WBEZ | public schools http://www.wbez.org/tags/public-schools Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Principals to CPS: End custodial contract now http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/2979169728_730927ae16_z_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools principals have had it.</p><p>A survey conducted by the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association found nearly 90 percent of principals say their schools are dirtier than they were a year ago, just before the Chicago Board of Education gave control of all school cleaning services to two private companies -- Aramark and SodexoMagic.</p><p>The move led to hundreds of janitors being laid off, which in turn led to disorganization and dirty conditions. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767">WBEZ first reported issues</a> with cleanliness in schools last September.</p><p>Aramark and CPS scrambled to remedy the issue by <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aramark-cps-change-plan-cut-school-janitors-110870">not following through with some of the planned layoffs</a>. In October, they announced plans to only cut 290 custodians, not 468.</p><p>But it wasn&rsquo;t enough of a compromise for principals, said Clarice Berry, head of the principals&rsquo; group.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no negotiating with us anymore,&rdquo; Berry said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not listening to any more promises. We&rsquo;re not waiting anymore. You can not staff a school with 1,200 kids with two custodian workers and think it&rsquo;s going to work. Ever.&rdquo;</p><p>The contracts were collectively worth $340 million, $260 million for Aramark to oversee all 2,400-plus janitors, and $80 million to SodexoMAGIC to oversee cleaning at 33 schools.</p><p>&ldquo;This contract should be voidable, because they have not met the terms of the contract,&rdquo; Berry said, calling on the district to cut ties with Aramark.&nbsp;</p><p>At an unrelated press conference, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he is in contact with Aramark and will hold the company accountable.</p><p>&ldquo;They better fix this,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;If it&rsquo;s not (fixed), it&rsquo;s going to be a very short contract.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett sent an e-mailed statement admitting the two companies faced a bumpy transition.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They met with principals, worked collaboratively to address their concerns and adjusted staffing to meet the needs of our schools,&rdquo; the statement read. &ldquo;These efforts have ​paid off.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokesman Bill McCaffrey also included the results of an audit conducted at 308 schools showing just 17 schools falling under the cleanliness standards set forth in the contract.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/principals-cps-end-custodial-contract-now-111735 Is Tilden High spending too much? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tilden-high-spending-too-much-108195 <p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F102733085" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>School budgets are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-schools-facing-cuts-under-new-funding-system-107692">reportedly shrinking</a> across the city this year and it&rsquo;s causing a lot of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-principal-rips-cps-school-budgets-emanuel-108108">uproar</a>. But as the debate over Chicago Public Schools&rsquo; current budget continues, Curious City is digging into a question asked by a mysterious commenter.</p><p>The original question came from a questioner who goes by &ldquo;Tim.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>I recently learned the annual budget for Tilden High School. I then divided that number by the total number of students at Tilden and learned that Chicago is spending $175,000 for each student per year. That is 5 to 6 times the cost of sending a kid to the best private high schools in the state. How do we justify the absurd amount of money Chicago spends to educate a child?</em></p><p>I made several attempts to reach Tim, but heard nothing back. Then I saw the following comment pop up on a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-principals-get-more-flexibility-likely-less-money-budget-107560">recent story</a> from a commenter named &ldquo;greg&rdquo;:</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Greg%20Capture_0.GIF" title="" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">So I tried e-mailing &ldquo;greg&rdquo; to see if he was our questioner. Again, no luck.</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">Our mysterious commenter&rsquo;s question about the &ldquo;absurd amount of money&rdquo; spent at Tilden is a loaded one &mdash; and one we can&rsquo;t (and maybe shouldn&rsquo;t) answer for you. We can, though, get across some basic information, such as how much CPS spent to educate children at Tilden and how that compares to other schools. At that point, you (as well as &ldquo;Tim&rdquo; and &ldquo;greg&rdquo;) can start a discussion about what spending &mdash; if any &mdash; is absurd.</div><p><strong>The short answer on Tilden</strong></p><p>I called Allan Odden, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an expert in school financing. Here&rsquo;s what he told me about that $175,000 figure:</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no high school in America that spends that amount,&rdquo; Odden said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s not even in the same ballpark.&rdquo;</p><p>Then what does Tilden High School spend per student every year?</p><p>I tried to follow Tim, or&hellip; greg&rsquo;s, math. He says he took the annual budget for Tilden High School and divided it by the number of students.</p><p>CPS breaks out each individual school&rsquo;s budget in the budget book and using those numbers, here&rsquo;s my back-of-the-envelope calculations for the last three year&rsquo;s budgets:</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Table2.GIF" title="" /></div></div><p>Odden and others I spoke to say these numbers are closer to what they expected.</p><p>On average, public high schools in America spend around $12,000 per student according to the most recent data collected by the U.S. Department of Education. But recently, Tilden &mdash; a struggling school in Chicago&rsquo;s <a href="https://maps.google.com/maps?q=New+City,+Chicago,+IL&amp;hl=en&amp;ll=41.811499,-87.657509&amp;spn=0.102229,0.154324&amp;sll=41.808701,-87.6403&amp;sspn=0.012779,0.01929&amp;oq=new+city&amp;hnear=New+City,+Chicago,+Cook,+Illinois&amp;t=m&amp;z=13">New City</a> area &mdash; has gotten extra support from the federal government in the form of a $6 million School Improvement Grant.</p><p>These grants, launched by in 2009 by the Obama administration, are targeted at the lowest-performing high schools and meant to help reboot the school to improve academic outcomes. The interventions typically involve firing all the staff and hiring new.</p><p>Tilden was one of 13 schools <a href="http://www.isbe.net/sos/pdf/sig_1003g_funded_fy12.pdf">awarded grants</a> in the 2011-2012 school year. Initially, it was considered a &ldquo;transformation&rdquo; school and no staff was fired. But in the second year of the grant, the 2012-2013 school year, CPS decided to implement a &ldquo;turnaround&rdquo; at Tilden instead, firing the entire staff.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tilden%20High%20School%20flickr%20Zol87.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: right; height: 188px; width: 250px;" title="Tilden High School is officially known as Tilden Career Community Academy. It's on Chicago's South Side. (Flickr/Zol87)" />CPS officials say the school has gotten an additional $1.9 million each year of the grant and is expected to get the last installment this coming year. This is likely why the amount spent per student is higher than the district and state average.</p><p>But the amount Tilden is currently getting is certainly not three times what private school tuition costs. Though tuition rates vary, private high schools in Chicago charge anywhere from about $9,000 per year to $30,000 a year.</p><p>At the prestigious University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his children, tuition for the upcoming school year is $28,290 for high school, $27,096 for middle school, and $25,296 for elementary school. It charges $17,832 for half-day preschool. These figures don&rsquo;t include additional fees for books, gym clothes, after-school programs and other extracurricular programs.</p><p><strong>What&rsquo;s the spread in Illinois?</strong></p><p>School spending across Illinois varies widely, with some districts spending more than $20,000 per student per year, while others spend $6,000. That&rsquo;s because revenue for schools is mostly raised through local property taxes. Areas with tony homes and other high-value properties can generate lots of revenue. Areas with less valuable property are more limited.</p><p>To make up for disparities, the state sets a foundation. In 1997, it created a committee to help figure out what the foundation level should be &mdash; in other words, what it takes to adequately educate a student. Sylvia Puente, executive director of the Latino Policy Forum, is the chair of that committee, the Education Funding Advisory Board.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CPS%20headquarters%20Flickr%20Zol87.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 333px; width: 250px;" title="The headquarters for Chicago Public Schools. Once public school districts figure out how much they will get from state, federal and local sources, it all goes into one big pot and then district leaders decide how to distribute money to individual schools. (Flickr/Zol87)" />For the coming school year (2013-2014), EFAB <a href="http://www.isbe.net/EFAB/pdf/final-report-01-13.pdf">recommended the state provide every district</a> a minimum of $8,672 per student. Puente tells me the number is generated using a complicated formula that looks at low-spending, high-performing districts.</p><p>But in every year except one, the Illinois General Assembly set the foundation amount lower than what EFAB recommended. In the most recent state budget, foundation funding is $6,119.</p><p>However, most districts do not get the full $6,119. For example, Chicago is getting $5,720 per student from the state. The district then use local property taxes to generate more.</p><p>Private school funding is a different story. Parents pay tuition and schools are better able to make up for income disparities through charitable donations and alumni networks. But John Pantle, Finance and Advancement Consultant at the Archdiocese of Chicago, said Catholic schools do look at median family income in the surrounding areas when setting tuition rates.</p><p>&ldquo;You need to meet the market,&rdquo; said Pantle, the financial consultant at the Archdiocese of Chicago. &ldquo;Any more than you would open a Cadillac dealership in an area that families couldn&rsquo;t afford to buy a luxury car. Same thing with schools. St. Clements can charge a little more because it&rsquo;s in the heart of Lincoln Park.&rdquo;</p><p>But Pantle said in order to keep Catholic schools accessible to lower income families, the Archdiocese often steps in to cover the cost of education in areas where tuition is intentionally kept low. He said family discounts and individual scholarships are also provided.</p><p>&ldquo;We try to balance it and it&rsquo;s a constant struggle,&rdquo; Pantle said.</p><p><strong>How much money makes it to a school?</strong></p><p>Once public school districts figure out how much they will get from state, federal and local sources, it all goes into one big pot and then district leaders decide how to distribute money to individual schools.</p><p>This year, the pot of money for Chicago Public Schools is about $5.6 billion to serve 405,519 students. Applying our commenter&rsquo;s back-of-the-envelope calculation means CPS is spending roughly $13,789 per student.</p><p>But that crude calculation doesn&rsquo;t tell the whole story.<a name="Graphic"></a></p><p><a href="http://llnw.wbez.org/insert-images/Becky Budget Infographic_edited July25_FINAL344.jpg" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Becky%20Budget%20Infographic_edited%20July25_FINALGIF.gif" style="height: 1278px; width: 620px;" title="NOTES: *Some of these services directly impact students in schools, but are not reflected in the school-level budget. Examples include traveling social workers and building engineers. **There are 405,519 students in CPS. We divide the total $3.4B amount provided directly to schools by that enrollment. (Graphic: Jennifer Brandel)" /></a>For starters, a decent chunk of the money never makes it to the school level. It&rsquo;s spent on salaries at the central office, consulting contracts, and mid-level management. For example, the legal department at the central office is budgeted $12.9 million.</p><p>According to budget documents, $3.4 billion of the $5.6 billion operating budget is going directly to schools and most of that goes to pay teacher salaries. There are some services that do directly affect schools, but are part of a separate departments that operate citywide, such as a traveling nurse or curriculum specialist.</p><p>If you divide that $3.4 billion by the 405,519 students enrolled in CPS schools, the per student amount drops to roughly $8,536 per student.</p><p>But again, that doesn&rsquo;t mean every school in Chicago gets $13,000 or $8,500 per student. Some get more, some get less.</p><p>Typically, elementary schools get less because they cost less to operate, mostly because they need less staff per student. There are also federal grants earmarked for specific schools and high-needs populations that can increase or decrease how much a school gets. This is the case for Tilden and the School Improvement Grant.</p><p>CPS also divides its revenues unevenly based on it&rsquo;s district policies. For example, more money and positions go to selective enrollment and magnet schools.</p><p><strong>After money makes it to the school</strong></p><p>The amount a school gets from either parents or taxpayers varies widely from school to school, but what does the money get spent on?</p><p>&ldquo;What you buy for education, like anything else, you buy quality,&rdquo; Puente said.</p><p>On average, schools and districts spend about 80 percent of their budget on people. That includes salaries, benefits and retirement costs for teachers, clerks and administrators.</p><p>&ldquo;No matter what, whether it&rsquo;s $10,000 a student or $15,000 a student or less, the best use of those dollars is getting the very best people in the building,&rdquo; said Mike Milkie, CEO and Superintendent of the high-performing Noble Street Charter School network that operates schools across Chicago.</p><p>Milkie said Noble spends about $11,500 per student at the network&rsquo;s 14 high schools. &nbsp;Charter schools are publicly-funded, but privately operated. Some of the money Milkie refers to comes from private sources and includes facility costs and other expenses not directly related to student instruction.</p><p>Charter schools have argued that getting less money per student has limited their ability to hire and keep great teachers. Charter school teachers are not part of the Chicago Teachers Union and <a href="http://incschools.org/charters/charter-school-data-finder/data-illinois-charter-overview/comparative_teacher_and_staff_compensation_data">typically make less money</a>, according to the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, a group advocating for charters.</p><p>As with their public counterparts, private schools also spend the majority of their resources on personnel, says Pantle, the financial consultant at the Archdiocese of Chicago. However, average salaries at area Catholic schools run much lower than local public schools. Pantle pegged the average teacher salary at about $35,000 per year, not including benefits. The average teacher salary at CPS, <a href="http://www.cps.edu/about_cps/at-a-glance/pages/stats_and_facts.aspx">according to the district</a>, is $74,839.</p><p>To go back to the original question, $175,000 per child could essentially buy the equivalent of two separate teachers dedicated solely to each student and still have money left over for supplies or other operating costs. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Since we&rsquo;re at it, there&rsquo;s also &ldquo;hidden money&rdquo;</strong></p><p>Dividing a school&rsquo;s individual budget by the number of students enrolled is an accurate and fair way to estimate how much is spent per student, Odden, the UW-Madison researcher, said. But if we&rsquo;re talking back-of-the-envelope math, we could use a slightly larger envelope and include funding sources that our questioner (and possibly most of us) aren&rsquo;t aware of.</p><p>These are essentially the &ldquo;offshore bank accounts&rdquo; of public education. And as states and districts slash spending, they&rsquo;ve become more and more prevalent.</p><p>Most of the &ldquo;hidden money&rdquo; can be found in more affluent areas of the city, where highly-educated, middle- and upper-income families fundraise to provide extra services like art, music and additional technology, such as iPads. The groups usually operate as 501(c)3 non-profit organizations and can fundraise large sums.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/ipad%20music%20flickr%20flickingerbrad.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; height: 188px; width: 250px;" title="Oftentimes school budgets get supplemented by individual fundraising efforts to help pay for activities or technology. (Flickr/Flickingerbrad)" />These funding streams are entirely separate from a school&rsquo;s public budget, but, in light of recent cuts, they have filled in what some may consider basic services, such as a full-time physical education or world language teacher.</p><p>But parent fundraising groups are not the only &ldquo;offshore accounts&rdquo; in school budgets. There are all kinds of grants, donations and philanthropic efforts that provide valuable services, but don&rsquo;t show up in a school&rsquo;s budget.</p><p>At Lindblom Math and Science Academy in the West Englewood neighborhood, Principal Alan Mather tells me about the school&rsquo;s partnership with Baxter International. The corporation provides biotechnology courses and professional development, as well as funding for a few positions.</p><p>&ldquo;There is no funding stream that you see from that, but there&rsquo;s a huge benefit to the student body because of that relationship,&rdquo; Mather said.</p><p>Lindblom is one of the city&rsquo;s ten selective enrollment high schools, which gets extra resources from the CPS Board of Education. Still, Mather says he is constantly seeking out local partnerships to fill gaps and provide disadvantaged students new opportunities.</p><p>&ldquo;That kind of stuff doesn&rsquo;t have the same price tag.&rdquo; Mather said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s invaluable.&rdquo;</p><p>Tilden is benefiting from a new partnership that also doesn&rsquo;t show up in their budget, but is indirectly paid for by the federal government. In 2012, Columbia College received a $3 million dollar innovation grant from the U.S. Department of Education to implement a &ldquo;Convergence Academy&rdquo; inside Tilden and one other school. The money will come through Columbia &mdash; not CPS, not Tilden.</p><p><strong>Back to the question</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Tim&rdquo; (and later, &ldquo;greg&rdquo;) got us onto this tangent on school spending. The skinny is that within Chicago, schools get anywhere from $6,000 per student to $17,000 per student. State data indicate average spending is about $12,000 per student.</p><p>As for the area&rsquo;s private high schools? Total costs there are not entirely clear, but tuition tops out at $30,000.</p><p>Again, it&rsquo;s not up to Curious City to say any of these amounts are absurd, but &ldquo;Tim&rdquo; (whoever you are): No area school &mdash; public or private &mdash; spends $175,000 per student.</p></p> Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/tilden-high-spending-too-much-108195 Illinois Truth in Tuition law helps families but hurts schools, experts say http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-truth-tuition-law-helps-families-hurts-schools-experts-say-108167 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Truth%20Tuition_130723_AY.jpg" style="height: 304px; width: 600px; float: left;" title="Spending on college overall has fallen since the recession. That, along with the Illinois requirement to fix tuition for four years, makes budgeting difficult for state universities. (Sallie Mae)" />As the Illinois Truth-in-Tuition law reaches its 10th year, experts say it helps families plan for college, but it makes it harder for public colleges to be strategic.</p><p>The law allows Illinois undergraduate students at public universities to attend school for four years without tuition increases. An amendment passed in 2010 extended it to six years, though allowing the school to increase tuition rates for fifth or sixth year students, as long as the price matches that of the students that came immediately after then.</p><p>Although the law provides some stability to students, it has hurt universities, says Allan Karnes, accounting professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and member of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.</p><p>For example, when a university needs to increase tuition due to rising costs, inflation or decreasing state support, the incoming class has to shoulder the entire increase because their counterparts cannot pay higher fees.</p><p>&lsquo;It appears we&rsquo;re raising tuition much more than we actually are, and so that cast us in a bad light,&rdquo; Karnes says.</p><p>Moreover, the binding law requires public universities to guess what their budget will be for the next couple of years, says Thomas Hardy, executive director for media relations at the University of Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;It requires that the university take a bit of foresight in terms of where cost may go, and then reading a bit of a crystal ball, set tuition that will be fixed for a four year period,&rdquo; Hardy says. &ldquo;It locks us in for a four-year period.&rdquo;</p><p>He adds that this comes at a time of decreasing state support. Since 2002, the University of Illinois has lost about $1 billion in spending authority, leading to tuition hikes and cuts. For example, the university shut down its Institute of Aviation in July 2011.</p><p>Having to predict future costs is also difficult, says Kinga Mauger, the bursar at Northern Illinois University. For example, the school did not expect the recession. Although the school faces rising costs, Mauger says it doesn&rsquo;t want to simply ask incoming students to shoulder the burden. As a result, budgeting is far more difficult.</p><p>A new survey of 800 undergraduates and parents nationwide from student loan company Sallie Mae found that since 2010 and the recession, parents have paid less for college, relying more on loans, grants and scholarships. Overall, high and low-income families have paid less for college since 2010, but middle-income families have paid more.</p><p>Beyond Illinois, a federal Truth in Tuition proposal has been sent to a House committee.</p><p>It requires schools to give students a multi-year fee schedule upon admission, but allows for changes.</p><p>Karnes of the Illinois State Board of Education says lawmakers are not in the best position to draft tuition policies.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s not a general understanding at that level (of) what the budgetary pressures are,&rdquo; Karnes says. &ldquo;Every school is different. We determine what tuition should be by what our costs are. We&rsquo;re not trying to make money. We&rsquo;re just trying to break even.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alan Yu is a WBEZ metro desk intern. Follow him @Alan_Yu039.</em></p></p> Wed, 24 Jul 2013 13:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-truth-tuition-law-helps-families-hurts-schools-experts-say-108167 Chicago's best high schools: Who gets in, who doesn't http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagos-best-high-schools-who-gets-who-doesnt-97110 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2012-March/2012-03-09/elite schools map.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago has four elite public high schools. They&rsquo;re the highest scoring schools in the state, better than top suburban schools. Competition to get is fierce, and ratcheted up again this year. WBEZ looks at who gets into Chicago&rsquo;s best schools, and who does not.</p><p style="text-align: center;">&nbsp;</p><audio class="mejs mediaelement-formatter-identified-1332747979-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2012-march/2012-03-12/elite-schools-featurenew120309ll.mp3">&nbsp;</audio><p>Even if you don&rsquo;t live in the city you can probably name at least one of Chicago&rsquo;s top high schools: Whitney Young, Northside College Prep, Walter Payton, Jones.</p><p>Now, take a guess: what percent of freshmen sitting in those schools today graduated from private grammar schools?</p><p>LABOWITZ: I mean, that Payton number blows my mind. That just seems so high. That one-third of the kids entering that school are from private school.</p><p>That&rsquo;s Rebecca Labowitz, who runs a blog called CPS Obsessed.</p><p>There&rsquo;s a lot of anxiety this time of year&mdash;kids getting acceptance letters, or not. WBEZ analyzed the current freshman classes at Chicago&rsquo;s top four high schools for some idea of what&rsquo;s happening.</p><p>We found that 29 percent of current freshmen at Walter Payton College Prep graduated from private grammar schools. At the other elite high schools, the number is right around 20 percent.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #159406; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table" style="width: 444px; height: 239px;"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th colspan="2">% of Students from Private Grammar Schools<br />Enrolled in Current Freshman Class</th></tr><tr><td>Payton</td><td>29.10%</td></tr><tr><td>Northside</td><td>20.40%</td></tr><tr><td>Young</td><td>20.70%</td></tr><tr><td>Jones</td><td>18.70%</td></tr><tr><td>TOTAL</td><td>22.10%</td></tr></tbody></table><p>And private school kids make up only around 12 percent of those testing to get into these schools.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #159406; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table" style="width: 447px; height: 280px;"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>School</th><th>Percentage of Private School Applicants</th></tr><tr><td>Payton</td><td>13%</td></tr><tr><td>Northside</td><td>12%</td></tr><tr><td>Young</td><td>11%</td></tr><tr><td>Jones</td><td>11%</td></tr><tr><td>Lane</td><td>9%</td></tr><tr><td>Brooks</td><td>7%</td></tr><tr><td>King</td><td>6%</td></tr><tr><td>Lindblom</td><td>6%</td></tr><tr><td>Westinghouse</td><td>5%</td></tr><tr><td>TOTAL</td><td>10%</td></tr><tr><td>* Figures are for students who applied in the 2010-11 school year for enrollment as freshmen in the 2011-12 school year. Source: CPS</td><td>&nbsp;</td></tr></tbody></table><p>Labowitz says this sort of thing sends sparks flying on her web site, where parents share horror stories of the grueling admissions process, and debate whether to leave the city.</p><p>LABOWITZ: Some of the CPS parents get frustrated because it almost feels unfair to have these private school families swoop in and take these few good seats.</p><p>But that is not the view of many Payton students.</p><p>BOYS: We came from private school, but I think it&rsquo;s a good ratio. I think that&rsquo;s a proper amount, considering this is a public school and it&rsquo;s open to people from any background at any school.</p><p>These two freshmen graduated from a $19,000-a-year grammar school. But Payton students insist: Everybody here earned their spot through hard work.</p><p>ASIA: I know I couldn&rsquo;t afford to go to a private school. I didn&rsquo;t have the money to go to a private school, so I had to do testing for classical schools and for gifted centers.</p><p>Junior Asia Sumerlin went to Keller Regional Gifted Center for grammar school. That&rsquo;s one of a tiny group of elite CPS elementary schools that feed the elite college preps in big numbers. They&rsquo;re mostly gifted and magnet schools. They make up fewer than 1 percent of schools in the system. But together with the private schools, their students win more than half the seats in Chicago&rsquo;s top four high schools.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 12px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #159406; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table" style="width: 629px; height: 789px;"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>Top Feeder Schools to Chicago&#39;s &#39;Elite Four&#39; Selective Enrollment High Schools</th><th>&nbsp;</th><th>&nbsp;</th><th>&nbsp;</th><th>&nbsp;</th><th>&nbsp;</th></tr><tr><td>Feeder School</td><td>Jones</td><td>Northside</td><td>Payton</td><td>Young</td><td>Total</td></tr><tr><td>PRIVATE GRAMMAR SCHOOLS</td><td>37</td><td>57</td><td>72</td><td>87</td><td>253</td></tr><tr><td>William Howard Taft High School Academic Center</td><td>*</td><td>21</td><td>*</td><td>12</td><td>39</td></tr><tr><td>Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School</td><td>*</td><td>13</td><td>11</td><td>*</td><td>36</td></tr><tr><td>Abraham Lincoln Elementary School</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>15</td><td>*</td><td>30</td></tr><tr><td>Hawthorne Elementary Scholastic Academy</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>11</td><td>28</td></tr><tr><td>Ogden International High School</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>11</td><td>26</td></tr><tr><td>Robert Healy Elementary School</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>21</td></tr><tr><td>Thomas A Edison Regional Gifted Center ES</td><td>*</td><td>10</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>19</td></tr><tr><td>LaSalle Elementary Language Academy</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>19</td></tr><tr><td>Andrew Jackson Elementary Language Academy</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>11</td><td>19</td></tr><tr><td>Ole A Thorp Elementary Scholastic Academy</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>17</td></tr><tr><td>Mark Skinner Elementary School</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>17</td></tr><tr><td>Lenart Elementary Regional Gifted Center</td><td>*</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>17</td></tr><tr><td>Walt Disney Magnet Elementary School</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>15</td></tr><tr><td>Augustus H Burley Elementary School</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>12</td></tr><tr><td>Annie Keller Elementary Gifted Magnet School</td><td>*</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>*</td><td>12</td></tr><tr><td>Jean Baptiste Beaubien Elementary School</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>11</td></tr><tr><td>Chicago Intl Charter - Bucktown</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>*</td><td>11</td></tr><tr><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">Table shows number of graduates from each grammar school currently enrolled as freshmen in Chicago&#39;s top selective enrollment high schools.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">* indicates fewer than 10 students. WBEZ has advocated for CPS to release numbers less than 10. The school district argues that would violate FERPA, a federal law intended to protect the privacy of student educational records.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="6">WBEZ requested a breakdown, with school names, of private schools feeding into top CPS high schools. CPS denied that request. The district says compiling that data would be too onerous.</td></tr></tbody></table><p><br />CAMMON: That really doesn&rsquo;t seem fair to me. I think, it&rsquo;s like you&rsquo;ll have to pay for them to go to a good elementary school for them to get in a good high school.</p><p>Lisa Cammon has a son at Brown Elementary, a CPS school in the neighborhood near the United Center, around the old Henry Horner Homes.</p><p>WBEZ&rsquo;s analysis of feeder schools shows a trend nobody is talking about: &nbsp;Half of Chicago grammar schools send no one to the top four high schools. Not their valedictorians. Not their straight-A students. Not the kids who&rsquo;ve worked hard their entire grammar school career.<br />&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="429" src="http://batchgeo.com/map/d52fd43eabd2afaed5c42a106f3b40e2" style="border: 1px solid rgb(170, 170, 170);" width="735"></iframe></p><p><small>View <a href="http://batchgeo.com/map/d52fd43eabd2afaed5c42a106f3b40e2">Which CPS schools send students to the &#39;Elite 4&#39;?</a> in a full screen map</small></p><p><br />Brown is one of those schools.&nbsp; Kenya Sadler is the principal there.</p><p>SADLER: Our top performing student last year scored in the 825 range&mdash;</p><p>(That&rsquo;s out of 900 total.)</p><p>SADLER: and no, unfortunately it was not enough.</p><p>Sadler is determined to get her students into these top schools. Some do get into the city&rsquo;s less selective schools and military academies.</p><p>But Sadler&rsquo;s up against a disturbing shift in American education&mdash;a widening achievement gap between rich and poor children.</p><p>SADLER: I&rsquo;m not going to say that it&rsquo;s not fair. For me, I&rsquo;m just going to accept the challenge.</p><p>Chicago has a whole formula to try to give kids from less advantaged neighborhoods a leg up when it comes to getting into these top schools.&nbsp; But WBEZ found in spite of algorithms and formulas, if you walk into the city&rsquo;s best high schools, freshmen from the wealthiest parts of town outnumber freshmen from the poorest areas by a ratio of two to one.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #159406; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table" style="width: 453px; height: 688px;"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th colspan="5">Percent of Students in Each Socioeconomic Tier<br />at Selective Enrollment High Schools</th></tr><tr><td><strong>School Name</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 1 %</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 2 %</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 3 %</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 4 %</strong></td></tr><tr><td>NORTHSIDE PREP HS</td><td>16.5%</td><td>18.0%</td><td>24.8%</td><td>40.6%</td></tr><tr><td>PAYTON HS</td><td>20.2%</td><td>20.6%</td><td>25.1%</td><td>34.2%</td></tr><tr><td>YOUNG HS</td><td>20.2%</td><td>20.5%</td><td>20.7%</td><td>38.5%</td></tr><tr><td>JONES HS</td><td>16.3%</td><td>18.9%</td><td>25.8%</td><td>38.9%</td></tr><tr><td>LANE HS</td><td>19.0%</td><td>18.6%</td><td>23.9%</td><td>38.5%</td></tr><tr><td>LINDBLOM HS</td><td>18.6%</td><td>20.3%</td><td>32.6%</td><td>28.5%</td></tr><tr><td>GEORGE WESTINGHOUSE HS</td><td>33.9%</td><td>33.0%</td><td>20.9%</td><td>12.2%</td></tr><tr><td>KING HS</td><td>27.3%</td><td>22.9%</td><td>34.6%</td><td>15.1%</td></tr><tr><td>BROOKS HS</td><td>17.5%</td><td>16.9%</td><td>36.6%</td><td>29.0%</td></tr><tr><td><strong>TOTAL</strong></td><td><strong>19.9%</strong></td><td><strong>19.9%</strong></td><td><strong>25.7%</strong></td><td><strong>34.5%</strong></td></tr><tr><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td colspan="5">CPS divides the city into four socioeconomic tiers based on such factors as income, homeownership rates, and quality of nearby schools. Tier 1 is the most disadvantaged. Tier 4 is the most advantaged.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="5">Data is for freshman class, the most recent class for which complete data is available.</td></tr></tbody></table><p>That&#39;s despite the fact that students from all tiers apply to selective enrollment high schools in roughly equal numbers.</p><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #159406; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><table class="tableizer-table" style="width: 457px; height: 621px;"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th colspan="5">Applications by Socioeconomic Tier for Selective Enrollment High Schools</th></tr><tr><td><strong>School Name</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 1 %</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 2 %</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 3 %</strong></td><td><strong>Tier 4 %</strong></td></tr><tr><td>Northside</td><td>18.9%</td><td>24.0%</td><td>28.3%</td><td>28.8%</td></tr><tr><td>Payton</td><td>20.5%</td><td>23.5%</td><td>28.7%</td><td>27.3%</td></tr><tr><td>Young</td><td>22.0%</td><td>24.6%</td><td>28.2%</td><td>25.2%</td></tr><tr><td>Jones</td><td>21.9%</td><td>24.5%</td><td>29.5%</td><td>24.1%</td></tr><tr><td>Lane</td><td>21.2%</td><td>24.8%</td><td>27.9%</td><td>26.1%</td></tr><tr><td>Lindblom</td><td>25.6%</td><td>28.0%</td><td>29.8%</td><td>16.4%</td></tr><tr><td>Westinghouse</td><td>29.1%</td><td>32.5%</td><td>25.2%</td><td>13.2%</td></tr><tr><td>King</td><td>30.2%</td><td>27.2%</td><td>29.6%</td><td>12.9%</td></tr><tr><td>Brooks</td><td>22.6%</td><td>25.2%</td><td>35.0%</td><td>17.2%</td></tr><tr><td><strong>Grand Total</strong></td><td><strong>22.6%</strong></td><td><strong>25.4%</strong></td><td><strong>28.8%</strong></td><td><strong>23.2%</strong></td></tr><tr><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td><td>&nbsp;</td></tr><tr><td colspan="5">While students from all tiers applied to selective enrollment high schools at about the same rate, students from the most advantaged areas of the city were accepted at much higher rates.</td></tr><tr><td colspan="5">Data is for the application period that took place during the 2010-11 school year. Students would currently be freshmen (see above chart).</td></tr></tbody></table><p> <style type="text/css"> table.tableizer-table {border: 1px solid #CCC; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 11px;} .tableizer-table td {padding: 4px; margin: 3px; border: 1px solid #ccc;} .tableizer-table th {background-color: #159406; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold;}</style> </p><p>Texas had a situation a little bit like Chicago&rsquo;s. Its public universities admitted kids every year based mostly on test scores and grades. Students from good schools and bad schools competed against each other for limited seats. In the late 1990s, that changed. University of Texas spokesman Matt Flores:</p><p>FLORES: Lawmakers came up with this Top 10 Percent Rule, which effectively says if you graduate in the top 10 percent of your high school class, you would be guaranteed admission to the school of your choice&mdash;to the public institution of your choice.</p><p>Flores says kids don&rsquo;t control what zip code they live in, and the new system rewards them for doing well at whatever school they attend.</p><p>FLORES: There were actually some high schools in the far reaches of Texas that in their histories had never sent a single student to UT-Austin. And I know that since that time, many of those high schools&mdash;if not all&mdash;have now sent at least somebody to UT.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools enrollment chief Katie Ellis says Chicago considered a system like that when it switched admissions criteria two years ago.</p><p>ELLIS: The challenge becomes, these students still are going to have to compete at very, very challenging environments....We try to come up with a careful balance between letting in the top scoring students in the city but also having socio-economic diversity, and those are sometimes contradictory.</p><p>Sadler, the principal from Brown Elementary near the Horner Homes, says she&rsquo;d love a system that gave her hardest working students an equal opportunity to go to Chicago&rsquo;s best high schools.</p><p>Until then, she says, Brown will just have to get better faster than more privileged schools.</p><p><em>Source for data in all tables is Chicago Public Schools. More extensive feeder school information is available in the Excel file below, under EXTRAs. </em><br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 09 Mar 2012 02:31:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/chicagos-best-high-schools-who-gets-who-doesnt-97110 State of Indiana to take over troubled schools http://www.wbez.org/story/state-indiana-take-over-troubled-schools-91071 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-25/use this one.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Indiana's top education official proposed Thursday that the state assume control of four troubled high schools and a middle school in what would be the state's first takeover of underperforming public schools under a 1999 law.</p><p>Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said he had mixed emotions in asking the State Board of Education to approve the takeover of a Gary high school and three Indianapolis high schools and a middle school. But he said the step is necessary for the students' sake. The schools have been on academic probation for five years due to poor test scores.</p><p>The State Board of Education is scheduled to vote Monday on Bennett's proposals.</p><p>Bennett’s first stop was in Gary, Indiana, to announce a proposed takeover of Roosevelt Career and Technical Academy, a high school with about 1,600 students.</p><p>“It’s a difficult decision. But I can be very sad and forlorn; you can be very sad and forlorn or we can look at this as how I can begin the conversation,” Bennett said. “My interest is a new beginning for this school.”</p><p>Bennett said he just wants to make the schools better. Closing them, as the law allows, isn’t something he wanted to do.</p><p>"This is not about blame, this is about the future," Bennett said. "Our intent is to use everything we have in this state to restore these schools to what they should be for the students in these communities."</p><p>Bennett said he’s proposing Roosevelt be operated by a private firm from New York City called Edison Learning. The company operates schools on the East Coast and in Chicago.</p><p>Gary schools superintendent Myrtle Campbell expressed shock and sadness over the takeover, especially in light&nbsp; of ongoing changes at Roosevelt. At a special meeting of the Gary School Board on Thursday evening, Campbell wondered if Edison Learning can do a better job with Roosevelt than the district.</p><p>“We are doing our research to see where they are located. We know of some places, Chicago, and we know they have not always been successful,” Campbell said. &nbsp;“So, there has to be some guarantee from that company that they can actually bring about the change that we would like to see in the district."</p><p>Dr. Eugene G. White, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, has threatened to sue the state if it moves to take over schools in his district. He urged the corporation's commissioners in an email Wednesday to begin legal action against the Department of Education.</p><p>"It is truly time to stand up for our children," White said in the email. The commissioners are scheduled to meet Friday night.</p><p>Under Bennett's proposal, the four Indianapolis schools and the Gary school would be run by school management firms that will evaluate each school's performance for the remainder of the current academic year. Starting in the 2012-2013 academic year, those companies would take over full operation of each school and receive the state's per-pupil aid for each school. Bennett said that if the Board of Education agrees, the companies would receive a one-year "transitional" contract followed by a four-year operations contract to run each school, with benchmarks to chart school improvement still to be determined.</p><p>Charter Schools USA and EdPower are the two school-management companies Bennett wants to run the four Indianapolis schools. He recommended that school management company Edison Learning operate the Gary school.</p><p>Indiana's schools are placed on probation based on the percentage of students who pass statewide tests. A 1999 law allows the state to intervene if a school has not improved its test scores after five years on probation.<br> Bennett said Thursday he considers that five-year time frame too long and that lawmakers need to put more pressure on underperforming schools to improve.</p><p>Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said he supports Bennett's recommendations for the six IPS schools, calling them a "bold step."</p><p>"These schools have been failing for many years," Ballard said in a statement.</p><p>Jim Larson, the Department of Education's director of school turnaround and improvement, said the five schools that would be taken over by the state would undergo a careful year-long review by their chosen operators.</p><p>"This is much more than just 'Go in there collect some data, write a report, tell us what you're going to do better,'" Larson said. "All these schools are at different places."</p></p> Fri, 26 Aug 2011 02:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/state-indiana-take-over-troubled-schools-91071 Louder Than a Bomb: High school training ground http://www.wbez.org/content/louder-bomb-high-school-training-ground <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-15/Malcolm still shot1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="338" src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/22448349?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&amp;color=b30000" width="601"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div>When poet Malcolm X. London spits that “the educated aren’t necessarily the educated,” he’s referring to the inequalities of the public school system. The18-year-old Lincoln Park High School senior argues that our “failing” schools are actually succeeding at what he says is their real purpose: Preparing young people for a future that mimics the problems and contradictions of society as a whole. “My high school is Chicago,” he recites. “Diverse and segregated on purpose.”<br><br>London’s poem, <em>High School Training Ground</em>, was one of several pieces that helped him win impressive accolades at this year’s <a href="http://www.youngchicagoauthors.org/">Louder Than a Bomb</a> competition. London was the top individual performer in 2011, selected from over 700 competitors. His piece is also the second in our month-long series of young poets performing their work on location.<br><br>In honor of National Poetry Month you can check out London’s understated but powerful performance in the video above. And if you missed last week’s homage to Cabrini Green you can watch it <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/aliyah-oyemade/louder-bomb-remembering-cabrini-green-84897">here</a>.<br><br>WBEZ is a presenting partner of Young Chicago Authors' Louder Than a Bomb Teen Poetry Slam Competition and Festival. Click <a href="about:blank">here</a> for more information. Thanks to Alltown Bus Service for letting us film on their Chicago lot.</div></p> Fri, 15 Apr 2011 22:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/louder-bomb-high-school-training-ground Interim CPS CEO discusses future of city's schools http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/interim-cps-ceo-discusses-future-citys-schools <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Mazaney-2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>If you were given six months to improve Chicago&rsquo;s public schools, what would you do? That&rsquo;s the big question facing the interim leader of Chicago Public Schools <a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/At-a-glance/Pages/TerryMazany.aspx" target="_blank">Terry Mazany.</a> Mazany stepped in when former CEO Ron Huberman resigned last November. But he says the move to CPS is temporary and he has no plans to leave his regular post as president of the <a href="http://www.cct.org/" target="_blank">Chicago Community Trust</a>.<br /><br />Chicago&rsquo;s next mayor will appoint a new CEO to run CPS, the nation&rsquo;s third-largest school system. So what can Mazany accomplish in the meantime?<br />To find out &quot;Eight Forty-Eight&quot; talked to the man himself. Terry Mazany also took listeners' questions and comments.</p><p><em>Music Button: Robert Miles, &quot;Miniature World&quot;, from the CD Thirteen, (Salt records)</em></p></p> Tue, 25 Jan 2011 14:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/interim-cps-ceo-discusses-future-citys-schools Diverse neighborhoods, segregated schools http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/diverse-neighborhoods-segregated-schools <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//IMG_0238 fixed.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In neighborhoods across Chicago where development and gentrification have taken hold, middle-income families are staying in the city and raising children. But there’s one aspect of city life many have been slow to embrace: their nearby public school. WBEZ looks at the dynamics that come into play when higher income neighbors don’t feel the neighborhood school is good enough for their kids.</p><div>Jeff Rosen thinks he lives in one of the best neighborhoods in Chicago, the area around the University of Illinois.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>ROSEN: We’re a vibrant university community, a very racially and socioeconomically diverse community.&nbsp; We’re really a microcosm of the entire city.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And every morning, all the middle-class public schoolkids in the community scatter across the city, to more than a dozen magnet and gifted schools where they’ve won seats in the district’s lottery.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last year, Rosen applied to all those schools for his kindergartener. He says you don’t realize how difficult the Chicago schooling situation is until you’re in it. Pretty soon, Rosen had a stack of rejection letters.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>ROSEN: You know, your greatest fear takes hold, and you think to yourself, ‘My gosh. I don’t have any option for the fall.’ Other than the neighborhood school, which you don’t consider to be an acceptable environment for your child.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><i>Ambi: Smyth school kindergarteners and first graders read details they’ve written about toads</i></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>More than 600 kids attend Rosen’s neighborhood school, Smyth. Rosen’s daughter has a guaranteed seat here, no lottery needed. But nearly all Smyth students are black, and nearly all are poor, many from public housing.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>It’s essentially a segregated school, one of dozens that exist in otherwise diverse Chicago neighborhoods.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>And Smyth is struggling. It posts some of the worst test scores in the city. In fact, scores here are 20 points below the district’s average for both African-American and poor students. Rosen never even considered sending his daughter here.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That stirs up a lot of emotion in Delora Scott-Wimberly, a Smyth parent who’s had to explain to her seventh grader why white people won’t send their kids to her school.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>SCOTT-WIMBERLY: If you come inside and get an actual visit of the school, then maybe they’ll change their perception of the actual school and the people that’s inside of it.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><i>Classroom ambi, 6<sup>th</sup> grade </i></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Inside Smyth, the spacious, 100-year-old classrooms are bright and welcoming, floors polished until they gleam. Smyth’s main hallway features fish tanks and flags from around the world. Every kid here studies Mandarin and is part of the highly touted International Baccalaureate program.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Principal Ronald Whitmore was an award-winning teacher and oversaw early childhood education for the entire school district before coming to Smyth. But just about every other year since Whitmore arrived, CPS has closed a low-performing school nearby, and assigned those kids to him.&nbsp;Whitmore says his attention is on improving Smyth.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>WHITMORE: I can only welcome people that come. I can’t make people come that don’t want to.&nbsp; So we’re focusing on how to make Smyth a better place for the students that choose to come here.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>O’NEILL: Smyth— I think the principal is doing a very good job there. It is not yet seen, however, as an acceptable alternative.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That’s Dennis O’Neill, speaking to the Chicago Board of Education. O’Neill directs the well-connected University Village Association. He’s met privately with top CPS officials and twice with the mayor about getting what he calls an acceptable school option for the neighborhood.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Demands from O’Neill’s group are probably the main reason CPS is thinking about adding magnet school seats to this area—O’Neill says fixing Smyth is a long-term project. He says people’s property values are on the line—and so is a plan to build 2,000 more market-rate homes here.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A segregated school is something nobody wants.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>MURPHY: They say, ‘Oh, it’s not socio-economically or racially diverse.’ Someone has to start that trend.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Tamara Murphy has a second grader at Smyth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>MURPHY: They were willing to move into this area knowing it’s not racially diverse. If they were willing to take that step in the real estate market, then why not be willing to go all the way and diversify the school system?</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>ORFIELD: Most people who move into a neighborhood like this are not racist. They’re perfectly willing to be in a diverse setting—but they don’t want to be the only one.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Gary Orfield is a national expert on racial integration in schools. He says integration leads to equity—and it brings connections and resources that middle-income families possess to kids who need them.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Orfield says few urban school districts have figured out how to promote integration in schools like Smyth. Chicago has a tiny bag of tricks to lure higher-income parents into neighborhood schools—things like gifted programs, and preschools that charge tuition.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But while CPSspends lots of time and money promoting diversity in magnet schools—it has nooverarching strategy for supporting integration in dozens of neighborhood schools where that would be possible.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>That leaves a lot up to parents.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>EDELBERG: So here’s our lunchroom. We turned it into Bistro Louis</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Jacqueline Edelberg is showing me around Nettelhorst School in Lakeview. It’s become the textbook example of a local school that middle-class parents finally bought into. Today, every inch of Nettelhorst is covered with painted murals. There is a new science lab and a jaw-dropping kitchen <span style="color: navy;">…<br> <br> </span></div><div>EDELBERG: All of this is the work of people in this neighborhood who wrapped their arms around the school and said, ‘We want this school to be the heart of the community.’</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In her book, <i>How to Walk to School</i>, Edelberg describes how she and a small group of parents took nine months to get the school to a point where their friends would enroll their children. Scores were still dismal, but parents signed on.&nbsp;Looking back, Edelberg says the transformation was both maddeningly difficult and “shockingly easy.”</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>KAHLENBERG: It’s not as if the school has to overnight has to turn to 50-50. If the kindergarten class is economically mixed, that’s the key variable.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Richard Kahlenberg says as few as 10 or 15 kids can meaningfully integrate a classroom. Kahlenberg helped design Chicago’s new magnet school admissions policy, which mixes kids up by income.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>He says high-poverty schools aren’t good for anyone—not for poor kids, and not for middle-income kids either. At Nettelhorst, integration has meant higher test scores for minority and low-income students. But every year there are fewer of those students represented at the school… that is a whole other story.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>There’s been an interesting side effect to the debate over schools near UIC: people are looking more closely at Smyth.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Leslie Thomas lives four blocks away. She’s applying to magnet schools for her five-year-old—the deadline is today. But she’s also visited Smyth, and is considering&nbsp;it, even if her son would be the only white kid. He wouldn’t be the only kid, she points out.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>THOMAS: I didn’t move here so that we could drive across town and go to school in another neighborhood. I moved here so that we could contribute to this neighborhood. We’re torn and we’re really trying to think about what the best thing for our son and our community is right now.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Thomas has hung flyers up near her loft development…to try to find other families who might be interested in looking at Smyth. She says no one has called her back yet.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Maybe they will when rejection letters go out from the city’s magnet schools.</div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 17 Dec 2010 10:58:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/diverse-neighborhoods-segregated-schools Michelle Rhee compares D.C. and Chicago public schools http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/michelle-rhee-compares-dc-and-chicago-public-schools <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//rhee_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated at 12:00 p.m. on 12/08/2010</em></p><p>Former Washington, D.C. public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee is taking her reform agenda on the road this week. Before resigning from her chancellor position in October, Rhee closed underperforming schools, instituted a performance pay system for teachers and advocated for charter schools&mdash;measures Chicago Public Schools have also recently seen. Rhee visited &quot;&quot;Eight Forty-Eight<em>&quot; </em>on Wednesday to talk with host Alison Cuddy about the lessons she learned and how they might apply to Chicago.<br /><br />Noting that both Chicago and D.C. have mayoral control over public schools, Rhee emphasized the importance of a strong relationship between the mayor and the city&rsquo;s head of public schools. &ldquo;I knew that part of the reason why we had been so successful for three and a half years, was because [outgoing D.C. mayor Adrian Fenty and I] were in lock-step,&rdquo; Rhee said. That contributed to her decision to leave after Fenty lost his re-election bid. Similarly, former Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman recently resigned after learning that Mayor Richard M. Daley would not be running for re-election.<br /><br />Despite the turnover of school leaders in Chicago and D.C., Rhee believes that mayoral control, rather than school board control, actually leads to more stable schools. &ldquo;Arne Duncan was here for&hellip;about eight years&hellip;which far exceeds the average tenure of a superintendent who works for a school board structure, which is&hellip; a little over two years.&rdquo;<br /><br />But administrative leaders may not be the biggest factor in change. Rhee said personal experience&mdash;as a parent and as a former teacher&mdash;drives her belief that teachers are central to school reform. Rhee taught in an inner-city classroom in one of the lowest performing schools in Baltimore with <a href="http://www.teachforamerica.org/" target="_blank">Teach for America</a>. She said that over her second and third years of teaching, she took a group of kids from the lowest performing on standardized tests to the top. &ldquo;The environment that these kids were living in didn&rsquo;t change; who their parents were didn&rsquo;t change, their diets, the violence in the community, none of those things changed. What changed was the adults who were in front of them every day and that made every bit of difference in their academic outcomes.&rdquo;<br /><br />Rhee said it&rsquo;s not just in the classroom where teachers are important, but also at the negotiating table. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think that reformers individually can go into districts&mdash;or even states&mdash;and have as big an impact as they could unless we change the political landscape and the entire dynamic in which we&rsquo;re operating.,&rdquo; she said. Teachers&rsquo; unions are doing a good job representing their members, she added, but students also need an advocate and she hopes her new school reform organization <a href="http://www.studentsfirst.org/" target="_blank">Students First</a> will fill that role.</p></p> Wed, 08 Dec 2010 15:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/michelle-rhee-compares-dc-and-chicago-public-schools How many students leave charter schools, and why do they go? http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/how-many-students-leave-charter-schools-and-why-do-they-go <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//URBAN-PREP resize.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>To talk more about students who leave Chicago's charters, Eight Forty-Eight<em> </em>talked with WBEZ's Linda Lutton and Sarah Karp, deputy editor of school reform magazine <em>Catalyst</em>.<br /><br />The two worked together to examine transfer-out rates at Chicago charter schools. They talk about the dearth of data around the issue. Karp and Lutton also discuss the impact transferring out has on students and their families.</p><p>You can listen to Lutton's report, &quot;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/news/education/charters-struggle-hold-their-weakest-students">Chicago charter school struggle to hold onto weakest students</a>,&quot; and read the Catalyst report, &quot;<a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/index.php?item=2653&amp;cat=5" target="_blank">One in 10 charter school students transfers out</a>.&quot;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 09 Nov 2010 14:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/how-many-students-leave-charter-schools-and-why-do-they-go