WebExtra: Deja vu all over again?

A major overhaul of school funding appears off the table once again as lawmakers move into an overtime session. Political manuevering over a potential freeze on electricity rates has kept one proposal out of the Senate. Democrats now need GOP support to get more money for schools.

WebExtra: McMagnet schools for Chicago?

Posted June 18, 2007– CEO Arne Duncan is floating the idea of “franchising” Chicago’s stellar schools, but the concept is in its infancy and no one knows exactly how it would work.

Shortest day in CPS

Chicago students spend less time in the classroom than children in any of the five largest urban districts in the country, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality. Chicago teachers’ daily pay, however, is relatively high. The council has developed an online tool that compares teachers’ union contracts in the 50 largest urban districts.

Going to the head of the class

Click here to complete the survey.

Sumner Elementary, built in 1948, now shares space with KIPP Ascend Charter—and has a somewhat rocky relationship. A Catalyst analysis confirms what critics of Renaissance 2010 suspect: New schools are ahead of others for capital projects. Yet charter advocates say they need more help, not less, to find adequate facilities. Is CPS playing politics or creating more school options?

College-going rates inch higher

Slightly more Chicago Public Schools graduates enrolled in college over the past two years, and a dozen high schools with college coaches have done a bit better than most. Of the 12 schools with coaches, seven had a higher-than-average percentage of graduates who went to college. Five showed gains that exceeded 9 points.

Reform groups deserve credit

Your March 2007 article on the demise of two school advocacy groups—Cross City Campaign for Urban School Reform and Neighborhood Capital Budget Group (NCBG)—fails to acknowledge their many accomplishments and unfairly paints them (and surviving groups such as PURE) as negatively “stuck on governance,” and not “results-oriented.” It seems to embrace a limited vision for school improvement which has little objective support.

Equity and transparency elusive

You don’t have to go far to find someone, some group, some leader who is skeptical or openly critical of Mayor Daley’s plan to close a slew of the city’s low-performing public schools and open 100 new ones. Ever since Renaissance 2010 was announced three years ago, it’s been dissected, analyzed and, always, challenged.


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

Q&A with David Roche

Arts programs don’t magically raise test scores, but they can level the playing field for kids of differing academic abilities and teach students skills, like the ability to work cooperatively, that transfer to other life situations, says David Roche, who talked with writer Rebecca Harris about the importance of arts education.

Comings and Goings

AT CLARK STREET M. Hill Hammock, retired chief operating officer for LaSalle Bank, has been appointed chief administrative officer, replacing David Vitale. Hammock will be responsible for all non-educational activities, including finance, real estate, technology, and support services. Unlike Vitale, who earned a token salary of $1 a year, Hammock’s salary will be $170,000. Vitale will remain as a senior advisor to CEO Arne Duncan.

Less stress, higher performance

A research project on school readiness tests a theory: Addressing young children’s—and their teachers’—social and emotional needs would pay off down the road in higher academic performance.

Turning school systems upside down

On April 10, Dennis Doyle, an assistant superintendent in California’s largest elementary school district, and David Vitale, formerly chief administrative officer for the Chicago Public Schools, described their respective districts’ efforts to empower and support schools to do what is best for their students and communities. The following are edited highlights of their remarks, which were delivered as part of the 2007 Chicago Schools Policy Luncheon Series, “Making School Autonomy Work for Children.”

What coaches do

Anthony Downing, young and energetic, has no problem working weekends, evenings and summers to push and cajole Schurz High School students to go to college. Downing is exactly what CPS officials were looking for when they posted jobs for college coaches: someone who has worked with teenagers and knows the logistics of getting them into college, yet is less costly than a certified guidance counselor.

Buildings earn a grade of C+

School districts across the country are facing pressure to improve classroom performance under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but are giving short shrift to problems like bad lighting or poorly heated classrooms that can affect learning, says a spokesman for the American Federation of Teachers.

Unsafe and unhealthy?

After complaints were filed by the Chicago Teachers Union with the Illinois Department of Labor, these schools were cited in 2006 for having unsafe and unhealthy working conditions. Many of the problems are in the process of being repaired, union officials say.