Left out of the mix, so far

As the district prepares for the second year of its ambitious High School Transformation project, an important piece is just now getting attention: How to teach special education students and English-language learners the new curricula.

Peer mentors for all?

Posted July 12, 2007– Just one year in, an experiment with a new form of teacher evaluation is so far meeting union demands for fairness and the school district’s need to dismiss ineffective teachers. Peer evaluation and mentoring is a cornerstone of the teacher-led turnaround of eight “Fresh Start” schools.

WebExtra: Teacher evaluations linked to contract talks

Posted July 12, 2007– Teachers don’t like it. Principals rush through it. Schools CEO Arne Duncan says it’s ineffective. Yet Chicago Public Schools’ version of teacher evaluation persists as little more than busy work, having resisted reforms dating back to the 1980s. But a fix may be finally at hand, now that a joint district-CTU committee is rekindling plans for better teacher assessments, offering a salve for a scrap over new teachers’ job security.

Comings and Goings

MOVING IN/ON Charles Payne, a leading scholar in research on urban school reform and social inequality, has been named the Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. He will also serve as a member of the university’s Committee on Education. Payne most recently was a professor of history and African-American studies at Duke University and was previously on the faculty at Northwestern University.

Special attention

High school transformation officials are in the beginning stages of figuring out how to use the program to improve academic achievement for students with disabilities and for those in bilingual classes.


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

Firings unfair to rookie teachers

When the Chicago Board of Education announced that 775 probationary teachers would be let go, the general impression was that these individuals were unworthy and inept. While some of these teachers apparently lacked adequate skills in classroom management, many others were unjustly sacrificed and deserved a better fate.

Union label for CPS parents?

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The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is poised to go after a new organizing target: parents. In June, SEIU officials from Chicago visited Los Angeles, where parents who had already organized under the banner of a widely-known charter operator joined forces with the union earlier this year. In Chicago, the union’s efforts are still in the beginning stages.

Q&A with Errol Stone

Instead of a courtroom or Loop high-rise, Errol Stone now spends most of his workday in classrooms and hallways at Legacy Charter in North Lawndale, the school launched in 2005 by law firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal to commemorate its centennial. Sonnenschein pledged to spend $1 million to get Legacy off the ground; now, Stone says, the firm plans to put an additional $3 million toward construction of a new building for the school. Stone, a managing partner with the firm, talked with Deputy Editor Lorraine Forte about the rewards and challenges of starting a school from scratch.