Current Issue

College and careers

An overhaul of the district’s career education programs seeks to make classes more challenging and put career-track students on the path to higher ed, but many schools have lost programs, and fewer students are participating overall.

Cover Stories

September 16, 2005

SPRINGFIELD - Like Cubs fans holding out hope at the end of a heartbreaking season, advocates for school funding reform are focusing on "next year" after a once-promising spring session at the Illinois Capitol ultimately left them empty-handed.

"Next year" in the political realm is an election year, when the governor's office, two-thirds of the Illinois Senate and the entire Illinois House are up for grabs. Champions of a tax swap proposal designed to bring in more money for schools plan to use that to their advantage.

September 02, 2005

In February, the U.S. Department of Education released a report on the educational careers of traditional-age college students who enter community colleges. Author Clifford Adelman, a top researcher at the department, spoke with Catalyst Chicago about the course-taking habits of students who were likely to earn an associate's degree or transfer to a university, and offered the following advice to students.

Don't wait to enroll

"Enter directly from high school, please. You improve the chances you're going to get an associate's degree by 12 percent."

September 02, 2005

Students who must take remedial courses in college are less likely to earn a degree than their peers, national data show. But efforts to improve the way colleges teach these courses are "spotty" at best, says Matt Gandal, executive vice president of Achieve, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit group founded by governors and business leaders to raise high school standards and better prepare students for post-secondary education.

September 02, 2005

Like most Chicago Public Schools students, Gage Park High graduate Debbi Fernandez, and Bogan High graduates Gregory Thomas and Andre Alexander all wanted to attend a 4-year college. But without concrete planning to pave the way, they ended up at Richard J. Daley College on the Southwest Side. All of them said they felt unprepared for college and placed in at least one remedial course. They talked to Catalyst Chicago writer Kalari Girtley and Associate Editor Maureen Kelleher about their experiences in high school and college, and their hopes for furthering their education.

September 02, 2005
By: Ed Finkel

Skeptics wonder if the reauthorized federal law on special education will improve services in a district that faces a host of obstacles to educating children with learning disabilities.

Each year, hundreds of Chicago Public Schools students are placed in special education because of learning disabilities—often in 3rd grade and later, which experts say is too late to make a real improvement in their education.

September 01, 2005

Inflation has zapped schools' spending power of state and federal poverty funds. High schools are using discretionary dollars to hire more than twice as many security staff at more than three times the cost compared to 10 years ago.

And elementary schools earmark more than three-fourths of their poverty funds for instructional expenses, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of how schools budgeted discretionary funds this year.

High schools, which by necessity have more administrative needs, spend more than a third of their poverty funding on non-instructional expenses.

September 01, 2005

Renaissance 2010 has touched off a firestorm. Its leading edge, a Chicago Public Schools effort to transform public schools in tandem with another agency's plan to redevelop public housing, provoked a lawsuit over school closings and protests from longtime residents who fear they will be shut out. Some activists charge that the district wants to erode local school councils' authority, and union representatives decry privatization.

August 31, 2005

Research Rationale

Ten years ago, three nonprofit organizations were analyzing the Chicago Public Schools' budget from varying perspectives. Today, there is only one, the Civic Federation, whose main concern is efficiency and keeping taxes down. Meanwhile, equity of funding within school districts has grown as an issue, in part because of the new push for school accountability.

August 25, 2005
By: Ed Finkel

To help cut costs, Chicago Public Schools is looking to scale back controlled enrollment busing from overcrowded schools.

About 30 elementary schools and five high schools have a controlled enrollment policy, under which overflow students who would normally attend a severely overcrowded school are bused to other schools with space. (CPS officials expect the high schools—Morgan Park, Gage Park, Foreman, Steinmetz and Hubbard—to scrap the policy by 2006-07.)