Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Monday, February 6, 2012

AUSL's clout-heavy "turnaround" schools among city's worst

Clout-heavy banker David Vitale,  former AUSL board chairman, now runs the Board of Education
Founded and run by Chicago venture capitalist, Martin Koldyke, the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUS) has used its connections and political clout to become a powerhouse in the school turnaround business. Despite its schools ranking at or near the bottom of the system, AUSL has benefited from backing from former mayor Daley, current mayor Rahm Emanuel and Sec. of Ed Arne Duncan. Emanuel even selected a former AUSL top executive to oversee CPS' finances and named AUSL's previous board chairman, David Vitale, as president of CPS' Board of Education.

Koldyke, has donated heavily to political candidates, including $25,000 to Daley's re-election campaign in 2006 and $25,000 to Emanuel's mayoral fund in 2010. In total, Koldyke and AUSL board members have contributed more than $100,000 to various political campaigns since 2003, according to state election records.

Now running 19 schools, six of which are now designated "among the worst in the city", AUSL is now locked in a public battle to add six more. The group has become a force inside CPS, a virtually autonomous "district within the district" supported by millions in public and private funding, diverted away from cash-strapped neighborhood schools, according to a report today in the Chicago Tribune. 

"Yet for all the public attention, AUSL's results have been mixed; many students have made considerable progress, but as a group they still lag well behind district averages ... with many ending up on par or even below comparable neighborhood schools."
According to the Tribune report, all of AUSL's turnarounds remain on academic probation and few if any of AUSL strategies have found their way into other CPS schools.

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