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The race for City Hall

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.

In the News: AUSL's turnarounds questioned

While the Academy for Urban School Leadership has 'turned around' several failing Chicago Public Schools, some critics say improved test scores don't tell the whole story, the Tribune is reporting.

Test scores increased remarkably in AUSL's 12 "turnaround" schools in the first year or two under the group's management but then leveled out, with many ending up on par or even below comparable neighborhood schools.

The Chicago Teachers Union released a statement in response to a Better Government Association report about the Chicago Public School (CPS) employees’ use of unused sick days. “The BGA report on unused sick day pay offs unfairly characterizes teachers and paraprofessionals as abusing the system," the statement said.  "It is not an abuse. Teachers are given only 10 sick days per year.  They are not paid for maternity leave and therefore must either accumulate unused sick days or schedule their births during the summer.  Our members only become eligible for this benefit if they work 20 or more years or reach age 65; and, most of them do not get the huge payouts that the top Board officials have received."

As the Chicago Public Schools begin what are certain to be contentious contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union, Mayor Rahm Emanuel emerged as the star of a new online video criticizing the union and promoting charter schools, whose teachers mostly are not unionized. (Chicago News Cooperative)

IN THE STATE
Gov. Pat Quinn has named seven people to a state commission that will oversee a privately funded scholarship program designed to help undocumented immigrants pay for college. (Tribune)

Both students and school officials call the Springfield School District’s program to put boys and girls in separate classrooms a success, saying they’ve seen the benefits of fewer disciplinary problems and improved test scores. (State Journal Register)

IN THE NATION
The Chester Upland district’s fiscal woes – so severe that it cannot afford to pay teachers past the end of this month – are compounded by a charter school with which it shares its financing. (The New York Times)

Parents and educators are expressing strong concern about the central role of standardized testing in the assessment and overall education of their children and students. (Texas Tribune/New York Times)

The average scores of graduating teacher-candidates on state-required licensing exams are uniformly higher, often significantly, than the passing scores states set for such exams, according to an Education Week analysis of preliminary data from a half-dozen states. (Education Week)

Only 48 out of the 3,191 teachers evaluated under the Buffalo, N.Y., school district's existing system in 2010-11 were considered "inadequate" and in need of an improvement plan. (Buffalo News)

"To address the low achievement of black males, schools must be willing to accept that there are ways of looking at the world, modes of communication, and approaches to teaching and learning that are unique to black males," writes Christopher Emdin, assistant professor for science education at Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, N.Y. , in Phi Delta Kappan, a content partner of Education Week.

L.A. schools Supt. John Deasy has called for changes to laws that protect the rights of teachers accused of heinous acts, saying they should be subject to faster dismissal and the loss of pay, benefits and pensions. (Los Angeles Times)

4 comments

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

Tribune article on AUSL

In addition to the research Joel Hood and Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah did for their Tribune article on AUSL’s schools I would have liked to see some information on the total enrollment at these schools prior to their takeover and three years after. I would have liked to see some information on whether the number of particularly difficult students such as those with emotional behavior disorders declined after takeover. The article did state: “While CPS has recommended closing many neighborhood schools in recent years because of poor performance or underutilization, two-thirds of AUSL's schools remain open at less than 70 percent capacity.” But this does not address the issue of whether or not an AUSL takeover actually accelerated the decline in these schools enrollments or has stabilized the enrollments.

I have often read comments relating to AUSL making it more difficult for problem children to stay in their schools, but I have never seen any data examining that issue. Overall the article was far more balanced than prior assessments of AUSL. I thought the quotes the reporters got out of CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley were most revealing and at points he appeared almost to still be working for AUSL. For a fiscal officer I saw remarkably little in his discussion that could be called a cost benefit analysis related to the schools AUSL is currently running.

Rod Estvan

LOL wrote 2 years 41 weeks ago

Wanna Buy a Bridge?

Tucked into the usual blather about Chicago Public Schools that passes for answers from CPS officials was Cawley's self-righteous declaration: "But political contributions had nothing to do with the way decisions were made. Nothing." Seriously? Did he forget that he was speaking in Chicago to Chicago citizens? The monumental disdain that CPS and City Hall has for Chicago teachers and parents never fails to amaze.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 39 weeks ago

Jitu Brown

Excerpt from NewsTips by Curtis Black

Tilden High, now slated for a” turnaround” by CPS, has been on probation for eight years. During that time there have been “drastic budget cuts,” amounting to a half-million dollars or more each year, according to LSC member Matthew Johnson, a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

Drastic cuts

The school has lost English teachers, math teachers, a computer lab teacher, a librarian. It’s lost funding for its auto shop and its woodshop – leading some kids to drop out, he said.

Johnson is bitterly disappointed that CPS isn’t using a $5.4 million federal school improvement grant won by Tilden to bring in an outside partner for the school. Instead CPS is holding on to the money, in order to pay itself to replace the school’s entire staff.

Dyett High School, on probation for seven years and set to be phased out, was set up to fail from the start, as Matt Farmer has argued – established in 1999 to take struggling students cast off from King Prep, and seriously destablized with a new set of students when Englewood High was closed in 2005.

Even so, says LSC member Jitu Brown, the school worked with community partners to establish a restorative justice program that produced the largest reduction in violent incidents in any city school – and a college readiness program that produced one of the district’s largest increases in college admissions.

But when private grants supporting the program expired, CPS turned down the LSC’s request to take up the ball, said Brown, who’s also education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 31 weeks ago

"Problem" Children

"Problem" Children? Really? The issue is not about "Problem Children" it is about a Problem system.

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