According to the audit, 87 percent of the district’s 15,343 classroom teachers met the law’s guidelines for competence in core academic subjects—a regular or alternative teaching certificate and a college degree or endorsement in every core subject taught. Close to half of the 1,985 teachers who fell short are bilingual teachers.
When the School Board announced the schools Andersen children could attend—Sabin Magnet and Lozano Bilingual Academy—it was like pouring salt in the wounds. Sabin and Lozano both have specialized academic programs that make them popular with parents from around the city.
Some jumped at the offer. According to CPS, the parents of 169 eligible charter school students—roughly 5 percent of the eligible charter school population—applied for transfers. Only 10 were approved. (Fewer seats were available to choice transfer students compared to a year ago.)
Three times last year, teachers at the Chinese American Service League had to administer two very similar student assessments in its blended preschool program, sending the results either to the Chicago Public Schools or the Chicago Department of Human Services.
The target is 40 percent of students scoring at or above national norms on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, or meeting or exceeding state standards on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. However, little-noticed provisions give schools credit for making progress even if they fall short of the target.
The Chicago Reading Initiative was first out the gate when CEO Arne Duncan took over the district three years ago. Today, the signature program has expanded substantially, now encompassing three distinct efforts.
Weekley has posted notices, gone to conferences and sought out recruits through a well-established network of contacts that generated almost half of her current teaching staff. But so far, she’s had little luck, and like others in the field, says low pay is largely to blame. Only a newly minted Type 04 teacher, or one with a working spouse, is likely to accept the $35,000 starting salary she can currently offer, Weekley says.
The mid-April LSC elections are the most immediate challenge. A late-starting campaign season is typical, but this year there is little money to recruit new council members. LSC advocates could not persuade private funders to renew their support—up to $430,000 in recent years—for citywide, community-based recruitment. The School Board has made a contribution to the cause, but it is just $50,000.
The signup letter the School Board sent parents read like a legal document and didn’t go out until just before school started. Some of the private tutoring companies couldn’t find enough teachers or classroom space.
Almost 300 agencies in Chicago provide some form of organized tutoring to children, according to Daniel Bassill, founder and president of Cabrini Connections, a nonprofit that promotes tutoring and mentoring.