Save Charter Commission, Says Sun-Times

Save Charter Commission, Says Sun-Times

Today's news: The Sun Times editorial page opposes bill to gut the state charter school commission. There are still tons of LSCs that need volunteers.  Pritzker administrators gave out an ISAT survey that some parents found disturbing. CNN's reality series about Chicago premiered last night, including several school stories. A formerly homeless Chicago teen revealed his status via NPR's StoryCorps.

CITYWIDE

LSC Elections: A List of Area Schools Still Short of Candidates DNA Info: Even after CPS extended the filing deadline for local school council candidates, a new map posted by the school district shows that scores of schools are still short of parent and community applicants.

Retain panel for charter schools Chicago Sun-Times: Chapa LaVia tells us she’s open to negotiations on her bill, which is good news. The bill as it stands now is little more than a thinly veiled attempt to undercut charter schools in Illinois.

David Spielfogel — Mayor Emanuel’s go-to guy — is ‘mini-Rahm’ Sun Times: A two-year stint as chief of staff for the MacArthur Foundation was sandwiched between four political campaigns: Howard Dean’s crash-and-burn 2000 presidential race; Barack Obama’s winning 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate and Alexi Giannoulias’ failed Senate race in 2010.

A Compelling New Documentary Series About Today's Chicago The Atlantic Cities: And there's Asean Johnson, a 9-year-old whose fiery, articulate speeches against the mayor's plan to shutter dozens of Chicago's public schools make him a rallying point for those fighting the closures.

CPS wants pension reform in Springfield this year Chicago Tribune: ... students graduate 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound. David Vitale is president of the Chicago Board of Education and Barbara Byrd-Bennett is the CEO of Chicago Public Schools.

TESTING

Parents Upset by 'Intimidating' Survey of Students Who Opted-Out of ISAT DNA Info: According to parents at Pritzker School in Wicker Park, the "student survey" was administered to students this week who opted out of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test by the principal and assistant principal.

PRIVATES

Are Chicago's elite private schools as diverse as they claim to be? Reader: In a city whose most advantaged public schools have enrollments that are a third to a half low-income—not to mention a city with legions of schools in which almost all of the children are low-income—it would seem unprincipled to have schools in which very few of the students come from low-income families.

SOCIAL MEDIA

'Yik Yak' App Disabled In Chicago After Schools Warn Of Cyberbullying Danger CBS Local: Some local schools have begun warning parents of a new smartphone app that kids can use to anonymously post vicious and nasty comments about each other. The developers of Yik Yak on Thursday disabled the app in the Chicago ...

Yakking teens now have an app for that, worrying Chicago-area schools Sun Times: Melvin Soto, assistant principal of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School on Chicago’s Near West Side, said students complained that their first and last names were being published on the app along with negative comments. So an email went out to that school community Wednesday morning.

MISC

A Homeless Chicago Teen Finds Solace In A Teacher And A Recording NPR: Aaron didn't intend to tell his classmates that he was homeless. But when he recorded his own story with StoryCorpsU — a project designed to help kids in high-needs schools build stronger relationships with their teachers — he says, it just came out.

NATIONAL

Kindergarten Is Lost in Pre-K Debate, Critics Say NYT: Melanie Hartzog, executive director of the Children’s Defense Fund in New York, said most states require public schools to offer kindergarten, and several of them, including Arkansas, Oklahoma and South Carolina, require children to attend it on a full-day basis equivalent to the time they would spend in first grade. But New York is one of five states where school districts are not required to offer any kindergarten.

Outgoing N.J. Chief Takes Aim At Union 'Misinformation' TeacherBeat: Chris Cerf, departing from the role of New Jersey chief, criticizes the state union's 'misinformation' on teacher evaluation.

Live from SXSWEdu: Who’s Khan Academy in bed with now? Hechinger Report: The White House, the College Board, Bank of America, and Comcast. What do they have in common? They’ve all announced partnerships with Khan Academy, the nonprofit provider of free educational videos and analytics tools, in the last 12 months. These partnerships combine various aspects of cash, content, and distribution. But in each case, the stodgier established player is borrowing a little bit of Khan Academy’s halo.

Kansas High Court to Rule in School Funding Suit ABC News: All states have language in their constitutions providing for public schools. Kansas' courts have been strong and specific in spelling out how the state must carry out that responsibility, and education advocates have questioned whether the push in Kansas to base funding on costs — not political considerations — would continue, perhaps emboldening parents and educators in other states.

Obama's day: Going down to Miami USA TODAY: Education and perhaps immigration are on the agenda Friday as President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama travel to Miami. The First Couple plan to stay in South Florida throughout the weekend.

OTHER CITIES

De Blasio, in Radio Interview, Defends His Position on Charter Schools NYT: Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared on the hip-hop station Hot 97 on Thursday, arguing that his policies on New York City charter schools were being distorted.

Cuomo lends support to solving charter school space issue with legislation Chalkbeat:  Two days after promising to “save charter schools” at a rally in Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that he is considering a legislative solution for New York City’s charter school space issues. He emphasized the role of charter schools as engines of educational innovation and said he was already speaking with lawmakers about how to ensure that the schools can operate without being crippled by rent costs.

Charter School Battle Lines WNYC: Charges of playing politics with children's educations have flown on both sides of the debate over the de Blasio administration's withdrawal of permission to co-locate for 3 of the 49 schools under review. Beth Fertig, contributing editor for education at WNYC and Schoolbook.org, and Robert Lewis, WNYC investigative reporter, talk about this battle over education and the money behind some of the protests.

 

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  • I am writing this on behalf of Access Living which fully supports Representative Linda Chapa LaVia’s bill HB 3754 which would abolish State Charter School Commission. We believe the editorial on the Charter School Commission that appears in the March 6 edition of the Chicago Sun Times is misguided in relation to its opposition to HB 3754. While the editorial correctly presents the legislative history that created the current Commission, the editorial presents an unacceptable perspective on modification of the rules relating to the existing Commission which the editorial states “need to be fixed”. The current rules can be found at 23 ILLINOIS ADMINISTRATIVE CODE 650 (http://www.isbe.state.il.us/rules/archive/pdfs/650ARK.pdf).

    What the Sun Times is proposing does not fix the problems with the Commission.

    The Sun Times editorial basically calls for modification of the rules relating to the Commission, primarily for the Chicago Public Schools where the editorial believes the “bar for overturning a CPS decision (on approving a charter school) . . . should be raised” or for other school districts in Illinois that have established “a good record of accepting charter schools.” The editorial argues that no school districts in Illinois should be able to block the approval of charter schools because the school districts “don’t want their public dollars (including state dollars) siphoned from traditional schools to charters.” According to the editorial that is a “knee-jerk reaction.”

    That is simply a stunning conclusion, because there are many school districts in our state with declining enrollments and are running fiscal deficits. A district under fiscal duress has a legitimate concern over the economics related to charter approvals and there can be cases where the siphoning off of students and the dollars that follow them could lead to the complete fiscal collapse of a school district. Moreover, the editorial seems to be thinking about school districts with numerous schools and larger budgets when discussing this issue. That is not the reality of many Illinois school districts.

    In 2012, there were 866 regular public districts: 377 elementary school districts, 99 high school districts, and 390 unit school districts in our state. There are 134 school districts in Illinois with enrollments of between 300 students and 70 students. Here is an example of one of those smaller districts. Summersville SD 79 located in Mount Vernon Illinois has only 283 students. SD 79 has a total budget of $1,963,518 of which 38% comes from locally generated taxation. If 100 students from SD 79 went to a new charter school that school district would be fiscally devastated, and the existing debt the district has incurred would be in jeopardy. Shouldn’t a locally elected school board for Mount Vernon has the right to protect its school district from a potential fiscal disaster by rejecting a charter proposal completely based on the fiscal impact to the district?

    Access Living as a disability rights organization is deeply concerned about issues related to special education and the Commission. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) establishes a broad framework to define and regulate special education programs in the United States, but leaves to the states the responsibility for developing and executing educational programs for students with disabilities. IDEA compliance presupposes compliance with all State statutes, regulations and rules concerning special education. The Illinois State Charter Commission has challenged this position, asserting that charter schools are not subject to any State-imposed requirement that exceeds Federal special education statute and regulation.

    In order to address this position the Illinois General Assembly is currently considering another bill, HB 4527, to modify the charter school code to address the position adopted by the Commission in relation to state generated special education rules. HB 4527 requires all charter schools to comply with all federal and State laws and rules applicable to public schools that pertain to special education and the instruction of English language learners. This bill primarily exists because of the hostile position the Charter Commission has taken in relation to state rules and regulations relating to students with disabilities and students who are English language learners. These are our most vulnerable students who require our State’s protection from large class sizes or classrooms overloaded with vulnerable students. The Sun Times editorial fails to understand the many problems that the Charter Commission has. Access Living believes that the General Assembly should pass HB 3754 and the Commission should be abolished.

    Rod Estvan
    Education Policy Analyst
    Access Living of Chicago

  • The Pritzker survey sounds like a request from Central Office to get to the bottom of the opt-outs - whowhyhow. I have to believe other principals/schools have been asked to supply similar data.

  • Is Khan Academy teaching effective? I've haven't heard that, but maybe it is.

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