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Scandal At Gage Park & Michele Clark*

Scandal At Gage Park & Michele Clark*

Today's education news: Catalyst reveals that the two schools involved in the latest $900,000 embezzlement scam/scheme were Gage Park and Michael Clark (and that CPS has many fewer investigators/IG staff than other big districts).CPS is back for a second cold day but may be out due to the weather tomorrow, according to several news reports. (Nationally 21 kids have already died due to the flu, reports the Wall Street Journal.) Plus SE admissions numbers by tier, thanks to CPS Obsessed. [*Not "Michael" Clark - thanks for the catch!]

WEATHER

Snow blankets area, more bitter cold to come ABC7: Mayor Emanuel said that Chicago Public Schools will be open on Tuesday, but that the city is monitoring the situation on Wednesday because of the combination of snow and extreme cold. Wednesday is expected to be the coldest day this week with temperatures without wind chill hovering around 0 degrees. See also DNA Info.

2 Chicago schools battle heat problems; 1 school closed today for maintenance WGN: Due to heating issues, classes are canceled Tuesday at Intrinsic Charter School on the city’s Northwest Side. One of three heating units malfunctioned in the school building.

Schools on Guard as Flu Deaths Rise WSJ: At least 21 children have died from influenza, the federal government said Monday, compared with six at the same point a year ago. Still, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was too early to ascertain whether this season would be worse than in years past.

CORRUPTION

Inspector General finds questionable conduct in Chicago Public Schools WBEZ: The report includes the usual array of residency violations, kickback schemes, fake purchases and tuition fraud. But it also documents the desperate acts of parents trying to get their kids into selective schools, administrators trying to fudge their dropout rates and vendors trying to get the inside track on city contracts.

Inspector Gen'l. report: Major financial fraud, abuse of selective admissions Catalyst: Over the past five years, a CPS employee who worked at two struggling high schools [Gage Park and Michele Clark] milked them of almost $900,000 in a large, multi-faceted purchasing and reimbursement scam, according to today’s release of the IG report. [Remember Lakeview?]

POLITICS

Emanuel says Quazzo should remain on Board of Ed despite financial interests Sun Times: Saying the city is “lucky to have her,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel threw his full support Monday behind Deborah Quazzo, his school board appointee who sees no conflict of interest with her investments in companies that sell millions of dollars of educational software to the district she’s tasked with overseeing.

How many Chicago mayors have graduated from a Chicago public high school? Reader: If Emanuel's lavish reelection campaign is somehow derailed, the person who replaces him as mayor won't be a CPS product either. Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia, one of Emanuel's two chief opponents, graduated from Saint Procopius elementary and Saint Rita high school. Alderman Bob Fioretti, the mayor's other main rival, graduated from Saint Anthony elementary and Mendel Catholic high school.

PARENTS

SEHS offers by Tier (for kids that are currently freshmen) CPS Obsessed: Tier 4 kids continue to get roughly twice as many seats as Tier 1 kids.  At PNJY, Tier 4 kids comprise 42% of the freshman class. Whitney young had the most applications overall Lane had the most Tier 4 applications. [144 comments!]

The 25 most diverse public high schools in Illinois Reboot IL: Here are the 25 most diverse public high schools in Illinois, according to Niche: 1. Young Magnet High School, 2. Jones College Prep High School, Lane Tech College Prep High School, Payton College Preparatory High School, Maine East High School – Park Ridge.

Take 5: Catching up on the news CPS leaders are open to handing over the education of the district’s most troubled, vulnerable students to private entities, putting out a Request for Proposals last week that asked for vendors to apply to serve students considered at risk of dropping out who are as young as 6th grade. CPS also is asking for proposals for new charter/contract schools, Dyett High School and for current providers to expand. The Sun-Times reports that the city is bracing for a court fight with Walsh Construction, which submitted the extra bills related to the steel structure and accelerated construction over the summer. The Public Building Commission of Chicago rejected the claims and set aside money for legal fees in preparation for a possible lawsuit. A Tribune story notes that many governments’ claims are still in progress, including cities ranging from Houston and Reno, Nev., to a Florida school district.

NATIONAL

Schools go to court for more funding Marketplace: Thirteen states, from Texas to Pennsylvania, are facing active litigation. Often it comes down to a battle between the courts and state lawmakers. The Supreme Court in Washington state has threatened to shut down the public schools or fine legislators if they don’t come up with increased funding.

Obama dials up executive power Politico: The biggest higher education issue will be the Obama administration’s controversial, still-vague proposal to rate more than 4,000 colleges and universities based on how many low-income students they have, how affordable they are, and how they do on outcome measures like graduation rates.

School districts respond to growing fury over police shootings, black male achievement gap Hechinger: Yet uncertainty remains about how much the initiative and, in particular, offices like Chatmon’s and Walkers can truly close achievement gaps, warns education professor and researcher Pedro Noguera, the executive director of the Metropolitan Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools at New York University.

OTHER CITIES

R.I. Chief Deborah Gist's Fate Uncertain as Contract-Renewal Deadline Passes State EdWatch: The Rhode Island education commissioner has previously stated she'd like to stay on under the new Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo, but Gist's current contract expires in June.

Nearly all Indiana educators rated effective again ChalkbeatIN: The percentage of educators in the top category rated “highly effective,” dropped to 26 percent from 35 percent, but nearly all of those who fell were rated in the next highest category, or “effective.”

What Schools Could Use Instead Of Standardized Tests NPR: A bill is being drafted that would end annual testing requirements. What would schools do without them? Here are four possible answers. They're not necessarily exclusive of each other. In fact, they could all happen at the same time, as different states and districts make different decisions.

Fairfax school board seeks to double salary for members as district sees budget crunch Washington Post: The Fairfax County School Board is seeking to double the salary paid to board members beginning in 2016 — in what it says is a bid to attract top candidates to the field in an election year — despite the budget challenges faced by the district.

In Minnesota, the discipline gap isn't only an urban problem MinnPost: Bouncy chairs, stress balls and an exercise bike are spread throughout the room for students with pent-up energy. A curtained-off area with bean bag chairs is available for those who need to be alone and calm down. At the top of every desk sits a reminder to students: “This is a working zone. You will be academically successful in PRIDE. Please regroup and remind yourself that opting out is not an option.”

2nd round of Philly charter application hearings probe demographics, bottom lines NewsWorks: Aside from demographic differences, questions and comments attempted to draw out more information on the relationship between proposed schools and any private companies they subcontract with for services such as accounting and facilities management. In 2010, New Foundations and Franklin Towne, along with 11 other schools, were investigated by city controller Alan Butkowitz for potential charter fraud.

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