Defend Public Education

National Education News

Education News and updates from around the country.

Why Are We Destroying Public Education? University of California Students and Staff Prepare for System-Wide Strike to Protest Cuts  Democracy Now! on California day of action for education.


How billions in budget cuts will affect the Golden State, NY Times 1-31-10

Chicago offers a preview of what could be in store for Detroit:

The latest Detroit teacher contract allows the district  to take over any school as a “Priority Shool”.  There is little doubt that this is the distric’s way of allowing for the charter schools required in order for Michigan to be eligible for federal funding through “Race to the Top”.  For a preview of what these Priority schools might look like, turn to Chicago. In the wake of  Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Chicago schools have seen mass teacher firings, large-scale student displacement, little academic improvement (lower test scores in some cases), and escalating violence including the death od student Derrion Albert.

Renaissance 2010, the reform plan Duncan put in place in Chicago is the model for Race to the Top.  Duncan’s spokesman claims the program “dramatically improved the educational options in communities across Chicago,” despite admitting that he hasn’t actually looked at any data. The following  data  from the article “Daly school plan fails to make the grade” by Stephanie Banchero, Chicago Tribune, January 17, 2010 paints a different picture.

92 Renaissance 2010 schools enroll 34,000 children — about 8 percent of the district total.

Seven new schools will open in the fall, and the city plans to announce new school closings within the next few weeks.

The new schools mirror the district demographically, except they enroll fewer special education students and those who speak English as a second language.

about one-third of the new schools are outperforming their neighborhood counterparts; one-third are identical in performance; the rest do worse.

…in Renaissance 2010 elementary schools, an average of 66.7 percent of students passed the 2009 Illinois Standards Achievement Test, identical to the district rate.

The Ren10 high school passing rate was slightly lower on state tests than the district as a whole

Only a quarter of Renaissance 2010 schools had test scores high enough to meet the federal goals set by No Child Left Behind
Banchero also describes the devastating effects of school closings in the following excerpt:

“Even in schools with single-digit pass rates, violence-filled hallways and embarrassing absentee patterns, parents picketed the streets and filled the school board chambers, begging that their schools be left alone. But Duncan stood his ground and closed schools. The migration of teenagers across racial, cultural and gang boundaries burdened a high school system already struggling to educate students. Violence escalated.
Some point to the 2005 closing of Carver High School as the flash point for the September death of Derrion Albert, the 16-year-old Fenger High School student who was beaten, kicked and smashed with large planks of wood about a half-mile from school. District officials converted Carver into a military academy, sending teenagers to other schools, including Fenger. The two groups never got along and tempers flared inside and outside the school, culminating with the beating caught on videotape.
The academic outcomes of the displaced students wasn’t any better. A report, issued in October by the Chicago Consortium on School Research at the University of Chicago, found that students from closed schools landed, for the most part, at campuses that were just as bad and then progressed at the same predictably low levels. “

If this data was about the neighborhood schools, Mayor Daly would probably be announcing their closure. But he has recently announced plans to expand the Ren 2010 schools. Anyone who was serious about improving education would stop it now.

So, if you think this data looks good, then sit by and watch it repeated in Detroit. If not, support the Detroit Teachers in our efforts to stop the implementation of this type of destructive policy in the Detroit Public Schools.

I learned of the Tribune article on the Substance News site.  This is an excellent source for more information on the situation in Chicago.


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