News: Summer School Heatwave

The heat dominates the news, though there's lots of other stuff going on of interest including a Tribune story about whether parents are staying in the city and choosing private schools because they want to or because they can't afford to leave:

Schools prepare for record heat wave Tribune: Chicago Public Schools officials are distributing 1,500 fans to schools throughout the system as the city tackles a record-breaking heat wave this week.

Chicago residents urged to use cooling centers Ct Post:  Cities are opening cooling centers, park districts are offering discounts on pool passes and Chicago Public Schools officials are distributing fans to summer-school classrooms that lack air conditioning. Residents are encouraged to check on neighbors.

More families sticking with city and private schools on North and Northwest sides Tribune: Whether lured by burgeoning efforts to improve urban education or locked into a home they cannot sell, the tide of middle-class city residents moving to the suburbs as their children reach kindergarten may be slowing, enrollment records and demographic data suggest.

Educator severances cost millions WBEZ:  The newspaper reviewed more than 100 superintendent contracts, financial records and severance agreements over the last ten.

State schools chief says budget cuts hurt reform Tribune: Budget cuts mean education officials in Illinois won't be able to properly implement a new education law that has won praise nationwide.

Budget Cuts Damage Ability to Implement Reforms, Illinois Chief Says EdWeek: The state's new $32.9 billion budget, which is $2 billion less than a previous one, has cut out many programs and made it difficult to implement the reforms, said state Schools Superintendent Christopher Koch.

State schools chief says budget cuts hurt reform WBEZ: Illinois' education chief says the state hasn't provided enough money to institute a new education reform law that's been praised nationwide.

Deputy Mayor to Labor: A “New Sheriff” in Town CNC:  Labor leaders have promised to come up with a plan to save the city money. Ramirez said they are still working on their proposals.

The State of America’s Children Defender:  The Children’s Defense Fund has just released a new report, The State of America’s Children® 2011, which paints a disturbing portrait of child needs across our country.



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  • Alexander linked an interesting Tribune article to the blog and as I read Tara Malone's article "More families sticking with city and private schools on North and Northwest sides," I thought something was missing - but what? At last I figured it out. The article focused on apparently middle class families on the north and near northwest side (really only as far west as Lincoln Square) who were staying in the city rather than moving to the suburbs. So had their children attending private schools and some CPS schools. Several CPS schools where these middle class parents had children attending or at least planning on attending next year were referenced by name, Burley, Waters, and Drummond Elementary School. What unique common feature do these three schools have?

    All three have experienced a statistically significant increase in white students from 2003 to 2010, and based on the numbers of low income students attending these three schools it is also apparent the families of these white children are above the poverty line which qualifies for free/reduced lunch. Amazingly the Tribune article never mentions even in passing either race or social class.

    The data for these schools are:
    Burley - 2003- 99 white students by 2010 -208 white students - growth in white students 110%
    Waters - 2003- 134 white students by 2010 -183 white students - growth in white students 36.8%
    Drummond- 2003-38 white students by 2010 -111 white students-growth in white students 192%

    Compared to the city as a whole these increases are exceptional. In 2003 CPS had 39,622 white students and in 2010 CPS had 36,818 white students representing a decline of 7%. Overall CPS lost white students but as Ms. Malone has noted indirectly in her article, not on all sides of town.

    There is no reason at all to be in the least critical of the families depicted in Ms. Malone's article, they all seem to be very descent people who want to live in a diverse community. But each of our own perspectives do not offset the social economic reality of what is ubiquitously called "gentrification." In fact when my white family moved into Uptown twenty-nine years ago we were the harbinger of a white resurgence on the block we own a home on. Since we moved to Uptown property values on our block and several nearby blocks have increased by about 800%, yes amazingly over 29 years that is the increase. Very few of the poorer families that were renters when we came are left, many minority home owners cashed in and left, and many of the nearby apartment buildings have long since been converted to condos.

    I think the Tribune article shows the pain our media goes though not to publicly discuss very obvious race and social class issues related to education in Chicago. The media, in particular white reporters suppress the discussion with great effort. Isn't it time we got beyond this?

    Rod Estvan

  • Good point rod / very helpful / can you remind us where you get your school stats, esp the historical data?

    Also readers shld remember that declining poverty means lost poverty funding for gentrifying schools ... a difficult transition to pull off

  • There's a discussion of this among people seemingly in the same demographic as the subjects highlighted in this article over at cpsobsessed blog:

  • Here's what one commenter wrote at cpsobsessed: . HSObsessed | July 19, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    I agree that the stats given in the article are misleading.

    The CPS website says that there are 239,000 CPS students enrolled in 1-8 grade, so we can guess that there are about 30,000 CPS 8th graders. Maybe about one third of the CPS 8th graders are qualified to apply (scoring at or above the 5th stanine on 7th grade ISATs), or about 10,000. I would guess that CPS gets another 2K-5K in applications from private school 8th graders as well. Thses numbers seem to be in line with the numbers I get in the next part….

    The article said that the SEHS got about 63K applications. I’m going to assume that this means that each of the maximum six preference slots that a qualified student could list was counted as an “application”. So assuming that applicants included an average of five choices, there were about 12,600 students applying to SEHS (63K/5). Then the article reports that 5,200 of the students got offers, so the acceptance rate for qualified 8th graders is not 8% as reported, but actually around 41% (5,200 acceptances/12,600 applicants). Anyone agree with that rough reasoning?

    I question the number of 5,200 offers, though. I think there are only about 3,000 SEHS freshman slots available. Maybe that meant that 5,200 offers went out before all 3,000 slots were taken? People do turn down offers in order to go to other HS programs, charters, private schools, etc.

  • In response to Alexander. All the data I used came from the ISBE website, similar data can also be gotten from the CPS website. Really it is all public information.

    Rod Estvan

  • Rod,

    So what do you think is the missing link here. Is it that these schools are offering a comparable education to a private or suburban school or the fact that white parents tend to send their children to school where other white children go?

    Truthfully, I'm biased because, as a teacher at one of the aforementioned, schools I can tell you that the majority of CPS elementary schools are NOT providing the type of curriculum that we are. I don't honestly know how we compare to schools outside CPS but I would like to think that it is comparable if not better in some ways. I do lament the loss of diversity over time, however all of our children learn and they learn a lot regardless of race or economic background so there must be something more to our success than economic standing. At least I hope so.

  • Mr Murdoch, the man in the middle of the largest British scandal in a while, owns Wireless Generation, you know the Dibels folks! Who knows what they might do with student data. An organization that bribes policemen for personal information on an ongoing basis, is beyond the pale. Dibels sucks and why should we have to pay a company run by an unsavory sort of fellow! I would not want my children's information available to that kind of organization!

  • In response to Anonymous who asked a great and very serious question. The research I have seen indicates that the fewer low income children that are in a school the more likely that school will have a curriculum that is less perscribed and far more likely be teacher driven. Schools that give teachers more control in implmenting a curriculum in my opinion seem to attract, simply put, higher quality teachers who are more innovative. I have no research to back up that last statement to be honest, but that is my impression.

    The higher the numbers of low income children the more likely the school will implement a curriculum that is highly perscribed and allows for less teacher innovation. The NCLB rules have driven this low income curriculum to where it sits today.

    In Chicago unfortunately being white is more and more often associated with not being low income. According to research done by Megan Cottrell for Extra News ( among the 10 largest cities in America, Chicago has the third highest poverty rate, with 21.6 percent of Chicagoans living under the poverty level, according to 2009 data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. She points out that; "Only Philadelphia and Dallas--with 25 and 23 percent, respectively--beat us."

    But when we take a look at poverty among African Americans, you can see that one in three of all black people in Chicago, 32.2 percent, are living in poverty. That’s number one among America’s largest cities. Only Dallas comes close, with 30.5 percent.

    In fact, Chicago’s African-American poverty rate is close to being the highest minority poverty rate in the nation. Ms. Cottrell also makes this stunning analysis of our situation in Chicago that more white people have graduate degrees than African Americans have associates degrees. She also points out that In Chicago, the percentage of Latinos who have a high school diploma is just slightly higher than the percentage of white people with a bachelors degree--56.7 percent, compared with 55.4 percent.

    There are clearly certain schools that are the exception to what research generally tells us about impact of greater numbers of low income students in a school. But the issues of race, poverty, disability, and education in Chicago are all interrelated. For the Tribune not to discuss this in the article was avoiding the obvious.

    Rod Estvan

  • Chicago's story is a tale of two cities. Wish the Trib and other media would tell it better.

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