EDITORIAL: 'Wall-to-wall IB' is another example of Emanuel administration's nonsense

One of the ironies of the current (and growing) controversy over whether several high school principals in Chicago should be allowed to fire experienced teachers under the pretext of selecting them for a so-called "Wall-to-wall IB" program is that no such thing exists. Despite the fact that principals at Lincoln Park, Clemente, Senn, and Hyde Park high schools have tried to utilize the pretext of "Wall to wall IB" selection to replace veteran teachers, not one of the principals would be able to explain just how a program calling itself "IB" can exist "wall to wall" at any high school in Chicago. By definition, the IB program is extremely rigorous and highly selective. Few students really want to participate in the program, and many drop out of it because the academic demands are so great. By definition IB is for a small minority of highly motivated and very hard working students, most of whom will forego many of the other opportunities of their high school years because of the demands of the IB program.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel speaking at Morton "School of Excellence" (a turnaround school) on November 29, 2011. Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.But cheap publicity stunts have never been a barrier to the quickies that Rahm Emanuel is known for.

Like many other propaganda thrusts by the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, it was utilized as a cheap publicity stunt when it was announced, and then degenerated into a ploy to eliminate veteran teachers from the schools at which it is being implemented.

An additional fact of interest is that not one of the principals currently empowered (by the simple fact that they are principals) has any understanding of the complexity of the IB program as it has really existed over time at the classroom and student-teacher level. All of these factors are coming together in the Spring of 2013 to create the volatility that erupted at Lincoln Park High School on May 3 and which is looming for the five or six others schools at which principals were so unwise as to "rescind" the job offers of veteran teachers under the recent CPS flip flops.


May 5, 2013 at 9:01 AM

By: Rod Estvan

The Historic problem at LP

I think the motivation for LP going wall to wall IB was the U of C study of the positive impact of that program even on students who did not get the IB diploma, which as George notes correctly is the majority who enter the program. Lincoln Park HS has a big problem and that problem is the consistent failure of that high school to effectively educate its African American students.

In 2012 using PSAE scores we can see only 35% of black students were reading at state standards, but 89% of white students were testing at or above standards in reading and 66% of Hispanic students were reading at that level. This performance gap is probably the highest among any Chicago high schools that has a significant number of white students. The solution up to now appears to have been to contain the number of lower performing African American students in the school, in 2000 the school was 39.9% black and by 2012 it was only 27.4% black. The largest increase at the school has been for Hispanic students over the same period.

The entire reality of LP has been the problem of low-income black students going to a high school in a high-income white community, so much so that the high school in order to draw in white students changed its name from Robert Waller to Lincoln Park. Going all IB will not solve this performance problem for the subgroup, but it might well force out more low income black students over time. Over and over again middle class white families and even upper income black families have complained over attacks, robberies, and harassment of their children by low-income black students at LP. These commentaries have appeared on numerous blogs over the last ten years.

While the effect of going wall to wall IB is having the effect of purging the staff of the high school the reality of the historic under performance of the school’s African American students over many years needs to be recognized and the reality that going wall to wall IB is likely not to fix that issue any too fast.

Rod Estvan

May 5, 2013 at 7:45 PM

By: Bob Busch

Retirement and 'pension reform'

For whom the bell tolls

It is facts of life that everyone gets old. You are older now than when you got up this morning. Imagine the time when you are so old that you cannot work anymore;

what will you do for money? Being a Baby Boomer that time has arrived.

At eleven years old, my first job was being a caddy at Hickory Hills .The pay was

two dollars and fifty cents for eighteen holes.

Then at fourteen, into Benny’s Warrens sod fields. We worked ten hours a day six days a week the pay one dollar an hour.

My big break came in the summer of 1968 when Gus Skrowan hired me to work as a laborer on some twelve flats in Hickory Hills. The pay was three dollars an hour. But after the sod fields, the work was clean and I seriously considered a career in carpentry. But I chose to be a teacher instead.

These jobs loomed large later on when, along with the other second jobs I worked. It came time for me to retire. It was these little jobs, not my forty one years in the Chicago Public Schools that gave me enough quarters to be eligible for Social Security and Medicare.

When I did retire, it turns out that because I get a state pension my Social Security was slashed by ¾; in fact I have to write a check for Medicare. Now because I get Social Security, my cola will be cut 20%. All the while, I know people getting thousands from

Social Security who never worked a day in their life. It looks like they are the winners.

If the proposed cuts to my pension are adapted, it will hurt. But I am not foolish enough

to believe that will be the end of attacks to my only income. The ink will not be dry on any pension reform law before it will start again, like sharks smelling blood the hemorrhage will continue. What is next?

There is only a finite amount of money Illinois will ever get, and it will never be enough to satisfy what one of our late Springfield representatives called “The eaters”. Those of us who worked our entire lives have been cast aside. Sacrificed on the alter of greed and corruption by Legislative demons past present and I dare say future. And not one of the bastards is going to jail for stealing my dreams.

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