Critical Looks at Renaissance 2010 (Chicago IL)

Two worthwhile articles out during the last few days about Renaissance 2010, Chicagos' 100 small schools initiative: 2010 school reform off to wobbly start Chicago Tribune, and Renaissance Watch: Backers fall short with money, disclosure Catalyst.

The main point of both articles is that things aren't looking great for the Mayor's education initiative. Non-disclosure agreements, shady finances, and retroactive accounting schemes, plus not so hidden preferences for charter schools (and against LSCs) are part of both stories, though Catalyst probably has more of the nitty gritty news.

In particular, the Catalyst piece fleshes out just how little money has been raised, just who's gotten what, and just where NSC is expecting to get half of its money: from out of town.

The Tribune piece covers more ground in that it rehashes some of the fall’s events like the departure of Greg Richmond, and the trend over the last 15 years towards increased mayoral and business involvement in school reform.

The Tribune piece may go overboard when it credits Renaissance 2010 for setting off “a power struggle not seen since the mayor took control of the city's beleaguered public school system in the mid-1990s.”

Sure, there’s been a power struggle, but it’s mostly been between the business and the CPS folks, with the funders and charter school operators in there somewhere. Teachers and parents and community groups may still protest, but at this point it’s without much hope of substantially changing the outcome.

If Renaissance 2010 goes down, or meets its goals only in the most superficial sense -- taking credit for 18 new schools next year when maybe only half of those are really Renaissance schools --- it won't be because teachers and parents beat it back. It will be because it imploded under the weight of different agendas and visions that can't be contained under a single effort.


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