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Volume 18, Number 6
November/December 2002

Beefing Up Professional Development

Chicago's latest efforts aim to make learning oportunities for teachers more relevant to their classroom work


Chicago Public Schools professional development czar Al Bertani likens himself to Tom Ridge, President Bush's new Homeland Security chief. Like Ridge, Bertani has been given the enormous responsibility of overseeing what has recently become a top-priority initiative: Chicago's effort to help classroom teachers and principals become more effective. Like Ridge, Bertani's portfolio has been expanded across several disparate offices. And yet, like Ridge, Bertani doesn't have control over many parts of the $123 million-plus bureaucracy that he is supposed to direct.

Even with these challenges, the last 18 months have made it clear that attitudes toward professional development are changing in Chicago. After nearly 15 years of focusing on governance and accountability strategies, the current administration in Chicago seems to have woken up to the idea that school reform is eventually bound to stall without significant investment in the development of its teachers and school leaders. The new approach, which some insiders have already named the "third wave" of school reform in Chicago, seeks to balance previous efforts emphasizing such things as decentralization and testing with a more instructional, human resources perspective. So far, this effort includes staff changes, increased professional development offerings, the placement of school-based reading specialists, and a shift in budget priorities.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


For Further Information

For Further Information

Catalyst featured Chicago's new professional development efforts in its June 2002 issue.

Also, see Catalyst's October 2001 issue on National Board Certification.

Chicago Teacher's Union Quest Center. 222 Merchandise Mart Plaza, Suite 400, Chicago, IL 60654-1016; 312-329-9100; fax: 312-329-6205.

M.A. Smylie, E. Allensworth, R.C. Greenberg, R. Harris, and S. Luppescu. Teacher Professional Development in Chicago: Supporting Effective Practice. Chicago: Consortium on Chicago School Research, 2001.