With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Another Chicago "miracle" -- Orr High School

One thing about Arne Duncan, like his Chicago predecessor Paul Vallas, he has no trouble getting favorable ink, especially now that he is working off of Obama's credibility in the community.

Here, NYT's Sam Dillon offers more puff on Daley/Duncan's Chicago turnaround miracle at Orr High School where they've disbanded the small schools they themselves created. Instead they've handed over the entire high school to the management company, AUSL

Despite parent, student and community protests, lots of teachers were fired and replaced with other CPS teachers, many of them new with no urban experience. This time around there's a new "no excuses" principal who replaces the previous "no excuses" principals appointed by the same board.

Reform and turnaround programs are nothing new to Orr. They go back some 20 years with the same "reformers" claiming the same miracle results. I'm remembering how the old Continental Bank (now Bank of America) and the big foundations bankrolled the Orr Network back in the '90s, with tens of millions of dollars and a partnership with DePaul University in order to put a new face on Orr and attract the middle class to this rough-and-tumble West Humboldt Park neighborhood. But it's all been top-down and done TO teachers, not with them. I guess we'll just have to take Dillon's word for the success of the latest miracle.

Also read: "Before and after: Orr's turnaround through students' eyes" by Amy Weiss.


"But it’s not clear that the results of Duncan’s Chicago reforms justify taking his ideas to a national platform."

What's the bottom line on Daley/Duncan's Renaissance 2010 reform? Nothing to write home about writes Mathew Blake at Understanding Government:

The NAEP records show that CPS student performance was very poor in 2002 and did not improve by 2007. On the NAEP reading test, scored from 0-500, Chicago 8th graders got an average score of 249 in 2002. In 2007, they got an average score of 250. The nationwide average in 2007, by contrast, was 261. In 2002, 15 percent of all Chicago 8th graders were judged “proficient” at reading. In 2007, that number had increased by all of two percent — 17 percent of all Chicago 8th graders were judged proficient. Nationally, for 2007, 29 percent of all 8th graders were deemed proficient at reading.

h/t Julie at PURE

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