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David Vitale


Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon May 19, 2014

Education Groups Demand Investigation Into Chicago Board Of Ed's Ties To AUSL (VIDEO)

Chicago education activists and grassroots organizations have taken their fight against recently-approved public school turnarounds to the inspectors general of the school district and the U.S. Department of Education.

On April 30, the Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education coalition filed complaints with the two inspector general offices, requesting an investigation into possible conflicts of interest surrounding the Chicago Board of Education's decision last month to hand three academically struggling schools over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a controversial school turnaround contractor. 

In its complaints, the coalition specifically cites Board of Education President David Vitale and board member Carlos Azcoitia as having potential conflicts due to their ties to AUSL. The education coalition, which believes the three recent school turnarounds are invalid due to the alleged conflicts, also notes that Tim Cawley, CPS' Chief Administrative Officer, is the former managing director of AUSL and "is in a position to approve CPS contracts, including the AUSL contracts."

"There seems to be a swinging door relationship between CPS and AUSL," said Valerie Leonard with Chicago Citizens United to Preserve Public Education, which includes groups such as Blocks Together, the Lawndale Alliance, Teachers for Social Justice and other members.

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Apr 23, 2014

Chicago Board Of Education Votes To Turnaround Three CPS Schools

Despite opposition from a swath of parents and community members, the Chicago Board of Education voted on Wednesday to "turnaround" three underperforming elementary schools at the request of the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district. Progress Illinois provides a recap of what happened at Wednesday's board of education meeting.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 10, 2014

Education Activists Call CPS Per-Student Funding Increase 'A Wash'; Fight Against Turnarounds Continues

The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district announced Wednesday that it will increase funding for school budgets next year by $70 million. But education experts and activists stopped short of calling it a big boost for schools.

"It's really not an increase. It's less of a decrease," said Eric 'Rico' Gutstein, faculty associate with the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education.

CPS plans to reduce central office spending and use a one-time accounting adjustment so it can allocate the extra $70 million, which will be used to increase its base per-student funding amount by $250.

It looks like a good chunk of the extra per-pupil funds sent to schools would help to offset inflation and contractually-required pay bumps for teachers, CPS spokesman Joel Hood told the Chicago Sun-Times. Next year, the Chicago Teachers Union is owed a 2 percent teacher pay hike, which will reportedly come out to be no less than $50 million.

West Side education activist Dwayne Truss with the Raise Your Hand education coalition called the per-student funding increase "just a wash."

"You're not gaining much from last year other than being able to just hold on to what you already have," he said. 

PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Wed Apr 9, 2014

Education Activists Take Fight Against Turnarounds To Home Of Board Of Ed President

About 60 education activists and members of Action Now demonstrated outside of Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale's home Tuesday evening in protest of plans to shake up the staff at three elementary schools next year. Progress Illinois was there for the protest.

Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Tue Apr 8, 2014

Gresham Elementary Principal, Supporters Denounce CPS Turnaround Plan (VIDEO)

The principal of a South Side elementary school is pushing back against the Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) turnaround proposal, alleging officials are more concerned about money than students’ best interests.

“It is not about declining enrollment and the capability of the administration or the teachers, it is not about that. This proposed (turnaround) is about money and what was spent on this building. They want this building,” said Diedrus Brown, principal of Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School, located at 8524 S. Green St. in the Auburn Gresham neighborhood.

With support from the Chicago Teachers Union, parents and community activists, Brown criticized CPS’ plan to have the controversial school turnaround contractor Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) overhaul the entire staff at the elementary school next year.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 3, 2014

Dvorak Elementary Supporters Furious About CPS Turnaround Plan

A passionate crowd begged the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) district at a community meeting Wednesday night to spare Dvorak Technology Academy from having its entire staff fired and replaced next school year.

The district wants the controversial school turnaround contractor Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to manage Dvorak, located in Chicago's North Lawndale community, due to the elementary school's less than stellar academic performance.

"If our school is turned around, my concern is that our students who have challenges and issues will be turned away only to end up on the streets of our community," said Tracie Worthy, a member of the North Lawndale Community Action Council who previously served on Dvorak's Local School Council (LSC). "I'm asking that CPS provide the necessary support for Dvorak to stay open as a community school to serve our students ... What we need now are resources and support from CPS to make a difference for our school."