Chicago Teachers Union rejects Consortium study on 'turnarounds'

In a strongly worded statement issued on January 8, 2012, the Chicago Teachers Union challenged a report to be released on January 9, 2012, by the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research that purports to show that "turnaround" works. Chicago Public Schools is currently asking that an additional ten schools be placed in "turnaround", six of them the the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) and four under the CPS turnaround office. The Chicago Board of Education will vote on the proposals at its February 22, 2012 meeting.

Once again in February 2012, the University of Chicago's "Consortium on Chicago School Research" has released a heavily dataed but flimsily critical "study" justifying another of the controversial programs of Chicago's public schools. Without even mentioning that under Illinois law, "Turnaround" is actually the discredited program of "Reconstitution", the Consortium study on Chicago's turnaround was released in advance of the February 22, 2012 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. The University of Chicago's release of the study is obviously to promote the continuation of "turnaround" — despite the fact that "turnaround" has failed both as a strategy in corporate America (long before Mitt Romney's predatory work, a guy named Al Dunlap was being hailed as the "turnaround specialist" in Chicago — "Chainsaw Al" — until it was revealed that his methods were fraudulent) and in CPS. But because the University of Chicago can get away with publishing controversial research that would be exposed as marketing were it to come from others, the latest study has received wide play in Chicago's media. Nevertheless, as the Chicago Sun-Times reported, some of those who worked on the study have warned against it. "Rebecca Maynard, commissioner at a regional agency within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES)," reported Sun-Times reporter Rosalind Rossi, "said IES withdrew plans to publish the study because 'parts of the report were written in such a way that could suggest the study was intended to answer more complex questions than was judged to be possible with the available data.’'" The current study represents a long line of Consortium study which have served to cover up the 15-year failure of mayoral control and Chicago's corporate "school reform." The controversial Consortium study was released early by the University of Chicago, despite challenges to its statistical methods and some of its findings. Consortium people denied that the release of the study was timed to support the proposals to turnaround an additional ten schools this year, or to support the continued use by CPS of the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

The CTU statement issued as a press release follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin. February 8, 2012 312/329-6250

CTU Urges “A Dose of Reality” In Response to Researchers’ New Report on Chicago School Turnarounds

CHICAGO - The Chicago Teachers Union said today that an upcoming report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago on Chicago’s destructive school turnaround policy could benefit from a dose of reality. The report must be considered in light of some important facts.

The record of Chicago schools that have been closed and replaced with new school administrations, one of the four models studied in this report, reveals that these schools end up serving a new, and generally more advantaged pool of students. In essence, the school closing and turnaround policy - pushed on school communities as a so-called reform - only pushed struggling students out of school.

The CTU, parents, and students across the city are concerned about another result of these polices which the CCSR research overlooks: the tremendous reduction in black teachers in our schools. This fact harms students and their ability to relate to their teachers. As a result, the CTU has joined with a group of Black teachers to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that the school board’s 2011 layoff policy has had a disparate impact on black teachers.

According to the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research, Chicago's public school have been undergoing a kind of almost religious salvation since corporate "school reform" began with the passage of the Amendatory Act giving Chicago's mayor complete control over the school system in 1995. Despite the fact that the earlier reform, which gave Chicago decentralization and local schools councils had produced results that were better than anything that came after 1995, the official U of C version of history (above, in the September 1995 report) dates "reform" from the onset of mayoral control, with barely a nod to the decade preceding it. Unlike the blatant corporate attack on the Chicago public schools (like William Bennett's "America's Worst" slander), the Consortium studies have routinely gotten wide play because of their imprimatur. Among the features of Chicago reality generally ignored by the Consortium are the continuation of vicious racial segregation in the city's public schools, the