Catalyst Chicago

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Independent reporting on urban education since 1990 2015-11-26T02:00:52Z
Updated: 14 min 42 sec ago

Shortage of certified bilingual teachers at root of struggle to serve English learners

August 28, 2015 - 3:00pm
A longstanding shortage of certified bilingual teachers lies at the root of Chicago's long-running struggle to meet the needs of English-language learners.

Rauner’s child care rules could be devastating: parents, providers

August 27, 2015 - 4:26pm
Under emergency child care rules imposed July 1 by Gov. Bruce Rauner, Lenita Edgeworth has a  difficult choice. She can keep her $16,800 a year job and keep receiving day care assistance for her daughter, Ellie. Or she can pursue her goal of returning to social service work and hope and pray she doesn’t get laid off again, as that would likely spell the end of child care help.

Take 5: Budget passes, discipline bill signed, principal independence

August 27, 2015 - 11:00am
CPS passes a $5.7 billion operating budget that has been called a "financially risky, short-sighted proposal," while Gov. Bruce Rauner signs off on a bill that seeks to curb excessive disciplinary practices at schools.

Two School Board members press for resolution of Dyett High controversy

August 26, 2015 - 10:13pm
On the 10th day of a hunger strike led by supporters of reopening Dyett High School, two Board of Education members pressed for a speedy resolution to the ongoing controversy.

A cost effective way to improve teaching

August 26, 2015 - 3:57pm
CPS teacher DeJernet Farder says most professional development activities are no more than random acts of school improvement. To save money and improve teaching, CPS should, for starters, talk with teachers about what they and what their schools need.

Bilingual services audit tackles long-standing problem

August 25, 2015 - 4:01pm
CPS officials are preparing to launch an all-school audit of English-learner services in the fall. A recent state audit of 22 schools provides a preview: Many of the compliance issues facing the district are the same ones that have plagued it for decades: inadequate programming and instructional materials for students learning English.

Why I’m hunger striking for Dyett High School

August 24, 2015 - 5:32pm
Jeanette Taylor-Ramann has served on the Mollison Elementary Local School Council since she was 19, a total 21 years. Here she shares experiences that led her to join a hunger strike to get School Board action on a plan to overhaul the neighborhood high school, Dyett.

Azcoitia offers principles for School Board action

August 21, 2015 - 4:43pm
Former School Board member Carlos Azcoitia offers some rules of the road, including “Our role is not to support the administration or the political establishment or to represent a single constituency.”

College admission: the wax and wane of the ACT

August 21, 2015 - 3:00pm
Over the last 15 years, Chicago has shifted its focus on college readiness away from ACT test preparation toward better advising for first-generation applicants. The shift is intended to help more students make it to the finish line: a bachelor's degree.

Take 5: Vaughn cuts, Dyett hunger strike, full-day preschool

August 20, 2015 - 11:52am
Vaughn Occupational High School, which serves only special needs students, was able to get back some cut staff after the principal and others reviewed 200 individual education programs and brought the issue to CPS officials' attention. A hunger strike at Dyett High School enters its fourth day.

Free LSC subscription ‘opened a world’

August 18, 2015 - 9:19am
Twenty-five years ago I was a former high school teacher who was firmly in charge of the family-run Hyde Park supermarket that I had tried to flee as a young man. I was involved in community projects but there was nothing tugging at me more than our community’s public schools.

Report: Some charters ask for ‘improper or illegal’ info on applications

August 18, 2015 - 12:40am
A new report from a disability-rights group found that a handful of Chicago charters improperly asked questions about student special education status or language ability on recent applications forms.

Charter schools take steps to improve bilingual ed

August 14, 2015 - 4:13pm
CPS charter schools are moving at varying paces to come into compliance with a new state law regarding English-language learner education — from spending nearly a year planning to quickly offering to pay teachers to obtain necessary credentials.

UNO charter network slow to remedy bilingual shortcomings

August 14, 2015 - 4:06pm
The UNO Charter School Network has done comparatively little to come into compliance with a state law that requires charters to provide English-language learners with specialized supports — despite the fact UCSN serves more of these students than any other charter network.

Student-based budgeting in the works for a decade

August 14, 2015 - 3:00pm
Like districts elsewhere, Chicago is moving toward student-based budgeting. Though Chicago hasn't made the shift quickly or completely, it continues to push the change despite its overall financial crisis.

Take 5: Pension pickup, vanishing vendor lists, Noble proposal

August 13, 2015 - 9:31am
About 2,100 non-union employees at CPS will lose their 7 percent "pension pickup" over the next three years and now the district wants to gradually phase out this contribution for teachers. Meanwhile, City Colleges are consolidating degree programs to save money and Noble has withdrawn another charter high school proposal.

Montefiore now a school without students but, says CPS, it is not closed

August 12, 2015 - 3:46pm
The district's last remaining specialty elementary school for students with profound emotional and behavioral disabilities isn't shutting down, CPS says. But there are no more students or staff at the school, except for an assistant principal and a clerk.

Budget outlines layoffs, cuts to special ed

August 10, 2015 - 8:35pm
CPS released its 2015-2016 budget, and began issuing nearly 1,500 pink slips to teachers, support staff and other employees in the district. In addition, teachers say the district has quietly shut down the Montefiore Specialty School despite a five-year moratorium on school closings.

Back to drawing board for contract negotiations

August 7, 2015 - 4:33pm
CTU leaders say they were close to reaching a one-year labor agreement that would have included no raises but retained the so-called "pension pick-up." In addition the tentative deal would have barred CPS from opening any new charter schools without union approval.

Principal independence: Easier said than done

August 7, 2015 - 3:00pm
Studies on previous attempts to give principals greater autonomy in both Chicago and New York City found they had little impact on student achievement.


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