CPS pay starts high, ends low

For seasoned veterans, most teaching jobs in the six-county region pay more than Chicago. For elementary teachers, the top of Chicago’s pay scale is below average, but for high school teachers, it’s bottom of the barrel. Only 3 percent of the region’s high school teaching jobs have a lower top salary than Chicago.

Principal training program scores average in placements

When LAUNCH was created five years ago, its aim was to invigorate public school leadership by cultivating a pool of highly qualified principal candidates. At the time, the program was unique for combining management training with education courses, and for requiring participants to complete full-time internships.

Smaller schools learn to live together

Subdividing South Shore into smaller learning units is part of the Chicago High School Redesign Initiative, which is also funding small school conversions at Bowen and Orr high schools. Grants from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a consortium of local funders are underwriting the $18.6 million effort.

New leaders on the rise

New Leaders for New Schools, a 2-year-old national training program for aspiring principals, started smaller than LAUNCH but posted similar results in placing its first crop of Chicago graduates.

More in the works

A pitch to create a Junior ROTC small school that was turned down previously is being recast this year as a School of Leadership. The plan calls for an integrated curriculum that combines political science, criminal justice and service learning with Junior ROTC training.

Comings & Goings

CPS is proposing to restructure Williams Elementary into a K-12 school to reopen in the fall and coverting Dodge Elementary into a teacher training academy. The proposal calls for the schools to partner with a number of outside experts, including Erikson Institute, Illinois Institute of Technology, National-Louis University and the Academy of Urban School Leadership.

Judge signals end of desegregation case

On Feb. 27, lawyers for the School Board and the U.S. Department of Justice will respond to a federal judge’s surprise announcement in early January that he was ready to pull the plug on the school system’s 22-year-old desegregation consent decree, which the judge called “passe.”

School of the Arts: Finding a way

Wednesdays are a mix of enrichment activities at South Shore. They include internships for juniors and academic tutoring for freshmen. There are also faculty-sponsored clubs—photography, journalism and graphic arts, for instance—and on-site arts workshops led by visiting artists from Muntu Dance Theater and ETA Creative Arts Foundation. (Gates money pays for the arts partnerships, after-school programs and art supplies.)

School of Entrepreneurship: A running start

In the fall of 2001, Gerstein launched a prototype of the program based in South Shore’s south building with 130 freshmen and 6 teachers. Gerstein says the school did well despite obstacles such as a lack of autonomy and not having separate space. “We couldn’t create our own school culture because we were in the middle of the general school population,” he says.

Funding reform is next battle for equity

Between 1980 and today, the percentage of white students enrolled in the Chicago Public Schools has dropped from 20 percent to less than 10, and they’re not sprinkled evenly throughout this far-flung district, making racial integration a pipe dream. And no one—Latino, African American or white—wants forced busing.

Lots of will, few ways to provide staff raises

Deborah Lynch, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says that when contract talks start with the Board of Education she will demand a pay increase that is higher than the “paltry” raises the union got the last time around. “We’ve made that promise to our members,” she says.

Salary reform a growing rumble

Chicago United, a business coalition that works on education issues, brought a leading expert and proponent, Allen Odden, to town several times that year and paved the way for a $50,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to Odden’s center at the University of Wisconsin to devise new pay alternatives for Chicago and Illinois.

CASE closed, new exam in the works

In December, CPS announced that it was dumping CASE, a group of standardized final exams in core subjects that were administered system-wide to 9th- and 10th-graders. Last fall, a group of social studies and English teachers from Curie High threatened to not give the tests this winter, complaining that the 4-year-old exams were poorly designed, disconnected from state standards and so time-consuming that they hampered instruction.

New leaders on the rise

New Leaders’ mission is to recruit former educators who wish to return to the field and train them to become certified principals. Among its graduates and current participants are a former mental health therapist, an education director for a non-profit policy group, a marketing manager and a game show producer.

Negotiating a new CTU contract

Under current revenue estimates, however, the Chicago Public Schools will take in substantially less money next year than it did this year. Due to state tax caps, property taxes are expected to rise $54 million at most. Meanwhile, the state budget crisis could spell a loss of as much as $335 million.

Who’s who on negotiating teams

James Franczek, who heads up a law firm dedicated to labor, employment and education law, is lead negotiator for CPS. He represented CPS in contract talks in 1985, 1995 and 1999, and currently represents the City of Chicago in its negotiations with police officers and firefighters.

Bad teachers not a contract issue

Much of the process for dismissing tenured teachers comes out of state law, which sets a higher standard for firing teachers than most other employers have to meet. A school district can’t just prove that a teacher’s work or conduct is bad. It has to prove that it is “irremediable,” or beyond help.

Class size reduction on back burner

Reducing class size limits by one student across the board would cost about $23.5 million, the same as a 1 percent pay hike, according to the School Board. However, the cost of additional reductions would accelerate, budget officials say, so that a five-student reduction-creating a ratio of 23-to-1 in most classes-would cost almost six times as much.

Keeping up with inflation

December 1998 – December
2002


Increase in consumer price index:

How teacher pay stacks up

The following are averages compiled by the U.S. Department of Labor in
October 2001 for jobs in the Chicago, Gary and Kenosha metropolitan areas.
Average CPS teacher pay is from the Illinois State Board of Education.

CPS Teacher Benefits

Beyond Salary

Insurance (health, dental, life)
CPS contribution
Individual coverage: $4,043
Family coverage: $4,661

Elsewhere in Illinois
Individual coverage: 152 of the 891 districts pay nothing toward individual coverage. In those that do, the amounts range from $8 to $9,640.