Thursday WBEZ Update

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Some more education stories from WBEZ (audio segments):

New Chicago Board of Education Leader Hopes to Avert Teachers
Strike

The new head of the Chicago Board of Education says he's hopeful the district and its main teachers union can avoid a strike next year. Chicago Public Radio's Jay Field has more.

Chicago Aldermen Question Use of TIF Money for Schools
Some Chicago alderman questioned new Board of Education President Rufus Williams Wednesday about the use of TIF dollars to build new schools.

Filed under: Media Watch

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  • The data for charter schools on the number of special education students in attendance can be seen in the ISBE's annual charter school report. You can get the 2005 report on the ISBE's web site.

    In this report you can read that of all the charter schools in the state there was only one student with autism, and one student with tramatic brain injury, four students with any type of hearing realted disabilities, and 24 students with mild or moderate cognitive disabilities, and only one student with more significant cognitive disabilities enrolled at the time this report was produced.

    Most of the students served by charter schools are in the area of LD, with under 100 students identified with emoitional disorders. The percentage of students with disabilities in charters as a whole inside Chicago is lower than for regular elementary and high schools.

    For example according to the ISBE report Chicago International had an enrollment in 03-04 of 4,302 with a disabled population that were served by at the charter of 245, or 5.7%. This is less than half of the CPS elementary school average.

    There are some schools like Nobel Street or the U of C Charters that are closer to the CPS average.

    I can not comment on whether or not the families charters are getting are more functional than those not opting out and remaining in elementary schools that are not making AYP. But the teacher did make an intersting observation that the CPS should hope is mistaken, because if she or he is correct it has rather disturbing implications.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

  • 10:23 is correct, this is also an issue for selective schools. But some selective high schools have included some self contained programs such as Payton's autism program. There is a program at Lane Tech for students with signicant cognitive disabilities and also one at Northside Prep. W. Young has a major program for deaf students. There is no question that there have been serious problems identified at some programs placed at selective schools. The ISBE I know has raised this issue with the CPS.

    There is no doubt the problem of equatable distribution of students with disabilities in the CPS exists inclusive of most, but not all charter schools, inclusive of most selective schools, inclusive of some magnet schools, but by no means all of these schools.

    The CPS and its funding practices for special education services at charters are part of the problem. Some charters themselves are part of the problem in that they do not see it as their mission to service more complex students who have disabilities. By the way believe it or not CPS's charters appear to have more students with disabilities than do charters nationally.

    Access Living as an organization neither supports or opposes charter schools conceptually. But the current data does not indicate charters schools as a whole in Chiago and nationally are an effective reform process for students with disabilities at this time.

    That our current special education sytem is in need of serious reform seems not to be in question. We need only note that the majority of high school graduates who also were identified with a disability are unemployed for up to five years after graduation. Overall 70% of all US citizens who are disabled are unemployed whether or not they graduated from high school. We believe that very few of disabled students who graduate from the CPS ever earn a four year degree.

    Rod Estvan

    Access Living of Metro Chicago

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