Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.
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Six Things To Note About The CPS Clout Investigation
There's lots of news about the clout investigations surrounding CPS and
it's easy to get lost, but here are some key things to note about where
things stand right now:
1. Arne Duncan is probably off the hook
in terms of the Federal investigation, because the subpoena only asks
for information going back to January 2008. (Unless they slam him for
expanding principal discretion in February 2008 or for things that
happened that first year.)
2. Everyone else might be in deep
doo-doo, however, since the Assistant US Attorney whose name is on the
subpoena, Brandon Fox, appears to be on the criminal side of the USA's
office, not the civil side. That means they're looking for bribery,
corruption, fraud types of things, not violations of civil rights or
disparate impact types of issues.
3. The federal probe (PDF here)
focuses narrowly on the nine selective high schools, which only
officially got the right to discretion in February 2008. But the
internal investigation is broader, encompassing all 52 magnet and
selective schools, K through 12. (Why, a day after receiving the
subpoena, did Huberman order an investigation that was broader than the
US Attorney's request? We don't know.)
4. The Tribune keeps describing principal discretion as only being allowed under "extenuating circumstances" (here)
even though the 2008 language allows such a broad range of exceptions
that it seems like pretty much any kid who's followed the application
process (and scored above the minimum) could qualify. The looophole
seems like it's written pretty broadly to me.
5. Nobody seems
to have noticed or cared that the current SE discretion language lacks
the school integration language that's long been part of the discretion
provision (requiring picks to "enhance or maintain" deseg goals). The
2002 language, and the revised language from February 2008, makes
reference to deseg goals. It's even in the Feb 2008 Policy Manual. Is
this simply a case of the Board trying to avoid affirmative action
problems, or is it a case of the Board getting rid of a requirement
that it knew it wasn't meeting?
6. Five percent of what?
Five percent of spots offered? Five percent of actual enrollment? No
one seems to have the same interpretation for this. But it makes a big
difference. Offer admission to 95 regular kids, and 5 principal's
picks, and it looks like you're OK. But if only half of the regular
kids accept, and all of the picks say yes, then -- Shazam! -- the
discretionary picks make up 10 percent of your actual students.