CPS Teacher Killed By Stray Bullet

CPS Teacher Killed By Stray Bullet

Today's education news includes coverage of the special education teacher killed by a stray bullet, changes to how charters are going to be evaluated, concerns about Obama High, a rogue security guard at Hubbard, and accusations of anti-Semitic behavior at Ogden.  It's June.  Common Core field testing is done (nationally) on Friday.  Plus more national news.

Chicago Teacher Killed in Gang Crossfire AP: Chicago special education teacher at 2nd job killed in what police say was gang crossfire.

Special Ed Teacher Killed by Stray Bullet Remembered as 'True Professional' DNAinfo:Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said she visited the school Friday and spoke with staff, describing them as "devastated at the loss of their colleague and friend."

CTU President, Karen Lewis Gives Statement on Death of Teacher Chicago Defender: The Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis released a statement today in response to the death of a teacher, killed Thursday, May 29. Gwendolyn Brooks High School special education teacher Betty Howard was fatally shot by a stray bullet.

Charters have to show they make the grade Chicago Sun-Times: Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett this week said she wants all charters to adopt the universal performance standard by the end of next school year. Those that refuse won't be considered for an opening or a renewal of their contract, she said.

Obama College Prep site in doubt Reader: Obama College Prep may not end up in Stanton Park, the site the city originally designated for its 11th selective enrollment high school, but it's still slated for the Near North Side.

CPS security guard charged with sexual abuse WGNtv: A Chicago Public Schools security officer sexually abused students at the Southwest Side high school where he works, prosecutors said. Walter Wells, 34, is accused of grabbing female students' breasts and buttocks over a period of several years at Hubbard

Chicago Public Schools Students Play "Kill the Jews" ChicagoNow; Chicago Public Schools officials say they're investigating allegations of anti-Semitic bullying by Ogden International School eighth-grade students, suspending the ringleaders and hosting two forums for parents at the West Town school.


Race for state superintendent heated despite agreement on two key issues EdSource Today: Torlakson and Tuck fully support the state’s new school financing system. And both are firmly behind the Common Core State Standards, which have replaced California’s state standards in math and English language arts.

Gov. Jindal, in newspaper column, championed for-profit-colleges that his brother represented in court NOLA.com: Gov. Bobby Jindal didn't disclose in his newspaper column this week supporting for-profit colleges in their fight with the Obama administration that his brother, attorney Nikesh Jindal, represented the schools' association in an earlier legal fight with the administration.

Is The Deck Stacked Against Black Boys In America? NPR: A new White House report exploring the intersection of race, poverty and justice suggests the answer is still a resounding yes.


L.A. Unified suspension rates fall but some question figures' accuracy LA Times: In the heart of Watts, where violence in nearby housing projects can spill over onto campuses, two of the city's toughest middle schools have long dealt with fights, drugs and even weapons.

For Lessons About Class, a Field Trip Takes Students Home NYT:By visiting classmates’ homes during the school day, 4- and 5-year-olds at the Manhattan Country School learn to celebrate their differences.

D.C. to release refined set of school boundary recommendations Washington Post: Two months ago, D.C. officials released three politically charged proposals to overhaul the city’s school boundaries and student-assignment policies, setting off vigorous debate about the future of the city’s neighborhood schools.

New Orleans Closes Its Last Traditional Schools NPR: Last week, the New Orleans school district became the first all-charter district in the country. NPR's Rachel Martin talks to Sarah Carr, a reporter who's been following the city's changing schools.

Planned Takeover Of Virginia Schools In Holding Pattern WAMU: Six failing schools in Virginia, including one in Alexandria, are set to be taken over by the state later this year, but initial assessments of these schools have been met with roadblocks.



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  • How much Karen Lewis makes, and how much CTU spends on political consulting via @dropoutnation http://ht.ly/xwqvB

  • SEC Charges Chicago's UNO Charter Network w/ Defrauding Investors http://ht.ly/xxh8r @qualitycharters @NAPCS

  • Linking to Dropout Nation? C'mon, you might as well cite Glen Beck's The Blaze.

    Aside from the crummy articles, the homepage picture of a homeless looking fellow with a joint and the four, count'em FOUR selfies of RiShawn should make the journalist in you... well, maybe not journalist but blogster, right... well, that should give you pause.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yeah, but Rishawn's article did point out what happens when a white man dares to dream of a career in teacher union politics. Look at Sharkey's pitiful salary.
    Sure, when Vitale needs a union rep to yell at it all "where's Jesse?". But pay him like a black lady? No way.

  • Certainly a poor source, however the salary information on Karen Lewis is useful. Being a taxpayer, I am furious that my taxes pay for Karen Lewis' salary. I pay taxes, taxes pay for teacher salaries, teachers are required by Illinois law to pay their union dues or "fair share", and the union dues pay for Karen Lewis' $220,000 salary. In return, she says no to any and every educational improvement proposed, she is gearing up to drag parents through another painful strike and she does not allow the great teachers in the system to be rewarded for their talents. Karen Lewis has got to go!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Even if some CTU payments are required for all teachers, it's still the teachers' choice what Lewis and crew get paid. Would you approve of Lewis being payed $50K? I think it's up to the teachers to pay her what they decide is fair. IMO taxes have nothing to do with it.

    Anyone the CTU elects is going to have a fairly rabid public persona or will be accused of not standing up for teachers.

  • In reply to Donn:

    My point is that MY TAXES pay for Karen Lewis' salary. State law requires that all teachers pay their "fair share" union dues. So, my taxes are paying her salary to fight for teacher benefits at the expense of students. As a taxpayer, I have no say in what the CTU does. Leave my taxes out of it and let teachers decide what to do with the money they earn.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I'm more disturbed by the millions of dollars CTU spends on campaign contributions of the politicians who turn around and force more taxes on everyone in order to pay CTU back in salaries and benefits for its members. That's a blatant double taxation of the already cash-strapped private sector.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Everyone is a taxpayer! Join the club!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Can someone verify that her CPS salary is still paid which the article alludes to? I thought not, although she keeps her seniority, retirement benefits and qualifies for re-hiring if she chooses to come back to the classroom.

  • In reply to CPS Parent:

    If she is, then it is about $300,000 per year.

  • I just want to get this straight. Principals are continually berated on this blog for 6 figure salaries, which are based on the number of employees they manage - the highest paid being like Lane tech - 400 employees, 145,00 (guesstimate), but KL makes
    220, 000, managing less than 50, and the CTU reps make around 120,00 for managing no one BUT the principals are overpaid.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Yes, most principals are overpaid- especially the young, dumb ones who do the bidding of the board and nothing else.

    Karen Lewis is far more effective than most principals. She earns her pay. CPS needs to purge its ranks of "New Leaders".

  • I dont begrudge any principal who does his/her job-I really think some principals should be paid more. The problem is that CPS has too many principals/CO administrators who do not do their job. They were crappy teachers and they are crappy administrators. Some principals are so poor that veteran staff bail-when you have a school where 30-50% of the staff transfers there is usually an incompetent principal hiding in the office. The higher-ups at CPS know this but allows them free rein. Many new teachers who are hired by these principals to replace the veterans(crappy principals view vets as a threat) often leave the system because they think all schools are run like this. We lose some excellent teachers this way. How much money does CPS spend on defending lawsuits, EEOC complaints, and CTU grievances filed against these crappy principals? How much have they paid out in cases lost? CPS needs to weed out these losers-after all if you look at the scores, not much, if any improvement has been documented since they became the principal.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You are probably one of the teachers or employees weeded out and now hold a grudge against your former principal. If you transferred and still have a job somewhere else, try to stop hating. It's killing your soul.

    As to the EEOC complaints, CPS doesn't lose too many or pay out very much. The CTU encourages all employees to file them despite lack of evidence. They're wasting tax dollars because they don't like the new contract they agreed to which allows unsatisfactory employees to be cut first.

    As to all this principal bashing, there are certainly ones that need improvement just like plenty of teachers that need to learn to do their job better. Unfortunately we work in a district that doesn't value developing teachers or principals. Instead of attacking each other why not focus on bad policy implemented by the leaders of the district?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Even better is to stop all the infighting and just work together. CPS, teachers and principals. Parents are worn out by the constant churn of negativity. The constant "no" from CTU. The defensive posture of CPS. The martyr complex of teachers. Every side has valid gripes. Every side has flaws. Just freakin work together!

  • It is very naive to say,"stop fighting and work together" At some schools the faculty, staff and administration do work together BUT then the principal is promoted, leaves fro the suburbs or retires and a new principal is hired. It seems that the new principals that CPS is hiring have very little actual classroom teaching experience and even less experience in handling student discipline or parent concerns. If this lack of experience is compounded by insecurity (very common) they the school climate suffers and veteran staff members leave. Sometimes these principals are so abusive to staff members that CTU is the only recourse. One only has to Google "principals, Chicago ,abuse,discrimination etc " to see a myriad of articles regarding unbelievable behaviors by principals. CPS is very aware of these principals due to staff upheaval yet does nothing until a teacher files a lawsuit and CPS does lose these lawsuits. EEOC is federal and has nothing to do with CTU which deal with contractual issues.
    I love my principal ( my principal and AP have been forced to sub because CPS didn't leave enough money in the school's budget to cover teacher absences)and am tired of seeing awesome principals and teachers leave this system due to administrator or central office abuse.

  • "CPS didn't leave enough money in the school's budget to cover teacher absences"

    Meaning you preferred the system where children attending charters had less money so that your school had a larger budget.

    CPS divides up the money available. Since acknowledging taxpayer disinterest in higher school funding would be politically detrimental for teachers and the CTU, we a left with your self serving fiction.

    Not to mention that by far the largest determinate of hours available for instruction is the CTU contract. The CTU has had major influence in the design and function of the current school system that meets the needs of the typical euro-american farm family in mid-twentieth century Illinois.

  • Well, we have money for subs, but the quality of the ones we get is horrific and that's when we can get them at all, unless they are the 3-5 regular subs we call ourselves who are either SAHM's or retired teachers. I watched a sub next door who I believe was a danger to the students she was with. I reported it to my principal, but I don't know if anything was done. I don't know who these subs are, but they are either fab or awful.

  • In reply to teacherparent:

    You can thank the CTU for the sub problem. They insisted in the last contract to change the way subs are assigned. You know, cater to the lowest common denominator and treat all good and horrific teachers exactly the same. CTU wanted to break up the way schools got comfortable with a sub and called them first. Even though it is better to use the same sub who is trusted and familiar with the school. We now have to live with the fallout of another bad call by the CTU.

    To top it off, the CTU union reps have been "encouraging" teachers to take all their sick and personal days to further strain the system and make CPS look bad. Typical union tactic, but highly unprofessional. With this type of behavior, how can the CTU expect the public to view them as professionals?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Baloney and false. No CTU reps are encouraging teachers to use their days. And I have no idea if schools are supposed to only use the subs from the sub pool, but in any case, my school uses our trusted subs first.
    Believe me, CPS doesn't need ANY help making itself look bad. I have to hand it to them, they are really good at that!

  • What prevents a principal from frequently using a small number of favorite subs? I know a few larger schools that have essentially full time subs.
    What are subs paid now?

  • In reply to Donn:

    I do not know the full details, but schools are now required to first go to a pool of subs before calling a trusted favorite. Apparently it was viewed as "unfair" to let a sub settle in at one school. Even though there are so many benefits to the school and students in using a trusted good sub. I have heard there are some very poor subs out there that are in front of students more often now with the changes. Some schools instead have an AP or other school staff sub instead to avoid the bottom feeders in the sub pool. All to benefit the subs and not the students. It is the CTU way.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You really should refrain from out putting generalizations and distortions that do not fit all or even most schools. I teach at a CPS high school and although the method for assigning subs has changed, our school clerk STILL uses and has a pool from which she draws each and every day. The problem comes when there are more absences than the available pool. At that point, the sub request info generated online and subs can take that slot. Don't you remember when ALL sub requests went through Central Office and there was virtually no discretion who the sub would be? That is the way is used to be.

    As far as union delegates encouraging staff to "take all their days to further strain the system and make CPS look bad", that also is not true at my school. I am sure you are aware that the number of days you take can be a part of a teacher's evaluation, right? It's not at my school and I can tell you for fact, there is no union delegate at my high school encouraging staff (which at our school is quite large) to take days.

    Please refrain from making blanket inflammatory statements when it is obvious you do not have the whole story.

  • In reply to Donn:

    I believe it is hard to get subs for three reasons:
    One, subs don't want to go into schools where the kids are disrespectful, difficult or unruly. That's an awful lot of Chicago.
    Two, CPS's process for hiring subs is so backwards, a lot of people start the process, realize CPS is just too damn difficult and give up.
    Three, despite the fact that there are a lot of out of work teachers, subbing is not very desirable work. It pays half way decent, but it is not easy. I'd rather do a whole lot of other things rather than sub if I was unemployed.

  • I am a retired teacher and I sub one to two days a month at the school I retired from which I love doing. I like to see my former students. I am attending the graduation this evening and do volunteer at the school for events like the science fair.
    The sub pay is 155.00 per day w/o benefits which is great if you are retired. I just checked Aesop( new sub system which seems to work well) and there are over 500 absences south of the Stevenson today-I didn't sign up to receive info on absences north of the Stevenson. Schools cannot cover the absences due to a sub shortage. I have friends in various schools who complain that programs such as ELL and inclusion are often shut down in order to cover teacher absences.
    Teachers do get sick, their own children get sick and when the teachers get older they may be taking care of elderly parents or a sick spouse. In the grammar schools, the majority of teachers are female and may be head of the household which further adds to the absenteeism. Maternity leaves add to the sub shortage.
    Retiree subs are limited to subbing no more than a 100 days in CPS or they risk having their pension terminated. There is a ninety day rule which further complicates retiree subbing. If you do not sub for ninety days you are terminated and have to reapply which is not an easy process and then the sub has to pay for the blood tests, TB and background checks. This rule and the 100 day rule needs to be revisited due to severity of the sub shortage. How many schools have had teacher vacancies ALL year?

    The board, not CTU, has made the sub shortage worst by the 2012 sick day policy where if you reach 40(?) accrued sick days that's it-use it or lose it. What did CPS expect? I am sure if CPS looked at the data they would find that the teacher absence rate is higher in the schools with constant admin/staff turnover.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    How can teachers expect to be viewed as professionals if they are using sick days as personal days with a use-it-or-lose-it attitude? Private sector employees tend to not use sick days to the max. I went 10 years without a sick day. It is there for when you are sick. Government employees tend to use the large amount of sick days as personal time off days.

    CPS changed the sick day rule because upon retirement principals, teachers and other employees were getting huge payouts. I think this was changed citywide too. The teachers adopted the change when their contract was renewed.

    It is too bad that the work ethic did not change with the antiquated rules.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I am retired and a sub.I retired with well over 300 sick days.It took me over a year and a half to finally get to become a sub.I have written on this before but to refresh the Board is to blame for any sub shortage because it makes applying a nightmare
    I reached the magic 315 sick days in my 33 year of teaching.
    During my 34,35,36,37,38,39,40 and 41st year I took two sick days both to attend the funerals of family members.So much for "work ethnics". When the board enacted the use it or lose it rule what did they expect?
    Did I cash in at the end? your dam right I did.I'll post about my experiences as a sub later

  • In reply to rbusch:

    This is the self-centered attitude shown by CTU teachers that people dislike. Just because you have been granted sick leave does not mean that you should save and spend it at once as early retirement. That is abusing the benefit, the cash-strapped schools, and the taxpayer.

    Your "cashing in" cost CPS how much money? $100,000? $200,000? If you were not actually sick, then this action is the same as making an insurance claim when going to the doctor without being sick. It is practically fraud. Shameful.

  • In reply to tylerpayne:

    What people;You?
    If I had taken all of my sick and personal business days it would have cost a lot more.The hundred days i did not take were a gift to the taxpayers.41 years in south side high schools is far from early retirement.If you expect me to apologize you will have a long wait.
    I earned every penny I received.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Self-serving martyr complex.

  • In reply to tylerpayne:

    I hardly think self-centered people would pay for school supplies for other people's children, buy other people's children clothes or pay graduation fees/field trip fees for other people's children.
    I don't think self-centered people would pay for master's degrees.
    I don't think self-centered people would pay for materials such as copy paper, printer ink, pencils etc
    I don't think self-centered people would pay to have the school lot and sidewalks plowed/shoveled.
    I don't think self-centered people work in rooms without heat, leaking ceilings or roach infestations.
    I don't think self-centered people come to work sick because there are no subs.
    I don't think self-centered people beg their employer for the right amount of books etc in order to do their job.
    I don't think self-centered people fight for serves for children with disabilities.
    I don't think self-centered people use up their cell phone minutes to talk to parents at night.
    I don't think self-centered people work from one year to 40+ and never receive more that two weeks of paid vacation.
    I don't think self-centered people last in CPS
    No, you are dead wrong-if there were self-centered people in the schools that I have taught in they are long gone-either quit or are working in other systems.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    district299reader, I called rbusch's cashing in self-centered. Yet your points are one-sided...

    Self centered CTU held 400,000 students hostage for a 30% pay hike.
    Self centered CTU broke the district's bank with hostage negotiated contracts, gutting the supplies budget, and then members build a "martyr complex" around having to pay for supplies.
    Many self centered CTU members buy a masters to increase their salary. (Same point applies to buying a $2500 certificate.)
    CTU has done practically nothing for students with special needs or infrastructure -- unless citing it in a press release.
    Many self centered CTU members manipulate sick leave to cash in a year's salary for no work. This is borderline criminal, and definitely unethical.

  • In reply to tylerpayne:

    You can forget the Guilt trip it will not work with me.Martyrs usually get that they ask for and are no fun at all just ask the Romans who booed them for racing into the lions mouth so they could beat the rest into heaven.If you really think the Board of Education of the City of Chicago
    cares about all the students your are delusional and an object of my prayers.

  • In reply to tylerpayne:

    30% pay raise-what are you smoking?
    I started in CPS in the late 70s and CPS has never funded the classrooms with supplies-it has always been on the teacher-nothing has changed
    suburban teachers have a tuition reimbursement option-after all why wouldn't a system want a highly educated workforce-not CPS-prinicapals may get free courses but not the teachers-I think once you get the masters' your pay increases about 100.00 a month-WOW
    CTU has contractual clauses regarding special education which other school systems do not have-doesn't speak well of CPS that the union has to put safeguards for special education in a contract
    my principal asked the CTU delegate to file a grievance regarding a leaking roof-he had tried for five years to get it repaired-it was repaired after the grievance was filed under "safe and healthful conditions" which has been part of the contract for decades -you might want to read the contract and ask yourself why all of these clauses are needed and if you sit back and open your mind you will realize that "safe working conditions are good learning conditions"

    I have friends in private industry who receive six weeks of paid vacation so if I add up thirty years of only two-week paid vacations
    I do believe CPS was making out like bandits (30 years times 4 weeks=120 weeks time 5 days equals 600 sick days -the cap is 315 days which very few people especially female teachers accrued due to childcare, eldercare or sickness-chew on that!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    What? You fail to recognize that you get every summer off IN ADDITION TO 2 weeks paid vacation as a teacher. You are the one making out like a bandit. What a warped sense of reality!

  • In reply to district299reader:

    You are so right on! Thank you for the information.

  • Summer is unpaid......

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The private sector jobs you describe to not allow an annual 3 months off every summer paid or unpaid. You get the summer break as a teacher and it is certainly a big plus to being a teacher. I don't begrudge that. You think that you should get 6 weeks paid vacation ON TOP OF 3 months off unpaid every summer? Really?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    It is not an allowed 3 months off, it is a lay off time just as the second week of Winter Break is a lay off week.

  • I don't care what it is technically called, the result is teachers get 3 months off every summer. Your argument that CPS should pay you 6 weeks vacation in addition to your 3 months off every summer does not make any sense. I hope you do not teach your students that kind of flawed logic.

  • In reply to district299reader:


  • In reply to district299reader:

    I'm not sure what point is made by that link. Hubby seems primarily concerned that his teacher wife is making $40K after 15 years. I don't know where that low salary would be found except at a parochial school, or perhaps in a few southern states.

    But even $40K with benefits and three months vacation is considered a good job for a college grad in some rural areas.

    Let me update hubby's moral outrage and make it relevant to CPS:

    "My wife is a teacher, and she makes $80,000 with three months vacation. She is reviled by certain segments of our society who labor under the belief that she is underworked and overpaid."

    What does the average college grad in Chicago make with 15 years experience? How many months per year does that 36 year old have to work to earn that salary?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I hope you do not teacher your children that lay-off time equals vacation. Please tell that to people who are unemployed. IF I want to earn money for the so called "6 weeks vacation" you mention, I have to apply for and work a different job. I hope you do not spew the distain you have for teachers to your children.

  • Please take a course in reading comprehension and reread the posts. The poster stated that there are two paid weeks of vacation. The response was probably directed at the poster who said that taking pay for unused sick days was fraud etc. IF you look upon the sick days as a benefit much like the six weeks of paid vacation/other perks/bonuses that people in the private sector receive then the sick days would be a non-issue.
    The anti-teacher postings on this blog are disheartening and I do realized that these attitudes are espoused by the mayor and other special interest groups but these attitudes really dissuade new teachers from applying to teach in CPS-maybe that is part of the strategy. Sharp, highly specialized teachers will go to the suburbs and CPS will be filled with teachers who are so grateful to be treated like indentured servants. This is already happening in special education where we are short about 300 teachers every year.

  • I wish people would at least look up facts before engaging keyboard.
    The 2014 year ends June 20, the 2015 year begins Aug 25.That is
    two months not three my uninformed posters.

  • In reply to rbusch:

    Thank you, rbusch. I don't want the angry poster to think I missed his point, but the "three months off every summer" mistake is irritating. It is 2 months and has been 2 months for a very long time.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Ok, 2 months summer, 2 weeks winter, 1 week spring. AND 2 weeks paid vacation.

  • Yes, teachers do have much more time away from their work site than most people have in their jobs. That is why when my husband and I decided we wanted to start a family, I went back to school and got a masters degree in education. I left a much higher paying job, spent two years and quite a bit of money so I would have more time to be with my children. It was a trade off financially for our family, but the time off was far more important to us. If you are so envious of all the time teachers are off, nobody is stopping you from putting the time and money in to get a degree and certificate to teach. I also want to let you know that I, and a lot of other teachers, spend quite a bit of time during the summer break engaging in professional development workshops, classes, and planning for the next school year. I'm really tired of hearing the whining about all the time off just because other jobs do not. You made your career choice, live with it or change what you do!

  • As stated earlier, I do not begrudge teachers for having the time of. It is a perk of the job which is also stated above. Every career has its trade off points. The reason it came up is because the teacher above said he/she should get 6 weeks paid vacation and created a strange bridge between the teaching and other private sector jobs. I think all sides are tired of the whining on all sides.

  • I love my 2 months off each summer. I do usually work a summer job, but that's my choice. I make awesome money from that summer job. Nearly double what I make in CPS and it pays for a lot of things we couldn't have otherwise.
    When I'm not working, I sleep late, play with my kids, and read books. Its nice, because I'm gone 12 hours a day the rest of the year and my kids, well, they miss me. Its also fun to wave and smile at my neighbors who, while they are only gone 10 hours a day, miss out on the best weather Chicago has to offer because they weren't smart enough to get a teaching degree or tough enough to work in CPS. Suckers.

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