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Fine lines and massive layoffs

Friday, Jul 19, 2013

* I’m just gonna outright steal an Eric Zorn post in its entirety

From the Tribune story about the latest test scores from the Chicago Public Schools reflecting the percentage of pupils performing at or above grade level:

    Charter schools did not show an increase in the number of students meeting or exceeding standards, while neighborhood schools improved by 2.2 points.

From the Sun-Times story:

    Charters citywide have been performing at about the same level as regular CPS neighborhood schools over the past several years and just slightly worse this year at 50.4 percent overall compared to CPS’ 52.6 percent, according to the district.

And we’re all in for charter schools because….?

Good question.

* More

CPS students — magnet, charter and turnaround schools alike — sat for the tests in early March, weeks before CPS announced it would ask the board to permanently close a record 54 schools, 48 of which were approved.

CPS officials said the composite scores of the closing schools lagged 12 percentage points behind the schools set to receive children, validating the district’s claim they’re sending students to better schools.

Of the 48 closing, 23 improved, 23 declined, and one remained the same. The 48th is a high school program whose students don’t take the ISAT.

* And

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, speaking at an unrelated event Tuesday, was quick to link ISAT performance to his longer school day initiative, saying the greatest growth under CPS’ recalculation of past data was at the schools that first adopted the longer day two years ago.

* Meanwhile

Chicago Public Schools officials announced late Thursday that 2,113 teachers and other employees would be laid off Friday, largely due to a giant pension obligation increase that’s straining the system.

“In fiscal year ‘14 we’re facing a historic deficit of $1 billion that is driven primarily by a $400 million increase in our annual teacher pension payments,” said CPS spokesman Becky Carroll. “Absent pension reform in Springfield, we have very few options available to us to close that gap, and that has resulted in bringing this crisis to the doorsteps of our schools.” […]

[Alicia Winckler, who is in charge of human resources for CPS] attributed the layoffs of 815 support staff, 398 tenured teachers and 510 non-tenured teachers to budgetary decisions made by principals. School closings account for the layoffs of 68 support staff employees and 194 food staff employees, she said. And changes in school enrollments account for the layoffs of 43 tenured teachers and 85 non-tenured teachers, Winckler said.

* And

The latest layoffs… are in addition to 855 employees — including 420 teachers — who were laid off last month as a result of the district’s decision to close 49 elementary schools and a high school program. […]

The district again blamed the lack of pension reform for many of its fiscal woes, noting that pension payments are growing this fiscal year by an additional $400 million. The layoffs were the result of “budgetary decisions made by principals or changes in enrollment,” the district said in a statement.

“Absent pension reform in Springfield, we had very few options available to us to close that gap,” Carroll said. “This year, given the magnitude and the size of this deficit, and the fact that there was no pension reform reached in Springfield, this has made it to the doorsteps of our schools.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Steve - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:20 am:

    A lot of changes in a short period of time. Hopefully, if they are more layoffs: teachers could be given some “heads up”.

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:37 am:

    Nearly 3,000 CPS teachers and support staff fired so far this year.

    After Rahm gives caves during contract negotiations.


    Regardless, this may well show up on the unemployment report.

  3. - b - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:38 am:

    If Emanuel thinks he is going to get re-elected, he is sorely mistaken. So sad. Every day I am reminded how lucky I am not be poor and living in the run-down, not invested in neighborhoods of Chicago. But, hey, at least Millennium Park is nice! /snark

  4. - Don't let the facts get in the way - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:42 am:

    Instead of just regurgitating Rahm’s talking points, can someone in the Chicago media please report that the only pension “reform” proposed by city this year in Springfield was to extend the CPS pension holiday? In other words, he wanted to double down on the policy that created the pension crisis, not solve it.

  5. - The Doc - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:48 am:

    This has implications for Rauner - I’m interested in his views on charter school performance relative to CPS.

  6. - Hank - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:53 am:

    So 2100 CPS employees laid off withour comment by Rahm vs the 250 jobs he claimed to save by helping Vienna Beef out earlier in the week.
    Rahm always wins in the end. Karen Lewis bloodied his nose last Fall but he is one vindictive guy now on the attack. Expect millions in grants to be announced next week for his friends in the charter scool business

  7. - Formerly Known As... - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:54 am:

    Rahm Emanuel… charter schools best friend.

    It appears the “government” sector will lead Illinois in job losses again for the month of July.

    Thanks, Rahm. Closing schools, closing mental health facilities, reducing the police force. Way to go.

  8. - Just Observing - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    === If Emanuel thinks he is going to get re-elected, he is sorely mistaken. ===

    You are sorely mistaken if you think it will be easy to defeat Rahm.

  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:56 am:

    Payton Prep Clouter Bruce Rauner loves charter schools for his pockets…

    But Payton Prep Public School for his Clouting …

    I am not worried, when you run as an “outsider” and are so “inside”, you probably know what needs to be reformed….

  10. - JC - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 10:57 am:

    Why charter schools? Does that really need to be asked? Of course, it’s about union busting. God forbid any worker anywhere at any type of job have any rights! We’re going back to the industrial revolution days where workers were told to be thankful they had any job at all, let alone a sweatshop one working 18 hours a day and fired for any reason whatsoever. This is the direction the powers that be want to go, apparently—all the while calling out to the world about how we VALUE education. Ha..not enough to put our money where our mouths are, unless you expect teachers to live in slums and work for their next meal. Of course that sounds extreme, but can someone give another explanation? With cuts to schools they can also continue to blame the teachers for student lack of achievement when every effort is made to sabotage programs and instruction that would result in student progress. Yes, value education.

    And so, our unemployment rate in Illinois is now up to 9.2%, second only to Nevada, was it? Is there some prize for being best at unemployment?

  11. - Just Observing - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 11:00 am:

    === And we’re all in for charter schools because….? ===

    Well, there may be more that goes into a school than test numbers, plus it provides parents with school choice (whether it is a good or bad choice).

  12. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 11:06 am:

    It’s nice to see one of the three horsewomen of the apocalypse once again confusing skipping pension payments with pension reform.

    Let’s do the time warp again …

  13. - From the 'Dale to HP - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 11:09 am:

    Charters have always been an attempt to get around Unions; only now they’re unionizing… Also Charters at CPS don’t provide ‘choice’ that’s hogwash.

    @Don’t let the facts get in the way Amen.

    As for Rahm, unless Toni or, now, Lisa (and her $5m) is going to run against him… he’s probably going to win.

  14. - thechampaignlife - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 11:11 am:

    I’d agree, the freedom of choice and economic specialization (schools that cater to specific needs/desires) should not be discounted. Also, as someone unfamiliar with the charter schools, is there any per pupil cost savings in their use over CPS? I know here in Champaign the costs of public versus private are something like $10K vs $5K per pupil so the district would save money if they could convince an existing district student to go to a private school, especially if it saves the need to construct a new school.

  15. - Frank - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 11:51 am:

    Talk to anyone who has taught at an underperfoming inner city school and they’ll tell you one of the big challenges for many of their students is the lack of parental engagement. It’s a product of the horrible poverty they’re born into. Charter schools are pretty much immune to this problem by virtue of the fact that they’re parents had to do some work to get them enrolled in a charter…a pretty good indication that a parent is engaged.

    Yet despite this, charters are lagging behind neighborhood schools. I’m all for trying new things, but at what point do we acknowledge that the charter experiment isn’t working?

  16. - Rod - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 11:57 am:

    I do not believe the CPS layoffs are retribution by Rahm against the CTU for the strike as “Formerly Known As” indicated in the post above. Here is the reason I think this. SB 1920 House Amendment #2 was heard and debated in the Illinois House of Representatives from 6 p.m. until 7:45 p.m. on Friday, May 31. The bill needed 60 votes to pass, but received only 39 votes. This gut and replace last minute bill would have reduced CPS contributions to the Chicago pension fund to $350M in 2014 (from $612.7M) and $500M in 2015 (from $631.5).

    This bill was supported jointly by the City of Chicago, the Chicago Public Schools, and the Chicago Teachers Union. It was opposed by the lobbyists for the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund and the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago. Both CPS and the City promised the CTU either a reduction or elimination of layoffs if the pension holiday bill passed. That does not sound like retribution does it?

  17. - OldSmoky2 - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 12:02 pm:

    It’s pretty evident that management of CPS should be taken out of Emanuel’s hands. He’s bungled relations with the teachers, alienated parents all over the city, and created an impending financial disaster. For all his empty talk about transparency, the only thing that’s transparent about his handling of CPS is his desire to enrich charter school operators. The school board should be elected, as the voters could hardly do worse than Emanuel, and the $400 million in TIF funds that’s been diverted from property taxes into a slush fund for the mayor should be spent on funding the schools, where it belongs.

  18. - bored now - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 12:09 pm:

    we’re “all for” charter schools because we are highly susceptible to quick and easy fixes and they’ve (the charter schools) have great promotional skills. if public education spent even a fraction of what charter school proponents spent promoting themselves, it might even the playing field a bit.

    show me a charter high school that offers two years of calculus and two years of physics and we can start to compare to the public school i attended…

  19. - Yossarian Lives - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 12:15 pm:

    “… there’s more that goes into a school than test numbers.”

    When advocates for neighborhood public schools try to say that, charter school advocates cry BS and say they’re just making excuses…

  20. - Precinct Captain - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 1:21 pm:

    ==Well, there may be more that goes into a school than test numbers, plus it provides parents with school choice (whether it is a good or bad choice).==

    The school choice is called already existing private schools.

    There are already schools in CPS that cater to specific things.

    ==Yet despite this, charters are lagging behind neighborhood schools. I’m all for trying new things, but at what point do we acknowledge that the charter experiment isn’t working?==

    Never. It’s not in the neoliberal agenda. Their excuse is because all schools aren’t charters yet there isn’t enough “choice.”

    If some of it isn’t retribution, how come CPS was able to spend $300k installing lights at buildings it is closing?,0,1804998.story

  21. - Rod - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 1:47 pm:

    Precinct Captain all I can say is Rahm was willing to ok the deal related to SB 1920 House Amendment #2 that would have significantly limited the current layoffs this year and the CTU was totally on board with that deal. In fact the city lobbyists got both Madigan and Cullerton to support the bill which they both were reluctant to do.

    The CTU likes the retribution theory as a selling point to its members, that is fine and good. But the Mayor while no doubt is less than happy with the union is also a pragmatist and knows a massive layoff of teachers doesn’t look good. This layoff is taking place because our City has far too low property taxes, lower than all of suburban Cook according the Civic Federation. The pension crisis is just a reflection of the revenue problems Chicago faces. I think Moody’s made that clear yesterday in the downgrade of City debt, the same thing applies to CPS.

  22. - truthteller - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 3:00 pm:

    Charters are known to do a student dump right before test dates sending kids who will perform poorly back to their neighborhood schools so as to not hurt their averages. Additionally, as is pointed out elsewhere, charter students have parents/guardian that were willing to go through an aplication process and to arrange transportation because they presumably value education. Finally when a student is expelled from a charter they can’t come back, with a neighborhood school once their expulsion time is up they have the right to return. Based on those advantages (and the supposed superior “quality” of charter school vendors over CPS the fact that Charters did not outperform should be devastating to their continued existence, much less expansion. It is at this point just another method to funnel public dollars to for private enterprises.

  23. - carbaby - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 3:19 pm:

    On CPS website you can do a comparison of up to four charter schools. I have to say their numbers are abysmal. The highest average ACT score that was reported was an 18- some schools don’t report- most were in the 14/15 range. That does not demonstrate preparing students for academic success or even entry into college.
    For elementary schools their student numbers in meeting state standards were just as bad. When I worked for a tutoring company that capitalized on this during the NCLB years, a lot of the schools that were serviced were Charter schools. Yet CPS schools were closed for not improving their standardized testing scores- the Charter schools that we were in are still open today and still have poor student achievement rates.
    I have issues with Charter schools for many reasons but the biggest one is that it has always appeared that this is about money- not about the best interest of our children and their education.

  24. - wishbone - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 3:29 pm:

    None of the vocal critics of the staff cuts seems to have a clue as to where to get the money to solve the fiscal problem that is responsible for the problem. Just come out and say how much you would raise property taxes. Buler, Buler?

  25. - Ghost - Friday, Jul 19, 13 @ 3:37 pm:

    What does a charter school cost to run v CPS?

    Basically there is no performance difference. if Charters are the same cost or more money, we dont need em. If they are substatively cheaper, then we should expand them over the more costly CPS.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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