As if Chicago’s upcoming mayoral election didn’t already promise to feature education as a prominent campaign issue, a coalition of community and labor groups are now trying to get a measure for an elected school board on February’s ballot in each of the city’s 50 wards.
Part of their strategy, organizers say, is to make the question of whether Chicago should have an elected school board a sort of litmus test for incumbent aldermen and their challengers.
Just one year after unveiling a new School Quality Rating Policy that’s based on a range of indicators from attendance to academic growth, the Board of Education voted on Wednesday to now allow schools to be ranked entirely on their test results.
CPS officials provided some details—though little new information–about next year’s budget on Wednesday afternoon, but have yet to release it. Sometime this evening, they say, it will be posted online.
Three months after the departure of CPS’s most recent communications chief, the Board of Education on Wednesday approved the hiring of a longtime communications executive from the corporate world to fill the high-pressure political job.
Concerns about conflicts of interest with the Academy for Urban School Leadership and CPS were raised once again in recent letters to the inspectors general of CPS and the U.S. Department of Education. But one point raised by critics has not been explored much, even though it is central to the question of potential conflicts.
“Why are these [contracts] put out on a no-bid basis?” asked Austin community activist Dwayne Truss at a Monday press conference held in front of the building that houses the regional offices of the U.S. Department of Education.
Having less than three full years under my belt as a principal, and at a neighborhood public school that has been on “probation” since the inception of No Child Left Behind, I’m probably not one who should speak out on the issues raised this week by my colleagues at Blaine and Peterson schools. Without getting into the politics of these issues, I do see a potential solution that could help improve the Chicago Public Schools. Principals are the primary lever tasked to implement every policy CPS devises. We are the critical link between Central Office and the classrooms. What we want is a voice and a seat at the table when policies are designed and implementations are planned.
CPS has left principals with the choice of where to fail students, rather than the choice of how to ensure each student has an education that is holistic, community-based, collaborative, evidence-based, equitable, and student-centered.
Two CPS board members had serious questions—some of which went unanswered–about handing over three elementary schools to the Academy for Urban School Leadership. But in the end, the turnarounds were approved at a meeting where opponents as well as supporters of the turnaround model dominated the public participation..
Deputy Editor Sarah Karp has won second place for investigative reporting from the national Education Writers Association for a series of articles that delved into the details of CPS’ questionable $20 million, no-bid contract with the for-profit SUPES Academy.