Chicago Schools Plan for Renaissance 2010

Written by Patricia Hawke for

Ah, the Renaissance. Encompassing the revival of learning based on classical sources, the Renaissance was a time period that had wide-ranging consequences in all intellectual pursuits, and one which still influences us today. Learning in areas of painting, architecture and mathematics were especially important.
Chicago Schools are hoping for a Renaissance of their own – all by the year 2010. With 600 schools, that may seem a daunting task. But nothing is too difficult if not planned for appropriately.
Nine years ago, the mayor of Chicago took control of Chicago Schools in an effort to turn them around. While performance has shown a dramatic improvement, there are still many schools that have just not been able to make the grade. With this new program – Renaissance 2010 – the mayor and educators hope to turn around each and every school, no matter how poorly they are doing.
Why are the Chicago Schools Failing?
It is important to take a look at what might be contributing to the failure of some Chicago Schools. For the most part, the struggling institutions of learning seem to be located in underserved communities (code word: poor) or those that are seeing rapid growth. With the 2010 goals, Chicago Schools hope to take these troubled schools, break them down and rebuild them into schools that are successful and can offer new educational options to their Chicago Schools students.
One must wonder, however, why did these Chicago Schools get in the situations they are in in the first place? What is it that makes some schools achieve more than others? Well, while I don’t like to say it, the main reason is money.
It is fact that money is necessary to run a school. Chicago Schools need lots of money in order to make sure that their Chicago Schools’ students are getting the best quality education they can give them. The problem is that not all schools are funded equally and this affects each and every student in the long run. Chicago Schools that must choose between paper and electricity do not, indeed cannot, put learning at the top of their priority list. With this new plan, the mayor plans to create 100 new Chicago Schools; a restructuring that he hopes will help students feel important and that they have an opportunity to do their best.
The mayor intends for two-thirds of these schools to be run by outside agencies – to, in effect, become charter schools. It is sad that the education of Chicago Schools students must be turned over to someone other than their own school system. Instead of working to fix the internal workings of the Chicago Schools district, it appears that the mayor is “throwing in the towel” and passing the problems over to someone else.
Whether this is true or not, it will be interesting to see how these new schools fare in comparison to their ancestors. Will a fancy new name and new administrators for the low-enrollment and low-performing Chicago Schools perform? Time will tell.