement, the home, is not playing a larger role in school reform.


UNO acknowledges SEC probe Tribune: The United Neighborhood Organization acknowledged today that its charter school network is under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

SEC probing clout-heavy UNO  for possible securities violations Sun Times:  Federal authorities are investigating possible securities violations involving the state’s largest charter-school operator, the scandal-scarred United Neighborhood Organization.

Alderman: Cops should get retro pay Sun Times: Chicago Sun-Times: “It's personal against me because I'm one of two people in the city of Chicago who has spoken out against Mayor Emanuel and his administration,” Shields said then, identifying Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis as the other mayoral critic.


Budget Deal Would Allow Alternate-Route Teachers to be Deemed "Highly Qualified" PoliticsK12: The legislation, which is expected to be approved by both houses of Congress very soon, would allow teachers participating in alternative-certification programs (for example, Teach for America) to be considered "highly qualified" for an additional two years, through the 2015-16 school year.

New standardized tests boast less risk of cheating — by students and teachers KPCC: Last school year, students were caught taking pictures of the tests with their cellphones to share with others.But this year's computer test gets rid of those answer sheets and booklets. Tests will be given on computer, and officials can monitor when a student is logging in and out of a web site to take the test.

More Angst For College Applicants: A Glitchy Common App NPR: Applying to college is stressful at the best of times. But technical flaws in the online Common Application, used by hundreds of colleges, have sparked panic among some high school seniors. With deadlines approaching, some schools are making backup plans — like a return to mail or even faxed applications.


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  • Just what we need: Rahm spreading his ideas across the country. More than 800 state legislators, school chiefs and policy wonks of every description will convene today in Boston for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s annual National Summit on Education Reform. The two-day conference will feature several big-name speakers, including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and a mystery guest that summit organizers have kept secret to build suspense… though (spoiler alert!) your Morning Education team hereby unveils him as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The summit features panels on everything from vocational education to pre-K to a strategy session on how to sell ed reform to the public. Added at the last minute: A panel at which top execs from four big companies, including Microsoft and Exxon Mobil, make the case for Common Core.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    thanks reader -- hadn't seen this - more info Rahm Emanuel headed to Boston for national ed reform conference #EIE13

  • Chicago Drops CeaseFire from Anti-Violence Strategy | The Interrupters | FRONTLINE | PBS

  • Thanks for including my post, Alexander!

  • Fontana Unified school board names Chicago educator [Leslie Boozer] new superintendent

  • Ray Salazar is of course correct that teaching students to be proficient writers is a critical function of K-12 education. But it is probably the most time consuming educational skill to provide students. Therein lies the problem with the Common Core, its time. The Common Core being applied in urban schools demands that lower income children who come from families where little if any writing is practiced to effectively become as proficient written communicators as children of highly literate college graduates who attend Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts.

    The average class size at Phillips is 13 and the school's overall student to teacher ratio is only 5 to 1. Slightly over 20% of the teachers at Phillips have Ph. D. degrees. Most teachers live on campus and serve as dormitory counselors, academic advisors, and/or coaches. They are available to students virtually every day. This is why for the class of 2013 the Phillips mean score in writing on the SAT was a 690 which is about equal to a score of 31 in the ACT English/Writing section. The day school tuition is $36,700 at Phillips, so the old adage you pay for what you get clearly applies.

    Being a highly effective writer is a skill developed by hard work and no common core dictate can impart that to a student. E.B. White the co-author of The Elements of Style once said this: "The main thing I try to do is write as clearly as I can. I rewrite a good deal to make it clear." To effectively teach writing teachers need the time to help students to learn to rewrite.

    At Phillips a teacher might see only 30 students in a day and can intensively help them to become effective writers at the high level the Common Core aspires to reach. In a CPS high school teachers might instruct a 150 a day, even in charter high schools they instruct easily 80 or more a day.

    If the Common Core curriculum set goals for low income students to aspire to it would be one thing, but that is not the case. It is setting goals that will decide whether or not high schools will remain open and teachers will lose their jobs. I would suggest that if CPS teachers and charter school teachers were given the working conditions that teachers at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts have then their students might approach a mean SAT score of 690 in the writing section, but that unfortunately is not the case.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Mr. Estavan, wouldn't a national high school diploma with an associated national test solve a lot of issues including the current attempt at national curriculum standards, for-profit testing, etc.? I think almost all countries in the world use such an approach. Is the reason this is never discussed the ridiculous amount of fear of the erosion of States' Rights?

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    Mr *Estvan* !

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    Yes "CPS Parent" there are many opponents to the Common Core based on fear of erosion of States Rights. The Tenth Amendment states the Constitution's principle of federalism by providing that powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, nor prohibited to the States, are reserved to the States or the people. Education is one of those powers.

    Federal power relating to education at the state and local level is totally based on getting states to agree to accept funding in return for granting a degree of power over education to the US Department of Education. Both of the major groups developing Common Core national assessments are effectively voluntary with associated money and a free test as the hook to buy in.

    I am most familiar with Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) which is a consortium of 18 states plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands working together to develop a common set of K-12 assessments in English and math.

    The writing component of the PARCC assessment will require that all CPS students will have access to certain word processing tools to write their essays, including a spell checker feature.

    The PARCC Summative Assessments in Grades 3-11 will measure writing using three prose constructed response (PCR) items. Since each PCR is designed to measure both written expression and knowledge of language and conventions, the audience and form for each PCR will necessitate that students use a formal English. Which means using the language without slang or abbreviations such as "You've, he's, they're, goin', yeah" and writing in complete sentences.

    In addition, PARCC states that it seeks to create items that elicit writing that is authentic for the students to be assessed. There is a formalized grading rubric for the responses, but because of the computerized nature of the PARCC assessment the responses are designed to be relatively short but difficult.

    Here is an example PARCC gives for the grade 10 writing assessment:

    "Use what you have learned from reading Daedalus and Icarus by Ovid and “ To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph ” by Anne Sexton to write an essay that analyzes how Icarus’s experience of flying is portrayed differently in the two texts.Develop your essay by providing textual evidence from both texts. Be sure to follow the conventions of standard English."

    The excerpt from Ovid students have to read and comment on is about 3 pages long and the excerpt from Anne Sexton is about one half a page long. It is my understanding that the essays will be graded by humans not computers. Talk about a boring job, grading thousands of essays comparing Ovid to Sexton. Did people really become English Lit majors to do that boring job?

    I can foresee many problems with urban students completing these essays including the space they will take this test in with dozens of other students along with all the associated distractions. Then there is the self re-writing process and review that must be done in order to achieve a high score. That's not going to be easy and I know I don't write in an environment like these students are going to face.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    I was unaware of PARCC and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention - thank you. Would failure to score at some minimum level on the PARCC assessment at the 12th grade level preclude graduation from high school in participating States?

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Hi Rod,

    Let's face it--there's always going to be inequality in the grand ol' U.S. of A. People who are against Common Core need to realize that while it will never solve the large inequities this country faces, it does demand that teachers challenge themselves and their students in a 21st century world.

    Sure it challenging. But we know that being a good teacher is hard work. I have seen over and over these last 19 years how low-income youth who receive a challenging education and who are encouraged to succeed are able to compete with affluent students. I've had students who gained access to Stanford, Northwestern. Some of them had traditional supportive homes. Some of them did not.

    Low-income students deserve to a 21st century education that allow them to explore ideas that live and breathe outside of an academic classroom. We have to help them grow as writers and remind ourselves that success is measured in different ways.

    The prompt you share below--ugh. That's a bad one. Honestly, I look at that and ask, "Who cares?" There may be other bad prompts. But there are going to be some good ones. If they look more like the synthesis essays from AP English Language, I think there'll be lots of benefits. It's really up to teachers to speak up and say what works and what doesn't.

    And perhaps the push for students to complete these on a computer will help increase the number of computers in our schools.

    What I don't want to see is people simply disregarding Common Core because it represents the private sector's take over of our schools, or because "our kids" will never be able to do that. What I think comments like that really reveal is two things: 1. Teachers who don't know how to teach at these high levels and don't want to learn how to 2. People who have deficit-based views of "our kids" and who need to find something else to do besides teach.

  • In reply to Ray Salazar:

    A big problem Ray for CPS when it will come to the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) writing assessment is that currently CPS has no formalized data on the relative situation of our high school students in writing to my knowledge, neither the EPAS—the Education Planning and Assessment System, nor PSAE has a writing component. Before Illinois dropped its writing assessment (2005 testing cycle) in the PSAE only 34% of CPS high school students were able to write at state standards, standards which were much lower than the PARCC assessment will require.

    So this is going to be really difficult, it's not about having low expectations. Ray even you with your skills in writing may not have the time to effectively teach many CPS students the writing skills they will need to survive the PARCC writing assessment. Growth will likely be measured using vertical scales for everything except in writing, because vertical scaling doesn't seem to be a valid approach for writing according to testing big shots (see I have really no idea Ray how you will be measured as an effective writing teacher once the PARCC assessment becomes reality. It is being decided now among committees of what are called psychometricians.

    The concerns of educators relating to these complex issues should not be reduced to arguments around expectations for low income students, it also comes down to the algorithms used to measure student growth over time that you as a CPS teacher will face and how long you will have to get your students up to speed before you and your fellow teachers could be terminated. The weight of student growth in the REACH teacher assessment system by the time PARCC is implemented in CPS will be 30% of the total weight of the evaluation.

    I have really very limited concerns about the business community's controlling interests in the Common Core. If you read a radical education writer like Michael W. Apple you rapidly realize that the private corporate community have had a controlling interest in public education curriculum for well over 100 years, so the current situation is nothing new.

    I think the Common Core could be useful for urban students if it is used as something to be reached for, but not if it is used as a big part of the measuring stick to close schools and fire teachers.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:


    I don't trust the skepticism of the people against Common Core. This morning, I got a Tweet from Privacy Rights IL in response to my post that there are too many white voices leading the ed policy conversation: "That's what happens when y'all take the free cheese."

    This we know is a reference to food assistance programs. It's comments like these and Diane Ravitch's exaggerations that sarcasm that makes this anti-Common Core movement weak.

    I'm ready to show how much my students grow each year. And I have many other colleagues that are ready, too. Even though many of my students last year did not score 3s on the AP Eng Lang exam, the data from the College Board that specifically tells me how they did on the essay part shows they kicked butt. It's about showing growth. And, yes, we should be able to show growth for the students that are with us most of the time.

    And the write me from college and say, "Hey, you prepared me well for college writing." They succeed.

    We have to move beyond "reaching for" opportunities for our low-income minority students. While we're aiming, white and affluent students are getting it. Look at the low-income enrollment at selective enrollment high schools. Ten percent of the CPS population is white but over 30% makes up the population at the top high schools. It's time to stop the inequalities.

    One thing that would help is if the ed reporters focused more on the success stories of minority students. You're on the board of one of these news sources. How about a push to move beyond all the problems black and brown kids face? Lots of them overcome in unimaginable ways.

    We have a graduate from our neighborhood Southwest side high school who made it into Pomona College--the #2 school in the country according to Forbes.-generation student. Good, good story. I reached out to the ed reporters. To date, no one has told her story. Why would they? A friend told me, "She'd have to get shot before they write about her." Sadly, it's true.

    No, we have to accept Common Core. Let's start believing there are more good teachers than bad in CPS and let's start accepting that our low-income black and brown kids can succeed.

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ray Salazar:

    I don't understand how we can hold all opponents of the Common Core responsible for racist views of others who happen to also oppose the common core.

    I certainly have fought the same fight as you have--with strong success--at getting the voices of students heard in the local and national press. I fail to understand what that has to do with the Common Core.

    In my experience, when we allow those beyond our community to standardize, it results in a lack of empathy and equity of those standards.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    I am writing from committee rom 118 in the State House in Springfied. In the House Appropriation Committee for Elementary Secondary Education. The Governor's Office is asking for money to restore the State writing assessments.

    The Republicans are opposing the additional expenditures and would rather have any addition money applied to the overall debt of the state.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    So Xian, are you against Common Core, too?

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Ray Salazar:

    I think that there are two key issues around CCSS:
    1) Will it help students? If one believes that it will, I think we must support it. I am a skeptical agnostic. I think that standardizing carelessly always hurt minority power groups. Furthermore, it tends to provide opportunities for the privileged to make boatloads of money. I see both happening already. That said, if people's response is that we need to then account for that thoughtfully and move forward, I respect that position. I think turning over our curricular decisions and providing civic engagement skill training and massive support to highest need communities is a far better way. However, if someone can demonstrate with reasonable arguments (not "the opponents are evil" or "Raising the bar by itself helps" (it doesn't)), that this will help the students I care about, then I would wholeheartedly support it.

    2) Was this a good policy generating process?
    This one is clearly a "No." Absent parents, educators and students, a small select group of folks decided this was something that needed to happen and pushed it through. Later educators were looped into the process. My feeling is that such a policy generating process cannot EVER be successful.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:


    I look at CCSS and AP English Language standards and say--yes! This is exactly what my Southwest side students need to succeed. Yes, knowing this will help students succeed and have the knowledge and skills to push policy-making forces in the future to be more inclusive and more inclusive. THIS is how they get into positions of power.

    I just see over and over how people, mostly white, say no, no, no because it's corporate reform. Yeah, well, well live in a capitalist country. Gee, corporations have power? What else is new?

    I push them look at the standards--let's be specific--look at the high school Language Arts Standards and identify what students should not know, not what they can't know or what teachers can't teach. Is there anything on there that 21st century young people should NOT know?

    Let's face it. There is rarely a good policy generating process. But if we don't move into the 21st century with CCSS, our low-income students will fall farther and farther behind. And I wonder, has Diane Ravitch or any of the other local and national white and non-white anti-CCSS people asked students their thoughts on whether this will help them succeed? Will this make education more meaningful? CCSS is not written in student friendly terms but maybe some of those people should translate them and see what students have to say.

    We gotta stop the condescending BS against our students. I think we're both committed to this.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    Xian said...

    "....and providing civic engagement skill training and massive support to highest need communities is a far better way."

    Or perhaps hard work and perseverance to overcome the inherent advantage of mainstream groups? That's how it's been done by every earlier minority group. That's what Mexican American's are busy doing now. (Ray's perhaps a bit close to the action to appreciate the rate of change).

    My grandfather could read but not write, and didn't speak English at home. His son is a PhD. No "civic engagement lessons" were involved in the process. Just hard work in school and hard work at work. Ray fundamentally gets it. You go at the skills directly, no excuses. You compete directly in the mainstream of american life.

    I expect to live long enough to see mexican americans pondering the question of who they can get to do some lawn work.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    ...eeewwww, Donn. Only you could make upward mobility sound so unappealing.

  • In reply to Ray Salazar:


    “I don’t trust the skepticism of the people against Common Core”?!

    The ‘skepticism’?!

    Don’t you mean, “I don’t share the skepticism of the opponents of the Common Core”?, and don’t you mean to write “I don’t trust their motivations”?

    Are you really an English teacher?

    Ray, as an English teacher and proponent of the Common Core Standards, you must be familiar with

    CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.1b Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.

    So where are the supporting facts when you claim Diane Ravitch exaggerates? Where are your supporting facts that it is her type of ‘sarcasm’ that makes the anti-common core movement weak?

    You also, without supporting facts, claim, “One thing that would help is if the ed reporters focused more on the success stories of minority students”?

    Do feel-good newspaper stories really raise academic achievement? Where exactly are the supporting facts to support that claim?

    And how exactly does “She’d have to get shot before they write about her” support your proposition?

    One thing that the common core stresses for teachers of writing is “Teach Argument, Not Persuasion”

    According to Appendix A of the CCSS, persuasive writing might “appeal to the audience’s self-interest, sense of identity, or emotion,” whereas a logical argument “convinces the audience because of the perceived merit and reasonableness of the claims and proofs offered rather than either the emotions the writing evokes in the audience or the character or credentials of the writer”

    If you are going to be a proponent of the Common Core, then it would serve you well to familiarize yourself with them.

    Quite possibly, you might also practice what you preach.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Questionable advice from someone who hides behind a general posting name.

    Read my blog: I wrote about Diane Ravitch's false logic after the Sandyhook shooting. Thanks.

  • Fixing Schools by Luring the Middle Class Won't Work - @TheAtlanticEDU

  • This from a CPS school LCSW social worker of 33 years???!!! "In order to avail yourself of that privilege [of free public education] you, the parent, along with your child, will have to sign a binding contract covering attendance, homework and other issues. If you sign and abide by this contract your child will have the privilege of attending his or her neighborhood elementary school. If not, a bus will take your child to a school with other children in the same situation."

    At first I thought it was satire about charter school skim. But, this guy is for real. OMG.

  • Billion lost for schools Stand for Children | Stand for Children

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    In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Not sure what this is supposed to be. 100 billion dollars lost for babies! Call Jim Belushi now!

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