WBEZ | teachers http://www.wbez.org/tags/teachers Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en StoryCorps: Bilingual pre-school teacher describes the state of education in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-bilingual-pre-school-teacher-describes-state-education-chicago-111267 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/kksc.PNG" alt="" /><p><p>Iveth Romano teaches pre-school in Chicago and many of her students are bilingual. She came by the StoryCorps booth recently to speak with producer Katie Klocksin about the importance of supporting kids who are learning two languages.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of the parents don&rsquo;t speak English,&rdquo; Romano said. &ldquo;But most of our teachers who have a Bachelors&rsquo;, they are American, so they just speak English.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I remember once a girl she just peed her pants and started crying,&rdquo; she continued. &ldquo;I was in another classroom but I heard the girl say that she wanted to use the bathroom, in Spanish. But [none] of the teachers understood what she said. They (didn&rsquo;t) pay attention to her and she just peed on her pants and started crying and they gave her a timeout.&rdquo;</p><p>Romano says she has a lot of examples like that. She says she sees situations like that once per week or twice a week.</p><p>Romano pushes all her students to learn English and Spanish. In her classroom, they say their ABCs in both languages.</p><p>Sometimes, though, parents are oblivious to what&rsquo;s going on - good or bad - in the classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not because people are bad. Or they don&rsquo;t know how to say &lsquo;thank you.&rsquo; I think it&rsquo;s more that they&rsquo;re tired. Sometimes you don&rsquo;t really know what kind of job they have. Sometimes they have two different jobs in one day. So that [does] not make me feel bad that they don&rsquo;t say &lsquo;thank you.&rsquo; They don&rsquo;t say nothing. They just take the kid and leave. I understand. Sometimes they look really tired.&rdquo;</p><p>Teaching can be stressful, Klocksin said, but &ldquo;there&rsquo;s obviously a lot of rewards to it too. Why did you go into this?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Cause my son is four years old,&rdquo; Romano said, &ldquo;And he used to attend a Head Start but I just moved him to a Catholic school because here in Chicago. The education in the public schools is really difficult in this moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Romano says two of the neighborhood public schools closed, so classrooms that used to have twenty kids are now thirty-five or forty kids.</p><p>Romano says her son is doing better now.</p><p>&ldquo;His behavior&rsquo;s completely different,&rdquo; Romano said. &ldquo;He looks more happy. He looks more confident.&rdquo;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/6250422&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_artwork=true&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false" width="888px"></iframe></p></p> Thu, 18 Dec 2014 15:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/storycorps-bilingual-pre-school-teacher-describes-state-education-chicago-111267 Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Morning Shift: An American art form in Paris http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-05/morning-shift-american-art-form-paris-110133 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Jazz photo for 5-5 Flickr pedrosimoes7.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We mark Teacher Appreciate Week with NEA head Dennis Van Roekel. We take a look at the race for Congress in the 10th Congressional District which includes an attempt at a comeback. And, we celebrate jazz in Paris.&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-an-american-art-form-in-paris" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: An American art form in Paris" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Mon, 05 May 2014 10:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-05-05/morning-shift-american-art-form-paris-110133 Study finds high-achieving minorities shun teaching http://www.wbez.org/news/study-finds-high-achieving-minorities-shun-teaching-108963 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Teacher diversity_131018_oy.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A <a href="http://www.siue.edu/ierc/">decade-long study of more than 225,000 Illinois public high school graduates</a> finds many reasons that minorities are not becoming teachers. The Illinois Education Research Council at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville&nbsp;tracked the classes of 2002 and 2003 as they moved beyond high school and into their careers. The study sheds light on where students, including African-American and Latino graduates, drop out of that pipeline.</p><p>Illinois education officials have been wrestling with a significant mismatch between the number of minority teachers and the number of minority students in the state&rsquo;s public schools. While almost half of students are non-white, more than 80 percent of their teachers are Caucasian. A <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601">recent push to increase teacher quality standards </a>threatens to exacerbate the difference.</p><p>The Illinois Education Research Council study, meanwhile, finds that while roughly one-third of Illinois public high school graduates earned a Bachelor&rsquo;s degree, only 3 percent became teachers. Within the pool of 4-year college degree earners, minorities went on to become teachers in Illinois public schools at a noticeably lower rate than their white counterparts.</p><p>&ldquo;The minority numbers were actually surprising to me,&rdquo; said Brad White, lead researcher on the study. &ldquo;I sort of went into the study thinking that a lot of that story could be told simply by looking at different rates of enrollment and graduation from college. And that wasn&rsquo;t the case at all.&rdquo;</p><p>White said minority graduates with Bachelor&rsquo;s degrees, and particularly those who fell into the top third of ACT scores, opted to earn teaching certificates at lower rates than similarly qualified white students. And beyond that, African-Americans who did receive teaching certificates were less likely to get teaching positions in Illinois public schools.</p><p>White suggested that the state could increase its pool of minority teachers by recruiting promising students into the profession as early as high school. He said the state could also focus on improving educational opportunities for minority students before they get to college.</p><p>&ldquo;We might be able to see changes in the number of those students that are interested in pursuing teaching as a career if the career is perceived as more prestigious and more difficult to enter,&rdquo; White added. This is an approach state officials say they are trying to take, by increasing testing standards required to enter the profession.</p><p>A spokesperson for the Illinois State Board of Education noted that the state encourages colleges and universities to partner with local school districts to recruit diverse students into the teaching profession, and that the state has expanded funding for Teach for America recruitment. The study found that alternative certification programs such as TFA appear to be good pathways for academically gifted minorities into the teaching profession.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p><p>Note: This article incorrectly stated that the Illinois Education Research Council is at Southeastern Illinois University in Edwardsville. It is at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.</p></p> Fri, 18 Oct 2013 10:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/study-finds-high-achieving-minorities-shun-teaching-108963 Out-of-work teachers seen as untapped resource for solving city problems http://www.wbez.org/news/out-work-teachers-seen-untapped-resource-solving-city-problems-108885 <p><p dir="ltr">On a recent Saturday morning, more than two dozen educators sat in the pews of a South Side church. There were principals, deans, special education teachers, classroom teachers--nearly all of them out of work.</p><p dir="ltr">At the front of the room, Elizabeth Galik told a story many laid-off teachers can relate to, about trying to get a job in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;So I walked in, in my little cute blue suit and my heels,&rdquo; says Galik. &ldquo;I walked into that job fair at Soldier Field, and saw about five thousand other people who looked just like me.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Galik eventually landed a teaching job at a private school. But she found herself unemployed again when the school had to close for financial reasons.</p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/goodcity%202%20for%20use%20inline.jpg" style="float: right; height: 400px; width: 300px;" title="English teacher Imran Khan [lower right] helped found Embarc, Inc., a nonprofit that broadens students’ worlds by taking them on field trips. This school year is Khan’s first working full-time for Embarc. (Courtesy Embarc, Inc.)" />By this time, Galik knew her students, knew their families, knew the community. And she had ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;And so I went to the church that owned the school and I said, &lsquo;Would you let me just open the computer lab to the community and see what happens?&rsquo; And so I literally hand-painted my little sign. I hung it outside: Computer lab open. Tuesdays.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The computer lab was a success. It expanded and merged, and Galik now oversees a community organization with six sites. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Teacher layoffs are painful&mdash;and Chicago posted a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109">record number</a> of them this year, between budget cuts and school closings. But the local nonprofit <a href="http://www.goodcitychicago.org/">Goodcity</a> is seeing opportunity in the layoffs, for the teachers and for the city. Goodcity believes Chicago would be a better place if lots of the city&rsquo;s laid-off educators founded their own nonprofits. The idea is to keep teachers in the city neighborhoods where they&rsquo;ve been working, and get them to address some of the problems they&rsquo;ve seen up close as teachers.. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Consultant Rene Alvarado says teachers make good social entrepreneurs.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Teachers have a pulse on what the real needs of our society are. Not only that, but they have to come up with some ideas--how do I solve these problems? And then I think there&rsquo;s this resiliency about teachers as well. &lsquo;Yeah, I had this horrible day, but I&rsquo;ve got to get up tomorrow morning and come back and try this over again.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">If the recent Goodcity workshop is any indication, teachers have lots of ideas.</p><p dir="ltr">A social worker wants to help kids aging out of foster care. A teacher with accounting experience has ideas for a financial literacy program.</p><p dir="ltr">A former high school principal wants to help disadvantaged kids make it into Chicago&rsquo;s elite high schools, by starting a nonprofit test prep center. &ldquo;Unlike some of the for-profit test prep organizations, I want to make it affordable for inner-city kids,&rdquo; says Joyce Cooper.</p><p dir="ltr">A cosmetology teacher wants to open a salon that would hire her licensed cosmetology students right out of high school, and help them dream even bigger.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Chicago has become the movie hub,&rdquo; says Venetta Carter, who still has her teaching job but is looking &nbsp;to the future. &ldquo;A lot of African Americans just go into a salon, but we don&rsquo;t go into the movie theaters where you have to do theatrical hair, theatrical makeup. So I&rsquo;m hoping to partner with the movie industry and maybe have current hairstylists (or) makeup artists maybe mentor these kids and introduce them to this other side of the cosmetology world.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">There are a lot of examples of teachers becoming entrepreneurs&mdash;some of them very high profile. Two teachers created the KIPP charter school network for instance, which now enrolls 50,000 kids in 141 schools across the nation. And education entrepreneurs are hot right now&mdash;there&rsquo;s venture capital for start-ups trying to tackle pressing problems in public education. Almost everything in education is up for reinvention -- from textbooks to the use of technology to schools themselves.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The truth is, teachers are great managers,&rdquo; says Northside College Prep interim principal Ellen Estrada. &ldquo;Not only that, we underestimate the intellectual nature of teaching,&rdquo; she says.</p><p dir="ltr">Estrada got a taste of the corporate world recently when she went to work for Microsoft to design a science initiative for the city.</p><p dir="ltr">She says teachers are making split-second decisions throughout the day. Are kids understanding what I just presented? Do they need another example? What do I do with this kid who&rsquo;s acting out?</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Most people in jobs are not &lsquo;on&rsquo; like that all the time. And our teachers are,&rdquo; says Estrada.</p><p dir="ltr">English teacher Imran Khan founded a nonprofit several years ago when he was working at Harper High School. <a href="http://www.embarcchicago.org/">Embarc, Inc.</a> &nbsp;takes students on field trips, giving them an opportunity to step away from the neighborhoods where they&rsquo;re growing up. Khan says he got the idea for Embarc because he saw a need for it when he was teaching.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I had a lot of kids who had rarely ever travelled beyond a four-block radius,&rdquo; says Khan. &ldquo;A lot of kids who had never heard of Millennium Park, some who had never seen the lake, kids who had never set foot in grocery stores or had never been in elevators--and these are 16-, 17-year-old high school kids.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Through Embarc, Khan took students to the theater, to see dances, to downtown restaurants&mdash;and saw attendance and graduation rates soar. &ldquo;I knew if we were going to change outcomes for kids, I needed to change their experiences first. I needed to give them some reason to strive,&rdquo; he says.</p><p dir="ltr">Khan and another teacher left Harper this year to run Embarc full time. The program is expanding to nine schools. &nbsp;Like Goodcity, Khan believes teachers are a huge, untapped resource for solving Chicago&rsquo;s problems.</p><p>Goodcity hopes more nonprofits started by teachers will be one silver lining to lots of layoffs.</p></p> Wed, 09 Oct 2013 17:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/out-work-teachers-seen-untapped-resource-solving-city-problems-108885 Morning Shift: Testing teachers causes unexpected racial division http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-04/morning-shift-testing-teachers-causes-unexpected <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/desks better - Flickr - Robert Couse-Baker.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We discuss how entrance exams for teachers is sparking a debate about whether or not these exams are ruining diversity among teachers. Also, as Rosh Hashanah approaches we look at the culinary spread for the Jewish New Year.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-57/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-57.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-57" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Testing teachers causes unexpected racial division" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 04 Sep 2013 08:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-09-04/morning-shift-testing-teachers-causes-unexpected Push for teacher quality in Illinois takes toll on minority candidates http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Teacher diversity_130904_oy.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Across the nation, states are considering ways to make teaching a more selective profession. The push for &ldquo;higher aptitude&rdquo; teachers has often come from the nation&rsquo;s top education officials. &ldquo;In Finland it&rsquo;s the top ten percent of college grads (who) are going into education,&rdquo; U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4ykyW4F9q8">said to an audience of educators in Massachusetts</a> last year. &ldquo;Ninety percent don&rsquo;t have that opportunity.&rdquo;</p><p>Education leaders in Illinois have taken up that call, but the way they&rsquo;ve done it has raised some red flags. That&rsquo;s because tougher standards are coming at a cost: fewer minorities are on track to become teachers. The data have state officials talking about whether they should do things differently.</p><p>The issue became a key point of discussion at last month&rsquo;s regular meeting of the Illinois State Board of Education. Though it wasn&rsquo;t on the board&rsquo;s agenda, a handful of outsiders showed up to bring it to the board&rsquo;s attention during the public comment portion of the meeting. Linda Wegner, a teacher in Rochelle, IL, spoke on behalf of the <a href="http://www.ieanea.org/">Illinois Education Association</a>. &ldquo;I want to encourage my minority students to be teachers. I try to, I always have,&rdquo; she told</p><p>Wegner warned the board that unless it intervenes, Illinois&rsquo; teaching force will become whiter. That&rsquo;s because the number of African Americans and Latinos in teaching schools is way down. She and many others attributed this to a change in the <a href="http://www.il.nesinc.com/">Test of Academic Proficiency</a>, or TAP, an admissions test for colleges of education. Anyone who wants to be a teacher in Illinois must pass the TAP.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing a diminution in the number of minority candidates who are passing this exam, so we&rsquo;re worried about it,&rdquo; said Gery Chico, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education. Chico told Wegner he is seriously alarmed about data that show that fewer African Americans and Hispanics are passing the TAP. He said the board had feared this might happen when it raised standards to pass the TAP in 2010.</p><p>That year, the board doubled the scores needed to pass each section of the TAP, and also <a href="http://www.isbe.net/licensure/pdf/icts_test.pdf">limited students to five tries</a>. &ldquo;It was really part and parcel of that overall movement to increase the rigor of various standards that affect the entire profession,&rdquo; Chico explained.</p><p>Last year, the board also began allowing teacher candidates to <a href="http://www.isbe.net/licensure/pdf/act-sat-grade-use-notice0113.pdf">submit test scores on other standardized assessments in lieu of the TAP</a>. A score of at least 22 on the ACT or 1030 on the SAT would qualify. However, the state has not tracked whether this has allowed more candidates of color into colleges of education. Both of those cutoff scores are above what African Americans and Hispanics in Illinois average on those exams; they are below what Caucasians average.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Data is in</strong></h2><p>But now, it&rsquo;s been three years, and the numbers are in: the overall pass rate for the TAP is less than half what it was before, and the changes have disproportionately hurt non-Asian minorities. Sixty percent of African-Americans used to pass the TAP; now it&rsquo;s 17 percent. For Hispanics, the pass rate has dropped from 70 percent, to 22 percent.</p><p>Many are quick to warn that this is not because those candidates are less capable, but that they themselves were products of poor schools. &ldquo;If you think about who have we been under-educating in the past, it tends to be low-income and minority students,&rdquo; said Robin Steans of <a href="http://www.advanceillinois.org/">Advance Illinois</a>, an education policy group.</p><p>Steans rejects the idea that raising teacher standards must come at the cost of diversity. She says colleges of education should do more to recruit talented minorities.</p><p>But the reality is, Illinois is seeing a tradeoff. She and many others in the education field in Illinois believe this matters because year after year the white student population in the state has shrunk. According to the Illinois State Board of Education, white students make up 50.3 percent of school enrollment this year. Meanwhile, the share of white teachers in Illinois has barely changed, <a href="http://iirc.niu.edu/State.aspx?source=About_Educators&amp;source2=Teacher_Demographics">hovering between 82 and 85 percent</a>. Many feel the new TAP further exacerbates the mismatch.</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t we want kids to have elementary teachers who have a solid grasp of these subjects?&rdquo; said Arthur McKee, of the <a href="http://www.nctq.org/siteHome.do">National Council on Teacher Quality</a>. The NCTQ has become a vocal advocate in pressuring states to raise teacher standards. McKee said Illinois made the right changes to the TAP, and should stay its course. &ldquo;We actually think that it&rsquo;s a good assessment,&rdquo; he continued. &ldquo;We believe that teachers should generally be drawn from the top half of the college-going population.&rdquo;</p><p>Nationally, that&rsquo;s where things are going. Many states are considering policy changes to make teaching more selective. Some would weed candidates out after they finish their education degrees, but others like New Jersey and Nebraska are thinking of doing what Illinois does: narrowing the pool at the front end. In most of these places, there are debates about whether changes might limit diversity in their teaching pool. Illinois is the early adopter that shows those fears are well-founded.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Teachers of their own culture</strong></h2><p>Practitioners on the ground agree that we need smart teachers, but many also believe students do better with teachers of their own culture. &ldquo;I just think it&rsquo;s so important for children to see people that look like them in positive situations,&rdquo; said Shalonda Randle, principal of Roosevelt Junior High and Elementary School in south suburban Riverdale, &ldquo;so that they can see that African Americans are teachers, are principals, are in positions of power and authority.&rdquo;</p><p>Randle started at the school as a teacher in 1996, and said she saw the student body change. &ldquo;When I first started, the demographics was pretty much, I would say 50 percent Caucasian, 50 percent African American,&rdquo; she remembered. &ldquo;Within the course of 3 years, by 1998 until &nbsp;2000 the demographics went to 100 percent African-American students.&rdquo; Meanwhile, Randle recalled being one of only two African American teachers at that time.</p><p>When Randle became principal in 2003, she said she made it a priority to hire more teachers of color. Today, more than half her teachers are African-American. She said she doesn&rsquo;t compromise the quality of her teachers for race, but she worries that the TAP may be locking out people who might make really good teachers. Randle said Illinois should keep high standards, but it should measure teacher aptitude in a variety of ways.&nbsp;</p><p>Joyce Jackson agrees; she said by any other measure, she&rsquo;d be deemed worth to teach. Jackson returned a phone call to WBEZ just hours after she had taken the math portion of the TAP. &ldquo;You can hear the shakiness in my voice, because I&rsquo;ve just come from taking the Basic Skills math portion of the new TAP exam,&rdquo; Jackson said in a recorded voice message, &ldquo;and as you can hear I am so upset because I have yet not passed it again.&rdquo;</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>A rigorous test</strong></h2><p>My editor had me take the TAP, to see what it&rsquo;s like. It&rsquo;s a five-hour, computer-based test, geared toward a college sophomore level. My experience was that the test is doable, but certainly rigorous.</p><p>Jackson has taken the math portion of that test seven times. She is board president for Randle&rsquo;s school district, and decided to go back to school herself to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming a teacher. But after years of trying to pass the TAP, and hundreds of dollars in test preparation and test-taking, she&rsquo;s reaching the end of her tether. She has not been able to move forward in her coursework at Governor State University to complete her teaching credits.</p><p>&ldquo;I also have enough credits to switch a major and go maybe into sociology or social work or psychology,&rdquo; said Jackson. Officials of colleges of education at UIC, NEIU and Governor State University all said that many of their minority teaching candidates do what Jackson is considering: switch to other majors after failing the TAP. Jackson says it breaks her heart to think of this, because all she wanted was to teach students that they could be whatever they want.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 04 Sep 2013 07:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601 Northwest Side school cuts back on arts, band http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/northwest-side-school-cuts-back-arts-band-108470 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CPS arts cuts(2).jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-1bf54eeb-ad30-fdef-069f-d5c884733f43">Parents and teachers gathered at a back-to-school rally at John B. Murphy Elementary School Tuesday evening and spoke out against cuts to arts and music.</span></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-1bf54eeb-ad30-fdef-069f-d5c884733f43">The Northwest Side elementary school is completely losing its band program, and its full-time dance and drama teaching position becomes part-time.</span> Other cuts include two teachers and a school counselor.</p><p>&ldquo;Our community has a percentage of low-income students,&rdquo; said Local School Council chairperson and parent Roberta Salas, who said Murphy is losing $600,000 in budget cuts.</p><p>&ldquo;Most of these children will not have the opportunity to go out and get private lessons. Their introduction to the arts is here.&rdquo;</p><p>Salas joined other parents in front of Murphy to rally against those cuts. They sought to bring attention to the need for funding of neighborhood schools while Chicago Public Schools is considering proposals for new charter schools.</p><p>In a statement, CPS said, &ldquo;This year we are seeking high quality charters that can serve communities with over-crowded school populations.&rdquo;</p><p>While the district expects to get proposals, the statement said, &ldquo;There is no guarantee those proposals will be recommended or approved by (the) board.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We can&rsquo;t even maintain what we&rsquo;ve already built,&rdquo; said Sandy Lucas, an arts and music teacher who survived the cuts. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re taking a step back. That&rsquo;s destruction.&rdquo;</p><p>Parent Renee Martinez said Murphy Elementary&#39;s dancing, drama and music classes have helped to bring her daughter &ldquo;out of her shell.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;That social-emotional development is just so enhanced with the arts that it&rsquo;s really going to be sorely missed,&rdquo; Martinez said.</p><p>As part of a layoff of more than a thousand teachers at CPS last month, local advocacy group Raise Your Hand reports that 185 arts and music teachers lost their jobs.</p><p>A CPS spokesman said the district does not have a breakdown showing the number of laid off teachers in these subjects.</p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-1bf54eeb-ad30-fdef-069f-d5c884733f43">Correction: This story originally misstated that </span>John B. Murphy Elementary School lost its arts and music programs, that it&rsquo;s a magnet school, and the location of the elementary school. Murphy is a neighborhood magnet cluster school that lost some arts and music programs, and had cuts in others. It&rsquo;s located on Chicago&rsquo;s Northwest Side. It&#39;s also updated to include a statement from CPS.</em></p><p><em>Lee Jian Chung is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow him @jclee89.</em></p></p> Wed, 21 Aug 2013 09:55:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/northwest-side-school-cuts-back-arts-band-108470 CPS announces 2,100 layoffs http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2013-07-19 at 7.13.46 AM.png" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools &nbsp;announced late Thursday that it was laying off 2,113 teachers and support staff &mdash; a figure more than twice as large as the teachers union head was expecting and one the district blamed on the Illinois legislature&#39;s failure to reach a deal on pension reform. CPS is the second largest employer in the entire state of Illinois.</p><p dir="ltr">Among those laid off Thursday are 1,036 teachers and 1,077 support staff, including teacher assistants, food service employees, security guards and janitorial staff.</p><p dir="ltr">The layoffs come on top of 855 teachers and support staff who were laid off in June due to school closings and turnarounds. And on top of it all, the district says another 161 teachers from closing schools will not be offered a position at the receiving schools.</p><p dir="ltr">School district spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the district is facing a $1 billion budget deficit, much of it driven by an increase in its pension obligations.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We were hoping to get pension reform in Springfield,&quot; she said. &quot;That did not happen. That has brought the pension crisis to the doorstep of our schools,&quot; she said.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago schools were seeking a waiver on pension payments for the 2014 budgetary year, which began July 1. During the spring legislative session, the General Assembly failed to pass legislation permitting the district to make a reduced pension contribution over the next two years, obligating the district to increase the contribution by $400 million.</p><p dir="ltr">District officials said even if pension reform is enacted by the legislature, they would not commit to reversing the layoffs.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis expressed surprise at the number of layoffs, saying she expected the figure to be closer to 800.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;Once again, CPS has lied to parents, employees and the public, about keeping the new school-based budget cuts away from the classroom,&quot; Lewis said in a statement.</p><p dir="ltr">On Friday, the Chicago Teachers Union held a press conference where vice president Jesse Sharkey, flanked by irate parents and fired teachers, condemned the layoffs.&nbsp; &quot;I don&rsquo;t see the point of making school 20-some-percent longer and then laying off all the art, music and physical education teachers that are supposed to fill that day up with education,&quot; Sharkey said.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">He said the school district and teachers union differed fundamentally on a solution to the pension crisis. He characterized the district as favoring cuts to teachers&#39; benefits and the union as pushing for the city to find more revenue--through TIF funds, a tax on financial transations, or more fundamental income tax reform, including possibly an income tax on suburbanites who work in Chicago.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The district has eliminated $600 million in central office operations and administration in recent years, in addition to $52 million in cuts it made this year, according to Carroll.</p><p dir="ltr">&quot;We can&#39;t cut our way out of this crisis,&quot; she said. &quot;Our spending obligations, pension, salary increases and other costs, continue to rise.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">The majority of the teachers laid off are probationary teachers who have worked for CPS for less than three years, said CPS Chief Talent Officer Alicia Winckler</p><p dir="ltr">The teachers being laid off were to be notified by their principals on Friday.</p><p dir="ltr">Carson Elementary school art teacher Ruth Augspurger said she was sitting in a professional development class Friday when she got her call. She lost the job she&#39;s held for the last eight years teaching mostly Latino students on the city&#39;s Southwest Side. The mother of two said she came to Chicago to attend the School of the Art Institute, but stayed to teach in the public schools &quot;because I believe every child should have the privilege to have the highest level of education.&quot; Augspurger says she doesn&#39;t blame her principal for cutting her position. &quot;You can&#39;t squeeze water from a rock,&quot; she said. But she laments that Carson will no longer have a visual art teacher.</p><p dir="ltr">Winckler said all laid-off teachers will be able to reapply for district teaching positions. They can work as substitute teachers, she said. Winckler also noted that in the past, more the 60 percent of district teachers who were laid off were rehired.</p><p dir="ltr">Thursday&#39;s announcement came as lawyers for the nation&#39;s third-largest school district were in a federal courtroom defending Chicago&#39;s plan to shutter some 50 schools.</p><p dir="ltr">The Chicago Teachers Union and concerned parents who are seeking an injunction to halt the plan before the new school year begins say the closures inordinately harm black and special-needs students, violating their rights.</p><p dir="ltr">The hearing stems from several lawsuits filed on behalf of parents. One contends that black children make up about 88 percent of students being moved from closed schools, although they comprise 42 percent of district students.</p><p dir="ltr">Critics say talk by city and schools officials of budgetary savings is misleading, leaving the impression that the closures will help address the yawning budget deficit. Pressed during cross-examination on Thursday, which was the hearing&#39;s third day, CPS&#39; budget director, Ginger Ostro, conceded that the closures weren&#39;t designed to fixCPS&#39; financial mess.</p><p dir="ltr">Adam Anderson, a district planning official, testified that what guided the district as it decided what schools would be closed was how much classroom space wasn&#39;t being used.</p><p dir="ltr">A complex &quot;utilization equation&quot; was employed in the process, and the district found there were some 500,000 available classroom seats for 400,000 students, leaving 100,000 seats unused, Anderson said.</p><p dir="ltr">Enrollment has fallen over the years with a corresponding fall in population in African-American areas, which is why so many of the schools that ended up on the closure list were in predominantly black neighborhoods, Anderson said.</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 19 Jul 2013 06:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-announces-2100-layoffs-108109 CPS issues pink slips to over 800 employees http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/3523scr_56e72880c46e426_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Employees at schools being shut down or shaken up at the end of this year are being let go today, according to Chicago Public School officials.&nbsp;<br /><br />More than 800 employees are affected, but there could be many more. The numbers released by CPS today do not include administrators and do not count layoffs in other district schools that are also <a href="http://bit.ly/ZOUf9l">facing shrinking budgets</a>.&nbsp;</div><div><br />&ldquo;We do think this is just the tip of the iceberg,&rdquo; said Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union.<br /><br />Reports from parents, teachers and principals across the city indicate that people at closing schools are not the only ones who stand to lose their jobs. Potter said, ironically, many of the positions <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mostly-art-music-teachers-added-longer-chicago-school-day-104592">added last year for the longer school day</a> are being cut.&nbsp;<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing all of the additional staff from music, world language, art, are being cut, librarians being removed and eliminated from a variety of schools across the district,&rdquo; Potter said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s really hard to say how damaging and disruptive these austerity budgets are going to be but it&rsquo;s drastic.&rdquo;<br /><br />However, teachers at closing schools with superior or excellent performance ratings are eligible to apply for jobs at receiving schools if there are openings. But CPS officials said they won&rsquo;t know how many vacancies there will be until mid-July.<br /><br />CPS officials said, on average, about 60 percent of teachers who lose their positions at one school, but reapply at others get rehired somewhere else in the system.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZeducation" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: inherit; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline; text-decoration: none; color: rgb(0, 104, 150); outline: 0px;">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 16:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-issues-pink-slips-over-800-employees-107713