More master teachers in poorest communities

Print More

As Mayor Richard M. Daley ups the ante on the number of master teachers—he pledges Chicago Public Schools will have 2,400 by 2011—more nationally certified teachers are trickling into communities that previously had none.

Two years ago, a Catalyst Chicago analysis found that 18 communities in the city—half of them African-American with below-average family incomes—had no teachers who had earned National Board Certification, the profession’s highest credential. (Catalyst, December 2004.) Since then, 10 of those communities have at least one master teacher working in public schools there.

Two are among the neediest. In Oakland, one master teacher is working at the University of Chicago’s year-old Donoghue charter school. In Riverdale, where the Altgeld Gardens public housing development is based, Carver Primary has one master teacher among its faculty and another who is attempting the year-long process to earn the certification.

Other areas that have recently snared master teachers are Armour Square, Ashburn, Beverly, Jefferson Park, McKinley Park, Montclare, South Deering and Washington Heights.

However, in Washington Park, where the median household income is just over $15,000 a year, board-certified teachers remain elusive. Four schools in the area each have one teacher trying to earn the certification.

Others also still without nationally certified teachers include 33 schools in these communities: Calumet Heights, Forest Glen, Fuller Park, Greater Grand Crossing, Hermosa, O’Hare and Pullman.

All but one, however, have teachers in the national certification pipeline. Greater Grand Crossing and Pullman each have six teachers who have applied; Fuller Park and Washington Park each have four. Overall, 25 teachers from these areas hope to become National Board-certified.

So far, the Chicago Public Education Fund, which spearheaded the effort to cultivate more master teachers and place them in the neediest schools, has invested $3.2 million in the effort and has allocated $3 million more for 2008 candidates.

Today, Chicago Public Schools has 474 teachers who have been certified by the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, and another 394 have applied and are awaiting results which will be announced this month.

CPS has already invested $4.6 million to back its master teacher efforts, but it will cost at least twice that amount to produce enough successful candidates to meet the mayor’s goal.

Intern Jenny Celander contributed