Reconstitution was not the first time Chicago public school teachers have been asked to reapply for their jobs. As part of the board’s Options for Knowledge program, begun in the early 1980s to help desegregate neighborhood schools, 90 schools got the chance to become “specialty schools” with their own curricular focus, such as science or fine arts. As such, they had limited authority to revise job descriptions and ask current teachers to reapply for positions, explains Pamela Pearce, an administrator with the board’s Office of Equal Education Opportunity Programs. While some teachers were not “rehired,” she says, that did not occur in great numbers.
Haugan received 57 applications, which it whittled to Johnson-Rojas, a central office administrator and a teacher coordinator and a counselor from other schools. There would have been more applicants if not for “rumor on the street” that the interim was a shoo-in, says Paul Zeitler, assistant principal at Von Steuben High. He gave Haugan a pass, explaining, “There’s no sense wasting their time and my time.”
Initially, several council members who supported Knight were able to deny the LSC a quorum. Then, when the LSC was able to resume business, more than 100 community members and their children took up the protest, disrupting meetings with loud speeches, chants and heckling. One night, they forced the LSC to cancel a scheduled community forum for principal finalists. “It wouldn’t have been conducive or profitable for them to be jeered,” explains parent rep Miranda Shields.
Principal candidates must take 70 hours of coursework in specific areas, including staff evaluation and remediation plans. The Chicago Principals and Administrators Association agreed to offer the coursework for two groups of candidates: assistant principals and other administrators with state principal certification—about 100 have taken the courses or signed up—and principals who have been hired since the coursework requirement was approved a year ago.
On Feb. 10, Mary Loise, a teacher at Bridge Elementary, stood beaming before a group of DePaul University education majors, most in their early 20s. She showed them photos of the life-size igloo and tepee her 2nd-graders had made. She talked about the need to make children from distressed homes feel secure. And she warned: “You’re not going to be a babysitter; you have to be a taskmaster.”
Illinois teachers are above the national average in their credentials, but below average in job preparation and professional development, according to an October 1997 report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. The report, based on data gathered between 1994 and 1997, compares indicators of teaching quality in all 50 states. Here’s a sample.
Called LAUNCH (for Leadership Academy: An Urban Network for Chicago), the program will provide all-expenses-paid training over the summer by education and management faculty from Northwestern University and then a paid ($40,000) internship as an associate principal at a Chicago public school for a semester. The School Board is funding the internships.
Rajput divides students into three groups, then shows each group a video of a different aspect of ancient Egypt: mummies, pyramids and hieroglyphs. The groups create their own replicas, using materials borrowed from the Field Museum. Then, each student writes a report on the group’s topic; Rajput helps them navigate the library’s reference section. The lesson culminates in a Jeopardy-style quiz that pits classmates against each other.