Current Issue

The race for City Hall

Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

Cover Stories

October 04, 2005

In the current state budget, Gov. Rod Blagojevich paid the final installment of a pledge to invest $90 million over three years to increase the number of children in preschool.

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.