Monday, December 9, 2013

Twice the Tiers, Twice the Excellence?

Headed into the Thanksgiving weekend, CPS quietly announced additional school shuffling:

Frazier Preparatory Academy, a charter school managed by Mosaica Education, will move into Herzl Elementary's building and share space. Herzl Elementary is a non-charter, neighborhood school staffed by AUSL. Both of these schools are on the West side, and both have been deemed Level 3 schools by CPS. They are among the lowest performing schools in CPS based on the metrics CPS uses to evaluate schools. 

We wonder: 
  • Should Mosaica Education, Inc. pay CPS rent for the space they're using at Herzl? Thanks to per pupil budgeting, Herzl could probably use the extra cash.
  • Is it wise to make a neighborhood school in the midst of a turnaround readjust space and resources to accommodate new tenants? 
This move comes on the heels of the decision by CPS to build an $18 million dollar annex to Lincoln Elementary. This school is on the North side and is a selective enrollment, Level 1 school. Lincoln gets to choose who attends their school.

Tim Cawley, Chief Administrative Officer, in defending the district's choice to spend money on expanding Lincoln pointed out with no irony, " is highly disruptive to relocate people from their existing school to another school." Indeed. The many families who experienced their school closing this Fall would agree.

We also wonder:
  • Why is it OK for families and teaching staff who work on the West side to continue to experience disruption, but it's not OK for those families and teaching staffs on the North side?
  • Is a two-tier education system based on socio-economics and race being reinforced by CPS?
A few minutes of research shows that Herzl, located in North Lawndale, is made up of primarily black students and the school is almost entirely low-income. Homes sell for an average of $89,000 in this neighborhood. 

Up north at Lincoln Elementary, the students are predominantly white and less than 25% of the school is considered low-income. This neighborhood's average home price is over $300,000.

Finally, a student editorial appears in the Sun Times pointing out these inequities. Donald Rapier, a junior at selective enrollment Lindbloom Academy, notes the money thrown to selective enrollment schools , the sense of elitism, and the feeling that CPS strongly favors some schools over others. He asks, "Why can't all CPS high schools be like this [selective enrollments]?" That's a great question, and if you get an answer, please let us know.

Funding, socio-economic backgrounds of students, and race are out of the control of the teaching staff at any school. Still, the staff is made to account for such factors each day. While none of this is new or surprising, what is surprising is CPS's unwavering commitment to perpetually foster the haves and have-nots within their own district.

Teachers: what do you find to be true in your schools? We want to know! Leave a comment or send an email to:  

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