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Independent reporting on urban education since 1990 2016-02-06T21:05:25Z
Updated: 34 min 23 sec ago

A black principal says what it takes to produce more black teachers

January 6, 2016 - 6:00am
Robert Croston, principal of Jenner Academy of the Arts, had only three black teachers from elementary school through college. Work to diversify the teacher workforce, he says, cannot wait until college and job fairs.

Independent institute would help recruit, train principals

January 4, 2016 - 7:08pm
A group put together by Chicago Public Schools is recommending the formation of an independent nonprofit that will focus on principal recruitment and training. But there's few details yet about who will run the nonprofit, how it will be funded and when its work will begin.

A day in the life of a veteran CPS principal

January 4, 2016 - 8:00am
On November 20, Dana Butler started his workday as a Chicago principal a little after 4 a.m., when he began checking text messages, emails and Twitter updates. Catalyst caught up with him several hours later and then shadowed him until he headed back home. Catalyst shares his long day at Ruiz Elementary School in Pilsen as the issue of principal leadership again takes the stage in CPS.

Q&A: Chair DeRonda Williams talks State Charter Commission

December 29, 2015 - 8:00am
DeRonda Williams is taking the head of the four-year-old State Charter School Commission at an interesting time: It is about to consider the first-ever appeal from an existing charter school slated for closure by its district. First up: Three Chicago charters. In a Q&A with Catalyst Associate Editor Kalyn Belsha, Williams talks about a wide range of issues, including misconceptions, racial diversity and the Concept Schools investigation.

Teacher tales: the sweet, the sad, the bad and more

December 27, 2015 - 6:00am
Welcome to a Catalyst Classroom Story Slam, where educators took the stage to share their experiences, insights and feelings about their work. Catalyst produced three slams as part of our year-long, 25th anniversary community engagement campaign. Watch performances from the final slam, held on June 19, the last day of school in Chicago.

Top 15 education stories of the year

December 23, 2015 - 6:00am
Hands down, the year’s biggest story was the indictment and guilty plea of former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett for fraud in connection with a $20 million contract with CPS. Beyond that, there was no shortage, frankly, of bad news -- 2015 was not a very good year.

Q&A: Jesse Ruiz talks about leadership, public service

December 21, 2015 - 11:39am
In a recent interview, outgoing CPS School Board member Jesse Ruiz shared his views on public service and why he thinks the Board should have discussions on agenda items into public. He also talks about the lack of Latino leadership in CPS and why it was important to call for an audit of services to English language learners.

School libraries a longstanding target for cuts

December 19, 2015 - 1:51pm
In Chicago, when school budgets tighten, school libraries typically take a hit. Under school-based budgeting, new mandates for gym and art draw on the same pot of money, putting an even greater squeeze on libraries.

Take 5: Charter closure missteps, pregnancy settlement, not enough librarians

December 17, 2015 - 11:27am
A CPS board member says that board members should have visited charter schools schools slated for closing before taking a vote to close them.  Meanwhile, CPS will make a settlement payment to eight teachers who claimed they faced discrimination after becoming pregnant.

In Illinois, rich districts get richer. That must stop.

December 16, 2015 - 10:23am
Noting recent academic gains, a CPS high school teacher takes the state to task over regressive school funding and takes CPS to task over what it plans to do if the state doesn’t provide more money.

Claypool proposes replacing pension ‘pickup’ with phased-in pay increases

December 15, 2015 - 4:51pm
Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool made the district’s latest contract offer public on Tuesday. CPS wants a four-year deal that phases out the so-called pension “pickup” but includes pay raises and a reduction in standardized testing, among other issues.

Chicago teachers overwhelmingly authorize a strike

December 14, 2015 - 12:45pm
The Chicago Teachers Union says 88 percent of its members voted in favor of authorizing a strike. Legally, the earliest a walkout can take place is late March.

1 in 10 CPS students a no show on PARCC

December 11, 2015 - 12:40pm
About one in 10 CPS students eligible to take the PARCC test skipped the exam this past spring. Officials say it's unclear what effect the opt-out movement had on student outcomes.

Detours on the road to a college degree

December 10, 2015 - 2:30pm
Catalyst revisits Breyana Floyd, who was profiled in our winter issue on college persistence. Like many first-generation, low-income college students of color, Breyana struggled financially and with feelings of not belonging on campus. In May she left Monmouth College and is now preparing to transfer into Roosevelt University in downtown Chicago, where she continues to have financial challenges.

Take 5: ‘Fixing’ CPS, strike vote, over-testing myth

December 10, 2015 - 12:39pm
The Chicago Teachers Union is in the midst of a three-day strike vote, while district leaders say the only ways to save CPS from financial trouble are a major funding overhaul from Springfield or a combination of layoffs and more debt.

Feds’ fix for failing schools falters

December 4, 2015 - 4:18pm
Federal School Improvement Grants sent big bucks to struggling schools in the hopes of making big improvements. For the most part, they were still too little too late.

Threatened with closure, ChicagoQuest drops “gaming” focus

December 4, 2015 - 4:17pm
The Chicago International Charter Schools board voted narrowly this week to keep its ChicagoQuest campus open, but to eliminate its seventh and eighth grades and modify its curriculum. Instead of having a focus on "game-like learning," which staff and administrators admit was never fully executed, the school will embrace a "college prep" theme.

Take 5: Strike vote set, fewer black teachers, major changes to federal law

December 3, 2015 - 1:58pm
The Chicago Teachers Union has scheduled a strike vote over three days next week. Meanwhile, some CPS charter schools slated for closure are considering appealing the district's decision to a state commission. And sweeping changes are likely on their way for No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law governing education.

Comings & Goings: Ostro, Hawley, Allen

December 2, 2015 - 10:58am
Chicago Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Ginger Ostro is leaving CPS to become executive director of Advance Illinois, while Theresa Hawley has stepped down from her position as executive director of the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development.

A surprise co-location among proposed ‘school actions’

December 1, 2015 - 8:25pm
Chicago Public Schools officials are proposing two school closures, two consolidations, two co-locations and one attendance boundary change for next school year. Most of the proposals had already been public knowledge, although a plan to co-locate three Little Village came as a surprise to some staff.

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