Q & A with Jackson & Duncan
The following interview panel took place at the Harris School of Public Policy with CEO of Chicago Public Schools Dr. Janice Jackson, former US Department of Education secretary under the Obama administration, and University of Chicago crime & education data laboratories, Professor Wolfe. The person speaking will be abbreviated as:
A = Arnie Duncan
J = Janice Jackson
W = moderator Prof. Wolfe
Arnie graduated from Harvard with a degree in Sociology, and was one of the few college pro-bowlers who played basketball throughout his high school and college years. He began a program for 17-24 year olds for assistance with career startups. Before becoming US Education Secretary under the Obama administration, he was part of the Chicago Public School executive leadership.
CEO, Dr. Janice Jackson, is a product of the system, rising through the ranks. She became a teacher, and then served as an outstanding principal. She brings unique policy initiatives and perspective to this conversation as a leader, and an insider. She was a rising star, and has now become the CEO of the entire district, and is also a parent of two CPS children.
University of Chicago professor, Wolfe will be moderating the dialogue and leading the discussion today at UC Harris School of Public Policy. He has been involved with the Crime & Education Labs, the implement of B.A.M. (Becoming A Man, program targeting adolescent black youth), and is also affiliated with Saga Education - a small group Math tutoring service that can help students improve their abilities by 1-2 grade-levels in a single year.
I'd like to begin with Dr. Jackson. You are a product of the system you now lead, teacher, principal, parent: perspective change? As a school leader, how has your vision for the system evolved?
High quality school options should be available in every neighborhood.
The "Doomed for, if not accepted" narrative has changed.
Choice in the system has dramatically improved for Chicago
Matriculation into college
Post secondary success & pathways have also increased
Pre-selection for students, was determined early in the student's career
You were an emerging super-star principal.
Change vs. don't change as they accumulate power
The system is never improving fast enough...
Psych violence - where every system has failed them: family, church, gov, and now school is failing kids that are going through the hardest times during school
When I think about the Progress that CPS has made
with the remarks made by a lady many years ago.
'Until I look around and see a good school near me, the system isn't working.'
Until then the work is not done
2011 - grad rate 57%
2019 - grad rate 79%
What initiatives were used to drive that change?
Chicago success story with
Consortium on Public schools @ University of Chicago
Decades of research and partnership with CPS
College going tenure was Arnie's start
"Freshmen on track" - as a HS principal, I felt I could do this
As a principal, I received information and data that made me feel empowered
Policies in the system that every student has a chance to succeed
Every student has to take the SATs to graduate now.
Educators and parents continue to ask students: what are you going to do after you graduate?
We want to protect dropouts from 8th grade and also cocoon 9th graders.
How do we know what works for our young people?
Arnie, federal & city level
Local control long history
What sort of levers could you pull between these two positions?
We called a meeting with 150 top administrators
Failing 1 vs. 3 vs. 5 classes
Massive shift between 8th & 9th grade
Not missing a day - finding the kid that is not there that day
We have to use the attendance data immediately finding the reason why kids are absent.
(This brings truancy rates down.)
Objective outside push
Local school control has been a history since America existed
Has some strength & has some whatever
The system is Built for inequity
40-50% of the funding is local; its based upon where you live - by differentiation - the haves, silver spoon, got more than twice as much money every year
- we lost a law suit because of the principle of local control
"Nobody would design the system the way it is if they truly cared about black and brown kids."
I have traveled through the 50 states.
If we think that great teachers and great principals matter... why aren't we putting them where they are needed the most?
Out of 15000 school districts throughout the country, each systemically identifies their most hardest working teachers. How many put them into the most challenging situations?
- The answer is zero -
None of the districts give their best for the most needed schools
Change and demographics
UIC study apples to apples comparison in the "Tale of three Cities" report.
On every single metric CPS was out-performing other districts in the state
Evidence based funding formula beauty of that is 62 to 67% funding
Chicago now has a formula and metrics that they can look at
The schools that fall out of line will be first on the priority for funding; limited as it is:
IL is 49th / 50 states for public funding
50th - dead last - for low income funding
Enrollment is changing dramatically now.
[Choice and the common application address this somewhat.]
Big problem, we need to innovate
Principals are making choices every day
They should not be choosing between:
Art vs. music; world languages vs. computer class
Chicago is declining in enrollment
Black middle class - reverse migration going back to the south because they are afraid of their kids getting shot
When you loose a stable black middle class
Who is left? the people who are struggling
More is better: social work, program, enrollment
They are safer in the south than in Chicago
What a strange reversal of history!
As a teen growing up,
basketball games going in and out of neighborhoods
On average we had a student killed 1 / 2 weeks
Not in school, but at the corner, on the bus, on the street
They are just trying to make it
They are living with a trauma that most of us will never experience.
This city gave me everything: socially, emotionally, academically
500 most probable students to face gun violence program
Double digit reductions in violence
2 / 3 times more violent than LA
The young men are given employment opportunities
I have always believed that education is a pathway, a roadway out of poverty.
If we don't address the economic link -
If the men do not have a path
Discarding this group, we are addressing the root causes
The economic disadvantage of a group for centuries...
If we do not address the life changing issues -
It is hard to access that -
These are basic things
We have a firmer grip on reality
Although many schools have these services, its still very scarce:
Mental health, social emotional
Life coaches for the guys that come out of our program
One guy - freshmen would not change his clothes
Seen as stubborn and belligerent - but there was another issue.
His whole life is so different [from others].
Other neighborhoods are so tough
He committed a homicide... he narrates his personal experience, and how others saw him after serving time.
Let's talk about the issue of equity , meaning ?
foundational components is equity
Leader of the district to put a stake in the ground:
Logistical and operational things:
We have budget
Hire diversity and inclusion budget
Chief equity officer with power
Framework for equity
Seems like an academic task
Because what it really means is
Someone has to give up something - that is the reality, not fluff
In order for them to change practice
10000 stake holders reached
Outlines policy, procedures, resources, allocating those resources from a tangible standpoint
The capital budget has to be approved by his office
The problem with this is:
South and west side expenditure increased
Intangibles: schools must be warm, safe, and dry
New science labs, dis-able accessible
It’s the same map
Identify certain programs
Expand- focus and target communities
How do you support
Undoing the disparity we find in society
What are both of your takes on addressing seemingly intractable issues like
Segregation and Poverty?
Two years ago that was one of my top things: segregation. How do we make our schools more diverse?
You want to live reside and be in your school:
The same way you want a gas station, grocery store
South & West side students traveling the farthest to get an education
If these schools existed, students & parents would not choose the way they do
If I did not believe that education is a path out of poverty, [I would not have worked as hard as I did. Values.]
Go to school and take advantage:
What do we do, if we do not tell them to go to school?
Less schools and more community centers
Nobody is getting shot to & from schools
Schools are 12-14 hours / day
Parks should become safe too
If they need 3 meals day - let's give 'em 3 meals a day.
They need to get the eye exam at the school
GED, ESL, health center is connected...
100k schools in America
How well are we using them?
What are churches doing, what are nonprofits doing?
What advice do you have for public sector advice?
In a lot of spaces, I encourage students of color to become educators
Consortium data with CPS district
Network of college success
If they don't feel this is accessible
Grassroots from the ground up, policy changes are not going to work
Listen to real kids, parents, teachers, schools - actionable research
Why am I always being researched?
Interesting take on how the people feel
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
Josephine Robins is concerned about levels of schools
Lived and worked in schools
Psych impact for kids in a level 3 school
Knowing that equity does not exist
Feeling ashamed of the schools that they go to...
When people don't know the level of their school- that is wrong
No matter where you land on that issue:
When you go to the community meetings... [people are shocked their school is closing down due to non-performance]
The elementary school that J went to was on that list
Parents did not know the school was failing their students
SQRP - ratings are [tabulated in myriad ways to be] more fair
Why is it that only certain parents can access the information that their schools are failing them?
They can go to magnet, charter, or other schools
You have to have a strong leader, and a teacher buy-in so that we can turn those schools around
[These were our justifications for releasing school ratings.]
Highlight cannot improve school system