WBEZ | Chicago Public Schools http://www.wbez.org/tags/chicago-public-schools Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Unions and Garcia push for $15-an-hour minimum wage http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-and-garcia-push-15-hour-minimum-wage-111768 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chuy15.PNG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Mayoral candidate Jesus &quot;Chuy&quot; Garcia and the Chicago Teachers Union are pushing for a $15 per hour minimum wage.</p><p dir="ltr">Garcia, members of the CTU, and activists with the national movement &ldquo;Fight for 15&rdquo; rallied outside the Chicago Board of Education Wednesday. They want all companies who do business with Chicago Public Schools to agree to a wage increase.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Parents who cannot get regular hours at their job, who cannot make a living wage, have a difficult time providing their children, who are our students, with the kind of environment necessary for real learning,&rdquo; said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey.</p><p dir="ltr">All CTU-represented employees and most others at CPS are already above the minimum wage, but Sharkey said subcontracted employees, like Safe Passage workers and recess monitors, are not.</p><p dir="ltr">Mayor Rahm Emanuel has already <a href="http://www.wbez.org/mayor-emanuel-backs-chicago-minimum-wage-hike-13-110462">promised to increase the minimum wage</a> to $13 an hour by 2018. The wage hike applies to all companies who do business with the city and its sister agencies, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-chief-backs-mayors-13-hour-minimum-wage-111138">including CPS</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Garcia said he&rsquo;d find the money for a wage hike by closing tax loopholes for wealthy corporations and rerouting money given to &ldquo;cronies of the mayor.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;If there&rsquo;s enough money to make them happy, there ought to be enough money to pay for frontline workers within Chicago Public Schools,&rdquo; Garcia said. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">School janitors also rallied outside the Board Wednesday to argue against the layoffs that took place after <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">CPS outsourced custodial management</a> to Aramark and SodexoMAGIC.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Since Aramark has taken over, I currently have to clean 72,000 square feet of hallway,&rdquo; said Ina Davis, a janitor at University of Chicago - Donoghue Charter School. &nbsp;&ldquo;I have 17 classrooms, 23 bathrooms and I&rsquo;m the only janitor that has to clean this at night. I&rsquo;m just asking for CPS to help us.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last week, principals asked CPS to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735">end the contracts</a> with Aramark and SodexoMAGIC, saying the schools were still dirty. District officials say after hiccups early in the year, a recent audit of school cleanliness showed most schools are cleaner.</p><p dir="ltr">Tom Balanoff, president of the Service Employees International United - Local 1, said even though Aramark <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870">compromised by not following through</a> with about half of the planned layoffs, the company still made more than 200 janitors part-time, which is a problem.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s just not enough hours in the day for the janitors to do all the work,&rdquo; Balanoff said.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Wed, 25 Mar 2015 17:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/unions-and-garcia-push-15-hour-minimum-wage-111768 Principals to CPS: End custodial contract now http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/2979169728_730927ae16_z_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools principals have had it.</p><p>A survey conducted by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association found nearly 90 percent of principals say their schools are dirtier than they were a year ago, just before the Chicago Board of Education gave control of all school cleaning services to two private companies -- Aramark and SodexoMagic.</p><p>The move led to hundreds of janitors being laid off, which in turn led to disorganization and dirty conditions. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">WBEZ first reported issues</a> with cleanliness in schools last September.</p><p>Aramark and CPS scrambled to remedy the issue by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870">not following through with some of the planned layoffs</a>. In October, they announced plans to only cut 290 custodians, not 468.</p><p>But it wasn&rsquo;t enough of a compromise for principals, said Clarice Berry, head of the principals&rsquo; group.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no negotiating with us anymore,&rdquo; Berry said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not listening to any more promises. We&rsquo;re not waiting anymore. You can not staff a school with 1,200 kids with two custodian workers and think it&rsquo;s going to work. Ever.&rdquo;</p><p>The contracts were collectively worth $340 million, $260 million for Aramark to oversee all 2,400-plus janitors, and $80 million to SodexoMAGIC to oversee cleaning at 33 schools.</p><p>&ldquo;This contract should be voidable, because they have not met the terms of the contract,&rdquo; Berry said, calling on the district to cut ties with Aramark.&nbsp;</p><p>At an unrelated press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he is in contact with Aramark and will hold the company accountable.</p><p>&ldquo;They better fix this,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s not (fixed), it&rsquo;s going to be a very short contract.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent an e-mailed statement admitting the two companies faced a bumpy transition.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They met with principals, worked collaboratively to address their concerns and adjusted staffing to meet the needs of our schools,&rdquo; the statement read. &ldquo;These efforts have ​paid off.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey also included the results of an audit conducted at 308 schools showing just 17 schools falling under the cleanliness standards set forth in the contract.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735 Morning Shift: New U of C report dissects discipline practices in Chicago schools http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-19/morning-shift-new-u-c-report-dissects-discipline-practices-chicago <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ShuttrKingKT.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/ShuttrKingKT" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196673365&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">New U of C report dissects discipline practices in Chicago schools</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">After criticism that suspensions were being used far too frequently, Chicago Public Schools shifted its discipline practices. A <a href="https://ccsr.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/Discipline%20Report.pdf">report</a> out of the University of Chicago this week shows that while suspensions are down, some of the most vulnerable students are still being suspended. We discuss the report with U of C&#39;s Lauren Sartain.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://uei.uchicago.edu/about/staff/lauren-sartain">Lauren Sartain</a> is a research analyst at the University of Chicago.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196673358&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p></div><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">New book digs into impact of Presidential legacy</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Presidential watchers and historians are in a holding pattern waiting to learn about the location of the Obama library. The Barack Obama Foundation is waiting for the results of the April 7 Mayoral run-off to announce whether Chicago, where the President has deep political and personal roots, will land the deal. And while some Chicagoans say it seems impossible to imagine it anywhere else, some experts say a presidential library is not the economic or cultural prize that cities claim it is. Anthony Clark is a former legislative aide and speechwriter and author of The Last Campaign: How Presidents Rewrite History, Run for Posterity &amp; Enshrine Their Legacies. He says that it&rsquo;s not about the flashy exhibits, but the approval rating when he leaves office. Clark walks us through some of the more popular presidential libraries.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/anthonyjclark">Anthony Clark</a> is author of the book, <a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Campaign-Presidents-Posterity/dp/1508409749">&quot;</a></em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Last-Campaign-Presidents-Posterity/dp/1508409749"><em>The Last Campaign: How Presidents Rewrite History, Run for Posterity &amp; Enshrine Their Legacies.&quot;</em></a></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196673354&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Report touts benefits of alternative energy in Illinois</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">In early March, the Environmental Law and Policy Center released a report titled, Illinois Clean Energy Supply Chain: Good for Manufacturing Jobs, Good for Economic Growth and Good for Our Environment. Howard Learner, the founder and Executive Director of the ELPC, joins us to explain where he sees major progress in Illinois&#39; energy policies.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/HowardELPC">Howard Learner</a> is the Exectuive Director for the&nbsp;</em><em>Environmental Law and Policy Center.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196673348&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-size: 24px;">Religion:&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 24px;">Spiritual leaders come together to discuss end of life issues</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">When we&rsquo;re healthy, it&rsquo;s out of mind. When we&rsquo;re sick, we strategize with our doctor about how to get better. Few of us, including physicians, are equipped to talk about end of life issues. While the average person and the medical establishment slowly wakes up to the importance of this topic, the void is often filled by religion. We delve into the role of faith and religion in end-of-life care with panelists from the upcoming forum &ldquo;What We Hold Central: An Inter-Faith Discussion of Religious and Moral Perspectives at the End of Life.&rdquo;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em>Rev. Stanley Davis is the&nbsp;</em><em>Co-Executive Director of the <a href="https://twitter.com/CRLMC1">Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.</a></em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><i><a href="https://pmr.uchicago.edu/padela">Dr. Aasim Padela</a> is the Director of Initiative on Islam and Medicine and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Chicago.</i></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><i><a href="http://hsd.luc.edu/bioethics/people/john-j-hardt">John Hardt</a> is the Vice President and Assocaite Provost of Mission Integration at Loyola University Health System.</i></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/196673344&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">South by Southwest still rocks</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Once upon a time, South By Southwest was a small festival where unsigned indie bands could get noticed by a major label. Now, it&rsquo;s grown to something of epic proportions featuring music, film, and technology. But if you head to the right bar at the right time, you might just see an artist you&rsquo;ve never heard of blow your mind. That&rsquo;s why Sound Opinions host and WBEZ blogger Jim DeRogatis is there. He tells us if he&rsquo;s had one of those &ldquo;magic moments&rdquo; so far at the festival&rsquo;s 2015 edition.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JimDeRogatis">Jim DeRogatis</a> is the co-host of WBEZ&#39;s Sound Opinions.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 07:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-19/morning-shift-new-u-c-report-dissects-discipline-practices-chicago Meet the companies that profit when CPS students drop out http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_1128_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">One year ago, a small contingent of some of Chicago&rsquo;s most powerful education officials flew to Arizona for a conference of education investors, hosted by Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo&#39;s investment firm Global Silicon Valley Advisors.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">The keynote speaker: Earvin &lsquo;Magic&rsquo; Johnson.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Fellow board member Mahalia Hines introduced the NBA-star-turned-businessman whose name is now branded across five of Chicago&rsquo;s newest for-profit alternative schools, called the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;One thing I was really great at was math, so I know my money,&rdquo; Johnson told the crowd. &ldquo;I know a great deal, a good deal and a bad deal.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Johnson&rsquo;s entire speech focused on making money in urban areas, returning bigger profits than expected in each case. He didn&rsquo;t mention the schools for dropouts in Chicago Public Schools until asked a question by someone in the audience.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">One month after Quazzo, Hines, another CPS board member Andrea Zopp, CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s then-education deputy Beth Swanson attended the conference, the Chicago Board of Education </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239">approved another $6 million in startup money</a> for for-profit alternative schools. It was the second round of a multi-year expansion. (Quazzo has also&nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/223620/cps-profitable-investment-board-ed-member">come under fire in recent months after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation</a> found that companies she invests in have tripled the amount of money made through contracts held with CPS schools.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A WBEZ and&nbsp;</span><a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/03/mixing-profits-and-performance-at-alternative-schools/">Catalyst Chicago</a> investigation found most of the new for-profit alternative schools are running half-day programs where students earn credits in a matter of weeks, through mostly online coursework. Yet, students are getting </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581">regular high school diplomas</a>, with the name of the school they left. Many students <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/safety-net-dropouts-catches-others-111598">never officially dropped out</a> and some are not at all off-track.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">WBEZ and&nbsp;</span>Catalyst Chicago also found that many of the for-profit companies running alternative schools stand to make millions off the deals. Other findings:&nbsp;</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">On average, some of the companies spend more than half of their budget on consultants, advertising, technology and fees to affiliated companies.</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Companies can maximize profit by running two or even three sessions a day, serving double the number of kids, yet only hiring the same or fewer staff as a normal school. (One of the for-profit companies, Camelot, is an exception. It operates an eight-hour school day with little online work.)</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Since the companies are privately owned, the public has no way of knowing who is making money from investing in them or whether they have any connections to district or city officials.</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">In at least one case, CPS contracted with a company that was, at the time, under investigation in California.</span></p></li></ul><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">John &lsquo;Jack&rsquo; Donahue, a leading expert on privatization in the public sector and faculty chair of the Masters in Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said he isn&rsquo;t against companies making a profit, but he cautions against outsourcing when it&rsquo;s not clear what outcome you want. He was also troubled by CPS giving students diplomas from the school they left, not the alternative school.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The problem is, when you have people with the incentive and the ability to fool us about what&rsquo;s happening,&rdquo; Donahue said, noting that because Illinois does not have a high school exit exam, it&rsquo;s hard to measure if the diploma is meaningful. &ldquo;When you can&rsquo;t specify, in clear terms, what you want...because the undertaking is complex, as education is&hellip;then it won&rsquo;t work.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Because Chicago&rsquo;s graduation numbers are going up, there&rsquo;s no incentive for district officials to make clear that many more diplomas are coming from alternative schools. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A money-making model</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">When Emanuel promised to double the number of seats in alternative schools in 2011, there were 60,000 dropouts under 21 in the city. The people running a small army of alternative schools rejoiced. They thought this meant they would have room and resources to serve the thousands of kids on their waiting lists.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">No one guessed it meant the mayor would look past existing alternative schools to out-of-town, for-profit companies to help fix the dropout crisis.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Nationally, for-profit education companies see opportunity in alternative schools.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">There are four companies now operating in Chicago: Camelot Education, Pathways, EdisonLearning, and Ombudsman. These four companies alone run more than 100 schools in at least 30 states. When Camelot was acquired in 2011 by the private equity firm Riverside Company, managing partner Suzy Kriscunas noted in a press release: </span>&ldquo;Alternative and special education has significant growth.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A WBEZ and </span>Catalyst Chicago investigation into Chicago&rsquo;s new for-profit alternative schools found that CPS has paid for-profit companies more than $70 million in just two years to start up new alternative schools. Most often, the companies are able to make money by cutting spending at the school level.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS pays the new half-day alternative schools the same amount per child that it pays normal schools. The companies can save by hiring one teacher to teach two students each day. An analysis of budget documents shows many of the new schools spend less than half their budget on school staff. Usually, schools spend between 70 and 80 percent on staff salaries.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Budgets show the for-profit schools spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, technology, and fees to their parent companies for back-office costs. In some cases, they are purchasing materials from themselves or other parent companies, too.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Last school year, CPS paid Pathways in Illinois $5.1 million to operate two schools with about 500 students. The company then paid its affiliates $1.8 million for a variety of services and curriculum. The company is also run by the daughter of a couple who started a similar for-profit chain of alternative schools in California, called Options for Learning and Options for Youth. That company fell under an investigation by the State of California for improper spending. That same couple is on the board of directors for Pathways in Illinois, while their daughter is the executive director.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Magic Johnson Bridgescape, operated by </span>EdisonLearning in partnership with the former NBA-star, budgets $400,000 for each school to buy educational materials. Much of that is used to buy eCourses, an EdisonLearning product. Spokesman Mike Serpe said the company also buys other online programs, such as Think Through Math, which is part of Chicago Board of Education member Quazzo&rsquo;s investment portfolio.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">No one from </span>EdisonLearning or Magic Johnson Enterprises would agree to an interview.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">But at a press conference in Chicago in February, Johnson said he was approached by </span>EdisonLearning because the company wanted to draw inner-city students into its schools. &ldquo;What they needed was a guy like myself to come in to more or less brand it,&rdquo; he said. When asked how much he makes per school, he told WBEZ and Catalyst: &ldquo;That is all you need to know.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Budget documents obtained through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests indicate how much Johnson stands to make off the alternative schools. One proposal listed a half- million-dollar fee to &ldquo;Magic Johnson Enterprises,&rdquo; but the assumption was based on opening many more schools.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Jack Elsey, Chicago Public Schools&#39; chief of innovation and incubation, said there&rsquo;s no way CPS could have delivered on Emanuel&rsquo;s promise to double the number of dropouts being served without outside help.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The point is not the bottom line,&rdquo; Elsey said. &ldquo;The point is having an impact on students. So the benefit of getting the student in and graduated within a month or two months, means that&rsquo;s one more student who&rsquo;s graduated who wouldn&rsquo;t have graduated before.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&lsquo;Who cares if they make money?&rsquo;</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Illinois does not allow for-profit companies to run schools. State law requires public charter schools to be non-profits incorporated in Illinois. However, districts like CPS and non-profits can contract with for-profit companies to provide services.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">It&rsquo;s why district officials are careful to call the new alternative schools &ldquo;programs&rdquo; instead of schools. The for-profit companies technically hold contracts to provide what&rsquo;s called an &ldquo;Alternative Learning Opportunities Program.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Bridgescape, Camelot and Ombudsman are run by for-profit, out-of-state companies. Pathways is a non-profit certified in Illinois, although its executives own for-profit companies that do business with the non-profit.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Todd Bock runs Camelot Education, one of the for-profit companies to open alternative schools in Chicago in the last few years.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;People hear the word &#39;for-profit&#39; and they think these companies are making hundreds of thousands of dollars on these schools and that&rsquo;s really, really not the case,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">The schools Bock&rsquo;s company runs are an outlier. Students at Camelot&rsquo;s EXCEL Academies have to go to school for almost nine hours and there is little work done on computers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">He says Chicago should hold companies like his accountable for quality.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;We have an obligation to the taxpayers to do it better and more efficiently than what&rsquo;s been done in the past and if we can&rsquo;t do that, then we don&rsquo;t deserve to be there,&rdquo; Bock said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Gary Miron, professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University,</span> studies for-profit and not-for-profit education companies. He said education companies see alternative schools as appealing because demand is so high and the companies have an excuse for poor performance, since dropouts are less likely to score well on standardized tests.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS is funding the new schools as if they were charter schools, but then not having them grant their own diplomas. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;Some people say, &lsquo;Who cares if it&rsquo;s for-profit? If they can deliver a better product at a lower cost, who cares if they make a little money?&rsquo;&rdquo; Miron said. &ldquo;And then I&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;Yeah! Why not?&rsquo; But it&rsquo;s not happening. It&rsquo;s just not happening. When we look at the outcomes, they&rsquo;re not as good.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS is trying to hold the new schools accountable for performance, though it isn&#39;t using the same measures it applies to the rest of the high schools in Chicago. Instead, it looks at improvement in reading and math, attendance and how many kids actually earn diplomas.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Early numbers show of the five performance levels CPS gives schools, not ONE of the new for-profit schools made it into the top two.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Not all of the new for-profit alternative schools have been open long enough to get a rating. But of those that have been, most landed at the bottom of the district&rsquo;s rankings. None earned a 1 or 1+ rating.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Miron said low-performing schools should spend more, not less, directly on students. Plus, with alternative schools, the students enrolling are some of the most at-risk and vulnerable in the city.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;</span>If these are such a good idea, why aren&rsquo;t we doing it with some suburban schools serving middle-class families?&rdquo; he asks. &ldquo;Yet we see this experimentation with private companies with pretty drastically new ideas that end up being more beneficial for profit margin than actual performance.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Harvard&rsquo;s Jack Donahue echoed Miron&rsquo;s concerns about quality.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The real thing to worry about here is the weaknesses of the measures of value, rather than the fact that somebody might be making a buck,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">This story was co-reported with Sarah Karp of <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org">Catalyst Chicago</a>. Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </span><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the school at which John &#39;Jack&#39; Donahue works. It is Harvard University&#39;s John F. Kennedy School of Government.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665 Morning Shift: Maine East War Bonds and Townships http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-06/morning-shift-maine-east-war-bonds-and-townships-111664 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Jamie%20McCaffrey.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/Jamie McCaffrey" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194557103&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">CPS launches Latino Studies program</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">December of 2013, Chicago Public Schools unveiled a curriculum guide on African-American studies that allowed teachers to incorporate African-American studies into core subjects all year round. Now, CPS is targeting its largest group of minority students- Latinos. Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz joins Morning Shift to talk about the new Interdisciplinary Latino and Latin American Studies curriculum.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/JesseRuizEsq">Jesse Ruiz</a> is the Vice President of the Chicago Board of Education.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556666&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Smart Bar Chicago launches New Women in Music Series</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">The music festival season is not too far off and according to one Chicago venue talent buyer, when you look at the line-ups of festivals, women comprise about 10 percent of the talent. So Smart Bar Chicago talent buyer and DJ Marea Samper (aka The Black Madonna) has decided to hold a mini festival during Women&rsquo;s History Month showcasing established and up and coming female electronica and DJ talent from around the globe. Stamper tells us about the idea behind the DAPHNE: A Women&#39;s Movement in Dance Music Festival.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://www.last.fm/music/The+Black+Madonna">DJ Marea Samper</a> is the talent buyer for Smart Bar Chicago.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556660&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Maine East/South students craft documentary</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Ever heard the expression &quot;Faster, higher, that&#39;s Maine&#39;s Flyer?&quot; We hadn&#39;t - until a group of 20 students at Maine South and Maine East High Schools produced a documentary of the same name. The doc commemorates a World War II plane funded by a student-led war bond sales effort and named in honor of what were then Maine Township High School students. We talk with Maine East student Rachel Stan, and supervising teacher Phillip Ash about the film.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://east.maine207.org/pash/?DepartmentId=-1">Phillip Ash</a> is a teacher at Maine East High School.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em>Rachel Stan is a student at <a href="https://twitter.com/maine_east">Maine East High School.</a>&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556656&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">A look at Illinois townships&nbsp;</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">While High School District 207 is an entirely separate governmental entity from Maine Township, it got us thinking about the history behind townships in Illinois. How do they operate and how have they evolved? Maine Township is the largest in Cook County and oldest unit of local government in the area. Joining us from the Township&#39;s Park Ridge office is Supervisor Carol Teschky.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="http://www.mainetownship.com/government/electedofficials.shtml">Carol Teschky</a>&nbsp;is the Maine Township Supervisor.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194556649&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">New book of poetry and photography provides hope for the recently incarcerated</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Coming out of prison can often be more difficult than going in. Even though they&rsquo;ve paid their debt to society, they&rsquo;re faced with the stigma of being ex-cons, and often lack the needed resources-in society and in themselves-to move on and rebuild their lives. For years, Brandon Crockett has taught poetry to folks living at St. Leonard&rsquo;s, a facility dedicated to moving people from prison to a positive, productive life on the outside. Now Crockett has teamed up with world-famous photographer Sandro Miller to produce a book of poetry and portraits by and of the people in his class. Brandon and members of his class join Morning Shift to talk about the experience.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>Brandon Crockett teaches poetry at <a href="https://twitter.com/StLeonardsMinis">St. Leonard&#39;s Ministires</a></em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em>Jesse Anderson and Marketta Sims are in the poetry program at St. Leonard&#39;s Ministires and contributors of the book <a href="https://twitter.com/findfreedombook">&quot;Finding Freedom.&quot;</a></em></p></p> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 07:55:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-06/morning-shift-maine-east-war-bonds-and-townships-111664 Chicago ends standoff, agrees to give new state test http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-ends-standoff-agrees-give-new-state-test-111644 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_1631_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools ended its <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/standoff-over-new-state-school-test-continues-111626">standoff with the State of Illinois</a>&nbsp;over the new mandated standardized state test. &nbsp;</p><p>All students in the Chicago district will have to take the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or <a href="http://parcc.pearson.com/">PARCC</a>, exam this spring. Schools will start giving the test next Monday, March 9th.</p><p>&ldquo;I continue to personally and professionally believe that to administer PARCC this year is absolutely not in the best interest of our students,&rdquo; CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said Monday. &ldquo;However, given the threat from (the state), there is absolutely no choice.&rdquo;</p><p>The Illinois State Board of Education <a href="https://www.scribd.com/collections/13631879/CPS-ISBE-on-PARCC">sent a letter to the district on Friday</a> reiterating its stance that if CPS only gave the test at 10 percent of its schools, &nbsp;it could risk losing $1.4 billion in funding.</p><p>The requirement means that CPS students will now face <a href="http://cps.edu/Performance/Documents/AssessmentCalendar_District.pdf">a barrage of tests</a> for the remainder of the school year.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s barely a week without a testing window. It&rsquo;s just horrifying,&rdquo; said Wendy Katten, head of the parent group Raise Your Hand. &nbsp;The organization has been increasingly vocal about the overuse of standardized tests.</p><p>Indeed, there are just three weeks between now and the end of the school year when CPS will not be giving some kind of standardized test. One of those weeks is spring break. Of course, not all students will have to take all of the tests and not all students are taking the test every day. But, Katten said, it&rsquo;s still disruptive to the school environment.</p><p>&ldquo;Some schools might have 30 computers and 800 kids; they&rsquo;re probably going to take the whole window of testing,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>In all, 230,000 CPS students will take the PARCC. John Barker, the district&rsquo;s chief of accountability, said 3rd through 5th graders will take the PARCC exam on paper, while 6th through 8th and high school students in Algebra 1 and English 1 will take the test on computers.</p><p>A second phase of the PARCC exam will be given between April 27th and May 22nd. Additionally, CPS will give the final phase of the district-mandated NWEA MAP test to all kindergarten through 8<sup>th</sup> grade students between May 11th and June 12th. The last day of school is June 16th.</p><p>In that same time, CPS students will also take a series of tests, called REACH, that are used to evaluate teachers. The ACT is being given to high school juniors March 3rd, and students enrolled in Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs will be tested the second and third weeks of May.</p><p>Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale said students who would have otherwise spent three hours taking tests will spend roughly 13 hours doing so.</p><p>Katten said her group and others will continue to push for an Illinois &ldquo;opt-out&rdquo; law that would allow parents to remove their child from testing. Currently, Illinois has no such provision and state officials say the only way around taking a test is if the student refuses it.&nbsp;</p><p><i>This article has been updated to reflect that students enrolled in Algebra 1 and English 1 will have to take the PARCC exam. &nbsp;</i></p></p> Mon, 02 Mar 2015 17:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-ends-standoff-agrees-give-new-state-test-111644 Morning Shift: The role of forgiveness in religion http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-02-26/morning-shift-role-forgiveness-religion-111628 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/gerrydincher.jpg" style="height: 455px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/gerrydincher" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/193193932&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Can Garcia capture Harold-sized enthusiasm?</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Cook County Commissioner Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia are headed to a runoff in April. Garcia has said he hopes to recreate the type of racial coalition that swept the late Mayor Harold Washington into power in the &lsquo;80s. Many community supporters say that&rsquo;s possible. But Professor Paul Green, Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University, doesn&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s the question we should be asking.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest: </strong><em><a href="http://blogs.roosevelt.edu/pgreen/">Paul Green</a>&nbsp;is the Director of the Institute for Politics at Roosevelt University.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/193193927&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">CPS and state continue stand-off over testing</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Chicago Public Schools is refusing to administer the new state test - called the PARCC- to any more than 10 percent of the city&rsquo;s schools. The State Board of Education is threatening to pull funding if the district follows through with that plan. Some parents thought the stand-off was a political ploy and would be over after election day. But they were sorely disappointed at yesterday&rsquo;s Chicago Board of Education meeting. WBEZ&#39;s Becky Vevea joins us with more.&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/beckyvevea">Becky Vevea</a> is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/193193923&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Voter reactions to Schock(ing) spending</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Congressman Aaron Schock was first known for his fast rise in politics and his fabulous abs. Inside GOP circles, he&rsquo;s become known for his ability to make a lot of money for the national party and his fellow Republicans. But over the last few weeks, stories of lavish spending and a Kardashian-esque lifestyle have dogged the representative from the 18th district. But while the national media may be enthralled with tales of fancy cars, trips, and hotels, it&rsquo;s what his constituents think that&rsquo;s most important. Phil Luciano, columnist for the<em> Peoria Journal Star </em>tells us how the stories are playing down on Main Street.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/LucianoPhil">Phil Luciano</a> is a columnist for the </em>Peoria Journal Star.<em>&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/193193916&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Religion and forgiveness</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Starting at noon Friday, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago is offering its first Festival of Forgiveness. Over a 24-hour period, people can come to pray and seek forgiveness whether they&rsquo;re Catholic or not. More than two dozen churches, shrines and university ministries are taking part. The event is modeled after a similar festival Pope Francis held in Rome last year. Monsignor Rich Hynes is joining us by phone to tell us why the Archdiocese is holding its Festival of Forgiveness and Scott Paeth from DePaul University is here to talk about what role forgiveness plays in multiple religions.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/ScottPaeth">Scott Paeth</a> is a religious studies professor at DePaul University.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><em><a href="http://www.archchicago.org/DPLF/contact.aspx">Monsignor Rich Hynes</a> is the Director of Parish Life &nbsp;for the Archdiocese of Chicago.</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/193193908&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Chicago Irish Film Festival</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">This year marks the 16th year for the <a href="http://www.chicagoirishfilmfestival.com/">Chicago Irish Film Festival</a>, and with it, comes a handful of documentaries and short feature films made by some of the most talented filmmakers in Ireland. Jude Blackburn has been directing the Chicago fest since it&#39;s debut in 1999 and travels to Ireland personally each year to harvest a variety of films and features. She joins us now with this year&#39;s highlights.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>Jude Blackburn is the Director of the <a href="https://twitter.com/chicagoirishff">Chicago Irish Film Festival</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Thu, 26 Feb 2015 08:17:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-02-26/morning-shift-role-forgiveness-religion-111628 Standoff over new state school test continues http://www.wbez.org/news/standoff-over-new-state-school-test-continues-111626 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_5715.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>All Illinois school children are supposed to take a new state test just a few days from now, but those enrolled in the state&rsquo;s largest school district remain caught in a political standoff.</p><p>The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, is replacing the old ISAT statewide exam. But public backlash against the new test and its corresponding standards &ndash; called the Common Core &ndash; has gotten louder than ever.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools is defying a state mandate that all schoolkids be tested. The district has declared that only 10 percent of city public schools will give the new test.</p><p>The Illinois State Board of Education has told CPS it must give PARCC to all student in third through eighth grades and all eleventh graders or it&nbsp;<a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150130/BLOGS02/150139992/standoff-escalates-over-cps-snub-of-federal-testing-rules">will lose millions in state and federal money</a>.</p><p>&quot;CPS risks anywhere from $400 million to $1.4 billion by not administering this test,&quot; said Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus. She noted the state could decide to&nbsp;remove CPS&#39;s recognition status, which could mean a loss of state aid.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A Chicago campaign gimmick?</span></p><p>The state&rsquo;s strong response to Chicago&#39;s resistance left some wondering if the whole thing was a campaign gimmick to win votes from parents who oppose standardized testing.</p><p>Jennifer Biggs, a member of the parent group Raise Your Hand, said now that the election is over, she expected CPS to quickly take a more clear stand on the issue.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I really thought today there was going to be a solid PARCC decision announcement,&rdquo; she said at Wednesday&rsquo;s Board of Education meeting.</p><p>Boxes full of test materials <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/02/parcc-tests-begin-to-arrive-at-schools/">have been delivered to schools across the city</a> in the last week and Biggs said teachers are frantic.</p><p>&ldquo;They are being told to move forward as if everyone is going to be tested,&rdquo; Biggs said. &ldquo;I am here to ask you to please tell us what is going on. Make a statement please.&rdquo;</p><p>But no statement came.</p><p>At the end of the meeting, Board president David Vitale quietly reiterated that the district&rsquo;s stance has not changed&mdash;only ten percent of schools will take the new test&mdash;but he said they&rsquo;re still talking with the state. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re caught between a rock and a hard place and we&rsquo;re trying to find a way out,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>At a hearing in Springfield, CPS Chief of Accountability John Barker testified to the same effect.</p><p>&ldquo;We do have serious reservations about a full implementation this spring,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And so, we plan to do an expanded pilot of PARCC, administering it to 10 percent of schools, rather than opting to fully implement this year.&rdquo;</p><p>Barker said the district believes Common Core and the PARCC exam are the right move for the state, but CPS is just not ready.</p><p>Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey disagrees.</p><p>&ldquo;The PARCC is the wrong thing to do,&rdquo; Sharkey said. &ldquo;We shouldn&rsquo;t give this test. It&rsquo;s longer than the bar exam, for God&rsquo;s sakes. It&rsquo;s longer than the MCATs. It&rsquo;s longer than the exam you need to go to medical school. What are we doing? We&rsquo;re over-testing kids. It&rsquo;s gone too far.&rdquo;</p><p>The state board says districts should not administer the 9-hour test in one day. They recommend giving it to students over several days.</p><p>They&rsquo;ve also been encouraging parents and even reporters like me to try some sample questions. I took a handful of <a href="http://parcc.pearson.com/practice-tests/">sample questions</a> from the 5<sup>th</sup> grade math portion of PARCC. One question took me 20 minutes, another took just two.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Not just Chicago</span></p><p>The new test is part of a years-long effort to adopt more uniform standards across the country. Illinois and dozens of other states signed on to PARCC and the Common Core. Several have since backed out, including nearby Indiana.</p><p>The groundswell of opposition comes from all different directions. &nbsp;Some worry that because it&rsquo;s a more rigorous test, schools could end up with lower scores. Others have a problem with a national exam that takes away local control. And many, including the CTU, argue students are way over-tested.</p><p>Suburban parents gathered downtown Thursday to express their own concerns with the test. They want state lawmakers to approve an opt-out bill (<a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&amp;SessionId=88&amp;GA=99&amp;DocTypeId=HB&amp;DocNum=306&amp;GAID=13&amp;LegID=84067&amp;SpecSess=&amp;Session=">HB306</a>) that would give parents the right to refuse to have their children tested. As it stands now, by law, the only way to refuse the test is for students to verbally state they won&#39;t take it.&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;They need to say to their teacher, every single time that test is presented, &#39;No&#39;,&quot; said Nicole Keough, a parent of twins in 3rd grade in Palos School District 118.&nbsp;</p><p>It can be a difficult thing for students to do, said Gina Mathews, parent of a 4th&nbsp;grader and a 7th&nbsp;grader at District 36 in Winnetka. She said parents and families are circulating a list of students who plan to &quot;opt-out&quot; so children can know their friends are also refusing the test.&nbsp;</p><p>But one mother, Violeta Gerue, said it&#39;s imperative Illinois lawmakers pass a bill that gives her, as a parent and taxpayer, the ability to speak for her children. Both have autism.</p><p>&quot;I think it is very difficult for children who can speak to do this, and it is impossible for kids who are nonverbal, who have no ability to say it,&quot; Gerue said.</p><p>Fergus said any parent who does not want their child tested should discuss it with local administrators. She said districts are able to implement local policies for handling those situations, but she said, any school that does not test at least 95 percent of its students is in jeopardy of losing state and federal money. That&#39;s the situation CPS is in.</p><p>Fergus also noted that the new test is low-stakes this year.</p><p>&quot;This is just the baseline year,&quot; she said.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 25 Feb 2015 17:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/standoff-over-new-state-school-test-continues-111626 Same diploma, different school http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/grace%20d.PNG" style="height: 411px; width: 620px;" title="Students work on courses at an Ombudsman school, one of the district's new, half-day, for-profit alternative schools. (Courtesy of Michelle Kanar)" /></div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Updated Friday, February 20</em></div><p>One of the biggest success stories out of Chicago Public Schools in the last decade is the skyrocketing graduation rate.</p><p>Facing re-election, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is promising to take it even higher in the next four years&mdash;from 70 percent to 85 percent.</p><p>To get there, Emanuel and CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett are contracting with for-profit companies to give teenagers a new way to earn their high school diploma in a fraction of the time.</p><p>In 2011, the district commissioned an outside group to do an analysis and found Chicago had 56,000 out-of-school youth. Jennifer Vidis, CPS&rsquo;s chief of alternative schools, says at the time, the district had 5,000 spots for them.</p><p>&quot;We looked at this massive gap and we needed to do something to fill it,&quot; she says.</p><p>So, in the last two years, the district conducted the largest expansion of alternative schools in Chicago&rsquo;s history.Two years ago, Chicago had 30 small alternative schools, and today, there are 50.&nbsp;</p><p>A WBEZ and <em>Catalyst Chicago</em> analysis of that expansion has found that the district is on a troubling path toward its goal to re-enroll dropouts as it turns to new, largely unproven, mostly online alternative schools to educate more students.</p><p>A WBEZ and <em>Catalyst Chicago</em> investigation also found:</p><ul><li>At many of the new schools, students are able to complete courses in a matter of weeks. A 17-year-old boy told reporters he finished the equivalent of a semester&rsquo;s worth of work in three days.</li><li>Many of the for-profit alternative schools offer half-day sessions, with students fulfilling the state requirement that they receive 300 minutes of instruction by promising to do homework.</li><li>Most of the work is done online, with only a few hours of classroom discussion each week.</li><li>Graduates are awarded diplomas from either the last school they attended or the neighborhood high school near where they live. They are also allowed to participate in sports and attend dances at traditional schools.</li><li>Budget documents, obtained through several Freedom of Information Requests, are contradictory and filled with questionable expenses. One operator budgeted more than $400,000 per 200 students for educational materials, then purchased the materials from themselves.</li></ul><p>Experts warn the well-intentioned push is lowering the bar for certain students and making a second chance more appealing than the first. CPS is also laying the groundwork for more students to receive what some contend is a lower-quality diploma.</p><p>It goes against yet another promise of the mayor: that a CPS diploma will mean something.</p><p>&quot;[Parents] will know that a degree from Clemente, South Shore, Back of the Yards, Taft, Westinghouse, Sarah Goode, Rickover means their children will have the education to succeed in college, career or life,&quot; Emanuel said in a January speech announcing his second-term education agenda.</p><p>Jack Wuest, executive director of the Alternative Schools Network and a longtime advocate for helping dropouts, shakes his head and says he is worried that these schools are the &ldquo;McDonalds&rdquo; of education. The principal of one such options school doesn&rsquo;t go quite that far, though he did compare the schools to &ldquo;instant oatmeal&rdquo; and called them &ldquo;a sign of the times.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Just because it is instant oatmeal doesn&rsquo;t necessarily make it worse,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>The schools were approved with so little public debate, few people-- experts on Chicago&rsquo;s education system to high school principals who may send students to them--do not know much about how the new schools function.</p><p>This is the first of three stories co-reported with Catalyst Chicago. Catalyst&rsquo;s <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/02/options-schools-raise-questions-of-quality/">initial story can be read here</a>. &nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>A diploma on Division Street</strong></span></p><p>Every weekday around 8 a.m., the #70 and #49 CTA buses carry hundreds of teenagers to the intersection of Division and Western on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side. &nbsp;</p><p>Clemente High School dominates two corners, a bridge over Division connects the school&rsquo;s buildings. In order to earn a diploma from this neighborhood school, CPS requires 24 credits total: 4 years of English, 3 years of math, 3 years of science, 3 years of history, 2 years of P.E., 2 years of a foreign language, a credit of career education, and 3 electives. Students also must complete 40 hours of service learning and sit for a state-mandated test.</p><p>If kids stays on track, it&rsquo;ll take four years. No more. No less.</p><p>Or, students can now walk a half block the other way on Division, and enroll at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in a non-descript building with a sign in front that still reads: <em>Coming soon, Magic Johnson Bridgescape</em>.</p><p>Ursula Ricketts, the school&#39;s program director, showed us around the storefront school this past October.</p><p>There&rsquo;s one computer lab, two classrooms, and a handful of offices in the back. It looks more like a tech startup than a high school, with hardwood floors, high ceilings and exposed brick throughout. Here, students work at their own pace on computers and can earn high school credits in a matter of weeks.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like four hours, I don&rsquo;t have to be here 8 hours, listening to teachers that don&rsquo;t even want to teach sometimes,&rdquo; says Estefany&nbsp;Herrera, a student at Magic Johnson Bridgescape. &ldquo;I like it better here. I have earned like 4 credits already.&rdquo;</p><p>A soft-spoken 19-year-old, Herrera says she dropped out of North-Grand High School after her friends turned on her and convinced others to tease her. They even tried to fight her.</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want to tell anybody because usually when you tell a teacher, everything gets worse,&rdquo; she says. One day she just stopped going to school. The days dragged on, and she spent her time helping to care for nieces and nephews. A year and a half went by. &ldquo;It was depressing,&rdquo; she recalls.</p><p>Herrera found her way to Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy after someone from CPS called her and encouraged her to re-enroll. She visited one of the district&rsquo;s Student Outreach and Re-enrollment centers and got back to school shortly thereafter.</p><p>Bridgescape Academy runs two sessions a day, from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. Herrera comes to the Humboldt Park campus for the morning, but she says it&rsquo;s flexible. &ldquo;Last week I didn&rsquo;t come. I just did the work at home.&rdquo;</p><p>Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy is a joint venture between NBA-star-turned-businessman Earvin &lsquo;Magic&rsquo; Johnson and EdisonLearning. They&rsquo;ve opened five of these fast-track schools in Chicago in the past two years. The three other new providers are Pathways, Ombudsman and Camelot.</p><p>Camelot is an outlier. They run full-day programs and students do little work online. They also run the district&rsquo;s Safe Schools, which are reserved for students who are transferred for disciplinary reasons, expelled or facing expulsion.</p><p>Like Bridgescape, Ombudsman and Pathways also offer two sessions of half-day programs in which students mostly work independently, either in workbooks or online, with some small group sessions.</p><p>Students move through the work in record time. Estefany&nbsp;Herrera said she&rsquo;s completed nine credits so far this year. Typically, students earn six credits in an entire traditional school year.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>A diploma from the school she left</strong></span></p><p>And when Herrera graduates in June, she&rsquo;ll not only count in the district&rsquo;s graduation rate, she&rsquo;ll count at her home school, North Grand. That&rsquo;s been happening since the 2007-2008 school year, when CPS started including alternative schools in the graduation rate.</p><p>But here&rsquo;s what makes the new for-profit schools different: Herrera&rsquo;s diploma will say North Grand High School. It won&rsquo;t say Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy of Humboldt Park. No one has to know she graduated from an alternative school.</p><p>Herrera had no idea. But her classmate, Kyle Johnson, did.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s way better,&rdquo; Johnson, who would have been a senior this year at Urban Prep&mdash;a high performing charter school. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s way better. Because at Urban Prep, the college acceptance rate is 100 percent, so that&rsquo;ll look good if I&rsquo;m trying to apply for college.&quot;</p><p>That&rsquo;s frustrating for Matthew Rodriguez, the principal of Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos Puerto Rican High School, a 40-year-old alternative school, down the street from Bridgescape.</p><p>&ldquo;Yeah, I mean, I feel like that&rsquo;s, what&rsquo;s the word, um, inaccurate,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>Rodriguez says schools like his take a more holistic approach, with requirements such as an intensive senior project that gets students to reflect on what they&rsquo;ve learned. The school also has a number of social workers and counselors to make sure that students&rsquo; well-being is addressed.</p><p>Not far away on Division, Clemente Principal Marcey Sorenson is implementing a rigorous International Baccalaureate curriculum. She, like Rodriguez, had no idea that students could earn a diploma that says Clemente, from a totally different school, until WBEZ and Catalyst told her.</p><p>&ldquo;No&hellip; I would be interested in learning more about that. I didn&rsquo;t know that,&rdquo; Sorenson responded. &quot;And that&rsquo;s not to say that their diploma doesn&rsquo;t mean anything. I don&rsquo;t want to make the assumption that because it&rsquo;s from Bridgescape, it means less. I just want to then, ensure that it means, what we think it means.&quot;</p><p>Other principals not only know about this perk, they&rsquo;re using it to help their graduation rates.</p><p>&ldquo;The way that I perceive it and why I think it&rsquo;s so important for me to know how they&rsquo;re doing at that school is that I know they&rsquo;re getting closer to graduation and that affects my graduation rate,&rdquo; said Sullivan High School Principal Chad Addams. &ldquo;They stay here, they dig in a hole, get themselves in more trouble and then drop out.&rdquo;</p><p>Addams and Sorenson say they both want to get to a point where they won&rsquo;t have any students off-track, when there&rsquo;s no need to refer students to alternative schools.</p><p>But until then, they can&rsquo;t just ignore the problem.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve been around enough gang members and enough high poverty children to know that that diploma is a golden ticket,&rdquo; Addams said.</p><p>The price tag for doubling the number of for-profit, half-day, mostly online schools, like Magic Johnson Bridgescape is so far hovering around $50 million dollars.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;"><strong>Dropout factories to &lsquo;credit mills&rsquo;?</strong></span></p><p>Herrera walked us through a Spanish 2 lesson last Friday. The online classes, called <em>eCourses</em>, are developed and sold by <em>EdisonLearning</em>, which also operates the school.</p><p>The lesson took less than five minutes. Herrera flipped through the slides explaining the lesson on conjugating &ndash;er and &ndash;ir verbs and immediately took a five-question quiz on what she&rsquo;s just read. She gets 100 percent and moves on.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a range, but each class contains between 80 to 160 lessons. Once Herrera completes the lessons, she will take a final that includes a multiple-choice test and three short essays. Every student has to take the final exam repeatedly until earning a score of more than an 80 percent, thus ensuring that all students pass every class.</p><p>As a native speaker, Spanish is easy for her. Geometry, on the other hand, is not.</p><p>&ldquo;It took three weeks,&rdquo; Herrera said.</p><p>CPS and officials at the new schools emphasize that they do offer small-group instruction, and they all maintain that the curriculum is aligned with the state&rsquo;s Common Core standards. (The schools are accredited.)</p><p>When WBEZ and Catalyst started asking questions about the new schools, district officials&nbsp;did something strange. They stopped calling them schools and started calling them programs. They emphasized the programs are a complement to traditional schools, and are not meant to compete with them.</p><p>But several of the schools spend heavily on advertising. The selling point to students is speed and getting a diploma in record time. Pathways&rsquo; website reads: &ldquo;Graduate High School Faster, Free Programs &amp; Classes, Flexible Scheduling. Get Ahead!&rdquo; Its URL? <a href="http://www.makeupcredits.com/">www.makeupcredits.com</a>.</p><p>Sonja Santelises is head of policy for the Washington D.C.-based Education Trust and a former Chief Academic Officer for Baltimore Public Schools. She cautions that many an online curriculum is often not all it&rsquo;s cracked up to be.</p><p>&ldquo;I have been in classrooms that in the name of giving kids other options, kids are just getting electronic worksheets,&rdquo; Santelises says.</p><p>She says there&rsquo;s a reason a high school diploma is necessary today.</p><p>&ldquo;It takes work and it is not just about saying, &lsquo;Oh we have all these poor young people who aren&rsquo;t going to graduate so let&rsquo;s just get them something so they get the credit,&rsquo;&rdquo; Santelises says. &ldquo;That is not helping anyone. Because we have all these young people that graduate and come back and say I learned nothing.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>The for-profit, half-day schools may be a new thing for Chicago, but other states have had similar programs for years. There&rsquo;s little research on how successful they are with students. CPS is one of the few districts to design a rating system for them, and the early results don&rsquo;t bode well for the new operators: 80 percent of the recently opened options schools had below-average ratings, compared to only 21 percent of long-standing alternative schools.</p><p>CPS&rsquo;s Vidis says the district is looking at the performance results of the new schools very carefully. Those that don&rsquo;t meet quality standards will not be allowed to expand and will be closed down.</p><p>&ldquo;We want to make sure that students who are working through the online courses are actually being challenged,&rdquo; Vidis says. &ldquo;That the courses are rigorous and that we aren&rsquo;t just running credit mills. That is not our interest.&rdquo;&#39;</p><p><em>This story was updated to reflect that Ursula Ricketts is the program director at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy in Humboldt Park.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Feb 2015 06:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581 Morning Shift: Mayoral candidates continue to debate http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-02-05/morning-shift-mayoral-candidates-continue-debate-111500 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/get%20directly%20down.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/get directly down" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189638713&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Mayoral candidates continue to debate</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The Illinois A</span><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">The five candidates vying for mayor are in full debate mode this week. Wednesday night, four of the candidates faced off for the first live, prime time debate of this cycle. Perennial candidate William &ldquo;Dock&rdquo; Walls was not invited - but he&rsquo;ll get a chance Thursday, as all five candidates will debate live on ABC7. Here to catch us up on WTTW&#39;s debate topics, and to preview what&rsquo;s ahead for round two is WBEZ&rsquo;s political reporter Lauren Chooljian.&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">Lauren Chooligan</a> is a WBEZ reporter.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189638711&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">New report investigates where kids go when they drop out</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">When Chicago closed nearly 50 schools in 2013, Chicago Public Schools vowed to team up with the Illinois State Board of Education about tracking where displaced students go. Last summer CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett boasted that the district knew where almost all these displaced students landed when their schools closed. An investigation by education magazine Catalyst Chicago found that wasn&rsquo;t really the case. Deputy Editor Sarah Karp explains how many students are actually not accounted for by the system. Read the article <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2015/02/03/66274/record-tracking-434-missing-students-after-closings">here.</a></span></p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/author/sarah-karp">Sarah Karp </a>is the Deputy Editor of Catalyst Chicago.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189638709&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></div><div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">On the Table returns with city-wide conversations at the dinner table</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">During campaign season, it&rsquo;s easy to hear about the ills of our city that need to be corrected. Candidates tell us what&rsquo;s wrong and how they&rsquo;d fix it. But how do those problems and potential solutions align with the everyday issues that drive the people who live and work in the region? Last year, Chicago Community Trust offered residents an opportunity to discuss what they would want to see happen in Chicago at the place where so much of these discussions can take place-around a meal at the dinner table. <a href="http://www.onthetable.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/OTT_fact_sheet.pdf">On the Table </a>returns this year to continue those conversations. Chicago Community Trust Chief Marketing Officer Daniel Ash tells us what issues emerged from the series last year, and how that might be different from when groups gather this spring.&nbsp;</span></p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="https://twitter.com/danoash">Daniel Ash</a> is the <a href="http://www.cct.org/">Chicago Community Trust&#39;s&nbsp;</a>Chief Marketing Officer</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189638707&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">Sikhs taking action to counter confusion, discrimination over religion</span></p></div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">A national group of Sikhs (seeks) is starting a campaign to help increase awareness of the religion. Studies show discrimination against Sikhs, including bullying of their kids, is rising. With the rise of ISIS, Sikhs are starting to feel the same backlash that many Muslims do. That&rsquo;s because many Americans see a turban, and mistakenly assume the person wearing it is Muslim. We talk about the challenges facing Sikhs locally and nationally, and we&rsquo;re going to get a little Sikh 101. Read Green&#39;s article <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/01/the-trouble-with-wearing-turbans-in-america/384832/">here.</a></span></p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guests:<a href="https://twitter.com/emmaogreen">&nbsp;</a></strong><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="https://twitter.com/emmaogreen">Emma Green</a> is the Assistant Managing Editor of <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/">TheAtlantic.com</a></em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Dr. Balwant Singh-Hansra is the Co-founder and past president of the <a href="http://www.srsofchicago.com/">Sikh Religious Society</a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189638706&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">New sitcom centered around Asian Americans faces screens to Asian Americans</span></p></div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Wednesday night ABC premiered a new sitcom called Fresh Off the Boat. It&rsquo;s the first Asian-American family sitcom to hit network TV since the ill-fated All American Girl with Margaret Cho. Fresh off the Boat was inspired by restaurateur and TV host Eddie Huang&rsquo;s memoir by the same name and Asian Americans have harbored some hopes that it may portray their experience with more nuance that they&rsquo;ve seen in past attempts. The Chicago-based Foundation for Asian American Independent Media on Tuesday night hosts a viewing event for the show and WBEZ&rsquo;s Monica Eng was there.</span></p><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guests:&nbsp;</strong><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">Monica Eng</a> is &nbsp;WBEZ reporter.</em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="https://twitter.com/soosieon">Susie An &nbsp;</a>is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/189638705&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><div>&nbsp;</div><div><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 24px; line-height: 22px;">When it comes to television, can there be too much of a good thing?</span></p><p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">According to a <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/fx-ceo-competition-for-tv-shows-is-now-literally-insane-2015-2">recent report</a>, there were over 370 scripted television series on broadcast, cable and streaming services last year. Back in 1999, there were 26. Having an abundance of anything good is never a bad thing. But even with DVRs and the ability to stream from mobile devices, are there enough hours in the day to take in your favorite shows? Does our tube runneth over? Chicago Sun-Times television critic Lori Rackl weighs in on that and more from TV Land.&nbsp;</span></p></div><p><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;"><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">L</a><a href="https://twitter.com/lorirackl">ori Rackl</a> is a TV critic for the </em><a href="https://twitter.com/Suntimes"><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Chicago Sun Times.</em></a></p></p> Thu, 05 Feb 2015 07:41:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-02-05/morning-shift-mayoral-candidates-continue-debate-111500