CN February 23, 2012

Karen Lewis, the President of the CTU, is our sole guest the week.

The CPS Board’s unanimous decision yesterday to close  or “turn around” 17 schools will result in contracts for the Academy of Urban School Leadership, which will be asked to run, and presumably improve, these schools.  Lewis expresses skepticism that AUSL is up to the task.

She refers to a new study by Designs for Change that appears to demonstrate just how complex “turnarounds” can be in entrenched, poverty-locked neighborhood schools. The study claims, in fact, that “conventional schools” with highly effective Local School Councils and collaborative staff environments actually outperform the contracted-out schools – this despite the fact that the “turnaround” schools are given large sums of money and resources that the conventional schools don’t get. You can read the entire study here. 

Lewis says that despite the perception that teacher unions protect mediocre and ineffective teachers, it’s surprisingly easy at CPS to fire a bad teacher – even a tenured one.  What’s needed, she says, are better ways to reach mid-life teachers who are “hitting the wall” and help get them back on track.

And by the way, she and J.C. Brizard text each other quite often, and they meet face-to-face on a regular basis.


About Ken

Ken's the host of Chicago Newsroom. A former news director, reporter and radio program host, he's also a past Vice President of the Chicago Headline Club.
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