Live Blogging with Brizard, CEO of CPS
It’s Tuesday, May 22, and we’re sitting down with the CEO of Chicago Pubic Schools (CPS), J.C. Brizard. Later this week we’ll post an analysis and commentary on the discussion. For now, here is a summary of the questions and answers.
Question: Why do you think a longer day will be better for our kids?
According to Brizard, principals will be involved in developing the activities and curricula for the longer school day, following a basic structure but allowing for innovation and local control.
Right now, according to Brizard, in “lousy” high schools, kids are milling around, without much purpose, between classes. In good schools, kids walk into a school and into a classroom, knowing exactly what to do and what is expected of them. Brizard would like to see that happen in every Chicago school, each and every day. Brizard believes that a longer day, when properly structured, will be beneficial for all CPS students.
Question: Will the teachers go on strike?
Accoridng to Brizard, there is a tremendous amount of misinformation out there, as well as an emotional ploy to increase anxiety among CPS stakeholders. He says he is now spending 70% of his time talking to teachers, allaying their concerns, which relate primarily to compensation and evaluation. Brizard informed us that the new compensation system will be based on a differentiated pay model and focused on three areas: 1) career ladder; 2) market factors; and 3) performance.
As it currently stands, the evaluation system now in place is unfair to teachers, says Brizard. The new system will encourage principals to train and mentor teachers. Brizard informed us that teacher evaluations will not be published publicly.
Question: Ogden, in Kindergarten, has a 28-1 student-teacher ratio. Do you want that for your young son when he enters the CPS system in a couple of years?
According to Brizard, CPS schools are now getting more control over how they spend their dollars, which can include having an assistant in the classroom. Ogden, with its 28-1 ratio is an unusual case, due mostly to the fact that it has experienced tremendous growth (similar to Lincoln Park Elementary) since the new building opened.
Question: The application process is painfully complicated. How can you simplify it for parents?
Currently, according to Brizard, there are about 50 different applications forms for CPS high schools. In the next year, CPS hopes to roll out one system for all students applying to city schools. Once the new system is successfully implemented at the high school level, it will be instituted for elementary schools as well.
Question: What happened to the $130 million in the budget that was allocated for the longer school day?
Funds were allocated based on each school’s needs. Some schools used it for teacher prep time, comprehensive arts programs, or to implement world language initiatives. Each school received a different amount and, according to Brizard, there was virtually no pushback from principals.
Question: With about 1400 teachers and many principals retiring, where are the new (and great) teachers and principals coming from?
Brizard tells us that Chicago has the highest starting salaries for teachers in the country and a very high retention rate. Teachers want to work here. Principals are coming from local universities and CPS is tapping into the national system to recruit the best candidates. Brizard says he’s also “poaching” principals from other cities. “The human capital piece is huge for us,” he says.
Brizard tells us that one of his greatest challenges is getting LSC’s (Local School Councils) to hire principals. CPS creates a pool of what they consider to be qualified candidates and it’s up to LSC’s to make the decisions about whom to hire. Many LSC’s, says Brizard, have been dragging their feet for years, with no final decisions being made about who will lead the schools.
~By Wendy Widom
The photo comes from our friends at Chicagoist.