The historic closing of 49 elementary schools in Chicago left many parents bitter and feeling left out as they try to get involved in new schools. Yet parent engagement is essential for school improvement, and principals are faced with the challenge of building trust at schools that scored poorly on surveys of parent involvement.
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Laptops would help with typing skills. The problem always seemed to be the poor wireless connections.
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In the News: Slate will try to unseat CTU's Lewis
A group of Chicago Teachers Union members said current President Karen Lewis didn't leverage the strike to get enough from the district — including a guarantee not to close schools — and announced a slate of candidates that will try to unseat Lewis and her team in a regular election set for May 17. (Tribune)
OPPOSING LEWIS: A coalition of candidates, including the party that ran the CTU for decades before Lewis, said Tuesday they seek the leadership posts, criticizing Lewis and other union leaders for failing to combat school closings “in which teachers and staff have had no voice.” (Sun-Times)
“We did our part. We spent weeks on the street, rallied and gave Lewis all the power she needed,” said Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, potential candidate for union president. “What did we get? Firings, closings, lower pay; her leadership is one without backbone or foresight. It’s time for a change. Our leadership is one that cannot only get headlines but results.”
CHARTING CHARTERS: Chicago Magazine's Whet Moser finds that although the city's charter school enrollment climbed in recent years, it still lags behind many other major cities, except for New York, San Francisco and Atlanta.
TURNAROUND A PROCESS: A new report from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research on school turnarounds reiterates findings from the Consortium’s initial turnaround study released last year: Schools that underwent one of four intervention strategies made academic gains that were considered statistically significant—albeit modest in real-world terms. According to the study, the results “suggest that turning around chronically low-performing schools is a process rather than an event.” The new report includes more school-level data on changes in teacher and student demographics—the teaching force became younger and whiter, and most schools continued to enroll a similar student body—and in student outcomes. Schools that were closed and then re-opened attracted students with higher incoming achievement. A separate section of the study, on schools that were closed for underutilization, states that many closed schools later reopened as magnets or charters that enrolled few students from the shuttered school. The findings are similar to those reported by Catalyst Chicago and WBEZ in an analysis of a decade of school closings.
CLOSING DEBATE: Catalyst's Rebecca Harris appeared on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" Tuesday to talk about the current debate on school closings.
IN THE NATION
PHILLY FIGHT: Although some Philadelphia students and communities were glad to have a reprieve and felt that their voices were heard, supporters of a moratorium on school closings said that they hadn’t changed their minds as a result of Superintendent William Hite’s revised recommendations that would shutter 29 instead of 37 schools. (The Notebook)
CLOSING PLAN: Ten schools that the Philadelphia School District had recommended for closure will now remain open if the new closings plan is approved by the School Reform Commission next month. (The Notebook)
CHARTER SCREENING: Reuters has found that across the United States, charters aggressively screen student applicants, assessing their academic records, parental support, disciplinary history, motivation, special needs and even their citizenship, sometimes in violation of state and federal law. (Tribune)