Only one of four elementary schools being reconstituted actually 'feeds' into 'failing' high school

In his public statements regarding the recent school closings and consolidations, Arne Duncan claimed that four elementary schools have to be closed because they “feed into” two “failing” high schools. Copernicus Elementary School, Chicago. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.

According to Duncan, Harper and Orr high schools (Orr presently has three “small schools”) have “failed”, so Morton and Howe elementary (which feed into Orr) and Copernicus and Fulton elementary (which feed into Harper) should be closed and “turnarounded” as well.

But the Board of Education’s own website shows that the claim is false. "Turnaround" is the corporate phrase that Duncan is using this year to describe the reconstitution process, since research has shown across the USA that reconstitution has failed to improve inner city schools. During the 2007-2008 school year, the Chicago Board of Education established an "Office of School Turnaround" under a $150,000 per year "Chief Turnaround Officer."

The Alice in Wonderland Facts Used for "Turnaround"

But the main reason for forcing "turnaround" on the four elementary schools is false.

None of them send the majority of their students into the supposedly "failing" high schools.

Last year, Fulton Elementary School sent two students to Harper High School.

Copernicus Elementary School sent four students to Harper High School.

Most of the students from those schools (who don’t get into the magnet schools) go to Tilden High School, not Harper High School.

The most current report on CPS web site shows that Fulton sent only 4 percent of its students to Harper in 2003-2005.

While 2003-2005 report on CPS web site shows that 48 percent of Morton students went on to the Orr [small] schools, only 4 percent of the Howe Elementary School students went to AASTA (one of the Orr small schools). None to Mose Vines (another "small school") and none went to EXCEL (another of the "small schools" inside Orr).

Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley also refused to answer questions about why Orr was targeted for closure after the three remaining “small schools” at the Orr site had been doing their jobs for four years.

Prior to this school year, Daley and Duncan had claimed that “small schools” were the way to rebuild large urban high schools. When asked by Substance about the change in strategy, neither man would answer.

Another prominent silence came with the attack on Harper High School. Two years ago, both the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Senator James Meeks had gathered a great amount of publicity criticizing CPS for neglecting Harper. Jackson had led a media event comparing Harper’s resources with prominent suburban schools, while Meeks had done a publicity stunt by going door-to-door to round up Harper High School “truants”. Both allowed Mayor Daley to continue to rule the schools, and even during the community walkabout to round up truants, Meeks neglected to ask the mayor to restore truant officers.

The mayor also made sure that Arne Duncan preserved one of his military academies before he launched the attack on the remaining small schools at Orr. A year ago, there were four “small schools” at Orr. During the summer of 2007, Duncan moved the “Phoenix Military Academy” out of Orr, preserving it from the closings that were to come. “Phoenix Military Academy” is now located (along with the “Marine Military Academy”) at the former Grant Elementary School, 145 S. Campbell. Despite the major discrepancies regarding everything that was said by city and school officials about the recent reconstitution of Orr, Harper, Copernicus, Fulton, Howe, and Morton, no one in the media (aside from Substance) even noted the discrepancies. Nor did the officers of the Chicago Teachers Union challenge the numerous lies, half truths and evasions that were put forward by the Duncan administration during the attacks on Orr and Harper, and their feeder schools. 


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