For smooth school closings, CPS has many promises to keep

As the saying goes, the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Unfortunately, that saying does not bode well for the thousands of children who will be displaced when 54 schools shut down this year. It’s also a bad omen for communities. The last thing Englewood, Austin or any of the neighborhoods—most of them poor and black—that stand to lose schools need is another boarded-up vacant building.

Losing track

CPS leaders closed only four elementary schools last year, but cannot account for 11 percent of students. Most children didn’t wind up at a top-performing school—the only way to substantially improve students’ academic trajectory. The stakes are much higher this year, with 54 schools slated to shut down.

Caught in a web

Catalyst Chicago and its sister publication, The Chicago Reporter, analyzed social and economic indicators in the areas within the attendance boundaries of the 54 schools recommended for closure. The analysis reveals that these schools faced far greater challenges than other district schools.

A sign of stability

North Lawndale is home to the most elementary charter schools in the city. Charters are drawing in more students, but neighborhood schools are also losing children because of population decline.

Creating bad schools?

Catalyst Chicago analyzed the current academic performance of neighborhood schools in areas most affected by school closings, and found that two-thirds of these schools now are at Level 3, the lowest rating possible on the CPS performance scale. Almost 90 percent are considered underutilized.