The first local school council members are sworn in at the University of Illinois at Chicago Pavilion.

Local School Councils: ‘Catalysts for change’

October 29, 2015

Of the all the reforms that have swept through Chicago Public Schools in the past 25 years, the creation of local school councils is one of the few that persists. Although their authority has been curtailed over the years and not all new or struggling schools have them, the councils in many ways continue to deliver on the initial vision of allowing parents and community members to be catalysts for change at their schools.

Linda Lenz and Roy Larson at the first Catalyst Editorial Advisory Board meeting.

Well, since you asked …

October 29, 2015

I’m often asked — by friends, television hosts, people I’ve just met — whether Chicago’s public schools have gotten any better after decades of reform. I know they’d like a simple yes or no, but I find neither satisfying. Rather, it’s been more like yes and no, or two steps forward, one step back.

Members of Noble Street's Rowe-Clark Campus rugby team practice inside their gym in March. Noble founder Michael Milkie says students often asked him about playing on sports teams. Now he makes sure each campus has about $65,000 to spend on sports.

Noble takes up rugby

May 26, 2015

In an odd twist, rugby, the national sport of Ireland, has become one of the most popular sports among Noble Street campuses. All of the 16 campuses have boys’ teams and most have girls’ teams as well.

The Tilden Blue Devils handily won their late March game against DuSable. Coach Alberto Simental wants his players to have a good experience because baseball was important to him growing up.

Beyond basketball, a tough road for sports

May 26, 2015

CPS is known for a handful of powerhouse basketball teams. But most high schools, especially those in poor communities, offer few opportunities for teens to get involved in sports. To do so, schools must raise their own money for athletics.

Coonley Elementary School hosted a fundraiser at the DANK Haus in Lincoln Square  in April. The bidding for auction items started anywhere between $100 and $1,000 for items such as getaways for two in Acapulco Bay or a fitness trainer for a year.

The price of fundraising

May 26, 2015

For a select but growing group of schools in wealthier communities, parent fundraising has risen to new heights. In just a decade, the number of parent groups that raise more than $50,000 a year doubled to 41; 30 schools brought in more than $100,000 and eight raised more than $200,000. Altogether, these 41 schools raised roughly $7.6 million in one year.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel

City Colleges scholarship has benefits, drawbacks

February 24, 2015

Since City Colleges began taking applications for a plan widely advertised as “free college” by a campaigning Mayor Rahm Emanuel, more than 1,000 students have applied for the offer of waived tuition, books and school fees. But research shows that City Colleges are not the best post-secondary choice for high-achieving students who will benefit from the Star Scholarship.

Breyana Floyd

Easing barriers to college completion

February 24, 2015

High schools are now rated on the college enrollment and persistence of their graduates. To solve the money problems, academic difficulties and social challenges that many students face, CPS is partnering with local colleges and universities.

Black Chicago under Rahm

Black Chicago by the numbers

November 20, 2014

When Rahm Emanuel ran for mayor four years ago, African-American voters pulled him across the finish line without a run-off. He won about six out of every 10 votes cast in predominantly black wards—largely on the say-so of his former boss, President Barack Obama. But as the February mayoral election nears, Emanuel’s approval ratings among the voters who carried him to City Hall have tumbled, according to aChicago Tribune poll.