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.)
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.
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.
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:
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.
Early this summer, when teacher contract talks were in the early stages, the Chicago Teachers Union released the findings of a study it had commissioned to find out why teachers leave CPS. Respondents, who tended to be older and more experienced members of the profession, pointed strongly to lack of principal support, particularly when related to student discipline.
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.”
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.
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.
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.