Unanswered Questions

Today’s news includes a variety strike followup items (schedules, sports), plus a couple of looks at the coming wave of charter schools, plus a few tidbits from NBC News’ Education Nation summit being held in New York City, where a CPS teacher and LSNA parent mentor are among the panelists.  There are also commentaries penned by Lewis (in the Wall Street Journal) and Emanuel (in the Tribune).


Chicago teachers set date to vote on contract WGN News: Chicago teachers have set a date to vote on their new contract.

It’s the teachers in a squeaker Zorn: If we must score this strike like a game, as the question implies, then I give the W to the teachers. At the very least, the CTU beat the point spread.

A Gold Star for the Chicago Teachers Strike Wall Street Journal (Lewis and Weingarten): Nearly nine out of 10 students in Chicago Public Schools live in poverty, a shameful fact that so-called reformers too often ignore, yet most schools lack even one full-time nurse or social worker. The district has made cuts where it shouldn’t (in art, music, .

What will Chicago Public Schools calendar be next year? Sun Times: Talks that resolved the first Chicago Teachers Union strike in 25 years last week now leave parents wondering which calendar will win out.

How contract affects teachers’ pocketbooks Chicago Tribune:  As the drama over the Chicago’s teacher contract unfolded, district and union officials cited base salary increases amounting to 2 or 3 percent per year.

Some Chicago Public League football games won’t be rescheduled WBEZ: Chicago Public League high school football teams were barred from the field during last week’s teachers strike, but that didn’t stop most players from getting some practice in.


Emanuel’s push for more charter schools is in full swing Chicago Tribune: Chicago Public Schools officials expect about 53,000 of the district’s roughly 400,000 students will attend charter schools this year, and the number of charters will increase to more than 100. The city is aiming to add 60 charter schools in the next five years.

Charter schools: Closing the gap for Latinos? NBC: With the recent Chicago Public Schools teachers strike, the issue of charter schools has become even more controversial, particularly within the Latino community.

Don’t shy away from reforming Chicago schools Tribune (Emanuel): We are on our way to having 12 turnarounds and 14 academies so CPS has the capacity to transform 10 failing schools a year. The teachers union should join us in turning these failing schools around.


Latino parents break down barriers in Chicago schools NBC Latino: Everything changed when Barrera became a parent mentor at her son’s school through the Logan Square Neighborhood Association (LSNA), a Chicago-based community group that breaks down the barriers between parents and schools by placing parents.


Emanuel moves on to the next union negotiations WBEZ: Rahm’s next round of negotiations, Rep. Joe Walsh justifies his bigotry and a man in Austin lynches a chair.

Comings & Goings: Johnson, Regenstein, Kelleher Catalyst:  Katelyn Johnson, Elliot Regenstein, Maureen Kelleher, Jones College Prep High and Lane Technical High.


Filed under: Daily News Roundup


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  • "Demographics are not destiny." Really that was the best line in the Mayor's article. Since the Mayor's article makes many references to academic studies it should be noted that social economic status has always been the best predictor of educational outcomes in our nation.

    There is little doubt that the Mayor accepts this assumption because he has his own children educated with other higher income students as do most higher income parents. I did the same thing for my own children as do most teachers.

    What would be refreshing would be some honesty in this discussion.

    Rod Estvan

    More than a dozen studies have shown that students from disadvantaged backgrounds benefit from additional classroom time with a quality teacher. That's why I have been eager to adopt a full school day and full school year plan.

    Long before I became mayor, 15 schools in neighborhoods across Chicago extended their day. Students at these schools score 20 percent higher on their Illinois Standards Achievement Tests than children who have not had the extra time. At public schools like Carson, Inter-American and Peterson, where a majority of the students come from low-income or minority backgrounds, students outperform their peers who haven't had the full day. Though the academic success of students benefiting from a longer day has been plain to see, giving all students a full day of learning has been difficult to achieve. In three separate teacher contract negotiations, with different mayors and union leadership, this reform was met with stiff opposition. That's just unacceptable.

    If we are sincere about our desire to provide every student in every community with a world-class education, we cannot wait so long or fight so long to adopt a reform students need.

    Chicago's Academy for Urban School Leadership schools provide another model of excellence for students. In AUSL schools, union teachers and motivated principals are achieving incredible results together. A key to the success of AUSL schools is teaching academies, where educators learn how to thrive in difficult classroom environments.

    When I ran for Congress, I saw the effectiveness of an AUSL teacher academy firsthand in my district. I secured resources to open up an elementary school and a high school at the old Wright Community College. Today, the Chicago Academy Elementary School has 92 percent of its students meeting or exceeding state standards, far higher than Chicago Public Schools' average of 74 percent. The share of students at Chicago Academy High School who exceed state standards is 50 percent greater than the CPS average.

    At Chicago AUSL turnaround schools, students are achieving some of the largest educational gains. They show us that when students have highly trained teachers, committed parents and motivated principals, schools that have performed poorly for years can succeed in the same buildings with the same students from the same neighborhoods. Because our AUSL schools are doubling the test-score gains of their peers, they are gaining national attention.

    There should be nothing controversial about these schools when they give children the foundation they need to succeed. We are on our way to having 12 turnarounds and 14 academies so CPS has the capacity to transform 10 failing schools a year. The teachers union should join us in turning these failing schools around.

    The model of strong leadership we see in AUSL schools is not present in all of our schools, such as when teachers are stuck working for ineffective principals. But in each of the 94 schools on the state honor roll, there are great teachers and a strong principal who has the autonomy to lead and the accountability that comes with it. A principal should be allowed to hire his or her teaching staff and be accountable for how well the students succeed.

    Teachers are also correct when they argue that they need partnership from parents. The most important door a student walks through is not the door of her classroom but the door of her home. That is why we have put school budgets online and provided parents with the same report card on their children's schools that principals received in the past. Parents also must make the choice to become more involved in their children's schools if they are to improve, from report card pickup to parent-teacher conferences.

    That kind of parental engagement is one reason cited for the success of the UNO charter network. UNO schools have 100 percent report card pickup from parents and require parent engagement as a condition of enrollment.

    When so many students in Chicago have so much working against them, it is irresponsible to resist proven reforms that result in educational excellence.

    Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Wright college is in a white middle class neighborhood on the far northwest side. I seriously doubt the demographics of that charter look anything like the demographics of a public school in Englewood

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (RAHMPOLEON) IS OUT TO DESTROY THE NEIGHBORHOOD SCHOOLS IN FAVOR OF CHARTER SCHOOLS: Mayor Rahm Emanuel's key component to public education is to aggressively expand charter schools. Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the best way for success in the struggling inner-city schools (African-American & Latino) is charter schools. Chicago Public Schools officials say about 53,000 of CPS's 402,000 students will attend charter schools this year. Charter schools will increase by 100 schools over the next five years and neighborhood schools will decrease by 100 schools over the next five years. The biggest push for charter schools comes from some of the wealthiest backers of Mayor Rahm Emanuel including Bruce Rauner (the Mitt Romney of Wilmette), a venture capitalist who regularly advises Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Mayor Rahm Emanuel has infused his public school administration with charter school proponents. The Illinois State Board of Education in its most recent report on charters said each of the 38 charter (private-non-CTU) networks in Chicago is governed by its own board and makes its own decisions on curriculum, staffing and the length of the school day. The state's school report card issued last fall showed that more than two dozen schools from some of the best-known local charter networks, including United Neighborhood Organization (UNO), had underperformed against the state's standards. The group often praised by Mayor Rahm Emanuel as the best of Chicago charter groups, the Noble Network of Charter Schools (with Bruce Rauner's school being one of them), did not reach the level of CPS elite schools (selective enrollment schools). Charter schools results look better because the charter schools practice kicking-out students with academiic, Special Ed and discipline problems. Mayor Rahm Emanuel came to power in 2011 with the support of wealthy investment bankers and venture capitalist, including conservative Republicans. Mayor Rahm Emanuel's political friends support the privatization of the Chicago Public Schools because they feel that public education is the last vestige of a "welfare state" , and their ultimate goal is to end public education as we know it all together.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    The demographics of charters are always different in some ways from the demographics of neighborhood public schools because of the self selection inherent to the application process. Kids from the most difficult backgrounds, whose parents are working three jobs and overwhelmed, or alchoholics, or drug addicted, etc. don't even make it into the application process. If Rahm wants to try to prove that demographics aren't destiny, then the charters should be required to report on the demographics of their students, including the ones that leave. As a matter of fact, they should be reporting the demographics of the students they serve simply because they're funded with public money. Are charters required to report their student demographics? If so where can we get that information?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    UNO schools-who select students and parents, have 100 percent report card pickup from parents and require parent engagement as a condition of enrollment.
    Our underfunded neighborhood school with 1000 students has 99% report card pickup from parents and we CANNOT require parent engagment as a condition of enrolment. Not fair--not right.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    ps-our 1000 student schools has more special ed, low-income and ELL studetns than ANY UNO selective school.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    We need more than anecdotal evidence against Rahm's smoke and mirror claims of charters as a panacea for everything that's wrong in education. If charters aren't required to report the demographics of the students in / leaving their schools they can claim anything they want and no one can disprove it.

  • Miscellaneous gangs: http://www.wbez.org/programs/afternoon-shift/2012-09-24/chicago-gangs-abound-where-are-they-102612

  • What Brizard was doing during the strike - & what he thinks should & shouldn't have been done to avoid it @huffpostedu http://ow.ly/dXFNE

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    They have to keep him on for something like 6 months now, just to save face.

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