The [Monday] Papers
"Before most Chicago Public School seniors even hit the graduation stage, CPS officials Saturday were projecting the highest five-year graduation rate in 14 years," the Sun-Times reported over the weekend.
"A CPS news release touted the projected rate of 60.6 percent as "the highest graduation rate 'on record.'
"However, the release did not explain that CPS has only been calculating five-year rates, based on how many freshmen graduate within five years, for 14 years."
So by "on record" we don't mean, like, the fossil record.
And a five-year rate is nice, but high school is generally a four-year affair, to wit:
"The state requires public schools to calculate a four-year rate for official counts sent home to parents."
But that's not the biggest problem with CPS's claim - which was also touted by Rahm Emanuel, if not directed by him.
"[T]he projected 2012 graduation rate . . . was up 2.3 percentage points from 2011 - not quite as large a gain as the 2.5-percentage-point gain the year before or the 2.4-percentage-point gain in 2006."
In fact, this year's results merely reflect a steady rise that began way back when Rahm was an investment banker - before he ever set foot in Congress.
"[F]ive-year graduation rates have climbed from 47 percent to 56 percent in the last decade," the Tribune reported in 2010.
In other words, last year was a record too. I couldn't locate the rates for each of the last 14 years, but my guess is that each year was a record. That doesn't make this year's rise a bad thing; it just makes Rahm's claims disingenuous at best.
But the Sun-Times - and many other media outlets - took us for a ride on the Rahmobile, with superintendent Jean-Claude Brizard in the sidecar.
"The graduation rate is the first academic indicator CPS has released that reflects the first full year of Brizard's tenure," the Sun-Times "reported."
Sarah Karp of Catalyst puts an even finer note on that notion than I have: "The current administration has only been in place for a year and therefore can take no credit for the increase in graduation rates."
The Sun-Times, however, goes on to say that "Mayor Rahm Emanuel cited the improvements Brizard produced in the graduation rate in Rochester, N.Y., where Brizard had served as superintendent, in choosing him last April to lead the nation's third-largest school district."
But Brizard's Rochester claims have been repeatedly debunked - even if he and Rahm himself keep repeating them.
The Sun-Times itself reported as much last year:
Emanuel claimed last week that Brizard's willingness to shake things up and "put children first" boosted Rochester's high school graduation rate from 39 percent to 51 percent in three years under his leadership.
Yes, Brizard lied on his resume. Mayor Accountability didn't care.
Emanuel's team also praised his work for New York City schools, noting high school graduation rates jumped 13 percent from 2005 to 2009, but it's unclear how much credit Brizard deserves for the increase. Brizard worked in four jobs in five years as a district administrator, including a year as executive director of the high school division in 2005-06 and a year as a regional superintendent. He was long gone by 2009.
And yet, the Sun-Times not only re-trumpeted the claims of Brizard and Emanuel but gave Rahm his own column to reiterate it just in case you didn't get the message.
Really, Jim Kirk?
"This year's record graduation rate demonstrates that when you give teachers the tools, time and techniques they need, there's no limit to what Chicago's students can achieve," Rahm writes - as he attacks the teachers who were here long before he was mayor and helped propel these kids to success.
"To anyone who doubts that every school in every neighborhood can achieve excellence, I want them to see what I saw this weekend at Christ the King Jesuit Prep in Austin."
Well, I would say that you, Rahm, doubt that every - and any - school in Chicago can achieve excellence; after all, you send your kids to private school.
Second, Christ the King is a private school.
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Posted on June 11, 2012
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