Posts Tagged ‘student 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.


Sen Durbin to hold hearing on school-to-prison pipeline

Monday, December 10th, 2012

UPDATE: The deadline for submitting testimony has been extended to Wednesday, December 19, 2012 at 5:00PM.  Statements should be emailed to Stephanie Trifone at as soon as possible, please also cc Scott Roberts,


Testimony is due today for the Wednesday 12-12-12 hearing.

Here’s the testimony I submitted, which focused on high-stakes testing/retention and inappropriate charter school discipline policies (a la Noble).

PURE’s recommendations included the following:

End wholesale retention of students. Retention has been shown by decades of research to increase the drop out rate. Retention should be used only when parents and the school agree that it is in the best interest of that individual child. Other options include developing individualized education plans for at-risk students and creating student portfolios to get a better understanding of the student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Hold an extensive, public review of enrollment, discipline, and other policies to minimize the potential for schools to push students out and maximize the opportunities for student support and cooperative problem solving.

Increase both the number and the effectiveness of high school counselors through adding positions, training, and clear communication to students and parents about what to expect from the counselors. Make sure that all students and their families receive extensive, ongoing information about college and other further educational opportunities.

Require every high school, with the Local School Council, to create a plan for increased parent outreach and participation. This should include offering parents workshops on their rights and on proper high school policies, opportunities to volunteer and observe in their children’s classrooms, and clear information about the school curriculum and programs.


From Dignity in Schools:

Ending the School to Prison Pipeline

Hearing before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights

For the first time ever, Congress is holding a hearing on the School to Prison Pipeline (12/12/12, 2pm et at the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, DC). If you are anywhere near DC, please help pack the room. If you are not, please make your voice heard! Feel free to use this form, developed by the Dignity in Schools Campaign, as a template for a written statement.

If you have any questions, please email Matt Cregor at

To submit your statement, please send it to

Please send a copy to Matt as well for the DSC website:

Instructions from the Senate on Written Testimony:

Statements for the Record: Chairman Durbin invites advocates, students, educators, experts, and other stakeholders to submit written testimony to be included in the hearing record. These statements help educate Committee members about the issue and are very important to demonstrating community interest. Statements should be less than 10 pages, and should be emailed to Stephanie Trifone at Stephanie_Trifone@Judiciary-dem.Senate.govas early as possible, but no later than Monday, December 10, 2012 at 5:00 p.m.

Suggested Questions (drafted by DSC):

Name: ____________________ City and State: _______________________________

Organization (optional): ___________________________________________________

  1. How have you experienced the school-to-prison pipeline and/or school pushout? What does school discipline look like in your school/your child’s school? Is your school a charter or traditional public school? What sort of things are students suspended, expelled, or arrested for? If you are a parent or a teacher, in what ways is school discipline different now than when you were a student?
  1. How has the school-to-prison pipeline impacted you, your family, and your community? What message does suspension or arrest send to students?
  1. What are you doing to end the school-to-prison pipeline in your community? What positive solutions can be used to stop school pushout? What can be done at the federal level to support this?

Springfield yeas and nays

Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Some bills to contact your Illinois House members and Senators about:

Please support SB 637 as amended: This bill requires charter schools to waive fees for low-income families and was introduced to address the outrageous fees charged by the Noble Charter School Network for minor infractions such as eating chips and failing to track the teacher with your eyes.

From Raise Your Hand (with a few informational comments I added in italics)

Please support Recess Bill – SB636, Amendment 2: This bill requires a 20 minute recess for all Illinois Pre-K– 5th graders and allows districts to implement recess for grades 6-8. Next year CPS schools will have a much longer day. Every child deserves a break during the day! Support this bill.

Please support Reduced Class Size Bill SB3362 and HB4455: Lowers class size to 18 for Pre-K -3rd, 22 students for grades 4-8 and 25 students for 9th grade – 12th. Lower class size is one of only four strategies identified by the Institute of Education Sciences as evidence-based reforms that have been proven to increase student achievement.

Please support Anti-Bullying Bill HB5290: This bill requires the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a model bullying prevention policy for schools.

Please support Moratorium Bill SB3239/HB4487: This legislation stops school (closure) actions for the school year 2012-2013 while school districts establish policies that improve academic performance at low-performing schools. CPS’s school closing processes so far have been disruptive, have sent children to worse schools, are contributing to increased youth violence in our communities, and unfairly put experienced, dedicated, qualified teachers and other staff out of work during a time of economic difficulty. In doing so, CPS has ignored students, parents, teachers, the community and the facts. A sounder, community-inclusive plan must be put into place before more damage is done.

Please support HB4246 (Barbara Flynn Curie amendment): This legislation requires the State of Illinois to pay for the normal costs of Chicago Teachers Pension Fund benefits earned from 2013-2059. State support for CTPF has fallen in recent years: CTPF received $34.5 million in 2011, compared to the $2.5 billion plus received by districts outside of Chicago. This bill includes a state appropriation of $191M to CTPF in 2013.

Raise Your Hand also opposes HB 4277 (see below).

Finally, this from CTU

Please oppose HB 4277 and the associated Amendment #1.

This bill would force school districts to divert more funds from neighborhood public schools to charter schools. While public schools are funded almost entirely by taxes, charters receive private money from corporate privatization proponents.

This Charter School Bill (HB4277) is not about reform or the betterment of our communities. It is about transferring a public good—Education—to private non-profits, where taxpayers and parents have NO recourse or chance for accountability. In addition, most charter schools do NOT offer a better education for students (2009 Stanford/CREDO study).

CPS faces a $712 million deficit due to the serious fiscal crisis as federal, state, and local revenues have decreased. By increasing the required funding for charters, the state would decrease the amount available for neighborhood public schools that serve the vast majority of CPS students.

The FY 2012 budget already includes a funding increase in 2011-12 for charter schools. Charters already receive:

  • $348 million in annual support for charter and contract schools
  • $9.7 million in new funds to open 4 new charter schools in 2011-2012
  • $6.7 million in new funds to support 1,000 expanded slots for new students at currently operating schools in 2011-2012
  • $22 million in new funds to add additional grades for 3,000 students in 2011-2012

Because of the district’s financial crisis, CPS reneged on a negotiated 4% pay increase for teachers and other staff, saving a mere $100 million. CPS, per state statute, will be required to implement a longer school day, a new teacher evaluation system, and the new Common Core State Standards. These new responsibilities beg the question: how will CPS fund these new initiatives while at the same time increasing funds for the Charter Schools?

Negotiated Charter legislation that passed in 2008 included a moratorium on new charter laws specific to Article 27A of the school code, which includes statutes on local and state finance for charters, until June 30, 2013.  The proposed legislation is a significant change to charter law, thus violating the spirit and intent of the agreement.


Trib readers oppose Noble discipline policy, too

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Nice to read these letters in this morning’s Tribune – guess not everyone agreed with the paper’s position on Noble:

Here’s a sample:

I find fining students for disciplinary infractions wrong in principle. Critics who call the program draconian are absolutely on target. It is not the list of ridiculous infractions alone; the fines truly set this reprehensible disciplinary scheme apart.


Public schools must take everyone. As demonstrated by many other groups: If we take a selected population, change the rules, give them money and facilities, outcomes increase. Remember that these are not public schools taking all young people. This is not merely school choice but a wholesale change in public education.


Respect is earned, not charged for.


By Jove, I think they’ve got it!

Noble in damage control mode

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Noble Muchin Campus principal (right) talks to protesting parent Donna Moore

It was kind of funny to see a “team” from Noble charter network trying to crash our press conference, working the media in full-out damage control mode.

The principal of Noble’s Muchin campus was there with a parent who was set in front of any reporter who would listen  to her to say how happy she was to pay the $140 fines just so that her child would be prepared to go on to college.

Gee, how on earth do all those parents out in the suburbs manage to get their kids into college without the Noble “secret sauce”?

A Noble PR person was there, too, handing out a Noble press release which pretty much admitted that they do what we said they do, and they’re proud of it.

Some early media reports:

WLS-TV: Charter school’s disciplinary fines protested

WGN-TV: Parents say Charter school fines are a “tax” on minorities

WBBM-TV: Students, Parents Protest Noble Network School Discipline Policy

Chicago News Cooperative: Charter operator Fines students for infractions

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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.