Wednesday, October 30, 2013

And This Is Just The Next Few Weeks!

The next several weeks are packed full of important events; I thought I'd put them all together here. I'll be at several of these with my camera crew.

October 30:  Progressive Town Hall on the proposed 2014 budget: 7:00 PM UE Hall, 37 S. Ashland

October 30:  Campaign Grand Opening at Will Guzzardi's office:7:30 PM 2642 W. Fullerton Ave, Chicago, IL 60647  RSVP requested.

November 2: Voter Registration Drive and Door-Knocking in the 26th Ward: Logan Square Neighborhood Association. 10 AM Ames School, 1920 S. Hamlin. 

November 6: Raise Your Hand Town Hall: Chicago Temple 77 W. Washington, 6:30 - 8:30 PM.

November 7: Greg Michie at Richard Edwards School, 4815 S. Karlov 9 [still trying to determine time]. Benefit Illinois Association for Multilingual Multicultural Educatorion.

November 7 : Deputy Voter Registrar Training.6:00 PM - 7:30, Uptown. Contact me if you want registration details. @tbfurman

November 13: Diane Ravitch Public Event 7:30 PM First Free Church, 5255 N. Ashland

November 13: Skokie Organization of Retired Educators. Informational Meeting on sudden, horrifyingly bad changes to retiree healtcare. 

IEA skokie office 1PM.

8833 Gross Point at Dempster in Skokie
3rd floor meeting room
November 16: Neighborhood Schools Fair. Clemente High School, 1147 N. Western  November 16, 2013 - 11:00am - 3:00pm. 

November 19: Meeting of the (rogue) State Charter Commission. 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Horizon Concept Charter School. 2245 W. Pershing [Warning: for whatever reason, and I can imagine one, this commission changes its meeting time/dates constantly, check the website five minutes before you leave home.]

November 19: Book Launch Party  Mayor 1% by Kari Lydersen:  Haymarket Pub 737 W. Randolph. 7PM.

November 21: Forum on Data Privacy: sponsored by PURE and More Than A Score. Fosco Park, 13th and Racine. (Spanish translation provided) 7 PM - 8:30 PM.

November 30: UNO: Politics, Profit, and Corruption. A public forum by Byron Sigcho. West Belmont Branch Library, 3104 N. Narraganssett. 1PM - 2:30 PM.

That's all I can think of. Details subject to change. If you see a mistake, please let me know. If you want me to add something, I'll do it.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

In Case You Missed It

I enjoy Googling all the names on the itemized section of Joe Moore's D-2 Quarterly. The usual suspects, from what I can tell.  A lot of real estate people, developers, lawyers,  the parking garage Pritzker..  The cost of doing business.  I see one contribution that I can connect to some sketchy behavior; maybe more on that later.

The transfer-ins are always interesting, too.

They're addictive. Read 'em all!

Charter Commission Update

I've let the rogue state charter commission slip off my radar, and God only knows what they've been up to. Their next meeting is a teleconference on October 28; it looks like anyone can join by phone. Then, on November 19, it looks like they're going to be meeting at the new Concept School. 

As you may know, Senator Kim Lightford might be introducing some legislation to strip this commission of its ALECky purpose...

Lightford said she would introduce a bill at some point during next year's legislative session that would get rid of the commission's override powers and give charter authorizing responsibility back to ISBE.

...which would be better than nothing, although it's far from a perfect solution.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Live Feed From UNO Forum in Rogers Park

Here's the live feed from tonight's presentation at the Rogers Park Branch Library. This is Byron Sigcho, a researcher from UIC, talking about the UNO charter school system.

Later, we'll post a high-quality version of this talk, along with the slides. Please share widely.

If you want to ask a question during this presentation, go ahead and do so on Twitter, using the hashtag #rp49 . I will try to ask your question if it seems like there's a place where I can chime in. If I don't get to your question, I apologize in advance.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Come Join Us In November!

Come join RPNPS members at the Raise Your Hand Town Hall on November 6.

Get Informed and Active: Attend the 11/6 RYH Town Hall Forum 
Join us on 11/6 for a RYH Town Hall Forum on Important Education Issues impacting our schools and system!

Learn about our current campaigns and how you can get involved!

There will be a panel discussion on school funding and the CPS budget with Rod Estvan of Access Living and a Better Illinois for the Fair Tax Campaign.

A wide array of break-out sessions including:

Valencia  Rias-Winstead: LSCs and school improvement: info for current,  experienced and newly interested parents, Valerie Leonard of the Lawndale Alliance - The Gates Compact: how is it impacting policy at CPS, More than a Score: updates on standardized testing campaign and student data privacy issues, Ross Floyd and the CSU: on student organizing

Parents, teachers, students, all parties concerned about the future of public education in Chicago welcome!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Not-So Hidden Agenda of the State Charter Commission

Diane Horwitz from DePaul passed this along..

At an education forum in Oak Park Wednesday, State Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) said she plans to introduce legislation to help stop the Illinois State Charter Commission's "hidden agenda" of expanding charter schools across the state.

I recommend that everyone email Senator Lightford with encouragement immediately, although I'm a bit confused about how the Charter Commission's agenda is in any way hidden. It doesn't matter. A senator has read the legislation, looked at the record, and figured out that there's a rogue agency undermining democratic governance in Illinois. We need to rally around her.

Here's an email contact for her. If anyone has a more direct line, let me know.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

What We Know About ELL Instruction...

...versus what our policies do to work against that knowledge.

Ravenswood-Ridge network chief Craig Benes on the best design for ELL instruction..

And UIC's Josh Radinsky on what it takes to build a strong ELL program.

But by all means, let's just keep opening more charters, particularly if their ELL model is designed to keep away kids who need ELL support. Because choice for the sake of choice equals freedom.

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's Not A Conspiracy Theory

Josh Radinsky put it succinctly at the WRPCO event.

I'm posting this after skimming details of Illinois Tool Works' plan to give $20m to Noble charter for a new building. You'll notice that ITW didn't first ask the neighborhood schools if they need anything. Then, when you dig for five seconds, you find ITW's soft money contributions over the years, while nominal, have been decidedly one sided.  Their only recorded direct campaign contribution went to this guy. 

So you can see where this choice-for-the-sake-of-choice movement is aligned. Gates Foundation, Broad Foundation, ITW, Gregg Harper, Eric Cantor, the entire anti-Obamacare, anti-Obama establishment,  Jeb Bush, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Moore,  etc.

It's all so weird.

Mobility Rates In Rogers Park

Here's another clip from WRPCO's "What's Your Public Education IQ?"

Becky Vevea asks the panelists about mobility rates and the special supports that schools need when faced with high student mobility (transferring in and out during the year).

I submitted this question because when I was a teacher in Arizona, I would get new students all the time, particularly after winter break, when the charter schools would lay the hammer down on the behavior kids, who would all return to the neighborhood schools just in time to be included in my test data.

Gabriella Iselin
...parents are interested in “where are the resources? Where are the new schools? So we end up getting...quite a few kids that leave charter schools that have behavior issues, discipline issues that are pushed out. We get a ton. Counselors often say, ‘We feel like the charter school’s alternative school.’ And that all affects our score-- that score that people like to extrapolate on how good a school is. And it is a score but there’s a story behind it, and part of that story is that we service every kid that is in our neighborhood that comes to our school. And that’s different.  And so your comparing apples to oranges a lot of the time.
Craig Benes
What I try do at the network is for us to think more holistically...  that it’s just not one school’s responsibility to serve one group of children, that we really have to work together across schools, across the network, to see that it’s a shared responsibility and a shared opportunity and gift. I think we sometimes use words or language to frame this in deficit-base or challenge, but I think it’s really special and unique in this community, in Rogers Park, that you can  can walk down (to?) most of the schools and see the United Nations.
Josh Radinsky
The key with mobility is stability... The last thing  that kids in high mobility communities need is destabilization. The last thing they need is a chaotic situation at the school, where the school is trying to  adapt to some new random set of mandates that get handed down by the district.
I've done a little research on the Rogers Park mobility data, and the thing that sticks out in the data is that while the mobility for all our neighborhood schools is high compared to the 18.4% rate for CPS in general, the mobility rate at Gale has been trending over 30% for the past several years and was 48% last year.

If you talk to the housing people in the neighborhood, you get a very clear picture of why this is going on, and from what I gather, the principal at Gale is working on a comprehensive communications plan with community housing groups to improve that school's ability to communicate with a parent population that is always changing. So there's that.

But what is clear from the forum is that there really isn't any specifically different support the district is offering to a school like Gale that is any different from any of the other schools. The network chief indicates that he likes to think holistically about this problem, and that high turnover rates are a gift (he may have been referring to diversity rates in general?), but he really can't name any specific thing that the district is doing to support the kind of acute mobility challenges that Gale is facing that are different from any other school.

I can guarantee you that when they eventually come after Gale, they're going to be talking about test scores and test scores alone. It won't matter that Gale's been making slow, steady gains over time. All that will matter is that the test scores are lower than some other unnamed school somewhere. There won't be any talk of shared responsibility or the holistic wonderfulness of the UN. There will be blame, exclusively, shared by the teachers and staff of Gale alone.  My theory is that there just always has to be a scalp.

Anyway, some other observations:

It's hard to determine the mobility rate of a charter school, because the way laws have been written, it's hard to find out anything about a charter school. But the system-wide mobility rate for UNO is 5.7%. At one point late in the forum, the charter school person asserted that charter schools are facing the same mobility rates as traditional public schools. It just isn't true.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Josh Radinsky and Gabriella Iselin at Devon Bank

Tip o' the hat to West Rogers Park Community Organization, which put on a forum called "What's Your Public Education IQ?" last night at Devon Bank. By the way, tip of the hat to Devon Bank. I sat in the front and filmed. If you want to see the whole thing, here it is. The remarkable Becky Vevea from WBEZ moderated.

Over the next few days, I'm going to pull out clips from the evening and comment on them. Please feel free to chime in in the comments.

First off, Josh Radinsky from UIC.  There are few people with his experience or scholarship. I'm trying to think of anyone else in the room with similar credentials, and I'm drawing a blank. Take a listen.

"I think it’s crucial that we have schools that are mandated to serve the kids in our neighborhoods.” 

“The charter schools do  serve some kids with special needs, and I know that that’s true. More than 80%  of those kids in those charter schools, though, are ‘LRE-1 kids' (Least restrictive environment #1), which means that they have less severe disabilities. Those are kids with learning disabilities. Kids like my son, in general, are not served, and I feel that the charter schools would be hard-pressed to serve kids with severe disabilities, given that they are small independent operations, and we’re in a gigantic city.”

                                                                                              ----Josh Radinsky

The charter people almost always continue to point out that they have similar numbers, only slightly fewer, of special education students, but they gloss over the point that Josh makes about the types of special education students included in the numbers.  In my observation, it's just another data point in a graph that begins to look like a picture of creaming. Creaming away the easy-to-teach, and leaving the neighborhood schools with the kids who have the most challenges.

By the way, I work in a school where profoundly differently abled kids go to school in the same building as everyone else. The whole idea is based on a rather antique notion that we're all in this together. 

Here's Mather teacher Gabriella Iselin introducing herself. I'm old enough to realize that I'm living in remarkable times; there's this bizarre, bipartisan attack on the schools occurring, and yet there are also all of these amazing, powerful leaders emerging from the ranks of everyday teachers and everyday parents. Almost all of them are women. 

"Despite this tremendous pride that we have, there’s also tremendous frustration and anger with CPS. 
It’s hard to work for an organization that imposes policies that are harmful to kids by way of curriculum, instruction, and budget initiatives that are foisted on us with little to no planning or foresight of any kind. You would think sound planning would be the bedrock of a school district but I have found that this is not the case at CPS." --- Gabriella Iselin

When I think of people like Gabriella Iselin, I think of the importance of tenure, or as it should probably be known as in the K12 world, due process. Without the protection of due process, a person like Ms. Iselin could never say these words in the presence of a network chief in a vindictive district in an unelected environment where the mayor is who he is.  And yet she doesn't even flinch to do so. I wish more people were like her; I wish I had been so when it was my turn.

Much, much more to come over the next few days. Please, go ahead and comment. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

See You At Devon Bank?

Here's an event sponsored by West Rogers Park Community Organization; we'll be there.  Come join the conversation!