40 new schools underway

By 2007, CPS expects to have the schools listed below up and running; some new construction is already in the works. By 2010, CPS plans to open dozens of additional new schools, to replace those in neighborhoods where public housing is being redeveloped and to relieve overcrowding. In addition, the district will also convert another 30 high schools into small schools.

WebExtra: Uncertain funding for 100 new schools

At the moment, the math simply doesn’t add up. The Chicago Public School ‘s sweeping plan to open 100 new schools in the next six years creates a lopsided budget equation that may be difficult to balance. Private donors have raised more than half of the $50 million needed to pay for advance planning, but CPS must find another $75 million to cover startup expenses.

Freshmen bypass extracurriculars

Among 16,000 students surveyed last year, only 27 percent were involved in structured activities such as school, community or religious programs in the four hours after-school, according to the Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago.

Q&A with Sarah Howard

The board wants charters to outperform neighborhood schools. Is that fair?

It’s part of the deal—autonomy in exchange for student performance.

Mid-South: Poor residents fear they’ll be left out

A new $65 million headquarters for the Chicago Police Department on the corner of 35th Street and Michigan Avenue. Two new buildings on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), one of them, the McCormick Tribune Campus Center, straddled by a dramatic 530-foot, concrete-and-steel tube encasing the CTA Green Line El tracks at 33rd and State Street.

Notebook

A collection of facts, figures, and news briefs about school reform—both in Chicago and around the country

Teacher-led school reform gets another year of funding

While the results are not yet in, Schools CEO Arne Duncan has earmarked $2 million in next year’s budget to keep the experiment in joint responsibility going. “I really think we’re onto something,” he says. “If things are going in the right direction, then yes, [schools will] be open.”

IB gives students a leg up in college

DePaul University officials tracked 26 former IB students from CPS and found those students performing better than expected, given that the students had lower ACT scores than the average freshman, according to Brian Spittle, assistant vice-president of enrollment management. Twenty of the 26 are black or Latino.

CPS a leader in AP growth

As a freshman at Kennedy High in Garfield Ridge, Rocio Barba knew she was good at math and thought she might become a computer technician. Now she’s valedictorian for the Class of 2004, heading to the University of Chicago next fall and planning to major in math. Her eventual goal is to become an engineer.

Research summary

WHO WAS STUDIED: Nearly 16,000 9th-graders from 60 high schools in Chicago responded to a survey about what they did after school. Survey results were weighted to accurately reflect the city’s racial and ethnic makeup.

Extreme makeover: school edition

Mid-South is a composite of four poor communities that covers just over three square miles along Lake Michigan between 31st and 47th streets. It is home to some 80,000 people, 25,000 of them children under the age of 18. It is also home base to 25 public schools, few of which are filled to capacity—three are closed, four more will be this summer.

‘Encouragement sparks effort’

What were the key survey findings?

We did not find [racial] differences in student’s attitudes about how much they want to achieve, in peer support or the amount of time they report spending on homework. But there were differences. The black students went home to fewer resources [such as books and computers].

Low pass rates on AP exams raise questions about teaching

In 2003, Chicago’s pass rate was 42 percent, compared to a nationwide rate of 60 percent, the College Board reports. And pass rates in CPS showed wide racial gaps: 60 percent of exams taken by white students had scores of 3 or higher, compared to 40 percent of exams taken by Latinos and 22 percent of exams taken by African Americans.

AP no longer just for the elite

In Chicago, central office allows schools to set their own AP admissions standards. Catalyst interviews with teachers, counselors and administrators at 26 schools found that, in general, less-competitive neighborhood high schools are more likely to give lower-achieving students a shot at AP, while selective-admissions schools have higher standards.

Overhaul moves closer for 22 schools

The 22 schools (ones that may become charter) are those that have already gone four years without making what the federal No Child Left Behind Act calls “adequate yearly progress” in reading and math, putting them into what is called “corrective action.” If they don’t hit test score targets either this year or the next, “restructuring” is to take place in year six.

Leadership fund half way to $15 million goal

The new fund will help support leadership training for teachers and principals in new schools, financial rewards for school leaders who improve student achievement, a new principal preparation system for CPS and efforts to encourage teachers in troubled schools to take on National Board Certification.

Elsewhere

California has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit charging that poor children were denied adequate textbooks, trained teachers and a safe school environment, according to the Aug. 11 Los Angeles Times.

Elsewhere

Arizona—Kindergarteners in the state’s 63 lowest-performing schools showed dramatic improvements in reading readiness over the school year, thanks to new reading programs and intensive teacher training, according to the May 20 Arizona Republic.

Capital Dispatch

Despite last-minute negotiations over the Memorial Day weekend, the House and Senate remained at odds over how much to raise the basic ‘foundation level’ of per-pupil funding for schools and how to pay for it.

‘Wall of indifference’ deters LSC candidates

In March, I read a Chicago Tribune article about the shortage of local school council candidates. Thinking I might run for community representative, I called two nearby high schools to see in which attendance area I lived. At the first school, I was referred to an office worker who cut me off saying, “The election is April 22.”

Comings and Goings

CEO Arne Duncan broke ground on a new school that was designed to be friendly to the environment. Tarkington Elementary, to be built at 3330 W. 71st St., is registered with the U.S. Green Council, which so far has certified four public schools nationwide as “green.” Tarkington will enroll 1,000 students in grades K-8 and is slated to open in the fall of 2005.