Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Blue Ribbon Schools--"beating the odds""

But where's the charter schools?

Somebody help me here.

I'm reading over the list of Blue Ribbon Schools announced yesterday by Sec. Duncan. They're the 314 schools--264 public and 50 private--"that are either academically superior, or have made dramatic gains in student achievement and helped close gaps in achievement among minority and disadvantaged students." Among the main consideration--"those that beat the odds."

Ignoring the private schools for a moment, I immediately peruse the list of public high schools and find few surprises. In Illinois for example, there's three award winners--wealthy suburban schools, Deerfield and New Trier, and Chicago's elite selective enrollment high school, Whitney Young (Michelle Obama's alma mater). All three are large--Deerfield has 1700 kids (6 African American students); New Trier in upscale Winnetka , has over 3000 (22 African American students); and Young with 2,100 (fewer than 1% of applicants are admitted).

Two questions immediately come up. First, how are these schools "beating the odds?" Haven't they already beaten the odds by who they enroll? Second, where are the charter schools, especially those run by private management companies? Were they not included in the competition? Did I just miss some, hidden somewhere deep down on the high school list? Were there none good enough to make the grade? If not, why are they being pushed as the national model by Duncan? With all their hype and added Walton and Venture Fund money, can't they compete with our best public schools that have union teachers?



  1. Why did you ignore Arcadia School in Olympia Fields? Research and you will find that this is a school that "beat the odds". It is located in the south suburbs and is primarily minority.

  2. Anon,
    Of course I wouldn't dream of ignoring Arcadia or any one of the hundreds of other excellent schools on the Blue Ribbon list. In fact, I just finished reading the full-page feature on Arcadia in today's Tribune

    I was merely questioning why they would give the awards to schools like the three large, elite area high school mentioned above. Can you explain it?

    Award-winning Arcadia also is an example of an excellent neighborhood school (not a charter) that has managed to be successful without privatizing its management or banning the teachers union. Congratulations!


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