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Drugs in schools

Most drug violations in CPS involve an ounce or less of marijuana. Schools are quick to call police, yet rarely have the resources to offer education, counseling or other non-punitive help to students.

Cover Stories

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.)

August 18, 2005

Three times last year, teachers at the Chinese American Service League had to administer two very similar student assessments in its blended preschool program, sending the results either to the Chicago Public Schools or the Chicago Department of Human Services.

And yet, no one can tell the League—or any early childhood program in Chicago—how well it is doing.

August 18, 2005

The curriculum at the Love Learning Center, a state-subsidized child care center in Washington Park, is standard preschool fare: learning the alphabet, identifying numbers, building gross motor skills and the like.

Now, though, teachers are paying closer attention to how well youngsters learn those skills and are ready with new activities when they falter.

August 18, 2005

During the next four years, more than half the principals in Chicago Public Schools will become eligible to retire. There is no shortage of candidates for their positions—600 asSpiring principals hold the required credentials. But there are questions about quality, district officials say. While the School Board has taken on greater authority to appoint and replace principals (see related story), it also has tacitly acknowledged that it has made bad choices.