Sarah Karp, WBEZ education reporter, tells us about her most recent story in which she dissects CPS' claim that graduation rates are quickly improving in the city's public schools. A major part of the success, Karp reports, is the use by CPS of commercial "alternative schools" that take at-risk students from traditional high schools. The curriculum, she tells us, is considerably less challenging, sometimes consisting of little more than sitting in front of a laptop for to or three hours a day. There are serious questions about how meaningful a high school diploma from one of these schools can be in today;'s complex job market. Nevertheless, there is good news to report, because the overall graduation rate has risen by more than ten percent in just five years.
Jawanza Malone, Executive Director of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, echoes concerns about the value of this "alternative" schooling, and laments the fact that these troubled, at-risk teens are not being given a higher level of more intensive instruction.
Malone tells us that displacement and gentrification are already serious problems near the site of the Obama Center, as real-estate speculators are flooding in to buy inexpensive properties before the Center opens. Malone Says that what's needed is a comprehensive community benefits agreement that would stipulate compensation for people who are displaced and standards for property preservation. He says that KOCO has not taken a position on whether a location in the park or in the community is preferable, but he says that putting the OPC in the neighborhood would be highly disruptive,with potentially 800,0000 visitors annually coming into a residential community. Malone says that, no matter where people stand on the controversial Presidential Center, the one thing he believes everyone agrees on is that there's no need for a Tiger Woods-designed PGA golf course in Jackson Park.