The [Wednesday] Papers
"Chicago Public Schools officials say 54 principals have resigned or retired so far this school year, the highest number in the past four years," Catalyst reports.
"The number could go even higher as the school year comes to an end, given the looming threat of budget cuts and no end in sight to the financial impasse in Springfield.
"District officials say the number of departures is in line with previous years but blamed Gov. Bruce Rauner for standing 'in the way of equitably funding education.'"
So CPS says the number of principals resigning or retiring this year is typical - 54 sounds like a lot, but consider the size of the district - but takes a jab at the governor for something they just intimated is not related. The outstanding question: Are a significant number of these retirements and resignations due to the ongoing chaos of the budget situation or not?
"Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson said that 'the longer the Governor's intransigence drags on, the more concerned we'll become about potential losses' of principals and teachers."
That says to me: No. But we're ready to blame the governor if at all possible!
Now, bear in mind, I'm willing to blame the governor for everything, including weak coffee, bad music and Jorge Soler's injury, but I'm really trying to get a fix on this.
"[P]rincipals say that CPS is mostly to blame for the big wave of departures, including those from prominent, well-regarded high schools such as Lane Tech, Lake View, Schurz and Foreman, as well as Palmer and Edison Park elementaries."
Aha! But I thought there wasn't a "big wave" of departures, just a normal wave.
"A CPS spokeswoman did not immediately respond to questions Tuesday about how many principals have completed the district's eligibility process and are available to work next fall."
You'd think that number would be a keystroke away for CPS officials, but maybe they were busy crafting some talking points to go along with it.
But still. Let's take a look at those links Catalyst provided.
Lane Tech: Principal Kathryn Anderson is following her predecessor to Deerfield High School, where she will increase her salary by about $30,000 for the same job. She did not mention CPS's budget situation as a reason for her departure, though that doesn't mean it wasn't a factor.
Also: "The current exodus falls far shy of the one that took place in 2012, when nearly 150 CPS principals and assistant principals retired in order to take advantage of a pension enhancement program that was expiring."
Lake View: Principal Scott Grens is leaving to become principal of an elementary school, though he didn't say which one - or even if it's in CPS, which I presume it's not.
Foreman: Principal Dan Zimmerman is taking a job at a Reno, Nevada elementary school. "[O]ne of the major factors that drove him out . . . was the current financial mess of the school district and the state."
Palmer: Principal La Shawn Ray is taking a job with Minneapolis school district. "Unfortunately, my wife and three small children never quite adjusted to life in Chicago. Furthermore, my oldest son will only live one hour from our home in Minnesota. The biggest reason for the move is that Minnesota is home for my wife and three small children. There are other things that factored into this decision, but the happiness of my family means the world to me."
Edison Park: Principal Pete Zimmerman is retiring after 25 years with CPS.
According to Catalyst, 21 principals are retiring this year.
"Last fall, a survey from the Chicago Public Education Fund found that 40 percent of principals said they will look for a new job in the next three years.
"More than two-thirds of those surveyed said they want to spend less time on compliance and paperwork, such as filling out forms related to teacher evaluations and completing data requests. Just 33 percent wanted an increase in pay . . .
"Forty percent of the principals say they will look for a new job in the next three years. The percentage who indeed left in the last three years was 41, not counting schools that were closed or had an acting principal."
I wonder how that compares to other districts.
"Heather Anichini, president and CEO of the Fund, says higher turnover rates are found only in the retail, hospitality and logging industries.
"'Chicago's a city that has invested a lot of time, energy and dollars in training people,' Anichini says, noting that while the 40 percent who plan to explore other options are cause for concern, that percent is similar to percentages in other major cities."
"In a separate analysis of CPS data on principals who started in CPS in the 2007-2008 school year, the Fund found that 60 percent of principals from all types of schools, including charter and contract schools, leave before the end of their fifth year, when data suggest they reach their peak effectiveness."
Kind of like football coaches.
Given the governor's recent comments stating that some Chicago public schools are "almost crumbling prisons," I tried to look up the turnover rate for prison wardens, but came up empty in the brief time I had. I did find several articles about turnover among corrections officers, though. I sense working for CPS is still a much better deal.
He did say "almost."
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Posted on June 8, 2016
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