Holiday Open Discussion Time

Like many of you I’m taking things slowly this week, but that doesn’t mean we can’t keep the discussion going.  What’s happening?  What’s on your mind?  What are you getting ready for next week and the first few months of 2012?

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  • You see, it's all about the kids…because

    Charters are clearly 'non-profits'…
    How could there be profits when they call themselves non-profits?!

    Well, in the true spirt of CPS Christmas giving

    You can make between $9000 and $11, 500 per child! Yes! That's right! Under the Charter Christmas Tree, you can accept kids in September, collect the $11, 536 or more in per-pupil spending cash, kick them out by December and pocket the balance!

    Let's just say that about 25 kids forget to wear their uniforms, just throw them back into the community school river, and you can stash between $225,000 and $287,500 in bonus pay.

    Merry Christmas!

  • Bad deal for tax payer, and great deal for charter school operators. Clout gets one such benefits.

  • It's really very sickening!
    The corporate charter education reform model comes complete with a six-figure plus financial incentive for kicking kids out of their school! An actual incentive plan for discarding children…wow!…and this is the education 'package' that Rahm, the Sun-Times and Tribune editorial hacks tout as necessary reform!? Do these papers have any real reporters? Do any of them have a moral backbone?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    From The Ward Room Winners of 2011

    "…Lewis became the only public figure in Chicago willing to stand up to the new mayor."

  • "Two views on the Board of Ed occupation. CNC’s James Warren says the Board should have given protesters room to make their case and that Board president Vitale came off as "put-upon prig." Not something you read everyday in gray lady (h/t Russo). Conversely the Sun-Times ed board said CTU acted like a circus and ultimately did nothing good for students." via @sethlavin -- man bites dog -- isn't the tribune-affiliated guy supposed to slam the protesters and the sun times supposed to support them?

  • couple of other good media tidbits seth dug up:

    "Josh Kalov live-tweeted this week’s CPS-run teletownhall. Lots of interesting commentary here by Brizard and AUSL reps. Josh’s storify has the good stuff."

    "KOCO wants to talk to the mayor and says they’re “very unhappy” with their meetings with Brizard. Some AUSL skepticism, too. For more on KOCO check out Mick Dumke’s interview with the organization’s director, Jay Travis, who the Reader named one of 29 Chicagoans you should meet:"

  • Let's say I am a CPS student in the 11th grade. I know for certain that I want to be a truck driver. I want the freedom of the open road, the technical expertise of handling a moving mass of machinery, and the responsibility that comes with delivering goods in a safe and timely manner. I also know that I do not want to go to college and that I certainly do not want to go into debt at a young age just to see if I like it or because I was pressured to do it.
    Now, by mayoral decree, every school has to start hanging university pennants to help encourage all students to attend college. And we should do that because Noble does it. And, because it is such a new concept. I keep hearing about being "college and career ready", but I'm not seeing much of the "career ready" info. Really, I would rather see some posters of Mack rigs and I would rather be prepped for my CDL test than for the ACT. Isn't this "everyone has to go to college" thing getting just a little bit stupid?

  • Let's say you're a CPS student in the 11th grade. You know for certain that you want to be a truck driver. Then CPS closes your school. End!

  • From Catalyst: If you follow public education issues and think you are on top of the latest news on charters, vouchers, and the use of test scores to evaluate teachers, take this "Test yourself on education in 2011" quiz compiled by Valerie Strauss, who writes The Washington Post's Answer Sheet blog. (

  • Good vid of why teacher merit pay, and probably principal merit pay, won't work

    With so much research available, it really makes you wonder if CPS is strategically engaging in sabotage for their own financial incentives...

  • As the year draws to a close, let's pay our respects to the now-defunct CTU. May they rest in peace. The current teacher's contract expires in June 2012, and CPS has already started planning for next year's extended day, with nary a peep from the old CTU. Apparently the extended day a done deal. Good thing CPS solicited educator input! Don't be surprised when teachers are asked to work another year without raises and to give up tenure. In fact, those poor saps might be working without any contract next year. What's CTU got to say about it? Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

  • Chicago Public Schools must have been in a hurry to get these school space utilization reports out by the deadline. Apparently there was no time for spell-checking:
    • lucnchrooms
    • Rance instead of Range
    • Schools enrollmetn refters
    • A school's space utilization index is a school's enrooment
    • There are three Space Use Statuses

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Anonymous:

    So much for accountability. Reminds me of the Cawley facilities presentation where he presented in front of that giant powerpoint full of typos.

  • No! Not in a hurry… that's just how they spell!

    And these are the Vitale CPS central idiots calling the shots…these are the Brizrd champions of performance management…these are the Rahm rejects that the Sun-Times and Tribune editorial staff admire so dearly.

  • Reads like the "English to Arne Duncan Phonetic Spelling Dictionary"

  • Wonder if Alex got a Christmas stocking stuffed full of Scholastic Inc. American Coal!

  • The utilization rate CPS has posted for my school is inaccurate. From a seemingly simple starting point, the number of classrooms CPS calculates for our building is off by more than 10%. Likewise, at least 5% of our classrooms cannot hold 30 students. (I walked around the building today and counted the classrooms.)

    At its most fundamental level the CPS school utilization rate for my building is in error by at least 15%. That's appalling.

    I'm not posting the name of my school because all we really want - teachers, administrators, and students alike - is for CPS to provide reasonable funding and leave us the heck alone.

    Think about that. The best outcome we can hope for in our building and classrooms is for our school district to stay out of the way.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Like Xian said. So much for accountability. CPS probably didn't bother to actually count the classrooms in the school or determine how many desks actually fit in the classrooms. CPS wants accountability for teachers but there is no accountability for CPS error and rank incompetence.

  • There is no accountability in CPS because there are no consequences for administrative incompetence. Look at the number of schools who have gone full inclusion without a peep from principals, SSAs or CO higher ups. Do not even try to tell teachers how to write IEPS when entire special education populations have had their IEPS amended in order to close down self-contained/pull-out programs. This is illegal and very galling in light of Corey H.
    CPS administration does what it wants and it is not about the children. How can anyone state with a straight face that we need to increase the number of schools who have made AYP when we decrease the amount of services to children with disabilities?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Hmmm...accountability....thirty teachers, yes thirty...forty if you count PSRPs have left Marquette since September of 2010....yet no coverage in major media...

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    More than 1,000 teachers, other staff, face Chicago Hit List

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Amen!!! I even tried to report the illegal behavior to Due Process directly, but nothing happened, I'm convinced there is nothing I can do as a teacher to help my special ed students but to leave and come back as an advocate or an attorney. So sad for the special needs kids.... gotta "force" change in 2012!

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    Brizard & Smith claimed they would ensure students with disabilities are being approriately educated in CPS. Gave out their email addys on WBEZ so you could follow up or let them personally know what is going on in the system. Brizard met with Access Living. So if sped is not working, that's being knowingly condoned by Brizard & Smith. They said all this in their WBEZ interviews, where the interviewers also vowed to follow up. Waiting for thatn

  • In reply to Anonymous:


    Brizard and Smith need to sub in self-contained classrooms in low income schools. If they can't, then send in objective people-they will be appalled. They would see what a travesty special education is in CPS.

    If Brizard and Smith wanted to now how many IEPS were changed by people drinking the inclusion Kool-aid it is just a click away on the electronic system. This has been mentioned before on this blog, yet nothing changes.

    The SSAs stroll in and spend all day in a school counting paper clips, are unable/unwilling to follow a student schedule and look the other way at systemic abuse of children who need services. Teachers of students with disabilities are on their own and are often abandoned by unethical case managers, staffing teams and SSAs. The case managers and staffing teams make more money than the special education teachers (verified in the current contract book-almost $300.00 a month more depending on the job title) and the SSAs make administrative pay, so none of these people are willing to jeopardize their cushy jobs by agreeing with a special education teacher or a savvy gen ed teacher who is dissenting at an IEP meeting. Remember it is a consensus of opinion and the teachers are outnumbered by those who come in and do their drive-by assessments/observations.

    We are on our own-literally! The teacher who stated that she will have to leave the system and return as an advocate/attorney has the right idea.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    How many general education teachers know that if a special
    education student is disrupting the gen ed room or the gen ed teacher has to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to help a sped student that the placement is incorrect and that the gen ed needs to dissent at thee IEP meeting.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    They might KNOW it, but do they DO it?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Please give me an operational definition of this statement "gen ed teacher has to spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to help a sped student." Relative to low performing non-disabled students how much time do you believe that would be?

    I think you are giving some very bad advise to regular education teachers. If a general education teacher has an unsupported student with disabilities included in a regular education classroom and the student is disrupting the educational progress of the room or is so out of touch academically that no modifications can be made to instruction to meet the needs of the child then the following steps should be taken:

    1. The teacher should review the existing IEP to make sure all modifications and special education supports listed in the IEP are in place. If the general education teacher has not implemented the modifications outlined in the IEP they should begin to do so immediately. 2.If supports are not in place the general education should request that that these supports be put in place. 3.In the situation where a school pays no attention to the general education teacher's request, they should advise the parent of the fact that part of the IEP is not being implemented due to the failure of the school to provide services.

    If the general education teacher cannot trust the parent to have the common sense not to inform the school that they were advised of the failure of the school to implement the IEP by a school employee then do not do so. The parent if they can be trusted should be given Access Living's phone number (312) 640-2149 and we will try to get legal representation for the family. If they file due process against the school the general education teacher will be called as a witness and the teacher can testify truthfully as to the failure of the school to implement the IEP.

    In order to legally determine that a general education placement for a disabled child is inappropriate the general education teacher should keep an observational log on the student. This log should include both the positive aspects of the child's daily progress in the room and those apects that are problems. It should cover every day from the day you begin the log, gaps are a problem.

    Simply making a dissent at an IEP meeting without appropriate documentation will result in very little and will not help the child.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Of course, no gen ed teacher should dissent without justification....that is implied...

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    When you have SPED students dumped into gen ed who are five years below level of course you will spend more time with them....I doubt a gen ed student would be five years behind...shouldn't be, but this is are teaching addition and subtraction of fractions and the SPED student cannot add is this appropriate? Gen ed teachers do try to help these students in classes of 35....but it is hard when the SPED teacher wants all of her self-contained students "included" .....and there are no additional personnel in the gen ed room.
    How about the time gen ed teachers spend on one SPED student's behavior plan?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    So apparently the line you want drawn is a five year gap between between a disabled student's tested academic level and the grade level the student would be placed in. Effectively that would deny admission of many disabled students at the high school level access to regular science classes that are modified so some students can actually experience labs. It is very common for CPS students with disabilities at grade 11 to be academically functioning at grade 5.

    Teachers are legally required to carry out behavior plans for students, if the obligation is excessive the general education teacher needs to document the time spent. I have rarely seen general education teachers keep track the time spent on interventions with these students and therefore based on the legal standards that govern special education law these arguments add up to very little without evidence.

    A five year educational gap line is probably not legal. If the supports are not in place for these students it is clear inclusive placements will also not work. I posted my office number above you can call me, believe me I will not call CPS to get you in trouble. I get calls from CPS teachers weekly and in some cases they refer parents to Access Living.

    But the truth be told, more often than not when a general education teacher is put on a witness stand at a due process hearing their testimony is supportive of the position of their employer, CPS. This is more often true with younger teachers than more senior teachers. CPS lawyers coach teachers in their testimony and teachers seem overwhelmingly more fearful of losing their jobs than the educational rights of students. There are exceptions to this however, and CPS has made the life of some teachers who testify against the district difficult.

    Another problem with the testimony of general education teachers at hearings is the impression some leave with the hearing officer. They leave the impression that the primary motivation of their position is too simply get the kid out of the room and that really does not sit well with hearing officers as a rule. So simply put whether the litigation is over placing a disabled child out of the general education classroom or into a general education classroom the majority of teachers testify the way CPS lawyers want them to testify.

    It is no secret that CPS is not supporting its students with disabilities appropriately. When the district can by grade 11 only manage to get 5.8% of disabled students tested on the PSAE to reach state standards in reading, the failure is clear.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    This is happening at my school and I do not understand how students in a self-contained setting are being mainstreamed/included for math or reading when that is 1. not their strength and 2. no reading or math is done in the self-contained setting so when will they learn at their instructional level....I thought the point of self-contained programs was to offer these students who could not handle a large group setting a chance to learn in an individualized setting with intensive small group interaction especially in reading and math...yet the students at my school get no more instructional minutes in reading or math than the gen ed children do....another poster mentioned a setting where fraction computation is being taught but the children can not add 2+3...shouldn't these children be taught computation skills so they at least can add and subtract? They can learn fractions later with a calculator if needed. I am not getting this concept...yes I understand a high school setting where a student might be five years below ( and that he has has hit his plateau) and goes into labs but in the elementary level shouldn't we at least make sure the child has the basics?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    CPS will in the future have to worry very little about AYP issues in relation to students with IEPs. The US Department of Education has already issued basically a wavier to the states for these students, Illinois has applied for this wavier and I am sure the Department of Ed will approve it. Virtually all disability related advocacy organization opposed the US Ed. Dept wavier proposal and the Obama administrative paid no attention to our appeals.

    Rod Estvan

  • In education, it's all about dollars and cents
    by david sirota

  • IL advocates baffled by RTTT scoring process Chicago News Cooperative @cncschools

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Alex, Illinois advocates for what? ISBE has shown that it is weak in leadership and vision forever. Stand for Children is about getting these weak politicians the money to fund the anti-teacher educational policies and legislation that have nothing to do with improving schooling for Illinois students. All smoke and mirrors policies based on no qualitative nor quantitative educational research on what works in education. In simple terms, open the door for privatizing schools on the public dime. Unethical? Yes!

    Stand for Children's history shows a definitive sell out for dollars. Stand for Children gave 50,000 dollars to the Illinois Dem Party to pay them off!

    Alex, call it like it is.

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    Just read this on Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog at

    NAACP resolution on charter schools

    In a process established by the NAACP Constitution, this resolution was adopted by the delegates to the 101st Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri, during the legislative session in July, 2010. It was subsequently ratified by the NAACP National Board of Directors at its meeting on October 15, 2010. This resolution is now the policy of the Association, and is “binding on the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, the Officers, and all units.”

    WHEREAS, charter schools are public schools which were originally designed to explore new approaches to educate students; and

    WHEREAS, in some cases, charter schools have become a school model that is used to segregate students; and

    WHEREAS, charter schools have too seldom informed the education community regarding innovative instructional strategies that accelerate academic achievement in the general population of students; and

    WHEREAS, the Center for Research in Educational Outcomes (CREDO) which examined charter school data in fifteen (15) states and the District of Columbia confirmed that only 17% of the charter school students in the study outperformed their peers, while 46% performed no better and 37% performed worse; and

    WHEREAS, charter schools operate more autonomously than traditional public schools in the use of funds, adherence to state laws and school policies, selection and removal of students, and the selection and removal of staff, thus creating separate and unequal conditions for success; and

    WHEREAS, charter schools draw funding away from already underfunded traditional public schools; and

    WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes that at best, quality charter schools serve only a small percentage of children of color and disadvantaged students for whom the NAACP advocates relative to said population left behind in failing schools; and

    WHEREAS, the NAACP recognizes the urgent need to provide quality education for all children, not only those fortunate enough to win lotteries to attend existing quality charter schools; and

    WHEREAS, the NAACP is committed to finding broad based, effective solutions for immediate implementation to improve the quality of public education for all children.

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will strongly advocate for immediate, overarching improvements to the existing public education system; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the NAACP rejects the emphasis on charter schools as the vanguard approach for the education of children, instead of focusing attention, funding, and policy advocacy on improving existing, low performing public schools and will work through local, state and federal legislative processes to ensure that all public schools are provided the necessary funding, support and autonomy necessary to educate all students; and

    BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will urge all of its Units to work to support public schools throughout the nation to educate all children to their highest potential.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Well, that just shows how out-of-touch the NAACP is to the lives of blacks in America. Among racial/ethnic groups, blacks have the highest levels of support for charter schools.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Danaidh, your comment shows just how out of touch you are. There is a diversity of opinion among blacks. Some support charters and many decry them.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    My observation is based on a number of polls I have seen over the years that show that majorities of Black and Hispanic parents support charter schools, while White and Asian parents show lower levels of support.

    I supported that observation by citing three online news stories (and there were many more).

    You may not like the facts, but that's what they are.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    NAACP 'observation' is based on careful analysis of evidence. You may not like the evidence, but 'that's what they are.'

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    The Cubs lose every single year, and they're popular, too! Meanwhile, driving while intoxicated laws remain very unpopular among alcoholics.

    I don't think that the NAACP considered 'popularity' when they wrote their position statement.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Usually--it seems to me--organizations like the NAACP make these types of resolutions to influence public opinion outside their own membership.

    Without a care for the merits of this particular issue, I simply observe that the NAACP must first convince the population they purport to represent that this resolution is worthwhile before they have any hope of influencing outside opinion.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    KUDOS to NAACP for challenging the myth of Charters being the answer. The children who are most at risk are not the "client" that charters are looking for. Our neighborhood schools need real help now. The failed "turn over" policies of CPS, shows the bankruptcy of leadership at the helm of CPS under mayoral control. Rahm shows he has no clue!

  • In reply to viniciusdm:

    NAACP got it right on every point

  • Here is an interesting story from the NY Times about Pearson apparently bribing government officials

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Christopher Koch, state superintendent of education in Illinois — which has $138 million in contracts with Pearson — went to China, Brazil and Finland with the foundation. The only Pearson compensation he listed on state ethics forms was the cost of the flight to China, $4,271 for business class. Asked why hotels, meals and the other flights were not documented, a spokesman for Dr. Koch, Matt Vanover, said, “What we’re looking at is a litmus test; they just want to make sure he’s not traveling first class.”

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    You missed the key paragraph:

    Christopher Koch, state superintendent of education in Illinois — which has $138 million in contracts with Pearson — went to China, Brazil and Finland with the foundation. The only Pearson compensation he listed on state ethics forms was the cost of the flight to China, $4,271 for business class. Asked why hotels, meals and the other flights were not documented, a spokesman for Dr. Koch, Matt Vanover, said, “What we’re looking at is a litmus test; they just want to make sure he’s not traveling first class.”

    btw I am no relation to the ISBE spokesman who gave such a weasel explanation

  • Suder will have its 4th principal in 7 years. The upper grades (4,5 & 6th) have had a high turn over of teachers. With only one teacher remaining during the three years Suder has offered upper elementary classes. The curriculum of the upper elementary grades drifts further from Montessori each year as the demands of standardized testing conflict with Montessori principles. In order to maintain classroom size quotas neighborhood children with no previous Montessori experience have been admitted. The adjustment to a self directed learning classroom has strained the resources and time available for creating Montessori curriculum for upper elementary classes. The luster of a grand experiment in public montessori education has worn away to reveal a school struggling to maintain the status quo found in neighborhood schools.
    update: The one teacher that is mentioned above has left too.
    This is such a sad state of affairs in public Montessori. From what I understand all three CPS Montessori schools are not doing as well as expected..

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Suder's Montessori is/was to attracked white and middle class parents--hence 'magnet.' What is the LSC doing about this? Where are the parents on this? CPS promises all and takes it all away. As for this program--is China doing this, Finland? Has Suder looked into IB for the upper grades? Montessori is the 8track in education reality--sorry.

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