Playing good cop, bad cop

Area Instructional Officer Olga La Luz conducts a walkthrough at Lowell Elementary.

Since the district hired area instructional officers in 2002, some parts of the city have made significant achievement gains while others still lag behind. AIOs with a winning track record let effective principals run with the ball, but provide strong support to those who need it.

Special ed cuts create a ‘bigger mess’

I appreciate your determination in broadcasting the plight of kids with special education needs. Your article “Leaving special ed kids behind” (October 2006) raises another wave of frustration—Chicago Public Schools is not supporting the needs of students with disabilities.

Comings and Goings

MOVING IN/ON Bindu Batchu, former campaign manager for A+ Illinois, an umbrella organization for advocates of education funding reform, is now the director of marketing and communications at the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, a non-profit focused on housing, health care and other needs of those living in poverty.

Toddlers get a sneak peek at school

Through a two-year-old program in Austin, children in home-based day-care now have the chance to get a preschool education they would not otherwise receive. Illinois Action for Children, a non-profit advocacy group that launched the program as a special initiative, is expanding it this year into Humboldt Park and Logan Square.

Building plan hinges on TIFs

Mayor Richard M. Daley’s ambitious $1 billion plan to build 24 new schools and overhaul three others inched forward in November when aldermen asked the City Council’s finance committee to consider a bond package worth up to $800 million.

What makes a good teacher?

Which teacher credentials make a difference in the classroom? It’s a research question with significance for districts who recruit teachers, for the principals who hire them and for a public concerned with teacher quality. Here is a round-up of local and national research on the characteristics that make a difference to student achievement.

Intensive academic care at Moos

Maria Cruz was thrilled when she became principal of Moos Elementary, but she knew that something needed to be done to boost students’ academic performance, especially in reading, and to get the school off probation, where it had landed the previous year. Effective, focused support from the area office helped.

Q&A with J. Brent Hanchey

Ninth-grade biology teacher Brent Hanchey loves the challenge of working at Jefferson Alternative High inside Cook County’s Juvenile Detention Center. Hanchey, who wrote his doctoral dissertation on the academic and social needs of incarcerated youth, recently won the U.S. Dept. of Education’s American Star of Teaching Award for using innovative instruction to raise student achievement. He talked with writer Tiffany Forte about the needs of incarcerated students and how schools can meet those needs.


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

Context for conversion

Chicago Public Schools is not the only district that is converting to a new student information system. Districts across the country are dumping outdated systems and adopting software better suited to collecting and analyzing data required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The law requires districts to report data such as race and special education status for individual students.