Archives for category: Chicago

Troy LaRaviere, head of the Chicago Principals’ Association, writes that school officials adjusted the scores of Chicago charter schools to make it appear that they made bigger gains than originally reported.

The original data showed that students in public schools were. Performing better than their peers in charter school.

(Read Peter Greene here on this shenanigan.)

This is a small part of Laraviere’s findings:

“Our findings were published in a Chicago Sun-Times Op-Ed. In addition, the Sun-Times published its own independent analysis, which affirmed our findings. Our analysis was based on a file containing the school level results of the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) assessment. This file was released by the CPS Office of Accountability in early August. That original file is no longer available on the Office of Accountability website. At some point between the publication of our findings and the release of school ratings, CPS removed the original file containing school growth data and replaced it with a different version. There are no indications or acknowledgements on the site that the data in the file has been changed.

“Fortunately, we saved the original version.

“An analysis of both versions indicates massive changes were made to the student growth data for charter schools at some point during the last few months as CPS delayed the release of school quality ratings.


“We found these changes led to certain schools appearing to have greater academic growth by lowering the average pretest scores while leaving the posttest scores as they were. For other schools, the changes raised the pretest scores and once again left the posttest scores as they were, giving the impression of less student growth.

“The changes were made to the data for nearly every charter school while affecting less than 20 public schools. Charter school scores were changed by more than 50 percentile points in some cases while most of the public school changes were 2 points or less.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reported the story. LaRaviere said to the Sun-Times:

““In a system based on ‘choice,’ parents and other stakeholders must be provided with accurate indicators of school quality. [CPS’ ratings system] cannot serve this purpose if there are clouds of suspicion about tampering with the data used to determine these ratings,” LaRaviere said in an email.”

In this post, EduShyster asks a question that more and more people are beginning to ask: Why don’t poor minority students get to have public schools?


There was much celebration and anticipation when the state announced it was building a new high-tech STEM school in the Boston neighborhood of Roxbury called The Dearborn STEM Academy.


She writes:


Now if by chance you’ve yet to watch any of this season of As the School Turns: $70 Million Dollar Listing, here’s what you’ve missed so far. Things got off to a rousing start with the news that, after seven long seasons, the Dearborn STEM Academy was FINALLY going to get a brand new building. That sound you hear is the studio audience applauding wildly. You see, this was to be the first new public school building in Boston in more than a decade and would feature all sorts of cool STEM stuff, like state-of-the-art science, technology and engineering labs. This wasn’t just a feel good story, viewer, it was a feel great story as the $70 million project symbolized a major investment in Roxbury and in the future scientists, engineers and STEM-sters who live and go to school there.


But then the authorities decided it would not be a neighborhood public school but a citywide charter school. When there was strong negative reaction from the public, the city determined that the school would not be a charter but would be run by a private operator. EduShyster was suddenly reminded of what happened in Chicago:


If by chance you happen to be viewing this show from, say, Chicago, you’re probably feeling like this is a repeat. You see, on Chicago’s South Side a very similar battle has been playing out over the future of Dyett High School, the last open-enrollment high school in Bronzeville. After the Chicago Public Schools announced plans to close the school, students, parents and community leaders fought back, putting forward their own story line: for a community-based plan to make Dyett a neighborhood STEM school. And just like in Boston, officials in Chicago blinked. Dyett can stay open, but there’s a catch: a private operator will be brought in to run the school. Community organizer Jitu Brown—take it away. *Why can’t we have public schools? Why do low-income minority students need to have their schools run by private contractors?* As Brown sees it, handing the school to a private operator isn’t much better than closing it. *We want this school to anchor the community for the next 75 years. We’re not interested in a short-term contract that can be broken.*


That was not the conversation in Boston. The city is going to pick one of two finalists to run the $70 million school, both private contractors. Did anyone mention the word “privatization”?

Read the rest of this entry »

Clarice Berry, president of the Chicago Principals Association, told a hearing of the City Council Education Committee that she was “terrified” of what would happen when the snows began, given the general disorder and incompetence associated with privatization of custodial services in the public schools. The city administration awarded a $340 million contract to Aramark, which proceeded to lay off numerous custodians.


“Let’s talk about staffing. That is horrific. A school with 900 kids with one custodian in the daytime? We have to collect breakfast. I’ve got assistant principals who are emptying garbage. I ‘ve got all kinds of situations. You cannot run a school with 900, 1,000 or 1,300 kids with one custodian in the morning and one at night. Just last week, we were told some of custodial issues will be taken care of. However, going from one custodian to two or from one to 1.5 is not gonna fix the problem.”


Berry then zeroed in on a four-letter word that sends chills down the spines of Chicago politicians: S-N-O-W.


“I am terrified. We have not had our first major snow in Chicago. What do we do when we’ve got one custodian servicing 900 kids, 12 inches of snow outside, salt that needs to be thrown out, hallways that need to be mopped so people don’t slip, garbage to be taken out, lunch rooms to be cleaned, toilets to be washed out with one, 1 1/2 or two custodians?” Berry said.


“You need bodies in a school…That [equipment] is wonderful if you’ve got a one-story school. But how do you get many hundred-pound equipment up to the third-floor? Most of our schools don’t have elevators…There are no mops, no buckets in the schools anymore. And we keep hearing, `You don’t need those mops and buckets.’ You need `em if you can’t get the equipment to the third floor. You need to have more people in a building.”

Why do so many people find it so hard to tell the truth in the face of injustice? That’s easy: they are afraid. Afraid of being fired, afraid of being ostracized, afraid of standing alone.

More interesting to ask is why some people are fearless. Why are they willing to fight when others silently support them but remain silent?

Troy LaRaviere is unafraid. He is a champion for students. He is a principal of an Elentary school in Chicago who speaks truth to power. In this post, he is interviewed by EduShyster.

Here is his answer to one of her questions:

“The MO of this administration has been to take services that the public pays for and benefits from and hand them over to a private corporation that benefits from our loss. You know, I used to wonder why Emanuel left the White House to come to Chicago. I thought *he must really love it here to leave the White House to come and be mayor.* I didn’t get the trade off, but now I get it. If you want to rob a bank and rob it blind, what better way to do it than become the bank president and have the authority to create contractual relationships to direct the flow of tax revenue from services that benefit the people to schemes that enrich private corporations? And not just the billions of taxpayer dollars, but using the power of the city’s name to borrow additional dollars that we’re going to have to pay back to venture capitalists, vulture capitalists and corporate CEOs?”

LaRaviere has spoken out repeatedly on the failure if corporate education reform. He published an article recently showing that the public schools in Chicago outperform the charter schools. Time and again, he has lambasted budget cuts and privatization.

This principled principal deserves to be on the honor roll as a hero of American education.

This mom in Chicago opted her child out of the state tests. She remembered that when she was in school, there were a few standardized tests, and they were about her growth. Now the tests are pervasive, and constantly comparing her child to other children. She decided to opt out.

“When I look at my kids’ progress reports and academic records, the picture is a bit more murky. Which is surprising. It should be more clear than something that happened 30-20 years ago. And yet, my childrens’ academic records are numerical to the extreme. ISAT score: number. NWEA score: number ranges. STEP level: number. Selective Enrollment score: number. These numbers can be useful. But they are, for the most part, comparative.

“They tell me less about how my kids are doing as they do about how my kids are doing compared to everyone else. Do my children know more than the average American 6th, 4th, and 2nd graders? Yes. But what does this mean for them and their future success? I cannot answer that. And neither, really, as far as I can see, do the test results.

“If test results in 3rd grade are prescriptive of future life success, why not just sort them all out then and be done with it immediately? “O brave new world, That has such people in’t!”

“Yeah, no. That is, fortunately, not yet how it works in this world.

“Instead, (two of) my children will take the PARCC assessment this year. I took the sample assessment for ELA for 3rd grade. It is hard. I remember taking the ACT in 1991 as a high school junior, and I think the types of reading comprehension questions I answered then were easier than the exercises that the PARCC asks 8- and 9-year-olds to complete. If my conclusion, based on this exercise, is that I am dumber than the average 8-year-old, I can only imagine the effect such tests will have on the average 8-year-old. And I’m not the only adult struggling with the PARCC practice exam. And we’re only parents. At least one school board is also struggling with the validity and need for administering the PARCC.”

Will she subject her children to nine hours of PARCC testing?

Let’s hope not.

Karen Lewis, speaking to members of the Chicago Teachers Union by video, endorsed Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for Mayor. She also urged members to vote for Governor Pat Quinn, who is running against billionaire Bruce Rauner. Karen, who is recuperating from major surgery, was wearing a turban and speaking strongly. She looked beautiful.

Amy B. Dean explains why the inability of Karen Lewis to oppose Rahm Emanuel due to her health is a huge loss, not only on a personal level to all those who love and admire her, but because she was a threat to the Democratic political establishment that has severed its ties with the labor movement. Once upon a time, there was a coalition of Democrats, labor unions, and civil rights groups. The rise of the business-minded politicians like Rahm Emanuel, Dannel Malloy, and Andrew Cuomo has shattered that coalition. Such right-of-center politicians rely on Wall Street and corporations for the campaign funds they need, and they actively fight labor unions. Karen Lewis would have revived the sturdy progressive coalition that once commanded American politics. Will there be others to take her place?

Chicago Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett wants to delay the adoption of the PARCC test for Common Core.


“”At present, too many questions remain about PARCC to know how this new test provides more for teachers, students, parents and principals than we are already providing through our current assessment strategies,” Byrd-Bennett said.


“Her request comes amid rising concerns over new tests based on more rigorous Common Core standards. Critics have questioned the cost of the new exams, the quantity and time involved in testing, and the loss of local power over standards and testing.”


States and districts in PARCC are expected to set aside 9-11 hours for PARCC testing, which must be done online (the same for the other federal testing consortium), with costs that are expected into the billions across the nation.


Stephanie Simon of Politico sees Chicago’s step back from PARCC as part of a growing national revolt that is now reaching into districts, even the one most closely associated with Arne Duncan. Defenders of the tests express concern that the revolt could catch fire (note: it already has).


Valerie Strauss writes on The Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post that the federally-funded PARCC consortium might be in big trouble. It initially had 26 states signed up. The number has dwindled to 12 plus DC.


These tests, Arne a Duncan predicted in 2010, when he paid $360 million for them, would be “an absolute game-changer.” What he calls a “game-changer” looks more and more every day like a card game of 52 Pick-Up or an amusement park ride called “Wreck-EM cars.” Unfortunately, it is not a card game or an amusement park that he is toying with, it is our nation’s system of public education.

Education activist Mike Klonsky reminds everyone that what Karen Lewis wanted most was to drive Rahm Emanuel out of power. Her friends must now unite to realize her goal.

He brings news of a new study by Myron Orfield showing that charters in Chicago are intensifying segregation.

And he reminds us that Arne Duncan supported Indiana’s Tea Party Governor Mitch Daniels. Add him to a long list of anti-public school figures that Arne has praised, including John White in Louisiana and Hanna Skandera in Néw Mexico.


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