I received an email this week from a CPS teacher including an email that was sent out by their principal. The principal wrote, “Effective immediately we will transition to a no zero policy. Additionally on Friday we will have a brief meeting 4th & 5th periods. In exchange I will give one of your prep periods back next week. By Monday, September 30th please change all past zeros to the lowest possible grade designated for each grade level as identified in the staff handbook.”
In effect, the principal has banned grades lower than 50% at his high school. The Principal admitted to this teacher that he had been under pressure from the Southwest Area Office to make this change. Now, I personally give students no lower than a 50% on assignments with the exception of missing assignments. I do this for mathematical reasons to allow students a chance to recover from a bad test. However, if a student wants credit for a project or homework assignment, I don’t think it is unfair to require the student to actually do the assignment. However, I believe teachers should have the right to set standards for their own classrooms. These policies should originate in the classroom and not in the principal’s office and certainly not at the area office.
This isn’t the only area of fuzzy math in Chicago this week, however. CPS enrollment is dropping fast and it’s probably no wonder. When you sabotage the neighborhood schools where most families send their children to school, you shouldn’t be surprised when they respond by looking elsewhere. However, charter schools in Chicago have been claiming a waiting list of 19,000 students. Lost in all the hand wringing over CPS’s decline in enrollment this week was the fact that the city’s charter schools have 1,000 students less than projected in the CPS FY14 budget. It seems to me that if they’re on a waiting list, they should be enrolled when an opening occurs. Then again, if I had students on a waiting list I probably wouldn’t be spending big money in marketing my charter school like so many of them do.
Of course none of this is any wonder with Mathematician in Chief Rahm Emanuel in charge–he of the $1 Billion CPS deficit that neither grows nor shrinks depending on what savings or expenses are found. The TIF plan continues to work as intended, siphoning off money from school children to give basketball arenas to private universities and liquor stores to felons. Of course, Rahm’s new safe passage program seems to make the news every day or two.