Whispers over at the Consortium on Chicago School Research are all about attempts by members of the Civic Committee and the Renaissance School Fund to suppress a Consortium report before it hit the street this past April.
The report, "Renaissance Schools Fund-Supported Schools: Early Outcomes, Challenges, and Opportunities" offered evidence that the new, privately-managed charter schools created under the Mayor's Renaissance 2010 initiative, were producing no better results than their traditional, neighborhood school counterparts.
At least two sources tell me that Civic Committee President R. Eden Martin along with unnamed members of the RSF, "tried to suppress or slow the release of the data" to avoid embarrassment to the Mayor and Arne Duncan. Duncan has been touting the Chicago model and pressuring other states and school districts to follow it or risk losing stimulus dollars.
When Consortium researchers went ahead, despite pressure and published the report, the usual panic, butt-covering and scapegoating set in, leading to the publication last week of the Civic Committee's own report which painted Chicago reform as an "abysmal" failure. The report made no mention of the Renaissance 2010 plan, authored by that very same Civic Committee under mayoral control. Ren10 became the blueprint for the failed reform. Duncan, who had faithfully carried out the plan before going to Washington, now becomes the fall guy.
The Consortium followed up on the report with another devastating study in June, "The Schools Teachers Leave: Teacher Mobility in Chicago Public Schools," revealing CPS's chronically high rates of teacher turnover, especially in schools serving low-income, African-American children.
Kudos to the Consortium.