Chicago Teachers Union attacks successful schools to push failing schools

Chicago Teachers Union attacks successful schools to push failing schools

The Chicago Teachers Union is demanding sustainable community schools be increased from 20 to 200. It is also pushing Chicago Public Schools to end selective enrollment schools. CTU’s choice is failing. Selective enrollment is working. Did CTU bosses flunk logic class?

The Chicago Teachers Union is pushing an education model that is failing students: sustainable community schools.

There are currently 20 of the community schools within Chicago Public Schools. All but one of the 12 elementary community schools fall below the district average for reading proficiency. All have lower math proficiency than the district average, which is already lower than the state average.

All eight of the community high schools perform below the district average in both reading and math.

Despite these dismal results, Chicago Teachers Union leadership wants to increase the number of these failing community schools tenfold – from 20 schools to 200.

The Chicago Board of Education, appointed by former CTU organizer Mayor Brandon Johnson, is also headed in that direction. It passed a resolution in December to move away from selective enrollment and magnet schools to focus on community schools.

A comparison between the models shows CTU’s community school model has been unsuccessful when it comes to the proficiency and other outcomes for students. Selective enrollment schools have a history of exceeding math and reading proficiency scores compared to other district schools.

It’s yet another example of CTU not pushing what is best for kids.

Reading scores below average in sustainable community schools, higher in selective enrollment schools

All but two selective enrollment schools outperformed the community schools in reading and math proficiency in the 2022-2023 school year.

The highest reading proficiency recorded at any community school in the 2022-2023 school year was 28%. That means 72% of students at every sustainable community school in CPS cannot read at grade level.

At selective enrollment schools in CPS, up to 96% of students are reading proficiently. Only one selective enrollment elementary school, Beasley Academic Center, recorded a lower reading proficiency than the top performing sustainable elementary community schools. Every selective enrollment high school outperformed community high schools in reading proficiency.

The story is similar for math proficiencies between sustainable community schools and selective enrollment schools.

The highest math proficiency recorded at any sustainable community school in the 2022-2023 school year is 13%. That means about 87% of students at every sustainable community school in CPS cannot perform math at grade level.

Meanwhile, up to 94% of students at the 20 selective enrollment schools in CPS can perform math proficiently. Every selective enrollment elementary school outperformed community elementary schools in math proficiency. Only one selective enrollment high school had lower math proficiency than the highest performing community high school.

Absenteeism is lower in selective enrollment schools

CTU claims one of the benefits of sustainable community schools is improved outcomes, such as decreased absenteeism rates. But students in sustainable community schools are more likely to struggle with absenteeism compared to students at selective enrollment schools.

Ninety-five percent of sustainable community schools in CPS had more than one-quarter of their students chronically absent in 2022-2023. At selective enrollment schools, 45% had more than 25% of their students chronically absent.

Sustainable community schools spend more for poorer outcomes

The per-student spending in CPS’ 20 sustainable community schools is higher on average than the per-student spending in the 29 selective enrollment district schools.

The average per-student spending across CPS’ 20 sustainable community schools in the 2022-2023 school year was $22,604, while the average across CPS’ 29 selective enrollment schools was $17,922.

Spending per student in sustainable community schools ranged from $16,574, which is about $1,700 less than the average per-student spending across all CPS schools, up to $52,883 at Uplift Community High School. Uplift had no students reach proficiency in reading or math, despite the steep cost to educate each student.

Selective enrollment schools in CPS spent less on average than sustainable community schools. Spending per student ranged from $13,702, or about $4,500 less than the district average, up to $24,305.

CTU advocates against schools that benefit students in favor of a model that fails kids

CTU and CPS leadership have made it clear they plan to expand sustainable community schools in Chicago, despite data showing poor outcomes and higher costs at those schools.

CTU’s agenda for this summer’s contract negotiations includes increasing the number of community schools from 20 to 200. The board of education’s Dec. 14 resolution suggests CPS leadership is in-step with this plan.

The move away from selective enrollment schools with a new focus on community schools is a poor move by CTU and the board of education. Sustainable community schools threaten to come at a higher cost for taxpayers as data shows higher average spending per student at community schools compared to selective enrollment schools. CPS administrators have noted the district expects a budget shortfall of $391 million next year when federal pandemic relief runs out. This is not a time to throw more money at a program that is failing students in a district that is already letting them down.

This school year, 90% of sustainable community schools in CPS are underutilized. That’s as 17% of selective enrollment schools are overcrowded. The community is signaling its desire for school choice, such as selective enrollment schools. It’s time CTU and the board of education listen to their community.

See how Chicago’s community schools and selective enrollment schools perform

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