Catalyst Chicago

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Independent reporting on urban education since 1990 2015-11-29T21:00:37Z
Updated: 1 hour 19 min ago

Will school choice kill Chicago’s neighborhood high schools?

October 30, 2015 - 3:00pm
Chicago's nascent movement to strengthen neighborhood high schools isn't just fighting charter expansion; it runs counter to a long history of high school choice.

Take 5: Charter approvals, Byrd-Bennett’s Detroit tenure, shrinking high schools

October 29, 2015 - 11:19am
As expected, the CPS Board of Education voted in favor of opening a new Noble charter high school in Brighton Park this week, as well as a new campus and grade expansion for KIPP. Meanwhile, a new WBEZ report shows about a third of high schools are "withering" due to sharp declines in enrollment.

‘Considerable unsung progress’

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
With budget cuts, union discontent and a sizeable list of pernicious problems, the education landscape in Chicago today looks a lot like it did 25 years ago. Yet for all the unsolved challenges that remain, Chicago has also seen considerable unsung progress.

All in the family

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
Sabrina Jackson says she never really wanted to send her children anywhere but the school down the street, Perkins Bass Elementary. “They say churches can be a stabilizing force in a neighborhood, but schools are too, especially if they’ve been in the neighborhood forever,” says Jackson, whose four children have or are currently attending Bass.

Local School Councils: ‘Catalysts for change’

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
Of the all the reforms that have swept through Chicago Public Schools in the past 25 years, the creation of local school councils is one of the few that persists. Although their authority has been curtailed over the years and not all new or struggling schools have them, the councils in many ways continue to deliver on the initial vision of allowing parents and community members to be catalysts for change at their schools.

From timid to tough

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
As with many parent activists, Margarita Vasquez’s involvement in her children’s schooling began slowly with the basics, encouraging them to do their homework, to study and not to drop out, as she had done as a teenager in Mexico City.

Public schools losing the public?

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
Does the public have confidence in public education? That’s the foremost question on my mind as Catalyst marks its 25th year reporting on the third-largest school district in the country and the larger national trends shaping public education.

Twenty-five years by the numbers

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
In the past two and a half decades, the number and types of schools in the Chicago Public Schools have risen dramatically even as enrollment has declined. The face of the student body and teaching corps has undergone significant change. And although the system still lags behind the state on many measures, CPS has seen improved test scores and rising high school and college graduation rates.

‘In decline since the ’70s’

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
In a wide-ranging interview earlier this summer, Pedro Noguera, a leading national voice on urban education, told Catalyst that these days “education is largely reproducing the inequities in society.”

Well, since you asked …

October 29, 2015 - 6:00am
I’m often asked — by friends, television hosts, people I’ve just met — whether Chicago’s public schools have gotten any better after decades of reform. I know they’d like a simple yes or no, but I find neither satisfying. Rather, it’s been more like yes and no, or two steps forward, one step back.

NAEP results show racial gaps widen as some elementary math, reading scores improve

October 28, 2015 - 7:10pm
CPS students posted gains in 8th-grade math and 4th-grade reading on the 2015 NAEP exam — bucking national trends. But Chicago's gap between white students and students of color in math and reading has widened more than in other large districts over the last 12 years.

CPS recommends approval of Noble, KIPP proposals

October 26, 2015 - 10:41am
Chicago Public Schools leaders are recommending that the Board of Education approve Noble’s controversial proposal to open a new high school in Brighton Park, as well as two of KIPP’s proposals to co-locate inside district-run schools. CPS leaders will also recommend that the Board deny the other nine charter proposals when it votes at Wednesday’s […]

Enrollment down by 4,400 over last year

October 23, 2015 - 7:42pm
Chicago Public Schools enrollment fell by about 4,400 students over last year, according to figures from the 20th day of school. But it's hard to compare year-over-year enrollment at charter and contract schools, due to inconsistencies in CPS data.

“Preschool for All:” easy to say, hard to do

October 23, 2015 - 3:00pm
Long-time leaders in early childhood education, both Illinois and Chicago are struggling to find new ways to fund universal access to preschool.

Take 5: More charter news, inflated grad rates, faster Internet in schools

October 22, 2015 - 10:12am
There's less than a week to go before the CPS Board votes on whether to approve 13 new privately run schools and — and so far district officials won’t release enrollment data on existing charter and contract schools. CPS officials say the information will come before the vote, but the delay troubling to activists who say the district doesn’t need more schools at a time of overall declining enrollment.

State looks to meet demand for early educators with specialized training

October 21, 2015 - 3:35pm
Tens of millions of dollars in federal grants are helping Illinois expand preschool access and transform teacher prep programs to produce more educators who specialize in high-need areas. But it’s unclear if the state will step up its funding levels when the federal money runs out.

Op-ed: Financial aid crisis hits low-income students

October 20, 2015 - 8:00am
One hundred thirty thousand college students in Illinois are on the brink of a crisis that no one is talking about. These are the low-income students who were counting on the state's Monetary Award Program (MAP) to afford tuition payments. But with the state budget process at a grinding halt, they face the threat of […]

Comings & Goings: Oberman, Grossman, Colston

October 19, 2015 - 1:11pm
Bonnie Oberman will be stepping down in June 2016 from her position as Chicago office director of the education nonprofit Facing History and Ourselves, while former Chicago Sun-Times’ deputy editorial page editor, Kate Grossman, has joined the University of Chicago Institute of Politics. And two CPS high school seniors have joined the Illinois State Board of Education’s Student Advisory Council.

SUPES obscures Chicago’s history of innovation on principal development

October 16, 2015 - 3:39pm
The SUPES scandal may be the stumble that forces Chicago to take a second look at local expertise for solutions on principal training.

Take 5: More on SUPES, school transitions, community college CEO pay

October 15, 2015 - 10:42am
Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett's co-defendants pleaded not guilty in a federal corruption case on Wednesday, and now authorities in Detroit are scrutinizing Byrd-Bennett's tenure in that city. Meanwhile, it turns out presidents of community colleges in the Chicago area are making much more than their counterparts elsewhere.


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