Posts Tagged ‘turnaround schools’

PSAT for 2-7-12: Get in on the Tuesday action!

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

More groups are picking up on the idea of doing something every Tuesday to fight for our public schools – Public Schools Action Tuesday, PSAT!

Chicago’s Parents 4 Teachers group is continuing its Tuesday call-in campaign to CPS to stop school closings (see #1 below).

And next Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 9 pm EST, the Save Our Schools March is kicking off an every-Tuesday social media #SOSchat. The Valentine’s Day-appropriate topic? “What Do I LOVE About Public Schools?” More on that next week.

PURE’s PSAT actions for 2-7-12:

1) CALL IN – Parents 4 Teachers is asking everyone to call Chicago Public Schools CEO JC Brizard again this Tuesday and for the next two Tuesdays leading up to the February 22, 2012, Board of Education meeting, asking for a stop to school closings and turnarounds. Lots of calls were made last week – let’s keep the pressure on!


Parents 4 Teachers asks: If you’ve already called, thank you. Go ahead and call again and please commit to getting TWO more people to call. These school actions will have a devastating impact on students, families and their communities. CPS should be working to improve schools, not close them. Please forward this to everyone you know who’s committed to working for quality schools for ALL Chicago children.

2) SIGN – Dump Duncan! Chicago’s Arne Duncan has done what many thought was impossible – made the No Child Left Behind law even worse than it was under George W Bush. Here’s your chance to ask President Obama to give a sign that he gets it, and that he wants people who care about education to care again about voting for him. Sign the Dump Duncan petition!

3) QUESTION: Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force advisor Jackie Leavy notes that more hearing officer reports have been posted on the CPS web site. Apparently most of the reports “find” in favor of CPS’s proposals. How do the hearing officers’ reports line up with what was actually said in the hearings?

Jackie also mentions that a City Council Education Committee hearing on CPS school closings and other actions that was supposed to be held yesterday was cancelled. If your alderman is a member of this committee (and even if he/she is not) you may want to ask why, and let them know your opinion on these actions.

City Council Ed Committee chair is Latasha Thomas, and the vice-chair is Rey Colon. Committee members are:

Moreno, Dowell, Sawyer, Beale, Cardenas, O’Shea, Munoz, Solis, Maldonado, Burnett, Ervin, Waguespack,Laurino, P. O’Connor, M. O’Connor, Osterman

The Committee will be meeting this Thursday, Feb 9, at 10 am in Room 201A, on another topic, so that might be a good time to ask them what’s going on.

Here are some more great questions for policy makers from Diane Ravitch (“Do politicians know anything about schools and education? Anything?”).

4) READ/SHARE: Wonder why CPS can “listen” so much at so many hearings and yet “hear” nothing that parents, students, teachers, the community, other educators, research experts, and scientists are saying? You may be interested in reading through their playbook, “What’s Trust Got to do with it?,” a report by Public Agenda which was recently reviewed by the corporate reform myth-busters at the National Education Policy Center.

NEPC’s review is usefully titled, “Giving Parents the Run-around on School Turnarounds.” 

The press release for this review describes Public Agenda’s advice for officials dealing with community resistance to the drastic actions they are determined to impose on schools:

In the face of such reaction, the authors of What’s Trust Got to Do With It? focus on how to better sell the concept. They assume that resistant parents simply don’t understand “how bad” their local schools are….(T)he report never treats seriously the substantive concerns of resistant parents; it never questions the fundamental strategy that it proposes communicating about….The result is a document that’s “paternalistic and arrogant” in its “criticism of parents for not knowing what’s good for them.”




A little more light on AUSL

Monday, February 6th, 2012

If you aren’t a subscriber to the print edition of the Chicago Tribune, you may have entirely missed their front-page story on the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL),which was pretty hard to find on the internet edition’s home page.

Just days before CPS is likely to hand them six more schools, the Trib shared numbers  that bear out PURE’s long-standing complaint that AUSL does not produce the results we should expect given their extra resources:

“CPS has paid AUSL millions to take control of its worst-performing schools. In addition to the money the district portions out to each neighborhood school, turnaround high schools receive $500,000 for specialized teacher training and recruitment and an additional $500 per pupil to pay for instructional coaches, student mentors and tutors. Elementary schools receive $300,000 and $420 per student.

“The district also pays to hire one additional assistant principal at each turnaround school for one year and has pumped millions into these schools to repair crumbling walls, fix or modernize equipment, or simply give the school a fresh coat of paint. CPS has pledged $25.7 million to upgrade schools marked for turnaround this year.”

AUSL should have much more to show for all that, but not by this account:

Most of AUSL turnarounds score below CPS averages on the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state benchmarks on standardized testing. Those schools that beat district averages have been accused of pushing out their lowest-performing students or those with discipline problems to artificially inflate their test scores.

Catalyst Magazine ran a similar story yesterday which included this telling comment about an AUSL principal: “Turner does her best to discourage parents whose children won’t fit in.” Yet despite this obvious creaming, Catalyst concludes that “only half of the 10 (AUSL schools) are performing substantially better. And some neighborhood schools that have not gotten the same resources are gaining ground at a similar clip.”

AUSL plans to double its number of campuses from 18 to 39 next year. Can someone explain why we should let them?

School closing protesters take over Chicago board meeting

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

TIME Magazine just named “The Protester” their “Person of the Year,” saying, “In 2011, protesters didn’t just voice complaints; they changed the world.” Today in Chicago, parents and teachers are demonstrating just how that happens.

After camping out overnight in frigid rain in front of the Chicago Public Schools central office, people furious about the district’s years of failed, top-down school interventions took over the Board of Education meeting. driving school board members from the room and taking over the microphone to voice their anger.

According to breaking news stories in the Tribune and Sun-Times, protesters said

“Nearly 40 percent of new schools that have replaced ones that closed are performing at the lowest levels. We see through the sound bites. You have betrayed the public trust. You have failed Chicago’s children.”

“Today we stand before you to demand that the Board of Education immediately end all of its moves to push school actions upon the community. We also are asking them to stop charter expansion and to stop handing over these schools to politically connected, under-performing charter networks.”

“We need to stop targeting those in the community that are of color and are of cultural diversity. We need to support our schools, not close them. We can function if the board and the legislature gives us the funding we need to make our schools great.”

CPS security escorted at least 10 people from the Board chambers.

Under mayoral control, Chicago has closed more than 80 district schools since 2002. More than 100 charter schools have opened, some in shared facilities with existing schools and others in buildings CPS emptied when they closed a neighborhood school. Some 20 schools are undergoing turnaround interventions in which all staff are fired and replaced.

The result?

Chicago charter and turnaround schools do just about as well as CPS schools overall, and many carry federal and/or local failure labels.   

And yet, last month, Chicago Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard announced 18 more closures, turnarounds and other interventions, and, this week, a plan to open 12 new charter schools, giving contracts to charter networks that already run some of the system’s worst schools.

A statement posted on the CPS site by spokeswoman Becky Carroll “explained” their action today this way: “We can no longer accept a status quo that has allowed so many schools to fail our students year after year.”

My statement? CPS’s 10 year slash-and-burn campaign against regular public schools, teachers, and communities is the status quo. It has failed and it has to be stopped.

18 schools, 10,000 students targeted by CPS interventions

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

Adding to the 10 turnarounds disclosed yesterday, CPS today announced that it will close 2 schools and consolidate, phase out, or otherwise intervene in 6 others.

There will be a critical meeting of the Chicago Educational Facilties Task Force TOMORROW Dec 1 at 10 am downtown at the Bilandic Building – 160 N. La Salle RM C-600 (6TH Floor) – Committee Hearing Room. The CPS proposals will be the topic of discussion of this legislative task force. 

CTU’s response:

Chicago Teachers Union blasts new list of school closures and the parceling out of elementary students to other schools

 Lewis: “CPS has 0% success rate in improving city high schools”

CHICAGO – Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis criticized the Chicago Public Schools (CPS)  list of schools targeted for closures and other school actions by pointing out that not only does the policy do little to improve student achievement, but the District has a poor record of improving academic achievement among the city’s most vulnerable students.  The 18 schools targeted are predominantly African-American and are located on the South and West Sides.

Nearly 10,000 students and hundreds of educators are impacted by school actions.

“School closings, consolidations, turnarounds and other similar experiments do not work and do little to improve student achievement,” said Lewis. “Today’s ‘school actions’ are the same old, ineffective, policies couched in new and exciting public relations boosting language; however, the outcomes will remain the same. Until this administration addresses the structural inequity in our schools and deals with poverty and other social impediments to learning, we’ll be right back at this place again next year.”

She pointed out that CPS has a poor track record of improving high schools citing its “zero percent success rate,” and also said the administrators downtown are out of touch with public safety and mobility issues that arise when high schools are closed. “What happens to our children when they are parceled out to other neighborhoods? Instead of trying to solve the problem and fix our failing schools, the Board of Education is simply moving it around–shuffling children from one under-resourced school to another.”

Lewis also blasted CPS’ ever-changing probation criteria that have put nearly 300 schools in jeopardy of school actions and have rendered their Local School Councils inoperable.  “When Paul Vallas was the CEO there were 100 schools put on probation. We now have 253 schools on probation. What does that tell us about the policies that have been used from Vallas’ time? You’d think over this time we’d have seen improvements by now.  Either the Board has changed the criteria for what probation means or it has ulterior motives for putting schools on probation in the first place.”

“Mr. Brizard has said school closings are necessary because of “toxic” school environments but that’s a value judgment,” she explained. “Is the school ‘toxic’ because the principal is ineffective; is it toxic because leadership does not welcome and invite parents and community into the school; is it toxic because there are no libraries; is it toxic because the surrounding community is filled with poverty, violence and apathy? There is no one quick-fix remedy for schools in crisis. Prescribing the same solution to 18 different campuses would be akin to a doctor prescribing the same dose of medicine to every single patient under his/her  care.  Why not give these schools the comprehensive plan and resources they need before shutting them down and destabilizing a community.”

In response to the school actions,  CTU will conduct a teach-in on school actions on Saturday, December 3 at 10 a.m. at   King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel. Labor leaders, community activists, and others will also present an oral history of CPS school closings, consolidations and turnarounds and illustrate its impact on impoverished communities and conduct workshops on how to save troubled schools.

The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools and, by extension, the students and families they serve. CTU, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers, is the third largest teachers local in the country and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information visit CTU’s website at

Support PURE!
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.