Slated To Close

There’s not much news but lots of reader commentary about which schools are slated to close as CPS downsizes.  I may be alone but I feel like it shouldn’t be that hard to figure out given past lists and current enrollment levels.  If your school has been on the under-enrollment list in the past, and is still under-enrolled, then, well… that’s a start. You’re allowed a certain amount of concern about your personal well-being, but maybe your time would be better spent educating the kids in front of you and earning back the trust of the parents in your community?

Anyway, in other news: Greg Hinz has Stephanie Galdin complaining about the NCTQ report on the contract.  Daley lofts a soft slam against Emanuel’s handling of the strike (but then again Daley never got much out of his contracts.  Tim Fuhrman says that the charter commission will overrule Rockford but what about Chicago?

Hawk Harrelson has been named baseball’s most biased announcer WBEZ: The union has asked for a list of schools the Board plans to close, but the board denies the existence of such a list.

Daley Sort Of Criticizes Emanuel’s Handling Of Teachers Strike Chicagoist: “It’s easy to blame everyone and national politics is to blame people. But when you take responsibility, in 95 that’s what I said. Don’t blame the teachers, let’s all work together to make it a better education system for all,” Daley said.

Who really came out on top in the Chicago teachers strike?  Crain’s: Union spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin raised serious objections to the analysis, if not the facts on which the analysis was based. Allowing principals full freedom to select their staffs “is a back-door route to churning out teachers and keeping costs down and, second, excuses principals from developing their staffs,” she said.

PTA sues rival PTO for trademark infringement, false advertising Sun Times: The Chicago-based National Parent Teacher Assocation on Wednesday sued the for-profit parent company of the Massachusetts-based PTO Today, charging that organization with trademark infringement, false advertising and deceptive trade practices.

Free flu shots offered across Chicago WGN: The Chicago Department of Public Health is urging everyone to get vaccinated against influenza, and you can do it for free.

There’s something happening here Tribune: Then the Chicago Teachers Union strike happened. What was most notable was that this was not a typical strike of recent years, where a small number of strikers passively picket a site and the real action is going on at the bargaining table.

Chicago Gives Students More Time to Succeed Bloomberg: In his feud with the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Rahm Emanuel won a major victory for Chicago’s students: increasing the amount of time they spend in the classroom. Admittedly, the students might not immediately appreciate the gift Emanuel has won …

Chicago’s Poor Neighborhoods: Everything Deserts Whet Moser: In many cities, poor neighborhoods have a high concentration of stores, services, and other organizations, often higher than in wealthier neighborhoods. Not in Chicago.

Can Public Schools Really Change?Slate Magazine:As the recent Chicago teacher strike demonstrated, public school systems are phenomenally difficult institutions to change. The array of competing forces—unions, politicians, parents, principals, charter schools, state and national bureaucrats—gums …

Ixnay on the Arter-Chay Tim Furman: Look for Heather Steans’ state charter commission to overrule the Rockford school board. Anyhoo three cheers for democratic oversight out in Rockford.


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  • God. Are you for real? "You're allowed a certain amount of concern about your personal well-being, but maybe your time would be better spent educating the kids in front of you and earning back the trust of the parents in your community?" Sick puppy, sorry to say.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I have to agree that Alexander's comment was really bizarre, has the Bruce Rauner variation of oppositional defiant disorder infected Alexander? The DSM-IV-TR diagnostic threshold for oppositional defiant disorder includes "Performs actions to deliberately annoy others." Clearly that component of this disabling condition is one that I see in the diagnostic records of many disabled CPS students that I have to advocate for and it was also present in Alexander's comment.
    Possibly there is another explanation for this truculence? I don't know.

    But let me explain my own experience as a teacher and the issue of being faced with losing your position at a school or having the entire school shut down. What I would call a good teacher, possibly not the same person Mr. Rauner would so designate, develops a deep bond with some of their students. This bond makes the job of teaching much more difficult in some respects because part of every teacher's job is sitting in judgment of students via the grading process. On occasion that bonding can also apply to parents of children and I see this sometimes with special education teachers and elementary school teachers in the primary grades.

    I learned early one year while I was teaching at Calumet High School that I would likely have my position cut within a few days. I felt there were students I was teaching that were coming to school each day because of my relationship with them and the encouragement I tried to give them. I felt it would be unprofessional on my part to inform these students of my impending removal from the school and likely reassignment to another high school. I was in fact totally distressed by this situation and asked, maybe begged, some of my fellow teachers to look after a couple of students. I was reassigned to another high school, but was able to get a new position back at Calumet the next year. I asked my fellow teachers what happened to several of the students I was worried about the prior year. One they knew for sure dropped out and another they thought was in Juvenile Detention. I was devastated and will remember this for the rest of my life.

    I honestly do not believe Alexander understands much of the reality of teaching urban children when he writes things like he did. Then other times I think Alexander being a journalist who has spent time in schools does understand this complex interaction between schools, teachers, children, and communities. I liked the liberal critical Alexander better than the warrior against the CTU Alexander. After all Alexander's parents sent him to F.W. Parker instead of the back then more conservative Latin School no doubt with the hope he would turn out all right in the end. Let's turn it around Alexander.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    not my first oppositional diagnosis, rod - but thanks for reminding me about that.

    i'm just so angry about the strike i can't see straight sometimes these days, and to go from the strike straight to school closings (as if they were some surprise) was just too much for me this morning. teachers got a raise, got a moral victory, and then ... it's back to "what about my job?"

    plus i have a cold, and you know how i am when i have a cold :-)

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    I think you'd be feeling VERY different about the strike if you lived here and had a kid in and/or worked in the schools. Also, teachers aren't protecting their own job at any cost. From what I've heard and seen, they've been talking about how to match the system to the needs. But, while there are many unfilled seats in CPS, there are also yawning unmet needs among the students.

  • No one makes us come to this blog or any other. We come back here time and again to scratch an itch that we have.

    I don't know why we are asking Alexander to change. It's his blog, not ours. If there's a better forum for this kind of thing, let us know, we'll all go there. Otherwise he's the hairy king of this roost.

  • A frequently-displaced Chicago teacher talks about seniority placements and teacher evaluation @hechingerreport #5bb

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Thanks to Alexander for posting the link to Susan Volbrecht's essay titled "Moving forward in Chicago’s classrooms." Ms. Volbrecht is a CPS teacher at Cook School and her general support for CPS' new evaluation system must be given some weight. I have some empathy for Susan's experience because I too went through the 20th day cuts when I was a CPS teacher. But based on her essay and her support for SB7 and the CPS REACH teacher evaluation system I was totally unclear why she believed she might not again be laid off using the new evaluation system. Ms. Vobrecht will not be able to compare her own value added scores to those of other teachers in her school because the Illinois law that created the mandate for REACH prohibits public access to individual teachers' value added scores. Nor will Ms. Volbrecht be given access to the scores of other teachers in her school based on the observational component of REACH.

    In terms of actual data relating to her fellow teachers at Cook School at least in theory she should have no real idea of her relative standing based on merit and performance to other teachers at the school. As teachers we can make some presumptions about our relative skills sets to our fellow teachers, but such judgments are often subjective at best since only rarely do teachers get to observe each other teach material they themselves also teach. So Ms. Volbrecht may or may not be the survivor of the next 20th day cut at Cook school which by 2011 was not making AYP in any academic area and is in its 9th year under academic watch status. I would add that Cook has only about 550 students as of 2011, in 2008 CPS did an analysis of what is called space utilization and at that time with an enrollment of 736 the school was listed as having a space utilization ratio of 55%. Clearly that number has now dropped below 50% into what CPS called in 2008 the "underutilized" category. I have no idea what REACH will mean for Ms. Volbrecht if Cook is one of the unlucky schools closed in the next few years due to under enrollment.

    Lastly I would add that the Teach Plus Teaching Policy Fellows in Chicago have not formally as a group to my knowledge reviewed in any way the value added test component of REACH. In the Spring of 2011 the Chicago Teaching Policy Fellows with lead authors Alex Seeskin (LakeView High) and Laura Meili (Mollison School) presented what is called guidelines for teacher observations which I think were very well done, but they made no recommendation about the use of test data in conjunction with those observations. (See

    Rod Estvan

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