"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Duncan's Chicago Failure With Corporate Charter Schools Slated to Become National Model

Just as Rod Paige's Houston Miracle became our national nightmare, so another miracle turned mirage, this time by Arne Duncan, will serve as a model to "turn around" the nation's poorest schools by turning them into corporate charter schools. The only problem for Duncan: we know this time the solution will do nothing for children before the charade is ever played out.

When you have the corporate water carriers at The Chicago Tribune going negative on your propaganda machine, you have to know that your vehicle just blew a rod before the race to the top ever got started. A prime chunk of the Sunday article:
. . . .The business community embraced the reform agenda and has ponied up $50 million to the Renaissance Schools Fund, a nonprofit created by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. The group has awarded about $30 million to 63 new schools.

Currently, 92 Renaissance 2010 schools enroll 34,000 children -- about 8 percent of the district total. Seven new schools will open in the fall, and the city plans to announce new school closings within the next few weeks.

The new schools mirror the district demographically, except they enroll fewer special education students and those who speak English as a second language.

Chicago school officials don't publicly track the performance of the Renaissance 2010 schools. But Ron Huberman, who took the helm of the city schools when Duncan left, said he has crunched the numbers and about one-third of the new schools are outperforming their neighborhood counterparts; one-third are identical in performance; the rest do worse.

A Tribune analysis shows that in Renaissance 2010 elementary schools, an average of 66.7 percent of students passed the 2009 Illinois Standards Achievement Test, identical to the district rate. The Ren10 high school passing rate was slightly lower on state tests than the district as a whole -- 20.5 percent compared with 22.8 percent. But it's identical at 17.6 percent when selective enrollment schools, where students test to get in, are removed from the equation.

Only a quarter of Renaissance 2010 schools had test scores high enough to meet the federal goals set by No Child Left Behind, the signature education policy of the George W. Bush administration. Chicago students as a whole still post some of the lowest test scores on national math and reading exams.

A series of studies released last year paints an unimpressive picture of Renaissance 2010.

One report, commissioned by the Renaissance Schools Fund, found that children in the fund-supported schools had low academic performance and posted test score gains identical to students in the nearby neighborhood schools.

"The Renaissance Schools Fund-supported schools will need to rapidly accelerate the academic performance of their students if they are to realize their own expectations," researchers wrote. . . . .
If anyone needs more evidence that the corporate solution is no solution, read on.

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