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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
Contrary to claims published by Catalyst in the November article “Child Welfare Rx Has Side Effects for School,” abused and neglected children in the care of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are neither clustered in a small number of Chicago public schools, nor present in sufficient numbers to impact school performance.
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’ 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.
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.
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.
|December 1998 – December
Increase in consumer price index: