Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The 'culture' of CPS

Byrd-Bennett ponders the “social-cultural aspects of children coming to school.” 

CPS' new per-pupil budgeting system punishes schools for being small. It's more of the same theory of "under-utilization" that led to the closure of 48 neighborhood schools. Rahm is also pouring millions into elite, small, selective enrollment schools like Walter Payton College Prep (you remember, the school where billionaire Bruce Rauner, with help from Arne Duncan, clouted his kid's admission), to make them bigger.

Dozens of CPS schools were facing the loss of $20 million in additional funding because they did not enroll as many students as the district had projected they would. But faced with mounting parent protests and opposition from the CTU, CEO Byrd-Bennett (where has she been?) announced Monday that she will give schools a one-year reprieve before she slits their throats. It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Where do all these millions come from in a system that's supposed to be broke?
“Those schools that did not meet their enrollment projections, we’re going to hold those schools harmless. They will receive the dollars that we assigned them based on the projected enrollment numbers,” said Byrd-Bennett. Schools that surpassed their enrollment projections will get their per-pupil increase. -- WBEZ
BBB says that CPS enrollment numbers are down and her instincts are to punish the schools. But as RYH has pointed out, CPS numbers are questionable. To the degree that enrollments have shrunk, it could be due in large part to the huge decrease in the city's African-American population as thousands of black and poor residents are pushed out of public housing and out of the city altogether. I also think that many students were lost in the school-closing debacle.

WBEZ seems to agree and refers to designated “welcoming schools” that got millions of dollars in capital and technology upgrades but actually took in far fewer children from closing schools than the district had said they would.

But BBB has her own theory. She says that there are “social-cultural aspects of children coming to school” that mean some students don’t show up until well after the first day. She also said the district had a group of “lost children” who left eighth grade and have not entered high school.

While she never says what she means by "social-cultural aspects" and apparently was never asked by reporters, the racial implications are clear. And as for "lost children", they're not lost. They've been abandoned or at least, "lost" in the shuffle. It's not about their culture, but the culture of CPS.

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