Q&A with ISBE’s Tony Smith

Tony Smith previously ran the school system in Oakland, Calif., and is the newly named state superintendent for Illinois. Melissa Sanchez talked to him about his vision for education, the role of testing, charters, finding teachers of color and whether CPS should declare bankruptcy.

School finance reform doesn’t have to be costly–just fair

Two years ago the Chicago Urban League and a group of plaintiffs went to
court to root out what we believe lies at the heart of the continuing
failure of Illinois public schools: the state’s fundamentally flawed and
discriminatory funding system. As children return to school and our
lawsuit resumes its progress through the courts, it is a good time to
look at where we’ve been and where we’re going.

Slowdown on per-pupil budgeting

Officials say a switch to student-based budgeting is on the back burner because of the district’s budget problems. But principals say the approach allows them more control over their budgets, and a noted advocate says the district’s plan needs to move ahead to bring equity to local school funding.

School budget forecast: cloudy


Columbia Explorers Academy reaped extra cash because of faulty enrollment projections.


Each spring, the district kicks off the budget process by estimating school-by-school enrollment. A Catalyst Chicago analysis found that this year, one in five schools—most often, neighborhood schools—had projections that were substantially off, affecting staffing levels.