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Daley's School Daze II

  There stood Mayor Richard M. Daley and his Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman... in one of the few air-conditioned rooms in a depression-era high school building that should have been shut down decades ago...trying to convince reporters there were reasons to be proud and to "celebrate".

  There were also reasons to be sad.

  The press corps had been summoned to the Chicago Vocational Career Academy (1940) for the announcement that the system's Prairie State Achievement Exam (PSAE) scores had increased 1.5 percentage points.  After the 2010 test, 29.4 percent of CPS eleventh graders met or exceeded state expectations.  That's up from 27.9 percent in 2009.

  Put the slight improvement aside for a moment and realize the results also suggested that in the Chicago Public Schools, only three out of ten high school juniors perform at or above grade level.

  That sucks.

  Since 1995 when control of the city's public schools was handed over to the Mayor, hizzoner has called his leadership of CPS his most important responsibility.   His administration has ordered and overseen the construction of dozens of new buildings and the organization of magnet schools.   The magnets have become educational "destinations" in the region, compelling many middle class and wealthy families with children to remain in the city. 

  Some critics maintain that if you remove the scores of magnet schools like Whitney Young, Northside Prep, Walter Payton, Jones Prep, etc., the citywide PSAE numbers would be significantly lower.

  At the news conference, CEO Huberman insisted the 2010 results revealed a citywide improvement that included many "neighborhood" high schools.  In fact, the PSAE scores at Chicago Vocational Career Academy increased over 6% year to year.

  As for Mayor Daley, virtually all of those eleventh graders who took the PSAE entered the Chicago Public Schools after he took control.  They are "his kids".  He certainly should be proud of the 30 percent but what does he really think about the test indicating that the overwhelming majority are not performing at grade level?

  And keep in mind that we are talking about the children who actually attend CPS high schools.  Remember, the system's dropout rate after 9th grade is estimated to be in excess of 50% (Cities in Crisis, 2008)

  In baseball, bat .300 in your career and you get a bust in Cooperstown.

  In Chicago politics, three out of ten is as good as you can spin it.


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