Adding preschool slots has been one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s main education initiatives. His plan to offer "universal" access to preschool is, in actuality, just for low-income families in Chicago. [Photo by Emily Jan]

When ‘universal preschool’ is not universal

Politicians and advocates alike have seized on research that says early childhood education offers lasting dividends — as well as on the political expediency of promising a benefit to every voter. As they have, the meaning of “universal” preschool has become, well, not so universal.

Photo by Grace Donnelly

From classroom to City Council?

More than a half-dozen educators are running for aldermanic seats in next year’s city elections. It’s a sign of the times: the Chicago Teachers Union now considers itself a “social movement” union concerned with equity and economic justice throughout communities, not just in schools.

Jamie Cordes, a ninth- and 10th-grade English teacher at Noble Street College Prep, talks

Conversations with teachers: Budgets

Teachers, even the one from Noble Street, say they are still dealing with not having enough for basics, such as gym, art and needed supplies. They also say they don’t blame their principals for the shortfall, but rather the way schools are funded in Illinois.

Teachers Jamie Cordes (Noble Street College Prep) and Kris Himebaugh (Orr High School) talk about testing during a roundtable discussion hosted by Catalyst Chicago on August 19, 2014.

Conversations with teachers: Testing

Teachers tell Catalyst Chicago they’re tired of giving out so many tests. During a recent roundtable discussion, CPS educators shared their concerns about assessments, debated the usefulness of computer-based individualized learning programs and asked what the best yardstick is for measuring student growth.