Education Questionnaire: William "Doc" Walls, III

Do you want control of the Chicago Public Schools? If so, how should Board of Education members be selected? Should some of them be elected?

No I do not want to control the Board of Education. Rather than continue to allow the Mayor to appoint the school board, we must elect a school board, from single member districts, The President should be elected citywide.

Do you believe the chief executive officer of the Chicago Public Schools should be an educator? Why or why not? What are the main qualities you would look for?

I maintain that the next head of CPS should have an Illinois Type 75 administrative certificate and, therefore, be eligible for appointment as a education-first Superintendent.

Should the School Board conduct a national search for a new schools chief?

As soon as I am elected, I will empanel a Blue Ribbon Committee of educational community activists, parents and members of the Chicago Teacher's Union to conduct an unlimited search to identify the three most desirable candidates for Chicago Public Schools Superintendent. The School Board may then choose the candidate they deem best.

Chicago has the shortest school day among large, urban districts. What would you do about that?

On an average of U.S. students go to school 6.5 hours a day, over the course of 180 days. The State of Illinois requires 176 days of education. Last year, the Chicago Public Schools only had 170 days. In addition to meeting the State's requirements, we will extend the CPS school day for K-12. Students will be required to attend school from 8:30AM to 3:30 PM.

CPS is looking at another enormous deficit for the 2011-2012 school year – under the teachers union contract, salaries are scheduled to rise another 4 percent, and federal stimulus money will be gone. How do you get out of that mess?

Not answered.

Would you support the closing of low-performing and under-enrolled schools? Why or why not?

I would not support the closing of any school simply because of a history of low-performance. If the building itself is not structurally deficient or unsound we would demand the administration make the adjustments necessary to support the, Principal, Teachers and Staff, and thereby improve performance. Only those schools that do not meet the small school standard would be closed for under-enrollment. If nothing else, we must provide our Students the stability they deserve.

Would you support the continued expansion of charter schools in Chicago? Why or why not?

Our objective is provide a superior public school education for each and every individual child. To accomplish this objective, we must fully invest our time and attention into our Neighborhood schools and commit our scare resources towards the improvement of our time honored Public School System. Charter schools are too unpredictable. They are not required to provide Performance Bonds which would ensure educational operations even if a particular charter school suddenly goes bankrupt or otherwise is forced to close its doors. If this were to occur at some time after the beginning of the school year, the parents of the affected students would be forced to find an alternative educational institution. According to study findings, students forced to change schools, would lose the equivalence of six months of education. Furthermore, according to Illinois Law the CTU cannot organize Charter School Employees. As the number of Chicago Charter schools increases, this restriction will eventually decimate the ranks of the CTU. Additionally, the law prohibits LSCs within Charter Schools. Therefore, Parents and educational community activists are structurally disconnected from the process.

Do think it is it too hard to fire bad teachers who have tenure? If so, what do you think should be done about that?

Teachers who have achieved tenure obviously demonstrated the requisite skill needed to teach within the system. A tenured teacher should not be terminated simply because they are experiencing a set-back or find themselves struggling through a rough patch of life. If a tenured teacher has difficulty, including motivating students or providing proper instruction, they should be offered counseling, supplemental training and an opportunity to correct any obvious deficiencies. 

Should seniority govern teacher layoffs? If not, how would you recommend that future layoffs be handled?

Seniority should govern layoffs.

In New York and Los Angeles, controversy has erupted over whether teacher evaluations should be made public or shared with parents. Is that a good idea? Would you push to share evaluations with parents in Chicago?

It is a good idea for the Public School system to share teacher evaluations with the public. Teachers are public employees paid using taxpayer funds. I would push for the sharing of teacher evaluations, premised upon the condition that those evaluations are fair and objective.

Do schools have a role in stopping youth violence?  If so, what should schools do, and how would you support their efforts?

As it relates to curtailing youth violence, schools are the first line of defense. Much of the violence in Chicago is a direct result of children being forced to go to school across gang lines. Gang activity is a reality in many of the Chicago Public schools. The Chicago Board of Education must recognize the gravity of that disease and empower Principals and Teachers to take the actions necessary to safeguard the student population, change the culture, and eventually eliminate gang activity, on a school by school basis.

As Mayor, I would use the bully-pulpit of my office to highlight the problem, foster greater community awareness and encourage real solutions to this tremendous problem.

What would success with your education agenda look like at the end of your first term?

At the end of my first term, we would  have an education first model of Public Education headed by a Superintendent who's committed to the development of a school system that does more than safely warehouse students; teach them reading, writing, math and science and train them to pass tests. We will have a system that thoroughly exposes students to all of life’s intangibles; including the arts, history, the humanities, civics, vocations, languages sports and technology. We will be committed to having one curriculum common to children at the same grade level, across each of the schools, throughout the city.

Irrespective of the level of parental support or involvement, or lack thereof, we will completely educate all of our children. We will empower them to perform critical and analytical functions, and enable them to appreciate their limitless potential.

Thanks to encouragement from a vast body of involved stakeholders, the Illinois state legislature will have reformed education Funding, and the state shall be supplying 51% of the amount needed to provide each child a high quality education.

Additionally, we will have lessened the burden on taxpayers despite the burgeoning cost of education. Our agenda would include institutionalizing Corporate support for our educational system through naming rights, not charter schools. For example, we might rename Lane Technical High School, the “Sprint-Lane Tech Campus.” In exchange for long-term naming rights, Sprint Communications would be required to invest an initial $1.6 million dollars for Capital improvements and thereafter provide $600,000 per year to fund educational programs at Lane Tech High School. Other companies and private individuals might pay a fee to have the auditorium or gymnasium, or certain classrooms named according to their wishes.