Some of the nation's best education accountability reporting is being done in Chicago, according to nonprofit watchdog newsroom ProPublica in its roundup of This Year’s Best Reporting on Education. As you can see below, the roundup includes This American Life, the Chicago Tribune, and WBEZ. Others might argue that the Reader and the Sun Times (the editorial page especially) deserve equal notice. What do you think? From ProPublica:
• How do you begin to talk about learning at schools when your students are just trying to get there and back alive? A gripping series – in two parts – by This American Life took listeners inside Harper High School on the South Side of Chicago and inside the world of students whose daily existence is shadowed by the specter of gun violence and fears of getting jumped.
• Chicago taxpayers will be paying for decades for facilities improvements on schools that now sit shuttered, the Chicago Tribune reported. That’s because officials in Chicago Public Schools ignored demographic projections of declining enrollment and borrowed billions for construction anyway – while contributing nothing to teacher pension funds for a decade. Over the long term, a growing percentage of general state aid – historically used to fund operations -- has been going to pay off bond debt.
• Charter-school advocates like to cite their long waiting-list numbers to argue that more such schools are needed. Local news outlets like Chicago’s WBEZ and the Boston Globe have done good work pointing out that those numbers aren’t actually reliable – and tend to overstate demand.