Colleges: Should Chicago State (Finally) Be Shut Down?

On the same day that Education Secretary Arne Duncan is giving a speech in New York about the lamentable state of many teacher preparation programs, the Tribune reports that one of Chicago's main teacher training institutions, Chicago State University, has ridiculously low graduation and retention rates and may lose its accreditation.

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"Chicago State University is at risk of losing its accreditation because
of "remarkably poor" graduation and retention rates, as well as
tumultuous leadership and finances, according to the region's
accrediting agency Of the 372 students who started college in fall
2007, for example, only 55 percent returned the next year.  And the
six-year graduation rate has continued to decline. Only 12.8 percent of
first-year students in 2002 graduated by 2008." ((Poor graduation rates puts Chicago State at risk of losing accreditation)

What do you think?  Does Chicago State deserve to continue enrolling and training students?  Does it do a good job despite its challenges, or should it be demoted to a community college or shut down entirely?  This is an issue that Carol Marin has also raised recently. 


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  • Alexander this is really an interesting prompt. My personal opinion is that the current situation of CSU is a form of institutional racism. Let me explain what I mean.

    A very major part of the student body at CSU comes from virtually all black low income high schools. Many of the students who enroll are marginally qualified to enter college. CSU has never been given the tools to address the needs of these students, fundamentally many of these students need very high quality remediation.

    To carry out this level of remediation CSU would need far more funds than it has now and students with these deficits would need funding to pay for possibly one and a half years of remedial non-college level course work. How many of these students can really pay for 5 and a half years of schooling full time to get only a BA?

    If CSU just raised its standards, as many posters to the Chicago Sun Times have argued after reading Carol Marin's article of October 18, it would have even fewer students. Now is it upsetting that many CPS teachers are graduates of CSU's education program? Well not really,the truth of the matter is that these teachers graduated and most CSU students do not.

    In many respects CPS teachers who are CSU graduates are role models for many low income youth attending CPS today. Despite the odds they faced they graduated from college. So rather than closing CSU down it needs to be helped, Mr. Finney is part of the problem, other leaders of the black establishment in Chicago who are politically married to the Democratic Party and the Mayor are also part of the problem.

    Rod Estvan

  • imagine this. closing all the predominantly African American schools in cps, turning them into private schools, firing hundreds of African American teachers that work in these schools, hiring white young non-certified teachers to replace the veteran African American teachers and then finally closing one of the only predominantly African American and predominately female public teacher training universities within Chicago.

    If this was a story you were reading in a book isolated form the events on the ground you would say:

    No Way.


    Institutional Discrimination.

    Where is the federal government!

    Then you would calm down and say oh this is only a story it can not really be happening in 2009.

    John Kugler

  • They way I see it, CSU is a public university and it is clearly a failure. It either must be shut down or completely overhauled. The fact that it serves a specific demographic is irrelevant. It's supposed to be serving the people of Illinois.

    The question is, where do those students go who don't finish at CSU? I don't see the loss of CSU as being critical. If anything, many teachers will need to find another school for their cheap master's degree.

  • demographics do matter especially when there are clear patterns discrimination of resource allocation, support and generational continuity, all of which have been dismantled and attacked by the current city administration that see the African American communities as places to make money once African Americans are moved out of the way, rather than used as a resource for community revitalization.

    One easy example is the CHA restructuring and redevelopment. What is the contractor demographics including the highest CEO and lowest day laborers. I do not have the numbers but i passed the destruction of the Taylor homes and Wells homes from start to finish and did not see that many African American on those job sites. Strange when the primary residents of those projects were African Americans and the plan was to redevelop the land to help the community.

    It only helped those in power that used it as an excuse to move out the poor to create profits for themselves.

    In another clear example of racism were the UIC redevelopments that a percentage of units were to go to the original community members but went instead to politically connected family members who not only did not occupy the units to better the area but flipped the properties for personal profit, thereby profiting off of public property.

    Were there any prosecutions for this theft of public land and money? No.

    Why? It is institutional racism that seeks to profit off of minority populations that are not able to protect and advocate for themselves.

    John Kugler

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  • Such a Deal

    Both my brother and I paid less than $ 200 a year in tuition to attend
    Chicago State, which was named Chicago Teachers College. We have earned
    millions with the education we received there .Since both of us have passed every
    test anyone in power ever threw at us ,including my brothers CPA our
    education was a great deal.
    We should all take a hard look at the price of education today.
    People who have spent thousands for a BFA ,or a BA in art history are just
    jealous of the deal we got. The diploma from CTC proudly hangs right next
    To the certificates from the state on both our walls.

  • I was able to earn my Bachelor's Degree from CSU while raising my family and working full time. It took me ten years, but I did it. I went on to earn two Masters' Degrees from other universities and incurred considerable debt doing so. I am now faced with spending one fourth of my salary on student loans, whereas I graduated from CSU more employable than I was before earning a bachelor's degree and debt free. For those who want a quality education, CSU can make it happen, but it takes individual work ethic, determination, and drive to get it done. CSU is an Open Admissions school,offers reasonable tuition rates, and geographic convenience (easily accessible by public and personal transportation) to Chicago's working class, latte-free neighborhoods, it attracts a broad demographic and naturally, many of those individuals will find themselves unable to complete their studies in a traditional amount of time or at all. Life happens. This fact doesn't mean that the university is a failure. Far from it. I am a National Board Certified Teacher who has experienced a lot of success thanks to the exceptional knowledge I gained from my professors at CSU. In fact, I could put my knowledge of literature up against that of any Top Tier University grad and come out ahead--way ahead (Thanks Bolden, Howard, Duggar, West and others!!!) Closing CSU will limit access to education for young families, single mothers, and single-income families who can ill afford to go into debt for a bachelor's degree like the $20K+ per year you are likely to pay at DePaul, UIC, Loyola, or others. Closing this university is the worst type of classism and would be a significant step backwards in the effort to build an educated citizenry. I chose CSU because I could afford it; the long-term benefits to my life have been priceless.

  • the plan is to destroy CSU and then take it away. it is cheap, convenient and the campus is beautiful. If you look at everything that is about to be gentrified it is always better than the areas that are all white because minority groups have an inert drive to help each other to succeed(because they are oppressed) whereas the anglo-drive is to divide and conquer especially when they see something they do not have.

    This is pure behavior economics with a little psychohistory mixed in. In fact straight historical analysis of migration and displacement patterns of groups and classes of people might be an easier read to understand what is going on now in Chicago.

    Algren, Nelson. chicago: city on the make. Sausalito: Contact Editions, 1961.

    Park, Robert, Ernest Burgess, and Roderick McKenzie. The City. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1925.

    Runyan, William McKinley. Psychology And Historical Interpretation (New York: Oxford University press, 1988.

    Roosevelt, Theodore.

  • Sad situation at Chicago State. When you have leadership connected with the Chicago Democratic Leadership, you can expect folks with no leadership, real expertise, and no vision running a circus! The bilingual department of the school of education was very good. With incompetent folks running CSU by not having their financial house in order screwed the school of education and prevented them from getting any new grants. Under that kind of leadership, some of the best professors have left and rightly so. Sad!

  • The leadership at Chicago State is its greatest threat. The university has a stellar faculty and a beautiful campus.
    I don't believe for a minute that raising the admissions standards will reduce enrollment or student success. What will happen is that better students who are more likely to succeed will enroll.
    Politicians have poisoned the well there. The governor allowed a board of trustees with 50% vacancies, and 75% from the same political party to select a president who is a close personal friend of the chairman of the board, Leon Finney--who wasn't even the next in line to become chairman.
    As Carol Marin's article points out, Finney then decided that he had the authority to run the school, instead of staying in his lane as a policy maker. He started firing administrators, which violates all kinds of laws. NO board of trustees is allowed to be involved in operations, whether it's a non-profit organization, a corporation, a condo association or a university.
    If this University fails, it will be on Finney's watch--and deservedly so.

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