Why Wasn't Fenger Helped -- Or Closed?

The comments about what's going on at Fenger have continued all week, both here on this site and elsewhere, along with calls from concerned community members. 

At heart, few dispute the severity of what's been going on at the school, and it' not hard to reconstruct the rising level of troubles at the school (see below).

This makes me wonder why hasn't anyone been working to address these problems more aggressively, or why wasn't the school closed?

The school has long been troubled -- and its troubles seem to have
increased of late (see below for some of the details).  And yet, it's
hard to see where any additional help has been provided. 

For 2005,
just 7.4 percent of the school's students
passed the PSAE, making Fenger one of the lowest performing schools in
the state. And yet, instead of being closed, Fenger is somehow on the
list of supposedly "mid-tier" neighborhood high schools that have signed on for the Gates HS transformation effort.

Fenger has always had a lot of challenges.  A search through the Catalyst archive finds points out that the Achievement Academy at the school is staffed by mostly rookies and the school has long had trouble finding certified teachers

The feeling is mutual, as more than 60 percent of neighborhood kids go elsewhere,
making Fenger one of the least popular schools in the city.  Another
article from the fall points out that Fenger's freshmen have an extremely low on-track to graduate rate -- something like 28 percent.

Things seem to be getting worse of late, however.  Almost two years
ago, the principal was fired by CPS for poor performance, along with
two other HS principals (was that Hodges?), who had been one of the lowest rated principals in the city on the infamous CTU survey of teachers.  Former Carver AP William
Johnson was installed as the replacement. That fall, WTTW aired a segment about school safety issues at the
school, where, according to one report 25 percent of students are identified as special education. 

This past fall, Fenger lost its dean of discipline, Thomas
Trotter, to Hyde Park High School in Woodlawn.  By some accounts, the school received a bunch of new kids (from Carver?).  There was a big fight and a bunch of arrests of students at the school in January.  Newspaper accounts from this winter cite a 20 percent increase in violence at the school from last year to the year before.

Filed under: Communities & CBOs

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  • I live in the Roseland neighborhood. I can tell you that although Fenger was never a great school, it has seen better days. Fenger, as well as Harlan, Julian, and many of the elementary schools in the area, have received students from schools closed for various reasons, as well as from relocations due to housing torn down to make way for mixed-income communities. There has been a considerable increase in violence at area schools, as well as in the neighborhood in general. Unfortunately, the city has just cleared out one area and shifted problems to another. There is enough blame for everyone. It's a little disheartening and very tragic.

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