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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

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.

August 18, 2005

Last fall, grassroots pressure helped bring a nationally recognized college-prep program for low-income and minority students to eight Chicago high schools. Next year, that number will more than double.

The program, called AVID, for Advancement Via Individual Determination, focuses on students who have average grades and test scores and need more skills and savvy to prepare for college.

August 18, 2005

As a freshman at Kennedy High in Garfield Ridge, Rocio Barba knew she was good at math and thought she might become a computer technician. Now she's valedictorian for the Class of 2004, heading to the University of Chicago next fall and planning to major in math. Her eventual goal is to become an engineer.

August 18, 2005

Five years ago, the Chicago Housing Authority began moving residents out of the infamous Robert Taylor Homes, a two-mile stretch of high-rise buildings saturated with crime and intense poverty.

The goal for this and other areas in the Chicago Housing Authority's Plan for Transformation: To remove concentrated public housing structures and replace them with mixed-income communities.

August 18, 2005

In March, Chicago Public School officials predicted that a third of new teachers for the coming 2004-05 school year would be hired from alternative certification programs, a figure that CPS said would be more than double the number hired from such programs in 2003-04.

Most alternative programs are aimed at career-changers, and Schools CEO Arne Duncan called such programs "extremely valuable," touting the benefits of bringing experienced professionals into the classroom where they could have a positive impact on students' lives.