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

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.

August 18, 2005
By: Ed Finkel

The biggest difference between high-spending districts and low-spending districts is teachers, mainly what they're paid but also their relative numbers.

That finding in a December 2002 study by the U.S. General Accounting Office is illustrated by a comparison of two elementary school districts in Cook County: north suburban Glencoe District 35, which spends $10,935 per pupil, and south suburban Midlothian District 143, which spends $6,584 per pupil.

August 18, 2005
By: Ed Finkel

As yet another campaign to overhaul school funding gets underway in Illinois, Catalyst contributor Ed Finkel interviewed individuals on all sides of the question to clarify the issues. We present their arguments here in debate format and invite readers to provide additional arguments or evidence.

PRO: Under the current system, school funding is extremely inequitable

August 18, 2005

The Consortium on Chicago School Research has conducted several studies on various aspects of the Chicago Public Schools program to ensure students are academically ready for the next grade. Here Catalyst Senior Editor Elizabeth Duffrin sorts the findings to answer fundamental questions.

Does retaining kids help?

Generally, no.

Retained 3rd-graders showed the same inadequate progress in reading over two years as similarly low-achieving students who, in previous years, had been promoted to the next grade.

August 18, 2005

In April, researchers who have closely tracked Chicago's practice of retaining students who have especially low test scores switched from a cautionary yellow light to a blazing red.

Their latest studies again found that holding low-achieving students back did not help them academically and increased the likelihood they would drop out. The retained students had fallen far behind their peers in the earliest years of school. By the time the school system provided extra help to these students, researchers found, the help was not enough.

August 18, 2005

During the past seven years, a dozen Chicago schools have become members of the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), earning authorization to offer the prestigious International Baccalaureate program and diploma. And preliminary results from a study at DePaul University shows students are reaping the benefits of IB's intensive program.

This summer, a 13th school, Collins High in North Lawndale, expects to join IBO as well.