Take 5: Budget cuts, teachers of color, no bank claim

Print More
Fiske Elementary School 2012 file photo

Catalyst file photo

More than eight in 10 CPS students are black or Latino, but the percentage of black teachers has fallen over time and the addition of Latino teachers hasn't kept up with the growing Latino student body.

A closer look at school budgets released earlier this week shows that while losses for the coming school year were spread relatively evenly across the city, neighborhood schools with mostly black students, high levels of poverty or large numbers of English-language learners were more likely to see steep declines, as were schools that ranked in the lowest category under CPS’s  school performance measurement system.

And while charter schools generally saw funding gains, those on the North Side were more likely to see a higher boost than those on the South and West sides.

A Catalyst analysis of school budgets for the coming year and demographic and school rating data from this school year, found that the median loss in a school budget for all types of schools was 1.9 percent. Schools that scored a Level 3, the lowest on CPS’s rating scale for school performance, saw a median loss of 7.9 percent, while Level 2 schools saw a 3.7-percent drop. Level 1+ schools, the highest-rated, saw budget losses on par with those seen across the city at all schools.

Among charter and contract schools — not including alternative schools — North Side schools saw a median gain of 3.0 percent in their budgets over last year, while South Side charters saw a 1.9-percent boost and West Side charters saw a 0.3-percent increase.

Mostly black schools and mostly poor neighborhood schools — those with 95 percent or more of those populations — saw, respectively, a median 4.7-percent decline and a 3.9-percent decline. Neighborhood schools where at least one-third of students are working to master English saw a median 3.0-percent drop in their budgets.

2. Black and Latino teachers … WBEZ reports that the number of Latino teachers in CPS is creeping upward, while the number of black teachers continues to decline and, compared to a decade ago, many more schools employ not a single black teacher. Overall, the teaching force has become whiter — and is less experienced — at a time when more than eight in 10 students are black or Latino.

Black teachers have fallen from 40 percent of CPS teachers to 23 percent over the last decade and a half, and 50 schools now have no black teachers, up from 10 a decade ago. CPS says the percentage of Latino teachers has grown to 19 percent, while the number of Latino students has grown to 46 percent.

WBEZ found discrepancies in  reports on the number of CPS Latino teachers but says: “No matter the data source, one thing is true: Latino teachers are the minority among CPS teachers and their growth is not keeping pace with the rapidly growing Latino student population.”

A handful of organizations, like the community-based Grow Your Own and Noble Network of Charter Schools, recently launched teacher residency programs to help recruit more teachers of color, but there’s still concern that too few candidates are passing the basic skills test needed to obtain a state teaching license, and that too much emphasis is placed on entry into the teaching pool at the expense of support and development for those candidates.

3. Lost opportunity?… In other parts of the country, investment banks have paid government entities millions of dollars to settle claims that they did not sufficiently warn the agencies about the risks of the auction-rate bond market.

But CPS, which issued more of these risky auction-rate securities than any other school district in the country, won’t be getting a nickel, the Tribune reports. That’s because it didn’t pursue a claim before a legal deadline. District officials even acknowledged that “they don’t know whether CPS ever explored the option of filing a claim.”

The Tribune notes that filing a claim against banks doesn’t ensure CPS would recoup anything, although most other places that have done so have been successful. And while the “few million dollars” CPS could potentially stand to get back would address only a small portion of the budget gap, every dollar counts: “For example, the school district recently decided to save $3.2 million by cutting off coaching stipends for sports teams at the district’s elementary schools in the coming school year,” the Tribune notes.

4. Secret UNO payment … When United Neighborhood Organization CEO Juan Rangel left the beleaguered organization in the midst of a corruption scandal, he didn’t walk out empty-handed. Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihalopoulos, whose dogged reporting on the organization and its charter school network has led to multiple investigations, says Rangel got paid an extra $206,250 after he left amidst revelations that UNO had dealt millions of dollars in state grants to construction companies owned by the brothers of a top UNO executive.

The payout deal also gave Rangel health insurance for six months if he promised not to sue the charter school network. Perhaps the most troubling part of Mihalopoulous’ story is how long UNO fought to keep him from obtaining the records to get the story: more than a year. UNO’s board chairman Freddy Santiago says “the severance with Juan Rangel, while unfortunate, was necessary and not out of line with the practice of private and other nonprofit organizations with regard to CEO packages.”

5. Apprenticeships up … Apprenticeship programs are on the rise in the United States for the first time since 2007 and may offer a path to the middle class without the financial burden of a traditional college, the New York Times reports. In an age where a college graduate can face on average of more than $30,000 of debt, the opportunity to gain a hands-on, debt-free education is becoming more appealing nationwide, despite data showing college graduates are earning much more over a lifetime.

Chicago has had an apprenticeship program for four years. In 2011, the district partnered with the non-profit Spark and now provides vocational training to about 300 students in 10 schools. Spark reports that 95 percent of its students end middle school on track to graduate high school, compared to just over 70 percent district-wide.

  • Northside

    While they are at it. Also see why MALES are such a low number in Elementary schools! this is a huge problem and insult to ALL male teachers…

    • Karma

      You said it North side! Many students need to see a stable man in the classroom for a change. Too many of them raised by just mama or grandma. If they don’t respect these women at home why would female schoolteachers get a pass?

  • Concerned Parent

    Time to close the networks – why do level 1 and 1+ schools need networks?
    Also, remove the high cost of M. Winston to tax payers and to students. Why should we not believe that her All School Fall is there to help pay her salary?

  • Concerned Parent

    LSCs -do NOT approve your school’s terrible budgets! Send it back to CPS, telling them to give your school the funds needed to serve your students!
    Catalyst – are you using Mondays budgets or the ones that were further lowered a few days ago?

  • Concerned Parent

    CPS had independent traditional schools before. There are schools now that are NOT part of a network. Stop cutting the classrooms and cut/consolidate the networks. Hope this new CEdO has guts even though she was a chief.

    • Karma

      Why aren’t Lewis and Sharkey asking the right question. Why haven’t the Network Chiefs been laid off? Since Rahm and CPS are crying poor, eliminate these overpaid bureaucrats.

  • Karma

    WBEZ determined what black teachers already know. The number of black teachers has declined,the veteran tenured ones were targeted for layoffs by a good number of self-hating black principals who were SO eager to please downtown to save themselves.

  • Karma

    I am so glad that Troy LaRaviere spoke up at the budget presentation for Principals. Everyone of those Principals should have followed his lead. However, they won’t. They’re scared they will lose their jobs. If CPS gets desperate enough, the 6 figure salaries will be taken from them too. Now roundtable and small group that discussion!

  • Karma

    Why isn’t the Hispanic Caucus raising the roof about Rangel and the severance he received from UNO? Why is UNO making it so hard to get information about their organization?

  • pepjrp

    Take 5: Budget cuts, teachers of color, no bank claim

    What a racist title!!! “teachers of color”? Really? We all have color, white, black or brown. WE all know that racism exists, but you hope not to read it online. The term is offensive as it tries to unite blacks and Hispanics against whites, while implying that something is different about whites, since they have no color…. according to the many users of this derogatory term.

    Racism is alive and well in Chicago.