Peter Cunningham is the executive director of Education Post, a Chicago-based non-profit communications organization. Previously he worked in the U.S. Department of Education.

‘Give Chicago teachers the facts’

A democratic organization is supposed to be governed by and for its members, yet a bargaining committee of the Chicago Teachers Union flatly rejected a proposed contract offer from the Chicago Public Schools without consulting their teachers. They didn’t even publicly share the details with their members until after the bargaining committee turned it down. Still there is confusion. For example, Ray Salazar, a well-known local teacher blogger, said on twitter that he had to piece together the facts based on tweets and press announcements rather than a comprehensive fact sheet. Many teachers are still in the dark about a deal that offers them net salary hikes, guarantees no economic teacher layoffs for the next four years, and limits charter school growth.

‘Considerable unsung progress’

With budget cuts, union discontent and a sizeable list of pernicious problems, the education landscape in Chicago today looks a lot like it did 25 years ago. Yet for all the unsolved challenges that remain, Chicago has also seen considerable unsung progress.

Public schools losing the public?

Does the public have confidence in public education? That’s the foremost question on my mind as Catalyst marks its 25th year reporting on the third-largest school district in the country and the larger national trends shaping public education.

Amanda Collins

Op-ed: Financial aid crisis hits low-income students

One hundred thirty thousand college students in Illinois are on the brink of a crisis that no one is talking about. These are the low-income students who were counting on the state’s Monetary Award Program (MAP) to afford tuition payments. But with the state budget process at a grinding halt, they face the threat of having to “pay back” thousands of dollars in financial aid that they already were promised. If money for MAP isn’t appropriated in the next couple of weeks, those students will face a terrible decision. MAP gives assistance to students who demonstrate financial need, and I know firsthand the difference that it can make.