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.

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.

Kris Himebaugh, a 10th-grade English teacher and union delegate at Orr High School, says the social worker and the psychologist were laid off at her school.

Conversations with teachers: Discipline

Teachers say they have gotten the message that suspension should only be used as a last resort. They say they generally agree with that, but that they also need support from social workers, counselors and deans of discipline.

Pritzker Elementary School teacher Amy Rosenwasser speaks with other CPS educators during a recent roundtable discussion organized by Catalyst Chicago on August 19, 2014.

Conversations with teachers: Evaluations

Teachers are anxious about how their evaluations will go under the new CPS system based on observations and student growth. For the second part in our series, Conversations with Teachers, Catalyst asked how the new evaluation system is being rolled out.

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.

Dr. Akihiko Takahashi gives feedback to a group of math teachers presenting unit plans during the Lesson Study Alliance workshop at Dr. Jorge Prieto Math and Science Academy on Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014.

Teachers get creative to find time for professional development

With limited time and resources, many teachers say it’s harder to get access to good PD during the school year. That's why educators have to be creative to find and take advantage of opportunities, by applying for them over the summer and sharing with colleagues who don’t get to attend.

Shuttered schools may be turned into housing for teachers. Ward Elementary was part of the 2013 closings.

Big budget cuts hit high schools, welcoming schools

Schools that received students from closed schools are being hit with a double whammy: They no longer are getting extra money for the students who transitioned in, and they have far fewer students than originally projected.