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Chicago School Closures: Little Academic Impact, Report Finds


Some parents and activists in Chicago have long been arguing that the city's Renaissance 2010 initiative—which closes low-performing schools and attempts to replace them with better ones—is most disruptive academically to the students who are most vulnerable to setbacks. A report issued today by the Consortium on Chicago School Research examines that question. It finds that most students relocated by Ren-10 enrolled in schools that weren't much better than the ones they left. (My colleague Dakarai Aarons has a story on the report on our website.)

Chicago's school closures have been closely watched for quite some time, but are of particular interest now, since the beating death of Derrion Albert sparked yet another round of opposition to Ren-10 (see blog posts here and here). The death of Mr. Albert—and dozens of other Chicago teenagers—has fueled angry claims that the school closures have escalated violence by heightening tensions among students as they are shuffled to new schools.

There's plenty of anger in Chicago over this. Activists scheduled a demonstration for today at the Chicago Board of Education to demand an end to the school closures, which they say heighten tensions among students as they are shuffled to new schools.

Amid all the accusations and arguments from adults, there's the pain of the young people whose classmates are dying at an alarming rate. If you haven't seen the YouTube video that features two young Chicago men performing their amazing, moving poetry about their fallen peers, you should check it out. It's called "Lost Count, A Love Story," and you can find it here on YouTube. (Hat tip to Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice for calling attention to the video. I wish it had gotten as many views as the horrifying video of Mr. Albert's beating got when it appeared on YouTube.)


I'm surprised to see the way the Consortium study is being spun. 60 schools closed, mainly in under-served African-American community. Thousands of lives disrupted. An explosion of violence in their wake. 94% of kids end up at some of the worst schools in the city.

Your headline reads: "Little Academic Impact, Report Finds." WBEZ headline reads: "CPS School Closings Neither Help Nor Hurt Learning." Sun-Times editorial says, "Academically, it's been a wash."

This is what happens when journalists accept the current proposition that "academics" = a single test score.

No,the arbitrary closing of dozens of schools in Chicago wasn't a "wash." Yes, the closings did have an affect on academics and learning.

The largely African-American, urban community is NOT under-served.

Being "under-served" suggests that the community members contribute MORE in time, energy, and resources toward education than their children receive.

The city spends FAR MORE per pupil, and devotes far more in labor equity, than is spent by the government of ANY school district in Appalachia. The people of inner-cities and rural areas experience similar economic barriers and commonly share in low testing and graduation results......
yet....in Appalachia, one will not witness masses of screamers and shouters, destroying their own environment while simultaneously demanding that government do MORE for their "community" .....without FIRST DOING more, themselves.

Shouting louder and using violence are very much akin to the behaviors of spoiled children who have accomplished nothing, but must draw attention to themselves. It is learned behavior and they are keenly aware of the political benefits associated with its practice. Such actions are typically a deflection mechanism, designed to achieve material gain ALONG WITH absolution from personal responsibility for the HIGHLY American ideal of self-reliance.

The people in rural Appalachia experience greater limitations to resource accessibilty than do urban dwellers. However, they certainly demonstrate a higher degree of gratitude when assistance is offered/provided. They will humbly choose to WORK HARDER, not YELL LOUDER and HIT MORE, when they want BETTER for their communities.

It would appear they are still guided by the ideals reflected in their simple messages such as "Stop looking a gift horse in the mouth," and "Help comes to those who help themselves, first."

I wonder what percentage of Chicago's "superficially outraged" African-American parents with violent offspring exercised their "rights" by participating in its most recent school board and/or (other) government elections.

People who choose the self-serve lane at the grocery market ARE FAR LESS LIKELY to complain about the service.

I'm stunned and amazed that Ms Gewertz would publish the disturbingly racist post (above) by Mr. Sponsler without a response. The racist stereotypes projected by Sponsler about communities of color are vile and disgusting. That these communities are "underserved" goes without saying. To deny the privileges accrued to mainly white suburban school districts when compared to inner-city school districts, is racist on its face. Of course poor Appalachian communities are also under-served. To pit one against the other is the oldest trip in the book. Again, racist on its face. You do a disservice by printing this without a response. You have the power of the pen. Use it for good purposes.It shouldn't always be left to us.

"Racism" is a word used by people who do not realize, or choose to ignore, that the World (the scientific community, historians, geographers, humanists) dropped the idea that one can be identified as belonging to a singular "race" near the end of the 19th century, and that a culture should be defined, in part, by attributing observable behaviors to people in a given space.

I believe using terminology such as "communities of color" is racist... it singles out people who, by no control of their own, are descendants of particular cultural groups and implies that people "of color" do not identify themselves as belonging to other "communities"

I believe that, in this country, singling out a group of citizens as anything other than as "Americans" is racist.... I long for the days when there are no more "Hyphenated-Americans" (I simply used the phrase African-American from reference and as it is found in the original post)

I believe writing that somehow urban communities have been denied privileges, and have been underserved, when most of them are led and served in government by their own community members, is racist....

Furthermore, it is "racist" to use the word privilege to imply that based solely on a life in the suburbs, that somehow hard work was not the vehicle for the attainment of certain material possessions, very few of which are required for there to exist the opportunity of educational advancement.

I believe it is wrong to suggest that those who have less, for that very reason, deserve more. And I find it equally wrong to call my words racist, without addressing the more disgusting and vile actions of a "community" destroying its very own with such violence.

I believe it would have been racist if someone expressed that it is not possible, even if you believe a group is disadvantaged, for its members to overcome their situations and to improve their achievement (which I believe IS quite possible)

I believe it very well may be "racist" if one is making a blanket value judgment about that which one has not lived. I have lived as a poor person in Appalachia, raised by parents and grandparents with little, or no, formal education. I have lived as a poor adult in an American city. And, as an educator, I have devoted my life's work to helping the children in both economically challenged places.

And finally, racist views, which can be heard daily in all of America's various "communities," are not subject to censorship because of one person's, or a million people's, belief that what they heard or read is offensive.


"Race" may not exist as a scientific term, but your comments certainly disprove the notion that racism is dead. Your "I believe" this..."I believe" that rant belies the very crux of your own arguments. Yes, racism is still very much alive in our society, despite the election of President Obama. The fact that you and many other Americans refuse to "believe" it only makes things worse.

I NEVER indicated that racism is a myth. Racism is alive and well, within ALL cultural groups, unfortunately. Racism is as old as the beginnings of human interaction. It is, by far, not the only impetus for discrimination in this country. It just receives the most attention.

So, it will not go away anytime soon. What is WRONG with racism is when it is USED as a tool for violence, or as an excuse for irresponsible personal conduct. Maybe it should be referred to, as such.

Regardless of what label we give it, I do not see it as a logical reason for self-destruction. It is also no longer a valid argument that government support is being withheld, or is being unequally distributed, due to perceptions of culture, particularly when the contrary is the case.

Last night's election results in Virginia are proof that perception of race makes a difference. The (and this makes me cringe to call it as such.... but I am not sure others will understand unless I use the following common term) African-American voter participation dropped by more than 4% from 2008, for an election in which the outcome has FAR GREATER direct impact upon the daily lives of citizens. There were no candidates "of color."

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • Rory T. Sponsler: Jared, I NEVER indicated that racism is a myth. Racism read more
  • Jared: Rory, "Race" may not exist as a scientific term, but read more
  • Rory T. Sponsler: "Racism" is a word used by people who do not read more
  • Bernard: I'm stunned and amazed that Ms Gewertz would publish the read more
  • Rory T. Sponsler: The largely African-American, urban community is NOT under-served. Being "under-served" read more




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