WBEZ | CPS http://www.wbez.org/tags/cps Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Meet the companies that profit when CPS students drop out http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/IMG_1128_0.JPG" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">One year ago, a small contingent of some of Chicago&rsquo;s most powerful education officials flew to Arizona for a conference of education investors, hosted by Chicago Board of Education member Deborah Quazzo&#39;s investment firm Global Silicon Valley Advisors.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">The keynote speaker: Earvin &lsquo;Magic&rsquo; Johnson.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Fellow board member Mahalia Hines introduced the NBA-star-turned-businessman whose name is now branded across five of Chicago&rsquo;s newest for-profit alternative schools, called the Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;One thing I was really great at was math, so I know my money,&rdquo; Johnson told the crowd. &ldquo;I know a great deal, a good deal and a bad deal.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Johnson&rsquo;s entire speech focused on making money in urban areas, returning bigger profits than expected in each case. He didn&rsquo;t mention the schools for dropouts in Chicago Public Schools until asked a question by someone in the audience.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">One month after Quazzo, Hines, another CPS board member Andrea Zopp, CPS chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s then-education deputy Beth Swanson attended the conference, the Chicago Board of Education </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/new-alternative-schools-some-run-profit-companies-come-hefty-price-tag-110239">approved another $6 million in startup money</a> for for-profit alternative schools. It was the second round of a multi-year expansion. (Quazzo has also&nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/223620/cps-profitable-investment-board-ed-member">come under fire in recent months after a Chicago Sun-Times investigation</a> found that companies she invests in have tripled the amount of money made through contracts held with CPS schools.)</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A WBEZ and&nbsp;</span><a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/03/mixing-profits-and-performance-at-alternative-schools/">Catalyst Chicago</a> investigation found most of the new for-profit alternative schools are running half-day programs where students earn credits in a matter of weeks, through mostly online coursework. Yet, students are getting </span><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/same-diploma-different-school-111581">regular high school diplomas</a>, with the name of the school they left. Many students <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/safety-net-dropouts-catches-others-111598">never officially dropped out</a> and some are not at all off-track.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">WBEZ and&nbsp;</span>Catalyst Chicago also found that many of the for-profit companies running alternative schools stand to make millions off the deals. Other findings:&nbsp;</p><ul><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">On average, some of the companies spend more than half of their budget on consultants, advertising, technology and fees to affiliated companies.</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Companies can maximize profit by running two or even three sessions a day, serving double the number of kids, yet only hiring the same or fewer staff as a normal school. (One of the for-profit companies, Camelot, is an exception. It operates an eight-hour school day with little online work.)</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Since the companies are privately owned, the public has no way of knowing who is making money from investing in them or whether they have any connections to district or city officials.</span></p></li><li dir="ltr"><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">In at least one case, CPS contracted with a company that was, at the time, under investigation in California.</span></p></li></ul><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">John &lsquo;Jack&rsquo; Donahue, a leading expert on privatization in the public sector and faculty chair of the Masters in Public Policy Program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, said he isn&rsquo;t against companies making a profit, but he cautions against outsourcing when it&rsquo;s not clear what outcome you want. He was also troubled by CPS giving students diplomas from the school they left, not the alternative school.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The problem is, when you have people with the incentive and the ability to fool us about what&rsquo;s happening,&rdquo; Donahue said, noting that because Illinois does not have a high school exit exam, it&rsquo;s hard to measure if the diploma is meaningful. &ldquo;When you can&rsquo;t specify, in clear terms, what you want...because the undertaking is complex, as education is&hellip;then it won&rsquo;t work.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Because Chicago&rsquo;s graduation numbers are going up, there&rsquo;s no incentive for district officials to make clear that many more diplomas are coming from alternative schools. </span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A money-making model</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">When Emanuel promised to double the number of seats in alternative schools in 2011, there were 60,000 dropouts under 21 in the city. The people running a small army of alternative schools rejoiced. They thought this meant they would have room and resources to serve the thousands of kids on their waiting lists.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">No one guessed it meant the mayor would look past existing alternative schools to out-of-town, for-profit companies to help fix the dropout crisis.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Nationally, for-profit education companies see opportunity in alternative schools.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">There are four companies now operating in Chicago: Camelot Education, Pathways, EdisonLearning, and Ombudsman. These four companies alone run more than 100 schools in at least 30 states. When Camelot was acquired in 2011 by the private equity firm Riverside Company, managing partner Suzy Kriscunas noted in a press release: </span>&ldquo;Alternative and special education has significant growth.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">A WBEZ and </span>Catalyst Chicago investigation into Chicago&rsquo;s new for-profit alternative schools found that CPS has paid for-profit companies more than $70 million in just two years to start up new alternative schools. Most often, the companies are able to make money by cutting spending at the school level.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS pays the new half-day alternative schools the same amount per child that it pays normal schools. The companies can save by hiring one teacher to teach two students each day. An analysis of budget documents shows many of the new schools spend less than half their budget on school staff. Usually, schools spend between 70 and 80 percent on staff salaries.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Budgets show the for-profit schools spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on consultants, technology, and fees to their parent companies for back-office costs. In some cases, they are purchasing materials from themselves or other parent companies, too.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Last school year, CPS paid Pathways in Illinois $5.1 million to operate two schools with about 500 students. The company then paid its affiliates $1.8 million for a variety of services and curriculum. The company is also run by the daughter of a couple who started a similar for-profit chain of alternative schools in California, called Options for Learning and Options for Youth. That company fell under an investigation by the State of California for improper spending. That same couple is on the board of directors for Pathways in Illinois, while their daughter is the executive director.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Magic Johnson Bridgescape, operated by </span>EdisonLearning in partnership with the former NBA-star, budgets $400,000 for each school to buy educational materials. Much of that is used to buy eCourses, an EdisonLearning product. Spokesman Mike Serpe said the company also buys other online programs, such as Think Through Math, which is part of Chicago Board of Education member Quazzo&rsquo;s investment portfolio.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">No one from </span>EdisonLearning or Magic Johnson Enterprises would agree to an interview.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">But at a press conference in Chicago in February, Johnson said he was approached by </span>EdisonLearning because the company wanted to draw inner-city students into its schools. &ldquo;What they needed was a guy like myself to come in to more or less brand it,&rdquo; he said. When asked how much he makes per school, he told WBEZ and Catalyst: &ldquo;That is all you need to know.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Budget documents obtained through multiple Freedom of Information Act requests indicate how much Johnson stands to make off the alternative schools. One proposal listed a half- million-dollar fee to &ldquo;Magic Johnson Enterprises,&rdquo; but the assumption was based on opening many more schools.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Jack Elsey, Chicago Public Schools&#39; chief of innovation and incubation, said there&rsquo;s no way CPS could have delivered on Emanuel&rsquo;s promise to double the number of dropouts being served without outside help.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The point is not the bottom line,&rdquo; Elsey said. &ldquo;The point is having an impact on students. So the benefit of getting the student in and graduated within a month or two months, means that&rsquo;s one more student who&rsquo;s graduated who wouldn&rsquo;t have graduated before.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&lsquo;Who cares if they make money?&rsquo;</span></strong></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Illinois does not allow for-profit companies to run schools. State law requires public charter schools to be non-profits incorporated in Illinois. However, districts like CPS and non-profits can contract with for-profit companies to provide services.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">It&rsquo;s why district officials are careful to call the new alternative schools &ldquo;programs&rdquo; instead of schools. The for-profit companies technically hold contracts to provide what&rsquo;s called an &ldquo;Alternative Learning Opportunities Program.&quot;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Bridgescape, Camelot and Ombudsman are run by for-profit, out-of-state companies. Pathways is a non-profit certified in Illinois, although its executives own for-profit companies that do business with the non-profit.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Todd Bock runs Camelot Education, one of the for-profit companies to open alternative schools in Chicago in the last few years.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;People hear the word &#39;for-profit&#39; and they think these companies are making hundreds of thousands of dollars on these schools and that&rsquo;s really, really not the case,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">The schools Bock&rsquo;s company runs are an outlier. Students at Camelot&rsquo;s EXCEL Academies have to go to school for almost nine hours and there is little work done on computers.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">He says Chicago should hold companies like his accountable for quality.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;We have an obligation to the taxpayers to do it better and more efficiently than what&rsquo;s been done in the past and if we can&rsquo;t do that, then we don&rsquo;t deserve to be there,&rdquo; Bock said.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Gary Miron, professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University,</span> studies for-profit and not-for-profit education companies. He said education companies see alternative schools as appealing because demand is so high and the companies have an excuse for poor performance, since dropouts are less likely to score well on standardized tests.</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS is funding the new schools as if they were charter schools, but then not having them grant their own diplomas. &nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;Some people say, &lsquo;Who cares if it&rsquo;s for-profit? If they can deliver a better product at a lower cost, who cares if they make a little money?&rsquo;&rdquo; Miron said. &ldquo;And then I&rsquo;d say, &lsquo;Yeah! Why not?&rsquo; But it&rsquo;s not happening. It&rsquo;s just not happening. When we look at the outcomes, they&rsquo;re not as good.&rdquo;</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">CPS is trying to hold the new schools accountable for performance, though it isn&#39;t using the same measures it applies to the rest of the high schools in Chicago. Instead, it looks at improvement in reading and math, attendance and how many kids actually earn diplomas.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Early numbers show of the five performance levels CPS gives schools, not ONE of the new for-profit schools made it into the top two.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Not all of the new for-profit alternative schools have been open long enough to get a rating. But of those that have been, most landed at the bottom of the district&rsquo;s rankings. None earned a 1 or 1+ rating.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Miron said low-performing schools should spend more, not less, directly on students. Plus, with alternative schools, the students enrolling are some of the most at-risk and vulnerable in the city.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;</span>If these are such a good idea, why aren&rsquo;t we doing it with some suburban schools serving middle-class families?&rdquo; he asks. &ldquo;Yet we see this experimentation with private companies with pretty drastically new ideas that end up being more beneficial for profit margin than actual performance.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">Harvard&rsquo;s Jack Donahue echoed Miron&rsquo;s concerns about quality.</span></p><p dir="ltr"><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">&ldquo;The real thing to worry about here is the weaknesses of the measures of value, rather than the fact that somebody might be making a buck,&rdquo; he said.</span></p><p><em><span id="docs-internal-guid-cac2dd7b-ef91-40c8-d60b-356db7fdb9a6">This story was co-reported with Sarah Karp of <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org">Catalyst Chicago</a>. Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </span><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the school at which John &#39;Jack&#39; Donahue works. It is Harvard University&#39;s John F. Kennedy School of Government.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 06 Mar 2015 08:50:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665 Morning Shift: CPS reverses decision about PARCC exam http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-03/morning-shift-cps-reverses-decision-about-parcc-exam-111647 <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/comedy_nose.jpg" style="height: 413px; width: 620px;" title="Flickr/comedy_nose" /></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194044942&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">CPS reverses decision about PARCC exam</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">In defiance to the state board of education, Chicago Public Schools last month said they wouldn&rsquo;t administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, PARCC, exam to all students in the district. The test is part of the Common Core requirements. Now, in a reversal of that stand-off with ISBE, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced Monday they would administer the test. Cassie Creswell, Organizer from More Than A Score, has been pushing for less tests in general, including PARCC. She joins us with reactions to this latest move by CPS. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/cassiecreswell">Cassie Creswell</a>&nbsp;is an organizer from <a href="https://twitter.com/mtas_chicago">More Than A Score.</a></em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194044267&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Judge says Indiana basketball team can play now</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Two Northwest Indiana boys high school basketball teams will get a chance to lace up their sneakers at least one more time this season. That&rsquo;s because a judge ruled that a suspension of both teams after a bench-clearing brawl last month was too severe and ordered it lifted. The head of the Indiana High School Athletic Association isn&rsquo;t happy with the outcome, but the attorneys for the players are. Joining us from our bureau in Crown Point is WBEZ&rsquo;s own Michael Puente with more.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">Michael Puente</a> is a WBEZ reporter.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194044262&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Choice seats get shared with kids in need of a lift</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Yoni Greenstein is a matchmaker. Six years ago, he realized that certain companies that buy tickets to sporting events to entertain clients often go unused. And there are children - some with illnesses, some without the means - who could really use the kind of thrill you can only get from seeing your favorite team live. So Greenstein started making inquiries and hooking the two sides up. Now, what began as a small effort by one guy from the Orthodox Jewish community in Monsey, New York, has grown to three cities, including Chicago, with three more on the way soon. Sharing Seats&rsquo; Yoni Greenstein explains the program.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em><a href="https://www.facebook.com/sharingseats">Yoni Greenstein</a> is the founder of Sharing Seats.&nbsp;</em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194044255&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">New head of juvenile justice has challenges ahead</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Cook County&rsquo;s juvenile jail has a new superintendent. The jail, officially known as the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, holds around 300 kids every day. The juvenile jail has been under the leadership of federal monitor Earl Dunlap since 2007 - he was appointed by a federal judge after a lawsuit over conditions at the jail. But last month, Leonard Dixon was appointed to be the new superintendent. He joins us in studio on the Morning Shift to detail what&rsquo;s ahead.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:&nbsp;</strong><em>Leonard Dixon is the Superintendent of the <a href="http://www.cookcountyil.gov/appointments/juvenile-temporary-detention-center-advisory-board/">Cook County Juvenile Detention Center.</a></em></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/194044251&amp;color=ff5500&amp;auto_play=false&amp;hide_related=false&amp;show_comments=true&amp;show_user=true&amp;show_reposts=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><span style="font-family: inherit; font-size: 24px; font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; font-weight: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Music from In Tall Buildings</span></p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);">Erik Hall, aka In Tall Buildings, has an eclectic resume. He studied jazz at the University of Michigan, worked with long-time experimental rockers His Name Is Alive, jammed with the Afro-groove outfit NOMO, and even worked with the band Wild Belle. He&rsquo;s been working on his sophomore release Driver for about four years, splitting his time between a home studio here in Chicago and a farm in Michigan. The album release show is Thursday at Schubas Tavern, but Hall brings his layered, intricate psych-folk sounds to the Morning Shift for a preview.</p><p style="margin: 0px 0px 18px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; font-stretch: inherit; line-height: 22px; vertical-align: baseline; color: rgb(51, 51, 51);"><strong style="margin: 0px; padding: 0px; border: 0px; font-stretch: inherit; vertical-align: baseline;">Guest:<a href="https://twitter.com/intallbuildings">&nbsp;</a></strong><em><a href="https://twitter.com/intallbuildings">In Tall Buildings</a> is a Chicago-based band.</em></p></p> Tue, 03 Mar 2015 08:13:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-03-03/morning-shift-cps-reverses-decision-about-parcc-exam-111647 Inspector General finds questionable conduct in CPS http://www.wbez.org/news/inspector-general-finds-questionable-conduct-cps-111338 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/CPS IG LUNCH PHOTO.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-d231fa94-bb41-12b8-a409-b2b852f480ad">Parents who try to sneak their kids into Chicago&rsquo;s selective schools through address fraud have been put on notice.</p><p dir="ltr">A new report by Chicago Public Schools inspector general, Nicholas Schuler, details several cases of admissions fraud investigated by his office over the last year. And his recommendations range from kicking the students out to firing the CPS staff who abetted it.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I hope this sends a message that people need to follow the rules and the rules apply to everybody,&rdquo; Schuler said. &ldquo;And when fraud is discovered there is going to be responsibility for that and the result might be that their child might be disenrolled from the school.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.cps.edu/About_CPS/Departments/Documents/OIG_FY_2014_AnnualReport.pdf">This year&rsquo;s report</a>, which went live Monday morning, includes the usual array of residency violations, kickback schemes, fake purchases and tuition fraud. But it also documents the desperate acts of parents trying to get their kids into selective schools, administrators trying to fudge their dropout rates and vendors trying to get the inside track on city contracts.</p><p dir="ltr">On Sunday night, CPS released a statement to WBEZ, saying &quot;Chicago Public Schools is committed to working with the Office of the Inspector General to eliminate corruption, fraud and waste across the District. &nbsp;The annual OIG report is a testament of our cooperation and demonstrates we do not tolerate any wrongdoing, and CPS has either addressed or is addressing all the issues in the report.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Although the report cannot name names, WBEZ has been able to fill in some identities through media reports, public documents and confirmations by sources. The purview of the OIG is mainly restricted to CPS employees and so does not represent all violations that occur in the system.</p><p dir="ltr">In 2011, the district replaced race with socio-economics status (by address) as a factor for admission to selective enrollment high schools. This year&rsquo;s report is the first to investigate abuse of this factor by more than a dozen students at six selective enrollment high schools. Another six cases involved CPS employees who had falsified their addresses to appear less affluent and gain their children easier admission. Most of the children identified in the report have been kicked out of the schools, and most of the CPS employees have faced or will face dismissals.</p><p dir="ltr">Monday, CPS said it would consider audits of selective enrollment students in the future.</p><p dir="ltr">The report further detailed $657,000 in back tuition owed by suburban residents who were illegally sending their kids to CPS schools.</p><p dir="ltr">Another prominent case in this year&rsquo;s document involves former Gwendolyn Brooks Preparatory High School principal Dushon Brown. According to the report, on the eve of the 2010-11 school year, she asked a CPS administrator to allow a student who&rsquo;d neither applied for nor taken the selective enrollment exam, to enroll in her school. When the administrator refused, Brown, reportedly &ldquo;phoned a state legislator&rdquo; who phoned the administrator again asking for an exception. The attempts were not successful. The OIG recommended discipline for the principal in its 2012 report.</p><p dir="ltr">In its 2013 report, the OIG detailed a case in which Principal Brown and a Gwendolyn Brooks school operations manager found a bank account opened by the parent booster club of the building&rsquo;s previous occupant, a Catholic school. The report says a &ldquo;local bank inexplicably allowed&rdquo; Brown and the operations manager to take control of the $186,235 of funds and spend $116,974, but never included it in the &ldquo;school&rsquo;s internal accounts ledger.&rdquo; The OIG recommended discipline for the principal, which was still pending at the time of the last report. In today&rsquo;s report the OIG reports that Brown was terminated in 2014 and classified as a &ldquo;Do Not Hire.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The report follows up on another 2012 case in which the OIG found a former chief area officer took nearly $17,000 in travel and gifts (including a $10,000 scholarship) from textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In exchange, according to the report, the CPS officer steered the publisher to nearly $300,000 in business &ldquo;through no-bid, sole source deals.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Last July the CPS Board entered into a settlement with the publisher requiring it to pay a $250,000 fine and to fund an independent monitor to oversee these issues. In addition, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had to train its employees to comply with board ethics policies.</p><p dir="ltr">Another outstanding ethics issue tackled in this year&rsquo;s report involves a dispute between two of the nation&rsquo;s largest food service providers, who were competing for the 2013 school food contract, valued at nearly $100 million a year. Food giant Chartwells-Thompson Hospitality charged that CPS school food chief (and former Aramark manager) Leslie Fowler showed favoritism to her former employer in the contract bidding process. The district asked the OIG to rule on the issue at the time, and it concluded that Fowler&rsquo;s actions &ldquo;did not violate applicable ethics policies.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">In its new report, however, the OIG says Fowler &ldquo;engaged in questionable conduct throughout the award process.&rdquo; This included dining twice with the president of Aramark during the process and telling fellow bid committee members that her boss did not want Chartwells to win the contract. The report further says that Fowler told &ldquo;staff members that she did not need to review (Aramark&rsquo;s bid) because she had written proposals for&rdquo; the company herself and Aramark knew what she wanted. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In the process of the Fowler investigation, &ldquo;the OIG also learned that the administrator prodded subordinates to participate in a party game that made people feel uncomfortable.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Attempts to reach Fowler for comment through CPS were unsuccessful.</p><p dir="ltr">In the wake of the case, the OIG has recommended that CPS review the investigation to see &ldquo;if any further action regarding the administrator is warranted.&rdquo; It also recommended that the district &ldquo;review its RFP [contract bidding] policy and ensure adequate training for those involved in the process.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Aramark also<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/custodial-contract-causing-problems-start-school-year-110767"> received one of the nation&rsquo;s largest school custodial contracts </a>last year from CPS when the district privatized its cleaning crews. The Aramark takeover of the program has been met with &nbsp;district-wide complaints of dirty classrooms, theft, damaged materials and bad communication. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Another novel case in this year&rsquo;s report investigated a CPS high school that classified 296 students &nbsp;who dropped out (since 2009) as &ldquo;transfers,&rdquo; allegedly in order to improve its dropout numbers. The school said that the students were headed for GED programs, but Illinois law makes it clear that these students are to be counted as dropouts. Another 121 students at the school were classified as transfers, but the OIG says less than 5 percent of the cases was backed up with &ldquo;adequate written proof.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">In another case, the OIG says a high school principal was sending an average of 55 students a day to a kind of first period detention if they were more than 15 minutes tardy. The practice was done to discourage tardiness but the OIG said it occurred more than 10,000 times (recorded as &ldquo;school function&rdquo;) in the 2012-13 school year, resulting in hundreds of thousands of missed instruction minutes. Although principals have leeway to be creative with attendance programs the OIG recommended CPS implement more consistent practices.</p><p dir="ltr">Other cases, among the OIG&rsquo;s 280 this year, dealt with full time CPS teachers who were also employed as full time Chicago Police Department officers; a phony billing scheme at Michele Clark High School that resulted in $870,000 in fraud and principals who fraudulently enrolled their family members as students for a few key weeks to boost attendance numbers.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at <a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">@monicaeng</a> or write to her at meng@wbez.org</em></p></p> Mon, 05 Jan 2015 11:57:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/inspector-general-finds-questionable-conduct-cps-111338 Could truant officers return to Chicago Public Schools? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/could-truant-officers-return-chicago-public-schools-111101 <p><p><em>Editor&#39;s note: The podcast episode has two segments. The portion dealing with our update concerning what happened to truancy officers begins at 8 minutes and 45 seconds into the program. The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-heck-happened-chicagos-truancy-officers-110282" target="_blank">original report details why CPS truancy officers were eliminated </a>and how the district has struggled with chronic truancy.</em></p><p>There are lots of reasons why kids cut class: issues at home, issues with friends, undiagnosed disabilities, etc. But for a while now, Chicago Public Schools has been without a consistent, district-wide mechanism to physically find those students and bring them back to school. Years ago, CPS had a specific job position to perform this work. This is a short update on a <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-heck-happened-chicagos-truancy-officers-110282" target="_blank">question we answered about the fate of those workers</a>.</p><p>To refresh your memory, here&rsquo;s the original question we received from Curious Citizen Saundra Oglesby:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Why aren&rsquo;t there truant officers, riding around like they used to?</em></p><p>While we <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/what-heck-happened-chicagos-truancy-officers-110282" target="_blank">answered Saundra&rsquo;s question</a> earlier this year, we learned that this job position was eliminated back in 1992. At that time, the district faced a $315 million dollar budget shortfall and, to close the gap, it laid off each one of its 150 truant officers.</p><p>So, if all of this is 20-year-old history, and we&rsquo;ve answered this question before, why look at it again?</p><p>Well, first off, we never heard from someone who actually did the work for CPS. We had tried to find a former CPS truant officer ... but failed. Luckily, though, a former truant officer found us after he heard our story, and he can now provide an account of the nitty gritty, pavement-pounding nature of his former job.</p><p>And, more importantly, we&rsquo;re tackling some news: A state task force took a hard look at this question, too, and it suggested some fixes for CPS to improve its record when it comes to keeping kids in class. It turns out the state of Illinois is interested in having truant officers return to CPS &mdash; at least in theory.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">The trouble with truancy</span></p><p>It&rsquo;s clear that in the years since CPS let go of its truant officers, the district struggled to tamp down chronic absenteeism. A student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses nine or more days of school without a valid excuse. Back in the day, if a kid was missing much class, a principal could call on a truant officer to track the student them down. Since eliminating the position, the district has tried everything from robocalls to tasking traditional teachers with the work.</p><p>But truancy has remained a big problem. As <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/sites/catalyst-chicago.org/files/blog-assets/files/cps_verified_chronic_truancy_and_absenteeism_data.pdf" target="_blank">Catalyst Chicago</a> magazine reported &mdash; and the district confirmed &mdash; a little more than a quarter of of CPS students were chronically truant during the 2013-2014 school year.<span style="text-align: center;">And a </span><a href="http://media.apps.chicagotribune.com/truancy/index.html" style="text-align: center;" target="_blank">Chicago Tribune</a><span style="text-align: center;"> investigation revealed that one in eight elementary school students missed the equivalent of a month or more during the 2010 school year. In other words, if a student keeps at that pace, he or she could miss a year of schooling before beginning high school. Stats like that prompted the state of Illinois to create a task force to come up with fixes to CPS&rsquo; &ldquo;empty desk epidemic.</span></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" allowtransparency="true" frameborder="0" height="442" mozallowfullscreen="mozallowfullscreen" msallowfullscreen="msallowfullscreen" oallowfullscreen="oallowfullscreen" src="http://cf.datawrapper.de/iR3Sz/4/" webkitallowfullscreen="webkitallowfullscreen" width="600"></iframe><span style="text-align: center;">&rdquo;</span></p><p>Among other things, the task force recommends that districts use consistent language and terminology when it comes to attendance and truancy. Task force members also want better, real-time attendance data that can be accessed by key stakeholders such as state agencies, district officials, school staff and and parents. They want better coordination between community and state service providers, so that families and students with insecure housing aren&rsquo;t lost in the system.</p><p>But number one on the task force&rsquo;s list: Bring back truant officers. According to the 150-page <a href="http://www.isbe.net/TCPSTF/pdf/tcpstf-final-report.pdf" target="_blank">Final Report of the Truancy in Public Schools Task Force</a>, &ldquo;the strategy most identified as necessary to combat absenteeism and truancy in CPS schools by reporters, researchers, community leaders and parents was the re-institution of truancy officers.&rdquo;</p><p>Again, Curious City tried to track one of those officers down for our first story &mdash; but we couldn&rsquo;t find one. True to form, one found us.</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">Meet officer Nelson</span></p><p>Patrick Nelson was right out of college when he applied to be a substitute teacher with CPS. But a chance run-in with the person in charge of the district&rsquo;s dropout prevention program steered him toward a full-time position as a truant officer. There were about 150 officers covering more than 600 schools at the time, so he was responsible for between five and seven schools. His territory was around the old Cabrini Green public housing development, which, in the early &lsquo;90s was overrun by poverty and crime.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/pat%20nelson.jpg" style="float: left; width: 280px; height: 398px;" title="(Photo courtesy Patrick Nelson)" />&ldquo;It would often be the case that the parents themselves didn&rsquo;t have the way with all [sic] to understand the importance of education,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Life had given them such a thrashing, they&rsquo;re living in a situation of denial.&rdquo;</p><p>Nelson had to navigate those issues while also enforcing the compulsory education law, which states that every child age 6 to 17 be in a school setting. He describes one situation he had with a fourth grader living in the housing project. Every time he checked on the boy, he says, there were boxes &mdash; tons of them &mdash; just sitting inside the front door of the apartment.</p><p>&ldquo;She stated that &lsquo;I am only here temporarily,&rsquo;&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Well, I was at that school for two years and I would visit that kid off and on,those boxes were at that door. She was in a state of denial about where she was and what was important. I could only do what I could do to stabilize that particular student and make him feel welcome at school.&rdquo;</p><p>Nelson says he tried to be as positive and uplifting with children as possible, to show them that someone cared &mdash; and noticed &mdash; they were missing. He went to their homes and local playlots, but he steered clear of the kids who were getting into trouble or selling drugs on the corner. He believes his job called for the enforcement of one law, while the rest fell under local police&rsquo;s jurisdiction. And, Nelson says, he had a great relationship with the Chicago Police Department. If he saw a kid was up to no good, he filed the necessary paperwork; it worked both ways. He had his own safety to consider too.</p><p>&ldquo;You don&rsquo;t want to get in the way of someone&rsquo;s revenue stream,&rdquo; Nelson explains. &ldquo;Oftentimes in the community, the student who was out of the street, selling drugs or whatever, is one of the sole breadwinners of the family. And when you get in front of a family&rsquo;s revenue stream and you make trouble for them ... To me, that&rsquo;s not really positive.&rdquo;</p><p><span style="font-size:24px;">A catch-all strategy?</span></p><p>Recall that a state task force recommended the return of truant officers to CPS. Actually, it&rsquo;s more complicated than that. The group does recommend the district re-commit itself to the idea of truant officers, but it&rsquo;s a new idea of truant officers. These attendance coordinators should do more than physically find students and return them to school; they should also have a background in psychology or social work, data analysis and training in counseling.</p><p>Jeff Aranowski with the State Board of Education says the task force did not get into the day-to-day function of the attendance coordinators, other than that they be &ldquo;the central person responsible for both community-basis, school-wide basis, a district-wide basis for those kids and tracking those kids.&rdquo; He says the task force didn&rsquo;t want to come up with a list of recommendations with price tags attached.</p><p>&ldquo;We were also cognizant that we didn&rsquo;t want to leave things off the list of recommendations that we thought would actually have a great impact,&rdquo; he says.</p><p>The task force shared its recommendations with CPS and the General Assembly at the end of July. In turn, the district shared a draft of its new <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/sites/catalyst-chicago.org/files/blog-assets/files/cps_draft_report.pdf" target="_blank">attendance improvement and truancy prevention plans</a>. As for whether an attendance coordinator would have enough time in the day to pound pavement, crunch numbers, counsel families, report on and revisit individual cases ... Aranowski says he&rsquo;s not sure.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why we wanted someone where their role was attendance coordinator,&rdquo; he says. &ldquo;Whether that would mean an extra hat for an existing employee not having time to do that, I don&rsquo;t think that would be best practice. But again, putting the rubber to the road as it were, we&rsquo;re going to have to see what CPS comes up with in terms of their policy.&rdquo;</p><p>Aranowski says there are few statutory requirements of what an attendance policy would look like, and he thinks the task force will be able to weigh in, whether they agree with CPS&rsquo; policy or not.</p><p>As for Nelson, he thinks a catch-all position is doomed to fail.</p><p>&ldquo;You put too much plumbing in the works, you&rsquo;re gonna get clogs,&rdquo; he says.</p><p><em>Katie O&rsquo;Brien is a WBEZ producer and reporter. <a href="http://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">Foll</a><a href="https://twitter.com/katieobez" target="_blank">ow her @katieobez</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 17:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/could-truant-officers-return-chicago-public-schools-111101 Why so few white kids land in CPS — and why it matters http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-so-few-white-kids-land-cps-%E2%80%94-and-why-it-matters-111094 <p><p>Legal segregation may be over in Chicago, but <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/race-out-loud/segregated-education-k-12-100456" target="_blank">racial isolation is well documented</a> in Chicago Public Schools.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS can <a href="http://www.cps.edu/Pages/MagnetSchoolsConsentDecree.aspx" target="_blank">no longer use race</a> as an admittance factor and more and more students are <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/more-chicago-kids-say-no-their-neighborhood-grammar-school-110604" target="_blank">eschewing their neighborhood schools</a> for other options. Education watchers argue there&rsquo;s a two-tier system in the district, and that <a href="http://www.wbez.org/eight-forty-eight/2012-04-25/chicagos-middle-class-not-interested-hidden-gem-high-schools-98519" target="_blank">attracting middle-class families</a> is a Sisyphean task.</p><p>Our segregated school system compelled the following Curious City question from a woman who wanted to remain anonymous:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>What percentage of white Chicago school age children attend public school?</em></p><p>Well, the short answer is 51 percent... according to the Census.</p><p>So roughly half of all white children who <em>could </em>go to CPS do, while the other half gets their education somewhere else. By comparison, the number of African-American school-age children who attend CPS is higher than 80 percent.&nbsp;</p><p>Part of this can be explained by a huge gap in the total number of eligible students based on race. More on that later, but first, let&rsquo;s take a closer look at how white parents decide where to send their kids to school.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Where should our kids go to school?</span></p><p>Of course, choosing where to enroll your child in school is an intense and private family decision. Some parents want their children to get a religious education, others want better resources, and sometimes where to go to school is simply a matter of logistics.</p><p>Alice DuBose lives in Andersonville and says she never had a problem with the neighborhood public school. But she did have a problem with its location relative to her job.</p><p>When her children were in elementary school, DuBose worked at the University of Chicago. She enrolled her three children in the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools on campus.</p><p>&ldquo;I could drop the kids off in the morning and go on to work and it was really great when I was working here because then I could just go over and see my daughters, participate in classroom activities to it was absolutely fantastic in that way,&quot; DuBose said.&nbsp;&quot;It was more convenient. If we had gone to a neighborhood school, I could&rsquo;ve never participated in classroom activities.&quot;</p><p>It also didn&rsquo;t hurt that Laboratory is a well-regarded private school with lots of resources. Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s children go there.</p><p>&ldquo;Lab&rsquo;s terrific,&rdquo; DuBose continued. &ldquo;Great teaching, smaller classrooms. All the things that we all want for our children.&rdquo;</p><p>DuBose&rsquo;s daughters attended there until 8th grade and then went on to attend Whitney Young &ndash; a CPS selective enrollment school. Now DuBose hopes her son follows in their footsteps.</p><p>The reality is many middle-class parents, including those not initially in CPS, jockey to get their children in selective public high schools like Whitney Young.</p><p><span style="font-size:22px;">&lsquo;Support Neighborhood Public Schools&rsquo;</span></p><p>Not far from Lab in Hyde Park, is a white family who was committed to CPS from the very beginning.</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/joy%20clendenning%20michael%20scott%20hyde%20park.jpg" title="Joy Clendenning, left, and Michael Scott, right, live in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. All four of their children have enrolled or graduated from a Chicago public school. (WBEZ/Natalie Moore)" /></div><p>Joy Clendenning and Michael Scott live in Hyde Park. They didn&rsquo;t choose the neighborhood because of the schools. Scott grew up there and has strong family ties and Clendenning loves the quirky intellectualism of the area. The couple say they believe in public education and always knew their children would attend CPS. A sign in their window says &lsquo;Support Neighborhood Public Schools.&rsquo;</p><p>All four of their children attended Ray Elementary through sixth grade. The oldest went to Kenwood Academy&rsquo;s 7th and 8th grade academic center and stayed for high school. He&rsquo;s now a freshman at Occidental College. The second oldest is a sophomore at Whitney Young and started in its academic center. Their twins are currently in 8th grade at Kenwood. &nbsp;</p><p>Ray is a neighborhood school that also accepts students outside its attendance boundary through a lottery. 20 percent of its students are white and 55 percent black. Kenwood is the neighborhood high school and is 86 percent black. Their son was one of only a couple of white students in his graduating class.</p><p>&ldquo;Kenwood was a very good place for Sam and we never thought &#39;this was too black,&#39;&rdquo; Scott said.</p><p>Clendenning says they&#39;re concerned about how many schools and neighborhoods are segregated.</p><p>&quot;And we definitely think it&rsquo;s a problem that people in our neighborhood don&rsquo;t give the public schools a serious try,&quot; she added.</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/yearbookphoto1.png" title="Sam Clendenning was one of only a handful of white students in his graduating class at Kenwood Academy. (Photo courtesy of Joy Clendenning) " /></div><p>Our Curious City question asker &ndash; who again wants to remain anonymous &ndash; raised a similar point in a follow-up email:</p><blockquote><p><em>I asked this question because I&#39;ve noticed in my small sampling of visiting public schools, other than a few of the magnet schools, it seems that we have a segregated school system along race lines.</em></p></blockquote><p><span style="font-size:22px;">Few school-age white children in the city</span></p><p>We know Chicago is almost equal parts black, Latino and white, but that&rsquo;s not the case when it comes to the city&rsquo;s youth. So while roughly a third of Chicago&rsquo;s total population is white, most of those numbers skew older. That means there aren&rsquo;t that many white school-age children to begin with.</p><p>Of the some 400,000 students enrolled in CPS K-12, 180,274 are Hispanic, 163,595 are black and just 33,659 are white. Even if all 65,259 eligible white students in the city went to CPS, they&rsquo;d still be far outnumbered by students who are black and brown.</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/school%20age%20eligibility1.png" title="Data measures K-12 enrollment. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago Public Schools " /></div><p>Why does any of this matter?</p><p>&ldquo;Honestly, when you look at the data, it&rsquo;s very disturbing,&rdquo; Elaine Allensworth told WBEZ. Allensworth is the director of the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Because I do think we think of ourselves as a multi-ethnic city, a city of racial diversity. But then when you look at the numbers and you see how many schools are one-race schools and how segregated schools are based on race, I don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s where we want to be as a society,&quot; she said.</p><p>Segregation is made worse by the low number of white students overall.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a lot of neighborhoods in the city that are 90 percent or more African American or less than 10 percent African American. In fact, the vast majority of the city has that degree of racial segregation,&rdquo; Allensworth said.</p><p>In other words, if we don&rsquo;t live together, we don&rsquo;t tend to learn together.</p><p><a href="http://ec2-23-22-21-132.compute-1.amazonaws.com/chicagoschools" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SchoolsPromo1_0_0.jpg" style="float: left;" title="Click to launch 2010 map. " /></a><span style="font-size:22px;">Segregated neighborhoods, segregated schools</span></p><p>Take Mt. Greenwood, for example, on the Southwest Side. 82 percent of the student body is white &ndash;&nbsp;the highest percentage in all of CPS. And that makes sense. Mt. Greenwood, the neighborhood, is a majority white community.</p><p>The same holds true for many majority black communities.</p><p>As a result, the schools that serve the neighborhoods are also highly segregated based on race,&rdquo; Allensworth continued. &ldquo;So we have many many schools in the district that are close to 100 percent African American.&rdquo;</p><p><a href="http://www.google.com/url?q=http%3A%2F%2Finteractive.wbez.org%2Fschools%2Fthe-big-sort.html&amp;sa=D&amp;sntz=1&amp;usg=AFQjCNEk2nK5oAwUsugvrZs7E0f7b8ZPzQ" target="_blank">Those poor-performing schools are typically in poor, black communities</a>&nbsp;that are suffering from substantial unemployment and lack of resources.</p><p>&ldquo;When we look at which schools are struggling the most, they are in the absolutely poorest neighborhoods in the city. &nbsp;We&rsquo;re talking about economic segregation,&rdquo; Allensworth said.&ldquo;There are other schools in affluent African-American communities that do not face the same kind of problems.&rdquo;</p><p>Segregated schools have always been an issue in Chicago, but it <em>looked </em>different back in the day.</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1964%20to%202013%20draft3.png" title="Sources: Chicago Public Schools Racial Ethnic Surveys and Stats and Facts" /></div></div><p>In the 1960s, CPS&rsquo;s student body was roughly 50 percent white and 50 percent black. Over time white students in the district steadily disappeared. Many neighborhoods transitioned from white to black. Depopulation also played a role.</p><p><span style="text-align: center;">In 1975, whites made up about 25 percent of the student body. By 2013 only 9 percent of CPS students were white.</span></p><p>WBEZ asked CPS officials to weigh in on these numbers. They failed to address the segregation issue and emailed some boilerplate language about &ldquo;serving a diverse population.&rdquo;</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CPS 2013 pie chart3.png" style="height: 361px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Source: Chicago Public Schools Race/Ethnic Report School Year 2013-2014" /><span style="font-size:22px;">Where are the white students in CPS?</span></p><p>Again, we know half of white school-age children in Chicago attend CPS. But the question of where they go in CPS is also something that piqued the curiosity of our question asker.</p><p>She wondered if they are disproportionately attending magnet and other selective enrollment schools.</p><p>The answer appears to be, yes.</p><p>Overall, 9 percent of the CPS student population is white. But it&rsquo;s more than double that at magnet, gifted and classical elementary schools. And in the eight selective enrollment high schools &ndash; like Whitney Young &ndash; nearly a quarter of students are white.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a very small number of students though because those schools don&rsquo;t serve a large number of students,&rdquo; according to Elaine Allensworth. &ldquo;We really haven&rsquo;t seen that much of a shift in terms of attracting more white students [overall].&rdquo;</p><p>Although our question asker focused on white students, there&rsquo;s another racial shift worth mentioning.</p><p>Beyond black and white, the real story of CPS today may be that it&rsquo;s becoming more Latino.&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/nmoore-0" rel="author" target="_blank">Natalie Moore</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s South Side Bureau reporter. Follow Natalie on <a href="https://plus.google.com//104033432051539426343" rel="me" target="_blank">Google+</a>,&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/natalieymoore" target="_blank">Twitter</a>.</em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the requirements for attending Ray Elementary. It is a neighborhood school that accepts students outside its attendance boundaries through a lottery, not testing.</em></p></p> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 15:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/why-so-few-white-kids-land-cps-%E2%80%94-and-why-it-matters-111094 3,000 fewer students enroll in Chicago Public Schools http://www.wbez.org/news/3000-fewer-students-enroll-chicago-public-schools-110869 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/student-enrollment-130923-LL.png" alt="" /><p><p>For the first time since at least 1970, Chicago Public Schools will serve fewer than 400,000 students.</p><p>District spokesman Bill McCaffrey confirmed that there are at least 3,000 fewer students in the public school system. The decline keeps Chicago just ahead of Miami-Dade County Public Schools, which <a href="http://www.dadeschools.net/StudentEnroll/Calendars/enroll_stats_aor.asp" target="_blank">enrolls roughly 380,000 students</a>, including pre-K students, vocational students and those in charter schools.&nbsp;</p><p>CPS took its official head count on Monday, the 20th day of school. The past two years, the district has counted on the 10th day as well, in order to adjust school budgets to account for the difference between enrollment projections and how many students actually show up. For the second year in a row, schools that didn&rsquo;t meet their enrollment targets were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-will-get-money-no-show-students-again-110861">held harmless</a> and got to keep the money budgeted to them over the summer.</p><p>Enrollment in CPS had been steadily declining for the last decade, but remained relatively flat from 2008 to 2012. In the last two years, since CPS closed 50 district-run schools, the system lost about 6,000 students.</p><p>At the same time the district&rsquo;s been losing students, CPS has opened more than 140 new schools, most of them privately run charter schools. Officials did close schools at the same time, but the openings outpaced the closings.&nbsp;</p><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Enrollment over time in Chicago Public Schools</strong></span></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: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }</style> <table class="tableizer-table"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>School Year</th><th># of students in CPS charter or contract schools</th><th># of students in traditional CPS schools</th><th>Total CPS enrollment</th></tr><tr><td>1999-2000</td><td>5,535</td><td>426,215</td><td>431,750</td></tr><tr><td>2000-2001</td><td>6,733</td><td>428,737</td><td>435,470</td></tr><tr><td>2001-2002</td><td>6,084</td><td>431,534</td><td>437,618</td></tr><tr><td>2002-2003</td><td>8,844</td><td>429,745</td><td>438,589</td></tr><tr><td>2003-2004</td><td>10,493</td><td>423,926</td><td>434,419</td></tr><tr><td>2004-2005</td><td>12,274</td><td>414,538</td><td>426,812</td></tr><tr><td>2005-2006</td><td>15,416</td><td>405,509</td><td>420,925</td></tr><tr><td>2006-2007</td><td>19,043</td><td>394,651</td><td>413,694</td></tr><tr><td>2007-2008</td><td>23,733</td><td>384,868</td><td>408,601</td></tr><tr><td>2008-2009</td><td>32,016</td><td>376,028</td><td>408,044</td></tr><tr><td>2009-2010</td><td>36,699</td><td>372,580</td><td>409,279</td></tr><tr><td>2010-2011</td><td>42,801</td><td>359,880</td><td>402,681</td></tr><tr><td>2011-2012</td><td>48,389</td><td>355,762</td><td>404,151</td></tr><tr><td>2012-2013</td><td>52,926</td><td>350,535</td><td>403,461</td></tr><tr><td>2013-2014</td><td>57,169</td><td>343,376</td><td>400,545</td></tr><tr><td>2014-2015 (projected)</td><td>60,982</td><td>339,463</td><td>400,445</td></tr><tr><td>2014-2015 (10th day)</td><td>n/a</td><td>309,182*</td><td>397,000**</td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>*Does not include Pre-K, charter and contract schools or alternative schools.</em></p><p><em>**Preliminary estimate based on confirmed decline of at least 3,000 students.</em></p><p>Wendy Katten, executive director of the city-wide parent group Raise Your Hand, said the decline is really sad, but not that surprising.</p><p>&ldquo;We hear a lot from parents about the instability of the policies of the district,&rdquo; Katten said &ldquo;The constant school actions, the opening and closing of schools, and the budget cuts. I think a lot of parents are looking for more stability in their children&rsquo;s schooling.&rdquo;</p><p>Michael Casserly, the executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, said enrollment in urban districts can take a hit when there&rsquo;s a lot of turmoil. In CPS&rsquo;s case, that included the first teachers&rsquo; strike in 25 years and the mass closure of 50 public schools.</p><p>&ldquo;But in situations like that you&rsquo;ll often find that enrollment bounces back,&rdquo; Casserly told WBEZ. He said the council recently surveyed public school parents in urban districts and found that more than 80 percent are satisfied with the schools.</p><p>Casserly also noted that declines are directly related to population declines. Indeed, Chicago has lost school-aged children in the last few decades. But the percentage of those children being educated by CPS has increased.</p><p><span style="font-size:20px;"><strong>Census Figures vs. CPS &nbsp;Enrollment</strong></span></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: #104E8B; color: #FFF; font-weight: bold; }</style> <table class="tableizer-table"><tbody><tr class="tableizer-firstrow"><th>&nbsp;</th><th>1970</th><th>1980</th><th>1990</th><th>2000</th><th>2010</th></tr><tr><td>Total CPS enrollment (includes Pre-K)</td><td>577,679</td><td>477,339</td><td>408,442</td><td>431,750</td><td>409,279</td></tr><tr><td># of schools in CPS</td><td>&ldquo;more than 550&rdquo;</td><td>n/a</td><td>560</td><td>597</td><td>674</td></tr><tr><td>U.S. Census Bureau population totals for City of Chicago, Ages 5-19</td><td>904,731</td><td>731,103</td><td>592,616</td><td>625,776</td><td>513,476</td></tr><tr><td>U.S. Census Bureau population totals for City of Chicago, Ages 0-19</td><td>1,187,832</td><td>963,125</td><td>809,484</td><td>844,298</td><td>699,363</td></tr><tr><td>Percent of Chicago&#39;s school-aged (5-19) kids in Chicago Public Schools</td><td>63.90%</td><td>65.30%</td><td>68.90%</td><td>69.00%</td><td>79.70%</td></tr><tr><td>Percent of Chicago&#39;s 0-19 kids in Chicago Public Schools</td><td>48.60%</td><td>49.60%</td><td>50.50%</td><td>51.10%</td><td>58.50%</td></tr></tbody></table><p><em>Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Chicago Public Schools, Illinois State Board of Education, Chicago Tribune (for the 1970 number of CPS students).</em></p><p>In the district&rsquo;s 10-year Master Facilities Plan, CPS commissioned Educational Demographics and Planning, Inc. to calculate enrollment projections for the next ten years. The plan estimates a 1 percent increase in the number of school-aged children in Chicago.</p><p>CPS&rsquo;s McCaffrey said until the preliminary 20th day enrollment numbers are vetted, the district is unable to speculate why the schools lost children. More detailed numbers will be out in the coming days and that will help CPS understand what areas of the city are losing the most kids and what grade levels see the biggest drops.</p><p>Andrew Broy, executive director of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, said he expects an increase in the number of children in charter schools. CPS opened four new charter schools this year and is adding grades at a number of existing campuses.</p><p>Broy did admit that some charter schools are struggling to fill open seats.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re seeing more places, on the West Side and parts of the South Side, where charter school&nbsp; enrollment numbers haven&rsquo;t kept up with the campuses being added,&rdquo; Broy said Monday, noting that one-third of all charter schools currently have room for more students.</p><p>But Broy said charters are also the reason many families have chosen to stay in the city.</p><p>&ldquo;I would argue that if we did not have charter schools over the past 10 years we would see a much higher out-migration pattern in Chicago,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>CPS needs to confront the fact that its enrollment is declining, Broy said, but he also said the district needs to continue adding high-quality options for parents.</p><p>Katten, with the parent group Raise Your Hand, said CPS officials should stop opening new schools and focus on ones they have.</p><p>&ldquo;There should probably be a moratorium on opening new schools of any kind,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Parents want a commitment, whether they&rsquo;re in charter schools or district schools, that those existing schools are getting attention.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Linda Lutton contributed to this story.&nbsp;</em></p><p>B<em>ecky Vevea is a producer and reporter for WBEZ. Follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</p></p> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/3000-fewer-students-enroll-chicago-public-schools-110869 Refugee youth services threatened http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Refugee kids (1).JPG" alt="" /><p><p>As families prepare for a new school year, some of the most vulnerable kids and parents may have to go it alone. Refugee assistance programs in Illinois are set to lose a federal grant that helps K-12 students transition to life in the U.S., and that supports critical resources for teachers and refugee parents.</p><p>&ldquo;This program will pretty much shut down as of August 14 of 2014,&rdquo; said Melineh Kano, Executive Director of RefugeeONE, a refugee resettlement agency in Chicago. The organizations youth program provides after-school tutoring and social gatherings for roughly 250 refugee children every weekday during the school year, as well as weekend, in-home tutoring for refugee children who often come to the U.S. with little to no English skill, and often below grade level.</p><p>Additionally, the program&rsquo;s case workers are critical to enrolling children in schools when families first arrive, as many refugee parents are unable to fill out the paperwork themselves, and rarely understand what type of documentation they are required to bring to register their children.</p><p>&ldquo;Many of the parents that we are serving haven&rsquo;t really had the opportunity to deal with any formal school systems,&rdquo; explained Kano. &ldquo;So they depend on us to help them and orient them.&rdquo;</p><p>But this year, Kano and those who work with other refugee assistance programs in Illinois, are fretting over whether they&rsquo;ll have money to continue supporting kids and their families through the school year. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement largely funds refugee services, and has recently warned assistance organizations that money is getting tight &mdash; because it also is responsible for the care and shelter of unaccompanied children who are caught illegally migrating to the U.S. The number of children detained since June of 2013 has surged, prompting the ORR to divert money that was earmarked for refugees to deal with the situation.</p><p>Since <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/culture/feds-set-divert-refugee-funds-deal-unaccompanied-minors-110594">WBEZ last reported on this</a>, ORR has announced that it will restore funding to some core services. However, discretionary grants that pay for K-12 support, senior services and preventative health programs remain in jeopardy. In Illinois, youth services received $711,729 last fiscal year.</p><p>Kano said ORR money makes up about 80 percent of the budget for RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program. If that money is not renewed, she said she&rsquo;ll be left with less than one full-time employee to handle K-12 services. She said that means newly-arrived refugee families wouldn&rsquo;t receive the basic education that her organization promotes.</p><p>&ldquo;Something as simple as you have to dress your kids properly for school and you have to feed them breakfast before they go to school,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;because otherwise the teacher is going to notice that your child is not well taken care of, and they might call the Department of Child and Family Services for neglect.&rdquo;</p><p>Kano said extreme examples like that are rare, but they could happen more often without the support and intervention of RefugeeONE&rsquo;s case workers. More common are everyday household issues that refugee parents run into, often because they don&rsquo;t know how to support their kids in a new environment.<br /><br />&ldquo;I had a problem with my son,&rdquo; said Amal Khalid, a refugee who arrived from Sudan with her three children last year. &ldquo;My son (didn&rsquo;t) listen to me, and he (didn&rsquo;t) do his homework, and everything. Just he want to sit and watch TV and playing.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said a staff member at RefugeeONE helped by making a schedule for her 8-year old son.</p><p>&ldquo;She said you give him this routine for everything,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;When he (wakes) up, (goes) to school and he (comes) back, eat, and like one hour for writing, reading. I can&rsquo;t do that by myself.&rdquo;</p><p>Khalid said her son&rsquo;s back on track now.</p><p>RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program also provides a critical, one-stop shop for many teachers who need help reaching students&rsquo; families.</p><p>&ldquo;If something arises throughout the year, that&rsquo;s my first contact, again mostly because of the language barrier,&rdquo; said Benjamin Meier, a math teacher at Roosevelt High school. The school has kids from more than 40 language backgrounds, including Arabic, Nepali, Amharic, Tigrinya, Karen, Zomi, Swahili, Dzongkha, and more.</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE not only helps him communicate with parents, but also teaches parents how to get involved in their children&rsquo;s education.</p><p>&ldquo;A lot of the parents traditionally just defer to whatever the school says,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;We prefer more of a give-and-take.&rdquo;</p><p>Meier said RefugeeONE&rsquo;s youth program has been effective because it brings in families&rsquo; case workers to craft holistic approaches to children&rsquo;s success.</p><p>Kano said RefugeeONE will dip into its general funds to keep services going through September. But if federal funds aren&rsquo;t released by then, the organization is planning to discontinue its youth support in October.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 11:25:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/refugee-youth-services-threatened-110656 Morning Shift: CPS test scores could determine students' education quality http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-07-18/morning-shift-cps-test-scores-could-determine <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/A&amp;M-Commerce.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We take a closer look at the demolition of the Sheraton Hotel in Gary, and how its destruction impacts the community. And, how CPS test scores divide students between the worst and best high schools. And the musical sounds of duo Tall Heights.</p><div class="storify"><iframe src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-62/embed?header=false&border=false" width="100%" height=750 frameborder=no allowtransparency=true></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-62.js?header=false&border=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-62" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: CPS test scores could determine students' education quality" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:07:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-07-18/morning-shift-cps-test-scores-could-determine CPS tries composting pilot program http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-tries-composting-pilot-program-110277 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/compost.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Still not sure why you should compost your food waste? Just ask a second grader at Blaine Elementary School in Lakeview.</p><p>&ldquo;Because the other food that you throw away that you think you can&rsquo;t compost, has to go to a landfill and that&rsquo;s not good,&rdquo; says 2nd grader Chloe. &ldquo;It makes all these gases that are really bad.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;After we compost this, we take it to this big composting station (and) it will go into this special microwave and then it will turn into this rich soil so we can put it in some places in the environment,&rdquo; adds her classmate Harrison.</p><p>These second graders are pretty much right--except about the microwave part. They learned this as part of an 8-week pilot program that&rsquo;s got Blaine students collecting their lunch scraps every Friday this spring and sending them off to a commercial composter.</p><p>Partners in the program include the Chicago Community Trust, Loyola University, Seven Generations Ahead and Blaine parents. The final partner is CPS&rsquo;s office of sustainability.</p><p>This was surprising, since less than a month ago -- in response to a Freedom of Information Act request -- the district told WBEZ that it neither &ldquo;performs waste audits, nor knows of any schools that do.&rdquo;</p><p>But today, the district acknowledges that there have actually been many such assessments in the district.</p><p>Blaine did theirs before starting the pilot and, according to parent Adam Brent, found huge potential for diverting trash from the landfill. .</p><p>&ldquo;We came up with about an 88 percent diversion of total waste stream that would not go to the landfill &nbsp;if we separated out the food waste and the liquids,&rdquo; Brent explained.</p><p>These numbers match up closely with those from audits across the city that show that roughly half of all milk is discarded while 25 to 30 percent of all food on the tray. One recent Harvard study indicates that 60 to 75 percent of all vegetables served in schools also end up in the trash.</p><p>CPS says it&rsquo;s aware of the problem and encouraging schools to come up with creative solutions. Among these are dozens of on-site composting programs that have sprouted up all over the past decade.</p><p>Jen Nelson has been working on the issue for five years as Seven Generations&rsquo; Zero Waste Program Manager. She calls on-site composting program a good first step, but notes it can only really tackle fruits and vegetables.</p><p>&ldquo;But when you can look at opportunities for commercial composting you can all of the sudden get to the meat and dairy and bones and much larger volume of that food waste,&rdquo; Nelson said.</p><p>For instance, the day we visited Blaine, compost bins were full of half-eaten pizza that would&rsquo;ve otherwise ended up in the landfill. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, the 45 pounds of scraps that Blaine collects each week represent a drop in the bucket. The project&rsquo;s primary goal is to figure out how to expand commercial school composting in Illinois, a state where it&rsquo;s still much cheaper to send scraps to the landfill.</p><p>But if Nelson has her way, that won&rsquo;t be the case for long. She serves on the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition aimed at making composting as attractive in Illinois as it is in states like California. And she says that getting groups like CPS on board, could be key.</p><p>&ldquo;I spoke to a gentleman who owns a compost facility out of state and his comment to me was &lsquo;wow, if Chicago Public Schools were doing commercial composting I would site a facility near Chicago as quickly as I could because it would be worth it. I could make money from that&rsquo;.&rdquo;</p><p>If and when all of the pieces fall into place, Nelson estimates that the district could divert more than 13,000 tons of its CPS cafeteria waste from the landfill each year. &nbsp;</p><p>But the physical matter of waste reduction is just part of the story. This spring, Nelson trained dozens of teachers in a new &ldquo;zero waste&rdquo; curriculum (in alignment with Common Core) that will roll out to CPS classrooms in the fall.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been having a lot of fun training teachers and giving them really cool hands-on activities like making a model landfill and model compost in a two liter bottle,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;The students can build it and observe the differences between the two systems and see why things can biodegrade in one and not in the other. It&rsquo;s an exciting opportunity to help teachers really bring it into the classroom.&rdquo;</p><p>Finally, Nelson says an even broader goal is to plant the seeds for a new healthy crop of what she calls &ldquo;zero waste ambassadors.&rdquo;</p><p>And from the words of the precocious second graders at Blaine, it sounds like this crop is well on its way to taking root.</p><p><em>Monica Eng is a WBEZ producer and co-host of the Chewing The Fat podcast. Follow her at</em><a href="https://twitter.com/monicaeng">&nbsp;<em>@monicaeng</em></a>&nbsp;<em>or write to her at&nbsp;<a href="mailto:meng@wbez.org">meng@wbez.org</a></em></p></p> Wed, 04 Jun 2014 10:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-tries-composting-pilot-program-110277 Critics blast CPS immigration test question as offensive, inaccurate http://www.wbez.org/news/critics-blast-cps-immigration-test-question-offensive-inaccurate-110232 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Screen Shot 2014-05-26 at 12.22.12 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the immigration test question was restored to an online &ldquo;performance task&rdquo; database. WBEZ regrets the error.&nbsp;</em></p><p><o:p></o:p><em>UPDATE: This article was updated on 5/27/14 at 5:50 p.m. with new information from Chicago Public Schools.</em></p><p><o:p></o:p></p><p>A test question for Chicago Public Schools seventh graders is being called &ldquo;offensive,&rdquo; &ldquo;<a href="http://cps299.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/chicagos-racist-test-questions/" target="_blank">racist</a>,&rdquo; and factually inaccurate by groups as disparate as the Illinois GOP and the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month the district &nbsp;<a href="https://soundcloud.com/afternoonshiftwbez/chicago-public-schools-test-question-on-immigration-causes-controversy" target="_blank">yanked the controversial question</a>&mdash;part of a new battery of tests meant to determine the effectiveness of teachers&mdash;with schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett issuing an apology for it. But WBEZ has learned that the district&nbsp;did not prohibit teachers from continuing to give the test. It &ldquo;recommended&rdquo; an alternative test, but allowed the immigration question to be administered with an &ldquo;addendum&rdquo; read aloud by the teacher.</p><p><o:p></o:p></p><p dir="ltr">The question asks pupils to read two commentaries&mdash;both opposed to undocumented immigrants becoming U.S. citizens&mdash;and evaluate the text and the authors&rsquo; biographies to determine which is &ldquo;the most authoritative and relevant to support your argument OPPOSING a pathway to citizenship.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s best to keep America for Americans and those who know how to speak English properly,&rdquo; says the first text. &ldquo;Save America for those of us who know how to behave in law abiding ways.&rdquo; The article says undocumented immigrants &ldquo;should go back to where they came from,&rdquo; and the author says he &ldquo;dream(s) of a time when we ban all new immigrants to America both legal and illegal.&rdquo; &nbsp;The author is pictured as a black man named Arie Payo, identified as a former aide to &ldquo;President Bush&rsquo;s Immigration Taskforce&rdquo; and a contributor to the &quot;Conservative Journal.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">But it turns out that Payo, his opinions, his credentials and even the &ldquo;Conservative Journal&rdquo; are all made up; so is the second text, in which small business owner &ldquo;Stella Luna&rdquo;&mdash; coincidentally the title of a children&rsquo;s book&mdash;is identified as the author of &ldquo;The Dream Act is a Nightmare.&rdquo; She worries that giving citizenship to immigrants &ldquo;will increase the number of poor people in town.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Eighty-five percent of CPS students are low-income. &nbsp;Many are immigrants or children of immigrants.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Shame on CPS, shame on whoever wrote this test question. From beginning to end I think it&rsquo;s egregious,&rdquo; said Sylvia Puente, director of Chicago&rsquo;s Latino Policy Forum, which works on both immigration and education issues. Puente said working on the 45-minute test question could be emotionally stressful for children living in situations the authors berate.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The language in these is really, really offensive and disconcerting and really reinforces negative stereotypes about immigrants,&rdquo; Puente said. &ldquo;As a seventh-grade child, I would say, &lsquo;What are they saying about me? What does this say about who I am?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The controversial immigration test question was first made public on social media. CPS officials removed it from the testing lineup after a predominantly Latino school on the Southwest Side refused to give the exam earlier this month. &nbsp;The &ldquo;addendum&rdquo; the district issued to the &nbsp;immigration question instructs teachers to remind students they were tested on two pro-immigration viewpoints at the beginning of the school year and says they will now encounter two viewpoints opposing immigration.</p><p>&ldquo;That addendum was sent to teachers because a number of the tests had been printed and distributed and CPS did not want students taking the exam without the broader context,&rdquo; said CPS spokesman Joel Hood. &ldquo;We have no reports of any additional students actually taking it.&rdquo;</p><p><o:p></o:p></p><p>The district said just 32 students from two different schools were given the immigration question before it was temporarily pulled. The alternative test is about climate change.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Latino Policy Forum&#39;s Puente questioned why the district is using made-up opinion pieces to teach kids which sources are &ldquo;authoritative.&rdquo; She pointed out factual errors even in the set-up to the question, which states that &ldquo;in January 2013, president Obama and Congress unveiled plans for immigration reform that included a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">That never happened.</p><p dir="ltr">And Puente is not the only one to find inaccuracies in the question. The fact that the comments were presented as those of a high-level Republican aide irked Illinois GOP leaders.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Ironically, it probably would have taken less time to just research and cite a real Republican viewpoint than it must have taken to make this nonsense up,&rdquo; said Jay Reyes, Republican state central committeeman from the heavily immigrant 4th Congressional District. Reyes said the question is &ldquo;an unfair, uninformed take on a Republican viewpoint.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The question is one of more than 160 &ldquo;<a href="http://www.cps.edu/sitecollectiondocuments/REACHStudentsPerformanceTasks.pdf" target="_blank">REACH performance tasks</a>&rdquo; that are part of the district&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.cps.edu/Pages/reachstudents.aspx" target="_blank">new teacher evaluation system</a>. The tasks, given in all district-run schools this month, are designed to show how much students have learned this school year&mdash;and by extension, how effective their teachers are. The immigration question was being used to evaluate the effectiveness of school librarians. Performance tasks like this one count for between 10 and 15 percent of a teacher&rsquo;s evaluation this year.</p><p dir="ltr">Byrd-Bennett apologized: &ldquo;Teaching children the importance of diversity, acceptance, and independent thinking are important values at CPS. We apologize for any misunderstanding and have provided librarians an alternative test to administer to students,&quot; she said in a written statement earlier this month. She said the test question &ldquo;was intended for students to evaluate the biases, credibility and point of view of sources.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The district said a beginning-of-the-year exam asked students to consider two opinions from pro-immigration advocates. CPS said no concerns were raised about that activity.</p><p dir="ltr">The district said just 32 students from two different schools were given the immigration question before it was temporarily pulled. The alternative test is about climate change.</p><p dir="ltr">Officials said they do not know exactly who wrote the test question, but CPS said, in general, REACH performance tasks have been designed by teachers, including librarians, &ldquo;in partnership with (the Chicago Teachers Union).&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Carol Caref, who works on teacher evaluation issues for the union, said CTU doesn&rsquo;t know what revisions take place to REACH questions between the time teachers help create them and the time they become official CPS &ldquo;performance tasks.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I can&rsquo;t believe that very many eyes were on this particular performance task,&rdquo; Caref said. &quot;Because I can&#39;t believe there isn&#39;t someone who would have looked at this and said, &lsquo;Whoa.&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Caref said the district has raced to get things like performance tasks in place; state law requires that student growth be a factor in teachers&rsquo; performance evaluations. But at the time the district <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-unveils-new-system-rating-teachers-97770" target="_blank">adopted</a> its new teacher evaluation system in 2012, CPS &nbsp;had no formal way to measure how much individual teachers were contributing to student learning.</p><p dir="ltr">Caref said the immigration question &ldquo;raises a lot of questions about the validity of these performance tasks&hellip;. The system is not set up to carefully do this. It&rsquo;s done in a hurried way.&rdquo; This is the second year CPS has administered performance tasks; it&#39;s unclear whether any students took the immigration exam last year.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago parent Cassie Creswell, an organizer with the anti-testing group More Than a Score, said the immigration question highlights how testing in schools is shifting education.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s pretty easy to say (the test) is racist. And to just present that to a student with no context?&quot; Creswell said the test wasn&#39;t designed by teachers to &quot;fit into a classroom discussion or as an exercise for the students where they&#39;ve had a lot of context leading up to it. That&#39;s the problem with a lot of standardized testing is that it&#39;s not really part of the curriculum,&quot; she says.</p><p>The pro- and anti-immigration test questions are posted below, along with the &quot;addendum.&quot;</p><p>Linda Lutton is the WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation">@wbezeducation</a>.</p></p> Mon, 26 May 2014 11:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/critics-blast-cps-immigration-test-question-offensive-inaccurate-110232