A high-stakes principal search; CTU turns up volume

Running Ogden International School was a tough enough job, even before it merged with Jenner Academy for the Arts. 

Now Chicago Public Schools prepares to seek the sixth principal in six years, a steady leader who can defy Ogden’s scandal-prone history and help the experiment in integration flourish. 

How the newly merged school approaches the principal search will be something to watch this summer. It’s not the only school rafting uncertain waters when it comes to leadership: In a 2016 survey, about 20% of Chicago principals said they were considering a new job, and half of them who had at least a year of experience reported being less satisfied than they were the previous year.

Here’s what happened this week at the kickoff meeting for the principal search. And here’s a deeper look inside the tumultuous first year at the merger, which could be a teachable moment for Chicago Public Schools as it looks to potential ways to address dwindling enrollment, including combining schools.  

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, Yana Kunichoff, and intern Catherine Henderson, and we’re rounding up Chicago public education news for the week. Please send any tips, story ideas, or general shoutouts our way:

Chicago educators, we want to know what you’re doing this summer outside of the classroom. Take our summer survey and tell us about your travel plans, book recommendations, professional development, and continued education. 

Week in review

Union negotiations: The contract with the Chicago Teachers Union is now several days past due, and union leaders are threatening to strike if new Mayor Lori Lightfoot fails to meet their demands. Chalkbeat had the story. 

Politics of busing: At the democratic debate last week, Kamala Harris and Joe Biden brought busing back to the national conversation. Chalkbeat’s national team looked at the research about school integration. 

Meanwhile in Chicago: The day after democratic debates, Biden defended his record on busing at Rainbow PUSH’s annual convention. Chalkbeat Chicago wrote about it here

Changing charters: As the political climate grows colder toward charter schools, the president of the charter alliance said they would fight back. Chalkbeat’s national team covered the rally Monday. 

Transgender students: Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed an executive order on Sunday, creating a task force to investigate how schools can better support transgender students. The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Dumpster dive: An image of classic literature in the trash outside a Chicago high school sparked outcry on social media. NBC Chicago had the story. 

Looking ahead

School’s out, which means families across the city are turning to parks, pools, and playgrounds for summer fun. But it also may create complications for child care and meals. Here are a few places that Chicago schools are helping out:

  • Chicago Public Schools will run a summer meal program offering free lunch for any young people from 1 to 18 at nearly 100 community sites around the city. To find locations, take a look at their summer meals map 
  • The Noble charter network will provide free breakfast and lunch at 13 of its schools. 
  • The Chicago Park District runs reduced-fee summer day camps, some of which have same-day registration. 
  • The YMCA also runs summer day camps, and families can apply for financial assistance to cover the cost. 

Raise Your Hand Illinois and Blocks Together are hosting a workshop about school building and community on July 12 and July 13, childcare and food provided. Learn more and register here. 


School’s out, but reading is always in. At Oglesby Elementary, “Book Camp” is in full swing in its second week, and school Principal Kimberly Henderson raved about it on Twitter. Is your school taking a fun approach to summer learning? Tell us about it, and email