25 September 2007

How does your school rate?

I've been wanting to write about this topic for a long time: the sad state of our public school system in Chicago. It started last year when I got a copy of the annual school budget for Steinmetz High School (3030 N. Mobile).

The budget opened my eyes because I'm one of those people who, for years - nay decades - has heard that the only thing that could redeem our low test scores, the campus violence and student malaise is more money.

Even as recently as July of this year, our own beloved Barack Hussein Obama - the man whose lips move but nothing of substance comes out - said, "Our playgrounds have become battlegrounds. Our streets have become cemeteries. Our schools have become places to mourn the ones we've lost," Obama told a standing-room-only congregation at Vernon Park Church of God on Chicago's Far South Side.

Of course, BHO is a gun grabber. He called for "better enforcement of existing gun laws, tighter background checks on gun buyers and for making an expired assault weapon ban permanent."

"A couple weeks ago, cops found an AK-47 near a West Side school," he said. "That type of weapon belongs on a battlefield, not on the streets of Chicago."

Gee Barack - how unoriginal. I thought we already had a gun ban in the city of Chicago? He went on to call for "more money" for our schools; he wants the government to give more funds to cover after-school programs to "keep kids off the streets."

The people of Illinois, and even those of the heartland, are waking up to what an empty, no talent suit Barack Obama is. The biggest problem is that WE have to put up with him.

Enough about BHO. Back to schools -

The budget shows that Steinmetz was allocated almost $17 million dollars to cover teacher salaries and operating overhead. With over 600 elementary and high schools in Chicago, that adds up to quite an expense. Did you know that 50% of your property taxes go towards funding the public schools? That comes out to $10,200,000,000 per year.

That begs the question: What are we getting for our money? The answer is not much.

A study by the Consortium for School Research found that 35% of CPS students who went to college earned their bachelor's degree within six years, which is below the national average of 64%. The October issue of Chicago Magazine has their annual review of high schools.

The interesting part of Chicago Magazine's survey is that it shows that even in the worst performing schools, teacher salaries and money spent per student were just as high as in those schools whose kids were very well performing.

As an example let's look at two schools: North Side College Prep (NSCP), versus Steinmetz.

* NSCP's Attendance rate is 96.4%, Steinmetz is 83.4%

* Average teacher salary at both schools was the same; $63,509 per teacher and money spent per student of $5,858

* Low income students at NSCP make up 31.1%, at Steinmetz it's 83%

* Black and Latino students, combined, make up 28.2% at NSCP, at Steinmetz they make up 84%.

* Average ACT score: NSCP is 27.8 - at Steinmetz it is 16.5

* The ratio of money spent per student and ACT score (ACT vs. $) at NSCP is +8.73, at Steinmetz it is -2.56

I know from personal experience that when the number of black and latino students go up, the level of crime and gang violence also increases. Steinmetz has a big problem with gang members within the school ranks and it contributes to an atmosphere of violence and intimidation. It is just not conducive to learning.

Also, many students at Steinmetz come from single-parent homes and we know from research that kids from those types of families are more likely to drop out, and to turn to drugs and violence.

Other well performing schools in Chicago include (ACT vs. $) Whitney Young (+7.13), Lane Tech (+2.83), Lincoln Park (+2.43), Jones College Prep (+4.53) and Payton College Prep (+7.63)

The majority of schools are abysmal when compared to the above. Some of the worst are Young Women's Leadership Charter (-3.26), Tilden (-4.16), School of the Arts (-4.06), Marshall (-4.96), Englewood Tech (-5.16) and Austin Community (-5.16).

You can see that it is absolutely NOT about throwing more money at the schools. If anything they should reallocate resources and do a better job of cutting expenses, than turning to the county with their collective hands out demanding more, more, more.


Anonymous said...

Enforce the Ban. Guns are prohibited within 1000 ft. of a school. Search all those homes, take those guns now.

Anonymous said...


Oh, wait, it adds up to less per pupil than almost any of the suburban districts.

You get what you pay for. You're a jag.

Anonymous said...

The worst part of illiteracy is that it means that trogs like RSM never learned to read well enough to understand that Chicago Magazine used a single average spending per student figure for the entire CPS, rather than calculating individual averages. Maybe he could go back to Steinmetz and learn something.

bornatreese said...

You seem to suggest that teachers who teach at schools with higher test scores should get paid more. As if rewarding them for obtaining higher scores. But teaching is not why Northside has higher scores. Northside has higher test scores because CPS set it up as a selective enrollment school, which means students need very high test scores to get in in the first place. So, instead of being at a local school(and causing that school to have a higher average score), higher scoring individual students are in selective enrollment schools. I have nothing against such schools, but it is bizarre to suggest that the teachers there should be rewarded by higher pay. In fact, it might make more sense to reward teachers who have the harder job of working with lower-scoring students.