Chicago Shake-Up Targets 17 Schools

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, February 23, 2012

This city's school board voted Wednesday to shake up the teaching staffs at 17 low-performing public schools, handing Mayor Rahm Emanuel a victory in his battle with the teachers union and highlighting an increasingly aggressive stance on education overhauls by a number of Democratic mayors nationwide.

The Chicago Board of Education voted to close five elementary schools, phase out one high school and "turn around" 10 schools by firing all the teachers and making them reapply for jobs. One other high school will convert to a new school with a health-science focus.

Six of the schools would be given over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a non-profit organization with a record of student achievement and close political ties to Mr. Emanuel.

More than 600 teachers could be displaced. About 6,500 students, mostly minorities from low-income homes, attend the schools.

The move is Mr. Emanuel's latest move in a year-long effort to overhaul a school system where one in five fourth-graders pass national reading exams and 50% of students drop out before they graduate from high school.

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