When Chicago School CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett released her grand plan for the next five years Monday afternoon, it should have been cause for hope. After all, hope is often the only commodity the city’s cash-starved schools have in almost limitless supply. Instead, the city’s teachers blasted Bennett for not including them in the planning, calling her education blueprint a plan which will “foster mistrust, alienation and lowered expectations.”
In a system still reeling from a contentious strike and the bruising battle over the closing of dozens of schools, the education plan is an ambitious one. Bennett said she intends to make art available at every grade level and said physical education will be expanded in the city’s high schools from two to four years.
The plan calls for adherence to the Common Core State Standards, a national benchmark for math and literacy skills. And the schools chief said she will implement report cards for parents, which give an annual assessment of performance for schools, principals, and teachers.
“Our vision is that we intend for every student in every neighborhood, to be engaged in a rigorous, well rounded instructional program,” Bennett told an audience at Westinghouse College Prep. “We expect that every student will graduate, prepared for a career, and prepared for life.”
But the teachers were notably absent in the audience. And in a blistering statement, union chief Karen Lewis called the blueprint a plan “done in a silo of CPS without any stakeholders at the table.”
“Our school communities do not lack inspiration, they lack revenue,” Lewis said. “It doesn’t matter what new initiatives CPS concocts from year to year if it has no way to appropriately fund them.”
Lewis called it “amazing, that CPS’s first impulse, no matter who heads it, is towards an autocratic, top-down approach, that people who actually work with kids are expected to implement, without the appropriate resources or tools.”
Bennett’s plan called for five strategic “pillars.” High standards with a rigorous curriculum; systems of support that meet all student needs; engaged and empowered families and communities; committed and effective teachers, leaders, and staff; and sound fiscal, operational, and accountability systems.”
Read more at NBC Chicago.
(Photo: NBC Chicago)

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