For example, the Education Department has granted a waiver to Chicago’s public schools, even though that system has been identified repeatedly as “in need of improvement” under NCLB and therefore not allowed to provide after-school tutoring. There is no shortage of private providers — from Newton Learning to Sylvan to the Princeton Review — willing to step in and serve the 200,000 or so students in the Windy City eligible for free tutoring.
But under pressure from teachers unions and public education bureaucrats like the Council of the Great City Schools, Ms. Spellings is allowing the Chicago system to offer its own tutoring. And with predictable results. After assuring the secretary that it would not limit student access to private tutoring, Chicago is doing exactly that. Principals have been directed to give preference to the district’s service and limit parent and student access to alternatives. Teachers have handed out registration forms for the district’s tutoring program at events where outside providers were banned. A full third of all students enrolled in tutoring are enrolled in the public district’s program.