Current Issue

Teacher turnover

CPS has never had a strong, districtwide program of teacher induction and mentoring to stem an attrition rate that is higher than the national average. Instead, efforts to retain teachers depend on smaller-scale programs and individual principals who make it a goal to empower—and keep—their teachers.

Cover Stories

August 16, 2005
By: Ed Finkel

Ten years ago, a new contract between the Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union called for a joint committee to look for ways to improve teacher evaluation and to investigate such innovations as peer review and a student achievement component.

A committee was duly formed in October 1994 but went nowhere amid changes in union leadershi and control of the school system. Five years later, the committee was taken out of the contract.

August 16, 2005

Sojourner Truth Elementary School in Cabrini-Green is on its seventh principal in three years. The local school council blames central office for the turnover. Teachers blame them both. "We've been left out to dry," says one. "That's the general consensus." Without skilled leadership at the school, tensions between factions escalated, slowing school progress.

In the view of Charles Payne, a Duke University professor who has studied Chicago schools, urban schools are cauldrons that need expert tending.

August 16, 2005

Soon after the School Board adopted promotion standards in 1996, it faced a dilemma. With thousands of children now forced to repeat a grade, many were reaching the age of 15 without an 8th-grade diploma. That would leave them too old for elementary school but unprepared for high school.

August 16, 2005

Beethoven Elementary is a well-run school that is unusually resourceful in attracting extra supports.

Even so, some of its students fail to make it through the School Board's promotion gate.

Repeating a grade gives some kids enough time to catch up while others continue to struggle. In the following examples, the children's names have been changed to protect their privacy.

"Joseph," age 10, had behavior problems

August 16, 2005

Fewer than half of the teachers hired in Chicago Public Schools through the national program Teach for America stay on the job for three years, the commitment required of teachers in other alternative certification programs.

Data from Teach for America show that 43 percent of its teachers who started in CPS in 2001 stayed on the job in 2004. Of those who started in 2000, 39 percent stayed for a third year.

August 15, 2005

This fall, a shrinking districtwide budget put the squeeze yet again on tiny Wing Luke Elementary, a low-income school in a racially diverse neighborhood. But a flexible budgeting system that Seattle Public Schools adopted seven years ago made it possible for Principal Ellen Punyon to hire an extra classroom teacher and keep her after-school program intact.

August 15, 2005

Tatyana Hopkins sits in the front row of her 5th-grade classroom at Henson Elementary in North Lawndale. But she still squints to read words on the chalkboard and sometimes asks a classmate to read them for her.

Last October, her doctor told her she needed glasses. Tatyana's mother, Latonya Pearson, intended to take the 11-year-old to the optometrist. But she works nights six days a week sorting mail for the postal service, and is exhausted by Saturday. "I just haven't had time to take her," she said in early January.

August 15, 2005

A Catalyst analysis finds that after $680 million in capital spending over the last decade, school overcrowding is still widespread. The district says it needs more money. Critics say the district also needs a better capital plan.

At Canty Elementary on the far Northwest Side, some teachers are doubled up two to a classroom, students eat lunch at their desks since the cafeteria was converted to classroom space, and primary-grade classes exceed union class-size caps.

August 10, 2005
By: Catalyst

"Los niños no votan. Ese es el gran problema con los asuntos infantiles. Así que nosotros, los adultos, tenemos que hablar en voz alta y claramente para crear la voluntad pública, la cual crea una voluntad política."

Adele Simmons vice-presidenta y ejecutiva de Chicago Metropolis 2020

El asunto

Estudios sobre el cerebro indican que las oportunidades más favorables de aprendizaje para los niños comienzan antes de que lleguen a el jardín de niños (kindergarten).

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