Emanuel’s transition plan for education

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Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief executive officers were given broad
directives of what he wanted to see happen with the school
system—mostly, that he wanted it to improve.

Incoming Mayor Rahm Emanuel apparently will take a different approach.
On Tuesday, he presented a transition plan that detailed exactly what
people can expect to see in the first 100 days and in his first term.

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s chief executive officers were given broad directives of what he wanted to see happen with the school system—mostly, that he wanted it to improve.

Incoming Mayor Rahm Emanuel apparently will take a different approach. On Tuesday, he presented a transition plan that detailed exactly what people can expect to see in the first 100 days and in his first term.

The education portion of the plan was prepared in tandem with the education transition team that Emanuel named shortly after his election. Along with previously-emphasized goals like an increase classroom time and more parent empowerment, Emanuel is promising to:

•    Create a new Chicago Leadership Academy. The academy will be responsible for working with principal preparation programs to revamp the principal eligibility process. That process has already undergone two overhauls in recent years, making it more difficult to win a spot on the eligibility list.

•    Implement a teacher evaluation system that will ultimately recognize teachers who are performing well (i.e. performance pay). In line with what the state plans to require by 2018

teacher evaluations will be linked to teacher training programs and will be used to judge which ones are doing a better job preparing teachers. 

•    Support immigrants by establishing an Office for New Americans. The Office of New Americans will help immigrants locate scholarships and financial aid to pay for college. It also will get businesses to contribute to a revolving loan fund that can be accessed by immigrants, especially those who are undocumented and don’t qualify for government aid.

•    A task force on early childhood education to make policy recommendations and match dollars with more quality programs.

•    The development of a school facilities plan for the 2012-13 school year. A proposed state law that would require the district to come up with a plan or forego future capital spending dollars has apparently died in the Legislature.

•    A communications kit for parents that grades a school based on “school improvement and organization, school safety, student attendance, staff attendance, graduation rate, and entry of students into post-secondary education.”

•    The use of privately raised funds to form the Chicago Education Innovation Fund, a Race to the Top-style program which awards dollars to innovative schools.

Though ambitious, the report also takes note of the difficult budget challenge facing CPS. It notes that “A growing budget gap, which will leave the public schools more than $700 million short in their next budget, dramatically complicates the search for solutions.”