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Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

At the two new turnaround high schools, the message of the first day of
school was that this was a new day—one in which being out of uniform or
bringing a cell phone will result in an immediate consequence. At the two new turnaround high schools, the message of the first day of school was that this was a new day—one in which being out of uniform or bringing a cell phone will result in an immediate consequence.

“We have zero tolerance,” said Terrance Little, the Phillips High School principal.

CPS starts the school year with no Chief Education Officer in place and hence few defined education initiative. But turnarounds, which entail firing all staff and hiring back only those deemed effective, continue to take place. Turnarounds were started by then-CPS CEO Arne Duncan and are being promoted by him as a national strategy for improving struggling schools.

Some 15 schools are in the process of being turned around. But by far, the high schools are the hardest places to make a change. The two undergoing turnaround this year, Phillips on the South Side and Marshall on the West Side, have struggled for decades and each have fewer than 5 percent of their students meeting or exceeding standards.

To prepare for the turnaround, the physical buildings were upgraded over the summer, giving them a glow for the first day of school.

Principal Kenyatta Butler-Stansberry said she arrived at Marshall High School at 5 a.m. and when the first bell rang at 8 a.m. she was by the door greeting students. She spent the day meeting with parents and students identified as having behavior, grade or attendance problems.

She told each of them: “This is your school, but it is my house. You are starting with a clean slate, but the minute you mess up, there will be consequences. Every Friday you are to check in with me and if you have a problem you tell me.”

With the glare of their mother or guardian upon them, they all agreed.

Butler-Stansberry also took it upon herself to decide who she would let transfer into the school. Though Marshall has attendance boundaries, like many neighborhood high schools, there is a flow of students transferring in and out of the school.

Several young men and women from Manley and Farragut showed up. Some of said they had enemies at their old schools, others just pleaded for a fresh start. She gave most students a chance as long as their transcripts did not reveal serious problems.

But one young man who had straight Fs last year at Manley was told he couldn’t enroll at Marshall. “Sorry,” Butler-Stansberry told his mother.

At Phillips High School, the principal and the assistant principal also had an auditorium full of students they had to sort through. Some wanted to transfer in and others wanted to transfer out.

Assistant principal Devon Horton said he also was looking over transcripts. If someone was older and needed too many credits to graduate, he was suggesting they go somewhere else.

CPS contracted with the Academy of Urban School Leadership to manage the turnaround. AUSL, which runs a teacher residency program, only hired back two junior ROTC instructors, the lunch room workers and a few security guards.

Little said he came from Morton School of Excellence, an elementary school run by AUSL. He boasted that he was able to raise test scores by 16 points at AUSL. His trick: communicating to students that they had to follow the rules.

Little said he is confident that the high school students will respond in the same way.

Toward the end of the day, Little spent some time giving the founder of AUSL, Martin Koldyke and the executive director Donald Feinstein a tour. At the end, Feinstein remarked that he could already feel the energy and the difference. “It is a new day,” he said.

26 comments

Telia Bates wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

I was at Philips yesterday and saw for the first time in years my son happy about being in school. The principal greeted him, said good morning and pointed him in the right direction. there was no fighting. Mr. Little was firm, but not abrasive to the students that were not prepared to follow the rules.You should not be allowed to be 18 and have 4 credits. We are lost as a people because some of you have such low expectations for our students. I say put them out and let the children who want to learn do so. thank you AUSL for giving my son a chance.

AUSL puts poor student out wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

'Devon Horton said he also was looking over transcripts. If someone was older and needed too many credits to graduate, he was suggesting they go somewhere else.'
That's how AUSL will get the scores up. Where are these students going to go? If Philips is their neighborhood school, Phillips MUST keep them, not put them out. AUSL is allowed to follow their own rules.

Child put out of an AUSL school? wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Report this abuse to Pat Rocks in the CPS Law Department, 773-553-1700

Oh really!!!!! wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Ask Mr. Little how he treated the students........his colors will be revealed. He raised test scores at Morton? When and where the gent doesn't know squat about curriculum; challenge him on it. God bless those students and parents because their enrollment will dwindle and be selective (the AUSL model). Morton only has 278 students......... ask him if the school met AYP yet? Why not?

Oh really!!!!! wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Ask Mr. Little how he treated the students........his colors will be revealed. He raised test scores at Morton? When and where the gent doesn't know squat about curriculum; challenge him on it. God bless those students and parents because their enrollment will dwindle and be selective (the AUSL model). Morton only has 278 students......... ask him if the school met AYP yet? Why not?

confused wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

So if were lost are we just supposed to give up on those 18 yr old students? Then what wait until they commit a crime to deal with them! No one should be denied a public education. Low expectations began in the community and at home!

not denied wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

An 18 year old with all F's isn't being denied an education, he already gave up his education.

xian wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

If you disappear students, you fail.

A student with a year of all Fs is by no means unsalvageable. There are plenty of us who have taken "second chance" divisions and graduated the majority of them. I had very high expectations for my students. Expected them to fail and disappearing them is the definition of low expectations.

The key issue is that test scores are meaningless if you dismiss the students who won't help your test scores. It means if your test scores rise slightly, all the cheerleading and threatening kids for bad behavior aside, you are underperforming a regular neighborhood school. Just think, if Mr. AUSL had 30 kids in my class and kicked out the bottom 10, he could sleep at his desk for half the year and see a bump in average achievement.

However, the well-being of the city would not improve. In fact, he would pocket his generous grants and extra resources and be doing massive damage to the community at large.

Correct Statement wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

The statement about student transcipts was quoted incorrectly. The statement was " Students who are 17 or 18 and only have 4 or 5 credits, are referred to Alternative programs that can help them to get their high school dipoma." No student was just turned away and denied their education. We even have students who had dropped out of Phillips come in to see our couselors for some guidance to complete their high school education!!!

What a shame! wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

And what happen to the students who needed "guidance" was time taking to really assist them? Phillips was the first high school for African-Americans in Chicago and now there turning into a selective school? Phillips wont be able to even retain staff after this year.........bet on it! They will be asked to do things unethical (bogus suspensions, falsify documents, etc). It's all part of the AUSL loophole. Why doesn't Phillips administer a Alternative program with AUSL assistance. AUSL doesn't care about communities; they care about name recognition. Oh by the way..... Morton is the lowest performing AUSL out of the bunch.(and has been since it "turned around"; all the other schools show significant progress. Ask Mr. Little why they are on their 3rd administration in 3 years? Mr. Little has a track record that dates back to Orr H.S. and followed him to Morton and now to Phillips! Why does Mr. Little have an extensive record of "alleged abuse" with DCFS? AUSL and the law department can cover for him for only so long. If he doesn't make strides in 2 years (even though he has never been a principal for an entire year) he should be removed.

anita wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

I remember students at Orr H.S. getting news recognition about mistreatment by security guards about 2 years ago. Was he at Orr H.S. then? I know since then CPS has started a pilot program at Orr and other schools which trains security.

morton parent wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

I am a parent of a Morton student. Many parents were concerned due to reports leaking out of the school of Mr. Little "manhandling" students. Mr. Little even put his hands on a student and when the student "muscled up" to protect himself Mr. Little had him arrested. I even heard reports of Mr. Little making 1st graders walk on their hands and knees as punitive punishment! His reasoning.......he did not want the student in detention at that age!?!?! Morton and AUSL don't want real community involvement; they were forced to have an LSC after they refused it the first year. As a parent I am glad Mr. Little is gone his bullying tactics were cruel and his relationships with parents were very disrespectful! I attempted to transfer my nephew into Morton and he had to do testing! After testing they gave us a b.s. reason why he could not enroll (guess he didn't meet there standard)! As long as AUSL have weak inexperienced teachers they will always attempt to send children to detention (where they are not learning) or suspend them. My sister has a daughter at Howe (another AUSL school) and they don't have these problems.

morton parent wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

I am a parent of a Morton student. Many parents were concerned due to reports leaking out of the school of Mr. Little "manhandling" students. Mr. Little even put his hands on a student and when the student "muscled up" to protect himself Mr. Little had him arrested. I even heard reports of Mr. Little making 1st graders walk on their hands and knees as punitive punishment! His reasoning.......he did not want the student in detention at that age!?!?! Morton and AUSL don't want real community involvement; they were forced to have an LSC after they refused it the first year. As a parent I am glad Mr. Little is gone his bullying tactics were cruel and his relationships with parents were very disrespectful! I attempted to transfer my nephew into Morton and he had to do testing! After testing they gave us a b.s. reason why he could not enroll (guess he didn't meet there standard)! As long as AUSL have weak inexperienced teachers they will always attempt to send children to detention (where they are not learning) or suspend them. My sister has a daughter at Howe (another AUSL school) and they don't have these problems.

Tay wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

If we continue to allow students to run the school........PEOPLE, stop waiting to see what will happen; let's MAKE IT HAPPEN; at the end of the day these are still our babies. If we TEACH our children to follow simple directions, we would not have to worry about SCARE TACTICS! I send my children to school to be educated and, teach them the importance of Education. If you are blogging before 8am, please come and volunteer......IT TAKES A VILLAGE!

Something Strange Here? wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

I read something that disturbed me.

"To prepare for the turnaround, the physical buildings were upgraded over the summer, giving them a glow for the first day of school".

So until they were "turned-around" - read given to Martin Koldyke - these buildings didn't deserve physical upgrades. As long as they were run by CPS instead of "managed" by AUSL, the students and their recently fired staff didn't deserve physical upgrades. Dos this reek of hypocrisy or am I missing something here????

I ti s VERY staraaaange wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

the same happens wth tehcharters, new electrical/plumbing at closed delacruz for UNO. All new airconditoners and interior upgrades in the old McKinly, now an UNO charter. Complete and utter hypocrisy!

Politics as usual wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

AUSL under the sponsorship of Bill Gates (Microsoft) have an agreement with CPS (view the documents). Gates "forked over" over 3 million dollars for turnaround schools (Howe,Morton,& Orr). CPS couldn't afford renovations so they contracted it out (education and infrastructure). They were given the new school out south as part of a payoff!

Fred wrote 4 years 5 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

In the end children will benefit.

Peg wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Admittedly, Mr. Little's playbook is a bit unorthodox, but when he was an admin at Bowen, his school ran like a top. He absolutely will not let kids and parents with "issues" run his school and waste students, teachers, and his time. If your kid has the barest sense of personal responsibility, he will not run afoul of Mr. Little. Teachers who have worked for him would follow him to the worst school because he makes it possible for them to be effective.

Janis wrote 4 years 5 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

For all the complaints and suspicion, I wonder what you have done for these schools? Did you run for the LSC and get involved? Did you serve on committees, volunteer your time, go down to the Board and demand a change? I would guess that the answer is no in many cases. Instead of complaining when AUSL actually does the hard work to improve the school, you should support it. These turnaround schools are, overall, far better places than before. They give kids a chance in a way that they haven't in the past. Stop being arm chair quarterbacks, get involved and help out!

Phillips Teacher wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Judge not, lest ye be judged...

I am a new Phillips teacher, and I am pretty appalled at the clusterf*ck of myth and misinformation included in the comments above. Rather than offering idle speculation or inane ranting, perhaps some of you should actually visit the school and see for yourself the classrooms of engaged students and passionate staff. Take a look at the teachers and administrators who are in the building from 6am to 8pm every day, buying supplies with their own money and attending every football game. Listen to the students talk about how they were afraid to come to school last year, and how now they can walk down the hallway in safety. Mr. Little may not be perfect, but he wakes up in the morning and goes to sleep at night thinking about our kids, and how we can do right by them. He's out there every day on the front lines, dealing with the unpalatable reality/tragedy that is our current educational situation. I'm sure it's easy to judge others from the anonymous comfort of your own computer, but before you go vomiting your opinions into cyberspace, take a moment to check your facts and analyze your own motives.

Urban Instructor wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Wow! Philips Teacher, you be drinking the Kool-Aid real good.

6am-8pm?????????? wrote 4 years 4 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Wow - If you don't work 14 hour days and attend every football game, you're bad teachers. If you have a family, forget about it, you're a bad teacher. If you don't work 14 hour days, your students will not pass the tests. You better thank your lucky stars you have a job. Well I'm just glad you Phillips teachers have the glorious Mr. Little, because he destroyed the morale at Orr. Just wait until you try to teach for 2 weeks straight without testing and other silliness. Thanks for taking him off our hands.

Dear Orr Teacher above... wrote 4 years 3 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Above, were you a resident? Do you know any residents who have gotten out of their contracts successfully? I'm curious as this picture isn't looking so pretty from the inside either.

The new principal of CVCA wrote 4 years 3 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

does he live in CHicago? What about the one at Marshall middle? Others?
Is anyone checking on this?

kelvin@yahoo.com wrote 4 years 6 weeks ago

Hard work starts at Chicago high school turnarounds

Mr. Little referenced a 16 pt increase for Morton testing........ that is not what the CPS report on schools says. Morton test scores actually went down AGAIN....... school still not meeting Academic Yearly Progress since AUSL tookover. The school received an F! What staggering improvements did he make IN THE LIVES OF THE STUDENTS! Paint and new equipment doesn't equal success. SORRY Mr. Infrastructure but you failed and then left to continue your AUSL propaganda. ENJOY the ride while it lasts!

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