Bonuses For 82 Principals

Today’s big story is the news that on Monday 82 Chicago principals were awarded bonuses from $5,000 to $20,000 for school improvement on various measures.  Take a look at the list and the methodology and let us know what you think.


The Sun Times has lots of pictures and notes that this is part of a $5 million privately funded program created by Mayor Emanuel to promote leadership. Catalyst notes that the bonuses were harder for high poverty school principals to get.

Principal bonus disparities Catalyst:Principals at four schools – Chavez, Lowell, Keller Gifted and Lavizzo – received the highest bonus of $20,000 for improving in all four areas. Principals at schools with the most low-income students, and those at the most segregated high schools, were less likely to earn bonuses. Principals at schools with more white students were more likely to earn bonuses.

82 Chicago principals get up to $20,000 in merit bonuses Sun Times:  Merit pay bonuses ranging from $5,000 to $20,000 apiece were awarded Monday to 82 Chicago Public School principals whose schools demonstrated “exceptional growth” in four key measurements of student success.

Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett Announce First Recipients … eNews Park Forest: Mayor Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett today recognized 82 principals from across the district as the first recipients of principal performance pay, part of the groundbreaking Chicago Leadership Collaborative initiative.


Why some CPS schools must close Tribune (editorial): Chicago Public Schools officials must deliver to state lawmakers a list of schools slated to close at the end of this school year. The district will release its criteria for making those decisions this week.

Chicago schools need radical change Tribune: In 2011, fewer than 24 percent of Chicago Public Schools graduates were prepared to attend a four-year college, and only 1 in 7 African-American students tested college-ready.

Chicago Teachers Union Digs in Against Closure of Failing Schools Reason: Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office have remained mum about any school closure plans, but it’s been widely reported that an estimated 100 low-performing and under-enrolled public schools could face closure in an effort to save …


CPS gives principals bonuses, CTU launches school reform website ABC: Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave 82 Chicago Public Schools principals merit pay bonuses, ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.


University of Chicago to waive application fees for CPS students Sun Times: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s push to convince the best and brightest Chicago Public School students to aim higher without regard to the cost of attending selective colleges got a boost Monday from a new partnership with the University of Chicago.

2 Investigators: Chicago Schools Flunk Food Inspections CBS: Rat droppings and other problems plague some cafeterias. Since 2011, 244 of Chicago’s 681 schools failed at least one health inspection, CBS 2’s Pam Zekman reports.

Picture via Sun Times



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  • Headache299
    Mr. Russo,
    Thanks for posting
    “For the Record: Principal bonus disparities” from Catalyst Chicago:

    “Principals at schools with the most low-income students, and those at the most segregated high schools, were less likely to earn bonuses. Principals at schools with more white students were more likely to earn bonuses.”

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Also principals in higher performing schools choose from a larger pool of new teachers hires. Having better than average teachers allow for more flexibility in removing underperforming teachers.

    The system seems to continue to confuse high performing schools with the performance of employees within those schools. With schools choice further differentiating student groups this problem will get worse without a real effort towards fair evaluation and compensation in high poverty schools.

    I would favor bonus pools for similar schools. Northside and Clemente are incomparable.

  • This is o true--we worked overtime at our large, high special ed, poverty and non-English speaking school for what? Now we feel like crap. Thanks CPS for nothing and worse--not being fair.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    A reader writes: "we worked overtime at our large, high special ed, poverty and non-English speaking school for what?"

    Ahem...for the benefit of the students? ('cuz it's the kids that matter and keep us going--not the accolades of adults who have never even been in our classrooms.)

  • Them that gots...

  • In reply to district299reader:



    Here's another take on the principals' bonus competition.

  • I admit I'm jealous because I didn't get a bonus. Magnet school principals inherit kids in the 90th percentile. If growth is the criteria I wonder if they'd have received a bonus. My good buddy who's a high school athletic team coach says what about extra curricular achievement and the sports office? Those programs have a huge impact on student achievement and school culture.There have been hundreds of athletic scholarships and dozens of state championships over the years.

  • In reply to sammy:

    Sammy I am never going to trash CPS coaching because I think the fact that they help keep so many students academically eligible is amazing. I coached for four years at Mather HS and saw this struggle first hand.

    But there has never been any type of study done of the number of CPS students who do get sports scholarships that also get four year degrees. I suspect that the percentage that do get four year degrees is below the NCAA average, an average which is nothing to cheer about for minority students. I was a college wrestler on scholarship and keeping up academically along with training, practice, and competition during the season was simply exhausting. This is why so many students on scholarship try to pick relatively soft majors. It is not because they are stupid.

    My undergraduate major was a combined political science/education degree which required a lot of writing, which was very difficult given the relatively weak writing skills I had coming out of CPS. It was a struggle even attending University of North Dakota which was not academically at the level of tier 1 colleges back then, except for the college of Mining which was very difficult.

    CPS like a lot of urban school systems produces a good number to top shelf athletes, but there is a factory aspect to this too. While athletics seem to be a ticket out of poverty, that is not always the case.

    Rod Estvan

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