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‘Market approach’ to high schools has serious drawbacks

January 10, 2014 - 4:35pm

The question of whether Chicago’s market for high school choice works by weeding out low-performing schools is two-fold: It works somewhat for traditional public schools, but definitely not for charters.

The idea for this article stems from reports by WBEZ and Catalyst Chicago about the rapidly growing number of high schools in the city, with most of the new schools being charters.

The growth in high schools is certainly not the kind of problem most people think about when they think of CPS. Who would have guessed that in an era of massive school closings, Chicago would increase the total number of high schools by 50% in a decade? But it’s a big concern. As the number of schools increases, some schools become under-enrolled and have to cut extracurricular programs and special academic classes that no longer have enough students to support them. They also end up requiring extra financial help from the district just to maintain a functioning building.

If you wanted to put a positive spin on this, of course, you might say that Chicago has created a functioning market in high schools. Students and their families are free to choose the ones that offer a better education, and if that creates winners and losers, good! The bad schools ought to fail. That’s exactly what charter proponents have been asking for all along.

But that concept only works if students are leaving bad schools and enrolling in good ones. If we’ve just created enrollment churn without moving students from bad to good, all we’ve managed to do is add another serious problem to a district that already has plenty.

So which outcome is it?

Happily, CPS provides data that can tell us: enrollment and ACT scores for every school in the district. (Here is the obligatory caveat about how good ACT scores do not equal a good education. Given the district’s laser-like focus on test scores, though, it seems fair to judge them – on a you-have-to-at-least-be-good-at-this basis – by whether they’re moving this particular needle at all.)

So, using the district’s numbers, I calculated how much enrollment has changed in every high school between the 2005-06 school year and the 2012-13 school year. I grouped all the schools by their ACT scores – all the schools that scored 15 in one bucket, 16 in another bucket, and so on – and added up the positive and negative enrollment changes for each bucket. Here’s the graph:

What we should see, if the market is working, is big red bars on the left side, indicating that lots of students are leaving low-scoring schools, and big blue bars on the right side, indicating that students are flocking to high-scoring schools. Obviously, that’s not quite what’s happening. 

True, it looks like schools with above-average ACT scores are mostly gaining students, while lots of students at below-average schools are leaving. But a lot of those students are going to other below-average schools. That’s why you see sizeable blue bars even on the far left side of the graph. Why, if the market is working, are we seeing any enrollment increases at schools with average ACT scores of 13 or 14, both of which are truly, truly abysmal? Random guessing, for comparison’s sake, will result in a score of 12. A score of 20 is considered the minimum to get into college.

Just to be clear about what these graphs show: It is not only that some students are enrolling at bad schools. People move, and new classes come in, and so on--so it would be highly surprising if any school was so bad that not a single new student showed up. But what these numbers show is that some terrible schools are seeing their total enrollment increase, to the tune of about 4,000 additional students at schools with an average ACT score of 15 or lower.

The fact that enrollment losses outnumber enrollment increases doesn’t change the fact that some of the schools that are “winners” in this market scenario are providing some of the worst education in the district. That suggests a problem.

Enrollment gains not a sign of quality

Part of the problem is explained by separating that graph into charter schools and non-charter schools:

Now the situation becomes a little bit clearer. There are still some enrollment increases at non-charter high schools with very, very bad ACT scores, which is still a problem. But these increases are a much smaller proportion of all student migration, and are massively outweighed by the simultaneous enrollment decreases at low-scoring, non-charter high schools.

But look at the charter numbers. The high-scoring charters have enrollment increases. The mediocre-scoring charters have enrollment increases. The low-scoring charters have enrollment increases. The very-low-scoring charters have enrollment increases. 

Basically, all charter schools have gained students, no matter the quality of their education.

I can think of two possible explanations for that:

1. Charter schools provide a better education than non-charters in ways that don’t show up on ACT scores. For example, a zero-tolerance approach to discipline that creates a safer learning environment, a curriculum that encourages more creative and critical thinking skills or teachers and administrators who forge tighter, more nurturing relationships with students and parents.

2. Charter schools get better public relations than non-charters, and so parents want to enroll their children there whether or not they actually provide a better education.

Obviously, Possibility 1 would be much better news for the market than Possibility 2, which suggests a major failure. My guess is that both are going on.

But I suggest that there is almost no way that the unmeasured benefits of Possibility 1 actually outweigh the awfulness of any high school where the average ACT score is 13 or 14. I am definitely in the camp that believes we make too much of standardized tests in education. Yet, having been (very briefly) a teacher myself, I know that there are scores below which there is just no way that a student has received a decent education--scores low enough to pretty much guarantee a failure in literacy and numeracy that not only rules a chance at any kind of higher education, but even the most menial of non-physical work as well as physical work that requires any kind of computation or written communication. 

In other words, these low-scoring schools are graduating people who simply have not been prepared to participate as adults in our society. And we’re rewarding them by handing them, through the growth of the charter sector, the responsibility for thousands of extra students.

Winners and losers, but no solutions

These numbers have established that on one end of the spectrum – low-performing charter schools – the market is failing spectacularly.

But it’s clear that, overall, there is some movement to higher-scoring schools. The median decline has been from a school with an ACT score of 14.9, while the median increase has been to a school with an ACT score of 17.7. That’s a huge and heartening gap.

Unfortunately, it also indicates one of the major problems with the “school market” approach. Why? Mostly because the minimum ACT score that demonstrates college readiness is 20. Very few of the schools gaining more students graduate a large minority – let alone a majority – of seniors who score that high.

Plus, half of all enrollment increases have been at schools that have ACT scores below the district’s average, which is below the minimum needed for college. 

Why would that be? I don’t know, but I can take a couple of guesses. For one, the top-scoring high schools in the city are mostly selective enrollment, and unlike neighborhood schools – which have to find room for students in their attendance areas no matter what – they won’t grow significantly unless they get extra room. Or maybe, since parents often send their children to schools where they know other families, there’s something going on with social networks.

More importantly, I would imagine, is the geographical problem. Most of the city’s very bad high schools are in certain neighborhoods on the South and West Sides, and a disproportionate number of the above-average ones are on the North Side. One-way commutes of over an hour would definitely be a disincentive to send your kid to the better high school across town – especially if you live in an area where getting to and from the nearest public transportation means crossing gang lines.

What does this all mean? Even though there is some movement to higher-scoring schools, Chicago’s market in high schools has some serious drawbacks:

….Half the city’s enrollment increase is happening at schools with ACT scores that are below district average.

…Charter schools, which make up virtually all of the schools added to the district over the last decade, grow rapidly regardless of whether they provide a good education or not.

…There are major structural impediments to moving kids from low-scoring to high-scoring schools.

Chicago’s market is creating clear winners and losers. Whether the outcome is worth it for the city overall is to some extent a judgment call. But what does seem clear is that the market isn’t getting rid of extremely low-performing schools—and the more charter schools the city creates, the worse the market will perform.

Daniel Hertz is a master’s degree student at the Harris School of Public Policy at the University of Chicago. This article was originally published on his blog at

In the News: 'This is not choice, it's chaos'

January 10, 2014 - 8:20am

Wendy Katten, director of Raise Your Hand, has an op-ed in Crain's today addressing the expansion of charters schools in Chicago. She writes: "CPS now has a shocking 31 new charter proposals on the table to open in the next two years. This should stop us all in our tracks — because district schools will lose more funding and have to face further cuts, which will lead to weaker educational outcomes for many students across Chicago. This is not choice, it's chaos."

RATIONING BATHROOM TIME: A Chicago Public School elementary teacher shared a memo with Education Week that was delivered to faculty members last week. The memo spelled out how two new restroom policies could help teachers to "maximize student learning and reduce the loss of instructional time." Under the new policies, teachers were told to sign up for a "restroom time slot" and to take their class to use the restroom only during allotted times so that multiple groups aren't competing to use the facilities and to use a watch or stopwatch to time the students, and to also praise students when they meet "behavior and time expectations."

AP EXAM TAKERS: A new analysis of test-taking data finds that in Mississippi and Montana, no female, African American, or Hispanic students took the Advanced Placement exam in computer science.  In fact, no African-American students took the exam in a total of 11 states, and no Hispanic students took it in eight states, according to state comparisons of College Board data compiled by Barbara Ericson, the director of computing outreach and a senior research scientist at Georgia Tech. (Education Week)

TRACKING CHARTER TRANSFERS: Pupils are not more likely to leave New York City charter schools than their counterparts at traditional public schools, but that is not the case for special education students, a study found. (The New York Times)

In the News: CPS urged to change punishment policies

January 9, 2014 - 7:55am

With the Obama administration criticizing zero tolerance policies that have led schools to often turn over routine discipline issues to police, the federal government on Wednesday released new discipline guidelines for states and school districts. Student groups and the Chicago Teachers Union, both of which have argued that Chicago Public Schools has one of the harshest and most discriminatory disciplinary policies among large urban school districts, welcomed the new guidelines and urged CPS to implement them. (Tribune)

THE RANGEL CHRONICLES: Chicago Magazine and the Better Government Association chronicle the rise and fall of Juan Rangel, or the man who turned a small activist group in the nation's biggest charter school operator.

LAW TURNS 12: No Child Left Behind, the Bush-era education law that was supposed to forever change the nation's schools by giving the federal government far more say over accountability, particularly for poor and minority children, turned 12 years old on Wednesday. (Education Week)

LET'S NOT MOVE: Just one in four teenagers between the ages of 12 and 15 engaged in the recommended 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in 2012, according to new data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Education Week)

TEACHER HIRING BACK ON: After an extended period of layoffs and hiring freezes, the Los Angeles Unified School District has resumed bringing on new teachers, while also being more selective about their quality than in the past. The nation's second-largest school system forecasts hiring 1,333 instructors for next year; it hired 718 for the current year. The total teaching force numbers about 26,000. (Los Angeles Times)

CHARTER STANCE TARGETED: Calling school choice the best route out of poverty, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took aim at New York City’s new mayor on Wednesday for his cooler stance toward public charter schools and warned that Republicans may hold congressional hearings on the education policies of Democrat Bill de Blasio’s administration. (The Washington Post)

More transparency on suspensions and expulsions, but racial disparity lingers

January 8, 2014 - 6:14pm

UPDATED: With the Obama administration taking a stand Wednesday against zero-tolerance discipline that forces students out of school, CPS is readying itself for a major release of detailed school-level statistics on expulsion and suspension.

The upcoming data release is the result of a huge battle activists won when CPS agreed to not only post information for individual schools, but also to provide detailed breakdowns by demographics, including race, and disability.

The agreement is another step forward in creating more transparency on discipline in the district. CPS has come under harsh criticism for having one of the highest suspension rates in the nation, as well as stark racial disparities in who gets suspended and expelled.  

Prior to CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett’s administration, school-level information was only obtained by the media and advocates through the Freedom of Information Act.

Yet there will still be a big missing piece: Information on charter schools and school arrests, which will not be included when the data is posted by the end of February. The information collected by the district is currently too incomplete to be reliable, said Mariame Kaba, founding directory of the juvenile justice advocacy organization, Project NIA.

(Also, any category of students that is fewer than 10 will be redacted due to a federal privacy law.)

Kaba announced the agreement between CPS and a coalition of advocates at December’s School Board meeting.  She says CPS leaders also agreed to hold three summits on discipline.

Collecting demographic information on suspensions and expulsions and using it to improve student outcomes is one of the recommendations in guidelines issued jointly by the departments of justice and education on Wednesday.

The Obama administration guidelines also recommended public school officials use law enforcement only as a last resort for disciplining students. The guidelines note that suspensions and expulsions lead to “serious educational, economic and social problems” and suggest that districts explicitly limit exclusionary discipline and require that steps such as restorative justice or social and emotional skill-building be taken before disciplinary action. 

On Wednesday, the citywide student advocacy group, VOYCE (Voices of Youth in Chicago Education), urged the city and the state of Illinois to adopt the guidelines. Marshawn Earvin, a student at Dunbar, said he was suspended for three days for saying something disrespectful. He says he was falsely accused.

But given the strong correlation between suspensions and subsequent dropping out, he says he is fighting to stay in school and make the situation better.

“I will not be another statistic,” he said.

The Chicago Teachers Union leaders issued a statement saying they welcomed the guidelines and noted they have long advocated for alternative discipline measures. However, they emphasized that implementing such alternatives requires an investment in such staff as social workers, psychologists and counselors.

CPS spokeswoman Keiana Barrett says that the district is "aggressively" examining its discipline procedures and already has working groups looking at the issue. District officials plan to roll out a comprehensive program aimed at implementing restorative justice and stemming the "school to prison" pipeline later this month or in early February.

They also are considering adopting the federal guidelines.

Racial disparities

CPS’ current administration has been quietly making information on discipline more available. This year, for the first time, school progress reports include the suspensions per 100 students, as well as the average length of suspensions. An analysis of this data shows that CPS’ suspension rates are high and the racial disparity is enormous.

Suspension rates increased for elementary schools, as well. At elementary schools that are predominantly African American, the rate was 27 per 100 students last year, up from 21 per 100 in 2012. At schools that had substantial populations of white students or a mix of white and Hispanic students, an average of 2.7 students were suspended in 2013, no change the previous year.

In high schools, there were an average of 52 suspensions for every 100 students and the racial disparity was even starker: At predominantly black high schools, there were 83 suspensions for every 100 students. At 14 schools there were more than 100 suspensions per 100 students, meaning that multiple students are being suspended multiple times.

Meanwhile, at predominantly Latino schools, there were 27 suspensions per 100 students. But  schools with significant white enrollment, or a diverse student body—typically the selective high schools or North Side schools—recorded only 17 suspensions for every 100 students.

Illinois and Chicago have come under harsh criticism regarding student discipline, after studies and U.S. Department of Education statistics pointed to some of the highest rates of suspensions and widest disparities in the nation. A 2012 study by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California-Los Angeles found that, compared to any other group of students in the nation’s 100 largest districts, black students in Chicago had the second highest rate of suspension. At the top of the list was Henrico County Public Schools, which includes Richmond, Virginia.


Big picture still not clear

The federal statistics and other research use state data, which has a lag time of several years. Plus, it is difficult to get data broken down by race, gender and disability.

The lack of good information prevented experts from being able to see the big picture of discipline in CPS, says Jessica Schneider, staff attorney in the educational equity project at the Chicago Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law. Her organization often represents students at expulsion hearings.

“We can address individual cases, piece by piece, but it is hard to make any big changes,” she says.

Having suspension and expulsion information readily available also will aid organizations in making their case for alternative disciplinary measures and figuring out which ones work.

CPS’ Code of Conduct emphasizes restorative justice, such as peace circles and peer juries, over harsh discipline such as suspension and expulsion. But use of restorative justice has been spotty, and many times depends on whether school principals work with a community group, which runs the peace circles and trains the peer juries.

Kaba said many of the community groups running these programs have been unable to figure out whether their work results in fewer suspensions and curbs harsh discipline.

The new data CPS will post “gives us an exciting opportunity to move beyond anecdotes,” she says.

Originally, the coalition of community groups and activists wanted CPS to have something similar to the New York City Student Safety Act, which requires quarterly reporting of student safety and discipline information to the City Council.

When Kaba brought the idea to Ald. Joe Moore, he suggested they meet Beth Swanson, who is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s deputy chief of staff for education. She put them in touch with CPS’ head of safety and security, Jadine Chou.

Then, when John Barker came on board as chief of accountability, he was immediately clear that the information could easily be made available. Last year, he put the first discipline indicator on school report cards.

Advocates are now planning to lobby to get the Board of Education to pass a resolution promising to make the information available in the future. Kaba says this would ensure that the practice continues after this current administration leaves office. 

In the News: Obama officials target zero-tolerance policies

January 8, 2014 - 10:50am

The Obama administration issued guidelines on Wednesday that recommended public school officials use law enforcement only as a last resort for disciplining students, a response to a rise in zero-tolerance policies that have disproportionately increased the number of arrests, suspensions and expulsions of minority students for even minor, nonviolent offenses. (The New York Times)

COLD CONTINUES, CLASSES RESUME: Chicago public schools reopened Wednesday after being closed for two days because of the heavy snow and bitter cold. Many of the other Chicago area schools closed this week by the wintry weather also plan to reopen Wednesday. But some districts in northwest Indiana, including Hammond and Hobart, will remain closed, according to the WGN Radio Emergency Closing Center. Northwestern University announced today that classes would resume Wednesday. (Tribune)

UPHEAVAL IN UPTOWN: Some parents and teachers say the third floor of Mary E. Courtenay Elementary School in Uptown has become a "war zone." The floor, home to middle-school classrooms, is where kids from two very different school communities were brought together after the Board of Education's controversial vote to merge Joseph Stockton Elementary School with Courtenay last May. It's also where the majority of fights at the school break out, students and staff say. A teacher — five months pregnant — was punched in the head while trying to break up a fight between two eighth-graders on the third floor on Dec. 17, the Chicago Police Department confirmed. (DNA Info)

In the News: Minorities the new majority in IL schools

January 7, 2014 - 9:54am

The latest enrollment numbers show that Illinois' public school system for the first time does not have a white majority, with Latino, black, Asian and other racial groups combined eclipsing white students across the state's classrooms. (Tribune)

Whites fell to 49.76 percent of the student body this school year, the new data show, a demographic tipping point that came after years of sliding white enrollment and a rise in Latino, Asian and multiracial students. The black student population also has declined, but it still makes up almost 18 percent of the state's public school students.

NO SCHOOL—AGAIN: Chicago Public Schools will again be closed Tuesday, CPS boss Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced at a news conference Monday. (DNA Info)

DEFENDING REVERSAL: Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd Bennett, asked about the district's reversal on closing schools Monday, said she was unaware of the public outcry and CTU President Karen Lewis' tweet about CPS' original decision over the weekend to keep schools open Monday, a day of record-breaking subzero temperatures. (CBS Chicago)

ATLANTA CHEATING SCANDAL: The cast of characters was mostly former teachers and principals, six of whom pleaded guilty on Monday in a Fulton County courtroom for their part in what has been described as the largest cheating scandal in the nation’s history. Their pleas bring to 17 the number of educators who have already pleaded guilty, with a handful more in active negotiations.  (The New York Times)

DIGITAL EXPLOSION: The school publishing industry appears to be reaping benefits from rebounding state and local budgets, increased demand for materials aligned to the common core, and the continued evolution from print to digital products. Sales for print and digital instructional materials in schools jumped 25 percent in September and 9 percent in October over the previous year, according to the Association of American Publishers. (Education Week)

In the News: CTU, public pressed CPS to close schools

January 6, 2014 - 8:53am

Chicago Public Schools decided to close all schools today in the face of dangerously cold temperatures and high winds after the Chicago Teachers Union and social media users criticized the district over its weekend announcement saying parents should determine whether to send their children to school. (Tribune)

NEW REWARD SYSTEM: Teachers in one of the highest academically ranked school districts in Illinois, Lincolnshire-Prairie View School District 103, are about halfway through a process that will determine whether they get raises the following school year. Their contract requires them to earn a “proficient” or “excellent” rating in order to get a bump; those who earn the higher rankings receive a 2.4 percent raise on their base pay and a cash bonus that varies based on their rating.  Teachers who fail to obtain the higher rankings get no raise, but the teachers’ negotiator says the 150-member staff is so skilled and dedicated and the contract so expansive, it’s a fair deal. (Sun-Times)

Reports of low college completion rates may be giving up on college students too soon. New data released by the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System suggest a significant portion of students do finish college degrees and professional certificates—in double the traditional time allotted for those programs. (Education Week)

GED MAKEOVER: The GED test, for decades the brand name for the high school equivalency exam, is about to undergo some changes. The revamped test is intended to be more rigorous and better aligned with the skills needed for college and today's workplaces. The new test will only be offered on a computer, and it will cost more. What consumers pay for the test varies widely and depends on state assistance and other factors. (NPR)

In the News: Districts turn to less costly tablet devices

January 3, 2014 - 10:00am

Districts nationwide are replacing textbooks with computers, but many are finding less costly ways than L.A. Unified's $768 per device. (Los Angeles Times)

The Perris Union High School District in California is paying $344 apiece for a Chromebook for every student. Nearby, Riverside Unified purchased a variety of devices, including the Kindle Fire and iPad Mini, for as low as $150 each. In San Diego Unified, some students are using a $200 tablet. The Los Angeles Unified School District, however, is paying $768 per device for its students, teachers and administrators, making it one of the nation's most expensive technology programs. The reason: L.A. Unified selected a relatively costly product — a higher-end Apple iPad — and also paid for a new math and English curriculum installed on the tablets.

HOME-SCHOOLING AND CHARTERS: Through an unusual partnership between a California school district and an educational-management group, a charter school helps reconnect home-schooling families to local public schools. (Education Week)

A LATER SCHOOL BELL?: The plight of sleep-deprived teenagers will soon get a closer look in Anne Arundel County, Va., where school officials are creating a task force to study the hours of the school day across grade levels. (The Washington Post)

In the News: Despite charter hearings, critics unsatisfied

January 2, 2014 - 10:30am

The Chicago's Board of Education's efforts to gather community input on proposals for 21 new charter campuses, which the district is set to vote this month, has done little to satisfy critics of the privately run schools.

Opponents say charter advocates have been given too much influence over several of the Neighborhood Advisory Councils set up by Chicago Public Schools to discuss proposals in Northwest and Southwest side neighborhoods where charters have yet to gain a foothold. (Tribune)

RUSHED ROLLOUT: As the new Common Core State Standards are rolled out across the country, a growing number of educators and parents say they're worried about the tests being developed and tied to the new, more rigorous standards in reading and math. The test results after all won't just be used to gauge kids progress but to evaluate teachers, rate schools and rank states. (NPR)

PARENT POWER: In urban districts across the country, a new crop of education advocacy organizations promoting ideas like school choice and free-market practices for K-12 public education has begun tapping into parents to press for changes to the public school system on state and local levels. (Education Week)

MISTAKEN EVALUATIONS: Faulty calculations of the “value” that D.C. teachers added to student achievement in the last school year resulted in erroneous performance evaluations for 44 teachers, including one who was fired because of a low rating, school officials disclosed Monday. (The Washington Post)

In the News: Rauner ad extols benefits of charters

December 31, 2013 - 12:01pm

In a new ad, GOP gubernatorial contender Bruce Rauner talks about the benefits of charter schools in Illinois, merit-based pay for teachers and his role as an education reformer. “There’s no excuse for failing schools. Zero. None. Period,” Rauner says in the TV ad, which was shot inside a school. “I got so fed up, I helped start charter schools like this one.”

SCHOOL POLICY SHIFT IN NYC: As he announced his choice of Carmen Fariña as the next chancellor of New York City schools, Bill de Blasio suggested on Monday that he would depart drastically from the policies of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. He pledged to reduce the emphasis on standardized testing in classrooms, and he said he would end, at least for now, the practice of closing low-performing schools.  (The New York Times)

ROLLING IN THE DOLLARS: With states well into their final year of Race to the Top implementation, the 12 winners still have a lot of money to spend, according to the latest financial reports by the U.S. Department of Education. The state with the largest share of its award left? New York, with 59 percent of its $700 million still sitting in the bank as of Nov. 30, according to the latest federal spending report. Meanwhile, Delaware (one of the two states that got a jump start by winning in the first round) has just 31 percent left. Combined, the 12 Race to the Top states have $1.8 billion of their $4 billion in winnings left, or about 46 percent. (Education Week)

In the News: Pre-test anxiousness may improve performance

December 30, 2013 - 10:20am

It's easy for performance anxiety to trip up students, and a new set of studies suggests it may be better for teachers to get their stressed kids excited rather than trying to calm them down. (Education Week)

In a series of experiments highlighted in the latest issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology, Allison Wood Brooks, a psychologist at Harvard Business School who studies performance under stress, found that getting anxious people amped up about a forthcoming test or task improved their performance more than trying to soothe their fears.

NYC SCHOOLS CHANCELLOR: New York City Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio Monday will name Carmen Farina as his pick for chancellor of the 1 million student school system, The New York Times is reporting. Farina, an educator for decades in the New York City system, retired from a deputy chancellor position in 2006, a role she served in for a couple of years during the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. (Education Week)

COLLEGE RECRUITMENT BIAS: A Los Angeles Times survey of public and private high schools across Southern California found that campuses with a high proportion of low-income and minority students had far fewer visits from college recruiters.

In the News: Chicago creating 'a school desert'

December 27, 2013 - 8:01am

“Phasing-out” is a euphemism for slow death in Chicago Public Schools, which has become increasingly aggressive about closing public schools in poor and African-American neighborhoods. Walter Dyett High School is scheduled to close at the end of next school year, at which point, community groups say, there will be no other viable public high school in the neighborhood–essentially creating a “school desert.” (MSNBC)

CHARTERS GREEN LIGHTED: A little-known state agency backed by powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has overruled Chicago public school officials, ordering them to approve and fund two new charter schools in the city. The schools are run by Concept Schools Inc., the first and only charter to benefit from the decision of the Illinois State Charter School Commission, founded in 2011 by Madigan. The two new schools will be located in the McKinley Park and Austin neighborhoods. They are getting 33 percent more funding per student than the city school system gives other charters. (WBEZ/Sun-Times)

LSC MEMBERS NEEDED: Chicago Public Schools has released its annual announcement inviting parents, teachers and community members to consider running for a spot on the local school council. The school district is also looking for election judges. (Hyde Park Herald)

BUMPY START: New York City principals and teachers expressed frustrations with the new teacher evaluation system, which some say creates more work and tests and has a temperamental computer program. (The New York Times)

MOBILE TEACHERS: Teachers in Fairfax County, Va., shuttle their materials from classroom to classroom using handcarts as school system copes with overcrowding. (The Washington Post)