It's teacher hunting season!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Is 38% Chicago Murder Spike a Duncan Legacy? UPDATE

Activists have long charged that the murder increase in recent years was the direct result of the closing of schools and sending students across gang boundaries because of school closures.

See latest front page article by Monica Davey in the New York Times about the murder rate increase. "Rate of Killings Rises 38 Percent in Chicago in 2012"

Big Education APE reminds us to go back two years in the Chicago Tribune:

[Bill] Gates also invested $90 million in one of the largest implementations of the turnaround strategy—Chicago’s Renaissance 2010. Ren10 gave Chicago public schools CEO Arne Duncan a national name and ticket to Washington; he took along the reform strategy. Shortly after he arrived, studies showing weak results for Ren10 began circulating, but the Chicago Tribune still caused a stir on January 17, 2010, with an article entitled “Daley School Plan Fails to Make Grade.”

Six years after Mayor Richard Daley launched a bold initiative to close down and remake failing schools, Renaissance 2010 has done little to improve the educational performance of the city's school system, according to a Tribune analysis of 2009 state test data.

…The moribund test scores follow other less than enthusiastic findings about Renaissance 2010—that displaced students ended up mostly in other low performing schools and that mass closings led to youth violence as rival gang members ended up in the same classrooms. Together, they suggest the initiative hasn't lived up to its promise by this, its target year.

Read also the blog contribution by Yana Kunichoff at, from March 2, 2012: "Are overlaps between school closings and youth violence a coincidence?"
Just blocks from Carter's Barbershop in North Lawndale where The Chicago Reporter sets up camp for its weekly radio show are two schools on the turnaround and closure list voted on by the Chicago Board of Education last month.

Thomas Herzl Elementary School, at 3711 W. Douglas Blvd., is slated for turnaround next year, and Julia Lathrop Elementary School, at 1440 S. Christiana Ave., will be closed.

These schools aren't too different from most of the 17 schools on Chicago Public School's list of low-performing schools slated for an overhaul: They're heavily low-income, and most students are of one race. At Herzl, for example, 97.9 percent of the students come from households reporting income below the poverty line, and 98.3 percent are black.

But there's another unifying, and telling, factor to all the schools on the closure and turnaround list: They are situated in majority black and brown neighborhoods in the city. Check out this map by Vocalo's Sarah Lu to see the divide. [ed.: click to zoom in.]

Meanwhile, these same neighborhoods see record amounts of youth violence. Twenty-two communities on Chicago's South, Southwest and West sides--where the school turnarounds and closures are based--saw nearly 80 percent of the city's youth homicides, according to a recent Reporter investigation.

Coincidence? Research and reporting on the subject says probably not. Since 2005, thousands of students have been sent to schools outside their neighborhoods following school closures under Renaissance 2010, the education reform program launched by former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
[ed. note: Renaissance 2010 was launched by Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer, Arne Duncan.] Teachers with the community; community with the teachers EdNotes has posted a Chicago teacher's statement, "Why I Voted to Authorize the Chicago Teachers' Strike," from Alternet, June 22, 2012. The teachers care for the students. But there is a tremendous disconnect between the policy makers and what is right for teachers carrying out their work for students. Likewise, EdNotes has posted a link on parent support for teachers, should things reach a strike: "'Parents will walk picket lines...'," a link to Mike Klonsky's blog, June 27, 2012. Parents recognize the same kind of disconnect: the appointed School Board and superintendent have no understanding of what parents would like for their children.

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