On Monday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) officials announced the formation of the Chicago Leadership Collaborative (CLC), a principal training and support program designed to ensure that every school has a highly effective leader who can drive the change needed to improve student achievement and graduate every student college and career ready.
“Ensuring every child has a world-class education is a top priority for my administration, and making sure we have the best possible school leaders is key to our children’s success,” said Mayor Emanuel at Genevieve Melody Elementary School, in the West Garfield Park neighborhood. “The Chicago Leadership Collaborative will train effective principals who are ready to lead from day one and reward those who excel.”
The district needs to significantly increase the number of highly skilled, highly effective principals in order to transform underperforming schools effectively.
“We need to give aspiring principals the hands-on training that will accelerate their experience and prepare them to do the job well from day one. And we need to prepare them for the unique challenges of our district in order to ensure that they are ready to lead change within their schools and boost student achievement,” said CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.
CLC will recruit, train, support and retain effective principals, creating a pipeline of highly qualified and high skilled leaders to meet the district’s growing needs. Under the new program, CPS will triple the number of residency program seats available to aspiring school leaders from 32 to 100.
Nearly 75 percent of current CPS principals come from within the CPS system and the mission of CLC is to provide them not only with real-world training, but also mentoring and development to help them be successful.
“Chicago’s investment in training and supporting outstanding school leaders is smart, timely and cost effective,” said Timothy Knowles, John Dewey Director of the Urban Education Institute at the University of Chicago. “Without an effective school leader in every Chicago Public School, children suffer. With strong leaders, parents and community are engaged, teachers get the support they need and children flourish.”
The Chicago Leadership Collaborative will be owned and operated by CPS. CLC will be led by Steven Gering, an experienced former principal and district leader, in the newly created role of Chief of Leadership Development. An advisory board of national and local experts will also provide input as the new program rolls out. CPS will fund the $10 million program through a combination of philanthropic donations, grants and operational funding. To date, commitments adding to $5 million have been secured from Chicago’s philanthropic community.
“Our principals must understand how to support and mentor their teachers in order to help them significantly improve student academic success. The best gift we can give a child is a great teacher and the best gift we can give a teacher is a great principal,” Brizard said.
In addition, Mayor Emanuel and CEO Brizard announced that beginning this year, CPS will be recognizing and rewarding high performing principals by offering incentives tied to the principal performance contract. Once implemented, it will be the most comprehensive program of its kind in the nation. As part of this initiative, CPS is drafting performance metrics in the coming weeks by which to gauge principal performance.
The principal performance contract will be based on student growth toward becoming college and career ready upon graduation. CEO Brizard has been meeting with principals over the summer as part of his listening tour to gather input and insight from them around the performance contract and other issues impacting their schools. Over the next month, a new principal performance contract will be developed in consultation with the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAA).
“From training to pay, we will make today’s leaders the best so they can help our children succeed. Our end goal is to improve student achievement by giving our new principals the tools they need to succeed and supporting our existing principals in ways that help them improve student performance year after year,” Emanuel said.