There Goes the Neighborhood School

Who gets to live in a neighborhood when neighborhood schools disappear?

Progressive picWhen the city of Chicago shuttered some fifty neighborhood schools last year, officials invoked antiseptic-sounding words like “underperformance” and “underutilization.” But visit neighborhoods that bore the brunt of the closings, as I did recently, and you’ll hear that the battle over the city’s schools is about something much larger: the future of the city itself and who gets to live here. Parents, teachers and community leaders told me that the replacement of neighborhood schools serving the city’s poorest children with privately run charters that don’t, can’t be separated from the relentless gentrification that’s rapidly transforming Chicago into a wealthier, whiter city. Think urban renewal but without the bulldozers.

Continue reading →

Now Under New Management

Why don’t poor minority students get to have public schools?

banners-under-new-managementIt’s time for yet another edition of our long-running reality series, As the School Turns. In today’s episode, we’re heading to Roxbury, Massachusetts, home of the Dearborn STEM Academy, for a fresh take on a now familiar saga. Let’s call it As the School Turns: $70 Million Dollar Listing. That’s right, viewer, we’re in spin-off territory, as in the Dearborn is literally being spun off to a private contractor. It’s been a long season, full of surprising twists and turns, sudden rule changes, last minute hurdles and some extremely questionable assertions.  Now at last we’re down to the final two finalists. So which of our private operators will reign supreme after the votes are not cast? Let’s tune in and see.

Continue reading →