Vallas: Study Vindicates Rigorous International Baccalaureate Program

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Paul Vallas says new research from the University of Chicago vindicates a program he instituted that had many doubters.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, Vallas took the helm at the school system in 1995, when then-Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of the system and overhauled its governance structure.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Two years later, Vallas moved to open International Baccalaureate – or IB – programs in a dozen neighborhood high schools. The IB program was created in Switzerland for the diplomats’ children, and is linked to international standards.

Before 1997, only Lincoln Park High School had an IB program.

“At the time that we implemented the program, a lot of people thought we were crazy,” Vallas said Thursday.

Melissa Roderick, the author of the U of C study that finds the IB program highly effective, admits to the Chicago Sun-Times that she, herself, thought 15 years ago the idea of expanding the program was crazy – particularly in schools with less-than-stellar performance records.

But Roderick’s research shows the IB program has been perhaps the most successful of any school reform in getting high school students to graduate and go on to top colleges, and in keeping them in college too.

Vallas says the U of C study is vindication.

“One of the criticisms was, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s not going to be enough qualified students to participate in the program, and this program is going to actually undermine the other magnet schools and their magnet programs,” Vallas said. “Well, we proved our critics to be wrong.”

Vallas, who is now the interim school chief in Bridgeport, Conn., thinks the IB program is one of the most effective legacies in his tenure in Chicago.

  • tom sharp

    Pretty funny! A second tier administrator in Bridgeport, Conn. Maybe a look at the dropout rate, the low test scores, and crime in the schools that he “re-constituted” and/or “intervened” with 15 years ago (e.g., Crane, Phillips, Tilden) will show how he himself fell so far. IB works only for kids that can do the work and want to. The program in the inner city schools serves only a handful of kids with most of them not getting the IB Diploma. By the way, that same U. of Chicago group praising IB, also condemned, just this year, the lack of progress in CPS on test scores, attendance, dropout rate etc. Some “legacy” Paul!

    • VEGA


      • tom sharp

        I’m happy for your daughter. Learn to read: I said it works well in the right instances, but in the ghetto schools, it is very problematic. I’d bet you a lot that most inner city “ghetto” schools kids taking the IB Diploma exam don’t pass and fail to get the diploma. The point is Vallas did little or nothing for the schools he messed with the most. That is he fired dozens of principals and thousands of teachers and changed the curricula in the inner city schools and yet those schools didn’t get any better and are still being messed with today by Brizard.

  • zatso

    What is the Vallas push for now?

    A legacy of nothing along with Duncan.

    Philadelphia, New Orleans, Chile, Haiti and now Ct?

    Both big salaries an nothing to show for it.

    Is Vallas still a regular weekend commuter back to Chicago for weekends?


  • ObserverNY

    It’s always great when a Swiss NGO of UNESCO pays for a study to “vindicate” its corrupt educational scheme. That’s right, IBO paid for the study.

  • Friday Roundup | District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS

    […] Vallas: Study Vindicates Rigorous International Baccalaureate Program CBS2: Former Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer Paul Vallas says new research from the University of Chicago vindicates a program he instituted that had many doubters. […]

  • Joey

    I taught in a CPS school throughout the 1990s. Paul Vallas’s entry into the CPS leadership was welcomed and appreciated. Things were awful before Vallas was named the CEO. He made many improvements and never showed anything but the utmost respect for teachers. He certainly is vindicated by this study. Many people with much to lose did not want to see IB programs spread throughout the system. Sadly, Vallas was eventually outmaneuvered and CPS hasn’t had a decent leader since. I can’t help wondering how great it would have been to have had Paul Vallas working his magic all of these years. He has moved around the country a lot since Mayor Daley objected to his management style. He is respected by all. He doesn’t carry the baggage that Brizard carries, for example. It is because of his brilliance and obvious competence. Paul Vallas was a great loss to the city of Chicago. I wish him well in Bridgeport, CT.

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    Paul Vallas is an absolute CRIMINAL!! He has the best public relations machine I’ve ever seen in my life. He does absolutely NOTHING and not only does no one call him on it, because no one questions his claims, they actually make him sound like he accomplished something! Amazing!

    I thought he was supposed to be in Haiti right now “saving” their schools (that was a multi-year contract as per published reports!). His last year in New Orleans he was commuting back-and-forth to Haiti and neglecting his obligation to New Orleans. Now I see he’s hanging out in Illinois and Connecticut. What happened there? The press will STILL say he did a remarkable job with the Haitian schools because they’re too lazy to check it out or consider why he’s not there right now.

    He kept saying how he provided books, new desks, etc. in Philadelphia. He did NONE of that, but no one asked him if he could prove his claims.

    He did NOTHING for New Orleans, except for a little administrative window dressing. But no one asked him to prove his claims of a great make-over there, either.

    It’s INCREDIBLE what this guy gets away with!!!

    • Professor

      As a former CPS teacher who taught before Paul Vallas and during Paul Vallas’s time, I respectfully disagree. CPS was much worse before Paul Vallas. Frankly, after Paul Vallas left in 1999, much of the improvements he made got lost in the shuffle and things went back to the old ways. It’s very sad that he wasn’t respected by Mayor Daley. I believe that we would have seen a better teaching force had he remained.

      I can’t imagine where your comments come from, Angry Al.

  • zatso

    It’s all Greek to me.


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