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Illustration by Kurt Mitchell

Footnote

Timeline | Elsewhere

| In Short

Ask Catalyst | Math Class


TIMELINE

Jan. 30: Tutoring

CPS and the state will chip in $5 million to keep the district’s No Child Left

Behind tutoring program up and running till the end of the school year. The

U.S. Department of Education told CPS in December to stop using federal money

for the program, which provides tutoring at schools, by teachers, to about 42,000

students. Another 41,000 students are tutored by private providers. CPS will

pay $4 million, using funds typically spent on summer school programs. The state

will pay the other $1 million.

Feb. 1: Deseg transfers

Following a federal judge’s order that CPS offer more seats to minority students

at mostly-white schools, 190 students were expected to begin classes in their

new schools. CPS found 288 seats in 33 schools, mostly on the Northwest Side.

CPS said in the spring that mostly-white schools had no open slots. But the

U.S. Justice Department said in November that hundreds of white students were

allowed to transfer into white schools, taking seats that should have gone to

black and Latino children to improve integration.

Feb. 2: Graduation

The CPS high school graduation rate is improving, but it’s still worse than

state data show, according to a report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Only 54 percent of freshmen graduate, the report states, while the latest state

report card puts the rate at 70.7 percent. African American boys fared worst;

only 39 percent graduate by age 19, compared to half or more of Latino, white

or Asian boys. The Consortium report includes data by race, gender, community

and school.

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ELSEWHERE

Florida: Middle schools

Gov. Jeb Bush wants to require middle school students to earn credits in core

subjects before moving on to high school, according to the Jan. 11 Palm Beach

Post. Bush’s proposal was sparked by middle-schoolers’ poor performance on state

achievement tests last year, when only half of 6th- through 8th-graders scored

at grade level. Students would need three credits each in math, science, social

studies and language arts to graduate to 9th grade. Middle schools would have

to use the same standardized grading system as high schools.

California: School funding

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut $2.2 billion from education spending

next year has angered education groups, according to the Jan. 6 Los Angeles

Times. The governor wants to suspend Proposal 98, which exempts education from

across-the-board budget cuts and sets aside a specific portion of state revenue

for education. Educators say the governor is reneging on a deal not to cut K-12

spending.

Arizona: Scrap tests?

A coalition of conservative legislators, the state’s largest teachers union

and the statewide association of school boards has joined forces to scrap AIMS,

the high school exit exam, according to the Jan. 3 Arizona Republic. Students

get four chances to pass all three sections of the AIMS test (reading, writing

and math) to graduate. About 57 percent of current high school juniors failed

AIMS the first time and need to pass it to get their diploma in 2006. A leading

GOP lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would keep AIMS as a diagnostic

tool but allow students to receive their diploma even if they do not pass it.

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IN SHORT

“You want a good school? We’re giving you what you

want. Don’t change what’s working.”

Jose Barrera, principal, Columbia Explorers, at a Jan. 12

hearing where parents and students protested a CPS plan to put the high-achieving

school on a year-round schedule.

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ASK CATALYST

If you’re a local school council member, what information

about your school is considered confidential?

Cynthia Smith, Parent Representative, Murray Language Academy

LSCs oversee budgets, school improvement plans, and principal

selection. Most of this information can be shared with the public. Documents

pertaining to school policy and compliance are also generally considered public

information.

However, CPS policy says that LSC members cannot reveal information

regarding personnel, especially details such as personal opinions about a particular

teacher or principal, according to James Deanes, CPS officer for local school

council relations. Principal evaluations are strictly confidential for this

reason.

Information about a particular student or family, and phone numbers

and addresses for local school council members, are also considered confidential.

E-mail your question to

or send it to Ask Catalyst, 332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 500, Chicago,

IL 60604.

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MATH CLASS

The U.S. is near the top of the list of major industrialized nations

in its reliance on local tax revenue to fund K-12 education.

According to 2001 data from 18 nations compiled

by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United

Nations, 50% of education funding in the U.S. comes from local

sources. Only 3 countries rely more heavily on local revenue—the

United Kingdom at 72%, Denmark at 62% and

Finland at 57%. Local taxes pay approximately 25%

or less of education costs in 14 other countries where regional

and national government pick up most of the tab. In 5 countries—Australia,

Greece, Ireland, New Zealand, and Portugal—regional and national government

pay all K-12 costs.

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