Thank you for printing an excerpt of Catalyst Chicago’s interview with me in your September issue. You continue to shed valuable light on the issues of teacher quality that are central to The New Teacher Project’s mission.
One aspect of our conversation that did not come across clearly in the printed interview is the extraordinary progress Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has made in recent years on teacher hiring and transfer.
Chicago is one of a handful of districts in the country that has eliminated forced teacher placement, which results in dissatisfaction among teachers and principals alike. In Chicago, a teacher is placed at a school only when the teacher and principal both agree. As a result, Chicago teachers are happier with the transfer process than teachers in any other district TNTP has studied. It is a great credit to the collaboration between CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union, and an example for other districts to follow.
Likewise, Chicago deserves praise for its efforts to improve new teacher hiring. In the last few years, CPS has increased the size of its applicant pool and the rigor of its selection process. In 2006, just 12 percent of candidates received positions. The Chicago Teaching Fellows program (which is run in partnership with TNTP) is attracting hundreds of career changers to teach high-need subjects like math, science and bilingual education.
School districts are too often criticized for their shortcomings and too rarely praised for taking courageous steps to address the real and complex problems they face. Clearly there remains much work to do in Chicago on issues like teacher evaluation. But as we think about school districts that are earnestly engaged in the hard work of improving teacher quality, it is obvious that CPS is among the leaders.
Timothy Daly, president
The New Teacher Project