District officials have been meeting with community groups to discuss two proposals: One would completely eliminate retention, the second would severely limit its use. Either change would mean a complete overhaul of a CPS policy that gained national attention nearly two decades ago.
The film projects are about issues that are personal to them, and producing the films gives students a chance to talk about the issues as they write a screenplay, shoot the film, edit it and present it to the public.
One in seven Chicagoans age 19 to 24 are dropouts and the costs to the city and state are staggering, according “High School Dropouts in Chicago and Illinois: The Growing Labor Market, Income, Civic, Social and Fiscal Costs of Dropping Out of High School,” a report Northeastern University researchers prepared for the Chicago Urban League and released today.
KIPP charter middle schools enroll a significantly higher proportion of African-American students than the local school districts they draw from, but 40 percent of the black males they enroll leave between grades 6 and 8, says a new nationwide study by researchers at Western Michigan University. “The dropout rate for African-American males is really shocking,” said Gary J. Miron, a professor of evaluation, measurement, and research at Western Michigan University, in Kalamazoo, and the lead researcher for the study. “KIPP is doing a great job of educating students who persist, but not all who come.”
Last school year, 11 percent of the entire student population—41,771 students—were classified as chronic truants. These students were absent for almost a month: 18 days out of a 170-day school year. In contrast, the average truancy rate elsewhere in Illinois has remained at a stable 2 percent for the past decade. And this fall, CPS is serving 9,000 homeless children, more than the district has ever had so early in the school year. Schools can’t solve these problems on their own. Help must come from the outside.
The average student who enrolls in an alternative school faces steep odds to graduating. Low skills, tough lives and scarce resources at schools are big barriers. New York has a strategy for dropout recovery, but CPS has yet to develop one.
African-American boys face a peculiar dilemma in Chicago’s public
schools: how to get a solid education when, more than any other group
of students, they are singled out for harsh punishments and sent
packing for days, weeks, sometimes months at a time. Some are
expelled—even in elementary school—for a year or longer. Many folks
assume that these punishments are deserved. Isn’t it true, they ask,
that black male students are more likely to behave in ways that warrant