Skinner North Joins Elite

Today’s big news is the release of the 2012 school report card data, which according to Chicago includes the emergence of Skinner North Classical as a new top performing school in the city.  There are also some new details about the severance agreement for Jean Claude Brizard, and some non-news about the coming closings.


School report cards: Skinner North, Northside Prep take top spots in city Sun Times: Chicago Public Schools claimed eight of the 10 highest-scoring elementary schools in the state this year by adding Skinner North Classical, a relatively new school for smart kids, to the elite ranks.

School report cards show stubborn achievement gaps WBEZ: State education officials are releasing the annual report cards for all of Illinois’ public schools today. Slightly more students are meeting state academic standards—increasing from 82 percent to 82.1 percent. But there are still large gaps in achievement between white students and their minority classmates.

State officials bash federal education standard 98% of high schools don’t meet Sun Times: More than 98 percent of Illinois’ high schools fell short of a federal benchmark in 2012, so many that state officials on Tuesday called the No Child Left Behind law governing education “severely deficient.”


Ousted Chicago schools CEO to collect $250000, glowing recommendation Tribune: When former Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard officially leaves the school system Jan. 1, he’ll take more with him than one year of his $250,000 salary. The school system also will pick up the tab for a year of health insurance for him and …

Emanuel, CPS Chief Won’t Speculate On Potential School Closings CBS: Chicago Public Schools officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday that it’s too early to say how many schools might need to be closed to make the system more efficient.


New Trier students accused of spreading inappropriate pics Sun Times: Six teens were charged with allegedly distributing inappropriate photographs via text and email following a five-week investigation of New Trier High School students. Winnetka police confirmed Tuesday the teens were charged October 25th as juveniles with distribution of harmful materials.


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  • Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat is on his way out of the Chicago Public Schools.

  • we go again. Revolving door, merry-go-round of comings/goings and title changes at central office.

  • I have heard the same stories about Oliver Sicat as retired principal apparently has heard. I don’t know if they are true, but since the story is out there I am willing to give my thoughts on this issue for what they may be worth. But really retired principal. you should have filled in the audience with the rest of the story as to why Mr. Sicat may have fallen out of favor. My understanding is that one of the largest reasons for the decline in Mr. Sicat fortunes is that he has not been able to manage school closings. Is this the story you got too?

    There can probably be no such thing as an effective “Chief Portfolio Officer,” because the concept of the position within the CPS bureaucracy is defective inherently. The position is not about demographic analysis, or is it supposed to be? The position is not about effectively monitoring charter schools and ensuring that they meet both their legal and contractual obligations within the fiscal constraints that CPS establishes for them, or is it? Rather it would appear that this position’s critical role is justifying whatever school closure, charter or alternative school opening, or new construction project is approved by CPS with more than a little assistance from the Office of the Mayor.

    Mr. Sicat was yet another CPS administrator elevated rapidly from the charter schools. He was principal for a short time of UIC College Prep, a Noble Street Charter School. This strategy has not worked for CPS because running charter schools and a massive school district like CPS are totally different experiences and none of the administrators coming from the charter sector have yet proven to be effective leaders for a school district composed of largely traditional schools with a smaller sector of charter schools.

    The best thing CPS could do is not to replace Mr. Sicat, but rather eliminate the position altogether. Effectively given the total lack of rational analysis going into charter expansions, traditional school closures, and what does or does not get built, all the current functions of the Chief Portfolio Officer could be carried out by the CPS media relations office. Ultimately CPS no longer has demographic analysis based on student populations, but rather it now appears to be operating under the control of the “invisible hand” of school choice and parent demand that is understood only by those wise individuals charged with administrating CPS.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Dear Rod, I was informed by top CPS officials the same story that you heard about Oliver Sicat.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Dear Rod,

    Your thoughtful commentary is just about the only reason I visit this site any longer after years of checking in. Yet in all that time I don't believe I have ever read anything this scathing from you before. But I have to say your description of the "invisible hand" neatly encapsulates my own building sense of unease, largely based on... vapors, upon intimations from the way these larger decisions trickle into and taint my own classes.

    It reminds me of Yeats: "Things fall apart/the centre cannot hold."

    What rough beast is slouching to be born at 125 S. Clark?

    Thank you for sharing.

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    The "total lack of rational analysis going into charter expansions, traditional school closures, and what does or does not get built" is why we need a Chief Portfolio Officer/office. This is the person/department that is to be held responsible for the process. Oliver couldn't get the various departments consolidated in his office to work together any better than before and is being held responsible. To me, this is an encouraging sign that the process may improve.

  • I didn't know about Sicat, but I have worked with Winckler and Cheatham, two individuals that are awful at their jobs. How do they keep surviving when everyone else last less than 18 months? I would have thought Byrd Bennett would have fired these two by now. Either Rahm won't let her or she is as bad at judging talent as the last guy.

  • More Bad News for Prosser's Ken Hunter as the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports rank Prosser in the lower 25% among state high schools, ranking 534 out of 689. It's no wonder Hunter didn't get his merit raise from Mayor Emanuel as your school has to improve for you to pass go and collect your cash money.

    Though, one has to wonder why political hack Mike Klonsky was brought into Prosser as a consultant and Head Boys Freshman Basketball Coach, especially since he doesn't have any IL coaching or teaching certfications. Is he helping Hunter to plot against Mayor Emanuel, David Vitale, & Barbara Byrd-Bennett?

    Specifically, Prosser has met not all of the requirements for adequate yearly progress because:
    Only 35.0 percent of all students meet or exceed state reading standards.
    Only 29.4 percent of all students meet or exceed state math standards.
    Only 37.0 percent of all black students meet or exceed state reading standards.
    That did not meet the safe harbor target of 48.6 percent.
    Only 17.4 percent of black students meet or exceed state math standards.
    That did not meet the safe harbor target of 37.7 percent.
    Only 34.4 percent of Hispanic students meet or exceed state reading standards.
    That did not meet the safe harbor target of 46.3 percent.
    Only 35.4 percent of Hispanic students meet or exceed state math standards.
    That did not meet the safe harbor target of 42.8 percent.
    Only 34.7 percent of low-income students meet or exceed state reading standards.
    That did not meet the safe harbor target of 46.5 percent.
    Only 28.9 percent of low-income students meet or exceed state math standards.
    That did not meet the safe harbor target of 41.5 percent.

    Prosser Career Academy has been identified for school improvement for the tenth year in a row. (At least the ken Hunter-led Prosser is consistent at being a low performing school)


  • Generally, with arrival of a new CEO all senior staff is disposable. In the past it has taken 18-24 months from their arrival for the change to occur. And how well they do or do not do their job has nothing to do with the change. It is not personal it is just the way it is, so don't read too much into it. There are always exceptions, like Alicia Winckler of the Huberman administration and Pat Rocks, General Counsel from Arne Duncan's time until his retirement in July.

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