Like the menu at a potluck supper, Chicago Public Schools has a dizzying array of offerings, from classical, magnet, selective enrollment and gifted schools to charters and contract schools and career and military academies.
The smorgasbord is a testament to Chicago’s myriad attempts to fix broken schools and keep middle-class parents from fleeing to the suburbs.
But 15 years after a historic shake-up put the city’s mayor in charge of public education, the litany of reforms has not produced widespread success.
Some 80 percent of the city’s schools didn’t meet federal testing targets this year, leaving Mayor Richard Daley’s successor with a massive organization still plagued by academic failure as well as budget woes, high poverty and debilitating social conditions that make teaching and learning difficult.
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