Why Is Casals On The List?

UPDATED SEE TEACHER LETTER IN COMMENTS:  There are questions being asked by reporters and readers about the inclusion of Casals elementary school on the turnaround list and the larger issue of whether the relationship between City Hall and AUSL has gotten too close.  CPS included two relatively higher scoring schools — Casals and Tilden — on its proposed list a couple of days ago, claiming that they weren’t keeping up with comparable nearby schools.  Indeed, the school is already on probation and its 8th grade ISAT scores look really low.  But its ISAT composite is relatively high at 62 percent, notes CNC’s Becky Vevea among others.   Is there something else going on?  No one seems to know yet (though conspiracy theories abound).  Yesterday, Mayor Emanuel reacted angrily to questions about handing management of the schools over to AUSL (Tribune, Sun Times).  I’m not super worried about that angle, but I’m curious about the merits of the inclusion of the school.  It’s possible Casals could be one of those schools that come off the list at the last minute, as has happened in the past.


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  • Casals being on the list is not for the reasons Brizard has stated. The school is NOT below its neighboring schools, and its score (62%) is actually better than 6 of the 11 AUSL schools ( check Bethune, Bradwell, Curtis, Deneen, Dulles, and Sherman).
    Conspiracy theory #1 : Casals is a 22-year old building, great condition and A/C . Rare for the Humboldt Park area where most schools are the old 1800s buildings. They want the building. For now they are keeping the kids, but eventually, they'll get rid of them too.
    Conspiracy Theory #2 : Casals has a very stable staff of both veteran and newer teachers, but maybe too many higher-paid veteran teachers. Fire them all , substitute them with all-new AUSL people, and save tons.

  • Save tons now? You mean steal tons now and create poverty for
    the future...they seem to have similar plans for Woodson

  • LOL .... yep , that's what I meant. Steal tons now !

    IF anyone is inclined to help Casals or any of the other turnaround schools, Brizard has a live call in on WBEZ radio tomorrow Dec. 1. You can check their website for info on how to call in or email a question for him .

  • Regarding Bethune: Its principal is Hightower, so hands off her!

  • Schools and Education Research findings by the University of Chicago Consortium for School Research, Urban Education Institute and partners, October 27, 2009, "Closing non performing schools HURT student performance" Brizard knows this - Rahm knows this - David Vitale knows this - Duncan knows this. And Chicagoans allow this to happen to 10,000 Chicago kids?

  • here's an email i received earlier tonight, used with permission (but not verified - caveat lector):


    I read your 299 blog regularly and just wanted to let you know I am a teacher at Pablo Casals School, from the turnaround list. I have been at Casals since it opened in 1989 , and am presently a Special Ed. teacher, although for most of my teaching years I have been a Bilingual teacher in the primary grades. I have a total of 33 years with CPS , my first 10 being at the nearby Cameron School. I am also National Board Certified. As you can imagine , I am not looking forward to spending my last year as a teacher ( 2012 school year) as a reassigned teacher. More than that, it breaks my heart to think I might not finish my career at Casals, a school that I consider my 2nd home.

    Casals has not "fallen behind" its neighboring schools. A quick search of the 2011 database of report cards has us AT PAR or better than most , except for Lowell ( 68%). We actually outscore 6 of the 11 AUSL schools currently in CPS ( Sherman, Dulles, Deneen, Curtis, Bradwell, and Bethune). So why give us over to AUSL when we are already better than 1/2 its schools ?

    We are mobilizing our school both on the staff and parent front, and will put up a great fight . What we think is going on is that they want to take over our building , which is far newer than many nearby schools. Being 22 years old, with an elevator and A/C , it's far more attractive than the typical 1880s schools like Cameron . Some teachers think it's that we have too many veteran teachers because our school is very stable and people don't come & go. Of course, CPS is not saying either of these things !

    We were part of the disbanded Area 4 , and were added by Brizard to the new Garfield-Humboldt Park Network. This has actually been a great fit for us , and we are glad to be on what used to be the old Area 7 , which has a track record for school improvement. We have adopted all the initiatives, programs , assessments, etc , and are about in the middle in scores in this new network. We feel like the rug is being pulled out from under us , not even giving us a year with this network to see if our scores continue upward. Why put us in a new Network and then not give us even a year ?

    Casals is a good , family neighborhood school. Being there 22 years, I now see the children of our former students. Some of the moms that used to come with me on field trips are now the grandmas bringing their kids to us. I even work with a teacher who is MY former student ! We are heart-broken and yes, very worried about our jobs. But when our Network officer , Denise Little, visited the school yesterday , she commented to our principal on how well everyone was handling it and that it was business as usual in the classrooms.

    Sorry for the long email. If you need more info, or whatever, feel free to write me back. I know you are not in Chicago, but our school # is 773-534-4444. You can ask for me or leave me a message.

    Thanks for your concern - and please keep Casals in the news. It's our best chance to get off the list .

    Maria Guerrero

  • Kudos to Maria Guerrero. I think it is obvious that Casals should be "off the list", but better yet let's get rid of "the list" altogether.

  • see thursday's news coverage for ongoing questions about how schools like casals were picked for turnaround http://ow.ly/7L3am

  • Pablo Casals was mentioned on the WBEZ live chat with Brizard tonight, and AGAIN, he called it the lowest performing school in the area. One of the moderators, Sarah Karp from Catalyst, brought in the numbers about how Casals was higher than over 100 schools and at par with its area. Brizard mumbled some answer and moved on to Guggenheim. He has also said that all the schools on the lists have been visited by him and had walk thrus and meetings. Again, a blatant lie. The man has never been to Casals or held one community meeting there.
    I cannot believe the nerve of the man to just outright lie to the public.

  • In reply to 30-Yr. Vet:

    I believe that is what Emanuel hired him to do. Wish the interviewer would have been informed and called Brizard Karp was there in the live chat. I could not find the link to it however. Post, please?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Make that:...called Brizard on it. Good that Karp...

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Does anyone have a link to the WEB CHAT that Sara Karp moderated of this call-in show? I'd like to read it.

  • In reply to 30-Yr. Vet:

    He also never visited Wendell Smith. I wish he would be honest with the public.

  • Everything that came out of his mouth was spin!
    Unfortunately, most listeners will probably believe it

  • Rather than answer questions directly, Brizard must have requested callers to email him at least 5 times. Why bother having a radio show if all of the answers are going to be emailed to the callers.

  • In the Chicago Tribune listing of school performance, AUSL school Sherman is 83 schools BEHIND Casals. It is also in the bottom 11% of schools, where other turnaround targets are in the bottom 3-4%, the purported rationale behind AUSL's work, to improve those at the very bottom. This is like one of those puzzles where you are supposed to pick the one object that doesn't belong with the others. Clearly Casals is that one. The question is "why"? Inquiring readers want to know.

  • Watch last night's episode of Chicago Tonight. The head of Illinois Charter Schools actually claimed that "Charters schools are not the panacea of education." He also whined about how most charters schools are having difficulty because they are in the south and west side. Why is it acceptable to use the same excuse used by public school teachers that used to teach in those same locations?

  • casals petition:

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    Good post and thanks for sharing this!here

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