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Outgoing Mazany releases education blueprint for Chicago schools

Chicago schools should spend less time getting students ready to take standardized tests and more time teaching. That’s one of the conclusions of a new education plan released Thursday by outgoing Chicago schools CEO Terry Mazany.

Mazany’s education blueprint talks in lofty terms about goals few would take issue with: creating “powerful and creative thinkers” and “responsible global citizens."

To get there the blueprint recommends CPS ramp up standards and help teachers teach at higher levels.  It finds the district needs to completely re-examine its testing and grading policies. And, the report says, CPS must improve its hiring practice at all levels.

"At the end of the day it’s about providing highly trained teachers in every classroom and highly effective principal-leaders in every school," Mazany said. He said the district must also "broaden out beyond the subjects that are tested by standardized tests--in fact to embrace a comprehensive curriculum that includes the arts and social science and a full measure of science as well as physical education."

The education plan calls for bolstering Chicago’s neighborhood schools. That hasn’t been Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel’s emphasis. Emanuel has pointed to charter schools and more school choice as a path to improving the system.

Mazany made the drafting of an education plan one of the key goals of his short tenure; he assisted then-schools CEO Arne Duncan in writing the district's last education plan in 2002.

Mazany said he'll be sharing the education plan with the city's incoming schools chief, Jean-Claude Brizard. He said the new blueprint establishes a "framework of values" to guide the district thought budget decisions, though the document doesn't highlight any specific areas for reductions. The district faces a budget deficit of more than $700 million.

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