Mayor Rahm Emanuel and CEO Jean-Claude Brizard's first year running CPS.
Created by CatalystChicago on May 2, 2012
Last updated: 08/06/12 at 04:11 PM
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CPS and CTU announced a partial agreement in ongoing teacher contract negotiations on Tuesday, with the union accepting the lengthening of the school day and the district saying it will hire 477 teachers, giving preference to teachers displaced over the past two years.
Both the school board and the Chicago Teachers Union voted to reject a settlement recommended by an independent fact-finder, starting a 30-day countdown to a potential strike.
At a press briefing, CTU President Karen Lewis says the fact-finding panel has proposed a 12.6 percent raise for teachers due to the longer school day, plus a 2.25-percent cost of living increase and step and lane increases.
Cries of “Why?” and “For the 1 percent!” greeted Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley as he outlined plans to expand the system’s investment in charters, which receive public dollars but are allowed many of the freedoms of private schools.
CPS released its budget, which showed a 2 percent raise for all staff as well as a draining of the financial reserves to make up its deficit. The proposed budget covers a projected deficit of $665 million by draining the district’s $431.8 million reserves and making $144 million in cuts. “We cannot sit on hundreds of millions of dollars and inflict pain on our schools,” said Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley.
As radio ads critical of the Chicago Teachers Union play on Chicago stations, leaders of the group that paid for the ads assert that they’re not anti-union. The group, Democrats for Education Reform, is allied with and shares leadership with Education Reform Now, a non-partisan group, and Education Reform Now Advocacy, the arm that actually paid for the ads. The groups are allied with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and support his education agenda. Emanuel has said he didn’t know about the ads before they began running.
CPS announces that for the second year in a row, it will raise property taxes to the maximum in order to fill a budget deficit, projected to be between $600 and $700 million. Homeowners with houses valued at $250,000 will pay $28 more a year, according to CPS. The move will bring in about $41 million. Board President David Vitale says money will help the district keep class sizes stable, implement a longer school day and invest in preschool. The vote to raise taxes is held even though the item was not part of the board’s published agenda.
Agencies that run community schools programs in 150 schools—keeping the schools open into the evening with activities and services for children and adults—are told by CPS that they will not get money for the coming year. The Federation for Community Schools gears up to hold a meeting with members to decide how to tackle the issue with the district. A spokeswoman says the budget is not final. A week later, the administration reverses course and says the agencies will keep their funding.
Teens from seven cities, including Chicago, file civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education charging that school closings disproportionately affect students of color. The groups filing the complaints were brought together by the Alliance for Educational Justice, a new national organization focused on organizing parents and students. The Alliance for Educational Justice is funded by progressive foundations, including the Ford Foundation and the Open Society Institute.
CPS wins a $25 million federal School Improvement Grant to transform four high schools and turn around one. Clemente, Bowen, Bogan and Al Raby will undergo transformation. Chicago Vocational will undergo a turnaround. Later, the district announces that Clemente will become an International Baccalaureate school.
CPS says it has limited information to give parents about contract negotiations with teachers, and decides to postpone an upcoming meeting with parents until after a fact-finding panel recommends a settlement in mid-July.
Chicago Teachers Union officials announced that 90 percent of the union’s entire membership – well over the 75 percent required by law – voted in favor of authorizing a potential strike.
Union President Karen Lewis called the results, in which 98 percent of voting teachers supported a strike authorization, "an indictment" of the relationship between CTU and management.
But CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said the union set up the strike authorization vote as either teachers had to vote yes or nothing. “My frustration is that they were asked to vote with inaccurate information,” he said.
A union for charter school teachers puts the brakes on an unfair labor practice charge against Youth Connection Charter School. The charge was filed after teachers at two campuses got letters saying their jobs were in jeopardy and the schools might close because of a CPS crackdown on charter performance. The letters came two days after teachers told the charter they wanted to form a union. The charter board decides not to close the campuses until it can negotiate with CPS over performance requirements.
In a victory for CPS, a judge dismisses for the second time a lawsuit filed by parents who sought to stop school closings and turnarounds. The suit claimed that CPS did not provide adequate support to schools slated for closure and turnaround while they were on probation, resulting in a disproportionate impact on African-American students. The judge said the court did not have the power to second-guess the board or stop the actions.
Parents, children, and members of the group Pilsen Neighbors hold a press conference at Pilsen’s Plaza Tenochtitlan to demand a neighborhood meeting with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn about proposed child-care cuts. A budget passed by the Illinois Senate would cut child care subsidies for lower-income parents by $1.6 million.
Board of Education members granted the wishes of two organized community groups regarding two newly-built schools. South Shore International College Prep will become a selective school, starting in September. Meanwhile, the new elementary school at 48th and Rockwell will be reserved for students in the neighborhood. Students who currently live in the South Shore High School attendance area will now be sent to Chicago Vocational Career Academy, a school that is slated to become a turnaround later this year. In other business, the board voted to close achievement academies, programs for over-aged 8th graders who are not ready for high school.
Thousands of Chicago Teachers Union members hold a boisterous rally at the Auditorium Theatre, with many teachers showing support for a possible strike in the fall. Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, is among those who speak to the crowd. The rally was followed by a 6,500-strong march to CPS headquarters that joined with a protest at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Speakers from 19th Ward Parents and Raise Your Hand also appeared at the rally.
Parents and members of the Logan Square community hold a rally and announce the formation of the Logan Square School Facilities Council. Their goal is to make sure no closed-door decisions are made at the Board of Education about the future of Ames Middle School. Three elementary schools currently feed into Ames (Mozart, McAuliffe and Nixon). LSNA says this decision was made behind closed doors, without local principals or the network chief being made aware of the decision until it was a done deal.
CPS plans to add 60 more charter schools over five years, part of a larger proposal for 100 new schools during that time. The plan is in an application seeking $20 million for charter schools from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
In the ongoing battle between the Chicago Teachers Union and CPS over a new contract, CTU announced Friday that the first large-scale poll of its members found that more than 90 percent think the current proposal will "lower the quality of education in the city."
A new report from Public Agenda, a public opinion research firm, gives insight into the opinions of Chicago parents, public school teachers and policy-makers on education reform. Among findings of the report "Community Response to School Reform in Chicago” are a widespread distrust of the district among community members and parents, as well as differing opinions on school quality. The report was done for The Joyce Foundation.
In Springfield, a House committee votes 10-1 to advance a bill that would raise the minimum per-pupil funding for charter schools from 75% to 95% of a district’s per capita tuition—the amount that a school district would charge a student from outside the district. The vote on HB4277 came despite a furious campaign against the bill by the Chicago Teachers Union and others who fear the bill will divert millions of dollars away from neighborhood public schools. The bill isn’t a done deal. But in any case, Chicago is already working toward giving charters more money through its district-charter compact, which calls for equal funding for charters and district-run schools.
As required under a recent state law, CPS releases a capital plan that calls for $110 million in spending for fiscal year 2013. Of that, $39.9 million would come from Mayor Emanuel’s controversial new Chicago Infrastructure Trust, his vehicle for funding public works projects with private money. The trust has sparked opposition from some aldermen because of questions regarding public oversight. Meanwhile, CPS says it faces a deficit of $700 million next year. The district unveils a new with links to summaries of the one-year and five-year plans, as well as an interactive map and a dataset that includes detail by school, ward and area network, although not by fiscal year.
Less than a year after Mayor Rahm Emanuel hand-picked Noemi Donoso as the chief education officer, she resigns effective May 31. Donoso is the fourth member of Emanuel’s team to leave before the first year of his administration is up: Chief Financial Officer Diana Ferguson, Chief Community and Family Engagement Officer Jamiko Rose and CEO Chief of Staff Andrea Saenz also left. Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a veteran educator who ran Cleveland schools for seven years, is quickly picked to be an interim replacement.
CPS will coordinate bell times in the fall to make the transition to a longer day easier. Elementary schools will be assigned a start time between 7:45 a.m.-8:45 a.m. and an end time between 2:45 p.m.-3:45p.m. High schools will start between 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. and an end time between 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.
CPS says that principals will have more power over their budgets and more money to use at their discretion: $130 million. The catch: School budgets, expected to be released over the next few days, may include less money for other expenses. And more than half of the $130 million will come from still-undetermined cuts in district operations. The rest will come from shifting money from centrally-run programs.
VOYCE holds a City Hall press conference to urge CPS to stop having students arrested for misdemeanor offenses, claiming that 25 students, on average, are arrested every day. But CPS and the Chicago Police Department say the analysis is inaccurate because it is based on data for all juvenile arrests on any CPS-owned property, including arrests during non-school hours. Voices of Youth in Chicago Education says police made 2,546 school-based arrests between September 2011 and February 2012, including arrests of three 9-year-olds, eight 10-year-olds, and 17 children who were age 11. 75 percent of all arrestees were black and 21 percent Latino. The group wants a public database of school-based arrests and other disciplinary actions.
More than 6,500 candidates finally sign up to run for two-year terms on local school councils. The elections are held April 18 in elementary schools and April 19 in high schools. When some seats still are vacant after the election, CPS says it will hold “supplemental elections.”
Several hundred people, including parents and elected officials, pack a room at Roosevelt University for the launch of Stand For Children's Chicago chapter. Outside, members of the Chicago Teachers Union critical of Stand for Children’s wealthy funders picketed and chanted “Billionaires, billionaires, we're no fools, Stand For Children destroys our schools.”
CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and Budget Director Ginger Ostro detail the district’s budget woes to lawmakers at a hearing on the Illinois State Board of Education budget. This year, the legislative committee is for the first time examining CPS state funding and considering whether to scrap the block grants that guarantee CPS a set percentage of money. One lawmaker says “there’s been a lot of concern from members” that CPS funding may need to be adjusted as enrollment in CPS has declined. In recent years, other large districts in the state have advocated that they, too, be allowed a set percentage of state block grant funding.
Under pressure from parents who oppose a 7-hour, 30-minute school day, Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he’ll only increase the day to 7 hours in elementary school. High school students will have the 7.5-hour day four days a week, but will be dismissed 75 minutes early once a week. Opposition to the longer day plan brought together wealthier, mostly white parents and the grassroots members of community organizations in lower-income, minority neighborhoods. They release a white paper accusing the district of “spin” in citing research in favor of a longer day and saying that the research actually shows more learning time has not been proven to be a dramatic factor in higher achievement.
Chicago teachers spend 10-plus hours per day at school and put in roughly another two hours at home, says Robert Bruno, a professor of labor and employment relations at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Bruno is co-author of a paper revealing the results of a survey of 983 CPS teachers on their standard work-day and time devoted to their job. The findings show teachers already put in far more than the standard 5-hour, 45-minute school day.
The CTU announces that teachers at 150 schools have voted overwhelmingly in mock ballots to support a strike should ongoing contract negotiations fail. CEO Jean-Claude Brizard rebukes the union for bringing up the possibility of a strike while contract talks are still underway.
CPS unveils a teacher evaluation system that factors in test scores as well as classroom observations based on the Charlotte Danielson Framework for Teaching. It’s dubbed REACH, for Recognizing Educators and Advancing Chicago’s Students. In the fall, it will be used for probationary teachers and some tenured teachers. In 2013, it will be used for all teachers. The CTU criticizes the inclusion of value-added test scores—although state law mandates it—but nevertheless says the new process is an improvement.
In Springfield, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and top staffers get grilled, sometimes harshly, for more than two hours by legislators about school closings and turnarounds. These lawmakers, members of the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee, say afterward that a “summit” of a state task force on Chicago school facilities needs to take place soon. No date for the hearing is set, though.
Chicago charter schools will face tighter accountability under new policies passed by the Board of Ed. Contract renewal periods can be cut from the current five years to four years or fewer, depending on performance. CPS can also put performance targets into contracts and take quicker action if even one campus of a charter network is low-performing. Two charters get shorter contracts: ACE Tech is renewed for one year and Youth Connection, an umbrella charter for alternative schools, is renewed for three.
Two Chicago youth groups pack CPS headquarters to ask the district to incorporate student surveys into teacher evaluation. “We are the ones in the classroom, and we are the ones impacted by the quality of the teachers,” says one. VOYCE joined with students from the Mikva Challenge to make the request. District officials say they “fully support” the idea. The teachers union does too, after a pilot study. The students don’t want test scores used, though.
A diverse group of 88 university professors from 15 local universities raise a red flag about the use of student test scores as part of teacher evaluations, a requirement imposed by a new state law. The group sends a letter to the mayor, CEO Brizard and the Board of Education. Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education came together a year ago to try to interject education research into CPS reform efforts.
A day after the Consortium on Chicago School Research releases a study showing that CPS students from International Baccalaureate programs do better in college than their peers, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces that 10 new IB programs will launch in 2013. 75 percent of IB students are black or Latino and most are low-income. Although IB programs are rigorous and recognized internationally, in CPS they have mostly flown under the radar, as they are found in neighborhood high schools that middle-class parents avoid. Emanuel also announces a public information campaign to inform parents and the community about the benefits of IB.
A busload of parents and alumni of Noble Street Charter Network travel to Springfield with Noble’s co-founder and leader, Michael Milkie, for hearings on a bill that would outlaw fines the charter imposes for discipline infractions. The lawmakers praise Milkie for Noble Street’s accomplishments, but the majority of them nevertheless vote for the bill—which seems unlikely to become law. It must pass both the House and Senate.
The 2012-2013 school year calendar is released and includes 10 more attendance days. Columbus Day and Casimir Pulaski holidays are gone and students will attend school on report card pickup days. The teachers union says the new calendar will cause “burnout” and doesn’t include enough time for professional development.
With only 2,060 candidates for more than 6,800 seats, CPS extends the deadline to register to run in next month’s local school council elections. The new deadline is March 23.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledges that black students face harsher discipline than white students in schools nationwide — and especially in Chicago. Catalyst Chicago has been reporting on the issue since 2009.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announces that CPS will offer $25,000 ‘signing bonuses’ to up to 50 out-of-town principals who agree to work in low-achieving schools. The bonuses will be privately funded. By the end of the month—the deadline to take advantage of an expiring pension enhancement program—92 principals and 50 assistant principals had decided to retire, according to the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. The district is planning to again overhaul the principal eligibility process.
Over the years, CPS has made several efforts to revamp career training for graduates who don’t head off to 4-year colleges. Now another effort is in the works: a partnership with tech companies and City Colleges to open 6-year high schools that will allow students to graduate with an associate’s degree. The schools are Lake View, Corliss, Michele Clark, Chicago Vocational and the new Southwest Side high school. IBM, Cisco, Microsoft, Motorola and Verizon will develop curricula, provide summer internships and give students who complete programs first chance at jobs.
At a contentious 7-hour Board of Education meeting, members vote to move ahead with controversial school actions: 10 turnarounds, the most ever in one year; closings or phase-outs of four schools; and the final year of phase-out for three more schools. In the days following the vote, Mayor Emanuel dismisses protests against the actions as “noise associated with change” and CEO Brizard defends the decision at a visit to one of the city’s largest black churches.
Critics of Noble Street Charter Schools, including the groups Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and Parents United for Responsible Education, release an analysis showing that Noble Street collected nearly $387,000 in student fines for discipline infractions since 2008. The critics say Noble Street pushes out students who can’t afford the fines, which are not allowed in traditional public schools. Noble Street denies the accusations and says it works with families when students rack up large fines.
A long-awaited study that CPS touted as clear proof of school turnaround success is released and shows only modest gains. The research found that student achievement improved at the schools studied, but doesn’t say which type of intervention or turnaround worked best. The report by the Chicago Consortium on School Research confirms that schools run by the non-profit Academy for Urban School Leadership did better than similar schools.
Anger over CPS closings and turnarounds comes to a boil in Springfield, with legislators filing bills to impose a moratorium on school actions, to force CPS officials to testify about their budget each year and to require the CEO to have a master’s degree in education and a valid teaching certificate—a direct hit at former CEOs who had no background in education.
At a Chicago Principals and Administrators Association conference, the chief of the district’s Office of Leadership Development says CPS will revamp, again, its principal eligibility process. The details are still unknown. But the revamped process is supposed to be based on skills that are part of new, state-mandated principal evaluations.