Comments to Hearing Officer on McNair Turnaround

Submitted by RYH Board Member Dwayne Truss on 4/10/14

Dear Madam Hearing Office:

Please accept this letter as my written comments opposing the Chicago Public School (CPS) recommendation to reconstitute Ronald McNair School under the private management of Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

I request that you strike the ISAT data submitted by CPS from the record because CPS used historical ISAT data which included schools located in Belmont-Cragin in calculating the Network 3 average. This is McNair’s first year in the new Network 3. This is the first year of the newly organized Network 3 which includes schools located in both the Austin and Belmont-Cragin communities. The Belmont-Cragin schools were assigned to the former Fullerton Network in 2013.

McNair was previously assigned to the following Networks: Austin-North Lawndale Network (three years); Austin (four years), and the area cluster which was comprised of the northern half of Austin.

The average 2012 and 2013 ISAT scores for the following schools were 53.1 and 54.1 respectively:

Belmont-Cragin

Burbank

Camras

Falconer

Hanson Park

Lloyd

Locke

Lyon Middle School

Northwest Middle

Prieto

Schubert

If McNair historical ISAT scores are to be compared, the comparison should be with the schools assigned to the same Networks as McNair was. Using the above schools ISAT data to calculate the Network average for McNair is a disingenuous and intentional manipulation by CPS to justify its' proposal.

Also attached is an Excel spreadsheet I submitted last night to compare the 2012 and 2013 growth in ISAT scores between AUSL schools and CPS.  I selected AUSL schools with similar demographics (K-8 and primarily African-American) as McNair. I isolated five schools AUSL was contracted to manage in 2012. I isolated the 11 schools AUSL was previously contracted to manage prior to 2012. The total growth of all 16 schools was zero. Considering that AUSL is paid a one time management fee of $300,000, an assistant principal for the first year, and $420 per pupil enrolled, history documents that CPS continued policy of no bid contracts to AUSL is not an efficient investment of tax dollars.

McNair as well as any schools will admit that there is always a need for improvement. There are other alternative school improvement models and school improvement providers then AUSL. I ask that you recommend an internal turnaround like the Strategic Learning Initiative (SLI) model. Attached is a list of Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) certified school improvement providers.

McNair is not on the list of recommended schools listed on the ISBE website eligible for the ISBE school improvement grant. McNair is more than happy to partner with any provider to provide extension professional development for both teachers and parents in order to augment the efforts McNair already has in place to provide families a great education for their children.

McNair has made its own changes without any support from CPS. McNair budget was cut by $300,000.

McNair is a special needs cluster school with a special needs population which comprises 25% of McNair's student population. The cluster serves physically handicapped children. Many requires medication and one on one aides. Absences because of medical appointments hurts McNair's attendance. Severe weather prevents some students from attending school.

Also attached are studies to document that experience teachers are better for poor students. We believe that the combination of inexperienced teachers and teachers not reflective and understanding of the culture of poor students actually does more harm.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dwayne Truss

Board Member

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