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Old Posted Mar 28, 2012, 8:24 PM
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M II A II R II K M II A II R II K is online now
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Cool Slowdown in home sales means Chicago parents face questions about city schools

Slowdown in home sales means parents face questions about city schools

March 26, 2012

By John Pletz

Read More: http://www.chicagobusiness.com/artic...E01/303249977/


The recession dramatically slowed the number of people making the trek to the suburbs for bigger houses, safer neighborhoods and better schools. Unable or unwilling to leave the city, a small but growing group of middle-class families are turning to Chicago's public and private schools, a development that holds both potential and peril for Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his efforts to improve the school system.

- This week, anxious parents will find out whether their kids will get coveted slots in the city's selective-enrollment elementary schools, a process determined by test scores, or magnet schools, determined by lottery. Selective elementary school applications have increased by 50 percent in the past four years, dwarfing the 12 percent increase in high-school applications that has sparked so much concern in the past month as the city tweaked its selection criteria.

- The slowdown in the decades-long procession to the suburbs provides Mr. Emanuel with the chance to bolster the city's middle class and make greater strides in improving CPS than his predecessor, Richard M. Daley. This constituency—whether or not it wants to be in the city—has the skills and the clout to demand better schools and a personal stake in the outcome. Those factors could be game-changers in the struggle to turn around a system labeled the worst in the nation by the U.S. secretary of education in 1987. But Mr. Emanuel will have to make hard choices at a time when resources are dwindling, and he must move quickly before the real estate market rebounds and more parents leave.

- Chicago had to close deficits of more than $500 million annually in each of the past three years. Budget gaps in the school system have ranged from $475 million to $712 million. But the heightened attention also strengthens Mr. Emanuel's hand against the teachers union as he pushes for a longer school day, closes underperforming schools and supports charter schools. “The question is how much political will there will be and whether there's so much pushback that people get cold feet,” Mr. Knowles says. “To do it at the scale they need, they'll have to enlist civic engagement in a much more significant way.”

- The total number of people staying in the city who otherwise would have moved isn't huge: perhaps 5,000 to 10,000 a year over the past few years. But it's a big change in the trend line: CPS enrollment dropped significantly in the middle of the last decade but largely has been stable at about 400,000 since 2007-08, when the recession hit. Enrollment at the 10 largest suburban districts, which had been growing quickly, also generally has been flat since the recession began, according to data from the Illinois Board of Education.

- The number of people leaving Cook County for the collar counties dropped by an average of 35 percent between early 2007 and 2010, according to Internal Revenue Service data. From the real estate market peak in 2005-06 until 2009-10, those moving from Cook to DuPage dropped by 25 percent, according to IRS data compiled for Crain's by Geoffrey Hewings and Chenxi Yu of the Regional Economics Application Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Movement to Kane County dropped by 37 percent, Lake County 38 percent, Will County 53 percent, McHenry County 54 percent and Kendall County 56 percent. After nearly quadrupling from 1997 to 2007, enrollment at Plainfield Schools in Will County flattened out, then dropped the past two years.


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Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 12:27 AM
Rizzo Rizzo is offline
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One thing is for sure...Chicago is building schools.
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Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 3:58 AM
miketoronto miketoronto is offline
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If more middle class kids are in the school, that will help in turning them around.

It really is not so much funding, but rather the kids.

Detroit for example spends way more than many of its suburbs per child for education. Yet the kids do poorly due to outside influences.

I am sure the magnet schools in Chicago don't really get much more funding or anything. But the type of kids they attract with parents who care, are the reason those schools do well.
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Old Posted Mar 29, 2012, 7:27 AM
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LMich LMich is offline
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Originally Posted by miketoronto View Post
Detroit for example spends way more than many of its suburbs per child for education. Yet the kids do poorly due to outside influences.
I want to be clear about something. Just looking a spending per pupil is hardly an accurate way of potraying the issue. I'm sure as in most other older, established cities, while spending per pupil may be higher than in many of that city's suburbs, the plain number doesn't take into account where a lot of that money is going. In many cases, a lot of that money for older, established districts is actually going to pay retiree health care costs and pensions. I'd like to see what the REAL number is when you factor in only the amount actually reaching the classrooms. Because I'll tell you right now, you tell the teacher having to buy textbooks and toilet paper for his or her classroom that their funding per pupil is so much higher than neighboring districts, and they'll laugh at you.

That's not to say that environment is a major factor in test results, but this idea that urban public schools are being lavished with funding that makes it into actual classrooms is a misguided belief at best.
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