Monday, June 29, 2009

Latest on the Chicago schools 'miracle'

CPS losing half its teachers

Faster than Arne Duncan can speed-rap about his miracle turnaround in Chicago, comes piles of research showing that he's just been blowing smoke.

The latest comes out of the Univ. of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research. It shows Chicago public schools under the Duncan regime losing more than half of all their teachers within five years -- and about two-thirds of their new ones. As one would expect in this racially segregated school system, the 100 schools suffering the highest teacher turnover rates are those in predominantly African-American and high-poverty neighborhoods.
"I find that really disturbing,'' said Elaine Allensworth, lead author of the study. "I just see no way they can improve if they can't maintain a stable work force.'
The Small Schools connection

The study claims to show higher rates of attrition in smaller schools. But that's misleading because the study looks at turnover and stability percentages. Therefore the loss of a single teacher in a small school could represent a 10-20% loss of staff. More interesting is the high stability rate in small neighborhood schools like Telpochcalli which despite its small size has a low teacher turnover rate.

As the study points out, "the schools that retain their teachers at high rates are those with a strong sense of collaboration among teachers and the principal."

From the Sun-Times:

Although Chicago's Clemente High had its share of fights and gangs, that wasn't why teacher Dana Limberg left last year for Oak Park-River Forest High School. Limberg was disappointed in her principal's leadership -- another factor the consortium tied to teacher turnover.

Many teachers felt a new small-school program "was making a dramatic improvement and he didn't seem to respect it,'' Limberg said. Plus, she said, teachers suddenly had less input -- another turnover trigger.

Huberman: "No problem..."
Chicago Schools CEO Ron Huberman cautioned that Chicago's overall teacher turnover rate is around the national average, and "not all turnover is bad'' because for some, teaching may not be "a good fit.''
But Huberman has to play the good soldier, left to apologize for Daley/Duncan and clean up their mess and start some new teacher mentoring programs that Duncan should have put in place years ago.

Renaissance 2010

There's no mention of Charter schools or of Renaissance 2010 in the entire Consortium report. Why not? The authors say they were unable to get data on teacher turnover rates from the charters. Why not??? If charters were included one can only imagine how much higher the district's attrition rate would be.

Under Duncan/Daley's Renaissance 2010 plan, many schools in the black community were closed and teachers blamed for their "failure." Then they were replaced by privately-managed charter schools like KIPP and Civitas, staffed with inexperienced teachers who work cheap and work 16-hour days, but who generally burn out after three years.


  1. FYI: Charter schools are not obligated to share their personnel data with the rest of the system. Since many of them are small, one can infer similar results to small schools. If not worse...

  2. Anon,

    As I pointed out in my original post, the data on small schools is skewed by percentages. So I wouldn't "attribute similar results." I would assume that the privately managed charters have much higher attrition rates because they generally only hire young, inexperienced teachers. Once those teachers get three years of experience, they are either pushed out or leave for a real teaching job.

  3. Anon,

    Why not? Aren't they public schools? And if, as they claim, they are so much better than the regular public schools, why wouldn't they want to share their data? Don't they want to be accountable to the community.

  4. Many charter schools are small in size, thus may, to a certain extent, face similar issues to those of small schools. Of course, having different rules suggests different outcomes. However, since no one can measure this, the public cannot know the extent to those differences.
    The whole point of being a charter is having some independence from the CPS bureacracy, which includes not having to share their data. Some charter schools or charter networks may use their own internal data to share with the community.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.