Schools Decline But Remain Proud
Wendell Phillips Academy is considered the first Black high school in Chicago. As families settled in the historic Black Belt on the South Side during the Great Migration, their children attended Phillips. Notable alumni include John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony magazine, and singers Nat King Cole and Dinah Washington.
Dunbar Career Academy, on King Drive just over a mile south from the proposed school, was founded so Black students could learn trades and support their families. Teens could learn all facets of building a house, from brick laying to electricity and carpentry. Students ran a dry cleaner and learned how to tailor and make dresses. And they could learn how to fix cars and airplanes.
It was the bomb, said Shari Nichols-Sweat, who attended Dunbar in the 1970s and taught there for more than 30 years.
But the two schools started losing population in the 2000s. First, the city tore down huge public housing developments. Then, Black professionals started moving back into Bronzeville, some without children, and others who didnt choose these schools. The South Loop also became trendy as industrial buildings were converted into lofts and new townhomes went up.
The proposed boundary of the new school includes parts of the current boundaries of Phillips, Tilden and Wells High School, which is in West Town.
They let neighborhoods get run down and then they come in with this high-priced real estate and people cant afford to stay there, Nichols-Sweat said.
Table 5 Percentages Of Eighth
Between 2002 and 2016, the distances traveled by students increased from 3.0 to 3.7 miles, primarily due to the increase in the number of students taking up choice. Among students who attended their assigned high school, the distance was roughly 1.3 miles and was unchanged between 2002 and 2016. For students enrolling in a school other than their assigned high school, the average distance traveled in 2016 ranged from 3.9 miles for those attending a charter high school to 5.8 miles for those attending a selective high school. For the citywide and selective high schools, the average distance traveled fell somewhat between 2002 and 2016 as the number of these schools grew. In contrast, the average distance traveled to attend a charter high school increased by 0.4 miles, in spite of the rapid increase in the number of charter high schools across the city. The overall increase in distance to high school was largely driven by the dramatic increase in charter enrollment over this period. Thus, any declines in potential distance to high schools as a result of expanding the number of high school options were outweighed by the fact that more students selected a choice high school.
Trapped In Chicagos Worst Schools: Education Outcomes In Chicagos Lowest
THE PROBLEMMore than 21,000 students in Chicago Public Schools, or CPS, are being left behind. They are attending schools that fail to prepare them for life.
A majority of students attending the lowest 10 percent of elementary schools and high schools in Chicago dont have basic competence in reading, science and math. Theyre significantly behind their peers in almost every respect. And success in school is a direct link to success later in life with more steady employment, greater wages and higher self-confidence.
Seventy-five percent of students at the lowest-performing elementary schools failed to meet standards on state exams. More than 20 percent of these students scored in the lowest category in reading, meaning they have a difficult time determining the main idea of a persuasive essay or the plot of a short story.
Things are even worse at the citys lowest-performing high schools. Half of the more than 5,000 students attending these schools scored in the lowest category on the state exam in math, meaning they can only do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division problems.
Students at Chicagos lowest-performing high schools drop out at nearly 12 times the rate of average Illinois students 36 percent compared to 3 percent, respectively. According to the 2009 U.S. Census Bureaus American Community Survey, adults age 25 and older who dropped out of high school or had not earned a GED earned up to 41 percent less than those who had.
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Table 4 Percent Of Variation In Standardized Incoming Test Scores Explained By High School Overall And By Neighborhood Income
Table 6 presents information on the average distances between home and students assigned high schools and between home and the high school they attended for 2002 and 2016. On average, students lived roughly 1.5 miles from their assigned high school in both years. The average distance between where a student lives and where they go to high school, however, was more than double that. In 2016, students traveled an average of 3.7 miles to high school. In the rows below average distance to high school attended, we break down the average distance by the type of school attended. Students choosing to enroll in their assigned high school had the shortest average distance of 1.3 miles, and students attending a selective high school were traveling the farthest, 5.8 miles, which was more than a mile farther than the next-highest average of 4.5 miles for students attending a neighborhood high school other than their assigned high school.
Entry And Exit Of Students
Keeping students in the district, and attracting additional students to the district, could have important implications for the schools and the city. For example, families remaining in the city rather than relocating to the suburbs may have consequences for the citys tax base. Expansion of high school options in Chicago should arguably increase the probability that students and their families will find a school that is a good fit within the school district, rather than having to turn to private schools or other public school districts. If this is the case, we would expect to see a larger share of eighth-grade students continuing to enroll in CPS for ninth grade, or equivalently a decline in the share of eighth-grade students who exit CPS between eighth and ninth grade. The increase in the number of high school options may also increase the share of ninth-grade students entering from outside of CPS elementary schools. Table 5 presents statistics on exit and entry percentages from 2002 through 2016.23
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Where Are Options Students Choosing To Attend Outside Their Region
- Choice Footprint Map and Table
This map illustrates the current choice footprint of 9th-12th Options high school students residing in the South Side region. The Central Area, Pilsen / Little Village, Greater Midway, Bronzeville / South Lakefront, Greater Stony Island, and Greater Calumet regions are enrolling the greatest overall number of Options high school students that reside in the South Side region but attend school out of the region.
MAP OF OPTIONS HIGH SCHOOL LOCATIONS AND WHERE OPTIONS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS RESIDE AND ATTEND
OPTIONS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
NOTE: Share of Options high school students by region is provided to show the proportion of HS students that attend an Options high school compared to all HS students that reside in that region.
Options high school students can attend school in or out of region except for in the Far Southwest Side and Greater Lincoln Park regions which do not contain Options high schools.
Options high schools do not have attendance zones or admission criteria although many serve only students 16 years and older.
Racial Composition Of Schools
School choice may increase racial segregation if students opt out of their assigned high school to attend high schools with other students of the same race. For example, in Chicago, neighborhood high school catchment areas are relatively large, potentially covering a diverse set of neighborhoods. CPS students and their families may use school choice to opt out of neighborhood high schools into schools that are more homogenous in terms of race. In fact, research from other settings suggests that segregation may indeed increase with the expansion of school choice. On the other hand, Chicago is quite residentially segregated and school choice operating through programs such as magnet schools has been a strategy for reducing school segregation. If choice schools attract students from a wider and more diverse population than the neighborhood catchment areas, then high schools could become less segregated as students exercise choice. In this section, we present evidence on how much racial segregation exists in CPS high schools and the extent to which it has changed over time, in order to examine whether the expansion of choice is associated with increased segregation.
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Table 2 Student Composition By Cps Type 2002 And 2016
Other citywide high schools as a sector have become noticeably more balanced in terms of their racial/ethnic distribution. In 2016, 44 percent of other citywide students were African American, 46 percent were Latino, and 11 percent were other, relatively close to the overall distribution in the district. In contrast, charter high schools serve a relatively high share of African American students and relatively few other race students, and selective high schools serve a relatively high share of other race students and low shares of African American and Latino students.
Other citywide high schools have also become more balanced in their shares of girls and boys compared with 2002, when 54 percent of other citywide high school students were girls and 46 percent were boys. Charter high schools are also relatively balanced by gender, being 51 percent male. In contrast, selective high schools continue to serve a higher share of girls56 percent in 2016, up from 55 percent in 2002.
What Does Increased Choice Mean For The School District
Questions remain about the consequences of increased choice, and we provide empirical evidence in this section. Specifically, we look at changes from 2002 to 2016 in the aggregate characteristics of schools by type, the sorting of students across schools , the entry and exit of students from the district, and distance traveled to attend high school. It is important to note that the suggestive evidence we provide does not isolate the causal effects of school choice on these factors, as many reforms were occurring over this period.
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Overview Of Student Characteristics By School Type
The differences in choices made by students discussed above generate differences in average student characteristics by school type. In table 2, we display the characteristics of the students who attend each type of school. The numbers should be read down the column for each year and school type . Because we contrast changes over time in the distribution of student characteristics within each type of school, we display the 2002 and 2016 averages side by side. We note that these are average characteristics by year and school type, so they will mask some heterogeneity in student body composition across schools within year and type.
Relative to the district as a whole in 2016, neighborhood high schools were serving a larger share of Latino students, boys, and students from higher-income neighborhoods. They were also enrolling students with relatively lower eighth-grade test scores. These comparisons to the district as a whole are quite similar to the comparisons in 2002, with the exception that neighborhood high schools were serving somewhat higher-income students in 2016 than they were in 2002. In 2016, 55 percent of neighborhood high school students came from neighborhoods in the top two income quartiles compared with 51 percent in 2002.
Alarm Inside Cps About Proposed New School
It is not only parents and alumni who are sounding alarms about the impact of the new school.
Last fall, senior CPS officials including Ushma Shah, now the superintendent in Oak Park, and planning and data manager Iliana Vargas, wrote a memo to interim CPS CEO José Torres expressing deep concerns about the Near South high school plans. Maurice Swinney, effectively the districts second-ranking official at the time, was copied on the memo. He was the districts first chief equity officer.
Officials called for district staff to conduct a racial equity impact assessment before CPS proceeded with planning a new school. Based on attendance boundaries that have since been adjusted slightly, they predicted schools in the surrounding area would fall into three categories: Negatively impacted , relief from overcrowding or neutral impact . And for those hurt by the proposal, a new school would exacerbate existing enrollment challenges.
Both Swinney and Shah have since left CPS and the assessment has not been done. Swinney wouldnt comment on the plan and Shah didnt return phone calls.
Thousands of students on the Near South Side are choosing other options like selective enrollment schools, charters, other neighborhood or magnet programs or private schools. Last year, about 9,443 high school students lived in the attendance boundaries of Phillips, Tilden and Kelly . Only about 16% go to the three schools with attendance boundaries.
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This Project Was Supported In Part By The Illinois Humanities Action Grant
South Side Weekly is a nonprofit, volunteer newsprint magazine and radio show dedicated to supporting cultural and civic engagement on the South Side, and to providing educational opportunities for emerging journalists, writers, and artists. We publish in-depth coverage of the arts and issues of public interest alongside oral histories, poetry, fiction, interviews, and artwork from local photographers and illustrators.
Table 3 Racial Segregation Across Schools
In figures 9 and 10, respectively, we show the distribution of incoming achievement for each high school in the district in 2002 and 2016. Each boxplot in these figures represents the distribution of incoming achievement at a given CPS high school. The boxplots are sorted from the school with the lowest average achievement to the highest. In both years, the lowest-ranked school is a neighborhood high school and the highest-ranked school is a selective high school. Between 2002 and 2016, the average achievement level at entry increased at all CPS high schools, with roughly 16-point increases in average test scores at both the bottom- and top-ranked schools based on average eighth-grade test scores of incoming ninth-grade students . Visually, we do not see evidence of a large increase in sorting across schools on prior achievement.
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Elementary School Student Choice Over Time
School choice is currently defined as choosing to attend a school that is not a students zoned school. Over the past four years, in this region, elementary students attending a non-zoned school has increased from 57% to 60%. In the same time frame, students attending their zoned school has decreased from 43% to 40%.
Elementary school students attending a school in the South Side region has decreased from 75% to 73%, while students attending school out of region has increased from 25% to 27%.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL STUDENT CHOICE OVER TIME
NOTE: Only K-8 grade students are included in school choice calculations as Pre-K students are not zoned to a school. Due to rounding, some charts may not add up to 100%.
Region average: 19 min. District average*: 16 min.
NOTE: Distance traveled and commute time are calculated based on the students home address and the address of their school. Commute time was calculated using Google Maps travel time estimations using the shorter travel time between walking and public transit. The analysis takes into account school start times and chooses routes that minimize travel and wait time. Any wait time before a trip starts is not included but wait times due to transfers are included.
Average distances and commute times in this analysis do not include students attending their zoned school.
Due to rounding, some charts may not add up to 100%.
Figure 5 Population Of Chicago 15 Year Olds By Race/ethnicity
The observed decline in CPS ninth-grade enrollment reflects in part a decline in the relevant-aged population of Chicago over this period and in part a change in who enrolls in CPS the decline in the number of 15 year olds in the city has been much steeper than the decline in CPS ninth-grade enrollment. In figure 5, we present data from the decennial census and the American Community Survey for available years on the number of 15 year olds by race/ethnicity in Chicago.16 The total number of 15 year olds living in Chicago declined by 26 percent between 2009 and 2015, reflecting a 34 percent decline in the number of African American 15 year olds, a 9 percent decline in the number of Latino 15 year olds, and a 35 percent decline in the number of 15 year olds in the other race category. As a result, the population of 15 year olds went from 44 percent African American, 34 percent Latino, and 23 percent other in 2000 to 38 percent African American, 43 percent Latino, and 19 percent other in 2015. These demographic trends will be important to keep in mind as we examine trends in choice over this same period.
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Southside Occupational Academy High School
The best high schools offer advanced courses to all students, not a select few.
In this section, we publish a rating that reflects how well this school is serving disadvantaged students, compared to other schools in the state, based on college readiness, learning progress, and test score data provided from the states Department of Education.
The state does not provide enough information for us to calculate an Equity Rating for this school.
Table 1 Distribution Of Students Across Cps Type By Subgroup 2002 And 2016
Students also make different choices based on the level of income in their neighborhood. In 2016, few students who lived in the lowest-income neighborhoods attended their assigned high school , suggesting families located in very poor neighborhoods prefer other schooling options to their assigned high school. These numbers contrast with the perception that most students living in poor neighborhoods get stuck in their assigned high school in fact, a large number of them attend another school. For students living in the poorest neighborhoods, charter high schools are a popular option, with 36.6 percent of students attending a charter high school . It is also noteworthy that while charter high school enrollment has increased across the board , the increase in enrollment comes disproportionately from less-advantaged groups, such as students with relatively low test scores and students living in relatively high-poverty neighborhoods. On the other hand, students living in the highest-income neighborhoods are the most likely to attend their assigned high school , providing suggestive evidence that there is still school choice through residential sorting even within school systems that have a lot of nonresidential-based choice. That is, families living in higher-income parts of the city are more willing to attend their assigned high schools than families from poorer parts of the city.
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