Articles tagged with Chicago Public Schools

Secretary Duncan addresses school board members at NSBA meeting

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan urged school board members Monday at NSBA’s Federal Relations Network (FRN) meeting in Washington, D.C., to “stay the course” through a tumultuous time in public education, predicting that in a few years the nation will see big results from programs such as Race to the Top (RTTT) and the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

“The implementation of Common Core is really difficult,” Duncan said. “It’s going to take a lot of hard work, and I really urge you to stay the course.”

However, he added: “I think the back-end of all this – three or four years from now – the country’s going to be in a radically different place.”

Duncan spoke briefly, but quickly and emphatically. He praised school board members for their dedication, and gave out his email address, saying he wanted to hear their concerns. In a short question and answer period, skeptical board members raised concerns about the proliferation of charter schools; unfunded federal mandates; competitions for funding, such as RTTT (the questioner said dedicated funding made more sense); and what many saw as an erosion of local control.

“This is a tough crowd,” the education secretary quipped at one point.

One requirement for states receiving funds has been a lifting of state caps on the number of charter schools. But Duncan said he didn’t favor charters over regular public schools.

“I’m just a big proponent of high-quality public schools,” Duncan said. “That’s traditional schools. That’s magnet schools. And that may be charter schools.”

Speaking of the achievement gap, Duncan said, “In some places we’re seeing real progress, but in other places these gaps are extraordinarily large.”

But Melinda Bernard, a board member for the St. Charles Parish Public Schools in Louisiana, said the problems of public school are being exaggerated.

“I think you will agree, public education’s being denigrated by the media recently,” Bernard told Duncan. “Especially our teachers.”

Duncan touted some of the Obama administration’s accomplishments, including an additional $600 million for early childhood education and an increase in the number of Pell Grants from 6 million in 2008 to 10 million last year. He said the $4 billion in competitive grants for RTTT may seem like a large number, but is less than 1 percent of the department’s $650 billion budget. He said that competition has spurred states to make major innovations regarding the common core, teacher evaluation, and other challenges.

Speaking of the recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Duncan said the Obama administration has “huge support for the Second Amendment,” but added, “I do feel that if we don’t act now as a country, we will never act.”

A former school superintendent for the Chicago Public Schools, Duncan said he was acquainted with the problem of violence, particularly in inner-city neighborhoods.

“We lost one child every two weeks due to the gang problem,” Duncan said. “It was a staggering loss.”

Lawrence Hardy|January 28th, 2013|Categories: Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Federal Programs, FRN Conference 2013, Governance, National Standards, Preschool Education, School Security|Tags: , , , , |

Economy forces tough decisions, like increased class sizes

Times are tough for public school policymakers, and the latest evidence is a decision this week by the Chicago school board to raise the maximum class size in schools to 35 students.

sardines Pictures, Images and Photos

That’s not to say city school officials have decided to treat students as a land-based form of sardines. As schools CEO Ron Huberman was quick to note, what’s actually going to happen with the school system’s budget is “fluid and changes by the day.”

He just wants some flexibility. And, as a recent Chicago Sun-Times story made clear, the school board was more than willing to comply, unanimously approving “every emergency measure brought before them to help plug an estimated $427 million deficit.”
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Naomi Dillon|June 17th, 2010|Categories: American School Board Journal, Budgeting, Governance|Tags: , |

Obama relies on Chicago ties for education secretary

Daniel Schorr, the remarkably ageless 90-something news analyst for National Public Radio put it best last week when asked what he thought Barack Obama was looking for in his Cabinet appointments. 

 The president elect wasn’t looking for liberals or conservatives, Democrats or Republicans (although his appointments are almost all Democrats), Schorr said. He was looking for pragmatists, doers, people with expertise who know how to get jobs done and put ideas into practice.

It is, therefore, fitting that today Obama found just such a pragmatist in Arne Duncan to lead the U.S. Department of Education. The head of the Chicago Public Schools — and Obama basketball buddy — is receiving praise from all quarters.

“He’s gotten the job done in Chicago” Allan R. Odden, a University of Wisconsin education professor, told the New York Times. “There’s more to be done, but he’s done a great job of reaching out and recruiting and improving the talent of both teachers and principals.

Last week, I talked about the intense debate in education circles over whom Obama should appoint – an “establishment” candidate such as Stanford University professor and teacher union favorite Linda Darling-Hammond, or a “reformer” like controversial New York Schools chief, Joel I. Klein.

 Wisely, the president-elect sidestepped both those options.

 “Obama found the sweet spot with Arne Duncan,” Susan Traiman, of the Business Roundtable, told the Times. “Both camps will be O.K. with the pick.”

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Naomi Dillon|December 16th, 2008|Categories: American School Board Journal, Governance, Policy Formation|Tags: , , |
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