Something BY 32E12Jjm Imagine going to a school your whole life. A school you enjoyed with your friends and were excited to go to every morning. Now, imagine being told that school was being shut down and you had to go to a different school with different people. This is the reality thousands of kids in Chicago are facing today. The Chicago Public School system (CPS) has announced the closing of numerous inefficient elementary schools and even a high school in the Chicago area.
This has lead to one of the biggest controversies going on in the country today. Many parents are worried that their hildren will not benefit from the closings on an academic level, and will surely face more violence and gang related incidences. The CPS promises that with the closings of the inefficient schools, the budget deficit the CPS faces will significantly decrease. Despite the decrease in the deficit, many people are wondering if the closings were the best way to deal with the inefficient schools.
There has been a history of inefficient schools in Chicago with different alternatives rather than closing; the present situation itself comes down to issues of value and definition. One of the main reasons for the closings of these schools is that their inefficiency is costing the CPS a large amount of money. The CPS is facing a record high one billion dollar budget deficit, and believes that the best way to start saving money and decrease that deficit is to shut down certain low performing schools (Guarino, 2013, 1).
The CPS has a policy for closing a school stating, “that a school can be closed for three reasons: non-academic reasons, academic reasons, and a need for change in educational focus” (de la Torre, Gwynne, 2009, 9). A non-academic reason that most chool closings fall under is low capacity utilization of the school. The other main reason for the closings was due to academics. Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago did a study, “When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools”, on eighteen closed schools from the years 2001-2006 in Chicago.
They concluded that the year students found out the closing were to take place, reading achievement was down one and a half months below the expected level, and that math achievement was more than half a month below the expected level (de la Torre, Gwynne, 2009, 18). However, once the closings took place, the study showed that there were no long-term effects of the closings on students as there were no significant differences in the students’ expected and real reading and math achievements (de la Torre, Gwynne, 2009, 19).
Despite this study, many people remain unconvinced that closing a school and relocating the students is the best way to fix an underutilized school. Another study at the University of Chicago, “Turning Around Low Performing Schools in Chicago’, draws sanctions from the No Child Left Behind Act to quickly and dramatically change low performance schools. They use several initiatives put in place from 1997-2010 in order to do this.
These initiatives include Reconstitution, School Closure and Restart, Leadership training in School Turnaround Specialist Program (STSP), Governance by Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), Governance by Office of School Improvement (OS’) (de la Torre, Allensworth, Jagesic, Sebastian, Salmonowicz, 2013, 9). Reconstitution is removing all faculty and staff members from a school and the summer. School Closure and Restart consists of tenured teachers being reassigned, untenured teachers being laid off, and the school being closed for at east one year before reopening as a new school, with new staff members being hired.
The STSP “focused on the leadership aspect of these schools by training principals to be turnaround specialists. ” Each principal took part in a training program covering the best practices in education and business, including analyzing data, decision making, setting targets, and creating action plans (de la Torre, et al. , 2013, 10). AUSL is aimed at the training of teachers to affect whole school transformation. The chosen schools terminated staff and replaced them with new members trained under AUSL.
The AUSL improvement model consists of a positive school culture, action against adversity, setting goals, shared responsibility for achievement, guaranteed and viable curriculum and engaging and personalized instruction (de la Torre, et al. , 2013, 11). The OSI model consisted of teachers being terminated at the end of the year and new faculty being hired in the summer. The elements of the model are school stabilization, school culture and climate, human capital, family and community involvement, community resource development, and teaching and learning (de la Torre, et al. , 2013, 11).
All of these models have a similar oal of transforming the culture and climate of failing schools, and improving student outcomes. The study did not conclude which model worked itself, but rather determined if these efforts worked as a whole group on the low performance schools. The conclusion was these models had a positive effect in the student outcomes of these schools. According to the Chicago Tribune article CPS approves largest school closure in Chicagds history by Noreen S. Ahmed-ullah, facing a budget deficit of one billion dollars, the CPS has made the decision of closing Just under fifty elementary schools and one high school.
With these closings the CPS estimates they will save between $500,000 and $800,000 from each school per year (Guarino, 2013, 1). Despite the savings in money and decrease in deficit, parents are infuriated. They fear the worst for their kids and believe they will be susceptible to gang violence by going to a new, further away school. Nikkia Pierce, a mother of two relocated children, said, “I’ll home-school both of my children before they go to Jensen (designated relocated school), it’s sad that they really don’t care about these kids” (Ahmed-ullah. ). Students of closing schools aren’t taking well to the new plans of the CPS either and re completely disregarding what they say. Another article After closings, kids shun schools picked by CPS by Noreen S. Ahmed-ullah of the Chicago Tribune states, “Almost half the youngsters most affected by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school shutdowns did not enroll this fall in the new schools where officials planned for them to go, records from Chicago Public Schools show. ” The new schools the children are designated to go to are referred to as “welcoming schools. Hundreds of millions of dollars were put into renovations and upgrades for these welcoming schools in order to take in displaced students. Many schools not deemed as welcoming schools are now taking in these displaced kids and are not getting the same compensation the welcoming schools are. Ahmed-ullah writes, “There are a variety of reasons why so many displaced students went elsewhere. Some students and their parents worried about gang rivalries, others wanted classes closer to home, and still others chose are not working cooperatively with the CPS plans.
The present controversy over the closings of the Chicago public schools comes down to if closing is the best way to deal with a low performance school. The aspect of value is called into question. Is decreasing the budget deficit more important than what is best for the children? One may determine that the CPS should have done one of the other effective methods rather than closing down these schools. However, it may not be the case that using one of those other methods would save the CPS as much money as the closings do.
Another aspect that must be considered is definition. When one is asking if the closings are the best solution for the children, one should define what “best” means. Best can mean what is better for the child academically; best can also mean what is safer for the child. This is where parents and the CPS begin their controversy over which is more important: the child or the budget? When it comes to dealing with inefficient, low performing schools, Chicago has shown there are other alternatives rather than closing them.
It comes down to issues of value and definition for what one thinks is most prominent when talking about the controversy. It is up for debate if the closings are the right way to go about fixing inefficient schools, but regardless safety and money are issues that must be dealt with. Works Cited 1 . Ahmed-ullah, N. S. , Chase, J. , & Secter, B. (n. d. ). Chicago school closings- Chicago Tribune. Featured Articles From The Chicago Tribune. Retreived October 22, 2013, from http://articles. chicagotribune. om/2013-05-23/news/chi-chicago- school- closings-20130522_1 _chicago-teachers-union-byrd-bennett-one-high- school- program/3 2. Ahmed-ullah, N. S. , Secter, B. , Richards, A. , & reporters, C. T. (n. d. ). CPS students scattered when schools closed- Chicago Tribune. Featured Articles From The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 22, 2013, from http:// articles. chicagotribune. com/2013-10-1 5/news/ct-met-cps-school-closings- 1015-2013101 5_1 _new-schools-displaced-students-chicago-public-schools/2 3. De la Torre, M. , Allensworth, E. , Jagesic, S. Sebastian, J. , Salmonowicz, M. (2013). The University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research. Turning around low-performing schools in Chicago, 1-91. http://files. eric. ed. gov/fulltext/ED542565. pdf 4. De la Torre, M. , Gwynne, J. (2009). Consortium on Chicago School Research: At the University of Chicago Urban Edcuation Institute. When schools close: effects on displaced students in Chicago Public Schools, 1-40. http://files. eric. ed. gov/fulltext/ ED506954. pdf 5. Guarino, M. (2013). Chicagds proposed school closings called unfair