Another Credit Downgrade

Today’s other big news — besides the revised schedule (below) — is the credit downgrade that CPS received from the major ratings agencies. This isn’t the first time.  It’s  just a coincidence that it comes right after the strike ended and CPS came to agreement with the teachers — the ratings agency describes the raises as only “moderate.” Bothered?  Who’s to blame — Daley, Emmanuel, CTU, or Springfield?  What would you do to cut the CPS budget?  Comments are open, as always. 


Bond-rating agency downgrades CPS debt Tribune: Moody’s Investor Service had already downgraded the Chicago Public Schools’ bond rating outlook to “negative” from stable in July, and cited Thursday the rating agency’s “view that the district will be hard-pressed to make the budget adjustments necessary

Chicago schools debt zapped again by Moody’s  Crain’s Chicago: A Wall Street ratings firm today issued its verdict on the deal that ended the Chicago Teachers Union strike, downgrading Chicago Public Schools debt for the second time in less than a quarter.

Chicago Public Schools’ credit rating cut by Moody’s Sun Times: The Chicago Board of Education’s credit rating was lowered to A2 from A1 by Moody’s Investor Service, Reuters news service reported Thursday. Moody’s said Chicago Public Schools hasn’t accounted for the “moderate” pay raises in the tentative agreement with the teachers union.

Moody’s Downgrades Chicago Schools For Caving To The Teacher’s Union BusinessInsider: A leading bond-rating agency has downgraded the Chicago Board of Education’s debt in the wake of the settlement of the Chicago Teacher’s Union’s recent strike.


Poll shows Illinois is actually ready for reform WBEZ: A new poll shows Illinois is ready for reform, the regular NFL refs are back and RIP Andy Williams.


Paul Tough WBEZ: Paul Tough appears in conversation with Alex Kotlowitz to discuss Tough’s new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity and the Hidden Power of Character.


Changes on Board? PURE:  Public Participation Sign-Up will be revamped for the October meeting. On-line sign-up will be allowed. The Board members are maintaining “Office Hours.” Interested members of the public may request a meeting with Board Members by calling 773-553-1600.


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  • When you are operating with a zero reserve fund this type of downgrading can be expected. I told the Board this and so did others.

    Rod Estvan

  • CPS STAKEHOLDERS, IF YOUR SCHOOL IS A LEVEL 3 AND UNDERUTILIZED, YOUR SCHOOL MIGHT HAVE A SCHOOL ACTION TAKEN AGAINST IT: CPS schools that are level 3 and underutilized are under consideration now for some type of school action for the 2013-2014 school year. These school actions are closing, consolidation, phase-out and turnaround. The draft of the school action guidelines will come out in early October. The final draft will come out at the end of October. The proposed school actions will be made public after December 1st. There will be 21 days of public hearings after the proposed actions are made public. P.S.- If your school is a level 2 and underutilized, your school may also be in play. Level 2 and underutilized schools may become receiving schools for students from the level 3 and underutilized schools.

  • Jeezus....that would be the remaining neighborhood schools on the South and West sides! Not to bring up the tragedy, but there will be many more Derrion Albert scenarios. Central Office does not understand what it means for a kid to walk as little as 3 blocks out of his area these days.

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    I think we need to face the possibility that CPS is intentionally sabotaging its own financial standing in order to undermine public education in Chicago.

    This is what happens when all of the accountability is at the school level, and none at the governance level.

    And before anyone goes off into the "mayoral accountability" hogwash, let's remember that even if Rahm takes the $10-$20 million he gets from the North Shore for disrupting the City of Chicago and loses, he gets to go home to his millions.

    The students and teachers caught up in his missteps don't have that kind of safety net.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    The mayor is sabotaging CPS. There is no doubt about it. I wonder how many people will vote differently in 3 years. I am hoping voters will actually take action and vote. Then again, he can ruin the entire city in less than 3 years.

  • true that --who will run against him? Rahm has $$$ and power people are afraid of him.

  • It really seems that the mayor wanted the strike and then caved on almost everything except the longer day/year. Why? It helps unions across the country and they are mostly Democrats. There will need to be a tax hike to cover the bills. That may also be part of the plan. Why else would they spend ALL of the reserves?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Teacher evaluations ended up about where the board proposed in March. So I'm not sure what the board "caved" on. The salary increases seem to be somewhat more than necessary. But if the 4% not given last year is included in the calculation, the raise seems closer to what was expected.
    The longer day without added time in core subjects seems a lot of effort and cost for minimal gains. But perhaps high crime rates was part of the motivation to increase school time.
    I would like to think there's a plan where some of the pieces that are confusing today will eventually make sense. But I do expect that adding teachers to cover the longer day was not part of the original plan. We don't even know how many teachers were actually added.

  • So two comments here, on claims mayor is intentionally sabotaging CPS by ruining it financially. The other claims the mayor caved during the strike to secretly support unions and hence democrats.

    I'm not big on conspiracies, but lets examine these. The first plot involves a Board of Education staffed by at least one billionaire who would know that depleting reserves to nothing would incur a bond downgrading especially when they were publicly warned before doing so. The second plot involves a "democratic" mayor instituting conservative reforms on union members who then depletes the reserves so he can raise taxes, because raising taxes helps union members? Hmmmm, one plot makes sense, the other sounds like the same old politics of framing it as dems vs. republicans. I don't thinks this is dems vs. repubs. This is the super elite 1% vs. everyone else. Forget party affiliation, which is used to blind you so you blame your neighbor.

  • There is no conspiracy - just the law. If you fail to make AYP, there are 4 options - turnaround, transformation, restart, or closure. The "community" said they don't want turnarounds, only half of the schools can be transformation, so that leaves - guess what- closure and restart. This is publicly available information. The only way around it was to get an NCLB waiver. CTU's contract makes CPS ineligible for such a waiver. Mr. Russo published the rejection letter from the DOE.

    The Board should educate the community, but people with opinions also have the responsibility to understand policy before they start advocating for specific decisions. Don't believe me? Visit ISBE or DOE and learn about intervention models. There is no conspiracy theory - Rahman had it right - people need to focus on getting their schools up to par at this time because the ft lady's singing.

    If you want to blame a rich person, blame Bush.

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    You are confusing policy. The four options were created by the current administration. Bush (and the Democrats) only created AYP, and then instituted penalties around it, but they didn't not require the 4 options.

    I would blame the rich people who are using their money to push policy at the national level.

  • Actually, no. The terms used were coined by the current administration; however, the actions came about when the DOE in 2007 or 2008 said that removing the principal was not enough of an intervention. The previous general term was restructuring.

  • The Obama administration came up with the 4 options. They call it their blueprint, and it was developed by AUSL. Other groups tried to get DOE support to have their turnaround methods included, for example Strategic Learning Initiatives. However, AUSL has all the clout. Just another example of cronyism. It is unfortunate since Arne Duncan nows firsthand that SLI's Focused Instruction was successful...and much cheaper than AUSL.

  • In reply to katniss:

    Once again - no - the Obama administration coined the terms. I don't have a lot of time to spend on this, so I am including a link to a 2007 school improvement manual for Virginia - we are all pretty clear that Obama was not the President at that time, right?

    I don't mind differing opinions, but if you are going to counter someone, you really should provide evidence. I am afraid that the misunderstanding and failure to connect arguments to actual substantiated documents is going to cost all of us teachers quite a bit. You asked for no more turnarounds - turnarounds that would have been re-staffed with Union members if completed by the district. But, rather than go to Springfield or Washington D.C., people stood downtown where their efforts will be increasing and speeding up the closure of schools.

    So, now that you see this - are you saying that AUSL flew all over the country prior to Obama's presidency coming up with a blueprint for the nation.

    Here you go (and I will include an excerpt):

    Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), schools that do not
    make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for five consecutive years are required to
    develop plans for “restructuring” in the sixth year. If they fail to make AYP in
    Year 6, they must implement their restructuring plans in Year 7. NCLB provides five options for schools in restructuring to follow:
    1. reopen the school as a public charter school;
    2. replace “all or most of the school staff (which may include the principal)
    who are relevant to the failure to make adequate yearly progress”;
    3. contract with an outside “entity, such as a private management company,
    with a demonstrated record of effectiveness, to operate the public school”; HANDBOOK ON RESTRUCTURING & IMPROVEMENT
    4. turn the “operation of the school over to the State educational agency, if
    permitted under State law and agreed to by the State”; or
    5. engage in another form of major restructuring that makes fundamental
    reforms, “such as significant changes in the school’s staffing and governance, to improve student academic achievement in the school and that
    has substantial promise of enabling the school to make adequate yearly
    progress.”(No Child Left Behind, Sec. 1116, 20, U.S.C.A. §6301-6578,
    Successful restructuring requires dramatic change in a short period of time.
    The purpose of this chapter is to explain the change process, discuss the restructuring options offered under NCLB, and explore some ways districts can
    support restructuring schools. Most of all, the purpose of the chapter is to introduce you to some outstanding resources. Chief among them is the School
    Restructuring Under No Child Left Behind: What Works When? A Guide for Education Leaders (Hassel et al., 2006), which contains a multitude of helpful tools
    and suggestions. Although research on NCLB restructuring is in its infancy,
    research from other disciplines on change and turnarounds can offer valuable
    insights, as can research on the Comprehensive School Reform Program.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Please note that most schools are into the restructuring actions now, during the Obama administration, because they have had that status for 7 years or more, but the legislations was initiated by the Bush administration.

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    In reply to district299reader:

    Yes, but the structure of the four options along with the "rule of nine" which prevented the "transformation option" being used in 50% or more of the schools significantly changed the actually implementation to a point that I would call it a complete reinvention of the options available.

    But you are right that I could have been more careful in my earlier post.

  • In reply to Xian Barrett:

    True, the 50% rule is an addition, but you must admit that it is in response to districts who shuffled and created administrator merry go rounds rather than addressing other restructuring options and school issues - in some small districts, literally the same few, four or five, changing schools.

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    In reply to district299reader:

    Sure. But that's the eternal problem--if you have outside policymakers forever pushing crazy policy, then people learn to dance to lessen the damage.

    Our current administration responded to that dance by essentially mandating process (and (inadvertently?) the damage). That was probably the most novel thing they did.

  • Speaking of credit downgrades, we haven’t heard much about the great Jennifer Cheatham during these tumultuous times. I am so looking forward to witnessing her next bungled power point presentation.

  • who/what is the Home of Life Corp. that has entered into a very large contract w/BOE? During a time of severe deficits and credit downgrades... a large contract for an EC provider!? Just wondering...

  • In reply to unknown teacher:

    Looks like they provide the kind of wrap-around services teachers say that are lacking. The location on Madison Street also seems to serve as some sort of nuclear bomb shelter if the architecture is indicative.

  • Inside Scoop? Reads more like Outside Poop!

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