WBEZ | Education http://www.wbez.org/news/education Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Pell grants for prisoners: An old argument revisited http://www.wbez.org/news/pell-grants-prisoners-old-argument-revisited-112533 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/19407321_h38274460_slide-f233a67d0018562a34b055551e5caa2a8c778feb-s800-c85.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&#39;s an old and controversial question: Should federal Pell grants be used to help prisoners pay for college?</p><p>Tomorrow, at a prison in Jessup, Md., Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are expected to unveil a program to do just that. The new plan would create a limited pilot program allowing some students in prison to use Pell grants to pay for college classes.</p><p>The key word there is &quot;limited&quot; &mdash; because there&#39;s only so much the administration can do. To understand why, we have to go back to November 1993.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>The Crime Bill</strong></span></p><p>The era of Three Strikes had begun, and lawmakers in Washington were in a bipartisan race to prove they were tough on crime.</p><p>U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, introduced an amendment that would ultimately ban prisoners from receiving Pell grants. Her argument then: &quot;Because prisoners have zero income, they have been able to step to the front of the line and push law-abiding citizens out of the way,&quot; she said on the Senate floor (though Pell grants go to any and all who apply and meet the criteria).</p><p>Letting prisoners use federal dollars to pay for college, Hutchison insisted, just isn&#39;t fair. &quot;It is not fair to taxpayers. It is not fair to law-abiding citizens. It is not fair to the victims of crime.&quot;</p><p>Two decades later, Hutchison wants to be clear: She&#39;s not opposed to prison education. She just doesn&#39;t think federal Pell grants should pay for it.</p><p>&quot;I think it should be a state priority and a state initiative,&quot; she says.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;"><strong>&#39;Guys Were Having Study Groups&#39;</strong></span></p><p>Tyrone Werts says he watched lawmakers debate the crime bill on TV from his prison cell.</p><p>Werts had been convicted of second-degree murder for his role in a deadly robbery. At the age of 23, he arrived at Graterford Prison in Pennsylvania.</p><p>&quot;My reading scores was like second grade. My math skills was second, third grade,&quot; he says.</p><p>Behind bars, Werts studied. He earned his GED, then his bachelor&#39;s through a prison education program with Villanova University. It was paid for with Pell grants.</p><p>&quot;Graterford, when we had Pell grants, was actually like a college or university,&quot; he says. &quot;The arts flourished. Guys were having study groups. They were at the table, writing papers.&quot;</p><p>But Werts says that stopped when the money dried up.</p><p>After nearly 37 years in prison, Werts&#39; sentence was commuted. Now, he works for Temple University&#39;s Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program and helps released prisoners re-enter society.</p><p>&quot;I see a marked difference between those guys who went to college in prison and those guys who didn&#39;t go to school,&quot; he says. &quot;They think totally different.&quot;</p><p><a href="http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR266.html">A 2013 study by the RAND Corp. </a>found that education behind bars greatly reduces the likelihood of a former prisoner committing another crime.</p><p>But federal law still prohibits Pell grants for prisoners. Only Congress can roll back the law.</p><p>That said, the Education Department does have one option: It can waive certain rules for <a href="https://experimentalsites.ed.gov/exp/index.html">research purposes</a> and, thus, extend Pell grants to a small number of prisoners.</p><p>Think of it as an exception to the rule &mdash; not rewriting the rule itself.</p><p><em>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/30/427450422/pell-grants-for-prisoners-an-old-argument-revisited?ft=nprml&amp;f=427450422">via NPR</a></em></p></p> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 11:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/pell-grants-prisoners-old-argument-revisited-112533 CPS budget cuts hit special education students http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-budget-cuts-hit-special-education-students-112512 <p><p dir="ltr">Phillip Cantor got called into an emergency meeting last week at the school where he teaches&mdash;North-Grand High School on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side. The district&rsquo;s central office had just sent over the budget for the coming school year.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We had some cuts at our school, but seemed to be doing better than other schools in our area,&rdquo; Cantor, who&#39;s chair of the Science Department, said. &ldquo;And then we realized when we got further into the budget, we were losing $318,000 specifically for special ed services.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">It would mean the school would have to cut about three special education teachers or six full-time aides.</p><p dir="ltr">Cantor said there&rsquo;s no way it would work.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re barely meeting the kids&rsquo; requirements now,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month, Jesse Ruiz, the vice president of the School Board who at the time was leading the district interim CPS CEO, announced that more than 500 special education teachers would be laid off districtwide. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel called the cuts, which included special ed, &ldquo;unconscionable and intolerable.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The move, he said, came after Chicago Public Schools conducted an 18-month review of services and staffing for students with special needs and found that even as enrollment in special ed was declining, the number of staff was increasing.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The long-term goal is for more students with unique learning needs to be able to receive services at their neighborhood schools,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">But the district has kept pretty quiet about how it&rsquo;s going about making changes to how special education is delivered.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When we looked more closely, there was a line in the budget that said All Means All pilot,&rdquo; Cantorsaid. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">If you haven&rsquo;t heard of All Means All, you&rsquo;re not alone. The district made no formal announcement about it and some of the 102 schools now in the pilot didn&rsquo;t know they would be part of it until their budgets came. Last year, about two dozen schools were part of the program.</p><p dir="ltr">Internal district documents provided to WBEZ outline how the All Means All program is designed, and it&rsquo;s complicated, but boils down to what some call &ldquo;student-based budgeting for special education.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Principals get a lump sum amount for special needs students instead of specific staff positions. If that sounds familiar, it&rsquo;s because that&rsquo;s the way the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-principals-get-more-flexibility-likely-less-money-budget-107560">rest of Chicago schools have been funded</a> for the last few years. &nbsp;Principals get a lump sum for each student and then they decide what to do with it.</p><p>The internal document about All Means All did not list the actual per pupil amounts for students with special needs. CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner provided the following chart to WBEZ.</p><div><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Screen%20Shot%202015-07-30%20at%2012.11.46%20AM.png" style="width: 100%;" title="" /></div><div><p dir="ltr"><em>*CPS refers to students with special needs as &ldquo;diverse learners&rdquo;. They get a base amount under the main student-based budgeting formula, reflected in the Column 2. Column 1 includes the flat amounts per student for additional special education services under &ldquo;All Means All.&rdquo; Added together, in Column 3, is the total amount a school will get for a student with special needs in each category. These amounts are being used at just 102 schools this year. The remaining 500-plus schools will continue to be staffed under the old formula, where the Board provides positions based on enrollment and need.</em></p><p dir="ltr">The system is meant to give principals more flexibility and bring the funding formula for special education in line with the formula for all students in CPS. Student-based budgeting is something many urban districts are using now. In theory, money follows students, creating a more equitable formula.</p><p dir="ltr">But its roll out in Chicago was not well-received, in part because it came at a time of financial crisis and at many schools, the total amount of funding has not been enough to cover existing programs and staff.</p><p dir="ltr">But having money follow students gets more complicated with special education, Cantor points out. That&rsquo;s because you can&rsquo;t easily change a student&rsquo;s schedule. It&rsquo;s dictated by a legal document called an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a process for changing IEPs, you can&rsquo;t just change it,&rdquo; Cantor said. &ldquo;It has to be done at a meeting with the parents with parent&rsquo;s permission.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Rod Estvan, education policy analyst with the disability-rights group Access Living, said there&rsquo;s a reason special education is expensive. Those IEPs outline, down to the minute, when students should be working with trained adults, like social workers, speech therapists, and certified teachers. The students may be deaf or dyslexic or have one of many conditions that make it harder for them to learn.</p><p dir="ltr">Federal law dictates students in special education must also be spending as much time as possible in regular classrooms. Creating schedules that fulfill both requirements can be a nightmare for principals.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These are not easy choices that are being thrown down on principals to make,&rdquo; Estvan said, noting that many principals do not have any background in special education.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;CPS will, over the course of the school year, be forced to reallocate additional staff to schools and open positions,&rdquo; Estvan predicts. &ldquo;Whether or not they can fill them or not is another question that late in the year.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">District spokeswoman Emily Bittner said the district is working closely with principals at these 102 schools on scheduling special needs students most efficiently. She said an 18-month review of special education found that the number of students with special needs in district-run schools declined 3.4 percent over the last five years, but staff serving them increased 13 percent.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr"><strong>LISTEN</strong><em>:CPS Cheif Education Officer Janice Jackson&nbsp;special education cuts won&#39;t hurt students</em></p><p dir="ltr"><iframe frameborder="no" height="20" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/217623452&amp;color=ff5500&amp;inverse=false&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_user=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month, in announcing the cuts, then CEO Ruiz said the changes coming with All Means All would save $42.3 million.</p><p dir="ltr">Bittner said CPS would make sure schools have enough staff to work with special needs students and will absolutely meet all students&rsquo; IEP requirements, as outlined by law. She said the overall funding for special education is decreasing by five percent and still remains 14 percent of the district&rsquo;s total budget.</p><p dir="ltr">But some still are worried that the shift in the formula could still give principals and staff mostly bad choices.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think that&rsquo;s going to lead to a lot of pressure on principals and teachers to do the wrong thing in order to get services for their kids,&rdquo; said Kristine Mayle, financial secretary for the Chicago Teachers Union and a former special education teacher. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re already hearing they&rsquo;re trying to take kids out of self-contained classrooms and put them into regular ed classrooms. I fear that across the district, kids are going to be moved into placements that are not appropriate.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The All Means All program also includes a financial bonus for schools who successfully transition students out of special education or move more kids into mainstream classrooms. Bittner said the intent is to better prepare special needs students for life beyond school, when the same services aren&rsquo;t guaranteed.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS is in <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-emanuel-warn-deep-cuts-layoffs-school-district-112301">a financial crisis</a> and it&rsquo;s looking everywhere to cut costs. Nothing is off-limits. Not even special education.</p><p dir="ltr">But Cantor, the teacher at North-Grand, thinks that&rsquo;s a big legal risk that could cost the district in the long run.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to become more expensive when they do this because parents are going to sue,&rdquo; Cantor said. &ldquo;There&rsquo;s going to be massive lawsuits. There&rsquo;s going to be massive settlements. We&rsquo;ve seen this over and over in the city. It&rsquo;s this short-term managerial thinking that&rsquo;s going lead to long term costs for the city.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Right now, CPS can&rsquo;t really afford any more unexpected costs.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 15:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-budget-cuts-hit-special-education-students-112512 The struggle to breathe life back into empty schools http://www.wbez.org/news/struggle-breathe-life-back-empty-schools-112488 <p><p>Virginia Savage lives in a part of north St. Louis, Mo., that&#39;s filled with vacant buildings, including Marshall Elementary. It has been closed for years now, and vines crawl into the building&#39;s smashed-out windows. The playground is littered with empty liquor bottles.</p><p>Savage went to school at Marshall as a young girl, and now she sees bigger problems beyond all those blemishes: &quot;Drug dealers, drug users, eyesore. That&#39;s what I see.&quot;</p><p>In St. Louis, the student enrollment is one-fourth the size it was in the 1960s. That drop has led the district to close 30 or so schools.</p><p>It&#39;s the same story across the country in cities like Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago, where district leaders are facing the big question &mdash; what to do with all of those empty schools?</p><p>Savage volunteers at a neighborhood church that used to be a vacant school, too. So she doesn&#39;t just see problems, she also sees potential. &quot;Apartments, room for the homeless, a community center,&quot; she says. &quot;There&#39;s a lot that can go on with this building.&quot;</p><p>Empty buildings are difficult to secure, they can attract crime, and they fall apart quickly. So St. Louis Public Schools rounded up a group of volunteer architects, contractors and community health experts to pitch developers and lure investors into doing something with these places.</p><p>And because this all boils down to real estate, the first thing to do was throw a bunch of open houses at schools like Eliot Elementary, another stately historic school. It&#39;s more than 100 years old and classic St. Louis with an impressive stature, deep red brick and thick, wrought iron.</p><p>It probably sounds like a steal at $260,000, but it&#39;s also what you might call an ultimate fixer-upper.</p><p>The school closed 10 years ago, and inside, insulation is scattered across the floor. The sub-ceiling is down, paint is stripped off the walls, all the copper is out of the building and the alarm system has been ripped out. It looks like the set from a post-apocalyptic film.</p><p>&quot;Post-something,&quot; says Walker Gaffney, director of real estate for St. Louis Public Schools. &quot;Post-population flight, post-declining enrollment and diminishing resources.&quot;</p><p>It might seem logical to just tear the place down, but Gaffney says that wouldn&#39;t be a good use of money. &quot;The cost of tearing this buildings down is very prohibitive &mdash; anywhere from a half million dollars up to a million,&quot; Gaffney says. &quot;This was a temple of learning that was built to last hundreds and hundreds of years.&quot;</p><p>That&#39;s learning that many say could continue with one obvious group of potential buyers: charter public schools, which have seen increasing enrollment.</p><p>The district used to have a rule against selling empty schools to charters, but that&#39;s no longer the case. Yet some in the charter community say St. Louis Public Schools is still rejecting their offers.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/npr2-edit_slide-d48303bfc30cdacf45ff6c8d992156d93029a7bc-s800-c85.jpg" title="The Eliot building is falling apart, but hints of the past still line the surface — like this old mural visible through the peeling paint. (Tim Lloyd/ St. Louis Public Radio)" /></div><p>Gaffney says there&#39;s no unwritten rule against charters and it&#39;s all about competitive offers. &quot;Now, is the district going to give buildings away?&quot; Gaffney asks. &quot;No. This is the list price; make me an offer.&quot;</p><p>So far the district&#39;s plan to lure investors has been working. A few deals are in the works to renovate old schools into apartments, offices and artist spaces.</p><p>But there&#39;s still much more work to be done.</p><p>Jessica Eiland is another community member tasked with finding investors. She runs Northside Community Housing Inc., a nonprofit that builds homes in the area around Marshall Elementary in north St. Louis.</p><p>And while she acknowledges it can be a huge challenge to breathe life back into these buildings, she also says redeveloping a 50,000-square-foot vacant school like Marshall could have a domino effect.</p><p>&quot;It could be the catalyst to get other people thinking, &#39;You know what, I should invest my resources on this side of the community.&#39; &quot;</p><p>Because the last thing any school was meant to do is bring problems into a neighborhood.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/07/28/426735945/the-struggle-to-breathe-life-back-into-empty-schools">via nprEd</a></p></p> Tue, 28 Jul 2015 09:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/struggle-breathe-life-back-empty-schools-112488 Chicago school board approves building sales, more borrowing http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-board-approves-building-sales-more-borrowing-112454 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/boardofed_bv.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-22ce59dd-b7f5-51e7-251c-f476b14f7ab9">The Chicago Board of Education sold three vacant school buildings for about $8.5 million and approved up to $1.2 billion in borrowing at Wednesday&rsquo;s monthly meeting.</p><p dir="ltr">Typically, the school board approves a budget in July, but principals were given individual school budgets just last week. A complete budget must be passed before students go back to class in September.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The budget process this year has been delayed for a variety of reasons,&rdquo; said David Vitale, outgoing president of the Board of Education. Those reasons include a push for pension reform in Springfield and ongoing contract talks with the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p dir="ltr">But Chicago Public Schools has been dealing with a structural deficit for several years, a truth not lost on Vitale during his last meeting on the school board.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;For what it&rsquo;s worth, that funding problem was identifiable from the day I sat down in this chair,&rdquo; Vitale said, listing some of the contributing factors: ballooning pension payments, decreasing federal and state funding, and skyrocketing debt payments.</p><p dir="ltr">Vitale said the school board hasn&rsquo;t been &ldquo;ignorant&rdquo; or &ldquo;sitting back, waiting for disaster to happen,&rdquo; but he argued its power is limited, saying, &ldquo;all we can do is advocate to others to, frankly, give us more authority to tax.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The board, under Vitale&rsquo;s leadership, voted to raise property taxes to the legal limit every year for the past four. But it still hasn&rsquo;t been enough.</p><p dir="ltr">In June, the board approved a $1.1 billion line of credit that will expire at the end of August. The move was done to ensure CPS could make payroll. This week, the board approved another $1.2 billion in long-term borrowing.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS Chief Financial Officer Ginger Ostro insisted the amount of money was simply an estimate and should be considered &ldquo;a cap&rdquo; or &ldquo;limit&rdquo; to what the district can issue in bonds.</p><p dir="ltr">The Board will have to approve actual bond sales in September or October, Ostro said.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Revenue from school sales</span></p><p dir="ltr">Board members on Wednesday also approved the sale of three vacant schools that were shuttered in 2013, providing a small windfall of cash for its struggling budget.</p><p dir="ltr">Liza Balistreri is in charge of real estate at Chicago Public Schools and outlined the sales of Near North Elementary in Noble Square, Overton Elementary in Bronzeville, and Von Humboldt Elementary in Humboldt Park.</p><p dir="ltr">Near North is being purchased by Svigos Asset Management for $5.1 million. It will be used for residential and commercial development, Balistreri said. Svigos also purchased the old Peabody Elementary for $3.5 million. There was some <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/charters-might-move-closed-cps-schools-112063">controversy around Peabody</a> earlier this year when a public charter school rented space in the building. Previously, district officials had said no closed school would be used as a public school.</p><p dir="ltr">Von Humboldt is being bought by IFF Von Humboldt LLC for $3.1 million and will be redeveloped to include a day care, housing for current and retired public school teachers, office space, and a cafe. There was a higher bid for the massive school, but it did not line up with what the community wanted, CPS officials said.</p><p dir="ltr">Overton is being sold to Washington Park Development Group for $325,000 and will be used for counseling, career training, housing or retail space.</p><p dir="ltr">Newly-seated board member and former CEO of BMO Harris Bank Mark Furlong told Balistreri he wants to see the district pick up the pace when it comes to selling its vacant property.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;It&rsquo;s been a couple years,&rdquo; Furlong said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;ve gotta find a way to accelerate the sale of these buildings so that we can bring cash into the classrooms.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Balistreri said seven or eight more buildings are almost ready to go out for bid.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Shuffling at the top</span></p><p dir="ltr">There were several new faces in the board chamber on Wednesday.</p><p dir="ltr">David Vitale remained in the president&rsquo;s chair, but was flanked by new mayoral appointees Furlong, Dominique Jordan Turner, Gail Ward, and longstanding member Mahalia Hines. Ward and Hines are both former CPS principals, and Jordan Turner runs the Chicago Scholars Foundation, which works with first generation, low-income, college-bound public school students in the city.</p><p dir="ltr">Rev. Michael Garanzini is also officially a new member of the board, but was not present Wednesday because he was travelling, Vitale said. Incoming Board President Frank Clark sat in the audience.</p><p dir="ltr">Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz remains in his post through the end of the week, and then will return to serving as vice president of the school board. He took a moment to thank Mayor Rahm Emanuel for giving him the responsibility to manage CPS, and, in Spanish, he thanked the community for its support.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Muchísimas gracias a todos,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">The son of Mexican immigrants, Ruiz is the only Latino among the top leadership at CPS, despite the fact that Latino students are the largest ethnic group in the district -- at 46 percent and growing.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Replacing Ruiz as schools CEO is mayoral confidant and former head of the Chicago Transit Authority Forrest Claypool. Janice Jackson will serve as Chief Education Officer and Denise Little will take on the role of senior adviser to the CEO.</p><p>Claypool will earn $250,000 annually, while Jackson and Little will make $195,000 and $180,000, respectively. Claypool and Jackson&rsquo;s salaries are comparable to those of their predecessors, but Little&rsquo;s is a new position with no precedent for salary.<br /><br /><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> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 17:48:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-school-board-approves-building-sales-more-borrowing-112454 Chicago aldermen call on school district to hire more Latinos http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-call-school-district-hire-more-latinos-112419 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cps.PNG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Members of the Chicago City Council&rsquo;s Latino Caucus are calling on the school district to hire more Latinos as teachers, principals, and administrators.</p><p dir="ltr">The push comes after WBEZ <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-latino-teachers-such-minority-cps-112399">reported on the gap</a> between the percentages of Latino teachers and Latino students. Data shows the percentage of Hispanic teachers is crawling upward, but not enough to keep pace with the rapidly growing Hispanic student population. Latino students now make up the largest ethnic group in Chicago Public Schools, at 46 percent.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We knew the trend was sort of creeping up on us, and I think we were at that point where we can&rsquo;t wait any longer,&rdquo; said Alderman George Cardenas,12th Ward and chair of the Latino Caucus.</p><p dir="ltr">Cardenas said the Caucus wants to meet with CPS leadership on a monthly basis.</p><p dir="ltr">Freshman Alderman Milly Santiago, 31st Ward, said the lack of Latino teachers in the CPS has always been low and called on the district to adopt a new formula for recruiting bilingual teachers.</p><p dir="ltr">She also took Emanuel to task for not appointing any Latinos to top positions in the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-top-aide-run-chicagos-schools-112400">most recent leadership shake-up</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The most recent appointment of the new CPS school board also leaves the Latino community in another disadvantage with only one Hispanic member,&rdquo; Santiago said in an email. &ldquo;This is not a fair balance nor a good democratic process when it comes to managing the future of our children&#39;s education.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Cardenas cited data from the Illinois State Board of Education that lists just 4.8 percent of all teachers in CPS as Hispanic. However, the year before, the <a href="http://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/District.aspx?source=About_Educators&amp;source2=Teacher_Demographics&amp;districtID=15016299025&amp;level=D">percentage of Hispanic teachers</a> hit a record high 15.1 percent.</p><p>CPS officials couldn&rsquo;t explain the discrepancy with its own numbers, but said the numbers on their <a href="http://cps.edu/About_CPS/At-a-glance/Pages/Stats_and_facts.aspx">website</a> are more accurate. According to district data, 18.6 percent of the CPS teacher workforce is Hispanic. WBEZ has a pending FOIA request for a school-by-school breakdown of teacher demographics.</p><p><a href="http://educationnext.org/the-race-connection/">Research</a> has shown that racial diversity among teachers impacts the academic achievement of students.</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> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-aldermen-call-school-district-hire-more-latinos-112419 Mayor Rahm Emanuel names top aide to run Chicago's schools http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-top-aide-run-chicagos-schools-112400 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/claypool flickr cta web.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is turning to a long-time friend and familiar face around City Hall to head the cash-strapped Chicago Public Schools: Forrest Claypool.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve worked with some of the country&rsquo;s great cabinet secretaries at the federal level,&rdquo; the mayor said Thursday morning. &ldquo;I&rsquo;ve worked with a number of people at different levels of corporate America, but I&rsquo;ve never seen a manager with Forrest Claypool&rsquo;s capacity for leadership.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel announced a number of leadership changes Thursday for what he calls a &ldquo;new chapter&rdquo; of the district&#39;s future. He said while attention is traditionally paid to the CEO, the current challenges that the district faces can&rsquo;t fall on just one person. It needs a &ldquo;team.&rdquo;</p><p>The other members of that team include: Frank Clark, incoming president of the Chicago Board of Education, replacing David Vitale; Denise Little, senior adviser to Claypool; and Janice Jackson, Chief Education Officer, a position left vacant in 2012 after Barbara Byrd-Bennett was promoted to the top job.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-schools-chief-resigns-amid-federal-probe-112114">stepped down</a> as head of CPS in June amid a federal probe involving her former employer, SUPES Academy. That company was quietly awarded a $20.5 million no-bid contract in 2013, just after the CPS closed 50 schools.</p><p>Both Byrd-Bennett and Jean-Claude Brizard, Emanuel&rsquo;s first schools chief who left after the teachers&rsquo; strike in 2012, came from outside Chicago.</p><p>Claypool is the opposite, as he&rsquo;s served at the head of multiple city agencies, like the Chicago Transit Authority and the Chicago Park District. He&rsquo;s also been a mayoral chief of staff three times: Twice with Mayor Richard J. Daley, and most recently under Emanuel. Claypool and Emanuel have been friends since their <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/year-25/who-was-25-year-old-rahm-emanuel-108327">twenties</a>, when they worked together on political campaigns. The mayor said it was with &ldquo;some trepidation&rdquo; that he allowed Claypool to leave his office, but that he was the &ldquo;right person at the right time to help lead CPS at this moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Known for cleaning up financial messes, Claypool takes over the top CPS job at a critical time. The district is dealing with a $1 billion dollar deficit in the next fiscal year, and recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-school-budgets-reflect-dire-finances-112364">announced </a>major cuts to schools.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll deal with what we can deal with...and that is to manage the system as best as possible. I&rsquo;m committed to bringing the best people, the best and the brightest, and providing every level of support, in every conceivable way to our hard-working teachers and principals who are on the front lines every single day,&rdquo; Claypool said.</p><p>The district is also in the middle of contract negotiations with the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>CTU President Karen Lewis said she spoke with Claypool Wednesday morning and told him to &ldquo;Run, Forrest, Run.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;I think the job is probably almost undoable, to be perfectly honest, at this point,&rdquo; Lewis said.</p><p>Lewis called Claypool &ldquo;a fixer&rdquo; and told reporters she figured he would be the next schools chief when union leadership met with him last week.</p><p>Claypool will officially begin his new job at the end of July, alleviating school board Vice President Jesse Ruiz of the interim role he&rsquo;s filled for the past three months. Emanuel thanked Ruiz for his personal and professional &ldquo;sacrifice&rdquo; in a very &ldquo;challenging moment&rdquo; for the school district.</p><p>Ruiz will return as vice president of the school board. But he&rsquo;ll no longer be seated next to current board president David Vitale. Instead, Frank Clark will take the top seat on the Board of Education.</p><p>Clark, the former CEO of Com-Ed, is a familiar name. He chaired the <a href="http://www.schoolutilization.com/">Commission on School Utilization</a>, which suggested that CPS had the <a href="https://docs.google.com/a/schoolutilization.com/viewer?a=v&amp;pid=sites&amp;srcid=c2Nob29sdXRpbGl6YXRpb24uY29tfGNvbW1pc3Npb24tb24tc2Nob29sLXV0aWxpemF0aW9ufGd4OjRiNzFjMWEyNGIxZWU0YmU">capacity to close 80 schools</a>. Ultimately, CPS decided to close 50. After the closings, Mayor Emanuel promised he wouldn&rsquo;t shutter any schools for five years. Asked Thursday, Clark said he doesn&rsquo;t see that changing.</p><p>&ldquo;The short answer is no,&rdquo; Clark said. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t see any need for any additional closures at this point.&rdquo;</p><p>Clark is also the co-founder and namesake of Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy, a public charter school on the west side run by the Noble Network of Charter Schools.</p><p>The replacement of Vitale drew speculation that it was related to the unanimous vote on the no-bid contract that he oversaw and that ultimately cost Byrd-Bennett her job. Others pointed to a series of <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/cpsbonds/ct-chicago-public-schools-bond-deals-met-20141107-story.html#page=1">Chicago Tribune articles</a> about debt swaps made under Vitale during his tenure as Chief Financial Officer in the late 2000s.</p><p>But Emanuel scoffed at that, saying it was Vitale&rsquo;s idea that a new CEO start off with a new school board president. The mayor said he was at first reluctant to accept Vitale&rsquo;s resignation, adding that he had to go swimming a few times before he made the final decision.</p><p>The other two appointments were less challenging &mdash; both are veteran educators in CPS. Denise Little will be a senior adviser to Claypool. She was most recently Chief of Network Offices, middle management that oversees clusters of schools that are grouped by geography. In 2012, she ran one of those networks on the west side, but was promoted by Byrd-Bennett to take on the new central office role. CTU&rsquo;s Lewis said Little was involved in contract negotiations in 2012, but hasn&rsquo;t been at the table in the most recent talks.</p><p>Janice Jackson also ran one of CPS&rsquo;s networks on the west side. Before that, she was a principal at Westinghouse College Prep and Al Raby High School, and a history and economics teacher at South Shore. A graduate of Hyde Park High School, Jackson said the decision to take the position of Chief Education Officer was &ldquo;not professional, but personal.&rdquo;</p><p>Jackson was cited as one of five &ldquo;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-10-05/news/0910050158_1_lifeway-foods-chicago-public-schools-timeline">influential young Chicagoans</a>&rdquo; in the Chicago Tribune in 2009.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is WBEZ&rsquo;s Education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/wbezeducation">@wbezeducation</a>. Lauren Chooljian is WBEZ&rsquo;s City Hall reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a></em></p><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Thu, 16 Jul 2015 11:23:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-rahm-emanuel-names-top-aide-run-chicagos-schools-112400 Why are Latino teachers such a minority in CPS? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-latino-teachers-such-minority-cps-112399 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jessieruiz.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">There are thousands of vacancies every summer at Chicago Public Schools. Who gets hired is changing.</p><p dir="ltr">The percentage of black teachers saw a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-there-fewer-black-teachers-cps-112385">double-digit decline in the last decade</a>, the percentage of white teachers has seen exponential growth, and the percentage of Hispanic teachers is crawling upward.</p><p dir="ltr">That slow increase of Hispanic teachers comes at a time when Hispanic students make up the largest ethnic group in CPS, at 46 percent.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I am a proud graduate of Chicago Public Schools and I can honestly say that &hellip; I did not have any Latino teachers,&rdquo; said Cristina Pacione-Zayas, education director at the nonprofit Latino Policy Forum, who attended CPS in the late 1990s.</p><p dir="ltr">Compare that to when current CPS teacher Henry Gomez was in school in the 2000s. He rattled off a list of his elementary school teachers&mdash;all but two were Latino. He attended a bilingual gifted program at Pulaski Elementary, so it&rsquo;s possible his experience was the exception, not the rule. At Lane Tech, where he went to high school, he could only think of three teachers who were Latino.</p><p dir="ltr">The discrepancy isn&rsquo;t lost on CPS interim CEO Jesse Ruiz, who is Latino.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think diversity is important,&rdquo; Ruiz said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s something I&rsquo;ve championed all my career. I think if we don&rsquo;t seek out diversity then we miss out in having some of the best talent possible.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Problems with the numbers</span></p><p dir="ltr">District-wide numbers are publicly available from several sources. Data from the Illinois State Board of Education lists 4.8 percent of all teachers in the city as Hispanic in 2014.</p><p dir="ltr">The year before, the <a href="http://iirc.niu.edu/Classic/District.aspx?source=About_Educators&amp;source2=Teacher_Demographics&amp;districtID=15016299025&amp;level=D">percentage of Hispanic teachers</a>&nbsp;hit a record high 15.1 percent.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s such a significant drop that you wonder if there was a typo,&rdquo; Pacione-Zayas said.</p><p dir="ltr">Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Megan Griffin said the numbers were &ldquo;based on the self-reported data that CPS supplied.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS&rsquo;s <a href="http://cps.edu/About_CPS/At-a-glance/Pages/Stats_and_facts.aspx">website</a>, however, lists 18.6 percent of the teacher workforce as Hispanic.</p><p dir="ltr">District spokesman Bill McCaffrey couldn&rsquo;t explain the discrepancy. He said the raw numbers from the human resources officials show an increase over the last four years. McCaffrey said there were 4,039 Latino teachers this year, up from 3,868 three years earlier. CPS employed just over 22,500 teachers last year.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS denied a FOIA request filed by WBEZ in May that asked for a school-by-school breakdown of teacher demographics, saying it was unduly burdensome. A revised request is still pending.</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Local efforts to diversify teachers</span></p><p dir="ltr">No matter the data source, one thing is true: Latino teachers are the minority among CPS teachers and their growth is not keeping pace with the rapidly growing Latino student population.</p><p dir="ltr">There are programs trying to change that.</p><p dir="ltr">Henry Gomez entered the Golden Apple Scholars program in 2009, just after graduating high school, and is now teaching at Schurz High School. The <a href="http://www.goldenapple.org/funding-support-golden-apple-scholars">Golden Apple Scholars</a> program provides tuition assistance for students who attend one of more than 50 Illinois teacher preparation programs. They work with students over the summer and provide mentoring through the first and second years of teaching. In exchange, students who complete the program commit to working in a high need school for at least five years.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.growyourownteachers.org/">Grow Your Own</a> is a community-based program that recruits people of color to become teachers in low-income communities. It focuses on both young people and career changers and partners with traditional, university teacher certification programs. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS itself <a href="https://chooseyourfuture.cps.edu/career-technical-education/cte-clusters-pathways/education-and-training/">offers career programs</a> in teaching and early childhood education at six district high schools&mdash;Curie, Simeon, Roosevelt, Phillips, Uplift and Wells.</p><p dir="ltr">And, interestingly, the <a href="http://noblenetwork.org/">Noble Network of Charter Schools</a> just launched its own two-year teacher residency program in partnership with a new graduate school, called <a href="http://www.relay.edu/">Relay</a>. Charter schools typically have whiter, younger teachers, but the new program exclusively recruits from Noble&rsquo;s largely Latino and black alumni base.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS CEO Ruiz thinks these programs and partnerships are promising.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We probably need more and districts themselves have to go out and promote these programs,&rdquo; he said.</p><p dir="ltr">Maureen Gillette is the dean of the College of Education at Northeastern Illinois University, which partners with Grow Your Own and Golden Apple. She said there are all kinds of academic benefits for students who are taught by people of similar backgrounds. But also, for all students&mdash;white, black, Latino, or Asian.</p><p>By way of example, she says before she worked at Northeastern, she worked at a small liberal arts school on the East Coast and recalls a big uproar over diversity.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;One of the issues was that there were almost no African-American professors, but there were a lot of African-American custodial staff and a lot of African-American cooks in the kitchen,&rdquo; Gillette said. &ldquo;If that&rsquo;s the only place students see people of color, what message does that send?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span style="font-size:24px;">Overcoming barriers to becoming a teacher</span></p><p dir="ltr">Gillette is concerned about recent changes to state policy that are making it harder to increase diversity in the teaching staff.</p><p>&ldquo;In 2012, the state board of education raised the cut score on the Test of Academic Proficiency, which is the test that you have to pass to be certified,&rdquo; Gillette said. That <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/push-teacher-quality-illinois-takes-toll-minority-candidates-108601">pinched out a lot of promising candidates of color</a>. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Ruiz served on the Illinois State Board of Education just before that cut score was changed. He said he still doesn&rsquo;t think the drop in the number of candidates of color passing the licensing exam should be cause for concern.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you have to sacrifice quality to find diversity,&rdquo; Ruiz said.</p><p>But Gillette worries the state is focused on the wrong thing&mdash;entry&mdash;when it should be more focused on support and development.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There is not a member of my faculty who doesn&rsquo;t want good teachers,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But the question is, does any of this make a difference in getting to excellent teachers? And I really don&rsquo;t think there&rsquo;s not a solid research base that the (new entry test) will help us get better teachers.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Pacione-Zayas from the Latino Policy Forum said the new requirements create a bit of a Catch-22.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Because you don&rsquo;t want to say, &lsquo;Let&rsquo;s lower standards so that we can have black and Latino teachers, you know, knocking down our doors,&rsquo; because in some ways, it&rsquo;s insulting,&rdquo; Pacione-Zayas said. &ldquo;We have those candidates. We have individuals who have those qualities. But we also have to acknowledge that there are barriers. And what do we do to support those individuals who are committed, who are passionate, who are disciplined to be able to overcome those barriers and obstacles?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">She says school districts have to think about how to get diverse students interested in being teachers at an early age. Then districts must prepare those students well academically, so those barriers won&rsquo;t shut them out.</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> Wed, 15 Jul 2015 17:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-latino-teachers-such-minority-cps-112399 Why are there fewer black teachers in CPS? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-there-fewer-black-teachers-cps-112385 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/black teachers.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated 7.15.15&nbsp;</em></p><p>A few weeks before the school year ends, Taree Porter leads word drills with her second graders and reads a Judy Blume classic amid the din of giggles.</p><p>Porter, a teacher for 14 years, is black and comes from a family of Chicago Public Schools educators.</p><p>Just 15 years go, 40 percent teachers in CPS schools were black. Today, it&rsquo;s 23 percent. Many black students are segregated into majority black schools&mdash;like National Teachers Academy in the South Loop, where Porter teaches.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related: <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-latinos-teachers-such-minority-cps-112399" target="_blank">Why are Latino teachers such a minority in CPS?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>The fact that she&#39;s among a dwindling demographic isn&#39;t lost on Porter. And all this change didn&rsquo;t occur in a vacuum. Modern education reform in Chicago started in 1995 and ramped up in the following years.</p><p>&ldquo;What I noticed was the recruitment of non-black teachers outside of the state of Illinois and even within the state,&rdquo; Porter said. &ldquo;Somewhere midway in my career I think I noticed that there were a lot of alternative certification programs popping up. People did alternative certification but didn&rsquo;t last long once they became full-fledged teachers. And a lot of times they had to work in inner-city schools with African-American children and it seems no matter what the training, they weren&rsquo;t prepared.&rdquo;</p><p>The face of Chicago Public Schools teachers is changing: the teaching workforce is whiter and less experienced. Meanwhile, most of the students in Chicago&rsquo;s public schools are Hispanic and African American. Black enrollment has gone down, but black students still make up 39 percent of the district.</p><p>Chicago Teachers Union researcher Pavlyn Jankov says more and more schools are like Porter&rsquo;s -- mostly black students, mostly white teachers. And he said it didn&rsquo;t happen by chance.</p><p>&ldquo;It lines up with the huge proliferation of charter schools and those schools along with the AUSL turnaround schools are mainly responsible for the staff who are predominately teachers with perhaps one to five years experience and predominantly white teachers,&rdquo; Jankov said.</p><p>He said, at the same time, the numbers also show how stubbornly the segregation of teachers and students holds on.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve looked at how the percentage of schools across CPS that are segregated on both ends in terms of schools that have a majority black teaching staff and a hyper-segregated black student population has actually maintained despite the fact that there&rsquo;ve been these closings,&rdquo; Jankov said.</p><p>He said the number and percentage of schools where there are virtually no staff or no students who are African American has increased a lot too. In just the last decade the number of schools with fewer than a 10 percent black teaching staff jumped from 69 to 223. Schools with no black teachers soared from 10 to 50.</p><p>Of course, school policies aren&rsquo;t the only thing going on. There also may be fewer black teachers because other professions have opened up to African Americans.</p><p>Dominic Belmonte, president and CEO of the Golden Apple Foundation, has another theory.</p><p>&ldquo;If you are a person of color with a 25 ACT and you&rsquo;re a high school senior, there are avenues for you that are everywhere that are saying come hither, come join us in law, come join us in business, come join us in finance where the ground will be padded down for you, where you can have internships,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;...and here we are in the teaching corner, saying, &lsquo;Come here where no one believes you&rsquo;re doing a good job. Come on over here where you are distrusted and belittled and maligned.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>At one point, approximately half of all black professionals across the country were teachers. In the era of Jim Crow, African Americans had to staff schools that were all black. Teaching became a pathway to the middle class.</p><p>Northwestern University sociologist Mary Pattillo says the decline of black teachers has consequences inside and outside the classroom.</p><p>&ldquo;When you have big teacher layoffs or you have a decline in the number of black teachers, that could destabilize some of the neighborhoods that are most well-known as Chicago&rsquo;s black middle-class neighborhoods -- places like Chatham and Pill Hill and parts of South Shore and parts of Auburn-Gresham, and those kind of neighborhoods could be negatively affected by declines in the teaching profession,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>For children, Pattillo said, the value of a teacher who looks like you can play into some of the most rigorous ways we measure teaching and learning.</p><p>&ldquo;The demographics of the teaching profession is very important. A number of studies have begun to show that having a teacher of one&rsquo;s own race can boost all kinds of education outcomes. Can boost scores on standardized tests, those kind of things,&rdquo; Pattillo said.</p><p>Second grade teacher Porter said she hasn&rsquo;t had honest conversations with teacher friends or colleagues about race in the classrooms.</p><p>&ldquo;Because most of my friends are African American, we don&rsquo;t talk about race as it relates to teaching and our decision to teach or even decision to leave the field. I think the decision for people to leave the field is not based on race. It&rsquo;s based on the conditions and things that have seemingly nothing to do with race but the political nature of it sometimes takes us back to race,&rdquo; Porter said.<br /><br />Circling back to race is common&mdash;and important&mdash;in a school system of mostly black and brown students.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Clarification:&nbsp;National Teachers Academy is a training school for teachers who go into turnaround schools.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. <a href="mailto:nmoore@wbez.org">nmoore@wbez.org</a>&nbsp;Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me">Google+</a>, &nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore">Twitter</a></em></p></p> Tue, 14 Jul 2015 13:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-are-there-fewer-black-teachers-cps-112385 CPS: School budgets reflect dire finances http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-school-budgets-reflect-dire-finances-112364 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/chicagoboardeducationseal.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools released budget information to principals today and it isn&rsquo;t pretty.</p><p dir="ltr">There are 654 schools in CPS and 416 will deal with smaller budgets, district officials said Monday.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;These are not the budgets we would like to be presenting, but they reflect the reality of where we are today,&rdquo; said interim schools chief Jesse Ruiz.</p><p dir="ltr">The cuts are driven almost exclusively by declining enrollment.</p><p dir="ltr">CPS is projecting it will enroll 812 fewer students this fall, as compared to last fall. Overall, that translates to $31 million less going directly to schools. But the cuts are not spread equally because enrollment patterns vary by neighborhood and school type.</p><p dir="ltr">The enrollment changes translate into money lost or gained. That&rsquo;s because CPS uses a &ldquo;student-based budgeting&rdquo; formula where money follows students.</p><p dir="ltr">Those amounts are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/cps-accounting-adjustment-will-increase-funding-schools-slightly-watchdog-warns-its">unchanged from last year</a>. Schools will get $4,697 for every kindergarten through third grade student; $4,390 for every fourth through eighth grade student; and $5,444 for every high school student. According to CPS officials, 238 schools will get more money.</p><p dir="ltr">Documents provided to reporters show overall spending is up in charter schools and alternative schools, and down in district-run schools. Much of that is due to the nature of how charter schools are approved and opened, adding new grades every year. A school-by-school breakdown of the budget cuts is <a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/School%20By%20School%20budgets.xlsx">available to download</a>.</p><p dir="ltr">All of the numbers released today, however, are just a small portion of the district&rsquo;s overall budget&mdash;$2.647 billion of a budget that in recent years, has been hovering around $6 billion.</p><p dir="ltr">Much of the remaining money&mdash;roughly $3.5 billion&mdash;is used on administration and other city-wide departments that still impact schools directly, like food service, cleaning services, college and career programs, school nurses and special education.</p><p dir="ltr">But a good chunk is spent paying down the district&rsquo;s ballooning debt payments and pension obligations. Those payments are devouring the revenues normally spent on running schools every day. Last year, CPS spent $1.24 billion on debt and pension payments&mdash;$603.8 million and $638 million, respectively.</p><p dir="ltr">Those debts will only continue to grow into the future.</p><p>&ldquo;In order to hold the student-based budgeting numbers steady, the overall school budget, which we will release later this summer, relies on either $500 million in pension relief from Springfield,&rdquo; Ruiz said. &ldquo;Or a mix of more borrowing or more cuts the second half of the coming school year.&rdquo;</p><p>Ruiz added that if Springfield fails to act, CPS schools could see additional cuts in the middle of the school year.</p><p><em>This story is developing.</em></p></p> Mon, 13 Jul 2015 12:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-school-budgets-reflect-dire-finances-112364 Tuition increases approved for Chicago's City Colleges http://www.wbez.org/news/tuition-increases-approved-chicagos-city-colleges-112348 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/8006734800_8aa94f0551_b.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr"><em>Updated July 9 at 4:30 p.m.</em></p><p dir="ltr">The cost of community college is going up in Chicago&mdash;especially for students who attend part-time.</p><p dir="ltr">City Colleges of Chicago is moving away from a pay-by-credit system to one that classifies students as full- or part-time or charges them $599 for a single course.</p><p dir="ltr">The flat-rate pricing would increase tuition on average by $225, but could be more for some students and less for others. The new prices go into effect this fall.</p><p dir="ltr">The Board of Trustees for the City Colleges of Chicago unanimously approved the changes on Thursday morning. Students and faculty were told about the new tuition amounts in an email late Tuesday, drawing criticism from the few who people signed up to speak.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You make this decision in the summertime, when a lot of people are on vacation and you know, sneak in an e-mail 1.5 days before the Board is set to vote on this? I call that wrong,&rdquo; said Jessi Choe, a humanities professor at Wilbur Wright College.</p><p dir="ltr">Choe also took issue with the fact that fall enrollment started months ago, calling the price increase a &ldquo;bait-and-switch.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t change the price of something after somebody has already agreed to pay it,&rdquo; Choe said in her testimony. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, also a former City Colleges student, said the financial burden is not lost on her. But she blamed Springfield for the uncertainty.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;When fall registration opened in April, we still did not have clarity on state funding plans, so we could not finalize, nor communicate a tuition change,&rdquo; Hyman said in her opening remarks. She did not take questions from reporters after the meeting.</p><p dir="ltr">The new rates will be: $1,753 for full-time students; $1,069 for part-time students; and $599 for a single course. The prices are still competitive compared to four-year universities and are still cheaper than if a Chicago resident were to attend a community college elsewhere. &nbsp;But compared to the cost of resident-tuition at other community colleges in the Chicago-area, the price is on par or now higher.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Even with this new plan, we still remain the lowest cost community college option for Chicagoans,&rdquo; Hyman said.</p><p dir="ltr">Hyman said the new &ldquo;flat-price&rdquo; tuition is designed to encourage students &ldquo;The new flat-price tuition structure is designed to encourage full-time status and faster completion for students,&rdquo; City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman said in a statement.</p><p dir="ltr">The email sent to students and faculty said that, based on the current average costs, the changes would mean students taking 15 credits would save $91 per semester, but for those taking 12 credits the cost would go up $286.</p><p dir="ltr">Part-time students take the biggest hit. Based on average costs, the email estimated a student taking two classes would pay $384 more. The cost of a single course doubles from around $300 per class to $599. A spokeswoman for City Colleges said 45 percent of students are considered part-time, 15 percent take just one course at a time, and 40 percent are full-time.</p><p dir="ltr">Mary Beth Nick, 56-year-old student who has taken community college classes on and off over the past several years, said people shouldn&rsquo;t be penalized for having &ldquo;complicated lives.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no acknowledgement that a lot of people simply can&rsquo;t (take classes full-time) because of job obligations, family obligations,&rdquo; Nick said.</p><p dir="ltr">Jennifer Alexander, a professor of child development at Daley College, said many of her students only take one or two classes at a time because they&rsquo;re also working as full time child care providers. She noted many have to take courses to be licensed to work for the Department of Children and Family Services.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Realistically, it would almost be impossible to ask them to take even 12 hours,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I can&rsquo;t imagine 15, while working full-time.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Alexander also said she worries what could happen to students who try to take 15 credits and then drop a class, adding that &ldquo;if you drop a class, it affects your financial aid for next semester.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Alexander is also the chair of the City Colleges of Chicago Faculty Council, but did not want to make any statements on the group&rsquo;s behalf because they just received the information and haven&rsquo;t had anytime to discuss it as a group.</p><p dir="ltr">Laurence Msall, president of the government watchdog Civic Federation, said his organization supports the proposed budget; he said it protects taxpayers by asking the people who use the service to pay, rather than request a property tax increase.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;However, in this case, the size of the tuition increase for certain students could precipitate a larger than projected decline in future enrollment,&rdquo; Msall said. &ldquo;You might have less students signing up to be full-time just because the communication has not been in advance of the registration.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Msall said City Colleges is right to show restraint in asking for more property tax revenue, noting that the City of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, and the Chicago Park District are all &ldquo;in an intense financial crisis.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 08 Jul 2015 18:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/tuition-increases-approved-chicagos-city-colleges-112348