The [Wednesday] Papers
Another day, another false claim by CPS and Rahm Emanuel.
"Chicago Public Schools administrators are backtracking after making some misleading claims about the school district's graduation rate," ABC7 Chicago reports.
Well, that's progress. Backtracking is better is than the typical CPS strategy of repeating a lie enough times that it becomes the de facto truth.
"According to CPS figures, students are on track to set the highest high school graduation rate since 1999, but initially, CPS and the mayor said this year's expected graduation rate was its highest ever.
"One for the record books. Sixty-three percent of our children will graduate high school which is a new record for the city," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
"That claim is not entirely true."
Or even partially true. It's just plain false.
"Fourteen years ago, the school system began a new, more detailed way of measuring high school graduation rates."
A way that no doubt "improved" the data without changing reality.
"So this year can only be proclaimed a record since 1999."
"Also misleading: CPS's 63 percent graduation statistic includes students who take five years to receive their diploma rather than the traditional four years."
"After what has been a turbulent year for the nation's third-largest public school system, CPS officials sought to put the best spin possible on the 63 percent projection, hailing it in a news release as the 'highest' rate ever for CPS," the Tribune reports.
"It's actually the highest rate since 1999, when the district began using its present method for tracking the number of graduates. Comparatively, the national average for high school graduation is 78.2 percent, according to records from the 2009-10 school year, which are the most recent figures available."
Still, CPS and Rahm got their headlines.
For example, the Huffington Post, citing AP, reported that CPS Graduation Rate Hits Record High: Chicago District's High School Graduation Rate Surges, which is wrong on two counts. Not only is the rate not a record, but its hardly surged. This year's figure is a two percentage point increase and part of a trend that began long before Rahm began taking credit for it.
DNAinfo Chicago reported that CPS Expects Highest Graduation Rate Ever, which is just flat-out wrong.
Curiously, the site also reports that "A decade ago, the graduation rate was 44 percent, according to CPS," while the Huffington Post piece claimed that the rate itself had increased by 44 percent over the last decade, which is highly unlikely.
The AP story that goes out worldwide also repeated the false claim:
"The head of Chicago Public Schools says the district's high school graduation rate is on track to be 63 percent this school year.
"CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the figure this morning. They say Chicago high school seniors could set the highest-ever graduation rate."
The WGN-TV report - CPS Graduation Rates Expected To Hit Record High - says this year's figure is an "almost 20 percent increase" from a decade ago, not the 44 percent reported elsewhere.
CBS2 Chicago concurred, reporting that "The 2013 graduation rate marks a 19 percentage point rise from 10 years ago."
Also, it should be noted that these figures are a projection; the final figures could obviously differ.
Why make the projection now? Because Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Rahm are on their PR victory march. Consider the official CPS announcement:
"Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced that CPS students are on track to set the highest high school graduation rate ever, with 63 percent of seniors projected to graduate in school year 2012-2013. CEO Byrd-Bennett will formally announce this projected record rate at today's City Club of Chicago's Public Policy Luncheon."
The City Club is essentially their base. Finding some good news to announce is part of the playbook.
Not that the rest of the city is forgotten. The Defender also went with Chicago High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High. Probably next to an article about free Sunday parking for churchgoers.
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