Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Debunking turnaround claims of "unimaginable success"

As hundred of protesters gather outside of CPS headquarters this morning to try and prevent the handing over of 10 more schools to AUSL, a private turnaround company, a new study is released which debunks claims made by the mayor and his CPS spin squad about the supposed overwhelming success of turnarounds.

Turnaround schools have become a central piece of Arne Duncan's Race To The Top strategy imposed on states and local school districts in exchange for federal funds. While billions are currently being invested by the federal government in turnaround schools nationally, little research has been carried out about their effectiveness. CPS officials, led by former AUSL execs like School Board Pres. David Vitale and CPS CAO Tim Cawley, claim that the company provides "an opportunity for academic achievement that would otherwise be unimaginable for students.

At a press conference yesterday, Dr. Donald Moore of Designs for Change, released his major new research study comparing the impact of: elementary-level "Turnaround Schools," run by private contractors like AUSL, to those in which parents, teachers, the principal, the community and students work together to strengthen to quality of education and achievement.
A key purpose of the study is to gauge the potential of School-Based Democracy and School Turnarounds to be carried out in a way that will have wider impact on hundreds of extremely low-income low-achieving elementary schools (primarily serving African American and Latino students) — both in Chicago and in the 50 largest U.S. cities, based on this evidence.
The study found that Chicago's turnarounds have failed to meet even their own criteria of success and that their pale in comparison to a large group of neighborhood schools being run more democratically with popularly-elected Local School Councils. More than 60 elementary-level high-poverty schools that have made school-based democracy a reality, out-achieved the top Turnaround School.

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