| In Short
Jan. 30: Tutoring
CPS and the state will chip in $5 million to keep the district’s No Child Left
Behind tutoring program up and running till the end of the school year. The
U.S. Department of Education told CPS in December to stop using federal money
for the program, which provides tutoring at schools, by teachers, to about 42,000
students. Another 41,000 students are tutored by private providers. CPS will
pay $4 million, using funds typically spent on summer school programs. The state
will pay the other $1 million.
Feb. 1: Deseg transfers
Following a federal judge’s order that CPS offer more seats to minority students
at mostly-white schools, 190 students were expected to begin classes in their
new schools. CPS found 288 seats in 33 schools, mostly on the Northwest Side.
CPS said in the spring that mostly-white schools had no open slots. But the
U.S. Justice Department said in November that hundreds of white students were
allowed to transfer into white schools, taking seats that should have gone to
black and Latino children to improve integration.
Feb. 2: Graduation
The CPS high school graduation rate is improving, but it’s still worse than
state data show, according to a report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Only 54 percent of freshmen graduate, the report states, while the latest state
report card puts the rate at 70.7 percent. African American boys fared worst;
only 39 percent graduate by age 19, compared to half or more of Latino, white
or Asian boys. The Consortium report includes data by race, gender, community
Florida: Middle schools
Gov. Jeb Bush wants to require middle school students to earn credits in core
subjects before moving on to high school, according to the Jan. 11 Palm Beach
Post. Bush’s proposal was sparked by middle-schoolers’ poor performance on state
achievement tests last year, when only half of 6th- through 8th-graders scored
at grade level. Students would need three credits each in math, science, social
studies and language arts to graduate to 9th grade. Middle schools would have
to use the same standardized grading system as high schools.
California: School funding
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposal to cut $2.2 billion from education spending
next year has angered education groups, according to the Jan. 6 Los Angeles
Times. The governor wants to suspend Proposal 98, which exempts education from
across-the-board budget cuts and sets aside a specific portion of state revenue
for education. Educators say the governor is reneging on a deal not to cut K-12
Arizona: Scrap tests?
A coalition of conservative legislators, the state’s largest teachers union
and the statewide association of school boards has joined forces to scrap AIMS,
the high school exit exam, according to the Jan. 3 Arizona Republic. Students
get four chances to pass all three sections of the AIMS test (reading, writing
and math) to graduate. About 57 percent of current high school juniors failed
AIMS the first time and need to pass it to get their diploma in 2006. A leading
GOP lawmaker plans to introduce a bill that would keep AIMS as a diagnostic
tool but allow students to receive their diploma even if they do not pass it.
“You want a good school? We’re giving you what you
want. Don’t change what’s working.”
Jose Barrera, principal, Columbia Explorers, at a Jan. 12
hearing where parents and students protested a CPS plan to put the high-achieving
school on a year-round schedule.
If you’re a local school council member, what information
about your school is considered confidential?
Cynthia Smith, Parent Representative, Murray Language Academy
LSCs oversee budgets, school improvement plans, and principal
selection. Most of this information can be shared with the public. Documents
pertaining to school policy and compliance are also generally considered public
However, CPS policy says that LSC members cannot reveal information
regarding personnel, especially details such as personal opinions about a particular
teacher or principal, according to James Deanes, CPS officer for local school
council relations. Principal evaluations are strictly confidential for this
Information about a particular student or family, and phone numbers
and addresses for local school council members, are also considered confidential.
or send it to Ask Catalyst, 332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 500, Chicago,
The U.S. is near the top of the list of major industrialized nations
in its reliance on local tax revenue to fund K-12 education.
According to 2001 data from 18 nations compiled
by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the United
Nations, 50% of education funding in the U.S. comes from local
sources. Only 3 countries rely more heavily on local revenue—the
United Kingdom at 72%, Denmark at 62% and
Finland at 57%. Local taxes pay approximately 25%
or less of education costs in 14 other countries where regional
and national government pick up most of the tab. In 5 countries—Australia,
Greece, Ireland, New Zealand, and Portugal—regional and national government
pay all K-12 costs.