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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.

Union goes on the offensive against charters

Now that CPS has its school closings deadline extension in hand, the Chicago Teachers Union has fired another volley in the battle over school closings.

In a report embargoed until today, “The Black and White of Education in Chicago’s Public Schools,” the union reiterates the charge that school closings have disproportionately affected African-American students and blames CPS charter school openings for funneling students away from neighborhood schools. (As part of the embargo, CTU asked reporters not to discuss the findings with CPS for comment.)

The report finds that high schools that have been targeted for school actions may be struggling because of factors outside their control. Of the 10 high schools with the lowest incoming student scores on the EXPLORE test (which high schools do not have influence over) between 2009 and 2012, nine were turned around, closed or phased out.

CTU also goes on the offensive against charters, particularly on the issues of:

*School leader pay. Several multi-campus charter school networks often have presidents and CEOs who earn more money per student served than the CEO of Chicago Public Schools. The charter network with the highest-paid chief relative to the number of students served is at Urban Prep’s Tim King, followed by leaders at LEARN Charter and North Lawndale College Prep. Schools chiefs at Perspectives, UNO, Noble Network of Charter Schools, and Chicago International Charter Schools also earn more per student than schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, according to the report. The charter chiefs’ salaries range from $101,591 at North Lawndale College Prep, to $289,274 at LEARN.

*Enrollment. According to the report, the district’s 2013 budget showed that not all charter school slots were filled.

*Student achievement. The report points out that the average value-added scores at high-poverty, more than 90 percent African-American schools are actually higher among CPS-run schools than among charters. CPS-run schools scored, on average, in the 43rd percentile and charters in the 33rd. The schools’ math scores were similar. Among schools that are 85 percent or more low-income students, charters outscored district-run schools on math (but still did worse on reading).

*Teacher diversity. The report charges that more than 95 percent of charter school students are black or Latino, but only 30 percent of teachers are.

*Teacher turnover. The report claims that just 65 percent of teachers at Noble Network of Charter Schools, and 54 percent of teachers at UNO charter schools, return to their jobs each year.

ctureportfinal_120112_pdf.pdf1.87 MB


northside wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

good info

Too bad rahm cant read

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Yes, good info. But why did

Yes, good info. But why did CTU stay silent as a lamb during the run-up to the vote on the amendment? People can't figure out when CTU will lead on an issue and when it won't.

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

lots of new information but some things are missing

There was some new information in this report that is of great value for all of us who closely watch public education in Chicago. Clearly a lot of research went into this report and the CTU deserves a lot of credit for this effort. I agreed with most aspects of the report with two clear exceptions.

The first was the emphasis in the report on the monetary motivation of privatization of public education. Overall, nationally from what I have seen k-12 charters whether run by not for profit organizations or direct for profit organization do not generate significant amounts of money in excess of expenditures. While it may be true that relative to their overall size charter network leaders may earn more money per student served than the CEO of Chicago Public Schools, this is also true for Superintendents of many small suburban elementary and high school districts in Illinois. So I see the direct profit motive as being less relevant than the ideology of the efficiency of markets, which the report also touched upon. I have a profound disagreement with the idea that "free" markets are always the most efficient process for the delivering goods or services like education.

Within the existing world we have many variations of market systems, some like the current Chinese market economy effectively being controlled and directed by a Communist Party bureaucracy with the state controlled military owning significant parts of the supposed market economy. Others such as the German market economy where the education system has the publically funded apprenticeship system that is linked directly to the private sector. Moreover since most religious schools are publicly funded in Germany under constitutional provisions we have a even more unique form of privatization in Germany. Over 60 percent of German students go into apprenticeships, about 30 percent go into higher education, and about 5 percent drop out. Apprentices start between the ages of 16 and 19, after secondary education, and participate three to four years.

The apprenticeship is a legal contract between employer and apprentice: there is an initial probationary period of one to three months, and subsequent termination by the employer before the completion of the apprenticeship is legally difficult and is, in fact, unusual. Secondary education takes two broad forms: schools mainly for those going into apprenticeships at age 16 (Hauptschule and Realschule), with the Hauptschule at a lower academic level than the Realschule; and schools mainly for those going into higher education, (Gymnasia).

The costs of training Germany's young people are shared by the regional government, apprentices, and companies. The regional government pays for the public-education side of the training. Apprentices “pay” by accepting low salaries throughout their apprenticeships. Private companies pay all costs of in-company training.’ For a range of companies there may be a net current profit from apprenticeships. But for apprenticeships in higher-level skills, that is not the case. These companies are not legally required to train, and they give every appearance of being interested in maximizing long-term profits. Successful completion of apprenticeship training leads to a skilled worker’s certificate: there appears to be widespread acceptance in Germany of skill certificates, and there are active external occupational labor markets.

It could be argued that Germany's and other European nations with similar apprenticeship systems are highly privatized and it could also be argued that the companies are being forced to be socialized in ways that undermine the labor market. So I would argue that the CTU's report takes an over simplistic view of privatization of the public sector in terms of education. The overall goal of powerful forces in Chicago and nationally is not for private entities to make a buck on publicly funded education, but rather to find an efficient system to produce productive and disciplined workers at the lowest possible cost.

My second disagreement with the report is its failure to analyze the overall population decline in the City of Chicago. In fact the report uses the concept of gentrification as expressed by Professor Lipman as part of its corner stone upon which it builds its edifice, but fails to grasp Professor Lipman's equally important discussion of deindustrialization (see Statistically gentrification has not in any way offset the decline in Chicago's population. The report fails to recognize that Chicago today has fewer children to be educated either in charter schools or in traditional public schools. This is in big part due to the fact that there is no mass industry left in the city. The largest employer in the city of Chicago is the Federal government. Followed by the CPS inclusive of charter school contract employees. Other major employers are the City of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, the Cook County government, and the Chicago Park District. The largest private employer in the city is Jewel-Osco, followed by SBC Ameritech, Advocate Health Care, and UPS. Chicago no longer has one major employer that is an industrial producer and has not had one for decades.

Like many old, big industrial cities, Chicago peaked in the 1950 Census with a population of 3,620,962. In the 1950s over two percent of the entire U.S. population lived within Chicago city limits. Over a half century later, while America’s population doubled, Chicago’s population declined. The 1960, 1970, 1980, and 1990 Census numbers showed Chicago losing population. Chicago’s 2010 population of 2,695,598 means the city lost more than 200,000 residents over the last decade. That works out to a roughly 7% population loss for the decade. If we go back to 1950 it's a total population decline of 25.6% and that is significant any way you look at it. If we just look at school aged students from 5 years old to 19 years old from the 2000 census to the 2010 census the city lost 112,300 children and young adults in a ten year period of time, a decline of an amazing 17.9% far higher than the total population loss.

So I think that it was necessary for this CTU report to recognize the fact that unless teacher student ratios are significantly lowered, the city will need fewer and fewer total numbers of teachers whether they are charter school or traditional unionized public school teachers. If there is an absurdity that the report exposes well it is the growth of charter schools in the current demographic context of the city. The underutilization issue for CPS is in part one of its own making due to charter expansion, it's also as the report correctly demonstrates due to how underutilization is measured, but as the report does not discuss its also due to depopulation of the city itself.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

The money to be made

You believe, "The overall goal of powerful forces in Chicago and nationally is not for private entities to make a buck on publicly funded education, but rather to find an efficient system to produce productive and disciplined workers at the lowest possible cost."

I believe the overall goals include both making billions and cutting costs by firing teachers, by churning teachers and by cutting services to students.

1. The mayor’s campaign contributors are driving “ed reform.”

2. Find nvestment opportunities at a conference -- Private Equity Investing in For-Profit Education Companies, Middle Market Investors are finding lots of profitable high-growth segments

3. About online schools and online curricullar materials

4. About online tests and student and teacher data bases

5. Charters, of course, need to be marketed

6. And how can we forget the galvanic skin response bracelets.

Gates Foundation invested $1.1 million to develop galvanic skin response bracelets to physiologically measure how engaged students are by their teachers’ lessons.

There is much more. Especially given your background in investments, I’m surprised you haven’t noticed this $1.3 billion market.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

"It could be argued that

"It could be argued that Germany's and other European nations with similar apprenticeship systems are highly privatized and it could also be argued that the companies are being forced to be socialized in ways that undermine the labor market."

The German government partners with corporations to train highly skilled workers to solve three major problems in a practical -- not primarily ideological -- way.

sustain a viable middle and working class in Germany,

meet corporations needs as technological skill sets change, and

develop an economy that runs more on exports than on consumption.

Seems a balanced, working approach, not one driven by Milton Friedmanesque fantasies.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Just don't invest in charter school bonds

“The study also unveils the hidden costs of charter expansions by examining the United Neighborhood Organizations (UNO) aggressive charter school expansion.  UNO’s ever-growing debt and accompanying high interest is paid out of taxpayers’ pockets.  In 2000, UNO Charter School Network (UCSN) had outstanding debt of $1.5 million, but by 2011 its debt had ballooned to more than $71 million. In 2009, the state of Illinois gave UNO close to $100 million in taxpayer funds, however, even with state money, UNO’s 2011 bond issue was still rated BBB (lowest investment grade; just above junk, bond status) and given an effective interest rate of over 7 percent.”

Just don’t invest in charter school bonds.

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Arne Duncan's reputation ends with this report

Whatever is left out, the 53-page report just issued by CTU ends any claim by Arne Duncan to leadership -- moral or otherwise -- in public education. Ten years ago, when I said that Duncan's City Club speech on his agenda was announcing a white supremacist attack on the city's black public schools, Duncan sent word back basically saying, 'I am not a racist."

But I never said he was. Everyone who knew the man knew Arne Duncan was not infected with racism (a philosophical condition; an ideology in some cases). What I said and meant was that Duncan's policies would further white supremacy and turn back the clock on the desegregation agenda which had been the progressive push in public schools for 40 years by the time of that City Club speech.

Because Duncan was using standardized tests and other measures which would target the inner city schools, the result was predictable. Now that the historical facts are in, we can begin the debate about how far the policies of Richard M. Daley, Arne Duncan and Barack Obama have turned back the clock to the days of massive segregation.

One of the most important facts documented by CTU (based on ISBE information) is that by destroying the "failing" (er., "underpeforming") inner city schools, Duncan would also be firing the teachers who had chosen to continue working in the inner city schools, to serve the children and families of those communities.

What Duncan and corporate America did during the past ten years to hundreds, then thousands, of the most dedicated and noble teachers in Chicago (the across the USA) is nothing short of a crime. The hypocrisy underlying that crime is the first thing that is now exposed. As history becomes more clear, the authors of those crimes will be shown for what they are and have done. And, at some point, the people against whom those crimes were committed -- the children, families, and teachers of those schools -- will be part of the court of history that will bring them to justice.

The CTU report brings that justice much closer. The pirouettes of Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Rahm Emanuel on this stuff will simply blur the realities for some for a small bit of time from now on. As to Rahm's latest "CEO," the latest news is that Barbara Byrd Bennett escaped Detroit just in time. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the city has collapsed even further. Why my brothers and sisters in the reporting trade never ask questions like this is also part of the history we can begin to savor --- "going forward."

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Private profit and public education

In traditional schools private companies are currently making millions. The profits do not come from actually operating schools but from providing services and things like text books and tests. Charters are the same there is very little profit in running a school for poor students.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago


Look into for-profit Education Management Organizations (EMOs). The three largest are EdisonLearning, National Heritage and Mosaica. You could google a bit more info on them, if you are interested.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

"Media companies Seeing Profit Slip, Push into Education"

Of course, Rod, schools and districts have long needed supplies and services as mundane milk and toilet paper. But this coordinated and well-funded attack by billionaires on the education market is a very different thing and awful thing.

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

From Business Week to Forbes, profits in education touted

Among my favorite clips is a piece form Forbes more than ten years ago, touting Paul G. Vallas as "Chainsaw Paul" -- back in the day when "Chainsaw Al Dunlap" was being featured regularly in the "business" press as the master of corporate cost cutting to "increase shareholder value." Forbes and the rest of them were on the edge of touting Vallas's genius just when the entire Al Dunlap fraud collapsed, taking down Sunbeam among other Chicago realities. "Chainsaw Paul" remained a hero of the right wing crazies because he was truly one of them himself, but not as "Chainsaw."

That was back before the "" collapse, which was before the housing bubble, etc., etc., etc.

At each point during those years, the business press would slip in another reminder that there were enormous profit making opportunities in "education." I have a clip somewhere from the old (McGraw Hill) Business Week during one of those annual prediction issues: where to invest and all that.

Flash forward to Forbes last month. The latest on-the-cheap iteration of this nonsense is on-line "education." Virtual. Etc., etc., etc.

No matter what the facts, these guys don't stop because their basis is in a propaganda offensive, backed by selective nonsense, rather than facts.

The latest iteration of the same nonsense.

Last week, the Economist reported on the heroic Newark (New Jersey) teachers who voted for a contract that includes "merit pay." Apparently Chris Christie and Randi Weingarten are BFF behind that one. And then, this morning the Tribune in Chicago editorializes about the same nonsense, tut tut tutting Karen Lewis and the CTU for not accepting the necessity of "reality" in the form of merit pay for individual teachers, despite every bit of evidence that it doesn't work, hasn't worked, and won't work.

The ruling class propaganda continues, from Chainsaw Paul Vallas to Chainsaw Rahm -- without the nickname of course. Barbara Byrd Bennett is touted as a leader, even as the ruins of Detroit (her last job before being picked to chieftain Chicago) smolder.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

For Profit

CPS does contract with for-profit schools. Banner and Milburn are for-profit CPS contract schools that serve therapeutic, expelled, drop out recovery, and court-involved students. Last April the board approved a new contract with a for-profit group known as Camelot Inc. who will open new schools (500 seats to start with) called Excel Academies for the same type of population noted above. Interesting that all the for-profit schools contracted by CPS serve the students under the "at-risk" umbrella. These for-profit contract school teachers are paid even less than charter school teachers. Sad that the kids who need the best educational staff, are probably getting the worst in both quality and turn-over under these for-profits.

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

for profit special education sub contractors

Yes I am totally aware that CPS is using for profit companies to run some private schools for mostly EBD students. Most of the switch is coming from the not for profit sector, which has been providing these services for at least 40 years. CPS has also closed a few programs, but the bulk of these students have been sent to the non-public sector for a good while now. I hate to say it but these companies are charging less than the not for profits and giving only somewhat less services

But these companies are really dangerous because they are gateways to pyschratric hospitals to which in some cases they are actually linked up to. On average the cost per child in these schools is around $35,000 per year for a day program, CPS has actually driven down the costs a little by sub contracting with these for profits. Because they are not publicly held it is impossible to determine their profit ratio but even using somewhat cheaper labor they are not realizing much money for emotionally disturbed students. Alternative schools for students who do not have identified disabilities are probably somewhat more profitable. This is why these for profit theraputic schools are attempting to scale up because at a larger scale they can maybe create a slightly larger profit, but its not much based on my discussions with some of these operators. The biggest growth has been in Florida due to a special education voucher program and even there a few small companies have failed. Even in this sector companies that sell text books or curriculum will have a higher profit ratio.

As we all know Edison was publicly held and went broke and is now a smaller privately held company. What is new in the current situation is that urban school districts will use charter sub-contractors to contain costs and they will squeze these organizations forcing some to fold. If the CTU keeps looking for local conspiracies it loses track of the larger picture. The AFT and NEA need to organize charters in a major way in order to keep teachers salaries at reasonable levels in urban areas. I think the AFT has realized this but the NEA seems to think it will be protected in suburban America, it will not be.

There is a dynamic relationship between the private market sector and the public sector. Public schools in America have always been a part of the captalist system, they are not a unique socialized sector. Before there were common schools in America there were contracted private charter schools which were given funding by state and local governments to teach some but not all students. The rise of the common school run by school districts with elected or selected school boards grew from the latter 1800s into the early 1900s because America needed a mass educated workforce.

Because our nation is in a long term economic decline in terms of global trade it is in search for ways to lower costs and in theory improve outcomes, but I suspect really for most poor students that idea is less than sincere. Charter schools are not the solution because the market will only force many of these operations out of bussiness as school districts like CPS freeze their tuition rates in order to contain property taxes. There are many problems with this approach, but its not about Daley or Emanuel insiders trying to get rich. Its about something far bigger that the CTU report avoided discussing, its about our nation's relative position in the world and the percentage of money being paid for education and social services in comparison to nations like China or Vietnam. Schools are caught up in a global ecomic struggle that is playing out in nations from Greece (where teachers wages have been repeatedly cut) to Spain where geographic areas are tying to break off from the nation state to protect local funding for social services including education.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Schools are part of our

Schools are part of our capitalist economy, but they have had a purpose that is crucial to the public good. Schools have a very different mission than McDonald's.

Our nation's trade deficit, the loss of millions of middle class jobs that have gone overseas, Wall Street's debacle, our regressive tax code, rightly are not subjects of the CTU report. The US is not in the same dire position as the PIGS. And we should pay attention to the extremely expensive expansion of the defense budget when we look at the costs of the social safety net.

Nevertheless, there is no reason to continue to attack unions, and to severely cut jobs and wages of teachers, unless you want to squeeze funding out of the districts' budgets to pay for edu-preneurs' notions of getting rich from those tax dollars.

This is a good read;

northside wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago


Arginr We have private coaches come. Give us ideas they make up the night before they come to our schools. These random ideas become like newtons laws. Then when we change our entire way of teaching and scores go down, we get ridiculed for not performing. All the while our contractors travel the district like charlatans in their medicine show 2000 per day

Rod Estvan wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Actually CTU has questioned capitalism

The report is about privatization of schools and it sees profit for privatizing entities as the motivation. The report itself opens up the discussion of market ideology but it assumes existing public schools are somehow outside of that structure rather a complement to it.

So the larger discussion is legitimate. By the way this is not at all a new discussion, if one goes back and reads a journal like Radical Teacher from the 1970s it was debated. One group or trend clearly believed tradition schools were so much a part of the market that they advocated for collectives to run schools that could really be called charters. Another trend advocated subverting from within while recognizing schools where fully part of the market economy.

There to this day a few charters run by old radicals. The profit motive was not their motivation in the least. But the freedom they sought has proved to be an illusion because of things like No Child Left Behind and oversight by idelogs of the market.

Rod Estvan

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Socialism now one challenge to CPS, Rahm, and the Rahmneys

Contrary to the ideological idiocies of the past 30 years or so, socialism, as it's now called, has always been embedded in classical economics. Adam Smith, in The Wealth of Nations, and every classical economist afterwards, insisted on the major role that had to be played by government.

This was most notably in regard to the regulation of "finance". The bankers and financiers, as the classical economists noted, did not produce any socially useful stuff; pure "investments" were always viewed with suspicion (although not, once the Protestant revolution had taken place, with the same viciousness as had been the case for a thousand years under Catholicism -- both Roman and "Eastern").

The well-financed ideological assault on reason on behalf of unfettered capitalism was launched successfully during the 1980s and lucked out by being able to redefine (for a time) these things following the collapse of Soviet-style Communism (which, to my mind, could never be considered socialism). By the mid-1990s, the usual self-serving nonsense about "job creators" and "entrepreneurs" was being embedded into our vocabulary from the heights. Years ago, I joked we needed a new Ambrose Bierce to create a new Devil's Dictionary. But that was not to be, so in many ways it's difficult, in some cases impossible, to talk about the most basic economic realities today: the creation of value; monopoly; exploitation...

The really crazy Ayn Rand interruption to rational thought is part of this, made noxiously powerful during the years when Alan Greenspan's ignorance of reality headed the Federal Reserve and dominated U.S. popular economic policy with his masturbatory fantasies about "free markets" (conjured during his lengthy meditation in the bath, readers should remember).

Both the economic thinkers and the practical social leaders (two favorites: Luther and Calvin) knew that capitalism had to be restrained by the state, and that especially finance had to be forced to (a) limit its predations and (b) direct its "investments" into socially useful production. And that cannot be left to the "markets" or we wind up with Hoola Hoops and Furbies when the country needs aircraft carriers and tanks. If Geenspanian/AynRandian delusions had been able to take over during the 1930s, the USA would have been more crippled in 1941, when "we" had to mobilize, under a dose of massive social planning, to help win that war against fascism. (And I write this as a man whose father was already in the Army on December 7, 1941 and who would tell stories about the Louisiana maneuvers of 1941, when the soldiers used wooden "machine guns" and "mortars" to practice infantry combat because the USA was not producing those items...).

Part of the sad history of the past 30 years is the cowardice of the left in the USA. One by one, many former socialists rebranded themselves as "progressives," with the same mushy lack of history that such a mushy title bestows. Socialism was abandoned not only in words, but as a historical tradition and a way of understanding, rooted in of all things classical economics (including the major Protestant governments) and religion.

It's a happy time for a younger generation that they are less likely to have to listen to their elders hide behind their "progressive" nostrums and can actually meet and talk to men and women who proclaim that, for the majority of us (the "99 percent") socialism is the better alternative to the Paul Rayn Ayn Rand Alan Greenspan nonsense that Mitt Romney and his disciples just crashed and burned against.

We'll see. The USA needs a rebirth of socialist thinking and praxis, not only because it's a more honest way to discuss our plight and peril with the rest of the world, but also because it's the only way to talk about the challenges we are now facing in the public schools and just about everywhere else. The Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 has now been leading, but a bigger wake up call should have been Hurricane Sandy. Both resulted from the excesses of stupid predatory capitalism, and both point to the need for an honest rebirth of socialist praxis now and moving aggressively forward in 2013 and beyond.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

There is a lot of money to be

There is a lot of money to be made in charter real estate deals, I heard.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Mark Naison, Fordham

Mark Naison, Fordham Professor, writes 5:26am Dec 2

If you were a local school district and had a choice between implementing a new testing and assessment scheme mandated by Race to the Top --at the cost of 100 million dollars -- or using that money to re-hire librarians, schools counselors, and art and music teachers who were laid off because of budget cuts, which use of funds would you choose?

And if it is the latter, shouldn't that be one of the choices the US Department of Education provides in offering funds to local districts?

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George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 6 weeks ago

Mark, this is Chicago, where the Chicago Boys began both times!

As we know, the Chicago Boys came out of Chicago twice.

First, to create those "free market" fascist reforms in Chile after September 11, 1973.

Second, to impose the same types of "free market" corporate reforms on the USA through the U.S. Department of Education under Arne Duncan.

Same guys. (Latest generation thereof).

Same ideology. (Actually, even more stupid, since the Atlas Shrugged morphation had taken over from Milton Friedman's crazy theologies).

The difference? By 2008 - 2009, when Chicago Boy Barack Obama announced the appointment of Arne Duncan, most "progressives" were so tamed by the mesmerization this latest iteration of fascism didn't need Pinochet's bayonets. Scrubbing the history books, purchasing a few Van Roekels and Weingartens, and a toxic control of thought via the "news" did the job.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Sauce for the Goose . . .

Why are test scores so important when challenging the success of charters and meaningless when talking about underperforming neighborhood schools? They either mean something or they don't.

Anonymous wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

As everyone knows by now,

As everyone knows by now, charters were supposed to be the answer to failing schools -- schools with low test scores.
But charters test scores are not terribly impressive -- many studies CREDO, Rand, and other show. This is with charters cherry-pcking students and counseling out students so that they have many fewer students with special ed needs. This should boost their test scores, compared with neighborhood schools.
But in 83% of charters Stanford studied, it hadn't.

George N. Schmidt wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

Charter failure in Chicago now clear...

One of the high points of the City Council education committee hearings two weeks ago came when Alderman John Arena spoke and told the CPS witnesses that while the charters were claiming to be doing "innovations" every school in his ward was doing great things and somebody should take a look.

It's the real public schools of Chicago that are still showing how to do the job or educating in a challenging urban environment, while the charters in Chicago are simply repeating a mantra, almost like a prayer from some strange cult, about themselves. The danger comes when our brothers and sisters in the media (including the two reporters I sat between during those hearings) report CPS lies as facts and then allow their editorialists to print attacks on the CTU and more CPS and charter lies.

The latest CTU report (available on the CTU website) shows that Chicago's charters have "failed" even by their own dismal measures (test scores). The elementary failure is dramatic when compared with real public schools serving similar populations. That debate ended nationally with the CREDO report (Stanford) and ends now with the CTU report for Chicago. There is no rational basis for further charter expansion in Chicago -- as an educational policy.

The failure of the charter high schools comes into sharp focus, but with much more complexity.

Next month (January) schools from Wells to Steinmetz will be receiving the kids who are pushed out of Noble Street charters. I have been hearing about this since Michael Milkie (a failed Wells High School math teacher who could only teach the "top" students in a school where there were very few, even 15 years ago) left CPS for the first Noble Street charter school. Every January, starting with Wells in the 1990s and early 2000s, the real public schools would receive the kids that Milkie was dumping, just as his fellow teachers at Wells had been getting the challenging kids he was unable to control.

As Noble Street expanded, the dumpsters (the real public schools that get the Noble Network's rejects) went west. By next month, the schools receiving Milkie's pushouts will include Wells, Clemente (not as much I'm told), North-Grand, Kelvyn Park, and Steinmetz. (Probably Foreman and others are getting them, too, but those are the schools I've heard from over the years).

Because Noble Street is deregulated, there is no accountability for this. First Noble Street screens the kids and gets them to sign those performance agreements (replete with all those illegal fines, etc.).

Then they dump out the kids who are most likely to bring down their test scores every January.

This year, for the first time, it's like that teachers all over town will be ready to ask the kids and their parents to agree to go public about this ignoble hypocrisy. That won't solve the fact that this Big Lie has gone national and viral for a decade, but it should begin the process of truthifying things locally here. We'll see.

While I'm sure that Rahm Emanuel, Penny Pritzker, and Bruce Rauner (to name a few) will continue to repeat their Noble nonsense for years to come, it's not likely to get as much "traction" as it once did. Once organized, the parents whose kids have been subjected to this kind of ignoble fascism get over their shame (at first, there is that "it's your fault..." stuff) and realize they have to (a) get the truth out and (b) join those organized to fight back.

So the Sun-Times owners can editorialize as much as they want about how the charter high schools are still "outperforming" the real general high schools of CPS. After all, that's why they bought the paper in the first place, to promote Rahmism and win the new Pulitzer Prize for putting the mayor's picture on the front page more than any other paper in history.

The facts, however, will be coming out more and more clearly.

LOBEWIPER wrote 2 years 5 weeks ago

To Rod Estvan

Your knowledge and keen insights are always a pleasure to read, and you are an immensely valuable person to all of us here in Chicago who care about the children of this city. Thanks so much for your posts and please keep them coming!

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