I apologize for not updating the blog yesterday, but I went to one of the many school closing hearings being held throughout the city. It was extremely troubling. To begin with, they didn’t make the sheet to sign up to speak accessible or explain what it was. Most people who signed up thought they were signing in, not signing up to speak. As a result, maybe 1 out of ever 3 or 4 people who were called spoke.
To make matters wore, the first speaker right out of the box asked a question about enrollment. She said their school was listed as underutilized and she wanted to know how they could be efficient. The person representing CPS had no idea what the term efficient meant. An audible gasp went over the crowd. It was very packed, but just so disorganized.
As a result of my absence, I’m behind on news stories. There was a real tragedy outside King High School yesterday and a lot of people struggling to make this insane monolith of a school system serve the children of Chicago. I’m going to try and limit links today to the most timely. It’s been a big couple of days.
The breakout sessions that followed—which were closed to media—were run by independent facilitators who don’t work for the district. According to public schools coalition Raise Your Hand, which live-tweeted the closed-to-media event, the facilitators were from a marketing company called Loran.
Live tweets from the event indicated Loran would not disclose who they were paid by, but said CPS wanted “an independent party” to facilitate. 2011 CPS documents reveal it hired the company to perform “qualitative research on performance evaluation with CPS teachers” at a cost “not to exceed $125,000.”
“Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is so concerned about the transfer of students in the upcoming school closing process she’s leaning on a retired Marine colonel who once quietly sorted out a prisoner exchange in the wake of war in Kosovo to figure it out.”
“Some Chicago parents have complained that their children in the primary grades are taking up to 24 high stakes tests in one year. This testing takes time and resources away from real teaching and learning. It’s used to sort out students, and in some cases, test scores are posted at school, shaming students who fail to make arbitrary benchmarks.”
“A few hundred charter school supporters, many of them students in uniform, rallied inside Union Station on Tuesday night for higher funding for their schools.”
[Note the Tribune calls the number “thousands”, Catalyst calls the number 300, and the Sun-Times says a few hundred.]