Chicago Public Schools is hosting a dozen workshops for community members focused on a controversial report about local schools that offers an unprecedented window into the assets — and problems — in certain neighborhoods.
The district published report, called the Annual Regional Analysis, in September. It shows that, in many areas of the city, students are skipping out on nearby options, with less than half of district students attending their designated neighborhood schools.
The school district and Kids First, the school-choice group that helped compile the report, maintain that the analysis is meant to help guide investments and empower communities to engage in conversations about their needs.
The report divides the school district into 16 “planning regions” showing where schools are, what programs they offer, how they are performing, and how people choose among the options available.
The meetings will start with a presentation on the report. They will include small-group discussions to brainstorm how Chicago Schools can invest in and strengthen schools. The first workshop is scheduled for Wednesday at Collins Academy High School.
While the school district has touted the detailed report as a resource to aid planning and community engagement, several groups have criticized the document and questioned the district’s intent. The document has sparked fears among supporters of neighborhood schools that the district might use it to propose more school closings, turnarounds, and charter schools.
The parents group Raise Your Hand, the neighborhood schools’ advocacy group Generation All, and the community organizing group Blocks Together penned a letter recently scrutinizing the report’s reliance on school ratings, which are based largely on attendance and test scores.
“Research has shown that test scores and attendance tell us more about the socioeconomic status of the students’ communities rather than the teaching and learning inside the school itself,” they wrote. Chalkbeat Chicago first reported about the analysis in August after obtaining a copy of it. Yet, the document has sparked fears among supporters of neighborhood schools that it could be used to propose more school closings, turnarounds, and charter schools.
Here’s a list of the 12 community workshops, all of which all begin at 6 p.m.:
West Side Region: Oct. 17, Collins Academy High School
Greater Lincoln Park Region: Oct. 18, Lincoln Park High School
Greater Calumet Region: Oct. 22, Corliss High School
South Side Region: Nov. 7, Lindblom High School
Greater Stony Island Region: Nov. 8, Chicago Vocational Career Academy
Far Southwest Region: Nov. 13, Morgan Park High School
Far Northwest Side Region: Nov. 14, Steinmetz High School
Greater Milwaukee Region: Nov. 15, Wells High School
Greater Stockyards Region: Nov. 19, Kelly High School
Pilsen/Little Village Region: Nov. 26, Benito Juarez Community Academy
Greater Midway Region: Dec. 6, Curie Metropolitan High School
North Lakefront Region : Dec. 11, Roger C. Sullivan High School