A Dilemma For Schools Seeking To Reform

Sarah Karp:

On the eve of a Board of Education meeting in February where the death knell was to sound for five schools, Ron Huberman, the chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, granted an 11th-hour reprieve.
The low enrollment and poor academic record at Paderewski Elementary had made the South Side school a target for closing, and its students were being sent to Mason Elementary, the only nearby school that had higher test scores. Mr. Huberman said he changed his mind after walking from Paderewski to Mason and discovering that students would have to cross a wide intersection of four streets, a situation he concluded was too dangerous.
Although the pardon for Paderewski might have been a relief for some teachers, parents and students, it did not address the problems at a low-performing, underutilized school. Other poorly performing schools are also being spared as resistance to closing them has grown, confronting the next mayor with a longstanding question: What can be done with neighborhood schools where enrollment is shrinking and academic improvement is slow?