Probation chugs along, real work to come

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Mayoral pep talk

In early December, principals on probation complained that they were summoned to a gathering at the Chicago Cultural Center with only a few days notice.

The event brought the principals together with central office staff, external partners, probation managers and Mayor Richard M. Daley.

“On Dec. 3, I got an invitation, which was more like a summons, to show up at this thing on Dec. 6 and 7,” complained one principal. “Talk about giving people enough notice: If you had something planned that weekend, you’d just have to cancel. And once you got there, you had to sign in and sign out as if they were afraid you were going to slip out.”

Still, principals were able to meet their probation managers, and some schools without approved external partners got a chance to shop for one.

Susan Milojevic, principal at Riis Elementary on the Near West Side, selected two candidates. As the holiday break drew near, however, only one had invited her for a visit. “The other group said they’d call to present themselves to our faculty, but I haven’t heard from them,” she reported then.

But by Dec. 27, Riis had been paired with Northeastern Illinois University. Riis has long had other external partners, including the Comer School Development Program and the Executive Service Corps., but Milojevic says the board insisted on an “academic type.”

By Jan. 15, all but three of the 109 schools on probation had external partners.

Commotion over orders

On Dec. 6, principals were told they had to write and submit a corrective action plan for their schools by Jan. 13.

Many principals took that to mean they had to rewrite their school improvement plans. “If we’re writing a 50-page document, we can’t possibly get it done,” said one. Added another: “We’ll get it done, but the ink won’t be dry by the 13th.”

As it turned out, the Office of Accountability had something else in mind. “We asked schools to look at their own assessments and the recommendations made by the assessment teams that visited them in November, and change the things that could be changed quickly without disrupting their educational program,” says Intervention Director Philip Hansen.

The “real work” for schools will come in February through April, when schools will write their school improvement plans for the 1997-98 school year, he adds.

By the end of December, schools appeared to be clear on what they were supposed to do, according to Hansen. Even so, only 25 made the deadline, and the rest were granted an extension to Jan. 21.

Workshops to the rescue

Both the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association and the Local School Council Summit Coalition, comprised of a number of reform groups, conducted probation workshops.

Anna Correa, former Stockton Elementary principal who is now on staff at the administrators’ group, reports that many principals didn’t receive their assessment reports until mid-December and were frantic.

“Some of them were freaking out,” she says, so the association put together four workshops on corrective action plans and related topics, like teacher evaluations. The Office of Accountability was on hand to assist schools with individual plans, telling them whether they were going in the right direction or needed to make changes.

Says Correa, “They liked that it was a neutral setting and that they could get help as well as network with colleagues and share experiences.”

The association plans to hold another workshop on Feb. 19 at the Union League Club. For more information, call the association at (312) 263-7767.

Meanwhile, the Local School Council Summit Coalition held three daylong workshops for local school councils of schools on probation. The group includes the Chicago Association of Local School Councils, Designs for Change, the Lawyers’ School Reform Advisory Project, Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE) and the Teachers’ Task Force.

“We talked to a lot of local school council members who didn’t know what was going on, so we held these workshops,” says Robin Scott, a senior policy associate with Designs for Change.

Additional workshops have been scheduled for Feb. 3 and 10. To make a reservation, call Malcolm Vivian, (312) 857-9292.

Bobby Rush steps in

Word is U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush was outraged when he discovered that most of the schools placed on probation and remediation were African-American schools. Thirty-five schools in Rush’s lst Congressional District are either on probation or remediation.

“That represents 25 percent of all the schools in our district,” says Bess Bezrrgan, Rush’s press secretary.

So, the congressman created the Principals Council of the lst Congressional District so that principals could meet and talk about their concerns. On Jan. 13, about a dozen principals and the congressman took those concerns to Chief Executive Officer Paul Vallas.

Bezrrgan says the group told Vallas they were “very upset” about the board using one test to select schools for remediation last year and then switching without notice to another test to select schools for probation this year—”especially since so many of them had been raising their students’ IGAP scores,” says Bezrrgan. (See Catalyst, November 1996.)

“And they also felt that the [school] assessments were unfair and inaccurate,” she says. “For instance, they told him that some teams that visited high schools had elementary school teachers on them.”

Asked what the group intends to go, Bezrrgan answers: “We’re deciding what action to take next.”

Recruiting operations managers

In late January, 18 principals interviewed candidates for school operations manager at their schools.

“All of them have master’s degrees or more,” says Hansen. “Some of them are young, in mid-level positions. Some of them were teachers who went on to business. And many of them were in upper-level management positions, but they wanted to change careers or were downsized by their companies.”

The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, IBM and the Financial Research and Advisory Committee (FRAC) were involved in drawing up job descriptions and recruiting.

The operations managers will be senior administrators at their schools, with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $90,000, according to Hansen. He adds that they will not be paid more than their principals and will report to their principals. At one time, Vallas had the reverse arrangement in mind, according to several sources.

“They will assist the principal. The principal is still in charge of the school,” says Hansen.

The operations managers are to deal with maintenance, rehab, lunchrooms, transportation, internal accounts, accounting and other support functions, thus freeing principals to concentrate on teaching and learning.

Probation managers

Seventy-six probation managers have been selected to work with schools on academic probation. The managers will review the schools’ current conditions, help develop modified school improvement plans for the 1997-98 school year and monitor progress in implementing the plans.

Each will work with a probation team consisting of the principal, an external partner, a business manager and a local school council member.

The probation managers include 31 Chicago Public School (CPS) principals, 16 CPS administrators in central or regional offices, 13 external specialists, 12 former CPS administrators and 4 principals of non-public schools.

In addition, at Catalyst press time, a probation manager was being sought for Bethune, which was originally paired with renowned educator Marva Collins. However, Bethune’s principal said the school preferred Barbara Sizemore’s School Achievement Structure Program.

Also, two parochial school principals recruited for probation manager, Bonnie Veth of Santa Maria Addolorata School and Sr. Betty Smigla of St. Mark’s School, resigned, saying the job was too time consuming.

Probation managers will be paid $5,000 to $10,000 and will receive another $10,000 per school for additional resources.

Here are the assignments, with the probation school printed in bold. Some schools have more than one manager.

Current principals

Thomas Avery of Carnegie, Fiske; Ethel Collier of Burnside, Carver Middle; James Cosme of Otis, Byford; Joan Crisler of Dixon,Tilton and Chalmers; Irene DaMota of Whittier, Morse; Cydney Fields of Ray, Penn; Linda Ford of Brownell, Roque de DuPrey; Albert Foster of Metcalfe, Kohn; Fannie Gibson of Mays, Sherman; Betty Green of Herzl, Parkman; Elaine Hall of J. Robinson, Einstein.

Deborah Hammond of Poe, Sumner; John Hawkins of Woodson South, Donoghue; Eva Helwing of Inter-American, Jungman; Mahalia Hines of Hope, Attucks; Mary Hudson of Grissom, Overton; Johnetta James of Kilmer, McCorkle; Margaret Lalley of Dawes, McNair and Hensen; Sandra Lewis of H. Washington, Ross; Madeleine Maraldi of Irving, McAuliffe; Karen Morris of Saucedo, Cather; James Murray of Joplin, Yale.

Lillian Nash of Goldblatt, Grant; Mary Ann Pollett of Montefiore, Suder; Marcey Reyes of Seward, Cardenas; Reynes Reyes of Brentano, Morton; Victor Tochwish of Bright, Raymond; Domingo Trujillo of Whitney, Piccolo; Barbara Valerious of Chicago Ag High, Harlan High; Inez Walton of Morgan, Fuller; Theodore Washington of Randolph, Doolittle Primary.

Current CPS administrators

Carlos Azcoita, director of school and community relations, Farragut High and Hammond Elementary; Clifford Burgess, director of the Chicago Systemic Initiative, Byrd and Von Humboldt; Powhatan Collins, officer of high school restructuring, Richards and Tilden high schools; Audrey Cooper-Stanton, regional administrator, Calhoun North and Faraday; Robert Deckinga, a principal mentor in the Office of Accountability, Lathrop and Smyth.

Leonard Dominguez, policy director, Clemente High and Cameron and Layfayette elementary; Lula Ford, head of school leadership development, DuSable High and Colman, Farren, Hartigan and Terrell elementary schools (also, co-manager at McCorkle); John Frantz, director of teacher accountability, Medill Intermediate and Libby; Ascencion Juarez, director of compensation and employee relations, Salazar Bilingual; Andrea Kerr, director of curriculum and instruction, Burke and Williams.

Beverly LaCoste, who served briefly as director of high school restructuring, Collins High; Rudy Lubov, director of literacy programs, Wright; Eva Nickolich, regional officer, Schurz High; Walter Pilditch, principal mentor in the Office of Accountability, Foreman High; Rodolfo Serna, director of school council relations, Juarez High; Lynn St. James, chief education officer, Dunbar High.

External specialists

Donald Anderson, director of local school council training for the University of Illinois at Chicago and a member of design teams for the Total Quality Schools Project of the J. L. Kellogg School of Management, Carver Middle.

Merle Audette, formerly associate superintendent of school operations and associate superintendent of finance and personnel in the Edmonton (Canada) Public Schools, Douglass Middle and Chalmers.

Nathaniel Blackman, consultant and former principal of Cook County Jail School, Carver, Orr and South Shore high schools.

Robert Brazil, director of the Paideia Institute of Hyde Park and former principal of Sullivan High, Calumet and Manley high schools and Carver Elementary.

David Green, senior research scientist at the Institute for Education and Social Policy, New York University and former principal accountability consultant to the Illinois State Board of Education, Chase.

Patricia Kubistal, consultant with the Retired Professional Service Corps, Roosevelt High.

Laura Murray, superintendent of Homewood-Flossmoor Community High School District, Corliss High.

Gloria Nowlin, retired high school principal in Rochester, N.Y., where she led a pilot participation in the New Standards Project and helped set up several school-to-work programs, Fenger High and Bass Elementary.

Sharron Oleson, professor of education, Arkansas State University, Nash and L. Ward.

John Porter, senior associate at the National Center on Education and the Economy and former school administrator, Gage Park High.

Barbara Sizemore, dean of the DePaul University School of Education, Near North and Westinghouse high schools. Her School Achievement Structure program is in many other probation schools.

Don Assheton-Smith, retired associate superintendent of the Edmonton (Canada) Public Schools, Senn High and Sherwood Elementary.

Beverly Tunney, president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, Medill Primary.

Former CPS administrators

Marjorie Branch, former deputy superintendent, academic support services, Brown and Dodge. Daniel Breen, advisory council member of Teachers Academy for Mathematics and Science and former principal of J. Ward, Paderewski.

William Finch, former assistant superintendent for curriculum and former district superintendent, King and Phillips high.

Frank Gardner, former district superintendent and president of the Chicago Board of Education, currently coordinator of the School Success Program at Roosevelt University, Harper High and Henderson.

McNair Grant, Sr., president of the consulting firm I Had a Dream Inc. and former associate superintendent for funded programs, Hirsh and Wells high schools and Fulton and Johns elementary schools.

James Maloney, consultant to the Chicago School Reform Board and former district superintendent and executive deputy superintendent, Kelly High.

Ollie McLemore, assistant director of the School Achievement Structure, DePaul University, and former principal of Beasley Magnet, Howland and Lewis.

Jack Mitchell, director of the Chicago Forum for School Change and former district and field superintendent, Robeson High.

James Moore, member of the Retired Principals Services Corps. and former district superintendent, Bowen High.

Jo Ann Roberts, superintendent of Hazel Crest School District and former deputy superintendent, Riis.

Robert Saddler, former deputy superintendent for school operations and former district superintendent, Crane, Englewood and Marshall high schools.

Bernard Spillman, field director of the School Change and Inquiry Program of the MacArthur Foundation and former assistant superintendent for academic and vocational instructional support, Chase.

Non-public school administrators

Paul Adams of Providence-St. Mel, Austin and Flower high schools; Fr. Robert Carroll of Carmel High School, Amundsen High; Marva Collins of Westside Preparatory School, Beidler, Pope and McNair; Fr. Peter Heidenrich of St. Benedict High, Kelvyn Park High; Patricia Jones, principal of St. Agnes of Bohemia School, Cardenas.

Other:

Consortium to survey schools again

This month, the Consortium on Chicago School Research will conduct a new series of surveys aimed at determining how Chicago’s public schools may have improved over time. All teachers, principals and 6th-, 8th- and 10th-graders will be asked to participate.

The surveys will examine six areas: the organizational structure of the school, human resources, instructional quality, social support for learning, parent involvement and community resources, and student experiences and attitudes towards schooling.

Schools that participate will receive reports showing how their results compare with those for the city as a whole and with those of similar schools.

The Consortium includes researchers from universities, the school system and advocacy groups. For more information, contact Kay Kirkpatrick at (773) 702-5428.