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.
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In the News: 47% of charters underenrolled, data show
In an independent investigation of Chicago Public Schools data from the 2013-14 school year compiled by the parent group Raise Your Hand has discovered that 47 percent of CPS charter and contract schools had student populations below the CPS threshold for ideal enrollment. This equates to 50 schools with nearly 11,000 seats sitting empty. (Press release)The analysis also reveals a decline in overall CPS enrollment of 3,000 students this academic year. Despite this drop, the Chicago Board of Education could approve as many as 31 new charters over the next two years, the group said in a press release.
CHARTER OVERDRIVE: Writes Ben Jarovsky of the Chicago Reader: "As a city, we've never had a debate on this wider issue: Should we be building new schools of any kind when we can't afford to adequately fund the ones we have?"
IN THE STATE
SPECIAL ED RULE CHANGE SCRATCHED: Eliminating special education class size rules will no longer be a part of the Illinois State Board of Education’s discussion when it meets Thursday and Friday in Springfield. The current rules set class size limits and student-to-teacher ratios in special education programs. Groups opposed to eliminating the rules, including the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the Illinois Education Association and the Chicago Teachers Union, say that without the restrictions, students with special needs will suffer because they won’t get the more individualized attention they need to do well. (State Journal-Register)
IN THE NATION
GROWING PAINS: The highly touted Rocketship Education charter network's new "flexible classroom" model failed to reverse steady test-score declines, raising questions about Rocketship's aggressive expansion plans. (Education Week)
PRESCHOOL SEATS GO UNFILLED: Across Virginia, about $23 million designated for preschool was left on the table because localities — citing limited resources, lack of classroom space and politics — did not contribute the required matching funds to take full advantage of the program. As a result, more than 6,000 disadvantaged children missed the opportunity to go to school before kindergarten. (The Washington Post)