Teacher Pay-Needs a Fix!

Interesting article about Randi Weingarten, and others with the “same ole, same ole”.  Link is:


While graduate degrees can add great value, as can teachers’ experience in their craft.  Regardless, there is no evidence that graduate degrees and experience add value (statistically) to students’ learning and academic experiences.  Further, it pains me to employ more than 250 teachers adding immense value to their students in our Distinctive Schools, and having to pay them a good bit less than their unionized counterparts make in IL.  

Until we fix broken funding streams to free up funds for top teachers, and break our (political and policy) addiction to steps, lanes, experience-driven, and graduate-degree dependent salary schedules, we will not be able to pay the best teachers what they are REALLY worth, or even get much closer to it.

When will we EVER fix this national problem around teacher compensation?!  Union Leaders–you aren’t helping!



Texas-worse than pathetic?!

Link below is an ad.  The contents of the ad are not important.  What IS important is this snapshot of latest Texas achievement gap-actually now a chasm.  Texas, known for standing behind lowest tier academic standards in the Nation-with their Governor enthusiastically rejecting Common Core State Standards, continues to demonstrate what we know to be true.  Low standards hurt poor and underperforming kids the most.  This seems worse than pathetic to me.  What a shame.  Worse, they defend their stance on the issues and their work.  See link:


LEAP Innovations

See video link featuring students from CICS West Belden.  Next year CICS Irving Park, Bucktown, and West Belden will all be working with Leap Innovations to deepen participation, rigor, and efficacy around device-driven personalized learning.  Mary Stafford and several Distinctive Schools team members developed the grant applications which led to this funded partnership.  Stay tuned for progress.  Special kudos to Phyllis Lockett and the LEAP Innovations leadership.  LEAP Innovations advance the use of personalized learning and technology to accelerate education for students. LEAP serves as the new R&D hub for education innovation, bringing the best technology to Chicago to pilot, research and scale. This is a wonderful initiative for Chicago students, parents, and teachers to bring more 21st Century learning to schools.

At Least They Aren’t Debating Creationism vs. Evolution for Science

Seems like the Brits have similar debates over curriculum, teaching and learning.  Fun piece by Eliza Filby in The Daily Telegraph over arguments on teaching history. Link below:


It is worth a read.  At least the Brits aren’t debating Creationism vs. Evolution in their Science standards.




HS Graduation Rates on the Rise

Good news about US high school graduation rates–see attached article below:

Reason for this writer’s take on the good news from the US DOE is the other side of this good news. States, such as Nevada, are still critically low in getting students across the finish line with a high school diploma.


THIS is Privatization of Education? Really?!

Great OpEd by community education and development expert Miguel A. Acosta. The work Miguel is doing is commendable and admirable. There is a concern that the dropout initiative Engage Santa Fe is a way towards privatization of education, however the truth couldn’t be further from. What really is happening here is the hardcore political agenda of legislators and teachers unions that will go to extreme, even if that means denying the opportunity of success to thousands of students. It’s disappointing that the needs of the community and the youth of Santa Fe are being trampled upon.  -JW

See article below:


To Serious Educators–Assessment Matters! (and so does what happens after the testing period)

It’s that time of year, when mostly every K-12 student is assessed on his or her academic progress.  For those of us who believe that a balanced approach to assessment is appropriate, we know that “that which gets measured gets done”.  Not too much testing and using the best assessments are also key. Very important is getting each student “ready” to sit for their exams.  But, great educators also make the most of instructional time after the last exams are given and taken. Here are some good ideas for engaging kids until the end of the year, and how to help them put assessments into their greater context of school. Link Below:



CICS West Belden announcement is coming!

A big announcement for our CICS West Belden campus is coming soon.  Stay tuned!  Meanwhile, enjoy this video about their impressive transition to a high-performing tech-rich school culture this year.  The WB staff would tell you they have a long way to go with their tech innovations and links to their rigorous college prep programs.  We know that they have made untold progress this year.  Congratulations!

Common Core as Political Football

The NY Times article on Sunday April 20, 2014 on Common Core Standards is a “must-read”.  Link below:
Republicans see political Wedge in Common Core
It is a shame that so many politicians are playing games with the Common Core Standards movement.  On both sides of the aisle, far too many elected officials and hopefuls to be elected are playing with kids’ lives and frankly our Nation’s economic development.  Good for Jeb Bush for remaining honest and staying the course.  Looks like Chris Christie is doing the same.  It is despicable how Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and others are exploiting what’s best for ALL kids, and the Nation building we can and must do.

Tips for Increasing Interactive Learning

Link to an impressive list of “non-negotiables” for improving interaction and engagement with students.  Article and headers indicate these tips are good for turnaround situations and for underperforming students.  This list is actually good for all students.  Kudos to Cochrane Academy in the Charlotte Mecklenburg (NC) Schools.  Link Below:



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