Arne Duncan's Chicago Legacy Questioned

Chicago nowhere near head of the pack in urban school improvement, report says

By Andrew Greiner
|  Tuesday, Dec 29, 2009  |  Updated 10:35 AM CDT
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Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan was tapped to serve as education secretary after having run the third-biggest U.S. school district for the past seven years.

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President Obama sold Education Secretary Arne Duncan to the country as the man who saved Chicago’s school system.

But Duncan’s Chicago legacy may be just a bit inflated.

It seems that, for all the fanfare attached to the restructuring plan Duncan implemented in Chicago – one he is using as a national model  -- the city’s schools still underperform, reports the Washington Post.

According to the results of a federal math report card, Miami, Houston and New York all outpaced Chicago on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and Boston, San Diego and Atlanta made more progress.

The numbers don’t jibe with Duncan’s legacy, the Post writes.

"There's been this rhetoric about dramatic gains, dramatic success, that we have to replicate this model because of its dramatic success," Julie Woestehoff of the advocacy group Parents United for Responsible Education told the Post. "And here in Chicago, we're looking at these schools and going, 'Uh . . . ' "

It’s not to say that Duncan’s programs are failing; test scores are up in Chicago. But his method of closing severely underperforming schools and shuffling students to other areas is starting to gain national attention and scrutiny.

Some say the shuffling simply hides the problem in some areas and leads to violence in others.

Read more in the Washington Post.

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