Chicago's new schools plan lacks "strategic" view of where to close and open schools

This week's Chicago Journal describes the mismatch between where new schools are going to be opened under Renaissance 2010 and where they're most needed, and calls for the Board of Education either to build a more explicit "neighborhood need" factor into the process, or to de-link school closing and opening decisions -- starting now.

Since the column is not available online, here's the short version: A recent report from an outfit called the Illinois Facilities Fund (www.iff.org) found that only three of the 23 elementary schools on Chicago's Near West Side are neighborhood schools where at least 40 percent of the students pass their state reading and math tests. And yet, Renaissance 2010, the Mayor's plan to open 100 new schools, could leave this underserved and fast-growing area (and many others in worse shape) largely untouched. That's because, under Renaissance 2010, it’s a lot easier to get a new school if you live in a neighborhood where a school recently closed. The Board of Education should ultimately be making its Renaissance 2010 decisions at the broader neighborhood level, not school by school.


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