Catalyst Chicago

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Independent reporting on urban education since 1990 2015-10-09T20:00:45Z
Updated: 2 hours 38 min ago

How Chicago Public Schools joined–and changed–the business of dropout recovery

October 9, 2015 - 3:00pm
Decades ago, Chicago Public Schools had no skin in the dropout recovery game. But in recent years the district has reshaped the landscape of programs serving young people who want to finish high school.

Take 5: Charter expansion, Roosevelt walkout, new school ratings

October 9, 2015 - 8:00am
Illinois recently won more than $42 million from the federal government for its plan to open 48 charter schools — with half in Chicago — over the next five years. Meanwhile, Illinois schools and districts will soon be rated on a new, 100-point scale and Roosevelt High School students are protesting budget cuts and staff layoffs, garnering support from other nearby neighborhood high schools.

Byrd-Bennett to plead guilty in kickback scheme

October 8, 2015 - 6:25pm
Former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett will plead guilty in a federal corruption case connected to the no-bid principal training contract for SUPES Academy. The federal case was launched as the result of a Catalyst investigation in 2013.

Feds indict Byrd-Bennett in SUPES corruption case

October 8, 2015 - 1:40pm
Federal prosecutors have charged former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett with taking bribes and kickbacks in connection with the no-bid principal training contract for SUPES Academy. The federal case was launched in the wake of a Catalyst investigation in 2013.

City Colleges consolidation stirs concern about enrollment in child development programs

October 6, 2015 - 5:21pm
City Colleges of Chicago leaders say a plan to consolidate the child development program at Truman College on the North Side will lead to higher-quality offerings and stronger partnerships with four-year schools. But early childhood experts fear the move will limit access for students on the South and West Sides of the city, blocking pipeline development for bilingual teachers and educators of color.

Though overshadowed, overcrowding still a problem

October 2, 2015 - 10:57pm
Although Chicago's public school enrollment continues to decline and many buildings are under capacity, overcrowding remains a problem on the Northwest and Southwest sides.

Take 5: Tense charter hearings, Dyett boundaries set, new preschool study

October 1, 2015 - 11:18am
Dueling student pep rallies set the stage for last night’s public hearing on the Noble charter network’s proposal to open a school in Brighton Park. Hundreds of students, parents and activists turned out in about equal numbers to show support or disapproval. Cops aggressively guarded the front doors of Central Office and physically moved people […]

Co-locations major theme in charter proposals

September 30, 2015 - 3:11pm
A dozen proposed new charter schools will be up for review at a public hearing tonight, and co-locations are one of the major themes. For example, a group that’s connected to the New Life Covenant Church in Grand Crossing wants to open a school for 7th- through 12th-graders inside of Hirsch Metro High School. The […]

Special ed cuts delayed amid sharp parent, teacher criticism

September 29, 2015 - 7:40pm
CPS officials said they wanted to clear up “misconceptions” about cuts to special education during Tuesday’s board meeting. But the opposite happened as parents, teachers and others repeatedly questioned the cash-strapped district’s ability to meet legal requirements for its most vulnerable students and railed against a new round of cuts unexpectedly announced last week.

Colleges team up to help early childhood workers get degrees

September 29, 2015 - 5:24pm
A federally funded grant program is helping two- and four-year colleges across Illinois team up to find ways to help early childhood education students complete their degrees — and gain the kind of specialized training that can help them become more effective teachers.

Neighborhood high schools hit hard by more enrollment losses, funding cuts

September 26, 2015 - 3:06pm
The district lost more than than 5,000 students this year, which is more than twice the projected number. Twenty-seven schools with lower-than-expected enrollment will now lose more than a half-million dollars on top of earlier budget cuts.

Can Jenner’s “terrific facility” and strong arts programs overcome its history?

September 25, 2015 - 3:00pm
Jenner Elementary has a large, relatively new building, strong arts programs--and a tragic history. All three elements are in play as the community develops a proposal to merge Jenner, whose enrollment is overwhelmingly poor, with Ogden Elementary on the Gold Coast.

Proposal eliminates some test scores from high school rating policy

September 25, 2015 - 10:10am
CPS is in a dispute with the testing company, ACT, over what officials say were compromised EXPLORE and PLAN tests last year. As a result, the district wants to modify the school rating policy that takes into account those assessments -- and make a slight tweak to teacher evaluations.

Take 5: Ogden-Jenner merger, teacher disparity, possible mandate relief

September 24, 2015 - 1:41pm
If Ogden International and Jenner Academy merge, it would be an historic, parent-led effort to integrate two starkly different North Side schools: one enrolls among the most affluent student bodies in the city, the other has been all black and all poor for decades.

School leadership key in attracting and keeping good teachers

September 22, 2015 - 11:06am
Good teachers can be hard to find and harder to keep, but some high-poverty schools do it. At a Catalyst Chicago forum on September 15, Harvard University Prof. Susan Moore Johnson explained how. She was joined by Elaine Allensworth of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research, Sarah Slavin of the Chicago New Teacher Center, and Donnell White, a Golden Apple Award winning math teacher. Here are some highlights from the event.

Most vulnerable students suspended most often

September 22, 2015 - 10:49am
A new report from the Consortium on Chicago Schools Research offers a sobering look at racial disparities in disciplinary actions at CPS high schools. Among the findings: 30 percent of high students with a documented history of being abused or neglected were suspended in the 2013-2014 school year.

Prominent arts and technology leaders to advise on reopening of Dyett High School

September 22, 2015 - 10:23am
Two expert committees focused on technology and the arts will advise on the reopening of Dyett High School — but the community activists who went on a hunger strike in support of the new school won't be among the advisors.

Chicago’s brand of teacher organizing goes viral

September 21, 2015 - 12:31pm
Seattle's recent teacher strike took pages from the Chicago playbook that spelled victory in 2012.

Take 5: PARCC scores, nurse issues, closer union ties

September 17, 2015 - 11:58am
Illinois released preliminary data for students who took a computer-based version of a new state standardized test. CPS revises its spending policy on food from outside vendors and some students go without nurses during their first week back at school.

Activists call for Noble to withdraw proposal

September 14, 2015 - 2:58pm
Community activists continued Monday to put pressure on Noble to withdraw a proposal to open a charter high school on the Southwest Side. At a meeting this weekend, the area's Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC) voted against the proposal.


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