News Release

Education: “Chicago Model a Disaster”


Lipman is professor of policy studies at the College of Education at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Her books include High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization, and Urban School Reform.

She said today: “President Obama’s speech Thursday, in which he touted the performance of ‘Race to the Top,’ is now the prime example of equating ‘change’ — and we do need change — with privatizing public education.

“Chicago is important to look at because it’s the model [Education Secretary Arne] Duncan [who headed up the Chicago system] is using. In Chicago we’ve seen what this plan means, beginning in 2004, and it has been a disaster for students, teachers, and low-income communities of color. Some 70 schools have been closed creating massive dislocation in African American and Latino communities. These schools simply didn’t get the support they needed, they were basically set up to fail. We now have 100 new schools, two-thirds of them charter, thousands of teachers laid off, over 2,000 African American teachers and administrators. Research by the Consortium on Chicago School Research found that school closings did not improve student education. Most displaced students were transferred to another low-performing school.

“Several studies, most recently one from Stanford University [“National Charter School Study“] have shown that in the aggregate, students in charter schools are not doing as well as their counterparts in public schools. In Chicago, charter high schools have less qualified, less experienced teachers and a lower percentage of special education and English language learning students. These experiments are not being run on the affluent students.

“Privatizing schools and imposing teacher merit pay pits teachers against each other, undermining essential teacher collaboration. It’s a move to weaken teacher unions.

“What’s needed is improvement in public education based on what we know works: decrease class size, high-quality public pre-K education, rich, engaging and relevant curriculum for all students — including arts and athletics, professional working conditions and high quality relevant professional development for teachers.”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020