Top Chicago Principal Tells It As He Sees It.

Chicago has one of the most troubled school systems in the country.  Countess  public schools have been closed while charters have increased.  Hundreds of public school employees have lost their jobs.

Troy LaRaviere is the former principal of an elementary school rated as the No. 1 neighborhood school in the city.  And he had issues with too much of the “corporate reform” pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his cronies on the appointed school board.  So he resigned and now heads the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.

Here are portions of his resignation letter to Mayor Emanuel.  Go here to read the entire letter.

“Dear Mayor Emanuel:

I have the pleasure of informing you that I lived up to my promise to the Blaine LSC, and I did so a year earlier than promised. Last Monday, Chicago Magazine released its elementary school ranking for 2016.  Blaine is now ranked as the #1 neighborhood school in Chicago, and #3 public school in the City overall.  In the process, working with motivated teachers and engaged parents, we increased the percentage of students meeting reading standards from an already high 79% to 89% in just our first two years.  That kind of growth from an already high performing school–without the addition of a selective enrollment program–is unprecedented.

The difficult part was mustering the will and stamina to remain steadfast in our commitment to use evidence-based practice in the face of tremendous pressure–from politicians like you–to adopt baseless “school reform” ideas like “tracking” (school based selective enrollment), “choice,” and the over-evaluation of teachers; ideas that are grounded in ideology and politics as opposed to proven effective educational methods. In a word, the biggest obstacle to Blaine becoming the #1 neighborhood school in Chicago was politics. And while many people contributed to this problem, nobody in our great city is more responsible for that political obstruction than you.

I spent a lot of time fighting those politics during my first two years at Blaine. Some of the people I fought had good intentions, but it was abundantly clear that they did not understand effective education policy. Rather, they came with ideology and politics. We came, instead, with empirical research and evidence.

In the summer of 2013 I began efforts to ensure that the residents of our city understood the negative consequences of your administration’s backward and reckless management of our school district. I did so for the following reasons:

  • Decisions by you and the board you appointed and completely controlled had damaging consequences for our school system.
  • Although your board was unelected, and therefore unaccountable to the residents of Chicago, you were indeed elected and could be held accountable.
  • As a public servant it was my responsibility to ensure the public understood the negative consequences of your school-related decision-making so they could hold you and your board accountable.

One might think that after witnessing the unprecedented academic gains of Blaine students, you and your appointees might call on my school leadership team to help you understand how we improved at such an incredible rate.  Instead, at your direction, your appointees are pushing forward with efforts to terminate my employment. It is clear that I am being punished for my advocacy, and that this retribution is more important to you than effective public education for Chicago’s children.

With the above factors in mind, I hereby resign my position as principal of Blaine Elementary School.  However, my efforts to reverse your poor fiscal and educational management of our school system are just getting started.

In closing, should you ever decide to prioritize student learning over the profits of your campaign donors, feel free to reach out to me and the principals I was elected to represent. We have an abundance of ideas for improving the system for the students we serve.  In the meantime, we will continue in our efforts to vigorously advocate for the kind of effective evidence-based education policies and practices that your office does its best to ignore and suppress.”

Sincerely,
Troy LaRaviere, Former Principal
James G. Blaine Elementary School
Chicago’s #1 Rated Neighborhood Elementary School

I do not know Troy LaRaviere.  But his comments about politics ruling the day, rather than what makes sense for students, have a familiar ring to them for sure.

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