Sunday, November 27, 2011

Emanuel’s Point Man on School Closings

Speaking of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has brought in a charter school leader to lead the politically difficult task of trying to close chronically failing schools:

Closing down underperforming public schools in Chicago has historically been a traumatic process, with battle lines drawn between affected communities and district leaders.

School closures take on an even greater significance this year, because they are designed to be the first step in the strategic plan of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his handpicked school administration to overhaul the struggling system.

The Chicago Public School district, which has closed about 50 schools in the last decade, this year is expected to increase the number of schools being turned around and to expand the number of charter schools. Officials must release the list of schools they plan to shutter by Dec. 1.

The leader of the process is Oliver Sicat, 32, the district's new chief portfolio officer, a newly-created position focused on providing, in the words of Chief Executive Jean-Claude Brizard, a "high-quality seat" in a good school for every child. Sicat is a former teacher and principal—positions Emanuel said would be on the resumes of his new district leaders.

The son of Filipino immigrants, Sicat grew up in Santa Ana, Calif., where he said his parents had to game the system to get him into a good public school.

"I learned early on that there are different inequities based on where you live," Sicat said, noting that at one point, his parents used a different address to get him into a better school.

"Looking back now, I see exactly why my parents were doing that," he said. "But I think there's something really unfair about it. There's no reason why families and parents should have to do that."

If Sicat is successful in the task handed to him by Emanuel and Brizard, families will not have to gamble on where their children go to school. After low-performing schools are closed, Sicat and district leaders say they plan to reorganize or replace them with schools managed by both public and private operators that have proven track records of success. ------------------

Emanuel's Point Man on School Closings

CPS Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat is leading the district's school closing and turnaround efforts. The list of schools targeted for closure next year will be announced by Dec. 1.

by REBECCA VEVEA | Nov 22, 2011

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