Neighborhood Schools Vs. Choice?

Neighborhood Schools Vs. Choice?

WBEZ’s follow-up choice story is out — this time focusing on the decline in kids attending neighborhood magnet schools.  What do you think — is choice bad, or are neighborhood schools not worth saving? Plus more from Catalyst about truancy, news about state troopers coming to Chicago to help improve safety, school-level news (ChiArts, Canter, Englewood), and some trash talking from CTU president Karen Lewis (who has apparently blocked me).


More Chicago kids say no to their neighborhood grammar school WBEZ: In 2000, 74 percent of Chicago’s elementary kids went to their assigned neighborhood grammar school. Today, just 62 percent do—and that number is falling.

Absenteeism and truancy down, but not at welcoming schools Catalyst:  The spike in chronic truancy and absenteeism that CPS elementary schools experienced in the 2012-2013 school year was somewhat reversed last year, new preliminary data show. But welcoming schools that took in most of the children displaced by school closings on average saw a slight increase in…


ChiArts Set To Open in Former Lafayette Building, but Old Wounds Remain DNA Info: Lafayette’s name is still etched in stone on the building but ChiArts will wrap construction in August.

Alderman proposes using shuttered school on South Side Chicago Tribune: The building occupied by Canter Middle School until this summer, when it was shut down as part of massive districtwide school closings, would be taken over by the 7th and 8th graders attending Kenwood Academy

CPS Says Englewood Principal Quit, But Earle Leader Denies It DNA Info: For the second time this year, there is confusion at Earle Elementary over the principal’s departure.


State sending 40 troopers to dangerous Chicago neighborhoods Crain’s Chicago Business:  In a move that raises questions about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s police strategy, the state today agreed to deploy 40 troopers to join city police in patrolling dangerous neighborhoods — apparently at the mayor’s request.

Why Crime Is So High in Certain Chicago Neighborhoods Chicago Magazine: A study of city areas that have recently gotten better—and worse—shows how family, wealth, housing, immigration, and more factors can influence a place’s future.


Chicago teachers union pres wants no part of Campbell Brown’s ‘stank’ organization Twitchy: Good to know that the president of a teachers union has a great vocabulary for public discourse. And blocking people is a great way to demonstrate an openness to fair and honest debate, right?

Chicago Teachers Union Forms New Progressive Group The Chicago Monitor: The most problematic is the Chicago Teachers Union contract, which expires next June. After their last contract expired in 2012, teachers staged a seven-day strike that resulted in Mr. Emanuel conceding to most of the union’s demands. NATIONAL

Group behind Vergara suit joins anti-tenure challenge in New York ChalkbeatNY:The lesser-known of two lawsuits aimed at taking down New York’s teacher tenure laws got a boost on Wednesday.

Vergara Legal Team Signs On To N.Y. Lawsuit TeacherBeat: The high-powered lawyers that litigated the California suit will represent the plaintiffs in one of two suits targeting teacher tenure in New York.

Big Publishers See A Big Opportunity In Universal Pre-K BuzzFeed: When more than 50,000 children enroll in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature prekindergarten program in New York City this fall, it will signal a major victory for advocates of early childhood education. To the country’s largest education publishers, it will be a sign of something else, too: a major growth opportunity in a sphere that has, so far, been relatively small, fragmented, and underfunded.

Charter Schools Push Back Against New State Law’s Measure on Closures Texas Tribune: In their lawsuit, the schools argued that because of the limited appeals, the administrative hearings violated their right to due process under the law. They also questioned why the new law had relied on accountability ratings that had predated its enactment.

Should state sue Arne Duncan to get No Child waiver back? Seattle Times: The executive director of the association that represents Washington school superintendents says Washington state should challenge the revocation of the state’s waiver from the No Child Left Behind law in federal court.

Rich Kid, Poor Kid: For 30 Years, Baltimore Study Tracked Who Gets Ahead NPR: Take two kids, the same age, who grew up in the same city. Which one is more likely to go to jail … or college?



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  • The WBEZ story on the decline of neighborhood attendance at local elementary schools was well done and reflects the changes that were obvious. The home elementary school for where I have lived for 33 years was Trumbull, it is now closed. My own family and others like mine were in part responsible for the closing of Trumbull.

    Like most of the higher income families in that school's intake area neither of my two daughters went to Trumbull. One was placed in another CPS school due to her disability. The other went to a magnet elementary school. The truth is as a CPS teacher I knew a good deal about Trumbull. At the time when my children would have enrolled, the school was chronically over crowded with children from large Hispanic and Asian families.

    Teachers from the school advised me that Trumbull was not an option for a middle class kid because the school was simply overwhelmed with bilingual students and getting increased attention middle class kids was unrealistic. Once gentrification took hold and lower income families were forced out of rental units or sold off single family homes for more than they could have dreamed of the enrollment at Trumbull fell off the table.

    Many families with higher incomes enrolled their children in private pre-school programs and continued in these programs for primary school. Some still sought out magnet and gifted programs.

    Contrary to claims made that not having a strong neighborhood elementary school impacts property values, there was no such impact within the Trumbull intake area for single family homes. Except for the market based downturn in 2008-2011 values for single family homes increased. Families buying a home in the Trumbull intake area fully understood that the home school was likely not an option for their children.

    It was unfortunately a different story for younger condo buyers in the Trumbull intake area who ended up having families and had not calculated that when purchasing the condo or assumed they could dump it easily and move to a suburban area similar to where they may have grown up. These young families who have only five years or so equity in condos are often taking losses to get out and they can't realistically afford private schooling in the city.

    I honestly don't see a mass influx of higher income children into neighborhood elementary schools unless lower income children become the statistical minority in those schools. Many lower income families also will continue to enroll their children in charter schools even if the neighborhood school is performing as well as the charter they are likely to enroll in. One very big reason for this is these families think they are by enrolling in a charter protecting their children from the gang bangers across the street, politely sometimes called the "element."

    But the reality is the "element" are enrolling their children in charter schools too. While charters often attempt to protect their image by counseling out problematic families, they are becoming less and less able to do so as the competition for kids intensifies. We have entered the brave new world of a market based public education system.

    Rod Estvan

  • Hello Alexander,
    Not long ago you were a strong supporter for Karen and her circle.
    Now,you changed your mind a little.
    Do you remember the video from Seattle (2010)?
    You could believe you were watching a red tube or something special for special viewers.
    Now you are paying attention to her vocabulary /way of communication?
    It is what it is.The CTU members deserved what they were voting for.
    So far they lost everything what teachers gained for years.

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