"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Rahm's Corporate Pals Running CPS School Closings and CPS School Openings

After years of malignant neglect by the Daley Machine in Chicago, Rahm Emanuel is now in charge of completing the school corporatization plan that has fully taken shape since 2000.  Emanuel last year appointed the former head of the corporate welfare outfit, the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL), to head his covey of appointed toadies on the CPS "Board of Education."  From the Tribune:
Launched by a reform-minded venture capitalist in 2001, AUSL has always enjoyed a close relationship with CPS. But never more so than under Emanuel, who selected a former AUSL top executive to oversee CPS' finances and named AUSL's previous board chairman as president of CPS' Board of Education.
AUSL is another of the total compliance lockdown school designs created to culturally neuter urban children, and now AUSL has almost the entire feeding trough to themselves in Chicago. 

 Who will benefit?  Not the children and not even their test scores, as the Tribune story below the video clearly indicates.  But that doesn't seem to matter to Rahm the Reptile, who believes, anyway, these kids are "never going to amount to anything."  With his swindler cronies in charge of psychologically sterilizing these kids, Rahm surely knows what he's talking about.

From Democracy Now:
As students across the country stage a National Day of Action to Defend Public Education, we look at the nation’s largest school systems—Chicago and New York City—and the push to preserve quality public education amidst new efforts to privatize schools and rate teachers based on test scores. In Chicago, the city’s unelected school board voted last week to shut down seven schools and fire all of the teachers at 10 other schools. In New York City, many educators are criticizing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration after the release of the names of 18,000 city teachers, along with a ranking system that claims to quantify each teacher’s impact on the reading and math scores of their pupils on statewide tests. "The danger is that if teachers and schools are held accountable just for these relatively narrow measures of what it is that students are doing in class, that will become what drives the education system," says Columbia University’s Aaron Pallas, who studies the efficiency of teacher evaluation systems. "The effects of these school closings in [New York City] is one of the great untold stories today," says Democracy Now! education correspondent Jaisal Noor. "The bedrock of these communities [has been] these neighborhood schools, and now they are being destroyed." Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says, "When you have a CEO in charge of a school system, as opposed to a superintendent, a real educator, what ends up happening is that they literally have no clue as to how to run the schools." Lewis recounts a meeting where she says Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel told her that "25 percent of these kids are never going to be anything. They’re never going to amount to anything." [includes rush transcript]

Joel Hood and Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Chicago Tribune reporters

Over the last decade, a nonprofit teaching academy with strong political ties has launched an education revolution inside Chicago Public Schools, tearing down and rebuilding some of the city's worst-performing schools.

Now running 19 schools and locked in a public battle this month to add six more, the Academy for Urban School Leadership has become a force inside CPS, a virtually autonomous "district within the district" supported by millions in public and private funding.

The organization's pioneering work to "turn around" struggling schools by removing most of the teachers and administrators and replacing them with AUSL-trained staff, and installing a new culture of discipline and academic rigor, has won them praise from political heavyweights such as Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

"Schools are in crisis right now. They're failing," said Donald Feinstein, AUSL's executive director. "And so the question is, how long would it take (for CPS) to redevelop an entire workforce when there may be a better way to go in with a dramatic intervention?"

Launched by a reform-minded venture capitalist in 2001, AUSL has always enjoyed a close relationship with CPS. But never more so than under Emanuel, who selected a former AUSL top executive to oversee CPS' finances and named AUSL's previous board chairman as president of CPS' Board of Education.

AUSL, which has hopes of managing as many as 38 schools next year, has been perhaps the biggest beneficiary in Emanuel's push to overhaul the city's beleaguered public school system. Yet for all the public attention, AUSL's results have been mixed; many students have made considerable progress, but as a group they still lag well behind district averages.

Test scores increased remarkably in AUSL's 12 "turnaround" schools in the first year or two under the group's management but then leveled out, with many ending up on par or even below comparable neighborhood schools.

All of AUSL's turnarounds remain on academic probation, including the two original turnaround projects, Sherman Elementary in 2006 and Harvard Elementary in 2007. However, two of the turnarounds have earned elite Level 1 rankings from CPS, a sign they could come off probation next year. Six others were designated Level 3, placing them among the worst in the city.

While CPS has recommended closing many neighborhood schools in recent years because of poor performance or underutilization, two-thirds of AUSL's schools remain open at less than 70 percent capacity.

Most of AUSL turnarounds score below CPS averages on the percentage of students meeting or exceeding state benchmarks on standardized testing. Those schools that beat district averages have been accused of pushing out their lowest-performing students or those with discipline problems to artificially inflate their test scores.

While AUSL teachers have implemented an intense and focused training style to keep students engaged, few of those strategies have found their way into other CPS schools.

And critics — who include some parents, the teachers union and a few educators — say every time CPS hands over another school to AUSL, it is diverting money away from cash-strapped neighborhood schools that risk falling further behind.

"We just worry about the extent to which these politically connected individuals are using AUSL as a method to alter the landscape of neighborhood schools," said Chicago Teachers Union staff coordinator Jackson Potter. "Because they're not the ones that have to deal with the fallout that comes as a result of these decisions. It's the community."

AUSL's supporters see it differently. CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley, tapped by Emanuel after running AUSL's finances for three years, says the organization is taking on the toughest challenges in CPS and that it takes time to change the culture at chronically underperforming schools.

Cawley called AUSL an "important partner" with CPS and said those ties will only strengthen over time. In 2008, just two years after it began the turnaround model, AUSL officials set a target of 25 schools by 2012 and a long-term plan of 38 schools by 2013-14.

"Detractors look for things to make a fuss about," Cawley said. "The results that AUSL gets are fantastic. And as long as that continues, we would be delighted to have them take on more and more of the lowest-performing schools and help make them better."

Chicago investor Martin Koldyke, founder of the Golden Apple Foundation, created AUSL with the simple goal of better preparing young teachers for the unique demands of urban education. AUSL filled its ranks with teachers wanting to provide more intense, hands-on instruction and recruited many from careers outside education.

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