Contents

  1. The Vallas Education Record: In His Own Words
  2. Six Steps to Chicago Public Schools’ Excellence
  3. Fourth Tier: Community Based Education and  Occupational Training Centers
  4. Universal Cradle to the  Classroom
  5. Kudos To Cradle To Classroom  – Chicago Tribune
  6. Rocking the Cradle… Over –  Chicago Tribune
  7. Renaissance 2010 Information
  8. Data from Vallas Career

 

1. The Vallas Education Record: In His Own Words

Chicago Public Schools Record

Prior to my arrival at CPS, Chicago’s schools had seen decades of financial crisis, infrastructure neglect, academic failure and labor unrest. I presided over six years of labor peace, balanced six budgets, and built 76 new school buildings, all while completing over 3000 renovation projects including major renovations (new windows, roofs and tuck pointing) on more than 350 existing building. I opened the then-largest afterschool, summer school and early childhood programs in the country.

When I left CPS, the system had seen six straight years of improved academic performance, received, 12 bond rating upgrades and held almost $1 billion in fund balances, along with a fully funded teacher retirement system. Student enrollment during our tenure grew by 30,000 after more than a decade of decline. This brought hundreds of million additional dollars into the district in the form of General State Aid, Federal Poverty Grants, etc.

From 1995 to 2001, we cleaned up the asbestos poisoning our buildings, tore down the Willis Wagons and replaced all the pre-fab schools that had dominated the racially isolated communities on the west and south sides with modern brick and mortar buildings.

All told we built 78 new state of the art school buildings in six years and took all the projects out of the highly politicized Public Building Commission (PBC) so as to ensure maximum competition, affordable pricing and quality construction. Average construction time for new buildings was 14-16 months, the cost per square foot was one half to one third lower than others cities and past PBC construction. Price per square foot remained steady over my six years at $126, with average change orders of only 4%, which is a historic low for both public and private construction.

My administration took unprecedented action in ensuring that our massive construction program helped minority business, minority workers and City residents by setting and achieving the most ambitious equity objectives of any governmental entity in the nation. We required that our school construction program, which exceeded over $3 billion, allocate 50% of all construction contracts to minority and woman-owned businesses, required 50% of all workers be minority and 50% be city residents. We exceeded our targets.  We also awarded over one third of our professional service contracts to minority companies (law firms, architectural firms, etc) and awarded all of our private custodial contracts for our new schools to neighborhood minority companies (the existing schools continued to be served by in-house custodians.

During this period we dramatically expanded high quality education choices by opening new magnet high schools and school based magnet programs in each of the six education regions. These included the following new magnet schools and neighborhood based magnet programs.

Highlights include:

  • Northside College Prep
  • Walter Payton College Prep
  • Jones College Prep
  • Lindblom Math and Science Academy
  • King
  • Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy
  • Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville
  • Carver Military Academy
  • Fifteen new International Baccalaureate (IB) Academies in neighborhood high schools (at least two in each region) and eight IB feeder schools
  • Five high school based Military Academies
  • Five high school based World Language Academies
  • Dozens of magnet middle grade feeder programs in neighborhood schools
  • Dual Enrollment and Early College Programs in which almost 6,000 students annually participated with City Colleges and other colleges and universities

We increased our teacher cadre adding over 2,000 additional Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) teacher members during my six year tenure, and selected almost all of our central office education administrators, Regional Superintendent, school, principals and assistant principals from our own teacher ranks.

My administration raised teacher salaries by 17%, enjoying six years of labor peace with no formal union grievances and the school year starting on time. CTU leadership was treated as a full partner in decision making, having full access to district data, financial information and cabinet deliberation. Even during non-collective bargaining periods we met monthly, and my Chief Academic Officer me weekly with CTU leadership. CTU leadership was treated as a full partner.

Our tenure was a period of unprecedented diversity in staff and leadership, as two thirds of our central office and school administrators were persons of color. There was also unprecedented growth in the number of Latino/a administrators- when we left, 26 central and regional office administrators and 78 school principals and assistant principals were Hispanic. {

We negotiated two collective bargaining agreements, the first within three weeks of taking office and the second before the previous contract expired. We raised teacher salaries by an aggregate 17% during my tenure, added Domestic Partners to the benefits portion of the contract and left the CTRS fully funded at greater than 100%. We did not have a single CTU grievance filed against the district

The State Charter School Law was the Democrats alternative to the Republican controlled legislature to turn CPS into a voucher system. We awarded 14 charters covering sixteen campuses carefully targeting neighborhoods that had overcrowding. We also created the Youth Connections Charter School. This was a network of 25 already existing non profit alternative schools that served students who had left CPS. These included drops outs, expelled students and young adults under 21 released from incarceration. It served over three thousand displaced students annually.

I resisted privatization and opposed the Mayors Office recommendation that we privatize custodial services agreeing only to privatize services for the new schools and to award all the contracts to neighborhood minority businesses instead of the national mega companies like Aramaic and Sodexo.

Improved Academic Performance (Highlights)

My tenure as CEO of CPS was unprecedented in the improvement shown by students by all indicators as well as a dramatic increase in the number of students in Advanced Placement and accelerated programs. Some highlights:

  • Reading scores improved in five of six years and math scores every year with overall test score growth increasing by well over 50%.
  • The number of students performing in the bottom quartile dropped from 52% to under 25%.
  • The number of schools performing in single digits dropped from 47 to none and the number at greater than 50% (reading) more than doubled from 54-117.
  • The graduation rate rose from 61% to almost 68% during this period and the ACT scores improved despite the mandate that all students take the ACT.
  • Student attendance also improved during this period by almost 3% from 88.7% to 91.5% and student mobility decline dramatically from 36% to 25.2%.
  • The number of students in AP increasing by over 1,400 and the number of students in dual enrollment and Early College growing by almost 5,000.
  • The number of top performing students (those in the 9th standing or above), exiting the system between 7th and 9th grade declined from 27% to 15%

Footnote:

It’s important to note that over seven years after my accepting the CEO position in Philadelphia, math scores almost tripled and reading scores more that doubled. For seven consecutive years in New Orleans, beginning with my appointment as Superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District, the District led the State in academic growth.

2. Six Steps to Chicago Public Schools’ Excellence

As Mayor, my first priority in education is to clean up the corruption and ethical vacuum that has been rampant at CPS – in addition to the lack of oversight and accountability the current school board has shown. Incidents like the sex abuse scandals, the state virtual take-over of the diverse learner requirements, and recently the scandal Camelot schools have further eroded the trust of our community. These school issues just add to the association of Chicago as the most corrupt city in the nation, all under Mayor Emanuel’s watch.

To bring about real and lasting change requires the bold steps of removing those involved in the scandals, cleaning house, and setting new rules and regulations for contracts and bidding. However, most importantly, we must adopt a laser-like focus that every child in the Chicago Public Schools is able to create a personal vision for their life and then we allocate the resources equipping them to reach it.

Here are the fundamental tenants of my approach:

  • Accountability, Honesty and Transparency

 

      1. I will take steps to first have a board of education that fulfills its oversight, accountability, and policy functions.  I will create a hybrid school board of appointed and elected positions under an appointed Board President for balanced representation
      2. I will swiftly review and establish polices/procedures so that the scandals mentioned above will not be repeated and seek to avoid future ones.
      3. I will pledge to be transparent and honest at all times – especially in school finances and budget matters
      4. I will stop the “numbers games” CPS plays to make itself look good in student achievement data and honestly report graduation rates, drop-out rates, and student achievement gains and growth. There is no value in lying to ourselves or community. We need to take an honest look at where our academic performance is today and prepare aggressive intervention and remediation programs.
      5. I will insist the findings of the Inspector General regarding CPS will not only be made public, but you will ensure the remedies to those negative reports will be made public. These findings will not only be updated at various meetings, they will also be available for all concerned citizens to access them online and in other ways

 

  • Stabilizing School Finances

      1. I will insure the full funding (city and state) of teacher and other district pensions
      2. I will review and evaluate Emanuel’s Capital proposal which many believe is unsound
      3. I will explore the feasibility of providing funding for existing charter schools at the same funding formula as CPS schools.
      4. I will immediately initiate a comprehensive management review of CPS policies, rules, and regulations reducing bureaucratic redundancy; duplication, and financial waste. We will bring the best minds together from inside and outside the district to identify what is happening now and where do we need to go for optimal financial performance.
      5. I will insist on balanced and transparent CPS budgets that use inclusive engagement by members of the community from the beginning to the end.
      6. I will develop and implement a long-term financial plan that is a school improvement and investment vehicle to enhance long-term financial stability and accountability.
      7. I will review the “per pupil funding formula for schools” and compare to my school – based budgeting model for general (non-Title 1 funding).  Per pupil funding leads to hiring practices that avoid more senior, experienced teachers.

 

  • Increasing Student Achievement, choices and opportunities.

      1. I will make Early Childhood education a priority and talk about the long- term benefits, which will include providing universal access to pre-natal to the classroom services (Cradle to Kindergarten initiative). My goal is to ensure all third graders are at reading level and provide parents the support and skills needed to be effective.in assisting their child to reach this goal.
      2. Recognize the inadequacy of the current “selective” enrollment high school policy and will create access to comparable highest quality high school in every neighborhood.
      3. I will review the proposed unsound policy about who have missed large numbers of school days graduate if they know the subject, I will provide a new model for individualizing instruction whereby students can progress at their own rate and can move ahead as quickly as their talents allow.
      4. I will create new high school models for the 21st century, based not on Carnegie units, now a century old, but on the technological, global 21st century economy. This will entail specialized vocational education, internships, work study, dual enrollment, individualized learning, and competency” based graduation requirements.
      5. I will explore ways to relieve schools and teachers of the unnecessary pressures of working in what have become “test-factories, “where teachers are spending a majority of their time on test prep and minimizing instruction in history, literature, art, music, health and physical education, and other subjects that make up a true “education.” Life does not present us with learning standards to use daily. Instead, it requires well-rounded learners to assume the lead for cultural and global change.
      6. I will develop and implement meaningful and beneficial Professional Development for staff and teachers at all levels: senior leadership training, senior staff training in their competencies, principal leadership training, and teacher Professional Development (classroom management, Multi Tiered Systems of Support, district curriculum strategic initiatives, new state and district policies that effect the classroom, etc.)

 

  • Governance and Structure

      1. I will support a new model for the board of education. I will support a board with 4 elected members by Chicago citizens, 4 members appointed by the mayor, and a board president or chairman appointed by the mayor. I will also provide comprehensive training of board members so that they can fully understand their power, roles, and responsibilities.
      2. I will initiate a comprehensive demographic study to determine how we can maintain neighborhood schools and best utilize existing buildings. I will pledge there will be a long term plan to right size the district and that there be a plan to repurpose buildings that are designated for closure.
      3. I will support the creation of new charters to replace failing charters, when their is an opportunity to expand high quality school choices while not creating overcapacity and to provide specialty schools and programs (alternative schools and schools for children with special needs).

 

  • School Safety

      1. I will promise that updated school safety plans are available and easily accessible in all our schools. These plans need to address multiple contingencies. Including but not limited to active shooter, riots, natural disasters, and other issue that could cause harm to our students. shelter in place, physical safe areas and establishing secondary duties in which school employees have specifically defined assignments and training for emergency situations.
      2. I will insist that schools to be “Safe Havens” with an abundance of school-based activities that include after school, weekend, and when school is out. It is critical to ensure students are constructively engaged, supported, and are in safe and secure environment
      3. I will restore the CPS Police Unit under a separate CPD Commander and place at least one officer in every school eventually adding over 400 additional officers that could be used to reinforce area patrols during days when schools are not open.
      4. I will expanded training for Parent Patrols and reestablishment of the Youth Outreach Officers.
      5. I will support developing digital platform to create an anti-bullying and early warning system. This toll provide the schools and CPD with the intelligence needed to address student bullying and harassment issues and to intervene to prevent potential violence.
      6. I will renew our commitment to and expanded support for the Alternative Schools Network. We must ensure that young adults 16-21 who have left school for academic reasons, for behavioral reasons, legal incidents or, for other personal reasons are given another opportunity at an education and acquiring a employable skill
      7. I will insist on keeping students safe and secure while helping them academically through the Extended Day/ Extended Year Program. This program includes keeping schools open for an additional two hours for additional instruction, academic support and enrichment determined by need. Children will be provided a third meal. The extended year program added an additional six weeks of six hour a day instruction for all students not at grade level and provided enrichment opportunities

 

  • Technology for Transformational Change

      1. I promise enough resources are provided for all our schools for full day technology access for student academics.
      2. I will insist that technology proficiencies are developed or updated for all CPS students, staff and leaders. Within three years, demonstrating mastery of these standards will be required for all staff and leaders to remain employed with CPS.
      3. I will support the school district development and use of multiple instructional models for technology inclusion in the classroom to create innovative and engaging learning opportunities.
      4. I will insist that within three years, technology is used to transform academic experiences for every child in every classroom in CPS.
      5. I will ensure CPS creates, refines, implements, and supports technology-based parent engagement options. This includes access to their student’s data including attendance, homework, schedule, discipline events. Yet, we will go beyond the traditional parent engagement activities and technology will allow us to do that.
      6. I will explore finding a way to make sure every home in our community has a working computer for the students to use while at home. We will leverage existing district resources to meet this need and minimize the costs.
      7. I will support adopting a district-wide student technology leadership program allowing students who may not traditionally participate in school activities find a way to pursue their interests and increase their leadership skills.
      8. I will ensure all district-wide technology systems, instructional and operational, are appropriate, accurate, and used effectively to provide the best access and use of data for decision making.

 

  • Community Based Adult Education and Occupational Training Centers

    1. Closed schools could become sites for “Community Based Education and Occupational Training Centers.”
    2. There could be categories of schools. Alternative CTE high schools targeting high school dropouts aged 17-21 and Adult CTE Centers targeting an older population ages 21-50.
    3. The schools could house new programs or provide facilities for existing programs like those offered by the Youth Connection Charter Schools and such community based organizations as Bethel New Life, The Safer Foundation, etc. These schools would be supported by the Alternative Schools Network, which a network of service organizations that support the population in these schools.
    4. State authorization that allows Chicago to develop five multi-site charter schools that serve high school dropouts who have already left the system. State authorization for the creation of “Adult High Schools” that can award adults high school diplomas
    5. These centers could access the Federal and State funding that are available to address the education and occupational training of high school dropouts, chronically unemployed, TANF eligible, displaced Veterans and ex-offenders. *
    6. The Federal Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), which awards grants of up to $8,000 per trainee, for certificated occupational training covering ages 16-40. Workforce Tax Credit (WTC) which awards Federal tax credits of as much as $9,700 to employers who hire WIOA certified trainees after.
    7. The schools could house new programs or provide facilities for existing programs like those offered by the Youth Connection Charter Schools and such community based organizations as Bethel New Life, The Safer Foundation, etc. These schools would be supported by the Alternative Schools Network, which a network of service organizations that support the population in these schools.

3. Fourth Tier: Community Based Education and Occupational Training Centers

Universal access to Adult Education and Occupational Training

The development of Occupational Training Platforms to support the offering of Career and Technical Education (CTE) training at all neighborhood high schools and alternative high schools and the introduction of junior and senior year School to Work accredited electives, to allow all students the opportunity to work while the complete high school. Offering a core of basic certificated occupational training at each of the City College Campuses and through “Satellite Campuses” and Community Partners. This will include developing a Fourth Tier education program focusing on 17-40 year olds who are drop outs, TANF, Ex Offenders, displaced Veterans and chronically unemployed. This training is eligible for Federal Workforce Innovation Opportunity (WIOA) Act and Workforce Tax Credit (WTC) Funding as well as possible State funding through the Community College formula and the new State Adult High School Program.

 

The Fourth Tier could also support the Courts by providing Adult Education and Occupational Training and Support Services alternatives for non-violent first time offenders, for workforce preparation for those who are incarcerated and for ex-offenders during re-entry.

Fourth Tier Sites

Closed schools could become sites for “Community Based Education and Occupational Training Centers.” These centers could access the Federal and State funding that are available to address the education and occupational training of high school dropouts, chronically unemployed individuals, TANF eligible, displaced Veterans and ex-offenders.

This would enable the community to address the needs of a population of young adults that in many communities rivals the present high school population in size. There could be categories of schools.

Alternative CTE high schools targeting high school dropouts ages 17-21 and Adult CTE Centers targeting an older population ages 21-50. The schools could house new programs or provide facilities for existing programs like those offered by the Youth Connection Charter Schools and such community based organizations as Bethel New Life, The Safer Foundation, etc. These schools would be supported by the Alternative Schools Network, which a network of service organizations that support the population in these schools.

Available funding and support comes from mainly four programs:

  • State authorization that allows Chicago to develop five multi-site charter schools that serve high school dropouts who have already left the system.
  • State authorization for the creation of “Adult High Schools” that can award adults high school diplomas.
  • The Federal Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA), which awards grants of up to $8,000 per trainee for certificated occupational training covering ages 16-40.
  • Workforce Tax Credit (WTC) which awards Federal tax credits of as much as $9,700 to employers who hire WIOA certified trainees after only 120 hours

 

4. Universal Cradle to the Classroom

Rahm Emanuel’s election year commitment to universal four year old pre-school is a classic example of too little, too late. It comes years after early childhood budget cuts and reflects a profound misunderstanding that the most important reasons for the achievement gap can not be addressed in an early childhood program that does not give primacy to ensuring that critical supports are available during the critical prenatal through three years. This is when over two thirds of the brain development occurs. Early childhood needs to be about research proven initiatives that can level the playing field when the children start kindergarten.

Beginning with the absence prenatal care, the often ongoing limited access to health care, the lack of early numeracy, early literacy and the more limited exposure to vocabulary in the birth to three years, results in too many low income children beginning school at a distinct disadvantage. This disadvantage and the damage that is done in the early years is never overcome for a large number of children regardless of the quality of K-12 programs even when preschool for four year olds is provided.

My Initiative

Among my education initiatives there will be no more important program than universal “Cradle to the Classroom” that includes universal pre-natal care and parent coaching. The program will focus on identifying all pregnant teens, assigning them a “Parent Coach”, ensuring the pregnant teen receive proper prenatal care to ensure that the child is born healthy, that the mother and child have access to ongoing health care and that the child has access to early literacy, early numeracy and vocabulary. These are essential components to closing the achievement gap. The young mothers continue to be coached from the prenatal phase until the child enters kindergarten.

A major component of the program is to train the mother and potentially the father, if identified and involved, to be a skilled parent, equipped to ensure that the child’s early nutrition, health care and early education needs are addressed. Extensively trained parent coaches, supervised by early childhood administrators and teachers, provide the bulk of the home outreach. These coaches are parents from the community, both accomplished and motivated, with the ability to communicate and relate to the children based on sometimes-common experiences.

The Cradle is a gap closing program. Research has shown that such a program provides the critical supports necessary to ensure that children are developing at normal levels. There is no more effective and affordable program for closing the achievement gap than Cradle.

The Cradle also has also proven to be one of the most effective programs in existence for reducing the drop out rate and repeat teen pregnancies. Pregnant teens have drop rates second only to incarcerated youth. Pregnant teens in well constructed Cradle programs have graduation rates ranging from 80-90% and repeat pregnancy rates while in the programs are statistically insignificant.

The Cost

The Cradle to the Classroom program can be quickly brought to scale at a fraction of the cost of a universal four year old full day preschool program that would be heavily dependent on additional State funding. Such a program could also secure additional revenue to ultimately more than offset its modest costs from the additional income from increased student enrollment and Medicaid reimbursements.

This does not include the enormous annual cost savings that will eventually be secured and continue to grow from having children start school without a learning gap and the special needs that often require ongoing expensive support services over time. This would eventually free up considerable money that could be used to finance a universal four year old early childhood program and other much needed education interventions and supports while at the same time reducing the need for annual property tax increases.

Example of the Potential Cost Savings

A study that was conducted in 2005 by the Illinois Hospital Association, to measure the difference in delivery costs between two mothers from the same demographic, one which received prenatal care and one that did not, calculated the additional cost of delivery was over $250 million annually. Projected over 30 years, the cost was well over $ 10 billion aggregate. Now just imagine for a minute the other cost differentials resulting from long term health problems, special education services, disciplinary problems, drop outs, unemployment, incarceration, is enormous. This does not even include the costs to the economy from lost economic productivity.

Expanded Economic Opportunities

The Cradle is also a highly effective program providing employment and potential career opportunities for hard working committed inner city mothers, who are recruited and trained to serve as parent coaches. They receive the training opportunities needed to not only become effective para-professionals and early childhood providers but to also ascend career ladders to more advanced training and employment opportunities. My Cradle program employed almost parents who served 2,500 pregnant teens annually. Almost all were on Public Assistance.

Under my program Cradle coaches were paid minimum wage for twenty hours a week work, they were allowed to retain their Public Assistance Benefits and were signed up for the Federal Earned Income Tax Credit. The combination of salary and benefits provided these working mothers with more than a livable wage and an opportunity to pursue a career.

Conclusion

A universal Cradle to the Classroom Program will eliminate the achievement gap while reducing the cost drivers that are driving up education expenses. Emmanuels proposal does neither. The additional revenue that the Cradle will immediately secure and the significant savings that will be realized to taxpayers from not having to finance the social services that will result from significantly narrowing the achievement gap, not to mention the benefits in long term economic productivity.

5. Kudos To Cradle To Classroom – Chicago Tribune

MAY 17, 1999

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1999-05-17-9905170063-story.html

Melissa Barber, pregnant at 15, unmarried mother of a toddler at 17, is a success story. Not because of motherhood, but in spite of it.

Melissa, a senior at Chicago’s Englewood High School, will graduate this year. Her success, along with that of more than 300 other girls over the last two years, is a testament to the efficacy of Cradle to Classroom, a program designed to help teen mothers finish school and avoid having a second child.

Cradle to Classroom was instituted at 40 Chicago public high schools in 1997 and, in light of information obtained by the Tribune last week, it should be expanded to include every school where the need exists. According to school records, the program has been a phenomenal success, with none of the almost 2,000 girls enrolled giving birth to a second child and a 100 percent graduation rate for girls who have completed the program.

That’s good news, because teenagers who have babies before completing high school often drop out of school, and about one-third of those who give birth before the age of 17 have a second baby within two years. Either of those factors is a fair predictor of a life of poverty for both mother and child.

A girl who enrolls in the Cradle to Classroom program is paired with a “family advocate” who offers counseling on family planning, helps with such necessities as baby food and clothing and makes weekly home visits. And at Orr High School, girls can bring their children to on-site day care.

Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas says he is more than doubling the current $2.1 million budget for the program and hopes to make it available at every high school, as well as increasing the number of on-site day care facilities. That’s a smart move, particularly at schools with pregnancy rates in the 50 percent range.

That none of the girls in the program had second babies reflects an overall national decline in the number of teenagers giving birth, but that does not diminish the worth of the Cradle to Classroom program. Now, if only there were an equally persuasive program for avoiding first pregnancies. . .

6. Rocking the Cradle… Over – Chicago Tribune

December 19, 2004

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2004-12-19-0412190526-story.html

Only a couple of years ago, the Chicago Public Schools’ “Cradle to Classroom” program for pregnant and parenting teens was being celebrated for its success with superlatives like “astonishing” and “phenomenal.” Administrators boasted near-perfect rates of keeping thousands of pregnant or parenting teens in school until graduation, and preventing them from having second children.

New university research yet to be released asserts that infants in the program were getting the care, stimulation and nutrition they needed for almost normal development, some feat given that every statistic says they should be doing far worse.

An independent audit conducted by KPMG in 2002 for CPS labeled Cradle to Classroom’s efficiency “high,” its effectiveness “medium-high” and, with 793 students on the waiting list to get in, demand for it “increasing.”

And it also happened to be one of the best bargains around, costing CPS less than $550 per year for each teen involved in the program, because most of the expense was reimbursed by the state. The best non-profits that do this kind of challenging work say it costs them from $2,000 to $5,000 per teen to provide effective services.

This year, the program was spiked.

Unaware of the KPMG report, unaware that CPS was being reimbursed by the state for 75 percent of the program costs and suspicious of the accuracy of the numbers based on his own experience working with pregnant teens at a community group years ago, CPS Chief Arne Duncan threw the baby–and the Cradle–out with the bath water.

“The boneheads!” said Dr. Carl Bell, professor of psychiatry and public health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who also heads the Community Mental Health Council. “When you look at intensive early childhood interventions like this with home-visits of at-risk youth, 20 years later you find less substance abuse, less violence, less everything.”

Cradle to Classroom in 2002 was serving 2,500 teen parents, including a smattering of fathers, along with 2,235 infants–roughly a third of all children born to teens in Chicago that year.

The two goals of the program were to keep pregnant teens in school and help them graduate, and to ensure their infants were receiving proper medical, educational, social and nutritional care–smartly figuring that these were future CPS students, and that they needed to be up to speed by the time they entered school. An unanticipated bonus was that surprisingly few of the teens involved in Cradle got pregnant again before graduation.

According to research, if a young mother stays in school long enough to receive a diploma and avoid having a second child, by age 30 she is likely to catch up to the average income level of peers who didn’t get pregnant in high school. And teens who do have children before 17, particularly those who have a second child, sharply increase the likelihood that they, and their children, will live in poverty.

Cradle spanned 63 schools and relied on an army of 475 part-time, paraprofessional “family advocates” in 2002, according to the KPMG report. Most were public aid recipients from the neighborhood who underwent weeks of training–to serve as mentors to the girls, truancy officers if they didn’t show up, home visitors who modeled healthy baby-parent activities and skills, and advocates who connected girls to nutritional and medical care.

But Cradle to Classroom, according to CPS’ Duncan, didn’t fall under the district’s core mission. “When a girl gets pregnant, that’s a symptom of 98 things that are going wrong in that kid’s life,” he said. “CPS is not a pro at dealing with all those issues.”

Duncan also said the program was poorly managed, gave way to a giant patronage army and suffered cost overruns, although no one, Duncan included, bothered to thoroughly check out any of the allegations. Most of them, as it turns out, were untrue.

Instead of simply replacing the program director, he scotched the entire program and offered instead an underfunded outsourcing idea almost designed to be ineffective. The bad rap spread like flu within CPS, making the Cradle program an easy target when the machetes came out amid last year’s budget problems. Its lifespan followed the course taken by countless worthwhile education programs that have come before: Birth on a hunch; death without an inquest.

Anecdotal evidence suggests the early claims of 100 percent success at keeping girls in school and preventing them from getting pregnant again before graduation no doubt were inflated. The more realistic measure, according to those working directly with teens as well as advocates and outside observers, was certainly not perfection, but still high enough to be remarkable. Most important, research on Cradle infants by professors from the University of North Carolina and Georgetown University shows the children to be developing at close to normal levels.’

7. Renaissance 2010 Information

Renaissance 2010 was announced and spearheaded by CPS CEO Arne Duncan in 2004 as an initiative of CPS and the City of Chicago.  Under Renaissance 2010, and Arne Duncan’s leadership, over 80 public schools were closed and 100 schools were to be opened by 2010. (Conversely, during Paul Vallas’ tenure from 1995-200q, 78 new schools were built.) These schools were to be held accountable for test score performance through 5-year contracts while following one of three governance structures: charter, contract, or performance. Despite claims that the closures would help underperforming students academically, University of Chicago researchers found that most of the students who transferred as a result of the closures did not improve their performance.

In continuation of Renaissance 2010’s failed initiatives, Mayor Rahm Emanuel initiated the closing of 54 public schools in 2013. Of the 54 public schools to be closed were 53 elementary schools and one high school. Mayor Rahm Emanuel claimed the school closings were a direct result from the nearly $1 billion deficit the city was facing due to under-enrollment of many schools. However, the majority of the closed schools have been in low-income neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides, which provided education to mostly African-American students. For every four schools that have been closed, three have been in these South and West Side neighborhoods. Over 88% of the students affected by these closings have been African American.

Unfortunately, some would rather you forget the details and dates discussed above. Let’s set the record straight:

Paul Vallas resigned from leadership of Chicago Public Schools nearly three years before Renaissance 2010 planning even began. In contradiction to the over 80 schools closed under Renaissance 2010, Paul Vallas financed and implemented $3 billion in new school construction and repairs. Throughout Paul Vallas’ tenure with CPS from 1995 to 2001, Chicago saw 78 new school buildings, over 350 buildings undergo major renovation, and over 100 school campus parks were built. Under Paul Vallas’ leadership, this time period became the largest and most successfully managed school construction program nationwide. Over half of all construction contracts went to minority owned businesses with half the construction payroll going to minority workers.

Additionally, while performance did not improve of students during Renaissance 2010, under Paul Vallas’ six years with Chicago Public Schools, Chicago had six years of improved reading scores, five years of improved math scores, the number of students in the bottom quartile of scores cut in half, graduation rates improved, and 14 prestigious IB academies were created for nearly 4,000 students. Overall, a study by the Annenberg Foundation funded Chicago Consortium on School Reform, documented that 90% of CPS students improved Paul Vallas’ tenure.

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8. Data from Vallas’s Career

CPS Teacher Pension Fund
https://www.bettergov.org/news/vallas-emanuel-point-fingers-over-chicago-teacher-pension-freefall