Posts Tagged ‘school discipline’

Is “secret sauce” headed for the back burner?

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Today’s Tribune suggests that CPS may require charter schools to agree to more progressive discipline policies in order to win or renew their contracts.

CPS has been changing its discipline code in large part because of a powerful student-led campaign by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), with the support of its affiliate community-based groups. VOYCE has been working to dismantle CPS’s zero tolerance discipline code and replace it with a more effective policy that actually contributes to student learning,

This has got to be bad news for the Noble Charter Network. The recipe for Noble’s “secret sauce” – much loved by Mayor Rahm – is three parts oppressive discipline, one part sky-high fines, and one part push-out route for the unwanted student. The sauce may be headed for the back burner.

STNobleFrom the Tribune story:

Two years ago, Parents United for Responsible Education, which is against charters, released a report that showed that one of the district’s largest charter networks, the Noble Network of Charter Schools, had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from disciplinary fees.

CPS has “a real public relations problem with some of the charter schools” that have used such tactics, said Julie Woestehoff, PURE’s executive director.

Here’s what I said at a 2012 press conference with VOYCE where we first exposed Noble’s oppressive discipline policies:

  • It isn’t “noble” to treat teenage students like two-year olds.
  • It isn’t “noble” to impose an arbitrary discipline system in which anyone can be punished and fined for almost anything.
  • It isn’t “noble” to pick the pockets of families who are already struggling with fees, fines and taxes that go higher and higher every day in Chicago.
  • It isn’t “noble” to treat your predominantly African-American and Latino students as though they are all potential criminals whose every movement must be harshly controlled.

Try to get on the right side of history, Noble Charters.


PSAT for 5-11-13: Sign this Declaration to Rebuild America

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

psat_logoI know, there are a lot of petitions and sign-ons these days. Do they do any good?

This one seems especially comprehensive and is already signed by a good mix of people and organizations. It demonstrates that the message of true education progressives is becoming clearer and more unified.

The full Declaration to Rebuild America is too long to reproduce here, but its main aspects are very similar, for example, to Parents Across America’s statement of beliefs.

The Declaration includes seven principles including opposition to school privatization and high-stakes testing, as well as the need for equitable funding and a more engaging curriculum. The Declaration makes recommendations in seven areas including better assessments, effective discipline, and meaningful engagement of parents and others in setting school policy.

The statement concludes: “As a nation, we’re failing to provide the basics our children need for an opportunity to learn. Instead, we have substituted a punitive high-stakes testing regime that seeks to force progress on the cheap. But there is no shortcut to success. We must change course before we further undermine schools and drive away the teachers our children need.”

Take a look and consider signing and sharing.

More great local education forums coming up

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

It’s spring and the education forums are in bloom!

Here are two more opportunities to join with other public school advocates, share the truth about our schools, and plan some action to support and protect public education.

Teachers for Social Justice

School closings. Attacks on teachers & the CTU. Unfunded longer school day. Too much testing. WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE??

TSJ forum with parents, students, teachers, and community folk from Beverly, to Bronzeville, to Pilsen, to Ravenswood in a dialogue about where we go from here. The time for city-wide unity is now!

Saturday, May 5, 5PM – 7 PM
Intuit Art Gallery
756 N. Milwaukee Ave (Chicago)
(Donations at the door appreciated)

Voices of Youth in Chicago Education

VOYCE is convening 400 students and parents on Monday, May 7, from 6-8 pm at the IBEW Union Hall (600 W Washington) on the issue of racial disparities in the administration of extreme school disciplinary practices.

We’ve invited our elected officials to join us, and John Simmons and Antwan WIlson, senior staff at Denver Public Schools, will also be there to speak about the results that they’ve seen in Denver as a result of their revisions to the discipline code and increased emphasis on transparency and reporting.

PURE has endorsed the Call to Action for this event:

May 7, 2012

This month marks the 58th anniversary of Brown v. Board, the historic Supreme Court decision that declared that racially segregated schools in the United States were “inherently unequal,” and abolished decades-old segregationist laws. Yet almost sixty years after this monumental decision, our schools continue to produce tragically unequal outcomes.

Nowhere are these disparities more stark—or hold more grave consequences—than in the administration of school discipline. Federal civil rights data released by the U.S. Department of Education this year has shown that Black and Latino students are suspended or expelled three times more often than white students, and arrested for non-violent offenses over three times more frequently than white students. The Black-white suspension ratio in Chicago is the third-highest in the entire country. And every day, an average of thirty-one students are arrested in Chicago schools—over six times more students than are arrested every day in New York City.

Brown v. Board was a landmark decision made possible by the courage and moral leadership of grassroots activists, parents and students on the ground as well as the Supreme Court justices who wrote the unanimous decision. Today we are calling on our judicial and legislative leaders to take another courageous stand in the face of the grave racial inequalities that have persisted through to our educational system today.

The undersigned organizations stand together today to call for an end to the extreme and ineffective school disciplinary practices that are putting more and more students of color on a path to prison. It’s time for our public leaders to invest in the policies and practices needed to put Black and Latino youth on a path to college, not a path to prison.

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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.