ERIC Number: ED484246
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2004
Building Community Power for Better Schools: An Evaluation of the Parent and Youth Education Policy Collaborative, 2001-2003
Keleher, Terry; Morita, Josina
Applied Research Center
School reform in Chicago, the third largest school district in the country, has been a major public concern for decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) suffered through financial crises, a bloated bureaucracy, and repeated teacher strikes, as academic achievement plummeted and dropout rates soared. In 1987, U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett characterized Chicago schools as "the worst in the nation" and an "educational meltdown." As the school system headed into the 21st century, some promising signs showed that some progress had been made, but many key indicators still showed serious problems. The school system's dropout rate of 43 percent was holding steady in 2001, according to a Crain's Chicago Business report. The high school graduation rate in 2002 was 68.5 percent, compared to the Illinois statewide average of 85.2 percent. Roughly half the students were unable to read at grade level. In June 2003, nearly 70 percent of the schools reported declines in reading scores. A majority of Chicago's schools--371of them--were named on the Illinois Board of Education's 2001 academic "early warning" list, an indicator of persistent systemic problems. The number had risen sharply during the previous 4 years. In September 2002, thirteen thousand CPS students had to repeat a grade, more than twice as many as the previous year and the largest total of retained students since the district initiated its policy to end social promotion in 1996. In early 2003 a Chicago Tribune analysis concluded that, "The Chicago schools are as segregated as they were 20 years ago," and that the creation of magnet schools amounted to "a miniature school district of choice, unavailable to most students, where white students get an increasingly disproportionate share of the highly sought-after seats." These key indicators paint a troubling picture of a school district that has been the subject of so much attention and reform efforts. The system has yet to come to grips with some of its fundamental problems, such as insufficient and inequitable distribution of resources, qualified teachers, classroom space, and other fundamental requirements for quality education. [Document was produced by a collaborative that includes Blocks Together, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, and Northwest Neighborhood Federation.]
Descriptors: Public Schools, Educational Change, Educational Improvement, Community Action, Educational Quality, Low Income Groups, Community Organizations, Neighborhoods, Equal Education, School Community Relationship
Applied Research Center, 2125 W North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647. Tel: 773-269-4062; Web site: http://www.arc.org.
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Applied Research Center, Oakland, CA.