Choice at charter schools

Some jumped at the offer. According to CPS, the parents of 169 eligible charter school students—roughly 5 percent of the eligible charter school population—applied for transfers. Only 10 were approved. (Fewer seats were available to choice transfer students compared to a year ago.)

State’s largest charter expands with Gates grant

Northtown is the seventh campus to open under the charter held by the Chicago Charter School Foundation. It selected its 215 freshmen by lottery from 30 feeder elementary schools and filled out its sophomore through senior classes with 185 students from Good Counsel and the remaining 55 from high schools across the city.

Shock absorbers

The School Board is spending $3.2 million on the districtwide mentor program. (The previous administration reportedly kicked in the same amount.) However, there’s no money to hire substitute teachers to cover the mentors’ classes during training, let alone during the time they work with their charges.

Strike votes and what they’ve brought

Chicago Public Schools spending on health care rose from $192 million in 2001-02 to $223 million last school year, a 16-percent increase, according to a CPS spokesperson. The district paid 98 percent of both individual and family coverage. This year, costs are forecasted to rise another 15 percent.

Final tally

This month, the Illinois State Board of Education will issue school report cards that will include final test scores for the total population of each school and by student subgroup.

Friendships help charter tap into mountain of money

The $4 million Chicago International received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation arguably is a lot of cash, but it is only a pile of pennies in comparison to the mountain of money—nearly $2 billion—that the foundation has committed to educational reform since its inception in 1994.

Late hires miss out

Principals say late notice from retiring or transferring teachers sends them scrambling to fill vacancies as late as the first week of school. (A provision in the tentative new teacher contract would give retiring teachers a bonus if they notified the system in March.)

Technology boost

Principals can use the GOLDEN Teachers Online system to report pairings of mentors with first- and second-year teachers, and to monitor new teachers’ progress and interactions with mentors.

Learning the ropes

When veteran teachers were tapped to be lead mentors, one of their tasks was to create new teacher support plans at their schools. Most plans call for introducing new teachers to the staff, loading them up with supplies and other tools, and providing them with a school handbook. But some enterprising mentors and principals included novel ideas. Here are a few of them:

Undocumented valedictorian fights for law to ease college aid

DREAM stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors. Despite an impressive academic record at a Chicago public high school, Fernando has had to turn down many opportunities—among them a summer program at Harvard University and a four-year scholarship to Benedictine University in suburban Chicago—because he is ineligible for a Social Security number.

Even training by master teachers didn’t prepare Kyle Miller for year 1

Steadman, who has been teaching for six years, vividly remembers her first year. “I felt alone and isolated. I was an emotional wreck,” she recalls. “I took the entire summer after my first year to prepare myself for the next year. By my second year, I started helping new teachers any way I could because I know what I went through. That’s why I decided to mentor Kyle when I was asked.”

More new teachers leaving CPS

The Catalyst analysis found that 39 percent of teachers hired in 1998-99 left within five years, compared to 28 percent of teachers hired in 1993-94.

The increase was even more dramatic for teachers leaving within two years of being hired. Of the 2,475 teachers hired in 2001-02, 31 percent had left after a couple years. Of those hired in 1996-97, only 18 percent were gone within two years.

States mandate, pay for mentoring

Last spring, the Illinois State Board of Education recommended that legislators allocate $11 million to pay for a required two-year mentoring program for new teachers. (A law mandating the new teacher induction program was signed this summer.) But funding was cut in the final state budget.

Friendships help charter tap into mountain of money

The $4 million Chicago International received from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation arguably is a lot of cash, but it is only a pile of pennies in comparison to the mountain of money—nearly $2 billion—that the foundation has committed to educational reform since its inception in 1994.

Bill would help undocumented students get money for college

Since school districts are barred from asking students about immigration status, there is no solid count on the number in Chicago who might benefit from the act. A study by the Center for Urban Economic Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago suggests that about 20,000 undocumented high school students live in Chicago, and that roughly 3,500 of them graduated from high schools last June.

Comings & Goings

Peggy Davis, chief of staff to CEO Arne Duncan, has resigned to return to Winston & Strawn, the Chicago law firm where she previously was partner. A replacement has not been named. … Alfred Williams of the Office of Accountability has been named director of a new program to help struggling students make the transition to high school.

Management groups

American
Quality Schools

Bucktown
2235 N. Hamilton
Year opened: 1997
Grades: K-8
Enrollment: 655

Prairie
11530 S. Prairie
Year opened: 1999
Grades: K-8

Charter Schools

School
NCLB status
% who met state standards