School Reform in Chicago: Lessons in Policy and Practice

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9781891792182: School Reform in Chicago: Lessons in Policy and Practice

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.

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From the Publisher:

Praise for School Reform in Chicago "Like Chicago itself, this volume is provocative, even contentious. Key players in Chicago's reform efforts show that sweeping school-governance changes, though exhilarating, can spur makeshift and ill-considered responses. Quick-fix advocates will be challenged, but the undaunted Chicago reformers who speak out in these pages offer hard-earned lessons that no policymaker should ignore." -Dorothy Shipps, Teachers College, Columbia

"This is the best-told story of a major urban school system's 15-year struggle to dramatically improve student achievement. It examines key aspects of big school district reform thorugh the savvy voices of the activists, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, journalists, politicians, and unionists who have intimate, 'warts-and-all' knowledge of the process." -Peter Martinez, Director, Center for School Leadership, University of Illinois at Chicago

From the Back Cover:

When the U.S. Secretary of Education embarrassed Chicago in 1987 by calling its public schools the worst in the nation, the city took up the challenge to do better by its children. Chicago became a huge laboratory of school reform. This collection looks at the primary lessons of that effort, addressing topics such as accountability, parent and community involvement, school leadership, teacher professional development, and instruction. For those who want to improve K-12 schools throughout the nation, this book offers a helpful and inspiring account of one city’s efforts.

“Like Chicago itself, this volume is provocative, even contentious. Key players in Chicago’s reform efforts show that sweeping school-governance changes, though exhilarating, can spur makeshift and ill-considered responses. Quick-fix advocates will be challenged, but the undaunted Chicago reformers who speak out in these pages offer hard-earned lessons that no policymaker should ignore.” — Dorothy Shipps, Teachers College, Columbia University

“This is the best-told story of a major urban school system’s 15-year struggle to dramatically improve student achievement. It examines key aspects of big school district reform through the savvy voices of the activists, practitioners, policymakers, researchers, journalists, politicians, and unionists who have intimate, ‘warts-and-all’ knowledge of the process.” — Peter Martinez, Director, Center for School Leadership, University of Illinois at Chicago

Edited by Alexander Russo

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