WBEZ | CPS http://www.wbez.org/tags/cps Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago Public Schools Announces 227 Layoffs http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-announces-227-layoffs-114570 <p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Alvin Rider is one of hundreds laid off by <a href="https://twitter.com/ChiPubSchools">@ChiPubSchools</a> today. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/CPS?src=hash">#CPS</a> says it has a 480M budget gap. <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZ">@WBEZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/Y2dqExQz0f">pic.twitter.com/Y2dqExQz0f</a></p>&mdash; Yolanda Perdomo (@yolandanews) <a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews/status/690631188864765953">January 22, 2016</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>More than 200 administrative employees with&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools are being laid off and another 180 already-vacant positions will be closed, changes officials say will help save the nation&#39;s third-largest district $45.1 million a year as it grapples with deep financial problems.</p><p>The 227 layoffs announced Friday are in the central office and district officials say 57 of the workers affected will be eligible to reapply for 35 jobs. After the changes, the district will have cut 433 central office jobs overall since August through layoffs or closings of positions.</p><p>&quot;There&#39;s no doubt that these cuts are painful,&quot; schools CEO Forrest Claypool said in a statement Friday. &quot;However, with limited resources and a budget crisis not just this year but into the foreseeable future, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118">we had no choice.&quot;</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/claypool-city-club.jpg" style="text-align: center; height: 275px; width: 400px;" title="Forrest Claypool is pictured following a speech he gave at a City Club of Chicago luncheon. This year, the district has a $480 million hole to fill in its current budget. Claypool says there will be no magical solution this year. (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></p><p>Claypool&#39;s announcement comes the same week top <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-republicans-mull-cps-bankruptcy-plan-114531" target="_blank">Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the district</a>, a plan Democrats blasted. It&#39;s also&nbsp;a difficult time for the district: roughly 400,000 students with a $1.1 billion budget deficit, and the potential of midyear teacher layoffs.</p><p>The&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Teachers Union says layoffs in the middle of the year are a step in the wrong direction. The&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;district also is in the midst of contentious negotiations with the teachers <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-take-strike-vote-114117">on a new contract</a>.</p><div id="content-titles" style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px; font-family: Georgia, serif; vertical-align: baseline;"><h1 style="margin: 0px 0px 4px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-stretch: inherit; font-size: 16px; line-height: 21px; font-family: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-20/could-chicago-public-schools-be-run-state-114536" target="_blank">►Could CPS Be Run by the State?</a></h1></div><p>Tough contract negotiations with the&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Teachers Union, which went on strike in 2012, are ongoing. Earlier this week, top Illinois Republicans called for a state takeover of the district because of the fiscal crisis, a plan Democrats and&nbsp;Chicagoschool officials blasted.</p><p>Claypool continued his criticism of the state&#39;s school funding formula, saying Friday that it&#39;s unfair to CPS. Attempts to get legislative help for the budget crisis have faltered.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said he wants to &quot;protect the classrooms&quot; from such cuts, but the teachers&#39; union said layoffs, even if they don&#39;t involve teachers, are a step in the wrong direction.</p></p> Fri, 22 Jan 2016 11:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-announces-227-layoffs-114570 Could Chicago Public Schools Be Run by the State? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-20/could-chicago-public-schools-be-run-state-114536 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/17630326518_1d222d29e8_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>Republican lawmakers announced a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-republicans-mull-cps-bankruptcy-plan-114531" target="_blank">proposal to let the state of Illinois take control of Chicago Public Schools</a> in order to get the district&rsquo;s finances in order.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The move would reportedly pave the way for the district -- and possibly even the city of Chicago itself -- to declare bankruptcy. WBEZ&rsquo;s state politics reporter Tony Arnold explains.</div></p> Wed, 20 Jan 2016 14:54:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-20/could-chicago-public-schools-be-run-state-114536 More Arts in Chicago Schools Last Year http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/more-arts-chicago-schools-last-year-114493 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/16351705110_19c40c060d_k.jpg" alt="" /><p><div id="res463134690" previewtitle="Final candidate speaking times at the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate on Thursday in North Charleston, S.C."><div data-crop-type=""><p>A <a href="http://www.ingenuity-inc.org/filebin/SotA_FullReport_web_FINAL.pdf">new report</a> shows an increase in the number of art teachers across Chicago Public Schools -- from 1,278 in 2013-14 to 1,322 last school year.</p><p><a href="http://www.ingenuity-inc.org/">Ingenuity Inc</a>.has been tracking the state of the arts in CPS for three years.</p><p>&ldquo;The whole idea behind these reports is to communicate what the playing field is and to create the kind of supports that are necessary for change,&rdquo; said Paul Sznewajs, executive director of Ingenuity.</p><p>Sznewajs says he was pleasantly surprised to see an increase in the number of art teachers. But the report notes the increase includes 84 arts positions funded by the mayor&rsquo;s office using special tax dollars, known as TIF funds. &nbsp;</p><p>The report also said more cultural institutions and local artists are getting involved at schools.</p><p>For example, Sznewajs said, at Prosser High School, a music teacher, a French teacher and a history teacher collaborated to study the migration of creole music up the Mississippi River to Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;They worked with Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic,&rdquo; Sznewajs said. &ldquo;Then the children created their own original works of music and performed them at the end.&rdquo;</p><p>Evan Plummer, director of arts instruction at CPS, said the report shows the impact that the district&rsquo;s arts plan has had so far. Designed three years ago, the <a href="http://www.cpsarts.org/arts-education-plan/">arts education plan</a> was an extension of the city&rsquo;s broader <a href="http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/cultural_plan.html/">cultural plan</a>. Among other changes, CPS added art to the required core curriculum.</p><p>But some schools still struggle to provide arts programming or can&rsquo;t afford a certified art teacher.</p><p>&ldquo;I have not met a principal who said, &lsquo;I don&rsquo;t want the arts in my school,&rsquo;&rdquo; Plummer said. &ldquo;Of course principals want arts in their school. The question is, how can they do that given the other challenges and the demands that schools encounter every day?&rdquo;</p><p>Plummer said his department tries to work with principals to come up with creative solutions in the face of budget cuts. CPS may be <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118">laying off thousands of staff</a> in February if it can&rsquo;t close a $480 million budget hole.</p><p>&ldquo;What are the untapped resources in the school that are more or less cost neutral -- if that&rsquo;s the concern of the principal -- that will also increase the arts,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Maybe there&rsquo;s an English teacher who has an endorsement in Drama or Theater who could teach a drama class.&rdquo;</p><p>According to Ingenuity&rsquo;s report, about 100 schools did not report any data and another two dozen reported that they did not have a certified art teacher on staff.</p><p>Tom Bunting, a data analyst at Ingenuity Inc. said people can look up their school or schools near their home using the <a href="http://www.artlookmap.com/">Artlook map</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></div></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 15 Jan 2016 11:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/more-arts-chicago-schools-last-year-114493 Emanuel Brings Back High School Program He Cut During First Term http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-brings-back-high-school-program-he-cut-during-first-term-114449 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/flickrUSDEPTofEDU.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is bringing back a successful freshman orientation program he cut during his first term.</p><p>The roughly $6 million price tag for what&rsquo;s called Freshman Connection will be paid for with money from new taxes on tobacco products, including cigars and chewing tobacco. The mayor&rsquo;s office estimates prices will increase $2 to $4 on those products.</p><p>The Freshman Connection program was eliminated in 2011, the first year Emanuel took office. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-cut-positions-free-cash-principals-98625">In 2012</a>, 100 coordinators for the program were eliminated to free up money for principal discretion. Some principals decided to use their discretionary money to keep it going.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson was the principal of Westinghouse College Prep at the time.</p><p>&ldquo;I found it extremely valuable,&rdquo; Jackson said of Freshman Connection. &ldquo;There was one year when we didn&rsquo;t offer it and we saw a big difference in the students.&rdquo;</p><p>For example, Jackson said, writing was a focus of the week-long summer orientation at Westinghouse and you could see a &ldquo;tremendous difference&rdquo; in the writing skills of students who had attended the summer program and those who had not.</p><p>Studies have shown that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-10-16/surprising-power-ninth-grade-113374">freshman year is an important factor</a> in determining whether a student will graduate from high school. &nbsp;</p><p>The mayor&rsquo;s office says the tobacco tax also will help CPS target students who are at risk of dropping out before they even reach high school.</p><p>A press release from the mayor&rsquo;s office says the programs &ldquo;are part of a larger menu of efforts that will help CPS reach a graduation rate of 85 percent by 2019.&rdquo;</p><p>WBEZ has reported on the district&rsquo;s aggressive efforts to improve graduation rates -- including with Freshman Connection.</p><p>Those efforts include individual <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/luring-chicago-dropouts-back-school-one-doorstep-time-91009">principals going door-to-door</a> to re-enroll students, to the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239">rapid expansion of for-profit, online alternative schools</a> where students can <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581">earn a regular high school diploma in half the time</a>.</p><p>Perhaps most troubling, WBEZ and the Better Government Association found many high schools intentionally <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">mislabeled hundreds of dropouts</a> over the past four years to make their graduation rates look better. Months later, the district officially <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-lowers-graduation-rate-after-errors-found-113148">lowered its graduation rates</a> from the last four years.</p><p>Even so, Emanuel is promising to boost graduation rates another 15 percent over the next four years -- <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-promises-85-percent-graduation-rate-if-elected-second-term-111366">to 85 percent by the end of his second term</a>.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Mon, 11 Jan 2016 09:38:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-brings-back-high-school-program-he-cut-during-first-term-114449 CPS Selective Enrollment http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-05/families-lie-get-kids-selective-enrollment-schools-114386 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://www.wbez.org/" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/240548539&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_user=true&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe>Too many families are lying to get their kids into Chicago&rsquo;s selective high schools. That was one of the main findings of yesterday&rsquo;s CPS inspector general report. It comes out each year at this time, detailing the misdeeds of students, teachers, administrators and faculty in the district. This year, Inspector General Nicholas Schuler has proposed some tough changes to crack down on this problem. WBEZ&rsquo;s Monica Eng covered this story--but as a CPS mom--she also knows all too well the situation that fostered it. She&rsquo;s here to talk about both. We also want to hear from you. What do you think about the high stress selective enrollment process? How did you or will you navigate it?</p></p> Tue, 05 Jan 2016 14:49:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2016-01-05/families-lie-get-kids-selective-enrollment-schools-114386 Rauner: No Help for Chicago Schools Unless Emanuel Pushes Agenda http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-no-help-chicago-schools-unless-emanuel-pushes-agenda-114364 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP_246728892309.jpg" style="height: 232px; width: 310px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="In this Dec. 2, 2015 file photo, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks outside his office at the Capitol in Springfield. Illinois starts the new year without a state budget for a fiscal year that began six months ago. At a time when lawmakers should be thinking about next year’s spending plan, it’s likely little else will rise on the agenda. Rauner, needing to fulfill campaign promises from a year ago, is demanding pro-business, anti-union changes to state law. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" />OAK BROOK, Ill. (AP) &mdash; Gov. Bruce Rauner says Illinois won&#39;t help&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools avert a financial &quot;disaster&quot; unless Mayor Rahm Emanuel starts pushing some of the Republican governor&#39;s legislative agenda.</p><p>Rauner repeated that position Monday, saying it won&#39;t change even if CPS begins laying off thousands of teachers.</p><p>CPS faces a $1 billion budget shortfall, due largely to increasing pension payments.</p><p>Emanuel wants state lawmakers to change how pensions are funded to reduce CPS&#39; costs and make the system more equitable for&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;taxpayers.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Rauner said he&#39;s &quot;very disappointed&quot; the Democratic mayor hasn&#39;t backed his priorities. Those measures include letting local governments opt out of collective bargaining with public-worker unions.</p><p>Democrats say Rauner&#39;s agenda would drive down wages, hurting working families.</p><p>Emanuel spokesman Adam Collins says it&#39;s &quot;unfortunate&quot; that&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;children &quot;are being used as pawns in a political chess match.&quot;</p><div>&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 04 Jan 2016 12:26:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/rauner-no-help-chicago-schools-unless-emanuel-pushes-agenda-114364 Chicago Seeks More Charter Schools http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-seeks-more-charter-schools-114346 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4532630898_ee7d309faa_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite declining student enrollment and dozens of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-has-high-school-13-freshmen-113524">dramatically under-enrolled schools</a>, Chicago is seeking potential new charter schools for the city. &nbsp;</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="http://cps.edu/NewSchools/Pages/Process2016.aspx">Request for Proposals</a>&nbsp;issued Wednesday, CPS says it&rsquo;s looking for dual language schools, &ldquo;Next Generation&rdquo; schools that would blend technology and traditional teaching, and&mdash;in a first&mdash;it wants a &ldquo;trauma-informed school,&rdquo; where staff would get training to support students with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or exposure to trauma.</p><p>The district is prepared to give charters that already run schools approval for up to four additional campuses. And it&rsquo;s poised to grant approvals now for campuses that wouldn&rsquo;t open for several years, to allow more time for planning a school&rsquo;s opening, the district says in a&nbsp;<a href="http://cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_12_30_2015.aspx">press release</a>.</p><p>In recent years, the district had named Neighborhood Advisory Councils where community members could give input into charter proposals. Those are now scrapped, saving roughly $170,000, CPS says. Instead, charter schools themselves will &ldquo;directly engage residents in obtaining the support of their desired school community,&rdquo; according to the release.</p><p>&ldquo;It looks like they&#39;re making it even less democratic,&rdquo; said Wendy Katten, director of the parent group Raise Your Hand, which has had members serve on the advisory councils.</p><p>Katten says many considered the NACs &ldquo;flawed&rdquo; because CPS seemed frequently to<a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/10/cps-recommends-approval-of-noble-kipp-proposals/">&nbsp;ignore</a>&nbsp;the advice of the councils, but &ldquo;at least&nbsp;it was an opportunity to look at the proposal, to really scrutinize it as a community. To take (that) away&mdash;and to have the charter operators do the community engagement&mdash;that&rsquo;s even more of a sham than what currently has existed. The real question is, our city needs a massive debate about opening any kind of new schools in a city that has just hemorrhaged students,&rdquo; said Katten.</p><p>A CPS spokesperson providing written responses &ldquo;on background&rdquo; said CPS will host public hearings on any charters that make it through the application process. The applications will be viewable online, and a &ldquo;feedback portal&rdquo; is being set up for community members to share their views. A Board of Education &ldquo;<a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/contact">questions and comments</a>&rdquo; page already solicits public opinion, the spokesperson noted.</p><p>Charters will be required to provide evidence of student demand and community support, according to the RFP.</p><p>CPS has said it is required by state law to annually post an RFP for charter schools. In fact,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=010500050K27A-8">state law</a>&nbsp;allows for school districts to issue RFPs, but does not require it. Asked about the distinction, a CPS spokesperson replied, &ldquo;a comprehensive RFP process is the best way to set rigorous application standards and ensure all proposals submitted for review are comprehensive.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS CEO Forrest Claypool says the goal of the RFP is to &ldquo;increase access to quality options in Chicago&hellip;.Our thorough vetting process requires applicants to demonstrate they will meet a need for additional quality seats and have community support, and we will only move forward with applicants that meet our high standards,&rdquo; Claypool said in the district&rsquo;s release.</p><p>Charters have been controversial. The Chicago Teachers Union opposes them; the union&rsquo;s membership is dropping as students shift to the charter sector.</p><p>Even as overall enrollment in the school district has been declining, enrollment in the charter sector has increased. That has been a double whammy for traditional public&nbsp;schools,&nbsp;since a school&rsquo;s funding is determined by the number of pupils who go there. Some schools in Chicago have so few students they have had trouble paying for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-chicago-school-kids-go-without-teachers-109838">teachers&nbsp;</a>and a<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">&nbsp;basic education</a>. Under-enrollment was the school district&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/chicago-school-closings-2013_n_2927419.html">initial justification</a>&nbsp;for the closure of 50 schools in 2013, the biggest round of school closures in recent U.S. history.</p><p>Overall, around 14 percent of district children attend charter schools, but the percentage is much higher at the high school level. Currently, 24 percent of traditional Chicago public high school students attend charters (that&rsquo;s not counting alternative schools for dropouts, where nearly all students are in charters or privately run for-profit schools).</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s school board voted to close four charter schools this year for what it says was poor performance. The schools dispute that characterization; three have filed appeals with the Illinois State Charter School Commission.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a reporter for WBEZ covering Education. Follow her at @WBEZeducation on Twitter.</em></p></p> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 17:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-seeks-more-charter-schools-114346 Chicago Teachers Take Strike Vote http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-take-strike-vote-114117 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/coonley-strike-vote.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago teachers began voting on whether to authorize a strike Wednesday.</p><p>The vote does not mean a strike will happen.</p><p>According to state law, Chicago Public Schools or the Chicago Teachers Union would have to call for a specific kind of mediation, known as &ldquo;fact-finding&rdquo;. That process takes at least 75 days and then the union would have to give a 10-day strike notice before a walkout would occur.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS officials said Monday the vote was premature because neither side had called for fact-finding yet. There is a mediator currently working with the two parties.</p><p>Fifth grader Miles Pinsof-Berlowitz was one of several students and parents showing support for teachers outside Coonley Elementary on the North Side Wednesday morning. He remembers the strike in 2012 and says he thinks things have gotten better.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s improved so much, now there&rsquo;s a music room a drama room,&rdquo; Pinsof-Berlowitz said. &ldquo;We have so many specials classes, some days we have two and they&rsquo;re an hour long, it&rsquo;s awesome.&rdquo;</p><p>But his classmate Zoe Hanson said not every school in Chicago is as lucky as Coonley.</p><p>&ldquo;We have to support those teachers who work really hard to keep their schools open,&rdquo; Hanson said.</p><p>Nora Wiltse is the librarian at Coonley and said the union is hoping that they don&rsquo;t have to go on strike, but negotiations have stalled.</p><p>&ldquo;We kind of just have to play the card that we have and that&rsquo;s a strike authorization vote,&rdquo; she said. (Wiltse last spoke with WBEZ about the loss of librarians across Chicago.)</p><p>CPS officials estimated the cost of the union&rsquo;s proposals so far and they say the total is over $1 billion. District chief Forrest Claypool is struggling to get a deal with the state that would shore up a budget shortfall this year.</p><p>Parents outside Coonley said they know there are financial problems at the district, but that some of the proposals -- like eliminating most standardized testing -- would actually save the schools hundreds of millions.</p><p>&ldquo;They find money to cover up their problems and cover up their mistakes and they&rsquo;re choosing not to find money for schools even though it should be our number one priority,&rdquo; said Erica Hade.</p><p>The strike authorization voting will last three days and union officials anticipate results will be tallied by Monday.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 06:43:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-take-strike-vote-114117 Cullerton to Chicago Teachers Union: “Of course this would avoid a strike” http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-chicago-teachers-union-%E2%80%9C-course-would-avoid-strike%E2%80%9D-113805 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/cullerton.JPG" alt="" /><p><div>Chicago Public Schools has laid off round after round of teachers and other employees over the past couple years. Thousands are gone. District officials and Mayor Rahm Emanuel warn: If the state doesn&rsquo;t do something by February to help CPS with its $500 million budget hole, there&rsquo;ll be even more layoffs.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>John Cullerton is a Chicago Democrat and state Senate president. &nbsp;He says he has a plan, and that plan--outlined in <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=318&amp;GAID=13&amp;DocTypeID=SB&amp;LegId=84279&amp;SessionID=88" target="_blank">Senate Bill 318</a>-- has something for everyone, including lawmakers, the governor, school districts &nbsp;and unions. &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s what a compromise is,&rdquo; Cullerton said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what a package is.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But there&rsquo;s a hitch. Some of the very people Cullerton wants to help - Chicago teachers - their union is not on board.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know the logic of the teachers&rsquo; union being opposed to the bill,&rdquo; Cullerton said. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s maybe because, you know, the Board of Ed is for it and, therefore they have to be against it. That&rsquo;s all I can figure, you know? The mayor&rsquo;s for it, they&rsquo;re against it because they had a fight with him in the past.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-strike-after-talks-fail-102287" target="_blank">Remember the 2012 teachers&rsquo; strike?</a> That&rsquo;s the fight Cullerton is referring to. And there&rsquo;s been talk of a second teachers strike under Emanuel over the district&rsquo;s current finances.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Of course this would avoid a strike,&rdquo; Cullerton said. &ldquo;There wouldn&rsquo;t be any need for them to lose their pension pick-up in their contract negotiations. There wouldn&rsquo;t be any layoffs. I don&rsquo;t know what else they&rsquo;re striking about.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;Three-eighteen is not about stopping a strike. Three-eighteen is about destroying our school system,&rdquo; said Stacy Davis Gates, the legislative coordinator for the Chicago Teachers Union.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Davis Gates is referring there to something Cullerton himself wants the bill to accomplish. &nbsp;Along with peppering Senate Bill 318 <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/851622/cullerton-introduce-federal-funding-bill-property-tax-hike" target="_blank">with things like</a> a property tax freeze to get Gov. Bruce Rauner in, and teacher pension payments for Emanuel, Cullerton added a remake of the state&rsquo;s school funding formula--one of his own major goals. He says under the way state government currently gives money to schools, poor districts like Chicago don&rsquo;t get the money they should and wealthier districts are getting more than they should.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>So Cullerton&rsquo;s bill puts an expiration date on the current way Illinois funds schools. In effect, he says he wants to end a bad system to make way for a better one. But Davis Gates with the Teachers Union says the union has a big problem with that. You can&rsquo;t end school funding first coming up with a way to replace it, she argues.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;This bill, again, is irresponsible,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;You cannot say that we are providing a solution to a problem when you eliminate the entire revenue stream to the school district.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The teachers union also wants big things that aren&rsquo;t in Cullerton&rsquo;s bill, like a new income tax system and an elected Chicago school board. &nbsp;In the meantime, the clock is ticking on Chicago Public Schools. District leaders say they have only a few months before cuts will be necessary - right in the middle of the school year.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Becky Vevea contributed to this story. She is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.&nbsp;</em><em>Tony Arnold covers Illinois politics for WBEZ. Follow him @tonyjarnold.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 16 Nov 2015 13:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-chicago-teachers-union-%E2%80%9C-course-would-avoid-strike%E2%80%9D-113805 Chicago has a high school with 13 freshmen http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-has-high-school-13-freshmen-113524 <p><div><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/4853491803_a05b514aee_b.jpg" style="height: 412px; width: 620px;" title="(flickr/KT King)" /></div><div>Chicago has a high school with just 13 ninth graders. That&rsquo;s the entire freshman class: 13.</div><div><p>This isn&rsquo;t a specialty school, or a school for expelled students, or an alternative school. It&rsquo;s a regular Chicago public high school. Just 13 freshmen signed up this year to attend Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy High School on the city&rsquo;s predominantly black West Side.</p><p>And Austin Business is not alone.</p><p>Two other high schools located inside the same building have enrolled just 20 and 24 freshmen each. Three separate principals oversee the three schools.</p><p>Then there&rsquo;s Hirsch Metropolitan High School on 79th and Ingleside: It has 22 ninth graders.</p><p>Chicago International Charter School&rsquo;s Larry Hawkins campus in Altgeld Gardens registered only 37 freshman.</p><p>In all, a dozen high schools across the city have 50 or fewer students in the freshman class. And<a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/marketplace/2015-10-16/surprising-power-ninth-grade-113374" target="_blank"> ninth grade is usually the largest in a high school</a>.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">WBEZ first wrote about dramatic underenrollment at high schools</a> in 2013, things have only gotten worse. Enrollment at many of the schools is so low, it raises questions of whether they can recover. &nbsp;</p><p>Official district enrollment numbers show Chicago now has 38 high schools with fewer than 400 high schoolers each. That&rsquo;s fewer students than even advocates of small schools say is needed to provide a solid education. Under the district&rsquo;s student-based budgeting, the numbers in some cases are not enough to pay for the principal and a full set of teachers.</p><p>And there&rsquo;s another fallout: running such small schools is tremendously inefficient, costing taxpayers and the district extra at a time when Chicago Public Schools is seeking help from Springfield just to get through the year without massive layoffs.</p><p><strong>Long-time neighborhood schools</strong></p><p>The city&rsquo;s withering high schools include institutions that have educated generations of Chicagoans and have been seen as community pillars: Bowen, Collins, Corliss, Fenger, Harper, Hirsch, Manley, Richards, Robeson, Tilden--all are teetering. But it isn&rsquo;t just neighborhood schools. Some charter schools and high schools that draw from the entire city find themselves in a similar bind, struggling to recruit students in an environment in which CPS has continued to rapidly open additional high schools in an effort to improve school quality--even though enrollment is not growing.</p><p>Nearly all schools with dramatically declining enrollment have one thing in common: they serve predominantly African American students on the city&rsquo;s South and West sides. Their students are some of the poorest, most vulnerable in the city.</p><p>The racial disparity raises questions about how school choice plays out in a segregated city, and whether neighborhood schools--particularly in low-income African American neighborhoods--are viable in Chicago&rsquo;s current school choice environment.</p><p>&ldquo;The fact that we have schools where they are only enrolling 13 freshmen is really part of this ideology of configuring public education in a kind of market model,&rdquo; said <a href="http://www.sociology.northwestern.edu/people/faculty/core/mary-pattillo.html">Mary Pattillo</a>, a sociologist at Northwestern University who authored a study on how families are participating in Chicago&rsquo;s system of school choice.</p><p>Pattillo says schools that don&rsquo;t capture parents, don&rsquo;t market themselves, or don&rsquo;t attract students-- &ldquo;they&rsquo;ll just die. But while those schools are dying, there are students in those schools dying with those schools,&rdquo; Pattillo said. &ldquo;And the inability of those schools to provide a high-quality education despite their high desire to do so is not acceptable.&rdquo;</p><p>Peter Cunningham sees benefits in a more market-driven system. Cunningham is the executive director of the national education reform group Education Post and was spokesman under Arne Duncan, who launched the city&rsquo;s Renaissance 2010 initiative--which opened more than 100 new schools --and closed others--in an effort to improve education in Chicago. &ldquo;There is a consequence to choice,&rdquo; says Cunningham. &ldquo;You&rsquo;re going to have schools that are losing enrollment either because kids don&rsquo;t want to go there or they&rsquo;re not providing the kind of education kids want.&rdquo;</p><p>Cunningham says that without Chicago&rsquo;s plethora of high school options, there might be better enrollment in the neighborhood high schools, but &ldquo;it&rsquo;s also possible that we would have lost a whole lot of families who would have chosen private schools or moved out of the city.&rdquo; Still, he admits, &ldquo;We can&rsquo;t afford to have more schools than we have students.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner declined to answer questions about high school under-enrollment and would not say whether the city should brace for massive school closures at the high school level. She also would not authorize principals from under-enrolled schools to speak.</p><p><strong>High schools dying a slow death &nbsp;</strong></p><p>A massive expansion in the number of high schools in the city--opened in an effort to create high quality schools and expand options for students--has contributed to the under-enrollment crisis being faced &nbsp;today by many schools.</p><p>In 2004, Chicago had 88 high schools and 99,275 high schoolers. Today the city has 140 high schools (a 59 percent increase) for 100,670 students in grades 9-12 (a 1.5 percent increase). That&rsquo;s not counting alternative students or schools, which have also expanded exponentially.</p><p>With each new high school that opens, other schools in the system face enrollment declines. A dozen recently opened high schools added grades and students this year and are slated to continue expanding. In September, CPS agreed to re-open Dyett High School following a hunger strike protesting the its closure. And on Wednesday, the school board <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-gives-two-new-charters-green-light-puts-10-warning-113502">will vote on whether to green light another new charter high</a>, set to open in the fall.</p><p>At the same time, fully one-third of the city&rsquo;s high schools are withering.</p><p data-pym-src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/13freshmen/child.html">&nbsp;</p><script src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-dailygraphics/dailygraphics/graphics/13freshmen/js/lib/pym.js" type="text/javascript"></script><p>Under Chicago&rsquo;s school choice system&mdash;students can go to high school anywhere they&rsquo;re accepted, including other neighborhood schools. This year, 14 percent of Chicago&rsquo;s 100,670 high schoolers go to a selective enrollment school they test into, including&nbsp;<a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/schools/the-big-sort.html">nearly all the city&rsquo;s highest performing students</a>. Another 24 percent go to charter schools. Numbers from prior years suggest about 30 percent of students go to their attendance-area neighborhood school, and the rest go to&nbsp;magnet, military or other neighborhood schools&mdash;which might offer arts, IB, career-education or STEM programs. For low performers, neighborhood schools offer something that&rsquo;s increasingly difficult to find: a high school kids can enroll in without having to apply months in advance or meet a minimum threshold for grades or test scores.</p></div><p><strong>Varied reasons for declining enrollment</strong></p><p>CPS officials have frequently cited declining enrollment in the black community as a reason for the low enrollment numbers, but that is not always the case.</p><p>In Hirsch High School&rsquo;s attendance boundary, for instance, the number of CPS high school students living within the boundary has remained constant for the past eight years. But in Chicago&rsquo;s choice environment, 95 percent of Hirsch-area students go to selective, charter or other neighborhood schools; just 5 percent choose Hirsch.</p><p>At Tilden Career Academy at 48th and Union, the number of high school students living in the attendance area has actually increased, but enrollment at the school has tanked, despite new leadership that has brought in a digital media program and other partnerships. Tilden is even being featured as a <a href="https://ncs.uchicago.edu/sites/ncs.uchicago.edu/files/uploads/9.24%20Demonstration%20Schools%201-pager.pdf">demonstration school</a> by the University of Chicago&rsquo;s Network for College Success &nbsp;Still, every day, just 311 students arrive at a school built for 2,000. The percentage of in-area students who choose to attend Tilden has dropped to just 8 percent, from 28 percent a decade ago.</p><p>In other cases, the dying schools have no neighborhood attendance boundary at all and could draw students from anywhere in the city, but many are located in tough neighborhoods and have never attracted enough students to thrive. That&rsquo;s the case with Austin Business, the high school with 13 freshmen.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/austin%20high%20school%20building%20google_0.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 400px; float: right; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Austin Business and Entrepreneurship Academy in Chicago. (Google Maps)" /></p><p>Now, the three schools located in what used to be Austin Community High School-- created just a decade ago and sold as improvements over the low-performing school they replaced--are considering a plan to merge into one again and re-establish their neighborhood boundary.</p><p>Declining enrollment can put schools in a downward spiral. Enrollment drops mean lower budgets and &nbsp;cuts. As programs disappear, fewer students want to enroll.</p><p>According to CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, CPS has had to prop up some schools with fewer than 270 students this year, giving them extra money so they can offer a complete set of courses. The district could not say how much it has spent on such support.</p><p>Paul Hill, a University of Washington professor who devised the portfolio school choice model Chicago is following, has said that if schools have so few students they need extra money to keep going, &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">you&rsquo;ve got too many schools</a>.&quot;</p><p>Tilden principal Maurice Swinney says the small size absolutely affects what clubs and activities a school can offer. Tilden had no varsity football team this year. It disbanded mid-season last year after losing every game; the few boys on the roster played both offense and defense.</p><p>&ldquo;None of us at Tilden want to give kids any less of an experience than they would get&rdquo; at a bigger school with better funding, Swinney says. But, &ldquo;you have to have uniforms, you have to have equipment, you have to have Gatorade&mdash;you have to have all those things if you&rsquo;re going to have a program. I know if I were a kid I wouldn&rsquo;t want the old uniforms at some point.&rdquo;</p><p>But Swinney says the problem is not only that high schools are under-enrolled--it&rsquo;s that Chicago&rsquo;s small schools enroll kids who tend to be the most vulnerable in the system: &nbsp;&ldquo;students who&rsquo;ve dealt with lots of trauma, you have lots of struggles.&rdquo; At Tilden, 39.5 percent of kids are classified as special education students.</p><p>&ldquo;If we create selective enrollments and charter schools and other places that I feel like don&rsquo;t accept the most vulnerable children, I think the moral responsibility for any city is to support those that do--in a way that helps those schools flourish in terms of their academic, social, and behavioral outcomes,&rdquo; says Swinney. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s this level of neglect for the most vulnerable children, and it&rsquo;s offensive and it&rsquo;s insulting.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Small schools see gains</strong></p><p>Lisa Barrow, a senior economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago who has <a href="http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/publications/docs/workingpapers/2013/IPR-WP-13-20.pdf">studied </a>the effect of school size, said high schools that are intentionally designed to be small improve academic outcomes for students. Recent studies have deemed New York City&rsquo;s small high schools a success. Many were created around the same time Chicago&rsquo;s were, as an effort to expand options for students and increase quality.</p><p>But Barrow says large high schools that see withering enrollment are not likely to have the same benefits as intentionally designed small schools that spend time carefully planning their curriculum, hiring, and programming for their particular size, usually 400-600 students.</p><p>John Horan, founder and executive director of North Lawndale College Prep, does not consider the two campuses he oversees as &ldquo;withering&rdquo;--even though both have enrollments that hover around 400 and the district would allow him to enroll at least 200 more students.</p><p>He says population loss in the black community on the West Side is making enrollment more difficult. But he feels his schools are about the right size.</p><p>&ldquo;Our budget office would like a higher number,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Our teachers would like a lower number.&rdquo;</p><p>Barrow says part of school size does come down to money.</p><p>&ldquo;If you have to hire five teachers to teach 25 kids five subjects, you can&rsquo;t afford to do that.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p><br /><em>Linda Lutton and Becky Vevea are WBEZ education reporters. Follow them <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 27 Oct 2015 16:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-has-high-school-13-freshmen-113524