Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Latest sudy on Chicago school closings

"We now know what success looks like"--Arne Duncan, June 2009 speech

Duncan's model "fell short" by 94%

When former Chicago schools CEO Arne Duncan ignored the protests of thousands of parents and students, and began closing neighborhood schools under the Mayor's Renaissance 2010 program, he promised that the closings would lead to improvements in student learning outcomes. Now, Sec. of Education Duncan is leveraging federal dollars to force school districts to follow Chicago's school-closing 'model'.

But the latest study out of the University of Chicago's Consortium for Chicago School Research shows that for all but 6% of the displaced students, there were no significant learning gains. The other 94% ended up in some of the city's worst schools and made no measurable gains in learning.

The Consortium researchers looked only at standardized test scores and didn't even take into account the disruption in thousands of students' and families' lives. Nor did they look at the devastating impact on the school community in terms of lost jobs, after-school programs and social services. According to Consortium researcher Marisa de la Torre,
"the study didn’t examine social or emotional effects of school closings on kids. Nor did it examine whether the closings influence school violence."
Quote of the day comes from a leading Ren10 school-closing supporter:
"The quality of the school a kid attends matters," said Robin Steans, director of Advance Illinois, a nonprofit education group. "Obviously the focus and drive to make sure these kids ended up in better placements fell short."
"Fell short"? Yes, but only by 94%.

Second best comes from CPS spokesperson Monique Bond who called the study "fair" and promises that,
"CPS will consider the report as it develops future school-closing policies."
But the coup de grace comes from Duncan himself:
"I closed about 60 schools in Chicago, some for low enrollment and some explicitly because they were failing academically. We reopened about a dozen of these schools with new leadership and staff. Some are run by the district and some are run by the Academy of Urban School Leadership, a non-profit partner. All of them use union teachers. Today, these schools are doing much better. (Duncan's speech in June to a national charter school group)

From Catalyst Notebook:

Hot on the heals of the Consortium report, community groups are planning to protest at today's Board of Education meeting over school closings and the link to youth violence. Get the agenda here.

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