Chicago teachers strike in 1987
Following decades of bitter labor relations, Chicago Public Schools hit bottom in the late 1980s: ACT scores ranked among the lowest in the nation, and the dropout rate was sky-high. In 1986, Mayor Harold Washington convened an education summit that became the impetus for 25 years of reform—in three eras, identified by the Consortium on Chicago School Research.
Chicago teachers strike for 19 days (Sept. 8–Oct. 3).
Secretary of Education William Bennett calls Chicago’s public schools the “worst in the nation.”
Inheriting authority previously held by school boards, local school councils—made up of teachers, parents, community members, and principals—begin wielding the power to hire and fire principals, design curricula, set standards, and manage budgets.
Illinois legislature passes the Chicago School Reform Act, which creates the local school council system in place today and initiates a period of aggressive reform.
Richard M. Daley elected mayor.
First charter school in the United States opens in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Mayor wins authority to appoint CPS management team and school board. Paul Vallas becomes the first CPS CEO.
CPS chief Paul Vallas imposes quantitative metrics for evaluating student and school performance. Students scoring poorly on standardized tests are now held back, and low-performing schools face probation.
Chicago’s first charter schools open.
Northside College Prep opens. Selective enrollment schools gain momentum.
Arne Duncan appointed CEO of CPS.
Under Arne Duncan, 82 poor-performing or underattended schools close, and 116 new schools open, including 72 charter schools and 9 contract schools. In compliance with No Child Left Behind, CPS steps up emphasis on standardized testing.
The Bush administration enacts No Child Left Behind Act, requiring states to show steady progress on student performance measures.
Renaissance 2010 launches.
Arne Duncan appointed U.S. secretary of education.
The Obama administration’s Race to the Top initiative sets aside $4.35 billion for states that meet rigorous new teacher evaluation requirements.
On the same day a federal district court ends the consent decree mandating school desegregation in Chicago, Derrion Albert is killed in a melee near Fenger High School.
Teachers at Chicago International Charter School sign Chicago’s first charter union contract.
The documentary Waiting for “Superman” stokes the case for charter schools as an antidote to unionized public schools.
Rahm Emanuel elected mayor in February. He names Jean-Claude Brizard CEO of CPS.
Nonprofit group publishes a study showing that a disproportionate amount of TIF funding goes to schools that benefit more white middle- and upper-class students.
Illinois granted waiver from some requirements of No Child Left Behind.
Chicago’s public school teachers strike (Sept. 9–18).
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