CHICAGO (CBS) — Hundreds of pink slips might soon be on the way for principals, teachers and staff members at 10 Chicago Public Schools.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to turn the low-performing schools around and he wants to use a certain educational model to do it at most of them, despite protests from the Chicago Teachers Union.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports that the mayor promised to do this during his campaign and he was clear about his support of the Academy for Urban School Leadership, which will be the model for most of the schools targeted for turnarounds.
But the teachers union was asking “where’s the transparency?”
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Emanuel wants the targeted schools to have classrooms led by teachers trained at the Academy for Urban School Leadership, guided by a principal with the same background.
“It’s a model that has proven – not once, not twice, but repetitively – successful across the city, in different parts of the city,” Emanuel said.
That’s why the mayor and CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard have targeted six low-performing schools for AUSL turnarounds next year.
That means every single staff member at those schools will get fired and the staff will be reassembled from scratch.
“You have to hit a restart button. You can’t have a teacher or a principal on their lone, stand and try to change,” Emanuel said.
“You need an environmental change, to effectuate the change you’re looking for,” Brizard added.
Currently, 12 Chicago schools, like Morton School of Excellence, have undergone that change and Emanuel said scores are up at those schools.
But a clean staff sweep doesn’t sit well with some parents of kids at targeted schools, like Theodore Herzl Elementary School.
“I don’t think they should fire the whole staff, because Herzl do have good teachers. It’s some good teachers that is there,” said Herzl mother Tequila Burts.
CTU President Karen Lewis said, “I am against taking every single adult out of the building and destabilizing that school.”
The union said that other turnaround strategies are out there, but Emanuel says the AUSL model is working and, because AUSL teachers have to sign a five-year contract, the city will save money in the long run.
The mayor pointed out that half of new teachers leave CPS after less than five years.
“Every training dollar we train an AUSL teacher, they stay through the hardest years of their education and once they’re past five years, they stay,” Emanuel said. “So we’re getting for the taxpayers, a return on their investment.”
The ten schools targeted for turnaround are:
• Pablo Casals Elementary School
• Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School
• Theodore Herzl Elementary School
• Carter G Woodson South Elementary School
• Melville W Fuller Elementary School
• Marquette Elementary School
• Wendell Smith Elementary School
• Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary School
• Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School
• Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School
CPS officials said the cost to train AUSL teachers adds up to about $400 more per student.
The turnaround plan has to be approved by the Chicago Board of Education, which will also weigh in on any announced school closings – slated to be discussed later this week.
Two of Emanuel’s top school officials have ties to AUSL, but he said that has nothing to do with his decision.