Askwith Forum // Chicago Public Schools: A Transformation Story

[inaudible]. Good afternoon everyone. [inaudible]. Thank you. My name is Deborah jewel Sherman and I
am the Gregory R on professor of practice in educational leadership here at HGSC. It is my pleasure to welcome you to
what promises to be an energizing and inspiring ask with forum.
For those of you who are new, the ask with forms are HDFCs signature
public lecture series the forms, highlight leaders in the
field, share new knowledge, generate spirited conversation and offer
and offer insights into the highest priority challenges
facing us in education. We are delighted that you have joined
us today here in person and via live stream and we hope you will join
us for future asks with forums. I’d like to begin by introducing our
extraordinary speaker for this evening. Kay Jackson [inaudible] I concur. Dr. Jackson has been immersed in
Chicago public schools her entire life. She was a CPS student teacher network chief and chief education officer
before coming into her current role as CPS chief executive officer as CEO of the third largest
school district in the country. Dr. Jackson is responsible for setting
the district’s collective goals, ensuring that the children of Chicago
develop into thinkers, leaders, and innovators of the future. Dr. Jackson is focused on providing
students in every neighborhood of the city with equitable access to high quality
programming and facilities and she is committed to developing a pre K through
14 continuum that is steeped and academic rigor supports the well-rounded
development of the whole child and provide students with
multiple pathways to success. Dr. Jackson is focused on improving equity
and access to high quality education in all of Chicago public schools. Her five year vision for CPS, which she unveiled in 2019 is a
comprehensive research based roadmap that strengthens the district’s
commitments to academic progress, financial stability and integrity. Dr Jackson’s vision is
grounded in her own work, teaching and leading in the district. After spending five
years in the classroom, Dr. Jackson served as the
founding principal of all
rabies school for community and environment. After owl Rady became one
of the district’s most
successful neighborhood high schools. Dr. Jackson was selected
to open another high school, George Westinghouse
college prep high school, whose success has been
recognized nationally due to
its thriving world language program and partnerships like the
Northwestern medicine scholars program. A lifelong educator. Dr. Jackson is committed to providing
all schools with a framework for excellence. She holds a masters degree in leadership
and administration and a doctorate in education and policy studies and urban
school leadership from the university of Illinois at Chicago. Not only just doc Dr. Jackson
lead Chicago public schools. She also lives in Chicago with
her husband and two children, both of whom are CPS students. Dr. Jackson is a servant leader who
is deeply invested in the continued transformation of her beloved
Chicago public schools. I am incredibly excited to join you all
and learning from her this evening as she discusses life in Chicago
public schools after 30
years of education reform. Please join me in welcoming to
the stage dr Janis K Jackson [inaudible]. Thank you. [inaudible]. Thank you. You’re too kind. Thank you dr Joel
Sherman for that kind introduction. And it’s my pleasure to be here
today to address future leaders, uh, our nation’s future future leaders about
this important topic, public education, my leadership team and I
had the opportunity to work
closely with some of the faculty and staff here of
this incredible university. And I can say wholeheartedly that it
had made a tremendous impact on us as a lifelong educator and learner. I’ve always valued the time spent with
folks like you who are perpetually, perpetually curious. Many of you here tonight will go on to
drive progress for our nation schools and set policy that will impact the
lives of many of our students. And before I began formal remarks,
I want to offer a statement, not advice, but just a statement that
I hope that you carry with you. Um, through my talk today, I’m very intentional about saying I want
you to progress change because that’s a really important point to make because
this work is extremely difficult and hard and there are no silver
[inaudible] bullets. Tonight, I want to tell you a story about 30
years of transformation in Chicago public schools highlighting some of the reforms
and the actions that took place in order for us to be able to
tell you this remarkable story. Public education is something
that’s near and dear to my heart. We know that public
schools offer our students, our families and generations to
come in generations before us, the possibility to have the lives
that we all cherish and want here and sometimes referred to
as the American dream. I want to tell you a little bit
about my experience here in Chicago, but before I dive into that, I’d like
to tell you a little bit about, um, the progress that we’ve made in
about myself and my experience. So if you take a look here on the screen,
and I’m sorry if you can’t see it, we did send some of these materials
ahead of time and we’ll make sure we send them as a follow up. But essentially what you’re looking at
is the 2019 academic report card for Chicago public schools. And if you look
at this, you’ll see a compilation of, uh, data points and metrics that
tell a similar story around
slow sustained progress that we’ve made in Chicago public schools. You will notice that we have improved
graduation rates freshmen on track. Well, we’ve also made, uh, made it a point to highlight the
growth that we’ve made with regards to establishing arts programming in our
schools as well as the scholarships that our students have obtained
during their time and CPS, Chicago public schools has been able to
boast about tremendous academic gains. And this is a district that looks very
different than the district that I was educated in decades ago when I was a
student in CPS in 1987 then secretary of education, bill Bennett said of Chicago
public schools that it was
one of the worst school systems in the country and that it would
take a man or woman of steel to clean it up three decades later, thanks to deliberative progress
and work. Over the past decades, Chicago’s teachers and principals with
the support of both the private and philanthropic community are now able to
stand out as national models for what can happen in a public
education institution. It’s not just about the metrics, but we do think that these are critically
important as they tell a story about the progress that can be made when you
champion reform and support for students. Uh, in a very intentional way. Professor Reardon of Stanford who also
understand graduated from Harvard, somebody told me I had to say that, uh, was conducting a meta analysis, uh, on student performance throughout the
country and his work was not focused on Chicago public schools. In fact,
he had no connection to CPS. But in that what he found is that students
in CPS were outperforming 96% of the students in school districts
throughout the country. What he found is that students in CPS
from grades three through eight were earning six years or learning six years
of instruction in a five year period, which put them on a path towards
outpouring outperforming other districts. I’m sorry. And I want to be clear because sometimes
when people hear this metric, um, they automatically are skeptical and
also start to explain a weight what, uh, professor Reardon is, uh, is
pointing out, I want to be clear to, he did not say low
income school districts. He did not make a distinction between
the demographics of the particular school districts or the governance type. He looked at all public school systems
throughout the country and CPS for growth was at the 96 percentile. Coupled with that Karen
Chen with at the ed trust, who studies public education in
districts and does more of a qualitative approach also, uh, has remarked on the progress that has
been made in CPS and stated that if we’re serious as a nation about
wanting to improve schools, we should be studying how Chicago has
made that progress. Now, of course, a lot of this information became a Nat
became national headlines and these were things that we knew already in
Chicago and had been examining. But of course we’d been put in a position
to explain the transformation that is happening in our district. Finally, and I’ll talk a little bit about this
before I jump in. Uh, we also, uh, have prioritize the role of
school leadership and we’ve
had several journalists and others come in and take a look at
what Chicago is doing because as a large school system, what over three,
um, would over, uh, 36, sorry, 360,000 students and 660 schools. We do not believe that you can
lead from the district level. We have empowered our local school leaders
and we believe that the school is the unit of change. So I want to
talk a little bit about, uh, how we were able to get here.
If you look at this map, this is really just a distribution
account of points out what I point, what I talked about earlier, which shows that CPS students are
outperforming their peers nationally. And if you look at this, what you see
that’s remarkable along the axes is that, uh, you see CPS is kind of along this
continuum on the bottom where, uh, we have about 80% of
our kids are low income. But what’s dramatic is that you see
this red bubble popping out at the top showing that Chicago public schools is
outperforming many districts that are actually more affluent and in some
cases a should be performing better. We also highlight it when NECA Illinois.
For those of you familiar with Chicago, which is one of the highest income
areas in Chicago public schools. And if you look, uh, along
this axis for growth, CPS is almost identical for one of the
most affluent school districts in the country for growth. So to story around how our school
system has changed is extremely complex. And I don’t purport to be able to answer
that by just talking about these three items that are listed here today. But
I do think that they play a huge, uh, played a huge role in the transformation
of Chicago public schools. First I’ll start by talking
about school choice. Chicago public schools is one of the
largest school choice districts in the country. We were at, we were creating and expanding programs
before people were debating about whether or not school choice
should even be a thing. And I’ll oftentimes like to share my
personal experience because I grew up in a family with four other siblings and
my parents were exercise school choice before it was a thing. We all went to
our neighborhood elementary school, but my father believed that all of us
deserve something better than what he thought our neighborhood high
school could offer. And as a result, every single one of my siblings attended
either a magnet or selective enrollment school across the city.
If you fast forward today, we have created a system
where parents who are in, you don’t have to be a parent in the
know or parent who is just gonna work as hard as my parents had to define
quality opportunities for our students. We have made this process more simple
and accessible for our students. Earlier today I was interviewed by someone
on campus and they asked what is the most, uh, what, what are you most proud
of, uh, in your role as superintendent? And I actually told, talked
about the goal CPS system, which is our universal application system. I believe that this application system
has made the process less opaque and more transparent, and as a result, parents have an option and they have a
choice that in the past was reserved for more far more fluent families. Another critical component I would
say to the CPS transformational story transformation story is accountability. Now I know sometimes when people
hear the term accountability, especially accountability with
a capital a, people cringe. But if you look at the story
of what’s happened in CPS, we’ve actually created a system by which
our schools are measured not only on student attainment, but also student
growth and performance over time. We also have an amazing partnership with
the university of Chicago’s consortium on school research who has unfettered
access to student improvements to student performance data and CPS and oftentimes
share information with us that is then transformed into policy
for the school system. It is important to recognize that
educators are the drivers progress in the classroom and they deserve
the credit for the, uh, the gains that our kids have made. But we also want to make sure that we
acknowledge the critical role that our building principals play in this, uh, in this story because they have had the
autonomy as well as the accountability to make decisions that we
believe have led to this success. We also rely heavily on data in Chicago. Another word that can be cringe worthy. We believe in being open and transparent
and I oftentimes joke that we count how many times students knees in
Chicago. That is not true. That’s not true. I just want to be clear, but we do believe that it’s important
to have open and transparent access to school data because this brings about the
level of accountability that sometimes not present in some of our
low income communities. Our relationship with the
consortium is unprecedented, although I know many school districts
are looking to replicate it. When I talk to school leaders
from across the country, some of them Marvel at this relationship
and some of them also worry. How is it that a school system could trust
sharing its data with an institution, not knowing what kind of
research may come out of it, but we believe that the
greater the transparency and
the deeper the analysis it has led to transformational
changes in our school system. One that is most notable
is freshmen on track, which I think many of you have
been studying in your program here. I remember being a principal a 15 years
ago when we first started looking at freshmen on track as a district. It later became one of the metrics that
we look for in our school accountability policy and what we were able to do is
organize our schools around supporting students at the ninth grade because the
data and the research showed us that students who were on track after ninth
grade were three times more likely to graduate in four years and as a result
we saw more of our students because we intervened early. More of our students were on track
after ninth grade resulting in a higher graduation rate across
CPS. As a school leader, I know many of you have aspirations to
lead a schools and school districts. One of the things that I
think is critically important
is that you have to have a vision and a strategic plan
for moving this work forward. I believe that it’s your role as the
district leader to provide that vision and roadmap and it’s important to create
that along with the folks, um, who actually be doing the work. If you look at the vision for Chicago
public schools, it’s really, um, it competence here in this diagram
or this, uh, Apple that you see. Academic progress is our priority. Uh, we are an academic institution
and improving outcomes
for students is critically important. We also believe that fiscal responsibility
and financial equity is extremely important and I’m happy to take
questions about that later. And finally, integrity. When we first committed
to these three principles in 2015, I had to fight hard. At that time, I wasn’t the CEO to include integrity
as one of our core components. And the reason it was critically important
to me is because I believe collective impact is necessary in order to drive
the type of change that you’d like to see in the school system. But I also knew that we had a problem
in particular in our district where we needed to restore public trust
in the institution. W as we, as I introduced this new
vision earlier this year, we also added a key component,
this component of equity. And I want to talk a little bit about, um, the focus on equity in Chicago
public schools and what this, um, and what this means for us. This is not a term that we’re
using because it’s the, you know, trendy term or something sheet to say. We’re now looking at how
we allocate resources, how we measure school
quality and accountability, and to make sure that we
are not perpetuating some
of the same inequities that exist in our debt district. I fundamentally believe that talent
is not even that talent is evenly distributed, I should say.
But opportunity is not. When I draw on my own
experiences as a student and CPS, I know that many opportunities were
afforded to me and my siblings because of what we brought to the table. If
we’re really serious about equity, this means that we have to make sure
that all students are provided with the same opportunities, no matter
their zip code, skin color, or anything else that
they bring to the table. But we have to be strategic about this. It can’t just be something that
we think about as an afterthought. So when we opened the
equity office last year, one of the things that we prioritize was
creating an equity framework in a lens and a common language so that we can
talk about this as a school system. And as we make decisions about resource
allocations, capital improvements, and where new programs will go, it would all be done through this
lens of equity. This school year, we built on some of those
investments in our budget, um, by making sure that we
added more social workers, nurses and special education case managers
in the schools that need them most through, uh, legislative changes. Chicago public schools has received
additional funding from the state, which is a huge battle
that we face in Illinois. Illinois is actually 50 out of 50, according to the trust for funding public
education and 49 out of 50 for funding education for low income students.
But we had a remarkable, um, achievement a few years back. Um, that led to us receiving
more funding from the state. All of those new dollars are invested
in a much more equitable manner in our school to ensure that the schools and
the neighborhoods that need it most are receiving those resources.
Finally, as we think about equity, we have to talk about teacher diversity
and some of the challenges that we face in CPS and in the nation. Research tells us that teacher diversity
is important for students’ success, especially for children of color. So CPS is determined to
recruit more teachers of
color. In our five year vision, we identified a goal of
hiring 3000 African American
and Latin next teachers by 2024 we’ve also started to work with
our students to encourage them to think about teaching as a profession. We’ve targeted potential educators and
high schools looking at a predominantly African American, Latino and African, predominantly African American
and Latino high schools, and we created a career and technical
education program for aspiring teachers. Students in these programs will take
coursework aimed at helping them become future educators and supporting their
path to and through college and hopefully becoming teachers. These are a mix of short and longterm
strategies that we’re employing as CPS in order to bring about the next wave of
progress for Chicago public schools. In closing, my goal for Chicago public schools is
simple to create a world-class school system for world-class city. We believe that there has been remarkable
progress that has happened in Chicago public schools. But I have said publicly that I won’t
be satisfied until we narrow the opportunity and achievement gap for
students of color and our diverse learners and CPS. We must celebrate the diversity, improve school quality, and establish the kind of transparency
that is needed to build trusting relationships between CPS and
the families that we serve. These are major priorities for Chicago
public schools. It’s not a humble list. I hope I have enough time to do it, but it takes a certain level of competence
and perhaps a little bit of crazy to say that you want a world-class school
system and tackle all of these problems in a city like Chicago. I hope that, um, you’ve learned a lot about the remarkable
transformational story transformation story that’s happening in CPS and, uh, the challenge that we have ahead. I thank you for allowing me to share
my story and I look forward to learning from the outstanding young leaders
in this room tonight. Thank you. [inaudible] [inaudible] everybody should have a SAIDI do you
want to introduce her? Oh yeah, yes, yes. Sadie is my deputy chief of
staff. Okay. And now embarrassed. [inaudible] thank you so much. Um, I think it’s still acting up so
he’ll try to fix that from the back. Can just use my teacher voice, but they needed for the lives
and for the recording 30 years. Um, two quick questions before I get
into some of them prepared questions. And after we, after we have a
conversation for about 30 minutes, we’re going to open it up to questions
from the floor and I’ll give you some instructions about that. Um, choice that made a big difference in
the lives of you and your siblings. What does that look like in Chicago
public schools? Is the charters, is it other kinds of, it’s a lot of things. Um,
Chicago public schools, I think about 15% of our kids, uh, are
educated in charter schools. So, um, there’s definitely a, a lot of options
there. But when we talk about choice, we’re also talking about a variety of
programming that we offer our students. And so that may be an IB program,
a selective enrollment program, a STEM Academy. So there are a variety of choices that
students have in our school system, um, that go well beyond, you know, to be
quite honest, what was offered to me. He has a student, which was pretty much a selective
enrollment or magnet school or your neighborhood school. Okay. And you talked about the way that parents
can access this information and that it’s no longer determined by who you
know or what you know or how, you know, how to navigate. Can you talk, well we probably wouldn’t
say it was who you know ever, but some people might
say that. But seriously, the old process probably included
over 150 different applications, different deadlines, different hoops
requirements. And so as you can imagine, the families who were able to navigate
that and understand that and create a system whereby they could
apply, meet all the deadlines, get the letters of recommendation.
There were so many different hoops, which I can see some of your
faces you’re thinking like, is this college or high school? We’re
talking about high school in some cases, some of our elementary school programs. And so one of the things that we did is
we examine the policies of every school. In some cases we had to change
things. For example, um, there were schools who would select
students based on behavior and things like that. So that’s something that
they can no longer do in CPS. But then we created an online system, so now families have to fill out one
application is very similar to the common application for college that
many of you may be familiar with. And the reason I think that this brings
about greater equity is because all of the options are there. And we also include information about
school quality so that parents are making choices not just based on, um, schools
they might be familiar with or proximity, but they’re also making
choices based on quality. Okay, great. Um, 30 years,
as you have pointed out, is a long time and this transformation
has been underway for a while. What are some of the biggest challenges
that you can share with us about that journey in three different
ways with teachers, with administrators and with engaging
a disengaged community? [inaudible] Oh, well, all of those things
are interconnected. Um, but I’ll start with probably the, the biggest challenge today and then
maybe some more things will emerge in Chicago despite some of the changes
that we’ve talked about in the positive changes. One of the thing that
keeps me up at night is the, the issues that we are experiencing
as it relates to enrollment. Um, Chicago at its height probably
had over 500,000 students. Uh, and now we have actually more schools
than we had in 1995 and we have over 500,000 students and we only have 360,000
students for the past three years. We have lost about 10,000
students each year. And that is because I would describe
it as kind of a perfect storm or convergence of a few
things. First, um, uh, legal and illegal immigration has slowed
dramatically in Chicago since 2016. Um, birth rates are extremely
low in Chicago and in Illinois. And then also we have seen a large, or mass exit is I should say from
the South and West sides of Chicago, which are predominantly are African
American, uh, low income communities. And you know, we haven’t done
a robust study to assess that, but we know that some of that may be
people transitioning to go to, you know, communities or suburbs that are right
outside of Chicago that they deemed safer, which is something that is
really a challenge for me. Um, and when we first started
to see this trend, it was really troubling because
it started with, you know, principals kind of pointing
out a few principles, um, that I know on the West side were kids
and families were trans transferring to school systems that were not
performing at the same level of CPS. But many of the parents were
transitioning because they wanted safer environments for their kids. And so the enrollment is something
that’s a huge issue because while we’re constantly, you know, creating new opportunities and
thinking about how do we, you know, stay above the curve to make sure
that there are a diversity and options throughout the city. We’re also
experiencing population loss. And so that’s an area where we have
worked directly with the community. We put together, uh,
a year, two years ago, the most comprehensive data set called
the annual regional analysis where we looked at school quality, school
choice, um, patterns, all of this. And we made that data
available to the public, which is something that we hadn’t done
before. We would look at the data, come up with the plan,
take our beautiful plan. So we thought out to the
community and get, you know, they would address us via, you know,
we would have to kind of fight back, you know, and, and it just didn’t
create the right dynamic. And so, because this is a huge issue
that affects everybody, the approach that I took is we’re gonna
put the data out there for everybody and really just embark on this education
campaign for people to understand that the high school, your beloved high school that you
remember with 2000 students now has 300 students. And what does that mean? When the school is designed to have
2000 kids and you only have 300. And so I think we’ve been successful and
engaged in the community where when we first started, people were like,
this is a school closing plan. Here we go again. Everybody knows the
history of school closings and CPS. And what ended up happening is people
saw that we were really trying to have a conversation about what’s happening. We led with investments by creating
more academic programs in certain communities, um, in certain schools
within the communities hardest hit. Um, but really got to a point where
people were like, all right, we understand something needs
to happen, but they’re like, you need to probably close
a school but not my school. So that’s kind of where we are today. Um, but the way I explain it to people
is it’s a simple third grade problem. We have fewer students
than we had 20 years ago, and we have more facilities. There isn’t a marketing or recruitment
plan that fixes one school without hurting another school if you
don’t have the students there. And so that is an example
of a huge challenge, um, that I’m trying to address. By
engaging various stakeholders. You shared that safety
was a concern for, um, some of the people that were
leaving. Yeah. Choosing to leave. How are you addressing that? Well, I think schools are anchors and I think
when I look at the issues that we face with regard to violence in Chicago,
the way I approached that is, you know, I’m not a police officer.
I stay in my lane. Um, but I believe that this is, that the schools play a critical role
in making sure that we educate children and give them choices so that they
don’t have to turn to, you know, uh, other things. And so my motivation is to educate as
many students as possible and give them opportunities so that they don’t
have to make those choices. But we also want to make sure our
schools are quality. And I hope that, and I think this is the case, um, that there are some families when they’re
making a decision, they may, you know, wonder like, is it worth moving to a particular area
that may be safer if I’m not gonna get the same quality of education and the
school can kind of be a pull factor, um, or an anchor that keeps
them in that community. One example is the work that we did
recently at Inglewood high school, which is something I’m
incredibly proud of. We just opened that school this
year, um, on the first day of school. And this was one of those, um, tough decisions that I made about 18
months ago and was probably called every name under the sun, but we closed four comprehensive
high schools that, you know, in their heyday probably
had about 6,000 students. And at the time that we closed it, there were less than 300 students
across the forest school, less than 400 students
across the four schools. And this was tough because you know,
these schools had existed for a long time, but what we said is that we
have to close the schools. 93% of the people who live
in this community are going
somewhere else and they are traveling the LA the furthest
distance than anybody else in the city. They were traveling almost five
miles a day to and from school. So when you start putting that information
out there, um, we made the decision, it wasn’t an easy one, but one of the things that I thought was
critically important is that you can’t take away something from a community
without giving something back. And it can’t just be
Chrome books and programs. It needs to be real. And so
creating a state of the art school, so we walked back into this school, you
know, we were expecting 300 freshmen. They have over 400 freshmen,
which is a good problem. But this is the same
community that two years ago, 93% of the students who lived in the
school age children that lived in the community went somewhere else. And so I’m looking to replicate that
across the district where we address this problem, um, in collaboration
with the community, but that we lead with the investment. Um, because otherwise you’re just taking
something away and communities are accustomed to that, which is why they don’t trust school
systems and other government institutions. And we don’t often hear about, um,
investing in. Yeah. That’s wonderful. Well, everyone in this room, or at least all of the students in this
room are preparing to be just like it. Oh, really? Um, to
think that 15 years ago, was it 15 years ago you were a
student or a principal? Oh, no, girl, I wish I was, Oh, the huddles, which was, I graduated from high
school in 1995. So yeah. So this is wonderful for everyone in
the room to think that you know him. Yeah. But I did have an accelerated
track if I’m being honest. I taught for about five years years. Um, I became a
principal very young. I was the youngest high school
principal in CPS history. I was only 26 when I
became a principal. Um, and that happened as a result
of, uh, starting a new school. So back to that choice piece
where I started a new school. It wasn’t a charter school, it
was a school within the district. And so what I also like to share with
people about my stories that I’ve worked within the school system my entire career. And oftentimes when people
started thinking about change, they don’t believe that you can
innovate within the school system. But I think that I was able to be
entrepreneurial within the system. And there are constraints
and barriers there, but I just wanna make sure people know
that you can go and work in a traditional school system and do things that
are creative and innovative. You don’t have to go and start something
else. Um, but yeah, so that’s that. But I spend most of my
time as a principal, which is wonderful. I mean, that’s encouraging for people in this
room would like to be on a similarly accelerated fast track.
Who are some of your, we heard about your parents, they sound like they were
wonderful influences in your life. Who are some of the other
influencers and supporters? Did you always want to be an education? You know, I actually want it to be
a college professor. So that’s my, that’s my goal. And yeah, I always tell people I wasn’t like a
weird high school person saying it. I want to be a school superintendent. Although I had a couple of students
who used to tell me they wanted to be principals. I was like,
who says that? But, uh, I initially wanted to
be a college professor, which was also a little weird coming
from the South side of Chicago. I didn’t know anybody that
was a college professor, but I’ve always loved history
and that was my original pathway. Um, but to be honest, I went to, you
know, I had great schools, great teachers, and was given every opportunity. And I, I say that not to brag is actually
something that is embarrassing at times because I think about what that school
system was like compared to what we do today. A lot of the policies
we have are universal. What we try to offer things to everybody.
But the, the way I was educated, people picked and choose who got what. And that probably was because me
and my siblings were well behaved. We were reading before we came to
school, we did, you know what I mean? And that system where the kids who
show up and do everything that they’re supposed to do and act right
and speak well and do that, they get opportunities and
parents that are involved. My father was crazy
for real, but you know, we were picked for everything. And so one of the things that drives me
is bringing opportunities for everybody because there are a lot of people, there are a lot of girls from
the South side who can be CEOs, but it takes the people in power in
charge to see things in them that they may not see in themselves. I agree. Um, we know.
Um, yes, we agree. Um, what brought you then to K-12 K-12 I started teaching and so my goal
was to go back and get a master’s and a doctorate in history and teach
at the university of Minnesota. And I don’t know why, only because
I knew somebody that was the thing. But that’s how kids, when you
don’t know, you just know. I knew one person who was
a college professor there, but once I started teaching
it became painfully obvious. Really asked that. Um, what the students in the
school where I was teaching, what they were experiencing was very
different than what I experienced in CPS. And honestly, I really, I
thought something happened. I would remember talking to somebody,
like something happened to black people, like something’s going on,
what’s going on in this school? And I remember that the
person was like, no, you just had a different
experience. This is, this is what’s going on in
a lot of schools and CPS, like you had a different experience.
And so I, I’m the type of person, I don’t complain about stuff. If
I see something that’s not right, I try to change it. And so I
started looking for ways to do that. And part of it was trying
to do a better job teaching. I think I was an okay teacher. Um, but then there was an opportunity through
the bill and Melinda Gates foundation to start a school. And that really
took me off my professor track, um, because they basically, you know, gave an opportunity for people
to put together a proposal. So me and a group of teachers, all of
them just as young and bold as I am, we only had one senior member who
told us we were crazy everyday, but that’s why we kept them around. Um,
we wrote a proposal to open a school, Al Raby high school, which was named after a former Chicago
teacher in civil rights activist. He was like the Martin
Luther King of Chicago. Um, so we named the school after him because
he really embodied what we wanted to teach the students there. And that was when I became
the principal of that school. And so that was really the place where I
decided this is where I want to be. Um, and when I filled out my
graduate school application, I wrote that I was going to
be the CEO of CPS before 40, or by the time I’m 40. And
that’s exactly what happened. [inaudible] I’m going to be honest, when I wrote it, I was just trying to be bold and stand out and my professor’s still
who’s a mentor now. He still remembers that and
he never lets me forget that. Okay, well there are
some of us in this room. I certainly am one who believed
that you put it out to the universe, do everything that you know how to do to
make it real and then just walk into it and obviously that’s
what you have have done. I also say things like I’m
scared of her in the best way. I love best way. Um,
so you talked about um, it’s Judy around, so Judy or somebody
has to keep me on track for time. Just give me signals. But you talked about excellence and equity
and diversity and we talk a lot about that here at the ed school. Can you give us some examples of what
that looks like on the ground and day to day activities and your school district? I will, I’ll give you
an example. I will say, especially for those of you who
are going to lead districts, this work is hard and it takes
a long time to get it right. And we have an amazing person as our
chief equity officer who will probably be the first person to tell you that he
didn’t know how heavy this lift would be. But it’s really important
to have a framework and a
common language around this because people hear different
things when you say equity. And so we have spent the first year
figuring out what that actually means and creating that framework.
But in the meantime, there are things that we can
do every day to change that. And so one of the examples from a
district level was our capital plan. So each year, uh, we, uh, you know, roughly $500 million, in some cases it’s been close to a
billion dollars on capital improvements in our district. And when we looked
at our plans for the past 10 years, of course, there, uh, every ward,
I’ll use Wars as an example, uh, received some kind of capital
improvements, so schools and various Wars. But when we start to
examine and go deeper, um, we saw some inequities that existed there. The example of the Inglewood that I
talked about was one where they had not received a brand new high
school facility since the 1970s. And so there were examples like
that. And so part of it was, um, when we, uh, think
about our capital program, the first thing we look at is making
sure that kids are warm, safe, and dry. And that takes up a majority, the majority of the money because
a roof is very expensive. HVAC, very expensive, so you can spend a bunch
of money that nobody sees really fast. Um, but then we also
prioritize overcrowding relief, which in Chicago, I just talked
about the mass Exodus, right? So we’re relieving overcrowding. We know that is not in the black
and the Latino community as well. And so those things needed to happen. There are real issues when you’re
looking at the entire city. But one of the commitments we made is
that we are going to prioritize the communities that had not received capital
investments over some of these other priorities that were you kind of
higher on the list in years past. And so that’s one example. So when we
administered, um, when we allocated, I should say the funds for this year, it was done in a much more equitable
way and mirror the demographic makeup of the district much more than I
would say prior capital plans. Did. Did you do work to prime the community
so that they would understand the shift or? Um, yes and no. I think the change with the mayor help, cause everybody was clear she was
coming in on the equity agenda. Um, we do engage the community when we create
our capital plans and there are still some shifts that are occurring. You know,
there are some people who, you know, are accustomed to the overcrowding relief
being the top priority, which it is. Um, you know, these are serious
issues. Um, but we also have a very, uh, you know, we have a responsibility
to take care of our infrastructure. We have an aging infrastructure, the
average building and CPS is 75 years old. And so we’ve just messaged
like, this is what we’re doing, this is why we’re doing it. And just been much more transparent
about how big the issue is. And so it’s not perfect. Um, another example is
around ADA accessibility. We had not prioritize that
outside of in Chicago. I don’t know if that’s
probably federal guidelines. Whenever you do a
renovation and a building, you have to make the ADA accessible. So we would do that for
any kind of renovations, but we had not earmarked any
money outside of that this year. We have total about, uh, about $6 million in need and we
earmark funds to start choppy, chipping away at that. Um, and so that’s another example of where
we looked at a need based on providing equity for our, uh, disabled peers
and partners in the school system. And so that’s just another concrete
example of how we’re trying to think about things in a different
way. And prioritize, um, people that I feel like have been left
out or disenfranchised in some cases and communicate and communicating
community and transparency kind of helped. Yeah. This one, this area, um, I’m really curious about and
that is politics in Chicago. Um, uh, it’s known for being a city where politics
plays a major role in every part of community and, uh, civic life life. So can you share with us how you’ve been
able to build rapport and bridges with mayor players, major players like mayor, ward leaders, um, teacher unions
and other community stakeholders. That’s going to take up the
next 45 minutes. But, um, that you are right. Chicago was
a very political city in it. It’s fun. I will say that. Um, but I will share my frustration as
I shared earlier that I am sometimes uncomfortable with the amount of politics, particularly particularly as it relates
to public education because I know it’s the nature of being in a large city, but I also reject that because
I know in like suburban areas, parents just would not stand for that. And I just feel like when we’re dealing
with poor black and Brown students, why is it okay to politicize every
single thing that’s happening with them? It’s just a problem that I have with it
in general. But how do I navigate it? First accepting that it’s a part
of life and that it’s my job. I say to a aspiring superintendent
and I said to a group earlier today, if you don’t like politics, you’re
going down the wrong road. You, you can’t lead and you won’t buffer the
people who you’re serving if you don’t engage and pay attention to
lowercase and uppercase politics. It’s just the reality. And people, uh,
you know, depending on who you are, you know, uh, politics has a negative connotation and
so people are uncomfortable with it. But the way that I think about it is
I think about relationships and that’s what’s critically important. You have to have relationships
with elected officials. You have to have relationships with
community leaders, faith leaders, the union leaders in order to do your
job. Because if you are in charge, people are looking at you to do certain
things in order to make it easy for them to continue to do their best work. And so I think communication is critical. I think what you say in private needs
to be the same thing you will say publicly. One of the things that I’ve shared with
people is if I’m having a conversation similar to the conversation we just had
about school capacity or enrollment, I’ve seen leaders who sit in certain
spaces and say certain things certain ways because of who’s in the room. And my
conversation and dialogue is the same. Now of course I’m going to make
an adjustment if I’m in Harvard, I might say in one way, if I’m, you know, in Inglewood and it might be conveyed a
different way cause I want to reach the people, but the message is
the same. The, the integrity, integrity matters. And people pay attention to every
single thing that you do and say. And that’s a shift that I’ve seen. People who kind of are elevated, um, sometimes don’t pay attention to, um,
what you’re, what you say when you’re, the superintendent is very different
than what you say when you were a teacher or even just a person on
the superintendent’s team. And so being attuned to that is critically
important because it really impacts what happens, um, for the
people that you serve. Being a home girl, is that helped you understand
the politics in Chicago? Part of it. Uh, my father was very, um, not involved in politics.
We’ll follow politics closely. And so we talked about
stuff. I’m not joking. He said Barack Obama was going
to be the first black president. He said that Barack Obama was a state
representative in the district that we lived in state Senator I should say. And I remember him doing like my father
coming home, my father was a cab driver. He was like, I saw him, he was doing
a speech on 87th and that boy woo. You know, and so, you know,
he read three newspapers. We would talk about the council Wars. For those of you who know about Chicago
policy. So we talked about those things. So I think I was pretty astute,
but it wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t a poly PSI major,
like my brother and you know, a political junkie then. Um,
but I understood, uh, the, the dynamics and I understood power and
how that is exercise in a way that I think most low income people from
communities where I come from just don’t understand. We feel it right. You, we feel the effects of not having power
but don’t really understand how you secure it and, um, use it. And so that was something that we talked
a lot about in my house. And so I was, I probably a little more comfortable
in some of those, you know, dicey or situations that maybe other
people who want to avoid the, you know, the messiness that’s involved
in it that’s inherent in it. Um, you also, Dr. Jackson
talked about, uh, communities, people in community leaving
because of safety. And I, um, wanted to just give you a chance to
talk to us about ways that you’re addressing. Uh, what actually happens in communities
often spills into our schools. Yeah. Um, yeah, one thing, one of the best programs
that I think we’ve instituted, uh, to deal with safety outside of the
school is the safe passage program. Um, that started about eight years
ago and CPS or seven years ago. And I mean fast forward, uh, the people who work in our safety safe
passage programs live in the communities where they serve. For a lot of people,
it’s an opportunity, um, you know, a second chance opportunity. Many of them, almost all of them have a deep sense of
pride serving in that program because they are not only there to like, you
know, they’re like crossing guards, but they are also like moms and aunts
and they observe the students and sometimes observe things that maybe the
teacher or the principal didn’t see. You know, it could be something
as simple as, you know, kids not having the proper
clothing, um, to, you know, deal with the weather
or um, observing things, dangerous things that might be
happening and being able to report that. So that’s one thing. That’s one way that the school system
has contributed to public safety. Um, we also have done other programs
in our schools. Um, like bam, I think is a really important program
becoming a man. And we have account, uh, program for women working
on womanhood. Well, we work with our students and some cases, some of our students that
have been exposed to trauma, some of our students that have either
been victims of violence in some cases, perpetrators of violence to really
sit down and talk to them, um, and, and work with them. We have other,
uh, programs where it’s, uh, you know, kinda like behavioral therapy that
we’ve done in the schools that have been really, really powerful. This
summer. Uh, we have a pro, we had a program called
a summer for change, which we are going to extend year-round
where we identify 400 of our most at risk students. And we
worked with them. They, uh, received, uh, job
training or an a stipend. Uh, they receive therapy, uh, through the group behavioral therapy
with professionals in our, uh, in our schools over the
summer. And they also, uh, went on field trips and
other opera, you know, had other opportunities for
exposure. And first of all, we had more students in the
program than we anticipated. None of the students in the program were
victims or perpetuaters of any kind of violence throughout the summer, which is why we’re looking to expand
that to more students because it’s, it’s what we all know that when you
invest in them and you give them an opportunity, you give them, you
know, employment opportunities, you give them the support that they
need and the access to professionals if that’s something that they can, um, that they feel that they need
and we’re seeing a change. And so this is an initiative
that our new mayor, um, instituted and we would
like to expand, um, throughout the city of
Chicago because again, we have to make sure that we’re really
supporting our students and stopping the cycle early. I think that’s
the place that, um, the, the role that schools have in
the whole public safety issue. And, um, the class that I teach, we’ve talked about collective
impact and you’ve, uh, this seems like a collective impact model. How have you engaged partnerships,
uh, partners in this, in this work? Obviously the mayor, just others? Yeah, well the mayor is definitely a partner,
but every program I just talked about, they’re partners who support the work. So the working on womanhood and the
band program is through youth guidance. Um, we work with um, uh, the Chicago police department and some
of the programs that we talked about. We work with a host of
community based organizations. So one thing that I think is important
to know about Chicago is people are really connected. And when I talk
to folks in other school systems, I think that we, we really enjoy a lot of support from
the philanthropic community or community based organizations. Um, the universities
and our city, they all, I mean it’s, it’s a lot. And so that’s one of
the things that I’m really proud of. We have a lot of people working on this. I don’t think you can do
this in isolation. Um, and you shouldn’t do it in isolation
because the more you can relieve the pressure on teachers who are unfortunately
left to do be social workers, nurses and all these things, if we can really leverage those
partnerships in the community. And in the other institutions in
the city, it gives teachers, um, the space to do what they’ve been
hired to do, which is to teach. I’m gonna on that one. Yeah. Okay. Um, just a few more questions
and then I’ll open it up. Um, lots of aspiring superintendents and
school leaders at all levels in this room. Uh, can you share with us, we’ll
just make it two things that they, you think they should do to prepare
themselves for their job? Oh, if you true job well, um, you’re in a great
program. I think of you, you’re already getting kind
of the technical experience
in the part of the job that’s going to help you to be successful. I would say just spend time
learning who you are as a leader. I think the most powerful professional
development I’ve ever experienced is professional development where I had
to examine who I am and how I show up. And I know sometimes that feels fluffy
and like people feel like that’s, you know, that’s not the real
work, but it really is. Um, sometimes we don’t know how people
see us. All of us have blind spots. And so when you learn who you
are, all of those assessments, I know we’ve all taken various
assessments, pay attention to those. But more importantly when
you start managing people, make sure you spend as much
time understanding them
because how you treat them and interact with them has a a huge impact
on how successful you’re going to be. Um, as a leader. So I would say get to know who you
are and be confident in that. Um, I have seen a lot of leaders, great leaders and also
leaders that have struggled. But the one thing I will say is if you
are a leader and you lack confidence, people can smell that a mile away and
it’s really hard to advance anything that you’re trying to do if you
don’t know who you are. And if you can explain your why. Okay. [inaudible] I swear I didn’t give her my syllabus. Um, three just one thing that they
should do to get that dream job by a young age. Like okay, well do it when you’re ready
and when you want to do it. Cause there are a lot of things you’ve
got to take into consideration. Um, you know, you have a family and other aspirations. One thing I will say, and I’ll go back to answer the question
cause I always say this especially and I did not start out as like a women,
uh, you know, uh, a woman, uh, women empowerment or activists or anything
like that. But of course as I have, you know, centered in my role,
people have me come talk to people, to groups in particular women all the
time. The one thing that I say is like, you can do it all. Like don’t
let people tell you you can’t. There are trade offs. Men and women have
to make trade offs when you do this. But um, I re, you know, I remember my parents working and there
were times where one had to go to work and another one came in and the other
one out the door and there are tradeoffs. But one of the things that
I’ve been able to do to, to make sure that I am a good CEO and
also a good mom is like everyday I make a decision and some days I’m going to be a
great mom and not the best CEO and some days I’m going to be a Gracie
or not the best mom and you, you make those trade offs. But one thing I learned early is you’re
going to piss somebody off every day. So just make a decision about who
that is and make sure there’s balance. But I say that, cause there were some young people in
here and I know that there are probably some women who are like, well I got
to do this first, I gotta do that. And you know sometimes when you’re
ticking all those things off, you can look up and you’re 40 and you
haven’t done all the things that you want to do. So do it on your time table. You don’t have to do it on my
time table or anyone else’s, but do it when it works for you.
But don’t be afraid to, to do it. Like you can do it. And like I
said, my daughter, uh, you know, she’s so proud of me. I was telling
somebody earlier, she’s like super woke. She knows what her mom is doing. You know, I told her I was coming here today
and there’s a SAC that’s a sacrifice, but you can do it. And so I just feel like
that’s an important message
as far as like what to do to land your job. Like find a place where you think
you can add the most value period. And if you really show up
with a plan to add value, I think things fall into place
in the, in a natural way. Um, so don’t look for the biggest district
or the hottest district or the one that everybody’s talking about. Finding a place where you will be able
to do your best work and find a place where you can add the most value. And I
think that will become your dream job. And I say this not because I’m sitting
on this panel, this is real life. I love what I do. I wake up every day, it is not hard to get up and do this
every day and I want that for everybody. So I hope you find a place where you
can like give 120% and like enjoy doing that cause it’s a good thing. Yeah. I had asked in a brief conversation
that we had, I said, Dr. Jackson, if you had a redo about taking this job,
would you and I expected some. Well, on the one hand on the other she said,
absolutely. This is my dream job. So, um, that’s wonderful. Last question. What keeps you strong while doing this
work? What keeps you going? Sustain, sustained you, especially during
the difficult times because bill always going to be always difficult
time. Two things. First, the kids. And that’s real life. I know people say that sometimes they
don’t really believe it, but you know, just like when I was a principal,
when things would be tough, I would go into classroom and just watch
even if they were acting up or not do it. Just that, that joy, um, when we lose that in the work, when
you forget why you’re doing this, it’s hard. The work is
hard then. So the students, I know why I do this, I’m
doing it for people like me, people who aren’t like me, but people who want an opportunity and
anything I can do to put them on that path is the reason is my why.
Um, and then my faith in God, I mean everybody comes at
this in a different place,
but you know, I was joking, somebody sent me like an encouraging
text and I told them I really believe the scripture, no weapons form. So I’m not
like just saying I’m okay. I’m okay. Like, and I believe that if you do
things for the right reason, people, you know, uh, that know me, they know my heart and I do this work
and I’m not trying to sound like a missionary, cause that is not what I am, but I really believe that I’m doing the
work that I was put on this earth to do. Hmm. [inaudible] I want to invite people to the
Mike, but you need to hear this, these instructions, if you come to the mic to ask
about your Jackson, uh, question, it has to be a question. It has to be a statement with
the question Mark at the end. It must be succinct. So
other than your name, if you would get right to the question, we’ll be able to have
her answer quite a few. And the first person that goes
is modeling the way. So, sir, I’m counting on you. I’m counting on you to model
the way meaning question. Okay. Tell us your name, you for coming tonight. I wonder if, would
you give us your advice as a leader, um, for how to set high expectations and
encourage them and enforce them when you have a student population that may not
have been ever encouraged to dream or didn’t think that way. And I
just, I might copy out this, that I’m asking this due to my faith, my own failure in 15 years at bunker
Hill community college where I was thrown under the bus for my first
day to my last saying, you have no business putting
those ideas in their heads. Yeah. Well I think the culture of
low expectations is probably
the biggest impediment to academic advance advancement, especially for low income
and minority students. So I think high expectations
are critically important. I do want to like explain what I mean
when I say high expectations. Um, my philosophy is high expectations
coupled with high levels of support. I think when you do one without the
other, you set students up for failure. I’ve seen these kinds
of high expectations, zero tolerance and no excuses models. I don’t agree with those personally. Um, there is some value in the model
but it needs to be tweaked. But I’ve also seen models where
it’s all support, support, support. You’re not teaching them anything. And when they turn 18 the world
world happens. And so for me, you have to couple high expectations
with support. Um, I think that whenever, whenever I, uh, have had an opportunity to visit or
learn about a school that is beating the odds, so to speak, in every single case, there is a phenomenal leader and they
believe in high expectations and actually believe in students. But I think it all
comes with the framing. I don’t think, I think all students are the same. I
don’t care what background they’re from. It’s how many adults do they have in
their corner telling them they can be successful and also supporting
them to be successful. Because most of the students, I’m
not familiar with bunker Hill, but just drawing on my experience, most of the students who come
from challenging backgrounds, they get 20 times more messages
about what they can’t do. Then they get about what they can do.
And so sometimes we’re in a classroom, you have to, you know, over
compensate and account for that. And so that’s how I approach it. But if you talk to people who
worked in schools that I led, they will tell you I have the market
cornered on high expectations. But I also believe in
supporting people. Thank you. Hi Dr. Jackson. I have
a quick statement DJ. So I’m a Chicago South side girl who
left the city 20 years ago and would have never dreamed that I would graduate
with a doctorate from Harvard. But I’m back in Chicago 20 years later. And so to hear what you’re doing is
amazing because it was very difficult to navigate that system. Yep. So now I spend most of my time coaching
leaders and really helping them show up in their full self. So what are some of the things you’re
doing in CPS to work with the school building leaders, not only on
building their own leadership, but also how do you navigate the politics
within the school district? Well, yeah, I can talk about that forever.
But what I should’ve said, um, I, I highlighted it a little
bit in my remarks is that
part of our theory of change has focused on the school
as the local unit of change, which means the principal is the CEO
of their building. And so we, um, believe in that you, if we have 660 schools, you know, 30,000 teachers and employees, you can’t manage and hire for
that at the district level. And we can hire 660 good principals and
have them create the conditions within their schools that drive towards the
type of success that we’re looking for. And that’s been the, that’s the bet we made 15 years ago and
that’s been the process that we’ve used today. We have a programs across the board for
new principals to support them through this because that’s the
hardest part in the journey. But also I’m really proud of the work
that we’ve done to retain the principals that we have into honor our
high performing principals
and principals that have been in the district for a long time. And I talked earlier about some of
the programs that we, we offer. Um, but one data point that I would share
with you is when we first embarked on the principle, uh, retention work hour, uh, departure rate each year was about 30%,
which means at the end of each year, 30% of the principals left
last year it was less than 10%. It was 9%. And so that is remarkable
for a large urban school system. And one of the things I believe is that
if we keep stability and leadership there and stability in the teaching
core, it’s going to transform, um, into better outcomes for our
kids. And so we, we do a lot. Um, there’s always room to grow. We have recently launched a diversity
program called great expectations mentoring to really identify black
and Latin X leaders in our district to prepare them. And part
of it is just the work. What are the competencies that you need
to master in order to get whatever job you’re trying to get in
a leadership role? Um, but then we also talk to them about
what’s your specific experience? Because we have found that like for many
of our African American male leaders, there’s a separate cohort, they feel like they’re
only given opportunities to
work in low income or hard schools to go in and kind of be
disciplinarians and clean things up. And we also learned from a lot of our
Latin X leaders that there is a lot of pressure and responsibility to work
specifically with your own community. And so how do we break that down and
help them understand what the culture and expectations are, but also what are the opportunities in
the district and when is it okay to step outside of those things. So those are just a few examples of how
you work with our leaders to put them on the path and put them in a
school that fits best for them, hoping that that means they’ll stay. And that’s dr a nice fish.
Nice to meet you. Okay. So you talked about the problem
of under enrollment and um, meanwhile you have these really large
facilities that are intended for more young people. Um, and I know your
equity office is working on poverty, kind of head on and thinking
about wraparound services, have you thought about
co-locating services in these
larger facilities and what do you think about like full service
community schools and that sort of model? Yeah, great question. Um, so
the answer, the first part, we do have a few models where, um, we have services whether
it’s a health clinic or, uh, other services that Cola that
are co located in a building, we actually have more, um, facilities and more space than kind of
we can solve for with that kind of a model. Um, one of the things
that we attempted to do, uh, when we close the 50 schools, of course
he had a lot of facilities on hand. I mean, that number is much smaller now. I think it’s about nine that we still
have on have on our books. But, um, we did look for communities
and churches to take them over. But what we found is schools are
so big, the utility costs alone, the average CBO cannot sustain it. And so we’ve just been trying to figure
out other creative ways to use those facilities, um, in the district. And
then you asked another questions, community schools and, and we we agree
with that. Uh, of the 660 schools in CPS, I think around 200 of them are community
schools. We have different models. Um, we have some that were a part of the
original 21st century community schools grant. And then we also have a model with just
20 schools that is in partnership with the Chicago’s teachers union, which
is a more robust, I would say, um, in schools get additional resources and
those have been really effective. Um, a lot of our community based Oregon
organizations feel really connected. They, we invited in some of the people who
were sometimes on the other side of the table and I think it’s gone a long way
to really bring together that synergy between the school and the
community based partners. Dr. Jackson as really refreshing, like as a former CFO to hear how resources
are being aligned with like values of equity and you’re kind of putting
your money where your mouth is, which is awesome. Um,
it makes me think about, you’ve done a lot of things
in terms of curriculum. I know CPS has student based budgeting, you talked about facilities.
What is next? Um, in terms of investment,
especially around low income, um, communities where there are
a lot of black and Brown kids. So a couple of things. Um, it’s
actually a really good question. What’s next is we are trying to create
a formula for our budget that is more aligned with EBF evidence-based funding. I’m not sure if you guys are
familiar with that concept, but the state of Illinois has
adopted EBF, which is great. It led to more funding per CPS
as I mentioned in my remarks. Uh, but as a school system right now, about 52% of the funds that a school
receives are deaths directly related to student based budgeting. The other
48% come through a variety of sources, especially at L services. Um, and some citywide services
that we, you know, uh, administer centrally
and push out to schools. And so one of the things that we would
like to do is to make sure that there’s better alignment between the evidence-base
funding formula and how we distribute dollars in CPS. And so we are in the process of starting
an 18 month long process where we’re going to engage the community, go out with our best thinking around
budget models, get feedback. Uh, but really part of it is to educate the
community on the funding policy. I mean, on the funding policy, but
also get their feedback. But what we’re also hoping to do is to
really bring about awareness around the fact that we shouldn’t really debate
student based funding versus resource allocation. If you’re trying
to slice the same pie, you’re going to get the same
outcomes, the haves and the have nots. That’s what’s going to happen. And then, and in addition to looking at how
we allocate funds collectively, I want to rally people in order for us
to change Illinois ranking as 50 out of 50 for, uh, public education funding. Because our adequacy
level right now is 62%. If we were funded at 100% adequacy,
this is the state’s formula. We would have an additional $2 billion
in our budget and if we had an additional $2 billion gone are the debates over,
should we have a nurse in every school? Should we have the money would be
there. Um, it’s just not there. And so we need more, uh,
investment in public education. So that’s what’s on the horizon. I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about
it once we start talking publicly. Awesome. Again, thank you. Yep. Uh, diversifying the teaching force is a
big part of your five year vision. Yeah. Um, and so I’m wondering what is the strategy
for recruiting and inspiring a more diverse teaching force,
particularly with, um, declining student enrollment or student
population and communities of color? Yeah. One, one program I didn’t mention
earlier when I was speaking to, uh, your, your cohort is, um, we, we’ve actually created a residency program
and CPS that I’m really happy about the first year. So basically what we’ve done is we
looked at our teacher assistance and uh, special education classroom assistants. There were about 2000 individuals that
already had bachelor’s degrees working in those positions. And so CPS created a program where we
would pay for them to go back to school to get, um, their certification and uh, yep. Early childhood education,
special education, some of
our hard to staff areas. And then they could also student teach, which until recently in Illinois you
could not student teach and get paid, but that just changed. So we work to change legislation
there so they can keep their, they can keep their path and they
can get paid to student teach, which is important for
a person who’s employed. They can’t stop and go student
teach for six months. Um, and so the first year we had about
60 people who completed that program. And this year we have over
a hundred in that cohort. And real E we expect to have, uh,
close to 300 annually once we, uh, once that program
reaches full capacity. And so that’s an example of a program
where I felt like the solution or part of the solution was right there. Um, and it took us a while as a school system
to do it and we’re producing hundreds, we’ll be able to produce hundreds of
teachers. And what I did mention earlier, as many of those people are black and
Latin X because of their influence on our classroom teachers. So that’s one in addition to all the other
things that many districts are trying to do. Yeah. Thank you Dr. Jackson. Uh, your work in Chicago
is actually very impressive that they, one of the things I noticed
was how your thanks to you, the graduation rate in a CPS has
actually increased from like 56%, like 78% in just about eight years. But what I was wondering
is would you consider, is taking your work outside of Chicago, because I noticed in one of your slides
that it actually shows how the CPS compares to other public schools
across the, of the state, I mean, across the nation. Yeah. I have
noticed that Baltimore is actually, uh, increase, very low above, like weighed down below
New York and Chicago, which considered reaching out to
other school systems like them. Well, I do as, first of all,
I think they’re doing their, I think they have a great superintendent
in Baltimore who I do work with and I apologize. Yeah, no, no,
no. It’s a great question. But I do and come into events like this. I do a lot of collaboration and we
learn a lot because we haven’t figured everything out. Um,
but I do know that, um, I’m not personally responsible for
the graduation, uh, improvements. Although I love the way you
gave me credit for all that. Um, but I, it, it, what I want people to learn from that
is it is a concerted effort. Um, the, the schools really the schools, our counselors really organize
themselves around this challenge. And so the data that you see around
graduation rate improvements, it wasn’t like a blip or
something that just happened. I was a teacher and had a teacher, a
principal when we started this work. I remember when CPS said we are going
to focus on freshmen in high school. And there were people who were like, well what about the sophomores and
what about the juniors and what? And we had to focus on one thing
and it was freshman on track, intervene in early. They were
policies in place, accountability. It was in our school accountability
policy. And fast forward, you know, 10 years later we can post the
gains that you saw here. But it was, it started with data from the university
of Chicago in a decision at the high school level that this is
what we’re going to focus on. And this was one example where it worked. There are a lot of examples
where it doesn’t work. This was one example
where it actually worked. And so we have been sharing the work that
we have done around freshmen on track across the country and the consortium
is doing a really good job and happy to share their information with anybody
who’s interested in learning more about that work. Thank you so much. Hey, uh, so even with the, uh, the
initiatives with school choice, um, the district is still pretty segregated
and so I was wondering if you have any reflections on the merger of Ogden and
Jenner and whether you’ve plans to, uh, sort of address segregation
throughout the district? That’s actually a good question. So I then Jenner is a really good example
of the kind of thing that we would love to do more of when
we look at Chicago. And going back to my conversation around,
um, overcrowding and under enrollment, we actually have a lot, not a lot, but we have enough
communities where there are, Ogden is a, it’s a merge. It’s
merged now, but prior to the merger, Ogden was the probably
wealthiest school in Chicago. Uh, that was right next to a community. The old Cabrini green were one
of the last schools was there. It was a fairly new school because the
facility was built not too long ago, but severely under enrolled because
the, that housing project, you know, had been demolished and the communities
have been displaced, et cetera. And the community, not CPS came
together with a plan to merge. And so you had this, you know, wealthy, mostly white community working with the
low income African American community collaboratively. And it wasn’t perfect, but they came up with the plan to
support the merger. And to be honest, initially we were as a district kind of
like, I don’t know, is this gonna work? Is this going to be, you know, a a
flash point. And it actually worked out. And even when problems emerged, as, as
you all could imagine, um, would occur, they owned it because this was their
plan. And so to answer your question, yes, we have to do more of those. The, the challenge I have is how do we do
that in a way where it’s authentically generated from the community
and not coming from CPS? And that is a challenge because Ogden
Jenner worked for a number of reasons. Uh, but we had a lot of
parents who are lawyers, researchers who could do the
planning and the research. They could put together a plan that CPS
had to respond to when communities that uh, do not have some of those
human resources present. If they don’t have it, it is
the district’s responsibility
to help them do it. But sometimes because of the distrust
between the district and the communities, it can become messy. And that’s what happened with some of
the other ones that we tried to do. So yes, I am committed to that
and providing more integration. But I will say this,
that is important to me. But what’s more important is
having good schools everywhere. Because I think it’s just as a
terrific that the kids in Englewood, which is almost all black, that they
have a good school in their community. And I’m fine if the school is all black
as long as the school is skinning the same thing that the schools on the North
side and other parts of the city are getting. So if people want
diversity and seek that out, we need to make that easier. But I also think we have to have good
schools and black and Latino communities. Because I know when I was growing up, I felt like you had to go to school
in a non black community to get a good education and that’s not true. And we have to make sure that we
have more great school options, that people feel good about
the options in their community. Thank you. Thank you. Good
luck. I’m on my tippy toes. Thank you Dr. Jackson for coming out
here and sharing your story with us. Very powerful. My question to you is what does Chicago
having one of the largest immigrant student populations in our country, what supports do you have in your school
to support the students and families given all of the recent tragic events
with ice and recent shooting in El Paso, Texas? Yeah, well I think yes has always been um, centered, uh, CPS Chicago as a welcoming
city. We are a sanctuary city. And as I stated earlier, uh, most people probably didn’t know
that Chicago was one of the, uh, most sought out destinations for people,
um, immigrating to sh to, uh, America. And so, uh, with, you know, the national politics around that, we’ve seen fewer people come into
Chicago coming to America in general. Um, and so that’s something
that we’ve had to address. But we as a school system, I think our bilingual education
policy is one of the strongest. That was actually one of
the first policies that I
implemented as the chief ed officer. And I remember
when I came in, the, the gentleman who ran the
department came to me and said, we have been trying to revise
the bilingual education
policy for however many years and we can’t do it. And I said,
why? And then he explained the politics. You know, there’s some
people who think dual, uh, language is bad and why whatever it was.
But they came to us with the policy, we had the support of our parents and we
adopted that policy where we strengthen our bilingual programs. We also expanded dual language
programs throughout the city, respect and the language and culture
that our students bring to the table. And very soon there’s going to be a
report about the quality of our ESL programs, which we think is going to
show that, that a lot of that is working. So I think on the educational front that
has been really good. We haven’t had, um, a lot of what we’ve seen in some other
districts with regard to ice and things like that. I mean, we’ve made it clear
where we stand as a school system. And so it’s, I think publicly making
sure people know their rights. We’ve done a lot around the know your
rights campaign so that if people are faced with that outside of
school, our police doesn’t, uh, work with ice on those things and
CPS doesn’t work with ice. Um, and so we’ve made that
clear. And then, uh, the last thing that we’re
working on that we don’t have, we don’t have an official, um, newcomers policy or newcomer schools
that I’ve seen in other school districts. So that’s something that we’re working
on and looking to bring to, to CPS. I think it happens naturally. There are places in our city where
people naturally go because of family connections. And other things, but
I think we could make it easier, um, for people who, uh, move into
the city to know where to go. So that’s what’s on the horizon. Yeah. Thank you. And
you have the last one. Okay. Um, hi dr Baxton. My name is [inaudible] Turner and I was
born and raised in Freeport, Illinois, so not very far from Chicago. Um, so thank you again for coming out and
showing out and sharing your true self with us. Um, my question, it’s kind
of a two part question, but um, given what you kind of talked about, um, in terms of like students and the
trauma that they’re experiencing, I’m wondering what you all are CPS is
doing to help support teachers who are experiencing like burnout and vicarious
trauma working with these students. And similarly, what do you
think it would take, um, to have like entire health and wellness
centers with like full staff clinicians in schools, district wide and nationally, a lot of money for the likes
of guitar. Uh, but you know, if the money’s there, you know, I think
it makes a lot of sense. Um, so we have, um, we have prioritize social
and emotional learning as
a district for about the past six or seven years now.
And, um, I was speaking earlier, I would say tier one is
pretty solid and CPS, um, people understand what SEL means.
The district has been committed. Even during our financial crisis. We did not cut SEL supports and
services or the SEL department. Um, but I think tier one is okay,
tier two and tier three, definitely we need a lot of support. We need more clinicians
in the schools to support. And we also need to make the
bridge easier from schools to, uh, other agencies when kids need more
support than the schools can provide. I remember being the principal and feeling
like I couldn’t solve problems once it got to a certain point and it was
really hard even when children or families had insurance and a lot
of our families don’t. And so helping them get access is
really difficult. As far as teachers. Um, I actually, uh, was just
advocating we received, uh, health and healing trauma grant. Is that
the call? Uh, the grant from, um, uh, the federal government, which was a one year grant and we saw
tremendous progress as a result of it and it allowed us to address some of the
things that you brought up in your question. Um, and so I, uh, had an opportunity to go and speak and
advocate for more funding like that cause we, we absolutely need it. The secondary trauma that you brought
up is probably the biggest issue outside of access to clinicians and
healthcare professionals. Our teachers are saying something’s
different and when I talk to teachers and principals, I ask them and it cuts
across race. It’s not like, you know, the white teachers who don’t
have experience working
in black communities are saying this. It’s across the
board. People feel stressed, they feel like it’s a lot. Kids are coming in and they’ve
been exposed to so much
and we have to figure out how to take care of the teachers and
address that or we’re going to continue to see burnout and turnover,
which is a huge, uh, turnover is something that
we are still grappling with. Teacher turnover and CPS. And so I think that’s probably
the next big thing on the horizon, supporting that tier two and tier three
and also supporting our teachers who, you know, are dealing with the effects
of secondary trauma. So stay tuned we, that is something we haven’t
tackled yet, but it’s on the radar. Thank you. Two things
in closing. Number one, I want to thank the audience
for actually asking questions. All did a great, great job. I don’t know what normally goes on. They stand there and they pontificate. The second thing that I want
to say is to you Dr. Jackson, I’ve been doing this work along a long
time and I am not easily impressed. Oh thank you. I am rarely bulled over, but I have so enjoyed hearing
you tonight and knowing what you [inaudible] I’m embarrassed, right? It’s a good embarrassment. I think it is wonderful that a little
girl from the South side, Chicago, uh, as somebody said, has shown, showed up and is showing out
and letting, letting, um, not just, uh, the people here at HGSC or
in Chicago or in, in law, but across this nation. It can be done. And it can be done by
someone, um, like you. So I’m just keeping the seat
warm a little while. Um, but anyway, I thank you. Perfect. Some of y’all heard me [inaudible] uh, on behalf of this wonderful
assemblage and all of us at HGSC, thank you so much for
coming. Please come back. Thank you everybody. [inaudible].

Danny Hutson

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