School & District Management

Chicago School Closures: Little Academic Impact, Report Finds

By Catherine Gewertz — October 28, 2009 1 min read

Some parents and activists in Chicago have long been arguing that the city’s Renaissance 2010 initiative—which closes low-performing schools and attempts to replace them with better ones—is most disruptive academically to the students who are most vulnerable to setbacks. A report issued today by the Consortium on Chicago School Research examines that question. It finds that most students relocated by Ren-10 enrolled in schools that weren’t much better than the ones they left. (My colleague Dakarai Aarons has a story on the report on our website.)

Chicago’s school closures have been closely watched for quite some time, but are of particular interest now, since the beating death of Derrion Albert sparked yet another round of opposition to Ren-10 (see blog posts here and here). The death of Mr. Albert—and dozens of other Chicago teenagers—has fueled angry claims that the school closures have escalated violence by heightening tensions among students as they are shuffled to new schools.

There’s plenty of anger in Chicago over this. Activists scheduled a demonstration for today at the Chicago Board of Education to demand an end to the school closures, which they say heighten tensions among students as they are shuffled to new schools.

Amid all the accusations and arguments from adults, there’s the pain of the young people whose classmates are dying at an alarming rate. If you haven’t seen the YouTube video that features two young Chicago men performing their amazing, moving poetry about their fallen peers, you should check it out. It’s called “Lost Count, A Love Story,” and you can find it here on YouTube. (Hat tip to Chicago Tribune columnist Dawn Turner Trice for calling attention to the video. I wish it had gotten as many views as the horrifying video of Mr. Albert’s beating got when it appeared on YouTube.)

A version of this news article first appeared in the High School Connections blog.