Dozens of principals quitting CPS, even from “plum schools”

Print More
CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, shown here at the January board meeting, says that "the longer Gov. Rauner stands in the way of equitably funding education, the more CPS will be at a competitive disadvantage for retaining our best principals and teachers."

CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, shown here at the January board meeting, says that "the longer Gov. Rauner stands in the way of equitably funding education, the more CPS will be at a competitive disadvantage for retaining our best principals and teachers."

Chicago Public Schools officials say 54 principals have resigned or retired so far this school year, the highest number in the past four years.

The number could go even higher as the school year comes to an end, given the looming threat of budget cuts and no end in sight to the financial impasse in Springfield.

Though district officials say the “retirement rates of both principals and teachers are in line with previous years,” they blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner for standing “in the way of equitably funding education.”

In a statement, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said that “the longer the Governor’s intransigence drags on, the more concerned we’ll become about potential losses” of principals and teachers.

But principals say that CPS is mostly to blame for the wave of departures, including those from prominent, well-regarded high schools such as Lane Tech, Lake View, Schurz and Foreman, as well as Palmer and Edison Park elementaries.

“They’re leaving what were considered plum schools,” says Clarice Berry, outgoing president of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association. “These are people with schools that at one time were the best of the best to have. When principals are walking away from those schools, you know there is trouble.”

(Editor’s note: A previous version of this graphic incorrectly showed 54 resignations and 21 retirements instead of 54 total departures. Catalyst regrets the error.)

Berry says she’s heard from several more principals who are thinking about submitting their resignation letters at the end of June.

A CPS spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about how many principals have completed the district’s eligibility process and are available to work next fall.

The high-profile departures come as CPS says it will expand its Independent Schools Program, which was started last fall to give top-performing principals more freedom and flexibility. On Monday, district officials said it would double the size of the program to 54 principals.

“It’s just like locking the barn door after the horses are gone,” says Berry. “Principals are beleaguered.”

Former Stevenson Elementary Principal Katherine Konopasek says she was turned down for the program last year and decided to take an early retirement in January. She’s one of 21 principals to retire so far this year.

“If they would have given me that independence that I deserved, I wouldn’t have left when I left,” says Konopasek, who had three years left on her contract at the top-rated school, which is on the Far Southwest Side.

Konopasek says the district has “devalued, demeaned and demoralized principals. They don’t support principals. They don’t listen to what principals know is best for their building.”

No support, no money, wasteful spending

Last fall, a survey from the Chicago Public Education Fund found that 40 percent of principals said they will look for a new job in the next three years.

More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they want to spend less time on compliance and paperwork, such as filling out forms related to teacher evaluations and completing data requests. Just 33 percent wanted an increase in pay.

Former Blaine Principal Troy LaRaviere, who is taking the helm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association next month, says principals are looking for jobs in districts where “the political leadership has demonstrated commitment to supporting schools and students.”

He says three interrelated factors are to blame. “We have a state that won’t pass a budget. If they do pass a budget, we have a [state] funding formula that is inadequate. If they correct the funding formula, you have a district that’s proven that it will spend money recklessly and wastefully… All three of those things have at some level or another created a degree of uncertainty and frustration among principals.”

It’s not just principals who are looking to leave CPS. At Orr High School, seven teachers have already announced they’re resigning at the end of the school year. That’s close to a third of the tiny school’s teaching staff, says Cy Hendrickson, an eight-year math teacher at the struggling Austin school. He says cuts to personnel and support services, including a clinical mental health counseling program, have made it an impossible environment to do well in.

Last week he decided to take a teaching job in Oak Park.

“One of the reasons I felt like I had to leave is I didn’t see it getting any better,” says Hendrickson, who worries about the students he’s leaving behind. “At least in the near to medium term I only see it getting worse. Even if [the district] keeps current per-student funding levels the same next year, that’s still way too few resources for a school like Orr.”

A CPS spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for details on the number of teacher retirements or resignations, although she said the retirement rate was similar to that of recent years.

 

  • Christopher Ball

    Do resignations include principals who resign from one school to take a job at another school or who resign and leave CPS?

    • No, it’s just people who have left the system

      • Concerned Parent

        There are principals leaving or wanting to leave their lower level scored CPS school to go to a higher level scored ones and/or to ones where parents who can raise money. However, CPS does not allow principals to transfer from 1 CPS school to another becasue of the principal evaluation system.

        Good principals are stuck.

        • Ari

          If good principals and teachers at “lower level” schools don’t move up they soon become “bad” despite the fact that they deal with 10 times more issues as their peers at the “plum” schools.

  • Northside

    CPS is having such a morale problem yet they still insist on Reach Evaluations, Reach student growth, ridiculous nwea growth requirements, ….the state passed new sweeping teacher regulations yet in the end it is CPS and the State that has done the most harm to students and schools. what a mess!!!! I think the entire teaching force at CPS needs to take a blue day….what a mess!!! Even if the state gets its act together…we still have to deal with the mess created by CPS!! now some of the same principals who graded teachers to the T on reach evaluations are jumping ship!

    • Ari

      “b’s”? Look, I’m pretty sure Catalyst won’t censor “butts”.

      That said, there are thousands of dedicated CPS teachers and principals who work their BUTTS off everyday who WILL NOT jump ship at the first opportunity like these resume-building phony “b’s”* who “lead” the “plum” schools.

      *baloneys

      • Concerned Parent

        40% said they will leave within 3 years. These are not phony people – these are people facing reality. This budget mess will cause principal and teacher evaluation to go down. Who wants that?

        • Ari

          It looks like the exodus is largely composed of young, white principals who spent very little time in the classroom and do not have roots in Chicago.

          I know plenty of principals and teachers- most of whom have roots in Chicago and experience- who plan to stay.

          If you signed on as a principal within the last 5 years and are now acting like you could not have foreseen doomsday, you are a liar.

          • Northside

            Hey lets not start on the WHITE thing? I have seen some Latino and African American job jumpers at CPS TOO!! But I agree …our principal said she was always motivated by the children…and she jumped ship at the first sign of trouble!!!!

  • Indianapolisisawsome

    Things are only going to get much worse across Illinois. You don’t have put up with this anymore though. The most stable, fiscally responsible, and more affordable city in America is only 3 hours away. Tens of thousands of Chicagoans have made the move to happiness, success, and a better life in the 2nd largest Midwestern city. Don’t be left behind and let your kids be held back in Chicago. #BetterLife #CapitalOfOpportunity

    • Northside

      Chicago has survived fires and a lot.worse
      We will.survive …but thanks for asking

      • Indianapolisisawsome

        Sure you will.
        Just ask Detroit how that worked out 🙂

        • Ari

          Naptown is a lot closer to Detroit than Chicago. I’m not talking as the crow flies either.

        • Dusty

          I like Detroit. In any event, Chicago’s economy is far more diverse than Detroit. Did you see McDonalds is moving downtown? See the record tourist numbers? Noticed the rebirth of craft-manufacturing growing up around the city?

          • Indianapolisisawsome

            You liking Detroit is all we needed to know.
            You won’t be taken seriously and your hot air will be ignored

          • Dusty

            I like Naptown too. Sort of an eternal optimist… its how I can teach in CPS and still love it! And to be clear, Lake St. Claire is a national treasure. Detroit will be back… just may take a while.

          • Indianapolisisawsome

            Theres a difference between being an optimist and just being plain Ignorant and oblivious to reality.
            Youll find out the hard way i guess when CPS shuts down and you are taxed into homelessness

          • Concerned Parent

            Alleged tourist numbers include those who pass through Ohare to get to another plane.

          • Dusty

            Indeed, but numbers of visitors to Navy Pier, Wrigley, Lolla Detroit Detroit never had. Besides, tourism is a tiny piece. The fact remains Chicago has a truly diverse economy of a kind Detroit did not. Comparisons are made to serve a political agenda only.

          • Concerned Parent

            Great principals, teachers are leaving CPS. THe middle class is leaving Chicago. The murder rate is becoming population control for the gangsters.

    • Ari

      Look, I’ve been to Naptown twice. First time I was pleasantly surprised, but awesome? C’mon, Indy does not fill one with awe. Lake Michigan? Sears Tower? Mag Mile? Museum Campus? Those are truly awesome. Monument Circle is cool. The Speedway was kind of dumpy to tell the truth.

    • Northside

      I dont find it very patriotic to wish ill of your fellow Americans….American needs strong cities everywhere …why are you so pessimistic and confrontational? Maybe you really don’t like America? I like Indianapolis a lot…I just dont know why you wish Chicago, a great city, so much ill will? And Detroit too??? All cities have their dark days…but when your fellow countrymen relish in your failures? I wonder what kind of country you really want?

      • Indianapolisisawsome

        Ill is only wished on cities that self inflict it.
        Chicago has nobody to blame for its decline and eventual death but itself.
        Who is responsible for destroying Chicago? The crooks and the citizens that re-elect them (Madigan for example)

    • Mary Nanninga

      I’m sorry to say this, but we just drove through Indianapolis two days ago (moving from Colorado to Maryland) and we were appalled at the rampant poverty and the shabbiness of that city. It was a real sewer. I would never move to Indianapolis. It was dirty and very, very poor. Nasty.

      Also, several Colorado teachers I know who did move to Indiana refuse to teach there because ed reform is so horrible there. Indiana is a horrible place to teach, and from the looks of it, live.

      Indianapolis is not awesome AT ALL. You’re welcome to it.

      • Indianapolisisawsome

        First of all you just drove through. You didn’t actually visit so you don’t have a credible opinion to offer and wouldn’t be taken seriously by anyone that’s somewhat Intelligent. 2nd dirty? Indianapolis is ranked as one of the cleanest big cities around. 3rd Rampart Poverty? Are you insane, paranoid, delusional or live on another planet? That statement is so far from the truth it really makes you look like a silly troll that has no idea what they are talking about. (Probably just fabricating a story to try and attack Indy but that won’t work)
        Finally enjoy Maryland. The traffic, high taxes, and soaring cost of living make the Paycheck to Paycheck lifestyle the standard there. We will enjoy the Middle Class Lifestyle in Indianapolis because we have higher standards 🙂

        • CPS

          Don’t you get it. Many negative stories are unfounded. Chicago and indy both have good things and they are home to many people. You can’t blame someone for living their hometown again why don’t you think of yourself of an American and be supportive of any American city. Would you really want everyone to be the same…that wouldn’t be very American

  • Rodney Estvan

    The resignations will likely go above the level of principals in the weeks to come.

  • Becky

    Genocide…kill the system financially so that only corporate money can save- and control everything.

    • Northside

      Seems to be the plan

    • Concerned Parent

      Rahm-Rauners pushes the poor and minorities out of the city-this backfires as the middle class leave the city.

  • Concerned Parent

    Does anyone see that this budget crisis, continued by Rahm-Rauner, is the conflagration that will close more CPS schools? They both win.

  • Ari

    CPS purged retirement-aged principals and replaced them with young, easily indoctrinated newbies like Grens and Anderson. Too many principals like these two have too little experience in teaching, education, the workplace, and in life to lead a school. It takes more than 3 or 4 years in a classroom to understand what works and what doesn’t. To make matters worse, many of them are not true stakeholders- they have shallow Chicago roots and as we see will leave with great speed as we have seen.

    The best option would be to hire experienced teachers who have shown 15-20 years of dedication to Chicago and CPS classrooms (best of all would be CPS products who have shown true buy-in) and have them serve at least 3-5 years as APs first. These individuals would have 10-15 years until retirement- plenty of experience, but not so close to retirement that they are just doing it for the pension boost.

    The truth is CPS fears these individuals who fit this demographic because they have knowledge and most often they actually care about their school’s future. The know-nothings at CPS HQ would have a difficult time pushing their edicts upon a group like this.

    • Northside

      HERE HERE!!! CPS never recruits its teachers. Every principal and VP we get is in CPS for like 2 years!! I agree 100 percent ari!! SO many of them came in..changed the entire culture and curriculum of our school…now they are running>>> I agree!!! So much for their child first “THANG”

  • Concerned Parent

    Great idea that would work. You face the reality that CPS will never do it. Another reason they won’t as Chicago universities have their talons and need money from students in their principal prep and doctoral programs. What a waste of time money and degree when it is true experience in this system that moves schools forward.

  • Northside

    Can I just ask a simple question. Why do people feel the right to criticize white people so much? I think it is very racist…I am sorry. I have argued before…But why do people feel it is ok??? Many white people dedicate their lives to education….to see comments like that are just as hurtful…especially when Catalyst never seems to censure these comments? Its no more hurtful than carrying on ridiculous comments about other minorities. This CPS thing is a MESS…but we have an African American President, a Jewish Mayor, just fired African American CEO now we have a White CEO…it is what I would call a Diverse Mess Every races color and creed has ruined our schools!!!

    • Ari

      Wealthy white people are the overdogs, not the underdogs. The people that pull the levers of power are mainly wealthy and white. School reformers, administrators, politicians, job-jumping principals, 1%ers etc are largely well-healed white people not from Chicago. As for racism, c’mon… don’t act like white people do not have inordinate power and privilege.

      It is relevant because these individuals, who are not true stakeholders, often paint themselves as the heroic saviors of poor black and brown children. Sure, there are some Black and Latino people on the wrong side of history here, but overwhelmingly the people who are destroying public education are upper crust and white and the people victimized are poor and black or brown.

      • Northside

        Well the definition of racism is to.based ones opinions based on skin color …I will accept wealthy white people as having power yes. But if you k ow your history many white people come.from oppressed backgrounds in Europe at the hands of whites. Just like Africa has oppressed its.own people .Im just saying it is hurtful when you simply use the word.white as if it is bad. Some are good some are nad. But please qualify it with rich white people at the very least. BTW some rich Latinos and black people have done some selfish things too I am sure

        • Dusty

          Nope, that prejudice. To “pre – judge” based on skin color.

    • Mary Nanninga

      As one white person to another–what you and I benefit from is called “white privilege.” It makes it harder to see the inequity and inequality, because it doesn’t affect us so much.

      Example: I swear to God that I really believed the Civil Rights Movement changed things, I really believed that (assuages white guilt). Then all these police shootings and murders of unarmed and homeless and mentally ill people BY THE POLICE, really, starting making the news and I am so, so ashamed to say that I never even knew it was going on.

      I was pulled over for a traffic violation. I got out of my car and argued with the officer and not only did I not get arrested (a black person probably would have gotten shot), I didn’t even get a ticket. THAT’S white privilege. It’s shameful.

      • Concerned Parent

        In CPS, the head education person, the head consultant to Claypool, the head of the Board, and chiefs- ARE African American. This is not a white issue, its a an issue of class.

        • Mary Nanninga

          That’s really beside the point. There’s a name black people give to other black people who jump in to further the white agenda.

          White privilege is very real and it exists in every single facet of our society, in every institution. Yes, it’s an issue of class, but to deny that it’s also an issue of race is incorrect.

          • Northside

            Not every white person is motivated by the “white agenda” this is very insulting those white people who give much to other races. Most of us are just trying to make a living. Also, to deny that their isn’t racism outside of white people is also very wrong. My wife who is Hispanic has been on the losing end of racist remarks from both whites and blacks. And Hispanics are also guilty as well!!

          • Concerned Parent

            Racism is not based on intention; it’s based on result.

          • CPS

            Please explain

      • CPS

        But this is a slippery slope. When people start basing opinions on skin color and assumptions we only continue racism. Hitler felt that there was a kind of Jewish privilege…and we all know that turned out very badly. I understand and I know my life is much easier due to being white
        However not all white people have privileged lives. I just don’t think the word white should be used almost in the pijorative. I think it’s a dangerous and slippery slope.

  • Concerned Parent

    Fact: Claypool has hard evidence of principal abuse by network cheifs. Has anyone of them been removed?

  • Dusty

    SBB SBB SBB! This budget cuts and its lasting effects are still not well understood.

    The huge spike in resignations occurred in light with the implementation of “student-based budgeting. (SBB)” This budget cut, framed as sending money directly to students as opposed to teachers, changes the funding system for teachers’ salaries. Previously to SBB, principals were given a number of positions and then empowered to seek out and retain the best teachers for their schools, their salaries were paid from downtown. Now principals are given an amount of dollars for each child and must direct funds to all sources in a school. This creates a situation where principals may have to choose between a science teacher and custodian. And it serves to reason that one major effect of SBB is that less experienced and less educated teachers are overvalued by principals as a veteran well educated teacher is further up the salary ladder. That less experienced teachers will have more discipline problems, struggle to be as effective, and a large number of them will quit before ever becoming effective seems to me to be a huge reason for frustration: A principal cant hire experienced teachers, but is continually struggling to prepare new teachers, most of whom will quit.

  • Concerned Parent

    2 more are saying goodbye. Central office losing good labor administrator. Hows the revolving door in the law ofgice?