School Reform in Chicago shares the lessons learned from the city of Chicago's school reform efforts over the past two decades, the most ambitious in history, becoming a huge laboratory for innovations in areas such as school governance, leadership, accountability, and community involvement.
In 1987, The U.S. Secretary of Education embarrassed the city of Chicago by calling its public schools the worst in the nation. Chicagoans may have been tempted to brush off that observation as heavy-handed Washington bluster. But, the secretary was only repeating what civic leaders, educators, parents, and students there already knew: the city's schools were failing, and they desperately needed fresh resources, organization, ideas, and purpose.
Over the next decade, Chicago underwent the most ambitious school reform effort in history, becoming a huge laboratory for school reform innovations in areas such as governance, leadership, accountability, and community involvement. Along the way, there were many notable successes, spectacular flops, and lessons learned.
In highlighting the key issues and dynamics of Chicago's reforms, this book identifies challenges and solutions that are applicable to other school systems. For example:
Former accountability czar Philip J. Hansen discusses controversial school accountability and intervention initiatives.
Ken Rolling, former head of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, reflects on how privately funded school reform efforts can succeed if they overcome some chronic problems.
Andrew G. Wade and Madeline Talbott show how parent and community involvement can support school improvement.
Other article highlights include the struggle to improve instruction, teacher professional development, ending social promotion, the view from inside the city bureaucracy, and the importance of rebuilding physical spaces to accommodate new instructional goals.