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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.

For the Record: Elected School Board

It is a common misconception that the Chicago mayor acquired the authority to appoint the School Board in 1995. In fact, in Chicago, the mayor has always appointed the School Board, at least during the lifetime of anyone now living.

This issue has come up recently as activists and some aldermen have started to push for an elected school board.

The 1988 Chicago School Reform Act, which decentralized the school system, created a complicated, grass-roots nominating process that restricted the mayor’s choices. Indeed, former Mayor Richard M. Daley left some seats open rather than choose any of the nominees.  The 1995 legislation abolished the nominating process, thus returning unfettered control of the system to the mayor.

That legislation also clipped the Chicago Teachers Union’s wings by letting the board decide whether to bargain over class size, staffing and other issues now in play.

For more details about the 1995 law, see the September 1995 issue of Catalyst.



Kat wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

This is slavery in modern day!

In regards to modern slavery, I am speaking on behalf of the dictatorship and authoritarian environmental work climate within CPS. Teacher’s opinions and suggestions are of no value, if keeping a job is the priority for that teacher, from my perspective.

The work conditions & work relationships related to CPS teachers, in my opinion, negatively impact the day-to-day operations of classrooms and do not function in a healthy way.

When you are micromanaged, you are basically a slave to the management. Any time a teacher is faced with more demands than one person could realistically handle and compounded with stressful situations, then ask yourself, how could the teacher feel comfortable enough to relax within a position and genuinely teach? The enjoyment of teaching has become checklist of tasks to simply get done! The natural way of allowing teachers to put themselves into the lesson and genuinely express a concept has been replaced with scripted information that anyone off the street could follow. Thus, the teacher is a slave to the system and the way in which the system functions.

When you have to defend your teaching certification and walk on eggshells to avoid the E3 process, then you are in prison and a slave.

Who could focus on getting through a lesson, when the thought of loosing their job at any given moment is a constant reminder by administration? The focus for teachers has shifted to survival mode from genuinely teaching mode. From my perspective, many teachers are simply trying to survive one day at a time and try really hard to detach themselves from their work, the students, and of course the constant reminders of political injustice that plagues CPS.

For this longer school day, teachers will continue to teach (babysit) these students, who are often unmotivated and have the attention span of less then a minute, which metaphorically resembles the relationship the slaves had when caring for their masters’ children as oppose to spending that time with their own children. Teachers will now spend more time with these kids (not their own kids) then the kids own parents will, especially if the kids go to after school programs and or play sports. By the time the kid gets home, it’s time for bed (hopefully for some). What happened to family time? Is the message CPS is sending, highlighting the subliminal notion that academics and money are of more importance than family and individual time?

In my opinion, the grass IS greener elsewhere when compared with Chicago Public Schools.

Who wants to play mind games with a broken system, that functions as a business?

I am not going to tell CPS how to run their business. They do a good job at running the business and making sure that they appoint the right people politically. CPS could care less about what teachers or the union thinks simply because in numerous ways they have proved that they are not a system that has teachers or students best interest in mind when making decisions.

So the grass is greener for me.

I have become a licensed Professional Counselor and am 2 years away from having private practice. Thus, I am all about advocating for change and developing healthy relationships and living experiences.

Wake up and see the invisible chains and handcuffs. The invisible handcuffs are laced with such “important” lingo as “rigor”, and “common core”, to keep teachers focused on confusion and not see how they are enslaved.

This is similar to indentured servitude, metaphorically and realistically.

Truthfully, I bet people are working in a CPS school for their livelihood and trying to hold on to what they have during this depression/recession, NOT for the enjoyment of educating! If better were out there and available, would people really settle for the chaos CPS dispenses/offers?

The big picture that indicates teaching for CPS is slavery is the fact that the mayor wouldn’t even put his child/children in a CPS school. His children are too good/too privileged for the education that he oversees.

Ed Dziedzic wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Good for you

Why do you feel the need to post this on every comment page? You made your decision, so fine, now live with it.

lobewiper wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

Appointed School Board

In my view, education is too important to leave to the mayor and his cronies, most of whom frequently know little or nothing about the business of education. If the people of Chicago knew how inadequately CPS has been managed over the past few decades, they would literally revolt. The Chicago press (including Catalyst) have consistently failed to tell citizens the truth of the situation, including what it is going to take in terms of money and personnel to turn this ship around. Time for the public to become more involved, and to abolish once and for all the anti-democratic appointed boards.

lobewiper wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago

An example of what I mean

In Fall of 2010, CPS and all other districts in IL were mandated to implement RTI (Response to Intervention). This involved benchmark testing of all students and identifying those falling well below standards. Such students were then supposed to receive--in addition to their regular instructional time--supplemental and remedial instruction at Tier 2 (moderately intense) or Tier 3 (intense) levels. Those who failed to show signs of progress in Tier 3 were to be referred for special education evaluations. Thus far, only a small fraction of CPS schools are doing this. Instead, some kids receive "school-based problem-solving, which is nowhere near as intensive or rigorous as Tier 2 or 3 RTI.

I have yet to see a word about this on this blog or in the Chicago newspapers. Can anyone tell me why?

northside wrote 2 years 24 weeks ago


is just another way to put the onus on the teacher

Anonymous wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Appointed School Board

An appointed school board is definitely needed in Chicago District 299. However, the most important element whether appointed or mayoral is citizen, parent, and community involvement regarding the importance of high quality education for the twenty-first century. The mayoral controlled School District 299 has been positive in generating funding for schools in the district; however, those funds are not distributed equitably by any measure and the funds do not get to the local schools or teachers (instruction). As you pointed out in your comment, this is decades of inconsistent, volatile, and poor leadership at the top.

More importantly, before Chicago School District 299 can truly become a model for twenty-first century education on a global scale, as well as locally and nationally; it must deal with the racial segreation that plagues all of its schools, except for a small minority of high schools and elementary schools. This is one of the most important ingredients to initiate any type of school reform for excellence in education, for all of the children and youth served by this School District.

There has historically been enough research to document the damages and lives that have been destroyed, as well as not allowed to develop because restricted educational opportunities. We must as a city begin to understand the fundamental importance of having a racially diverse public education system in this City of Chicago. The tax dollars for schools, instruction, and resources needs to be distributed equally and equitably for all of the children in this city. Every student should be able to acquire a excellent college preparatory education or an education to advance in a high quality specialization area

Jeremy Peters wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

Mayoral Appointments are Un-Democratic, period.

First, it's too bad that Linda wrote only a few paragraphs on this issue. There is a HUGE grassroots effort unfolding across the city around this issue. Second, the story, if one could call it that, contradicts itself. 1995 is the exact point at which King Richie seized complete control of the school board in the city of Chicago. It was the best way to ensure that no one would question the diversion of MILLIONS of dollars in property taxes across the city into his own private slush fund (TIF's - oh, and by the way Mayor Emannual, what happened to that campaign promise to "reform TIF's and provide greater transparency"?) and leverage public offices for private interests. The Board (with the exception of a few genuine public servants) has always been made up of a rotating cast of private sector operators that want to stay close to the mayor in order to protect their interests, at the cost of really protecting the best interests of students in the highest needs in our unfair city. This is the precise reason why we need an elected school board now more than ever.

And as for Anonymous above, ("An Elected School Board") what funding the mayor might have "brought in" since 1995 is a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money leaked out through no "value added" (to use the parlance of our day) patronage contracts, debt service fees on risky credit default swaps, deferred capital improvements, failed pension obligations, litigation, litigation and more litigation to defend all of these failed policies from lawsuits. And we won't even get into how the mayor got that money (I'm assuming you're referring to state funds extracted from a compromised state gov.) The system is a mess. How do you propose to encourage student, parent and community involvement if you shut them out of the conversation COMPLETELY. Just about the only comment you got nearly right was on equal school funding. But I would go a bit farther and suggest we focus on equity. But that might take away some resources from your kids schools (oops!).

Lorraine Forte wrote 2 years 23 weeks ago

RtI implementation

thanks for your comment. if you have any more information you would like to share, or any further suggestions for such a story--for example, data we should look for--drop us a line at

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