The Illinois State Charter School Commission, chaired by DeRonda Williams (center), met in mid-December.

Q&A: Chair DeRonda Williams talks State Charter Commission

DeRonda Williams is taking the head of the four-year-old State Charter School Commission at an interesting time: It is about to consider the first-ever appeal from an existing charter school slated for closure by its district. First up: Three Chicago charters. In a Q&A with Catalyst Associate Editor Kalyn Belsha, Williams talks about a wide range of issues, including misconceptions, racial diversity and the Concept Schools investigation.

File photo of Jesse Ruiz at the CPS board meeting on July 22, 2015.

Q&A: Jesse Ruiz talks about leadership, public service

In a recent interview, outgoing CPS School Board member Jesse Ruiz shared his views on public service and why he thinks the Board should discuss agenda items in public. He also talks about the lack of Latino leadership in CPS and why it was important to call for an audit of services to English language learners.

Catalyst caught up with Pedro Noguera, of the University of California, Los Angeles, in June at the University of Chicago’s Logan Center, where he took part in an education conference.

‘In decline since the ’70s’

In a wide-ranging interview earlier this summer for our 25th anniversary issue, Pedro Noguera, a leading national voice on urban education, told Catalyst that these days “education is largely reproducing the inequities in society.”

pension loose change

Q & A: Charles Burbridge, Chicago Teachers Pension Fund

The new executive director of the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund talks about the long history of pension woes, the impact of underfunding, and what he expects as the district’s payment deadline approaches.

Tony Smith

Q&A with ISBE’s Tony Smith

Tony Smith previously ran the school system in Oakland, Calif., and is the newly named state superintendent for Illinois. Melissa Sanchez talked to him about his vision for education, the role of testing, charters, finding teachers of color and whether CPS should declare bankruptcy.

Bill Milliken

Q&A with Bill Milliken

Communities In Schools bills itself as the country’s largest dropout
prevention organization and envisions schools as the center of a
community. Bill Milliken founded the organization more than 30 years
ago. On a recent visit to Chicago, he sat down with Catalyst Associate
Editor Sarah Karp and Consulting Editor Cindy Richards to talk about
his legacy.

Alan Anderson

Q&A with Alan Anderson

Next school year, CPS is taking a gamble that its “turnaround” strategy will transform six underperforming schools with new principals, teachers and curricula. Signaling that the strategy is here to stay, the district created the new turnarounds office, led by Anderson, a one-time engineer who joined CPS as a Broad Foundation fellow. Data and Research Editor John Myers sat down with Anderson to talk about the challenges ahead.