Chicago’s newly created small high schools — typically no more than 500 students — must cope with bureacratic interference and start-up chaos, says this Chicago Tribune story.
The School of Entrepreneurship on Chicago’s South Side was designed to get kids excited about school with real-world lessons, but it was forced to scuttle freshman business classes because they didn’t fit into the schedule dictated from downtown.
. . . The report released Thursday by the Consortium on Chicago School Research, a program of the University of Chicago, details some of the reasons the new, small schools failed to live up to hopes:
– The new schools are plagued by the bad reputation of the old school. The average student comes in reading at a 6th-grade level, and about a quarter of the freshmen need special education services. The same staff returns and gets stuck in old habits. Decisions are still driven by a top-heavy bureaucracy.
– The new schools lack basics such as science labs and separate cafeterias, the report continues. And principals spend too much time on fixing organizational problems, with too little time devoted to challenging and invigorating instruction.
However, students say their new schools are less violent; they get more help from teachers. Attendance is up. More students plan to graduate and go on to college.