So Many Disappointments

The Board approved two out of four charter schools, named a new leadership team including some guy from Memphis, and continued to assert that there was no list of schools to be closed.  (And why not, since the Tribune has only shown us one page of the September 10 document?) Meanwhile, CTU raised questions about the independence of the utilization commission but also stepped over the line with its fiery advocacy according to the Sun Times and National Review.  Plus stories about King, Ames, and Von Steuben.


CPS Denies Having List of Schools to Be Closed DNAinfo: “There is no list of schools to be closed,” insisted CPS Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd-Bennett. She said that after a “rigorous engagement plan” with neighborhoods to be implemented with “deeper, grassroots meetings” in January and February.

CPS insists there is no school-closings list Tribune:  Chicago Public Schools officials on Wednesday again said they don’t have a list of schools slated for closing, but board President David Vitale acknowledged the district has completed significant analysis of the issue.

Teachers union marches on Loop office of mayor’s pal and charter schools booster
Chicago Sun-Times: Meanwhile, an independent commission established by schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett held a series of public hearings. “It’s our obligation to provide families with as many high quality school options as possible to help their children succeed in …
Independence of independent schools commission questioned WBEZ: The Civic Consulting Alliance and New Schools for Chicago share a suite on the 43rd floor of the Chase Building. They also share some board members. Phyllis Lockett, the founding president and CEO of New Schools for Chicago, sits on the Civic Consulting Alliance’s board and used to be CCA’s executive director.
More questions: charters, partners, and planning CMW: Mayor Emanuel, CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett and utilization commission chair Frank Clark have taken the position that “right-sizing” the district has nothing to do with the district’s expansion of charter schools.


Chicago Board of Ed OKs two new charter schools, but two deferred Sun Times: The Chicago Public Schools approved two new charter schools Wednesday but surprisingly deferred the approval of two more that CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett had recommended, saying she wanted more time for a “gut check.” Despite CPS’ own claims that the district lacks enough children to fill existing classrooms and the public outcry about potential closings, the Board of Education voted unanimously to approve Intrinsic and Chicago Collegiate charter schools as the 10th and 11th new charters opening in the fall.

CPS board approves only two new charter schools Catalyst: CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett asked board members to delay approval of Foundations College Prep and Orange School, an arts-integration elementary school.

Editorial: A charter gut check Chicago Sun-Times: At the request of Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the board approved only three of five recommended charter school proposals for fall 2013. The other two were deferred to an unknown date.

Chicago Board of Education Approves New, High-Quality School Options for Parents and Families Throughout the District CPS Press Release: Options Include New and Expanded International Baccalaureate Programmes, New Magnet School, Career and Technical Education Programs and High-Quality Charter Schools


CPS Appoints Five Education Leaders Focused On District’s Effort to Provide Every Child Access to a Rigorous Instructional Program CPS Press Release: CEO Byrd-Bennett Continues to Build Dedicated, Professional Leadership Team That Holds High Expectations for Student Success; Additional Leadership Appointments Also Approved

Memphis City Schools chief of staff hired for Chicago job Commercial Appeal: The chief of staff in Memphis City Schools has been named chief of accountability in Chicago Public Schools. He is expected to start in January.


Editorial: The teachers union bullying tactics Chicago Sun-Times: The Chicago Teachers Union has crossed the line. It has gone from fiery and justified advocacy on behalf of Chicago’s teachers and children to nasty, personal attacks and outright bullying. Is this any way for teachers to act?

Chicago Teachers Union Head Karen Lewis: Teach for America Kills Students National Review Online (blog): Every one of the teachers was a career educator. Every one was doing exactly what she wanted to do. They’ve worked in a school that was not obsessed with testing but with the needs of children. This we know: the staff at Sandy Hook loved their students.

Connecticut shooting about gun reform, not education reform Ray Salazar: I’ve remained silent watching the news about the funerals for the victims—especially the children—of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.


Vitale: ‘There Are No Plans to Change Ames Into a Military school’ DNAI: Parents are relieved that the Marine Military program will not replace the current curriculum.

Flap Erupts Over Chicago High School Reality Show DNAI: Von Steuben principal drops web link but defends “High School Confidential,” which airs Wednesday night.

King Principal Apologizes After Sit-In, but Parents Remain Wary DNAI: Higginbottom’s emphasis on discipline and security and clashes with teachers have sparked anger.

Student with air pellet gun arrested at Evanston high school Sun Times: A 19-year-old Evanston Township High School student was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct Wednesday after police found a plastic air pellet gun in his backpack.

School board votes to fire Maine West coach accused in hazing scandal Sun Times: Board President Sean Sullivan said varsity soccer coach Michael Divincenzo violated the district’s policy “by failing to adequately prevent, recognize, report and punish student hazing.” Divincenzo is suspended without pay while the dismissal process plays out.

School Safety WTTW:  In the wake of the elementary school rampage in Connecticut, the Chicago Public Schools’ security chief joins us to discuss school safety here.
*Hey, that could be the new tag line for this blog.


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  • Dear District 299 Readers, there are more than one list that names CPS schools for school actions for the 2013-2014 school year. Don't believe thae lies that CPS is trying to sell you.

  • I wanted to point out that Becky Carroll's communications department has seen a legendary amount of turnover in the past seven months -- 10 employees in a team of 17 have largely resigned, with a couple firings thrown in for good measure. Her own second-in-command resigned her six-figure position...without another job lined up.

    She has no friends here in the central office; Jean Claude hated her, Byrd-Bennett is rumored to be sick of her, and many of us believe the only reason she still has her job is because she's protected by Rahm. She seems to have gone out of her way to create a noxious, odious environment in which no one can expect to do anything but cater to her every draconian whim. The newspapers - and the people of Chicago - can never expect to get the full, honest message as long as she's at the helm.

  • In reply to MadCasper:

    I think the turnover has stopped because the churn was making Rahm look incompetent.

    There is no "full, honest message". What that department needs to be able to do for the larger public is effectively present and defend policy and the decisions in support of that policy. I expect many of the communication problems in that last year is that Rahm's experience as a politician did not equip him with the skills to manage the message out of a huge school district bureaucracy. It didn't equip him particularly well to manage tens of thousands of employees either.

  • In reply to Donn:

    Emanuel knows how to spin and "manage" complicated issues related to foreign policy that most of us cannot truly grasp. He knows nothing of Chicago. Emanuel and his underlings are ignorant of the local issues that we who are actually from here intimately understand. His attempts to manipulate the issue are obvious. He is dishonest and he is a liar. He is pushing an agenda that the people of Chicago know is bogus. It is as plain as day. Virtually everyone sees that.

  • In reply to MadCasper:

    Its true about Becky. She's a sociopath without the knowledge base. She doesn't understand that she's not the expert in any area and shouldn't speak for them. She will never get folks to respect her enough to work for her without fearing for their jobs. She missed management training 101. I hope they change this one and a few others in the layers of the chain of command. I won't name them but they have no business there. There are folks running programs with no expertise or credentials in the specific area. That needs to stop quickly. How can you run a PD for Math and you have no Math credentials?
    Now is the time to stop this type of management. Pathways, Health and Wellness and other areas all have folks running things with no credentials or expertise. You will find very few Type 75s or ISBE certificates at central office. It's funny because you used to need those to get to central office. It's the right time to clean it up. Hope Barbara, Gurley and Little are reading this and look at it.

  • Does anyone else see the irony in the fact that from the list of recommended approvals- two charters got approved and two got delayed but there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why? And yet one of the two that got approved happens to be the charter that is being founded by Melissa Maglioa Zaikos- who is near and dear to the Board President? Seems to me that the two that got held back were picked out of hat of the three remaining- Orange, Foundations and Collegiate- this isn't about quality- it's a game.

  • What's up with Zopp!? From

    "Carly Bolger, the recent transfer from New Jersey office of Charter Schools, now Director of the Office of New Schools at CPS, found herself on the hot seat during the "Call for Quality Schools" Power Point, which she narrated. Board Member Adrea Zopp, who serves as Chief Executive Officer of the Chicago Urban League, laid into a fierce round of questioning around the approval of a charter without a specific site placement. She told Bolger and Byrd-Bennett that she would not vote in favor of any charter school whose proposed location was not certain. Although it was never addressed head on, this line of questioning was certainly probing the existence of a premeditated school-closing list that was exposed by the earlier Tribune article.

    "This spirited and skeptical exchange was the highpoint of what was otherwise a celebration of charter schools. While Board Members Jesse Ruiz and Dr. Mahalia Hines occasionally questioned the charter accountability process, Board Member Zopp by far led the charge on a critical inquiry into CPS’s cryptic plans for school closure and charter placement."


  • In reply to district299reader:

    Refreshing? Zopp has been an automaton since she was appointed. Now all of a sudden she develops a conscience? I call BS.

    This is nothing more than a "good cop, bad cop" routine. Watch, all charters will get approved eventually. Maybe not with a unanimous vote, but approved nevertheless. Who knows, maybe one won't make the cut just to look good. Regardless, the people of Chicago will see through this charade.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Hmm, mis-spelling the name of a CPS Board Member...Yes, this is most definitely from Substance "News." You missed the part where the "reporter" referenced the "Pubic [sic] Comment" portion of the meeting. I have yet to read one typo free article in that rag--never mind any facts.

  • Interesting at Catalyst:

    Bachelor’s degree requirement to hit Head Start next year

    By: Rebecca Harris / December 21, 2012

    Starting in fall 2013, Head Start and Early Head Start lead teachers in community agencies around the city will have to have bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education. The city expects that 14 percent won’t meet the requirement, and could potentially lose their jobs or be demoted.

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