Charter School Surprise!

120917_cartoon_062_a16829_p465So the Board is getting tough on low performing charters, and charters are whining about being surprised by changing policies and surprise announcements.  Welcome to the club, charters!  In other news: special ed finally gets some attention (from Catalyst), the First Lady is in town to talk about obesity and nutrition, someone named Paulette Poncelet has moved from Pittsburgh public schools to CPS.



Poor performance leads CPS to put six charter schools on ‘warning’ list Sun Times: Chicago’s Board of Education has approved the renewal of 30 charter schools Wednesday, including the politically connected UNO network recently under fire for funneling contracts paid for by millions in state grants to relatives of UNO allies and a top executive. The district also put six charter schools on a “warning” list because of poor performance, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced Wednesday.

CPS cracks down on underperforming charters Tribune: The Chicago Public Schools board indicated it plans to place more scrutiny on the academic and financial performance of charter schools, approving plans Wednesday to gradually close two charters and warning six others that they’ll have to shape up or face the same fate.

Charter schools surprised by new CPS academic ‘warning’ list WBEZ: Charter school leaders blasted the district for failing to communicate the change until hours before Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting. The INCS statement called out CPS for constantly changing its policies and practices, saying, “it is impossible for charter schools to meet a moving target of accountability, or effectively participate in a constantly shifting process. Four CPS administrations in five years have continuously moved the goal posts.”

Charters to undergo yearly reviews, “warning” list Catalyst: Every fall, the district will name poor performers to a “warning list.” In contracts with charters going forward, it will stipulate that being on the warning list would result in closure the following Spring. Currently, charters only face closure at the end of their contract. Contracts are typically five years, though recently some shaky performers have been given three-year contracts.


School Closure Protests WTTW: More than 100 schools remain on the list for possible closures — and in community meetings around Chicago, parents are strongly objecting to the possibility of closing their neighborhood school. Elizabeth Brackett reports.

Rahm on the Ropes The Nation (via CPS Chatter): What Emanuel had planned as his marquee accomplishment—corporate-style “school reform”—has been cracking like a pane of glass.


Class sizes could increase for special education students Catalyst: Special education advocates are up in arms about a state proposal to eliminate class size caps for special education rooms and let districts decide what percentage of a “general education” class can be students with disabilities.The rule changes would leave the state without maximum class sizes based on a child’s disability for the first time since 1975. CPS district spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler says that “we recently learned of this proposal and are currently reviewing it so that we understand its potential implications.”


Concordia students sue school over accreditation flap Sun Times: When Chicago Public Schools teacher Carlotta Jefferson decided to seek a master’s degree in school counseling, she chose Concordia University in River Forest, where the program boasted approval by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Programs. But that was in 2010. Today, Jefferson is the lead plaintiff among more than a dozen students suing the faith-based institution for refunds of their $20,000 tuition and other damages, saying Concordia gave up the nationally esteemed CACREP accreditation just as they were about to graduate, and allegedly concealed that fact.

UNO Charter Teachers and Students Deserve Better Catalyst via CPS Chatter: At UNO, I’ve heard of teachers working average of 10 hours a day with minimal preparatory periods and only three 25 minute duty-free lunches a week at pay that is 20% less than the average teacher in Chicago. They have few protections on the job and teachers have reported being fired for breathing a hint of criticism at UNO’s CEO Juan Rangel.


Study: 1 in 4 CPS kids obese, First Lady in town to address problem Sun Times: One in four Chicago Public Schools students is obese and Chicago children are still more likely to be obese than children nationwide, a local study shows. But the data also shows that the percentage of kindergartners who are obese has steadily declined since 2003 and the percentage of obese ninth-graders is less than that of sixth-graders.

Pittsburgh Public Schools board approves staffing changes Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Last month, it approved the departure of Paulette Poncelet, chief of research, assessment and accountability, who went to Chicago Public Schools.


MacArthur Foundation awards $750,000 to 2 Chicago groups Sun Times: Two Chicago nonprofits were recognized for excellence Wednesday and awarded $750,000 by the MacArthur Foundation. The Northwestern University School of Law Children and Family Justice Center, which protects the rights and well-being of young people in the juvenile justice system, and the Southwest Organizing Project, which helps overcome foreclosures and quell community violence, were both recognized with the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

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  • After 20 Years Boston Weighs Call For Partially Elected School Board WBUR via @annenberginst

  • I thought that the theory behind charters was that parents had a choice whether to send students there, and if they were lousy they would go out of business just like any other lousy business (such as Hostess or Montgomery Ward). Thus, either something else is going on, like parents don't care that the charter school is no better than the public one, but theoretically, it should not be up to the board or administration of the monopoly public school district to decide whether the charters deserve to continue, just like it shouldn't be up to some mayor to decide whether I can have a Twinkie.

  • In reply to jack:

    Ah, so charter schools are private entities. That makes perfect sense. I had them confused with public entities. I wonder how that happened.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    The last I heard, the University of Chicago, UNO, Betty Shabazz, or any other operator of a charter school. neither was on the ballot nor appointed by His Highness, Rahm Emanuel, or His Most Competency, Pat Quinn, unlike, say, the CPS and CTA boards.

    I suppose that in your world, Coach USA is a public entity because Pace contracts with it to run one route.

    Now, if you want to talk about the merits of the contracts CPS has with these private entities, that may be another issue, but first you would have to post a link to a primary source with the text of the contracts.

  • I find it interesting that these 6 charters are never listed along with the charter networks (Noble, Urban Prep, Uno) in the stories of flagrant abuse of expulsion and exit policies. Could it be that these charters have lower scores because they actually KEEP their challenging kids, those with lower performance scores and sped students instead of kicking them back out to neighborhood schools?

  • In reply to eyeoncps:

    Are you suggesting that perhaps there exists perhaps more than one, truly noble, urban charter school?

  • …"it is impossible for charter schools to meet a moving target of accountability, or effectively participate in a constantly shifting process. Four CPS administrations in five years have continuously moved the goal posts. We urge the Board of Education to stand by the contracts that charter operators signed and are executing to serve CPS families."
    Pot calling the kettle black--welcome to CPS, what is gods name do you think CPS and their CEOs have been doing tot eh neighborhood schools in general and on behalf of the charters? Welcome to our downtrodden club.

  • Any implications for CPS?

  • Interesting no comment about propsed SpEd class size change. If I understand it correctly, they want to remove cap on the number of students in a self contained classroom (currently 8 students, or 13 if TA is present). They also want to remove the "limit" of SpEd students who can be in a general ed setting (currently it shouldn't go over 30 percent). Without these protections from ISBE, the city could (and most definitely will) "include" more SpEd students in gen ed AND increase SpEd class size. That would severely impact all instruction. Imagine what that would look like you your building. I know what it would look like in mine. A hot mess...

  • In reply to effaridi:

    The elimination of class size rules also includes getting rid of the 70/30 rule that limits the number of students with disabilities in general Ed classrooms.

    Teachers need to contact the members of the Illinois General Assembly on the joint committe on administrative rules that will have to approve these changes.

    Rod Estvan

  • A special education student with the cognitive ability of a second grader was raped at Gage Park High School. This is the second high school special education student in recent years to be raped in school. The first student was supposed to have a one on one aide but the aide position was never opened. Mom sued CPS. I hope she won.

    I find it very interesting that the second child is labeled learning disabled even though she is fifteen and has the cognitive ability of a second grader. CPS often mislabels students and dumps them all into the LD group. It is almost impossible to justify at an IEP meeting, the need for a one to one aide for safety of the child when the child is LD. It does sound as if this child should have been monitored to ensure her personal safety.

    In CPS, we have these unaddressed student safety issues especially with those who are cognitively, physically, or emotionally disabled and now ISBE wants to increase the class size in special education rooms which will only have a negative impact on student safety.


  • comment on proposed rule change at

    "By: Timothy Meegan
    "SPED rule changes and CPRE

    "The rule change is because a "Portfolio District" will subcontract out SPED services to a for-profit provider and in order to maintain fat profit margins the provider must be able to provide services inexpensively. The Broad document is the script for mass closures, but mass closures need to happen in order to make room for the "Portfolio District" model.

    “Under the portfolio strategy, government (whether in the form of a local school board or some other authority like the mayor) would be a performance manager, allowing schools to operate as long as they were the most effective available, constantly looking for better providers, and closing the least productive schools. Schools would operate under performance contracts and pay for services from independent providers, networks, or school transformation organizations. Schools would decide whom to hire, how to allocate their budgets, and what services to buy. All parents would choose schools, and schools would be funded based on enrollment.” From "Portfolio Strategies, Relinquishment, The Urban School Districts for the Future, and Smart Districts"

  • These two comments followed (at
    --- to quote:
    By: Timothy Meegan
    CPRE lists IDEA and Title 1 as "Barriers to Innovation"

    “Binding instructional choices to a specific level of spending is anathema to innovation, and it curbs the immense promise for technology-driven productivity gains in schools,” write the authors.

    March 2, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    By: Rod Estvan
    Re: Meegan comment

    It is unlikely that any private special education school CPS currently contracts with be able to under cut the cost of CPS providing special Ed services if there are no limits on the number of disabled students serviced in any one class are lifted. Right now CPS is paying between $30,000 and $35,000 a year per disabled student for private day programs.

    The elimination of the class size limits is being proposed at this time to prepare for federal special education funding cuts that are part of the budget deal gone wrong. Cuts to special Ed funding to the states will be $1 billion. Once the Feds reduce funding to Illinois the rules of IDEA change, the state and local districts can reduce funding by an amount equal to that cut by the Feds without penalties being imposed by the Dpt. of Ed.

    If the class size rules remain in place school districts will not be able to make the deep cuts needed to off set the federal cuts. Hundreds and hundreds of special Ed teachers will be laid off if we do not stop this rule change.

    Rod Estvan
    --- End quote.

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