What we’re reading this week: May 25th

This week, we’re taking a look at structural barriers to student success, how the city, state, and federal government have slashed programs to support students, and how privately-run charter schools impact public school funding and evaluation.

1. How Some Kids Escape Poverty : A new report from the University of Michigan breaks down some of the factors that contribute to the cycle of poverty.

Neighborhoods and schools, particularly their degree of segregation, had a significant effect on the children’s success. The most accomplished group grew up in less segregated cities, with less segregated neighborhoods and schools. While it’s good news that some children born into poverty are able to transcend the steep obstacles in their path, they are among a small minority—and they come from at least somewhat better circumstances.

2. How Would Trump’s Budget Affect Illinois? : A run-down of how Trump’s proposed budget would impact social service funding in our already cash-strapped state.

In Illinois, cuts in federal funding would not necessarily be deeper than in other states, but Illinois is in an especially bad position to pick up the slack because the state has added billions of dollars of debt since the state budget impasse started almost two years ago, authorities said. “To expect that we’re going to suddenly find the funding to meet the need because the federal government walks away from its responsibility to help communities prosper is … it’s just not going to happen.”

3. Does New Neighborhood Watch Reduce Crime Or Create Resident-Cops? : Some residents are nervous about a new CPD-allied neighborhood watch program, which they fear deputizes civilians to racially profile their neighbors.

“We all racially profile,” Viets said. “And when I look at a room that’s filled with all white people, and they’re saying ‘bad guys’ and ‘criminal element’ and people who ‘don’t belong in their neighborhood,’ I know they are not talking about people who look like them.” Viets said when she thinks of community watch programs, she thinks of Trayvon Martin, a black teenage boy who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

4. Charter School Chokehold : South Side Weekly breaks down a new Roosevelt University study that examines the links between charter school openings and CPS budget problems.

Farmer’s team documented and compared changes in school-aged population, the locations of closed schools, the locations of new charters, and whether neighborhood public schools were deemed underutilized, overcrowded, or efficient. Analysis of these data points lead the researchers to three major conclusions: that the magnitude of CPS’s debt is mostly hidden, that the nature of charter expansion and placement has been all but unplanned, and that charters have diverted a significant amount of money from neighborhood public schools.

5. The Failure Track : Pro Publica is running an ongoing series investigating the practices of alternative charter schools, including Camelot, which operates here in Chicago.

Once enrolled at Sunshine, hundreds of them exit quickly with no degree and limited prospects. The departures expose a practice in which officials in the nation’s tenth-largest school district have for years quietly funneled thousands of disadvantaged students — some say against their wishes — into alternative charter schools that allow them to disappear without counting as dropouts.

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About Lauren Dean

Lauren is a graduate student in Urban Planning and Policy at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a research intern at the Chicago Teachers Union. Her research focuses on urban policy, equity, and labor issues. She edits A Just Chicago.

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