A raft of past programs have failed to substantially improve the reading skills of middle grade and high school students. CPS is trying once again, as part of a federal project that aims to help teens learn how to analyze complex non-fiction.
Who goes to public schools?
Fewer black and white students, more Latinos
The most significant shifts in student demographics have been the increase in Latino students, and a corresponding drop in the share of African-American students, which recently dropped—by a fraction—to less than half the district's student population.
Overall, enrollment has barely changed since 1995. Though it peaked in 2000 at 427,000, enrollment has been declining since then—10,000 fewer students last year alone. Elementary schools have been hit hardest, says CPS chief demographer James Dispensa, who attributes falling enrollment to a drop in the city's population and a lower birthrate.
Poverty rates have remained about the same, but there are more schools where at least 90 percent of students are eligible for free and reduced price lunch. And after an 11-year run of steady increases, the percentage of students who qualify for bilingual programs has hovered between 13 percent and 16 percent since 1998 despite a growing Latino student population.
Schools >90% poverty
Who Teaches in public schools?
While more Latino teachers are in classrooms, Chicago's public school teachers remain mostly white, and more so since Daley took over the system. This is against a backdrop of declining white enrollment.
Meanwhile, the percentage of African-American teachers in the district has hit a 19-year low at just below 35 percent. The number of full-time faculty grew by 13 percent, from 22,513 in 1995 to 25,501 in 2005.
Source: Chicago Public Schools, Illinois State Report Card