Plummeting Poverty At O. Mayer

With a 22 percentage point decrease between 2009 and 2011, down to 46 percent, Oscar Mayer makes this national  list of the 10 schools with the fastest-falling poverty rate.  This is student demographics, not neighborhood, so it has nothing to do with neighborhood tiers.



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  • If we go back into history a little we discover that Oscar Mayer Elementary School's supposed fast gentrification is really also based in depopulation of children in the school over time. In 1999 according to the ISBE Oscar Mayer had 740 students and in 2012 it had only 596, a decline of 19.5%.

    In 1999 the school had 124 white students and in 2012 it had 272 white students which is an increase of 119%. In 1999 the school had 329 Black students and in 2012 that number declined to 145 Black students, a decline of 55.9%. Similarly in 1999 the school had 276 Hispanic students and by 2012 there were only 128 left, a decline of 53.6%.
    Effectively, the increase in white students at Mayer would appear to be somehow related to the decrease in minority students over the same period of time.

    Census data for the intake area do not show a dramatic increase in the white population from 2000 to 2010. So it is clear that the minority students did not come from the area immediately around Mayer School and the white students were always there.

    The decrease in the percentage of poor students at Mayer from 1999 to 2012 is actually far more dramatic than the 22 percentage point decrease between 2009 and 2011 discussed in the post. In 1999 the school was 76.2% low income and in 2012 the school was 37.6% low income, a 38.6 percentage point decrease.

    Now, Oscar Mayer is officially listed as being 34% underutilized based on enrollment data for the 2011-2012 school year (see Simply put higher income white families in the area of Mayer are not enrolling their children in this school sufficiently to fill it opting for private schools or are maybe they are not having enough children to fill it or maybe they are leaving the city once they have children, or possibly all of these reasons.

    Rod Estvan

  • Please report current class sizes confidentially to the Raise Your Hand Class Size Hotline 872-222-SIZE
    Data received will be aggregated and published. Thank you.

  • I think OM's Montessori program is seen as pretty desirable. I've heard about more neighborhood families choosing to send their children there, especially for ages 3-4 (free preschool). As far as I know, they don't come close to exhausting the lottery list for PreK and K (our wait list number last year was in the hundreds).

  • This change is quite breathtaking. Is the reduction in the black and Hispanic population at Mayer linked to the phasing out of busing? It does parallel other Lincoln Park Schools that appeared more integrated than the neighborhoods surrounding them actually are, thanks to busing under federal mandates. It is sad that our communities are not more is also interesting that Mayer is so underenrol

  • Something I'd love to look into/discuss is how the school handles the transition financially. As a CPS parent, I've learned that as a school brings in more families ABOVE the poverty line, the school funding goes down dramatically. Schools with high poverty get a lot of money from No Child Left Behind and other programs. It's a strange outcome for Principals who work hard to raise test scores, raise the desirability of their school....and are then rewarded by having their funds cut.

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