Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chicago Analysis: Duncan Unimpressive on Special Needs

Catalyst Chicago, which reports on Chicago school reform, examines Duncan's record on special needs. Some highlights (or maybe lowlights) from this report:

"One area where there was no improvement or reform under Duncan was special education, long a trouble spot for CPS. Performance continues to be dismal. Fewer than 25 percent of elementary students receiving special education services met state standards last year; less than 10 percent of those in high school did. Half of high school students with learning disabilities drop out; only a third of those who graduate enroll in college, most in two-year programs, according to 2007 data.

"The average performance gap on state tests between students in special education and those who aren’t is 45 points -- a gap that has widened during Duncan’s tenure and that is higher than the statewide average. Overall, about 12 percent of CPS students receive special education services (11 percent in elementary schools; 16 percent in high schools). In some high schools, as many as one in three students are in special education."

This is part 2 -- read part 1 for other aspects of his record.

You know I'm an Obama supporter, and I've been encouraged by most of his actions since being elected. It bothers me that the one selection I have concerns about happens to be one of the most important positions for families with special-needs children. I continue to look for reassuring signs that he will make special ed a priority -- have you seen any?
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