TRANSFORMING HIGH SCHOOLS Allan Alson, who resigned as executive director of the CPS Office of High School Transformation, is the new director of the leadership development program at the Consortium for Educational Change. The consortium, which is based in Lombard, works with a network of suburban and Downstate school districts to improve curricula and spur systemic change. The Office of High School Transformation will become part of the Office of High Schools, and much of its work improving curricula will be led by Michael Lach, the head of High School Teaching and Learning. Alson says the initiative he led at CPS was successful in improving instruction, curricula and school leadership. Alson says district officials are waiting to see this year’s ACT results for the juniors who were part of the transformation project since they were freshmen two years ago. Those scores “will tell the tale,” Alson says. … In another move to help keep high school kids on track to graduate, CPS for the first time is offering online summer courses for more than 600 freshmen who need to make up course credits. Summer Online Credit Recovery began June 30. Data suggests that a student’s freshman year is the most ideal time for credit recovery.
SPRINGFIELD UPDATE CPS can expect to receive $98 million in state funding next year, including about $15 million earmarked specifically for early childhood programs and a program to provide eyeglasses for low-income children. That leaves just $83 million for CPS to balance its budget, far short of the $180 million in state funding that CPS asked for in the spring and less than last year’s $128 million. In addition to receiving less state funding, CPS also lost out in bids to raise the charter cap. Proposals to raise the charter cap cleared the Senate, but stalled in the House. (For story on charter proposals, see Catalyst Chicago, April 2008.)
SCHOOL HEALTH PARTNERSHIP CPS and the city’s Department of Public Health have formed the new Chicago School Health Collaborative to improve health education and health services in the schools. As part of the venture, CPS will hire a new medical affairs director who will report to CEO Arne Duncan. The commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Terry Mason, and Duncan’s chief of staff, Bryan Samuels, will lead a Chicago School Health Collaborative Executive Committee, which will develop health-related programs and strategies. Committee members have not yet been selected.
AT CLARK STREET Deborah E. Duskey has been promoted to executive officer from senior manager in the Office of Specialized Services, replacing Renee Grant-Mitchell, who retired.
TEACHERS UNION CONVENTION The 1.4 million-member American Federation of Teachers, parent organization of the Chicago Teachers Union, held its annual convention in Chicago July 11-14. Edward McElroy, a labor leader from Rhode Island, passed the torch to Randi Weingarten, the fiery, reform-minded leader of the United Federation of Teachers in New York City, who called for an end to the federal No Child Left Behind Act and made a pitch for more community schools. Delegates passed a controversial measure that urges local unions to adopt peer review and mentoring programs that give teachers a say in firings for poor performance. A similar effort is already underway in Chicago in Fresh Start schools, where the CTU (in partnership with the district) has taken charge of struggling schools. Delegates also heard from Sen. Hillary Clinton and Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, who called for more funding and an overhaul of NCLB. Here are the full speeches by Weingarten and Obama.
TURNAROUND CONSULTANTS Copernicus and Fulton, the feeder elementary schools included as part of the CPS-led turnaround of Harper High, will receive consulting services for preschool through 3rd grade from the Erikson Institute. The Institute will help principals improve curricula and teaching, incorporate social and emotional learning in the classroom and improve community and parental involvement. The contract is for a maximum of $500,000.
CHARTER RENOVATIONS Seven charter schools are slated to receive grants from CPS to pay for renovations to make their buildings accessible for people with disabilities. School Board members voted in June to put aside up to $3 million for the schools, which are housed in non-CPS buildings. The charters and the funding amounts are: Namaste, $486,050; Chicago International Charter – Longwood Campus, up to $532,000; Academy of Communications and Technology, $165,607; Betty Shabazz International Charter, $600,000; and three of the United Neighborhood Organization’s charter campuses—Octavio Paz, $58,000, Rufino Tamayo, $88,000 and Carlos Fuentes, up to $900,000.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND PILOT Illinois is one of six states that will participate in a pilot program that will allow low-performing schools to offer children more tutoring earlier on under No Child Left Behind. Currently, schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress (AYP) in the same subject for two consecutive years must offer children both tutoring and the chance to enroll in a higher-performing school after three years. Under the pilot, schools that fail to make AYP for two years in a row must offer either option after only two years, and both options after three years.In return for this flexibility, states must commit to, among other goals, taking significant action to improve the lowest-performing schools and using data to determine how best to improve schools.
PRINCIPAL RETIREMENTS The following principals have retired: Miryam Assaf-Keller, Lloyd; Jacqueline Baker, Pope; Catherine Bushbacher, Reinberg; Alfonso Carrington, Bond; James Gorecki, Kennedy High; Claudia Halsey, Warren; Avelino Martinez, Prescott; Gwendolyn McClinton, Price; Phyllis McCune, Morton; Charles McGehee, Sherwood; Donna Nelson, Murphy; Pamela Jo Rice, Stevenson; Julia Roberts, Brentano; Shirley Talley-Smith, Lafayette; Gladys Taylor, Delano; JoAnn Thomas-Woods, BEST High; Henry Thompson III, Coleman; Patricia Turner, Stewart; Felix Winslow, Las Casas High.
PRINCIPAL CONTRACTS Assistant Principal Karen Sagodic-Kowalski of Stevenson and Acting Principal Sharon Jenkins of White have been awarded four-year principal contracts… Martha Rosa Salgado, assistant principal at Nobel, has been awarded a full contract at Brentano…Trisha Shrode, interim principal at Joplin, is the new principal at Lafayette… Janice Jackson, founding principal at Al Raby, will leave the school to become principal of the new Westinghouse High. … Samuel Jordan of Owens, Linda Moore of Burnham/Anthony and Charles Slaughter of Caldwell have had their contracts renewed.
SMALL SCHOOLS GRANTS Four large CPS high schools will receive a total of $5.2 million in federal funding to create “schools within schools.” Foreman, Kelvyn Park, Manley and Schurz will receive the funds as part of the Smaller Learning Communities Program, which helps schools with more than 1,000 students to create small schools of no more than 140 students, with the goal of creating a better learning atmosphere and getting students on track for graduation. Since 2000, CPS has received a total of $18.7 million from10 federal grants to create small schools.
EDUCATION SUMMIT To support greater community participation in schools, a host of grassroots groups is sponsoring the Chicago Quality Education Summit on Saturday, Aug. 23 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Sponsors include Parents United for Responsible Education, Designs for Change, Blocks Together and Clergy for Community. For more information, contact the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization at (773) 548-7500.