Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What happened to Runcie's anti-truancy plan?

Byrd-Bennett gets a whisper of advice on CPS truancy from  state Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie at a Nov.meeting. (Tribune )
The CPS focus on the so-called "under-utilization" of schools is all wrong and their plan to close hundreds of schools is misdirected. That's the only reasonable conclusion one can come to, especially after reading the latest report on the district's failure to implement its own anti-truancy program. 

It turns out that the problem of dwindling attendance, particularly in low-income communities on the south and west side, has been ignored by the past three administrations at CPS, even though millions of dollars had been allocated for a comprehensive anti-truancy plan.

The Tribune reports that the plan, developed in 2010 by  Ron Huberman's Chief Administrative Officer Robert Runcie, who left Chicago the next year to become superintendent of the Broward County, Fla., was shelved soon after it was written. Millions of dollars in anti-truancy funds that were apparently given to non-performing, outside consultants remain unaccounted for. 

The Trib quotes former CPS Office of Student Support and Engagement leader Paige Ponder, whose division helped oversee the effort before she left the district in frustration. Truancy and absenteeism are "such an enormous, complex issue. But the money, the will, the leadership just wasn't there to tackle it in a sustained way."

It's not clear who's leaking these internal documents to the Tribune. This is the second major leak in a month, following the report of the secret list of supposedly underutilized schools marked for closing. The latest leak may have come from Runcie himself, a Harvard grad who was trained at the infamous Broad Superintendents Academy, but passed over for the top spot at CPS in favor of J.C. Brizard

The long and short of it is that communities are not under-utilizing their schools. Rather, dwindling populations in some south and west side neighborhood schools are the product of a myriad of problems having to do with poverty, violence, and  failed policies (over-development of charter schools) and misuse of public funds at the top of the system with its lack of transparency and public accountability. 


  1. Photo of BBB is deserving of a caption contest. She always looks like she is in deep thought, like she knows all the answers to the problems in education.

  2. Well, gee, what a surprise..."millions of dollars...remain unaccounted for." Perhaps this money went into raises for top CPS officials, or to hire MORE CPS officials, or to UNO or any of the other charter school top brass (we know it doesn't go to charter school teachers or supplies for students).
    You know, if PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHERS so incompetently handled student improvement programs/money, they would not only be fired, but they would be prosecuted.
    Chicago's (un)official motto ought not to be "we don't want nobody nobody sent," but should be "nobody in charge is
    accountable for nuttin'."

  3. My caption contest entry:
    "Hey Barb, I think they're on to us. They look pretty angry."


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