Chicago Public Schools: Closures, Turnarounds, and Budget

By Chinyere Farr Douglas and Maeve O’Donovan

Since 2002, the City of Chicago has either closed or “turned around” a whopping 200 public schools.

City leaders insist the reasons for the closures are due to chronic low-performance and under-enrollment. Most of the affected schools are located in the South and West Sides of Chicago where predominantly blacks and Latinos reside. The idea was to replace the closed schools with new ‘renaissance” schools to provide a better outcome for students and staff.

Chicago has opened nearly as many new “renaissance” schools and it’s closed. Although some of the new schools have become some of the city’s most successful schools, many of them are no longer open.

We got the opportunity to interview two Chicago public school teachers and one current Chicago public school student who are affected by the city’s efforts to improve schools.

Carla Salvato, a UIC Education major and a teacher at O.A. Thorp in Portage Park, said budgeting has always been an issue amongst many of the CPS schools. She said some neighborhood schools are fortunate enough to have iPads, computers, smartboards and Chromebooks for lecture. Others do not. Her current school O.A. Thorp does.

Carla speaking about how the budget affects the different schools mentions,“There have iPads, Chromebooks, Smartboards per one classroom and some schools don’t even have any of those for the whole entire school.”

“Students learning is affected because they don’t have all the resources they need, which isn’t fair” Salvato said. “The technology is the greatest need for funding within the school.”

Here is a link to students who qualify for free lunch by grade. https://datawrapper.dwcdn.net/KKkQ6/1/

Macy Geyer, a UIC education major and current teacher at Oscar DePriest Elementary School in the South Austin neighborhood, has been teacher for almost a year in CPS.

Geyer mentioned technology being different throughout all schools. Where some schools have bigger budgets, meaning they contain better technology and other schools with little to no budget don’t have anything.

Oscar DePriest Elementary is among one of the newer schools to open on the West Side of Chicago. Budgeting is still an issue for this school which in return impacts the teacher and the students.

“There are some days where a student will ask the teacher for a pencil and she will say no, I don’t have any left,” she said.

That becomes and issue when the teacher will have to go and spend their own money on classroom supplies such as pencils and notebooks. Supplies that should be readily available for students.

Through all the classrooms, the Illinois State Standards for Curriculum for DePriest has been met. Although Geyer has not experienced a school closing herself, her mentor teacher has. She reports the closings happen abruptly and relocation can be inconsiderate. If teacher get the opportunity to move to another school, it’s likely for them to be place in schools far from their homes on very short notice.

Located on the South Side of Chicago in the Englewood neighborhood, John Hope College Preparatory High School is set to close its doors within the next two years because of under-enrollment.

As former student of John Hope High School, Adrienne Bradford was fortunate enough to attend all four years at Hope before it closed in 2018. Although fortunate to graduate, Bradford is still highly disturbed by the rapid school closings that have affected her community.

When she first heard the news that the school would be closing before graduation, Bradford was in disbelief. She defended Hope in saying it was a safe place for her and her peers. She witnessed some of the best teachers laid off because of the lack of funding and student attendance.

Bradford went on the mention that the she enjoyed the smaller class sizes because is enabled teachers and students to build trusting relationships. Her teachers were more than teachers, they were mentors who truly cared about the student’s academic success even though they were aware of the struggles they faced outside school walls.

Below is an updated map of all the Chicago Public School closures and turnarounds. The map includes school name, address, year of closure, and current use of the building.

Michael Passman the Chief of Communication and Emily Bolton the Press Secretary for Chicago Public Schools were contacted. They were asked if they could answer questions about the Chicago Public Schools closings for the UIC Data Journalism course. We had no response each effort.

World’s 20 Best Cities for Cyclists

It isn’t surprising that the majority of the best cities for cyclist are located in Europe. What makes a bike friendly city largely involves infrastructure and climate. According to World Economic Forum, there are 675,000 bicycles and just 120,000 cars in Copenhagen, where bikes outnumber cars by more than five-to-one. The number of cycling continues to increase in Copenhagen because the city has taken the initiative to build innovative bridges, which form cycling superhighways across the city. The city plans to become carbon neutral by 2025.

Cycling offers many health benefits. According to World Economic Forum, cycling is a great low-impact form of exercise which can build muscle, bone density, and increase cardiovascular fitness. Cities also benefit from having cyclist on the road (for miles bike a city can experience economic gain). Traffic congestion also decreases with increased cyclist on the road.

It seems to me that cities should strive for being more bike-friendly like Copenhagen. Although, ongoing heavy investments in infrastructure are necessary for creating a more bike-friendly the overall outcome would be in favor of the city.

This summer I plan to make more of an effort to commute by bike instead of car, when possible.

Check out my interactive map of the World’s 20 Best Cities for Cyclists created via Google My Maps

Infographic- Sugar-sweetened Beverage Consumption among Adults in Cook County, Illinois, 2017

On average, adults aged 18-64 consume sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) 1.9 times per day in a month in Cook County, IL.

On average, adults consume soda 0.6 times per day in a month, followed by fruit drinks 0.4 times, tea/coffee 0.4 times, sports drinks 0.3 times, and energy drinks 0.2 times.

Males consume SSBs more frequently than females (on average, 2.3 versus 1.6 times per day in a month). In particular, males consume energy drinks twice as often as females.

Sodas are the most frequently consumed type of SSB for both males and females.

Pride Parade Attendance in Chicago 1985-2014

In 2013 and 2014, an estimated amount of one million prideful souls attended the Pride Parade in Chicago.

A bar graph of the Chicago Pride Parade Attendance 1985-2014.
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The Pride Parade started in Chicago, June 1970 to honor and celebrate Chicago’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning or queer (LGBTQ) community. The Pride Parade has evolved significantly over the years. What started as a protest and meeting in Lincoln Park has turned into a two-day festival with stages of music, exhibitors, food and drinks. The festival takes place the weekend before the parade which is on the last weekend of June each year in memory of the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Pride Parade takes place over a four-mile route. The parade kicks off at Montrose Ave. in Uptown and ends near Diversey Parkway and Sheridan Rd. in Lincoln Park. In 2013 and 2014, the parade had approximately one million attendees, the most parade goers in Chicago Pride Parade history.

Practice Story


Gov. Pat Quinn talks about MAP grants at DePaul University. (Photo by Josclynn Brandon)

Editor’s note: This story was originally posted on Dec. 12, 2012 and is housed at RedLineProject.org

By Bob Smith

Gov. Pat Quinn visited DePaul University’s Loop campus on Wednesday to discuss how pension reform is harming the Monetary Award Program (MAP) college scholarships and access to higher education in Illinois.

“This is so important to our state, not only in the past, but certainly now and in the future,” Quinn said.
“We want everyone to have the opportunity to go to college that has the ability to go to college.”

MAP grants are need-based college scholarships that allow merit students who are in need across the state and do not need to be repaid by the student. Quinn said that due to cutbacks and having to pay more money in the pension amount, almost 18,000 students lost their MAP grant scholarships this year.

Continue reading “Practice Story”