WBEZ | charter schools http://www.wbez.org/tags/charter-schools Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en CPS gives two new charters the green light, puts 10 on warning http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-gives-two-new-charters-green-light-puts-10-warning-113502 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/noble expansion_151026_ll.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is giving two charter schools the green light to open next fall.</p><p>Officials are recommending that the Chicago Board of Education give the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools approval to open a 17th high school in Brighton Park and give <a href="http://www.kippchicago.org/" target="_blank">KIPP Chicago</a> the ability to open a fifth charter grammar school in West Garfield Park.</p><p>Noble&rsquo;s proposal in Brighton Park has been criticized by neighborhood activists, the Chicago Teachers Union, and students of existing high schools in the neighborhood.</p><p>CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Monday morning that there is demand on the Southwest Side and argued that both Noble and KIPP &ldquo;operate high-quality schools and have consistently done so for their children.&rdquo;</p><p>Claypool says the district is denying the other nine schools that applied to open and putting 10 existing charter schools on a warning list. That warning list could lead to closure by the end of this school year, he said.</p><p>Of the 10 schools on the charter warning list, six are high schools and four are grammar schools.</p><p>The high schools are:</p><ul><li>Amandla</li><li>ASPIRA - Early College</li><li>CICS - ChicagoQuest</li><li>CICS - Larry Hawkins</li><li>Instituto - Justice Lozano</li><li>Prologue - Joshua Johnston</li></ul><p>The grammar schools are:</p><ul><li>Betty Shabazz - Sizemore</li><li>Bronzeville Lighthouse</li><li>Galapagos</li><li>Kwame Nkrumah Academy</li></ul><p>Three were on the warning list last year -- Amandla, Shabazz - Sizemore, and CICS - Hawkins. &nbsp;</p><p>The new schools and the warning list will be <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/documents/october_28_2015_public_agenda_to_print.pdf">voted on by the Chicago Board of Education</a> on Wednesday.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follo</em></p></p> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 12:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-gives-two-new-charters-green-light-puts-10-warning-113502 Special education cuts get focus at CPS board meeting http://www.wbez.org/news/special-education-cuts-get-focus-cps-board-meeting-113108 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/boardofed_lutton_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p></p><p>The head of special education at Chicago Public Schools said schools rely too heavily on aides and aren&rsquo;t scheduling staff who help students with special needs efficiently.</p><p>Markay Winston, the Chief of the Office of Diverse Learners and Support Services, said her office is trying to deliver special education services in a &ldquo;fiscally responsible&rdquo; manner. Since summer, the district has cut nearly 600 special education teachers and aides.</p><p>Winston said the cuts should not affect the ability to meet students&rsquo; individualized education plans, or IEPs, which are legally binding documents that outline what help an individual &nbsp;child needs in order to learn.</p><p>Principals found out over the weekend that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-blindsided-more-cuts-special-needs-113096">more special needs staff would be eliminated</a>. CPS has never before cut special education staff after the first day of school. Officials said it was due to enrollment, but there was no correlation between enrollment declines and special education staffing cuts.</p><p dir="ltr">Those cuts came in addition to 500 positions that were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-budget-cuts-hit-special-education-students-112512">eliminated over the summer</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">Presenting at the Chicago Board of Education on Tuesday, Winston said that historically, only 5 percent of students with IEPs ever transition out of special education in CPS.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Winston not satisfied only 5% of <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/sped?src=hash">#sped</a> students exit out, but it&#39;s higher than other urban districts. Must exit them appropriately <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cpsboard?src=hash">#cpsboard</a></p>&mdash; Catalyst Chicago Mag (@CatalystChicago) <a href="https://twitter.com/CatalystChicago/status/648895867823521793">September 29, 2015</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>Board Vice President Jesse Ruiz asked Winston how many students with IEPs simply left the district.</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sharkey likens CPS deals with banks to getting ripped off with ATM fees. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cpsboard?src=hash">#cpsboard</a></p>&mdash; WBEZeducation (@WBEZeducation) <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation/status/648903726820929537">September 29, 2015</a></blockquote><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">President of SEIU Local 73 says Winston is incorrect about what is happening in schools. More than 300 sped aides laid off. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cpsboard?src=hash">#cpsboard</a></p>&mdash; WBEZeducation (@WBEZeducation) <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation/status/648904291969843200">September 29, 2015</a></blockquote><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Sarah Chambers, special ed teacher, says one of her students signed up online to speak &amp; was told she&#39;d be expelled if she did. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cpsboard?src=hash">#cpsboard</a></p>&mdash; WBEZeducation (@WBEZeducation) <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation/status/648912690749022208">September 29, 2015</a></blockquote><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Crowd is upset today that <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cpsboard?src=hash">#cpsboard</a> is reducing groups of speakers down to two representatives.</p>&mdash; WBEZeducation (@WBEZeducation) <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation/status/648906858393149440">September 29, 2015</a></blockquote><p dir="ltr"><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/special-education-cuts-get-focus-cps-board-meeting-113108 Morning Shift: September 29, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/morning-shift-september-29-2015-113106 <p><p>Do you have what it takes to go to Mars &mdash; cramped in a small rocket with others for the estimated six months it would take to get there? Now that water has been discovered on the Red Planet, scientists are even more eager to send humans on a Mars Mission. Hopefully it won&rsquo;t be like the journey described in the new movie Matt Damon movie &ldquo;The Martian.&rdquo; We examine what a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/putting-together-team-travel-mars-113105">perfect Mars Mission Team</a> would look like and what NASA might learn from the world of psychology when it comes to how relationships form and fracture in tight spaces.</p><p>And back here on earth, the battle over the expansion of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/charter-schools-looking-expand-113104">Charter Schools </a>in Chicago continues. Seven charters want to open up new campuses across the city and, not surprisingly, that&rsquo;s being met with opposition. WBEZ Education Reporter Linda Lutton breaks down the arguments from both sides.</p><p>We also talk about diversity on TV on the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/trevor-noah-takes-over-host-daily-show-113101">Daily Show with Trevor Noah</a> and ABC&#39;s <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/bollywood-mega-star-crosses-over-american-television-113103">Quantico</a>.</p></p> Tue, 29 Sep 2015 12:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-29/morning-shift-september-29-2015-113106 The Education of Jose Garcia: Part 3 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-3-112944 <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/Edit_IMG_1086.jpg" title="Jose Garcia in his new classroom. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div><p>It&rsquo;s college signing night at Rauner College Prep at the end of May.</p><p>Jose Garcia is in charge of music.</p><p>At this ceremony, Noble&rsquo;s determination to get students into college is on full display. Instead of celebrating a few top athletes choosing where to play, Noble treats every student heading to college like a star.</p><p>One by one, each graduating senior takes the mic, flanked by parents, and declares where he or she will graduate from college four years from now.</p><p>&ldquo;My name is Manny Cardoza and I&rsquo;ll be graduating from St. Olaf College,&rdquo; says one student as he opens up a t-shirt emblazoned with the St. Olaf logo. Jose helped Manny with his applications and he ultimately was accepted into 11 colleges and got lots of scholarships.</p><p>Parents and families are dressed up, taking pictures, and cheering like it&rsquo;s a Friday night championship football game in the heart of Texas. Except this is the near Northwest Side of Chicago and all the players are low-income, students of color.</p><p>Jose hits play and the <span class="soundcite" data-end="38000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/jose+web+-+bulls+music.mp3">sound of the Chicago Bulls lineup music fills the auditorium</span>. Teachers who advise seniors are announced as if they&rsquo;re famous basketball players, by name and by the university they attended.</p><p>Standing to the side of the stage, Jose is taking official school photos as each student signs a &ldquo;contract&rdquo; that commits to Noble that they will finish college. After the ceremony is over, Jose chats with a teacher he&rsquo;s known since he was 14.</p><p>&ldquo;If I had to pick between this and graduation, it would be this, 100 percent,&rdquo; Jake Lessem says. &ldquo;I could watch it all night long.&rdquo;</p><p>Lessem was Jose&rsquo;s advisor when he was a student at Rauner. He&rsquo;s the most veteran teacher here. A picture of the two at Denison&rsquo;s graduation last May flashes on a screen behind them. Lessem tells Jose what he&rsquo;s heard now from lots of other teachers.</p><p>&ldquo;The only reason you survive your first year of teaching is you have no idea how hard it&rsquo;s going to be until you&rsquo;re already in the middle of it,&rdquo; Lessem says.&nbsp; &ldquo;Because if anybody really told you, you probably wouldn&rsquo;t sign up for it.&rdquo;</p><p>Lessem cautions that teaching is never easy. If it feels that way, it&rsquo;s probably time for Jose to find something else to do.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s always about getting better,&rdquo; Lessem says. &ldquo;I did the best I could for Jose, but I&rsquo;m a much better teacher now, and I hope I&rsquo;m a much better teacher in three and five and 10 years. The thing about teaching is you never feel like you nail it.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose never wanted to be a teacher. He can&rsquo;t get his license through Relay. But he says he signed up to come back to Noble to teach because of what the school did for him. Tonight is a reminder of all that.</p><p>&ldquo;It reminds me that I&rsquo;m not here for me,&rdquo; he says, choking back tears. &ldquo;It&#39;s just&hellip; it&#39;s emotional&hellip; it&#39;s emotional because&hellip; it&#39;s about them, and their families.&rdquo;</p><p>Walking away now would be the wrong thing to do, Jose says. He says this week he gave the sophomore students an end of the year survey and he was surprised by how many students wrote that they liked that, &ldquo;Mr. Garcia didn&rsquo;t give up on me.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t know the students were noticing,&rdquo; Jose says, before being interrupted by a senior, who wanted to introduce him to her mom.</p><p>Sjoblom says this is the moment when a teacher becomes a teacher.</p><p>&ldquo;For some people, they set out do it and then they&rsquo;re like, &lsquo;Man, this is so hard&rsquo; and &lsquo;Whoa, I don&rsquo;t think I should be teaching,&rsquo;&rdquo; she says, noting that a few people she recruited for the program dropped out.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s good for them to make that choice now. For most people, though, I think when you&rsquo;re good at working with kids that kind of connection helps drive you through that mess and muddling that you have to do to figure out what works for you.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A new, new classroom</span></p><p>Jose is still figuring out what works for him. It&rsquo;s mid-June and the students have left for the summer, but there are still stacks of papers all over Jose&rsquo;s desk and big cardboard boxes at the back of room 205, where he taught sophomore English since February.</p><p>He unexpectedly took responsibility for about 70 students and did the best he could. But, like (Mr.) Lessem said on college signing night, he wasn&rsquo;t sure if he was the best teacher for them.</p><p>&ldquo;When I saw their scores&hellip; I was mad because we went over this so many times in class, &ldquo; Jose says. &ldquo;Maybe I was a little too confident.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose says he learned a lot.</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t assume they remember what you did a day ago,&rdquo; he laughs.</p><p>When all the results of a final assessment Noble gives to all students across all 16 high schools come through, Jose&#39;s students have actually done better than he thought. Most students did improve since the mid-year test.</p><p>But he&rsquo;s now hyper-aware of those tests. Next year, Jose&rsquo;s graduate school&mdash;Relay&mdash;will require him to prove his students learned with him as their teacher. Noble and school districts all over the country use student test scores to measure teachers. Relay is the only graduate school to do so. And Jose&rsquo;s conflicted about it.</p><p>&ldquo;I think tests are not an accurate reflection of what students know,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;But I mean, that&rsquo;s the game we have to play it. If students want to get into college they have to get a good ACT score, this is the game that we have to play. So I think I&rsquo;m kind of learning how to play the game.&rdquo;</p><p>Sjoblom says Jose wasn&rsquo;t the only teacher-in-training who was disappointed with his student&rsquo;s test scores. She&rsquo;s taking a closer look at it for next year, because ultimately, the whole point of Noble training their own teachers is to get more great teachers in front of students.</p><p>She says there are a lot of complicating factors for the first year because most of the Relay students were not in full-time teaching jobs. Jose was in a weird situation. But she does believe he became a better teacher by having his own class.</p><p>&ldquo;He wouldn&rsquo;t have felt bad about those scores if he didn&rsquo;t own it,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Jose says he&rsquo;s not sure how long he&rsquo;ll stay in teaching. He says teachers in Chicago fight an uphill battle and can only fight for so long. Plus, he&rsquo;d like to work at a place like Denison someday, helping first generation college students adjust to campus life.</p><p>But this year, Jose is going to teach two different classes at Rauner (this school year). It&rsquo;s a job that he feels fits with the whole reason he came back&mdash;college counseling a group of seniors for 90 minutes every day and teaching two sections of a brand new class to freshmen and sophomore students at Rauner. It&rsquo;s called Identity and Justice Studies.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to decorate a little bit more,&rdquo; he says, opening the door to room 300. &ldquo;I was thinking, Sunday night, when I was cleaning my room (at home), I stumbled on my diploma frame from Denison. It&rsquo;s still in the box and, I thought, maybe I would hang it in the classroom.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can reach her at <a href="mailto:bvevea@wbez.org">bvevea@wbez.org</a> and follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-1-112942" style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">PART 1</a><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">&nbsp;|&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-2-112943" style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">PART 2</a><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">&nbsp;|&nbsp;PART 3</span></strong></p></p> Tue, 15 Sep 2015 16:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-3-112944 The Education of Jose Garcia: Part 2 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-2-112943 <p><p>It&rsquo;s the end of October&mdash;two months into the school year&mdash;and everything is due all at once and there are not enough hours in a day.</p><p>&ldquo;This is like my hell week, like in college,&rdquo; says Jose Garcia.</p><p>Jose is training to be a teacher at his old charter high school, Rauner College Prep, one of the 16 campuses of the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>This week, he has papers to grade and papers to write for graduate school. The seniors he&rsquo;s helping with college applications are running behind, and on top of that, he is required to go to professional development with all Noble teachers on Friday.</p><p>Jose co-teaches a class with Tierionna Pinkston that&rsquo;s required for all Noble seniors. It&rsquo;s devoted to getting students into college. Jose took it five years ago, when he was a senior at Rauner College Prep.</p><p>&ldquo;Ladies and gentleman, up here real quick,&rdquo; he says over the chatter. &ldquo;We also need this sheet back before you leave today.&rdquo;</p><p>Students are supposed to be filling out a list of schools they&rsquo;re interested in attending but most of them are just filling in the blanks. When the bell rings, kids rush out of the room and Jose scrambles to collect the sheets he told them to turn in.</p><p>&ldquo;Remember! I need your sheet,&rdquo; he shouts. &ldquo;If I gave it to you, I need it. If not, you will get a zero.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose counts the papers in his hands after all the students are gone. He definitely did not get them all back.</p><p>Around 5 p.m., at the end of this long, frustrating day, he checks in with Pinkston. She asks what would help and Jose says, &ldquo;Not being here.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t help you with that,&rdquo; Pinkston says, with a sympathetic laugh. &ldquo;First year sucks. It sucks. I used to cry on my way home at night.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;At least nobody&rsquo;s called you a bitch, right?&rdquo; she asks.</p><p>&ldquo;No... they&rsquo;ve called me a son of a bitch,&rdquo; Jose replies.</p><p>The two laugh, but earning the respect of teenagers is not a given. Jose says he gets frustrated when kids don&rsquo;t take school seriously. When they think it&rsquo;s just a punishment. Like today, when a senior he&rsquo;s been helping look for colleges filled out a bunch of random schools, without actually knowing what majors those schools offered or even where they were located.</p><p>But then he remembers when he was 17. Jose didn&rsquo;t always understand why he had to do so much homework and take so many tests and keep his shirt tucked in all the time.</p><p>Pinkston can tell there&rsquo;s something else bothering Jose. He hesitates, but then admits that he doesn&rsquo;t really feel like a teacher. He kind of just feels like the assistant.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t get to slowly develop...my own style,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>That could be a problem because he&rsquo;s required to videotape himself teaching for his graduate school classes at Relay. He&rsquo;s worried he won&rsquo;t get enough practice before those assignments are due.</p><p>But by the end of November, Jose gets to lead Jillian McDonald&rsquo;s Literature and Composition class from start to finish. He teaches a lesson on <em>The Diary of a Part-Time Indian</em> by Sherman Alexie.</p><p>And on this day, just before the Thanksgiving break, he does sound like a teacher.</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/jose2.JPG" title="Jose Garcia teaches his first lesson in 2014. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></div><p>Though, he <span class="soundcite" data-end="35000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/jose+web+-+first+full+lesson+stumble.mp3">stumbles at first</span> at the start of class when he says, &ldquo;But first&hellip;.&rdquo; and a student interrupts, &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to take a selfie?&rdquo; referencing a recent <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdemFfbS5H0">chart topper</a>. They all laugh. &ldquo;No, we&rsquo;re not going to take a selfie,&rdquo; Jose says, with a smile, before immediately jumping to the next direction with a bold voice, &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to talk about what we&rsquo;re going to do for the rest of class.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;I think he&rsquo;s come a long way,&rdquo; McDonald says. &ldquo;I think a lot of classroom management is being confident in what you&rsquo;re asking them to do.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose says he thinks he did well and made the right adjustments between classes.</p><p>&ldquo;The first time, I asked students to pre-write first before addressing misconceptions, and while they were pre-writing everyone&rsquo;s hand was up and that&rsquo;s when I said, &lsquo;Crap, maybe I should&rsquo;ve gone over misconceptions first.&rsquo; So for the second time, I definitely did misconceptions first.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>This is the kind of stuff Relay wants Jose to pay close attention to, the little things others might miss.</p><p>As the freshman shuffle out of the room, he runs over to a small camcorder that&rsquo;s been propped up on his desk in the back corner. He stops the recording. Tonight, he&rsquo;ll spend a few hours writing up a short reflection and submitting it to Relay.&nbsp; He&rsquo;ll do at least a dozen reflections over the course of the year and he hopes it will prove that he knows what he&rsquo;s doing. That he&rsquo;s ready for his own classroom.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Being Mr. Garcia, five months ahead of schedule</span></p><p>By January, the rollercoaster of Jose&rsquo;s first year in the classroom has had more downs than ups. He believed what he told the juniors in that first day assembly: he wanted to come back and show them they could make it, too.</p><p>But now, he&rsquo;s just exhausted and overwhelmed.</p><p>&ldquo;I went to bed at 2 a.m. yesterday, and I actually slept on my couch because if I were to lay down on my bed, I was not going to get up today,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a recliner, so I laid down just a little bit, but not all the way. I didn&rsquo;t get too comfortable.&rdquo;</p><p>He&rsquo;s cried, like Pinkston told him he would. He got a really bad grade on his latest assignment at Relay. And he&rsquo;s averaging five hours of sleep a night.</p><p>This is when everything changes. When the reality of working in a school in 2015&mdash;charter or otherwise&mdash;blows a giant hole in all of Jose&rsquo;s and Relay&rsquo;s and Noble&rsquo;s best laid plans.&nbsp;</p><p>A teacher at Rauner took an unexpected medical leave and the school needed a new sophomore English teacher.</p><p>That replacement? Mr. Garcia.</p><p>Noble leaders designed Jose&rsquo;s training program on the belief that teachers can be built and that they should be prepared like doctors, under the eye of experienced teachers for a full year. But now, they&rsquo;re basically saying: That residency thing? We think that&rsquo;s how you make a teacher&hellip; Until we need somebody to teach sophomore English.</p><p>Mindy Sjoblom, the dean of Relay in Chicago who recruited Jose, doesn&rsquo;t see Jose&rsquo;s premature move to teaching as a departure from the program&rsquo;s design.</p><p>As a former principal, Sjoblom says those mid-year vacancies are &ldquo;a principal&rsquo;s worst nightmare.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s hard to find a good teacher in the middle of the school year, so if there&rsquo;s a teacher training in your building, that&rsquo;s probably one of the best options since they already know the school, the systems, the curriculum. In total, five teachers-in-training like Jose got pulled in to fill mid-year vacancies at Noble schools.</p><p>Overnight, Jose has become responsible for the education of about 70 sophomores.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;What would happen if I just threw in the towel right now?&rsquo;</span></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/EDIT_IMG_5147.jpg" title="Jose meets with Rauner College Prep's Director of Curriculum and Instruction Janna Walson. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></div><p>Jose meets almost every night with the other sophomore English teacher, Eric Stetzer, to go over lesson plans. Sjoblom comes to observe occasionally and when Jose has a question, he asks the school&rsquo;s current Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Janna Walson. Her office is just down the hall from his new classroom.</p><p>Still, Jose feels like he&rsquo;s in survival mode.</p><p>&ldquo;There were times when I was teaching and I would think of just walking out of the classroom, because it was so hard,&rdquo; Jose says. &ldquo;I would think to myself: &lsquo;What would happen if I just walked out right now? What would happen if I just threw in the towel right now?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a feeling other teachers have warned him about.</p><p>This feeling is one that often drives new teachers, like Jose, away from the classroom for good. Every year, research estimates about half of all the new teachers in America will leave teaching. At Rauner, Jose says there are at least 10 teachers taking different jobs next school year.</p><p>Jose figures it&rsquo;s the combination of long hours and mediocre pay that makes a lot of teachers leave. Most charter school teachers make less than unionized CPS teachers. And because Noble is paying for Jose&rsquo;s graduate school, he makes even less: about $30,000, including benefits.</p><p>He says he&rsquo;s not doing this for the money. But he&rsquo;s not so sure anymore if he wants to stay in teaching. And, under Illinois&rsquo; new licensing rules, he may not be able to.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">How an old GPA can get in a new teacher&#39;s way</span></p><p>&ldquo;I won&rsquo;t be licensed because my undergrad GPA is not where Illinois requires it,&rdquo; Jose says.</p><p>The new <a href="http://www.isbe.net/licensure/pdf/ELIS-faq.pdf">requirements for getting a teaching license</a> are complicated, but after all his time and effort, Jose will have a Master&rsquo;s, but no official license.</p><p>The state made all of the changes after Jose was already halfway through college, after he almost dropped out. The rule says to be licensed through an alternative route, like Relay, Jose <a href="http://www.isbe.state.il.us/licensure/pdf/alternate.pdf">must have a 3.0</a>. He says he finished at Denison with a cumulative GPA of 2.8.&nbsp;</p><p>There are a lot of people&mdash;politicians and activists&mdash;who believe Jose&rsquo;s GPA has nothing to do with how good of a teacher he can be. That good teachers can be made and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-latino-teachers-such-minority-cps-112399">all the new requirements are going to push out teachers of color</a>, like Jose.</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/EDIT_IMG_1779.jpg" title="A flier from Relay featuring Jose Garcia. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></div><p>Jose is one of Noble&rsquo;s success stories&mdash;the first in his family to go to college on a full-tuition scholarship, the obvious choice for Noble to recruit back to teach, and now working hard to be a good teacher for other low-income, students of color&mdash;and it&rsquo;s still not enough to meet the state&rsquo;s official requirements.</p><p>Mindy Sjoblom, Relay&rsquo;s dean and a former Noble principal, says Jose is not alone and it&rsquo;s been &ldquo;heartbreaking&rdquo; to see many of their own alumni locked out of the opportunity to become teachers in their schools.&nbsp; Her next group of teachers in training will have just five Noble alumni. As of publication, one had already left the program.</p><p>Sjoblom, the head of Relay in Chicago, says she agrees with the intent of the rule&mdash;to get smart people into the profession&mdash;but she isn&rsquo;t convinced the college GPA is the thing that matters. For one, it can never be changed.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>Noble officials knew about this requirement and so did Jose.</p><p>They say they went ahead with training him, in part, because the state allows public charter schools to hire unlicensed teachers. Jose will be able to work at Noble, but his other teaching options are limited.</p><p>Jose says he did it anyway because he wasn&rsquo;t sure how long he&rsquo;d stay in teaching.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;It took me a while to be OK with not being licensed,&rdquo; Jose says. &ldquo;If Noble, at some point, says, &lsquo;We need you to be licensed, or walk out the doors.&rsquo; I would just walk out the doors.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s a thought that&rsquo;s already crossed his mind.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can reach her at <a href="mailto:bvevea@wbez.org">bvevea@wbez.org</a> and follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-1-112942" style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">PART 1</a><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">&nbsp;|&nbsp;PART 2&nbsp;|&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-3-112944"><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">PART 3</span></a></strong></p></p> Tue, 15 Sep 2015 15:58:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-2-112943 The Education of Jose Garcia: Part 1 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-1-112942 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Edit2_IMG_1041.jpg" title="Jose Garcia was in the first graduating class at Rauner College Prep, a campus of the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools. That was in 2010 and he's now back as part of a graduate program created by Noble, in partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education. (WBEZ/Andrew Gill)" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image ">Jose Garcia never thought he&rsquo;d be the one writing directions on the board in room 105.</div><p>&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t expect to be here,&rdquo; he says on the first day of classes at Rauner College Prep, one of the 16 campuses of the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools, the city&rsquo;s largest network of publicly-funded, privately-run high schools.</p><p>Jose is a graduate of this school and when he was a senior, his classmates voted him &ldquo;Most Likely to Teach at Rauner.&rdquo;&nbsp;<span class="soundcite" data-end="48000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/Jose+web+-+yearbook+superlative.mp3">He vehemently disagreed.</span></p><p>&ldquo;At that time I was like, &lsquo;What? No! I want to be a news reporter. What do you mean?!&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>But in August 2014, just three months after graduating from college, he finds himself wearing a crisp navy blue shirt and an orange striped tie, Rauner&rsquo;s school colors, and he&rsquo;s carrying a clipboard with the school logo painted on the back.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a small sign taped to the lower right hand corner of the board listing a few fun facts about him. Favorite smell? Cilantro. Favorite lunch? Tacos with an horchata. Hidden talent? Playing trumpet. Advice to 9th graders? DO NOT take short cuts.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a whole generation of Joses in Chicago now.&nbsp; Students who were part of a grand experiment launched in the late 1990s. An experiment that bet that public schools free from Chicago Public Schools bureaucracy, with no unions, strict discipline and an unrelenting focus on college, could get more low-income, students of color to succeed.</p><p>Now, Jose is now part of a new step in that movement. He is going to be a teacher at his old school. He doesn&rsquo;t have a license or a degree in education.</p><p>For the next two years, Jose will be part of a new graduate program Noble created in partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education, which is taking a radical new approach to training teachers.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Growing up in the school reform generation</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EDIT_IMG_4291.jpg" style="float: right; height: 445px; width: 310px;" title="Rauner College Prep (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" />Jose&rsquo;s story starts across the street from this school in Chicago&rsquo;s West Town neighborhood two decades ago.&nbsp;</p><p>His parents immigrated from small towns near Guadalajara, Mexico in 1986, and landed in this working-class neighborhood and lived with relatives. On December 28, 1991, Jose was born.</p><p>By the time he was in grammar school, Jose&rsquo;s parents bought their own house on Huron and Willard Court, across the street from Carpenter Elementary, a public neighborhood school.</p><p>&ldquo;I literally grew up right across the street from my elementary school,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>It&rsquo;s at about this time that Jose&rsquo;s life starts to collide with some of Chicago&rsquo;s biggest education reforms.</p><p>The summer before Jose entered 7th grade, the mayor of Chicago at the time, Richard M. Daley, announced an initiative that would usher in a new wave of school reform. It was called &ldquo;Renaissance 2010&rdquo; and the goal was to open 100 new public schools in five years; two-thirds would be charters.</p><p>It would eventually close Jose&rsquo;s grammar school and create his high school.</p><p>A high school that would open three blocks from Jose&rsquo;s childhood home, in the old Santa Maria Addolorata parish school building, and be named after billionaire-venture-capitalist-turned-Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner</p><p>It would be a second campus of a school Jose had heard a lot about.</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone in the neighborhood knew about Noble,&rdquo; Jose recalls. &ldquo;Everyone wanted to go there.&rdquo;</p><p>Families in Jose&rsquo;s neighborhood knew Noble was strict, safe, and had a single-minded focus about sending kids to college. The first school opened in 1999, when Jose was just eight years old, after two CPS teachers had become convinced they could run a more successful school than the ones they worked in.</p><p>Noble&rsquo;s early success caught the attention of wealthy Chicagoans, like Rauner, who liked that the school was free from Chicago Public Schools bureaucracy and the teachers union. Jose&rsquo;s parents simply wanted him to go to college and saw Noble as a way to get him there.</p><p>&ldquo;Once my mom and I heard new campuses were opening up, that was good news because that meant my chances of getting in were a bit higher,&rdquo; Jose says.</p><p>Jose applied to Noble&rsquo;s lottery and got one of the 150 spots available at Rauner College Prep. But when he was in 8th grade, his parents had decided to sell their house in rapidly gentrifying West Town and move south to McKinley Park. So every day for the next four years, Jose took the El back to West Town to go to high school at Rauner College Prep.</p><p>He got decent grades -- mostly B&rsquo;s, a few A&rsquo;s, he says -- and vividly remembers his getting his first detention, which Noble calls a LaSalle.&nbsp; It was the third day of freshman year and he forgot to do part of his homework.</p><p>Jose had gone to de facto segregated schools his whole life. His classmates were nearly all Latino through 13 years of school.</p><p>When he graduated and went to college at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, he struggled to fit in. Denison&rsquo;s student body was, at the time, about 80 percent white.</p><p>&ldquo;It was definitely a culture shock for me,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;A lot of students in my shoes were being misrepresented or misunderstood. People just didn&rsquo;t know how to deal with us.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose almost dropped out of college.</p><p>During his first summer home, Jose visited his old high school to talk with the next group of graduates. He remembers being brutally honest, telling them that &ldquo;college was horrible and everyone&rsquo;s racist.&rdquo; But Jose says he got over all of it. He earned a <a href="https://www.possefoundation.org/">POSSE scholarship</a> that would cover all of his tuition, so he went back, and the next year, he says, things got much better. He found a job tutoring students at a nearby elementary school who were learning English.</p><p>He started getting work experience in TV news, interning during the summer at the Spanish-language television network Telemundo. In 2013, he got to work at NBC on the investigations desk. That was his career plan. He would work his way up to a TV news station in a big market and give back to his parents.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">&lsquo;Oh my gosh, why is she calling me?&rsquo;</span></p><p>While Jose was away at college, a lot was happening at Noble. Leaders opened a fourth and fifth campus, and then a sixth and seventh. Noble was growing into into a mini-district within the district, now operating 16 schools and counting.</p><p>The rapid expansion meant Noble suddenly needed a lot more teachers. But they didn&rsquo;t want just any teachers. They wanted more diverse teachers. Noble and other charter schools had come under fire for lacking teachers who looked like and could relate to the black and Latino students who went to their schools.</p><p>During all four years of high school, Jose only had two Latino teachers. Neither were men.</p><p>&ldquo;Ms. Morales was my Algebra 1 teacher and my Pre-Calculus teacher,&rdquo; Jose remembers. The other was Ms. Galvalisi, his AP Physics teacher.</p><p>Noble also wanted teachers who were familiar with how it runs schools -- with a focus on strict discipline and getting into college.</p><p>Noble leaders floated the idea of recruiting and training their own teachers and Mindy Sjoblom, the former Dean of Instruction at Jose&rsquo;s high school and now the principal, led the charge. She knew Noble&rsquo;s own alumni fit that criteria.</p><p>&ldquo;Literally, the process last year when we dreamed up this idea was going through a list of everybody that we knew was graduating from college this year and thinking, &lsquo;Does this person have what it takes to be a teacher?&rsquo;&rdquo; Sjoblom says.</p><p>Jose was on the top of her list.</p><p>&ldquo;To myself, I was like, &lsquo;Oh my gosh, why is she calling me?... I thought I had already made up my mind.&rsquo;&rdquo; Jose remembers.</p><p>He always saw himself getting that job in TV news. To make good money and repay his parents for their years of support. But then, Jose thought, none of that would have been possible if he hadn&rsquo;t gone to Noble and gotten the POSSE scholarship.</p><p>Jose didn&rsquo;t have any other official job offers and he started to feel a pull to help kids who experienced what he did, both in high school and college.</p><p>&ldquo;I said, you know what, I&rsquo;m going to go for it.&rdquo;</p><p>And with that, Jose signed up for Noble&rsquo;s next experiment in school improvement.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">First days of school</span></p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/EDIT_IMG_4301.jpg" title="Jose Garcia on the first day of school in 2014. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" />It&rsquo;s August 25, 2014 and Jose is about to speak to a sea of 16- and 17-year-olds. It&rsquo;s apparent he went to Noble, when, on the way to a morning assembly, he pulls his phone out of his front pocket and moves it to his back pocket.&nbsp; &ldquo;Something that we prohibit is phones visible in the front pocket,&rdquo; he whispers.</p><p>The school&rsquo;s new principal Jennifer Reid is giving the junior class a pep talk that&rsquo;s one part &ldquo;welcome back,&rdquo; two parts &ldquo;let&rsquo;s get down to business.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Smart people make it to college, but smart people with character graduate from college and make use of their college degrees for the people around them,&rdquo; <span class="soundcite" data-end="51000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url=" https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/jose+web+-+reid+assembly.mp3">Reid says</span>. &ldquo;We are not in the business of creating really smart brown people who have college degrees who don&rsquo;t serve their community. We are not in that business. We are in the business of creating people who care, who work, who are smart, but who also have passion.&rdquo;</p><p>Reid says she knows somebody who is one of those people.</p><p>&ldquo;I need you to give a round of applause for Mr. Garcia.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose tries to explain to a bunch of students, not that much younger than he is, why he is standing in front of them. He says, when he was a student at Rauner, he sometimes felt like college was impossible. But ultimately, he finished.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it is my responsibility to come back to my community, to my neighborhood, so that you guys see that it is possible,&rdquo; Jose says.</p><p>In the classroom, he has no idea what he&rsquo;s doing yet. He&rsquo;s winging it.</p><p>The only experience Jose has had working with kids so far was tutoring second graders while he was a student at Denison.</p><p>He got just two weeks of training over the summer and he doesn&rsquo;t have a teaching license.</p><p>There are other teacher training programs that throw recent college graduates into the classroom with little training. Teach for America trains its recruits for just five weeks over the summer before handing over the responsibility of educating anywhere from 30 to 100 students.</p><p>Sjoblom, the woman who recruited Jose, wants him to have a different experience.</p><p>Her plan for making Jose into a teacher means he will have to wait a full year before getting his own classroom. It&rsquo;ll be &ldquo;a more steady on-ramp into the profession,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Each one of the 16 people she recruited to teach at Noble will work under licensed teachers in other Noble schools. Jose is paired up with Jillian McDonald, a freshman English teacher. McDonald changed course after an early career in marketing. She got a Master&rsquo;s in Education from DePaul University and has taught at Noble for five years.</p><p>Over lunch, Jose and McDonald talk through a lesson they&rsquo;ll teach on finding the main idea. They&rsquo;ll be using an article about Rudy Ruettinger, the Notre Dame football player. McDonald asks if Jose still wants to take over after independent reading time. He does. She says, &ldquo;Ok, do you want to walk me through how you would approach this?&rdquo;</p><p>Jose says he&rsquo;ll have the freshman pair up and talk about the main idea. McDonald nods patiently and then asks, &ldquo;<span class="soundcite" data-end="63000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/jose+web+-+1st+day+lunch.mp3">How are they going to read it?</span>&rdquo;</p><p>Jose pauses. &ldquo;Oh! They haven&rsquo;t read it yet?&rdquo; he laughs. McDonald laughs. &ldquo;No, we haven&rsquo;t given it to them.&rdquo; &ldquo;Um, silently. I&rsquo;ll have them read it silently,&rdquo; Jose smiles.</p><p>Once students arrive, there are some things that come naturally for Jose. His speaking voice is strong and at one point, he gets a fidgeting boy in the front row to immediately stop playing with his binder with a single look. A &ldquo;teacher look.&rdquo;</p><p>Those little tricks are not going to be enough. The rest, Jose will learn over the next two years at a graduate school that&rsquo;s entirely new to Chicago. A graduate school that&rsquo;s just as green as Jose.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">How charters try to build their own teachers</span></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/EDITIMG_4508.jpg" title="Mindy Sjoblom teaches a class at Relay Graduate School of Education. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></div><p>On a Friday afternoon in mid-September, Jose, the graduate student, is sitting in a desk in a room at another Noble school, and he&rsquo;s not paying attention.</p><p>&ldquo;Good afternoon everybody,&rdquo; begins Sjoblom, a former teacher at Jose&rsquo;s old high school and now the dean of this school, the Relay Graduate School of Education in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Very&hellip;&rdquo; she stops and looks at Jose. He looks up from his papers. &ldquo;Did you guys see me just use one of the strategies today? To get Jose and Yessenia&rsquo;s attention,&rdquo; Sjoblom asks the room.</p><p>A young woman in the back raises her hand: &ldquo;The self-interrupt.&rdquo;</p><p>Jose&rsquo;s graduate school is not a typical graduate school.</p><p>It&#39;s not affiliated with a university. Like Jose, all of the other teachers enrolled work at Noble schools. There&rsquo;s no campus, no lectures, no discussions of John Dewey or Rudolph Steiner. Mostly, it&rsquo;s a lot of practice on how to manage a classroom.&nbsp; At one point, the room full of twenty-somethings stand-up and start <span class="soundcite" data-end="54000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/jose+web+-+relay+practice.mp3">reciting</span>&nbsp;an example of a teacher technique they call &ldquo;the self-interrupt.&rdquo;</p><p>Sjoblom&rsquo;s mission is to get Jose and the other 15 teachers in this room as prepared as possible. Make mistakes here, not in front of students.</p><p>The last hour of class is spent on what Sjoblom calls &ldquo;scrimmages.&rdquo; Each teacher-in-training practices a lesson on the others. <span class="soundcite" data-end="29000" data-plays="1" data-start="0" data-url="https://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/audio/jose/jose+web+-+scrimmage+short.mp3">Jose tries out a lesson on the parts of speech.</span></p><p>&ldquo;Yessenia, do you know anything about verbs?&rdquo; he asks a fellow teacher, pretending she&rsquo;s a student in his imaginary class.</p><p>&ldquo;No,&rdquo; Sjoblom interrupts from the back of the room.</p><p>&ldquo;&lsquo;Yessenia, tell us what you know about verbs,&rsquo;&rdquo; she corrects.<br />Jose continues, moving around the room, focusing on speaking with authority, trying a self-interrupt when one fellow teacher starts tapping a pencil on his desk. When he&rsquo;s finished, the other teachers snap their fingers in approval and Sjoblom runs down a quick list of suggestions for next time.<br />The practices are awkward for Jose, but he sees why they&rsquo;re important.</p><p>&ldquo;I thought, when I was a student, that being a teacher was just natural, like my teachers were up there doing it because they were born with it,&rdquo; Jose says. &ldquo;But it was because they had the proper training to do it.&rdquo;</p><p>Most of Jose&rsquo;s teachers were trained through traditional schools of education and picked up classroom management tricks along the way.</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/EDIT_IMG_5696.jpg" style="height: 394px; width: 300px; float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" />But Jose&rsquo;s school &mdash; Relay &mdash; is based on the belief that teachers can be built. That teaching is not something innate. At Relay, the curriculum draws heavily on books like <em>Teach Like A Champion</em> and <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/The-Skillful-Teacher-Building-Teaching/dp/1886822107">The Skillful Teacher</a></em>.</div><p>Critics of Relay say its style of training boils teaching down to only its most basic elements and is too focused on controlling student behaviors, not on fostering creativity or a love of learning.</p><p>But Sjoblom says pondering educational philosophies isn&rsquo;t going to help Jose and the others in the classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t want to spend time digging into and debating the theory,&rdquo; Sjoblom says. &ldquo;We want to say, &lsquo;Hey here&rsquo;s what we learned. Here&rsquo;s what we know about child development. So now what does that mean for my classroom?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Most people enter the teaching profession where they are handed a classroom of kids and we&rsquo;re like, &lsquo;Well, good luck! Let me know if you need help!&rsquo;,&rdquo; Sjoblom says, adding that most new teachers are 22 or 23 and haven&rsquo;t even had a real job yet.</p><p>That approach, Sjoblom says, could easily drive Jose away from teaching.&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><strong><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">PART 1</span><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">&nbsp;|&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-2-112943">PART 2&nbsp;</a>|&nbsp;</span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-3-112944"><span style="font-size: 20px; text-align: center;">PART 3</span></a></strong></p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can reach her at <a href="mailto:bvevea@wbez.org">bvevea@wbez.org</a> and follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 15 Sep 2015 15:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/education-jose-garcia-part-1-112942 North Lawndale high school to help pay out-of-pocket college costs http://www.wbez.org/news/north-lawndale-high-school-help-pay-out-pocket-college-costs-112128 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/north lawndale college prep.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Here&rsquo;s what Evan Westerfield couldn&rsquo;t understand.</p><p>&ldquo;The student has been talking about studying nursing and then, all of a sudden, they&rsquo;ve changed their mind and say, &lsquo;Nah, I want to go to that school because I want to do business,&rsquo;&rdquo; Westerfield explained. &ldquo;And you look them in the eye and say, &lsquo;What? Where did that come from?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>Turns out, his answer was in those students&rsquo; financial aid letters.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re looking at them and you know that behind there, there&rsquo;s this letter that they don&rsquo;t want to show mom and dad,&rdquo; Westerfield said. &ldquo;They go to the school that has the least out-of-pocket cost.&rdquo;</p><p>A couple thousand dollars may not seem like much. But for many poor North Lawndale students, it might as well be a million.</p><p>The school announced last week it plans to step in and pay the difference with the help of local philanthropists. They are creating a financial endowment called The Phoenix Pact to equalize costs for any student with a 3.0 GPA.</p><p>U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan helped open North Lawndale College Prep 17 years ago and returned to the school for the announcement.</p><p>&ldquo;If you guys can start to prove there&rsquo;s not just one amazing young person or one amazing teacher but systemically dozens of dozens of young people every single year (who) can graduate, and cannot just go to college but graduate from college on the back end, you start to let the nation know what&rsquo;s possible,&rdquo; he said. &quot;If you can create a model, the national implications are pretty big.&rdquo;</p><p>There are a lot of cities trying different models to lower costs of college to almost nothing. Kalamazoo, Michigan, gives its public high school graduates <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/16/magazine/kalamazoo-mich-the-city-that-pays-for-college.html">a full ride anywhere</a>. A number of other cities are trying something similar, through the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.sayyestoeducation.org/">Yes to Education</a>&rdquo; program. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel has promised <a href="http://www.ccc.edu/departments/Pages/chicago-star-scholarship.aspx">free community college</a> to all B-average students in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>But The Phoenix Pact is different because it steers kids to colleges with a track record of getting students across the stage on graduation day.</p><p>Westerfield said he sifted through years of information on North Lawndale alumni and came up with a list of more than a dozen colleges he calls &ldquo;Success Schools&rdquo;: Universities where more than half of the low-income, minority students graduate on time. Places like Michigan State, Lake Forest College, University of Illinois, and Luther College.</p><p>He said he hopes the new fund not only motivates the school&rsquo;s students, but pushes colleges to raise graduation rates for low-income students.</p><p>&ldquo;Would colleges work a little harder if they&rsquo;re at 45 percent to get over that 50 percent? Maybe not for just us and our little program, but if we can build it out, if we can model what would happen, then someone will copy us,&rdquo; Westerfield said, noting that right now, billions of dollars in federal Pell grants end up going to colleges that have low graduation rates for low-income students.</p><p>&ldquo;The possibility of harnessing all that federal money to drive improvement in our higher education&hellip; could be really good,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>But if anyone starts copying The Phoenix Pact, it&rsquo;s likely to be local. Chicago Public Schools Chief of Innovation and Incubation Jack Elsey was in the room during the Friday announcement too.</p><p>&ldquo;I think this is game-changing,&rdquo; Elsey said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m here because we&rsquo;re watching. We want to see if this is actually going to make the difference to increase graduation rates for low-income kids<strong>.&rdquo;</strong></p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Linda Lutton contributed to this report.</em></p></p> Tue, 02 Jun 2015 08:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/north-lawndale-high-school-help-pay-out-pocket-college-costs-112128 Chicago school board to consider charter relocations, renewals http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-board-consider-charter-relocations-renewals-112083 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cappleman.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote Wednesday on proposals that would expand enrollment at several charter schools and move some into different buildings.</p><p>In one case, Rowe Elementary would move into the old Peabody elementary school, a building shuttered during the 2013 mass closings. The district no longer owns the Peabody building. If it approves the move, the district would have to provide the public charter school with extra money to cover rent and maintenance costs at Peabody.</p><p>&ldquo;(Chicago Public Schools) promised to not only the aldermen, the state legislature, and the public, that they would not allow charter schools into closed school buildings,&rdquo; said Martin Ritter, an organizer with the Chicago Teachers Union. &ldquo;CPS has a serious problem with its credibility.&rdquo;</p><p>Ritter and hundreds of others showed up to a public hearing last week at CPS headquarters. However, the move of Rowe to Peabody was not the most hotly contested.</p><p>Principals, parents, and several elected officials spoke against a proposal to move The Noble Academy to 640 W. Irving Park Rd. Ald. James Cappleman (46th) said that move would &ldquo;suck the lifeblood&rdquo; out of the area&rsquo;s existing neighborhood high schools. If the move is approved, The Noble Academy would add an eighth public high school to the North Side neighborhoods of Edgewater, Uptown, Lakeview, Andersonville and Rogers Park.</p><p>&ldquo;Our schools have a capacity of about 7,400,&rdquo; said Senn High School Principal Susan Lofton, referring to Senn, and nearby Sullivan, Lakeview, Uplift and Amundsen high schools.</p><p>Eleven elected officials signed a letter in opposition to the move. Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th), whose ward includes Amundsen and Lakeview, was one of them.</p><p>&ldquo;When you add a charter school to that mix and you have per pupil funding where dollars follow students, you once again add a market for additional seats where one didn&rsquo;t exist,&rdquo; Pawar said at the hearing.</p><p>The school district is currently facing a $1.1 billion deficit.</p><p>Matt McCabe, director of government affairs for the Noble Street Charter School network, said he doesn&rsquo;t think the school would impact enrollment at nearby schools.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t see it as any sort of detriment to the other schools in the area,&rdquo; McCabe said. &ldquo;Because facilities are such a challenge generally, you look high and low and wide and far to try to find the best option for kids. This is what came out as the best option.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://thenobleacademy.noblenetwork.org/">The Noble Academy</a>, like other charter schools, enrolls students from across the city, &ldquo;from 106 elementary schools and 45 different zip codes,&rdquo; McCabe said. Currently, the school is using temporary space next door to Noble&rsquo;s downtown campus, Muchin College Prep, but school officials said they need a &ldquo;permanent home.&rdquo;</p><p>In addition to the proposals to move Noble and Rowe, the Board is also <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/documents/may_27_2015_public_agenda_to_print_2.pdf">expected to vote</a> on the following:</p><ul><li><p>Delaying the opening of three more alternative schools run by for-profit companies: Ombudsman, Pathways, and Magic Johnson Bridgescape. The Board will also consider providing an additional $2.2 million in start-up funding to these three operators in spite of the delays.</p></li><li><p>Closing Catalyst-Howland Charter School. According to the board report, Catalyst officials voluntarily proposed the closure of that campus. It was previously <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2013/10/five-charters-put-warning-list-face-potential-shut-down/">placed on academic warning</a>.</p></li><li><p>Rescinding a previous approval to allow UNO Charter School Network to open two more schools.</p></li><li><p>Rescinding a previous approval to allow Concept Schools to open another Horizon Science Academy on the South Side. CPS halted plans to open the school last fall <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/160694/cps-scraps-south-side-campus-for-controversial-charter-schoo">amid a federal probe</a> into Concept&rsquo;s operations.</p></li><li><p>Extending six school turnaround contracts (at Dulles, Curtis, Deneen, Bradwell, Johnson, and Phillips) with the Academy for Urban School Leadership through 2018.</p></li><li><p>Five-year charter contract renewals with the Academy for Global Citizenship, Erie, Urban Prep &ndash; Bronzeville, Rowe, Legacy, and Youth Connections Charter Schools.</p></li><li><p>Three-year charter contract renewals with EPIC Academy, Galapagos, Instituto Health Sciences Academy, Urban Prep &ndash; Englewood, Urban Prep &ndash; West, and Chicago Tech Academy.</p></li></ul></p> Mon, 25 May 2015 09:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-board-consider-charter-relocations-renewals-112083 Charters might move into closed CPS schools http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 <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/panorama.jpg" style="height: 219px; width: 620px;" title="" /></div><p><em>A LEARN charter school (right) rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school (left). Chicago Public Schools paid $67,151 in utilities for Calhoun North from Sept. 2013 to July 2014, according to data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request. At the same time, CPS pays LEARN $750 per student to offset rent and other facility costs. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)</em></p><p>There are 40 school buildings <a href="http://cps.edu/Pages/schoolrepurposing.aspx">still sitting vacant</a> across Chicago since the mass closings of 2013. Just two have been sold and the rest cost Chicagoans $2 million annually to maintain.</p><p>These schools are slow to sell for a number of reasons. Many <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/school-closures-only-add-blight-some-chicago-neighborhoods-107345">aren&rsquo;t in thriving neighborhoods</a>. The buildings are old. There aren&rsquo;t a lot of obvious alternate uses.</p><p>But one big reason the empty schools continue to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/visit-shuttered-chicago-school-shows-all-that%E2%80%99s-left-behind-108419">collect dust</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/vacant-schools-philadelphia-cautionary-tale-chicago-105570">fall into disrepair</a> is this: CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett, who is <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-training-academy-cooperating-federal-investigation-district-111891">currently on leave</a>, made a promise that eliminated a whole group of potential buyers.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Map: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063#map" target="_blank">How close are charter schools to vacant CPS buildings?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>&ldquo;We currently cannot sell any of the properties to a charter school,&rdquo; said Mike Nardini, the district&rsquo;s real estate agent. &ldquo;Does it limit our buyers? Only to the extent that it can&rsquo;t be a charter any more than it could be a nightclub.&rdquo;</p><p>The promise made sense at the time considering one of the main arguments for shutting down 50 schools was to downsize the district. CPS officials argued the school system was operating inefficiently with too many schools and not enough students enrolled.</p><p>But the Chicago Board of Education <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-approves-seven-new-charter-schools-109558">continues to authorize new charter schools</a>. In the past, charters often <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/mapping-10-years-school-closures">moved into closed school buildings</a>, but that upset many community people, who saw the publicly financed, privately operated charters as replacing traditional neighborhood schools.</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Wednesday the Board could be convinced to change its mind.</p><p>&ldquo;If a community were to determine that they do want a charter school in that closed site, then that is something that we would consider,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>McCaffrey was very careful to say officials would break the promise only if the community supports it, not because it might save money.</p><p>&ldquo;Our first consideration isn&rsquo;t the financial implication,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>But saving money is <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-cps-budget-crisis-met-20150422-story.html#page=1">the biggest problem</a> CPS has right now, and the &lsquo;no-charter&rsquo; promise complicates things. Charter schools that are in private buildings currently get $750 per student from CPS to offset rent and other maintenance costs. This is commonly known as a &ldquo;facilities reimbursement.&rdquo; &nbsp;And while these real estate deals can be complicated, the bottom line is that Chicago taxpayers end up paying extra to charter schools who are forced to rent on the private market. &nbsp;And those same taxpayers also are paying to maintain buildings the city already owns, but isn&rsquo;t using.</p><p>&ldquo;These are assets that we have in our city that are paid for typically and what we don&rsquo;t need are more vacant buildings,&rdquo; said Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>In many cases, the charters and the vacant buildings are just blocks away from one another. In Garfield Park, a LEARN charter school rents space across the street from the now vacant Calhoun North school. In Woodlawn, a University of Chicago Charter School is planning to <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/03/09/u-of-c-planning-new-building-for-woodlawn-charter-school/">build a brand new school</a> on a plot of land right next to a CPS-owned building where it currently operates.</p><p>It all speaks to a very basic and fundamental question that no one&mdash;CPS, the mayor, city aldermen&mdash;has grappled with: Exactly how many public schools does Chicago need? And where should they be?</p><p>When asked after Wednesday&rsquo;s City Council meeting, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that&rsquo;s not his job.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s something CPS will do based on the student population, patterns of growth,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a fair question, but not the only question. Are the schools that are open achieving educational excellence?&rdquo;</p><p>CPS is holding public hearings Thursday night on <a href="http://cps.edu/Calendar/Documents/05212015_MMAPublicHearing.pdf">new requests</a> by charter schools to move to different locations. Most have plans to move into private buildings, but at least one, <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-charter-school-closed-building-met-20150520-story.html">The Chicago Tribune reports</a>, wants to move into the closed Peabody Elementary school on the West Side. Peabody <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-school-closing-brief-met-20141022-story.html">was sold last fall</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.<a name="map"></a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="800" scrolling="no" src="http://interactive.wbez.org/maps/charterbuildings" style="float: right; clear: right;" width="620"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 20 May 2015 14:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063 CPS finally releases school ratings http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-finally-releases-school-ratings-111187 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/raising hand edit_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago parents can finally see how their school stacks up to others.</p><p>Typically, school ratings, which give &nbsp;schools Level 1, 2, or 3 labels, come out in late October, around the same time that student report cards are released. But this year, Chicago Public Schools officials changed the complicated calculation that determines the school ratings.</p><p>One of the big changes was moving to five categories, instead of three. Now, schools can be rated Level 1+, Level 1, Level 2+, Level 2, and Level 3. CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett can also override a school&rsquo;s rating if something dramatic had happened at the school in the past year.</p><p>For instance: &ldquo;Just based on my experience as a principal, when you get a large number of students coming to your school that have not been there previously, it changes the dynamic,&rdquo; Byrd-Bennett said.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett changed the ratings for just 12 schools. She also placed six charter schools on an academic watch list.</p><p>Two of the schools on academic watch are the Chicago International Charter Schools&#39; Lloyd Bond and Larry Hawkins campuses. Both are in Altgeld Gardens, an isolated area on the far South Side made up of public housing.</p><p>Interestingly, one of the 12 schools given a higher rating through Byrd- Bennett&rsquo;s discretion, Dubois, is just down the road from the two CICS schools. The other neighborhood elementary school in Altgeld Gardens, Aldridge, was rated Level 3. Bryd-Bennett boosted Dubois to a Level 1.</p><p>Beth Purvis, CICS&rsquo;s executive director, said both Bond and Hawkins need to improve, but she questioned the fairness of the ratings, given the exception for Dubois. Dubois, Aldridge and CICS-Bond have similar scores on the metrics used in the ratings calculation.</p><p>&ldquo;That seems unfair to both Aldridge and CICS,&rdquo; Purvis said. &ldquo;If all schools aren&rsquo;t treated the same under a ranking process, I don&rsquo;t understand how it informs parents and helps them make decisions.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey said the reason Byrd-Bennett gave Dubois a Level 1 rating when it originally earned a level 2 rating was because a quarter of the student population changed in the past school year.</p><p>Purvis and other CICS officials sent data to WBEZ showing similar student mobility at CICS-Lloyd Bond.</p><p>The other charter schools placed on academic watch this year are: Amandla Charter School, Betty Shabazz Charter School, Betty Shabazz - Sizemore Campus, and Polaris Academy Charter School.</p><p>One charter school that was placed on academic watch last year, UNO-Rufino Tamayo, jumped from the lowest rating, Level 3, on the old system to the highest rating, Level 1+, on the new system.</p><p>In all, just 44 schools still remain in the Level 3 category, while 161 schools are considered Level 1+, 154 are rated Level 1, 118 schools got Level 2+, and 159 were at Level 2, the second to lowest rating.</p></p> Thu, 04 Dec 2014 05:12:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-finally-releases-school-ratings-111187