Near South Side: In but not of the Gap

Forte’s case is typical, says Douglas Principal Beverly Blackwood, who has seen the school’s enrollment decline from more than 2,000 some 30 years ago to 700 today. Only 163 come from the school’s attendance area. “Within the Gap community itself, there are not that many students,” Blackwood says, and many of them “attend magnet schools and private schools.”

Near South Side: Recruiting to stay alive

With the Chicago Housing Authority tearing down buildings, many of Drake’s students have been forced to leave the school’s attendance area. This fall, the few remaining families in the Prairie Courts development, which borders Drake on two sides, moved out. Amid the turmoil, Drake’s rising test scores took a dip.

Near South Side: New gem of a ‘projects’ school

Although Dearborn Park, a middle-income development, is not in the Academy’s attendance area, Gloria Williams, head of the tenant advisory council in the Harold Ickes Homes, casts a wary eye at parents there. “Those Dearborn Park folks, we know that they’d want their kids to come, with all that the school has to offer,” says Williams.

Child welfare RX has side effects for schools

McGhee is a ward of the state, and the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is his official guardian, school records show. Caseworkers are supposed to check on wards at their schools every six months, but McGhee said he didn’t see a caseworker that entire year.

State program strives to engage wards in school

Since it was piloted three years ago, STRIVE has improved the academic outlook for foster children in the 10 schools where it operates, according to school and DCFS officials. DCFS pays two social service agencies a total of $1.5 million a year to place counselors and social workers at those schools.

Grandparent guardians on the rise

It’s a growing trend nationally and locally. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the number of children living in grandparent-headed households is up 30 percent since 1990. In Chicago, the number of children living with relatives who are not parents rose 23 percent, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Comings & Goings

Last year, the board adopted a computerized statistical model created by University of Chicago economist Steven Levitt to detect cheating. (Catalyst, September 2001) About 150 classrooms were retested last spring when the model flagged them for possible cheating.

CPS spent $6,500 per teacher, sees little improvement in return

At $190 million to $200 million, Chicago’s professional development tab represents about 5 percent of the district’s operating budget, a relatively high percentage compared to other districts that have been studied. The total does not include contract-based salary increases that teachers earn for advanced degrees and college credits or the costs of freeing teachers for common planning time.

Foster children

The Chicago Public Schools is forming a focus group on highly mobile children, including foster children, to make policy recommendations for next year’s budget. Figuring out a way to collect data on foster children will be a priority.

Urban districts search for solutions

In New York City, the public schools and the child welfare system have been working since 1997 to match their records on foster children. “It’s still not perfected,” says Eric Nicklas, who oversees data management for the city’s child welfare agency.

Falling behind

The 32 elementary and high schools where foster kids are most often
found rank far behind the city’s remaining schools in reading and
math scores. Students at the school are more likely to be black, poor
and to change schools often.

Williams school diaspora