Chicago Public Schools (CPS), officially classified as City of Chicago School District #299 for funding and districting reasons, in Chicago, Illinois and is the third largest school district in the U.S. (List of the largest school districts in the United States by enrollment). For the 2012-2013 school year, CPS reported overseeing 681 schools including 472 elementary schools, 106 high schools, 96 charter schools, and 7 contract schools.
Chicago Public Schools serves 400,000 students. Students attend a particular school based on their area of residence except for charter schools and selective enrollment schools. The school system reported a graduation rate of 65.4 percent for the 2012-2013 school year. Unlike most school systems, CPS calls the position of superintendent "Chief Executive Officer", but there is no material difference in responsibilities or reporting from what is traditionally a superintendent. CPS reported an average of 20 pupils per teacher in elementary schools and 24.6 pupils per teacher in high school. Approximately 85% of CPS students are Latino or African-American. The student body includes 87% from low-income homes and 12.2% of students are reported to have limited English proficiency. Average salaries for 2008-2009 were $74,839 for teachers and $120,659 for administrators. For the 2013-2014 school year, CPS reported 41,579 staff positions including 22,519 teachers and 545 principals. In 2012 CPS reported a budget of $5.11 billion with $2.273 billion from local sources, $1.619 billion from the State of Illinois and $0.977 billion from the U.S. Federal Government. Per student spending was reported at $13,078 in 2010.
As Chicago was started as a trading outpost in the early 1800s, it took several years for a citywide school system with adequate funding and instructional personnel to emerge. As early as 1848 during the first term of the 10th Mayor of Chicago, James Hutchinson Woodworth, the city's need for a Public School System was recognized by the city council, and a higher educational standard for the system was stated by the Mayor, both to reflect his philosophy as a former teacher, and to add an attribute to Chicago that would continue to attract productive citizens. In 1922, the School Board voted unanimously to change policy that allocated library access based on color, "[extending] the same privileges to Race children to enter all the libraries as the white children enjoy", but maintaining segregated schools and specifying that "in each branch library all employees should belong to the race which attended the particular school".
From 2001 to 2008, CPS, under Arne Duncan's leadership, closed dozens of elementary and high schools. University of Chicago researchers found that most of the students that transferred as a result of the closures did not improve their performance. New schools created from the conversions include charter schools and five military schools, three of which have Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs. In response to CPS's announcements in 2013 that it was considering closing nearly 200 schools, many Chicago parents, students, teachers and community activists voiced their opposition through the media and at hearings around the city. In addition, several Illinois lawmakers, including chairman of the Senate education committee William Delgado (D-Chicago), pushed for a moratorium on school closings in CPS, citing "the disproportion[ate] effect on minority communities, the possibility of overcrowding and safety concerns for students who will have to travel further to class." On May 22, 2013, the school board voted to close 50 elementary schools.
CPS teacher strikes
In 1983, CPS teachers went on a fifteen-day strike from October 3 to October 18 demanding 10% salary increase. Superintendent Ruth B. Love offered raises between 1.6% and 4.8%, but the teachers union rejected the proposal. The strike ended with the teachers receiving a 5% raise, 2.5% bonus and a one-year pact. Chicago public school teachers went on a ten-day strike from November 23, to December 3, 1984 which resulted in a 4.5% raise. In 1985, the teachers had a two-day walkout. CPS teachers went on a nineteen-day strike from September 8, to October 3, 1987.
In September 2012, CPS teachers went on a nine-day strike, walking off the job for the first time in 25 years. The work stoppage, which began during the second week of the 2012 school year, culminated with a march on City Hall. Striking teachers voiced complaints about pay, teacher evaluations, and benefits, as well as general concerns about the neglect of the city's public school system. Soon after the strike, CEO Jean-Claude Brizard stepped down from his position.
For the 2011-2012 school year, CPS reported having 404,151 students including 24,232 in preschool, 29,594 in kindergarten, 236,452 in grades 1-8, and 113,873 in grades 9-12. Latinos were 44.1% of the student body, African-Americans made up 41.6%, 8.8% were categorized as white, 3.4% Asian/Pacific Islander and 0.4% as Native American. Chicago Public Schools were the most segregated among large city school systems, according to research by the New York Times in 2012.
- Main article: List of schools in Chicago Public Schools*
CPS is a vast system of primary, secondary, and disability schools confined to Chicago's city limits. This system is the second largest employer in Chicago. Most schools in the district, being prekindergarten-8th grade, elementary, middle, or secondary, have attendance boundaries restricting student enrollment to within a given area. A school may elect to enroll students outside their attendance boundaries if there is space or if it has a magnet cluster program. Full magnet schools are open to student enrollment citywide provided that applicants meet a level of high academic standards. Magnets offer a variety of academic programs with various focuses, such as agriculture, fine arts, international baccalaureate, Montessori, Math, Literature, Paideia programs, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). STEM Magnet Academy is the first elementary school in the state of Illinois, and among the first in the nation, to offer a curriculum that focuses on science, technology, engineering and math. The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts) is the system's only audition based performing and visual arts high school. Chicago was the largest city in the country without a public high school for the arts until the establishment of ChiArts in 2009.
The school system contains two levels of elementary-middle school programs which make selective admission only. Regional gifted centers have an area of focus (such as math and science) and require one type of assessment. Classical schools, in contrast to regional gifted centers, take a liberal arts approach focusing on all areas. Classical school applications thus require a different type of assessment.
At the secondary level, CPS operates ten selective enrollment high schools. Selective Enrollment high schools work on a point system out of 900 points:,
- 300 points for the 7th grade standardized testing (NWEA, as of 2014)
- 300 points for the entrance exam (tested in vocabulary, literature, math)
- 300 points for 7th grade grades (A=75, B=50, C=25; D and below=0)
Competition is fierce, and many factors decide whether students are admitted or not:
- Ranking: Students are asked to rank their top 6 high schoolsâ"the higher a school is on the list, the higher the chance a high school will choose to admit a student
- Points from the point system mentioned above
Other high school options
In addition to the selective enrollment high schools, a number of other possibilities exist for high school students. These include military academies, career academies, and charter schools. Lincoln Park High School and Von Steuben Metropolitan Science Center are neighborhood "magnet" high schools, which also offer various honors programs to students citywide. More specialized options, such as the Chicago High School for the Arts and the Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences are also available.
In partnership with various Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps programs, six high schools are operated as public military academies.
- Carver Military Academy
- Chicago Military Academy at Bronzeville
- Phoenix Military Academy
- Rickover Naval Academy <- Selective enrollment
Some high schools have been designated as "Career Academies". According to CPS, these schools have "intensified resources to prepare students for careers in business/finance, communications, construction, health, hospitality/food service, manufacturing, performing arts, and transportation. Vocational shops, science labs, broadcast journalism labs and media/computer centers help students gain 'hands on' experience."
- Chicago Vocational Career Academy
- Dunbar Vocational Career Academy
- Simeon Career Academy
- Prosser Career Academy
- Richards Career Academy
- Main article: List of Charter schools in Chicago*
Chicago has a growing number of charter schools under the Noble Network of Charter Schools which receive the majority of their operating budgets from the same tax sources as CPS. Charters in Chicago receive 10-25% less public funding than traditional schools, although most studies show their student achievement and performance metrics to be significantly better than traditional CPS results.
The structure of Chicago Public Schools was redefined after Mayor Richard M. Daley convinced the Illinois General Assembly to place CPS under the mayor's control. Illinois school districts are generally governed by locally-elected school boards, where each district board hires a superintendent, who in turn hires administrators such as principals, who then must be approved by the school board. In contrast, CPS is headed by a Chief Executive Officer and school board appointed by the mayor. CPS is headquartered in the 125 South Clark Street building in the Chicago Loop. Barbara Byrd-Bennett is the current CEO of Chicago Public Schools. The main offices of Chicago Public Schools are located in the 125 South Clark Street building in the Chicago Loop. The 20 story building, managed by MB Real Estate, and originally built as the Commercial National Bank, has 570,910 square feet (53,039Â m2) of space.
The April 21, 2006 issue of the Chicago Tribune revealed a study released by the Consortium on Chicago School Research that stated that 6 of every 100 CPS freshmen would earn a bachelor's degree by age 25. 3 in 100 black or Latino men would earn a bachelor's degree by age 25. The study tracked Chicago high school students who graduated in 1998 and 1999. 35% of CPS students who went to college earned their bachelor's degree within six years, below the national average of 64%. Chicago has a history of high dropout rates, with around half of students failing to graduate for the past 30 years. Criticism is directed at the CPS for inflating its performance figures. Through such techniques as counting students who swap schools before dropping out as transfers but not dropouts, it publishes graduation claims as high as 71%. Nonetheless, throughout the 1990s actual rates seem to have improved slightly, as true graduation estimates rose from 48% in 1991 to 54% in 2004. In 1987, Education Secretary William J. Bennett called the Chicago Public Schools system the worst in the nation. In September 2011, the University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research (CCSR) published a report on the school system's performance over the course of 30 years of reform. While the report evaluated three decades of reform, it measured the progress of such policies by "analyzing trends in elementary and high school test scores and graduation rates over the past 20 years." As a result of this analysis, the authors of the report highlighted five of their central conclusions:
- "Graduation rates have improved dramatically, and high school test scores have risen; more students are graduating without a decline in average academic performance."
- "Math scores have improved incrementally in the elementary/middle grades, while elementary/middle grade reading scores remained fairly flat for two decades."
- "Racial gaps in achievement have steadily increased, with white students making slightly more progress than Latino students, and African American students falling behind all other groups."
- "Despite progress, the vast majority of CPS students have academic achievement levels that are far below where they need to be to graduate ready for college."
- "The publicly reported statistics used to hold schools and districts accountable for making academic progress are not accurate measures of progress."
- List of schools in Chicago Public Schools
- Chicago Public High School League
- Local School Councils
- Renaissance 2010
- Middle School Cadet Corps
- Chicago Public Schools Website
- Chicago Public League Sports Fan Website www.CPSfan.com
- CPSfan.com high school stores webpage
News and commentary
- District 299 The CPS Blog
- "CPS career program sends fashion students out of classroom and into business" Article on recent CPS vocational programs
- "50/50: The Odds of Graduating" WBEZ Chicago Public Radio multimedia project on Chicago's dropout crisis