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The [Monday] Papers

By Steve Rhodes

"Six years after Mayor Richard Daley launched a bold initiative to close down and remake failing schools, Renaissance 2010 has done little to improve the educational performance of the city's school system, according to a Tribune analysis of 2009 state test data," the Tribune reports.

"Scores from the elementary schools created under Renaissance 2010 are nearly identical to the city average, and scores at the remade high schools are below the already abysmal city average, the analysis found."

"The moribund test scores follow other less than enthusiastic findings about Renaissance 2010 - that displaced students ended up mostly in other low-performing schools and that mass closings led to youth violence as rival gang members ended up in the same classrooms. Together, they suggest the initiative hasn't lived up to its promise by this, its target year."

Reforms come and go. The fundamental problems remain the same. The children used as guinea pigs are victimized - again.

"There has been some good and some bad in Renaissance 2010, but overall it wasn't the game changer that people thought it would be," Barbara Radner, who heads the Center for Urban Education at DePaul University, told the Trib. "In some ways it has been more harmful than good because all the attention, all the funding, all the hope was directed at Ren10 to the detriment of other effective strategies CPS was developing."


"Turning around public schools is the core of Daley's efforts to keep the city vibrant. But the outcome of his ambitious education experiment is as important to the nation as it is to Chicago. The architect of Renaissance 2010, former schools CEO Arne Duncan, is now the U.S. Secretary of Education - and he's taking the Daley-Duncan model national as part of his Race to the Top reform plan.

"Duncan is using an unprecedented $4.35 billion pot of money to lure states into building education systems that replicate key Ren10 strategies. The grant money will go to states that allow charter schools to flourish and to those that experiment with turning around failing schools - all part of the Chicago reform."

So that's how much it costs to make the nation's schools suck as bad as ours . . .


"We haven't looked at all the data, but our belief is that Renaissance 2010 dramatically improved the educational options in communities across Chicago," said Peter Cunningham, Duncan's spokesman, who followed him from Chicago to Washington. "We believe that it is contributing to Chicago's overall success. Renaissance 2010 and Race to the Top both reflect a willingness to be bold, hold yourself to higher standards and push for dramatic change, not incremental change."

Memo to Cunningham:

A) With $4.35 billion lying around, you'd think you could hire someone to track all of the data.

B) Despite having not looked at all of the data, you still have a belief in the results of a program whose results you have not looked at. Explain.

C) And that belief is about a contribution to Chicago's overall success though there is such scant evidence of success that you might as well call it a contribution to Chicago's overall failure. You are right; you are bold.


"City leaders promised to close the worst schools and open 100 innovative ones that would rely heavily on the private sector for ideas, funding and management. Central to the plan was an increase in charter schools, which receive tax dollars but are run by private groups free from many bureaucratic constraints."

Just like John McCain promised.


"Chicago school officials don't publicly track the performance of the Renaissance 2010 schools."

They like the data to be free of bureaucratic constraints.


Paragraph 11: "Cunningham and other supporters argue that many new schools, mainly in low-income and high-crime neighborhoods, are outperforming nearby traditional schools."

Paragraph 23: "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."


"As Illinois jockeys for position as a leader in education reform with a $500 million application for Race to the Top money, the state's inability to pay current bills makes educators skeptical of Illinois's capacity to take on such new initiatives," the Chicago News Cooperative reported on Sunday in "In Race for U.S. School Grants Is a Fear of Winning."

"One major concern is that should Illinois succeed in the national competition for Race to the Top money, it might not have the ability to finance the long-term costs of any new programs once the federal money has been spent."

Hideout For Haiti
The Waco Brothers and Eleventh Dream Day will host a benefit for Haiti tonight.

A full day of activities at the DuSable Museum of African American History.


By the way, schools, libraries, government offices, postal service, courts and most banks will be closed today. But parking meters must still be fed. Thanks, LAZ! Your public relations skills will be taught in business schools for years to come.


King in Chicago.

Lite Gov
I've joined those in the past who have argued that the office of lieutenant governor be eliminated, but former Jim Edgar press secretary Mike Lawrence makes a persuasive argument for keeping it - with a tweak.

Gov. Fester
A Quinn-induced midday reverie.

Hawk Tawk
"It's a fight!" our very own Jim Coffman writes in SportsMonday. "I know I shouldn't be as excited about guys squaring off on the ice as I was when I was younger, but the feeling just isn't going away."


The Beachwood Tip Line: Step up in class.


Posted on January 18, 2010

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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