• The school model that's good enough for Pres. Obama and Mayor Emanuel

    9 May 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on whether Mayor Emanuel and others involved in school policy should explain why their kids don't attend public school, and more.

  • In the Chicago public schools, promises are made to be broken

    2 May 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on parents' perception of the International Baccalaureate "brand," and more.

  • Endgame: school-closure hearings

    24 April 2013

    The Chicago Public Schools administration is currently holding public hearings around its plan to close and consolidate over 50 schools this year. What distinguishes these meetings from those that came before, and what are they meant to accomplish?

  • The lessons of Jane Byrne

    11 April 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on the clear contrast in Mayor Emanuel's treatment of black and white constituencies, and more.

  • The crowded-classroom approach to fixing schools

    4 April 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on how the administration has transformed its school-closing message, and more.

  • Books CPS recommends for 7th grade

    22 March 2013

    A look at the books besides Persepolis that Chicago Public Schools recommends its teachers use to teach literacy in the seventh grade.

  • Chicago Public Schools officials offer a lesson in confiscating books

    21 March 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on CPS curriculum professionals undermined by CPS administrators, and more.

  • CPS announces closures and turnarounds

    21 March 2013

    The Chicago Public Schools administration has announced the schools it plans to close and revamp.

  • Waiting for the day of judgment from Mayor Emanuel

    7 March 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on how aldermen who talk tough on school closings could really cause problems for the mayor, and more.

  • Proposed law would limit TIF take from schools

    28 February 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on why the public should allow taxing bodies to increase their tax take each year, and more.

  • School utilization scheme flunking, say critics

    26 February 2013

    Reporter Dave Glowacz talks with critics of Chicago Public Schools public-input meetings around school closures.

  • Where good legislation goes to die

    21 February 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on how aldermen might thwart efforts to bury their legislation in the rules committee, and more.

  • Getting documents explaining the longer school day

    14 February 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on getting information from government more easily than via FOIA requests, and more.

  • The Chicago manual of school closings

    24 January 2013

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on who doesn't send their kids to charters, and more.

  • Keeping up with the Jones High School plans

    10 January 2013
    Photo courtesy of

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on what the old Jones Commercial High School provided that no CPS school does today, and more.

  • Board VP: CPS "not able" to provide good schools

    11 December 2012
    Chicago Board of Education vice president Jesse Ruiz recently made an interesting statement: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) isn't able to educate in many cases.

    The statement came in the 12/6/12 episode of Chicago Newsroom. Ruiz had this exchange with host Ken Davis:

    JESSE RUIZ: Typically, [charters] were put in areas where . . . these were level 3 schools, where some of these charters went into, where we felt, they were just . . . We ourselves, and frankly, it's, CPS's acknowledgment that we are failing to provide this community with a level 1 school. And they deserve it. Every child deserves that opportunity.

    KEN DAVIS: This kind of gets right to the heart of this issue of all of you guys who were appointed by Mayor Emanuel when he came in. And there was a broad perception that you were very much pro- . . . at least [pro-]charter, some would say [pro-]privatization, you wanna sell the school system.

    JR: I wouldn't put myself in that category . . .

    KD: You wanna sell parts off to . . .

    JR: We're pro-quality schools, and I think we all are, but I—speaking for myself—I'm neutral on the type of school it is. I'm just pro-providing good options.

    KD: But can you address this incredible tension you feel in the air, of people saying, "Yeah, well, if you had just put some money into this traditional school, you wouldn't have to be putting these charters in."

    JR: Then you have to contend with the folks who say, "You keep throwing good money after bad." Then you do this, and the results just aren't produced. And then you provide some of those funds to some operators. Noble Street: very good operator in the city. And they're getting the results that, frankly, we weren't able to figure out ourselves. And so I think we owe it to our students to look at every option, and every type of school, be it international baccalaureate—we're bringing more of those programs into the city this year and next—to magnets, to selective enrollment. That's what we've been trying to do.

    Chicago Public Schools is the third-largest school district in the U.S., with eight "cabinet-level" divisions—education, accountability, talent, administrative, network supports, portfolio, community affairs, communications (see the accompanying chart)—that include about 5,000 non-teacher staff.


    According to Ruiz, CPS staff "weren't able to figure out" what it takes to have a school provide a good education. Really? CPS can't model its well-performing, traditional, neighborhood schools? Then what are we paying these 5,000 people to do? Does it seem obvious to anyone but me that a large, urban public education system should know something about, well, educating? Why do smaller Chicagoland public school systems (with comparatively tiny central offices) provide consistently high-quality schools—without using charters?

  • Testing in Kindergarten: Whatever Happened to Story time?

    25 October 2012

    Interview with the Chicago Reader's Ben Joravsky on why Illinois didn't receive federal Race to the Top funds, and more.

  • Eric Zorn and Ken Davis summarize charter schools

    25 October 2012
    In this audio excerpt, Chicago Tribune reporter Eric Zorn and Chicago Newsroom host Ken Davis give a cogent summary of how charter schools should and do work in Chicago. Taken from the 10/25/12 broadcast of Chicago Newsroom. Length 3 minutes.


  • Elected School Board Town Hall

    23 October 2012

    In this audio recording, a panel of public-school advocates discuss the possibility for an elected school board in Chicago. The panelists: Delia Bonilla, local school council parent member, Ames Middle School; Will Guzzardi, Logan Square community advocate; Ben Joravsky, columnist for the Chicago Reader; Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union; and Pauline Lipman, professor of policy studies, University of Illinois (Chicago).

  • Mayor Emanuel's First Year Report Card

    22 October 2012

    In this audio recording, a trio of panelists review Mayor Emanuel's first year in office as part of Columbia College's Intersection series. The panelists: Larry Bennett, PhD, professor of political science, DePaul University; Ben Joravsky, columnist for the Chicago Reader; and Dominic Pacyga, PhD, professor of history, Columbia College.