Sunday, July 12, 2009

Chicago report says Obama misled public about Duncan

"New research from a Chicago civic group takes direct aim at the city's "abysmal" public high school performance — and suggests that President Obama and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who led Chicago schools for seven years, have misled the public about school performance during Duncan's tenure."

"The Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago, a supporter of Duncan and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's push for more control of city schools, issued the report June 30. It says city schools have made little progress since 2003."

"Its key findings stand in stark contrast to assertions Obama made last December when he nominated Duncan to be Education secretary. And though the findings are by no means as explosive, they're reminiscent of revelations from Houston in 2003, when state investigators found that 15 high schools had underreported dropout rates under former superintendent Rod Paige, who by then was George W. Bush's Education secretary."

"In December, Obama said that during a seven-year tenure, Duncan had boosted elementary school test scores "from 38% of students meeting the standards to 67%" — a gain of 29 percentage points. But the new report found that, adjusting for changes in tests and procedures, students' pass rates grew only about 8 percentage points."

"Obama also said Chicago's dropout rate "has gone down every year he's been in charge." Though that's technically true, the committee says it's still unacceptably high: About half of Chicago students drop out of the city's non-selective-enrollment high schools. And more than 70% of 11th-graders fail to meet state standards, a trend that "has remained essentially flat" over the past several years."

"Even among those who graduate, it says, skills are poor: An analysis of students entering the Chicago City Colleges in the fall of 2006 showed that 69% were not prepared for college-level reading, 79% were not prepared for writing, and 95% were not prepared for math."

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