Q&A with Greg Washington

Are activists satisfied with CPS’ response to their concerns?

They should stop implementation of the plans until they can engage the community more meaningfully.


A collection of facts, figures, and news briefs about school reform—both in Chicago and around the country

A new breed of teachers

In March, Chicago Public School officials predicted that a third of new teachers for the coming 2004-05 school year would be hired from alternative certification programs, a figure that CPS said would be more than double the number hired from such programs in 2003-04.

Board closes 8 child-parent centers, converts some to Head Start

CPS officials say the move to convert child-parent centers or pre-kindergartens or Head Starts will free up $4.7 million in federal Title 1 funds for the district’s reading improvement initiative. Critics charge the district is penny pinching a high-quality, nationally-recognized preschool program.

Early college gives a leg up for the job market

Secondary schools have long offered courses that count for both high school and college credit. A cutting-edge extension of this practice is early college high school, where students simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an associate’s degree.

No bells, no classes, no letter grades

In August, a third Big Picture-inspired school, City as Classroom Charter School in Pilsen, opened its doors. Founder Lisa Arrastia notes the school will borrow heavily from that model—”We’re doing the long-term internships and the projects”—but will also take cues from progressive, independent schools like Francis W. Parker, where she formerly worked.

Teach for America on hot seat

Fewer than half of the teachers hired in Chicago Public Schools through the national program Teach for America stay on the job for three years, the commitment required of teachers in other alternative certification programs.

Tips for parents

To find out if your child’s school is required to offer tutoring, contact the school or call the CPS Office of After School and Community Programs at (773) 553 3590.

Research summary

WHO CONDUCTED IT: Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform, in collaboration with Patricia Burch, assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison and James Spillane, associate professor, Northwestern University.

Advantage Academy

Advantage Academy*

3300 N. Campbell

Enrollment: 125 juniors

Opened: July 2003

*Classified as a branch program of Lane Technical High School

Chipping away LSCs

In June, Mayor Richard M. Daley announced a plan to create 100 new schools—a mix of charter, contract and small schools that are not required to seat elected councils. Under the Chicago School Reform Act, councils have legal authority to hire principals, and set priorities for spending discretionary funds and for their schools’ improvement plan.

Experience helps career-changers reach Manley students

To help new teachers develop classroom management skills, Manley began a program last year in which veteran staff show newcomers what to expect by role-playing as problem students. The veterans chew gum in class, talk back to the new teachers and turn their backs on them while they talk. To defuse situations, teachers may learn to ask a disruptive student to step out in the hall for a talk or use other methods to defuse situations.

CPS alternative certification programs

The alternative certification programs CPS works with are geared primarily toward career-changers who teach while taking education coursework at local colleges and universities. The schools also enroll candidates who are not planning to work in Chicago.

No consensus on pros, cons

Research on whether teachers from alternative programs help or hurt student achievement is inconclusive. But some educators charge that such programs often put under-prepared novices in the most challenging schools.

Four schools on new course

Remember the good old days of high school? Cliffs Notes, study hall, doodling while the geometry teacher droned on about congruent triangles. How about wading through a sea of hundreds, or even thousands, of students seven periods each day to get to class on time?

New leadership shifts union focus

With the new leadership finally in control of the Chicago Teachers Union, a wave of political firings leaves in doubt where the union stands on teacher leadership in school reform.

Comings & Goings

William Ayers, a professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the founder of the Small Schools Workshop, has written a new book, Teaching toward Freedom: Moral Commitment and Ethical Action in the Classroom.