Catalyst Chicago

Tougher principal selection process in the works

Rebecca Harris | Catalyst Chicago

Chicago Public Schools is embarking on yet another revamp of its controversial principal eligibility process, based on a new set of principal skills that will also play into new state-mandated principal evaluations.

The changes could take effect as soon as this summer, but it’s not clear yet what they will be. The current process includes an application with essays and an initial interview; a scenario exam; a school data case study; a more in-depth interview; and a mock teacher observation. (Those could still be part of the revamped process.)

A Conversation With Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard

Lorraine Forte, Catalyst Chicago

From a journalist's standpoint, the most refreshing news to emerge from Catalyst Chicago's recent interview with incoming Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard was his promise to be transparent. The in-depth, shoe-leather reporting and analysis that is our hallmark can only be accomplished when administrators have a green light to talk freely about their work, and when principals feel free to give writers access to schools, classrooms and teachers.

Sarah Karp

Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman and Mayor Richard M. Daley. (Kate Gardiner/ WBEZ)

(Reposted from Catalyst Chicago)  With a backdrop of light streaming through the spotless windows of the library of a brand-new school, Jose Hernandez said what everyone else in the room may well have been thinking: That the building would be part of Mayor Richard M. Daley’s legacy.

Indeed, as much as for anything else, Chicagoans will remember Daley as the mayor who was handed control of the city’s 600-plus public schools and invested his emotional and political capital in improving them. At press conferences heralding educational accomplishments throughout his years in office, Daley often became red-faced when challenged,passionately defending his efforts.

Emanuel rolls out competitive preschool funding, adds charters to mix

Rebecca Harris | Catalyst Chicago

Under a new system announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel Friday, preschool programs will vie against each other in a highly competitive process to win city and CPS contracts and they will face a new contender: charter schools.

Emanuel unveiled the long-awaited process, and announced the city will add at least 2,000 new preschool slots next year and more in future years. Another 4,000 children will receive increased access to wraparound services through existing early childhood programs.

For the record: History lesson, elected board

Linda Lenz | Catalyst Chicago

It is a common misconception that the Chicago mayor acquired the authority to appoint the School Board in 1995. In fact, in Chicago, the mayor has always appointed the School Board, at least during the lifetime of anyone now living.

This issue has come up recently as activists and some aldermen have started to push for an elected school board.

The 1988 Chicago School Reform Act, which decentralized the school system,

Winners and losers in CPS budget

Sarah Karp | Catalyst Chicago

CPS leadership is proposing a budget that does not include massive layoffs, but that doesn’t mean that some schools aren’t losing teachers and other staff.

This year, for the first time, CPS posted a searchable database that shows school-level and unit-level information on budgets and positions. These numbers show how staffing ebbs and flows among schools. 

Community schools funding in question

Sarah Karp | Catalyst Chicago

Organizations that run community schools--the programs that keep school doors open into the evening with classes for adults and activities for children--reportedly have been told by CPS that they will not receive district funding next year.

Sylvia Gonzalez, the community schools resource coordinator for McAuliffe School in Logan Square, says the loss will mean that students won’t have as much access to tutoring and a safe place to be after school. Like many community schools, hers opens at 7:15 a.m. and doesn’t close for 12 hours.

No place in line

Sarah Karp | Catalyst Chicago

CPS saves money by keeping down the number of more severely disabled students placed in private therapeutic schools, which are designed to provide optimal support. But the decline in placements raises two questions: Are these students getting the services they need? And is CPS adequately monitoring the private schools on its preferred list?

Catalyst Chicago deputy editor Sarah Karp and associate editor Rebecca Harris won two awards from the national Education Writers Association, a competitive and prestigious competition that recognizes excellence on the education beat across multiple media through its National Awards for Education Reporting.

Child-parent centers to expand

Rebecca Harris | Catalyst Chicago

Chicago’s child-parent centers are slated to expand and gain additional resources with a $15 million Investing in Innovation grant won last year by the University of Minnesota.

The money will fund five new child-parent centers in Chicago, four in Evanston/Skokie District 65, and a total of 14 new locations in Normal School District 5, Milwaukee Public Schools, St. Paul (Minn.) Public Schools, and two other Minnesota districts.


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