What we know about AUSL

WBEZ says that the turnaround model of the Academy of Urban School Leaders (AUSL) is showing “results” and is “becoming the go-to plan” for CPS.

Funny, we thought AUSL became Arne Duncan’s go-to plan years ago before it had shown any results at all…. Arne just stated that the AUSL schools were “dramatically better,” and handed more schools over to their miracle workers.

However, this week AUSL leaders say that three of their four elementary schools showed state test score gains that outpaced the district overall, and CPS stats back them up (here are links to preliminary score spreadsheets on District 299); look for Dodge, Sherman, Harvard, and Howe.

But none of that is worth a thin dime until we see the context, that is, what demographic changes have been made, what extra resources the schools have, etc. Because what we know about AUSL is that…

  • AUSL picks and chooses its students. A significant number of Orr students were barred from
    the school once AUSL took it over in the fall of 2008. Data that PURE has been disseminating about the “miracles” at Dodge and Sherman make it clear that the first principle of “improvement” for AUSL is to change the student body.
  • AUSL has major resources not available to other schools, including funding from Bill Gates and other deep pockets. This allows AUSL to place up to three adults in every classroom, a luxury no traditional public school can dream of having. 
  • AUSL uses paid front people to promote their programs from the point of view of “parents” and “community”. AUSL also fought HB363, a bill to increase oversight of CPS’s school closings, turnarounds, and other school changes. The bill passed.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.