Thursday, February 19, 2015

Revised Policy Statement Released

On the eve of the Chicago mayoral election, Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE), a network of education researchers from universities in the Chicago area, is releasing Chicago School Reform: Myths, Realities, and New Visions (2015).

In response to Mayor Emanuel's claims of major success for his education policy initiatives, CReATE calls into question major parts of Chicago school reform under Mayor Emanuel's leadership.

CReATE reviews how reforms of the past four years and earlier have impacted Chicago children, families and school communities.

In response to recent policy initiatives, CReATE proposes a series of research supported alternatives to mayoral appointed school boards, school closings, the ever-expanding chartering and privatizing of public schools, as well as the curriculum and teacher evaluation designs and increased high stakes testing being imposed by Common Core State Standards and the U.S. Department of Education's Race to the Top policies.

The position statement also includes contact information for university-based education researchers who can provide more detailed commentary on specific areas of education policy.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Child mental health experts raise serious concerns about the impact of proposed mass school closings on Chicago students

Today, several notable social workers, counselors, and academic researchers from prominent Illinois and Chicago organizations and universities submitted a set of statements to the members of the Chicago Board of Education detailing their serious concerns about the potential negative impact of school closings on Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students’ social-emotional health.  Tomorrow, the Board of Education is scheduled to consider approving up to 54 school closings and consolidations.

The experts shared their statements at a press conference held at Roosevelt University and sponsored by Parents United for Responsible Education, a Chicago public school parent advocacy organization, along with  CReATE education professors Ann Aviles de Bradley and Diane Horwitz.

Significant concerns raised by these experts include grief and loss, issues of transition, schools as community cornerstones, inclusion of student voice, and lack of adequate mental health services.

Full Press Release Available Here

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CReATE Researchers on Impact of Proposed School Closing

CReATE researchers Josh Radinsky and Federico Waitoller (University of Illinois-Chicago) have prepared a report that details the impacts of the proposed school closings in Chicago in terms of student relocation and faculty dismissal.  These researchers find that CPS statements on this matter greatly underestimate the scale of the impact.

The report on the Impact of Proposed School Closings is available at

4/20/2013 Now updated to reflect 2012-2013 Student Data.

Dr. Josh Radinsky
Dr. Federico Waitoller

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

CReATE Researchers Issue Open Letter on School Closures

Education Scholars Agree Chicago School Closures are Ill-Advised and Unsupported by Data

 An Open Letter of Concern to
Mayor Rahm Emanuel,
Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett
and the Chicago School Board

We, the undersigned, call upon the Chicago Board of Education to reject the closing of 54 schools at their May meeting, and instead, to implement reforms that are guided by solid research and by a vision of public education that offers every child the very best that our city has to offer.  We also urge consulting with the professors in CReATE, who bring both scholarly and practical expertise on these issues.

Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE), a network of over 100 professors from numerous Chicago-area universities who specialize in educational research, has reviewed the literature on school closures and conducted an analysis of newly released data to critically assess Chicago Public Schools arguments to justify school closures and to gain a better understanding of what Chicago residents can expect from massive school closures.  The history of previous school closures and school actions reveal that closures negatively impact academic performance and create more hardship for communities already suffering from social abandonment.  Our findings do not support CPS’ arguments for closing schools and we conclude that school closures will contribute to a separate and unequal educational system in Chicago.  

Primary Contact: Prof. Stephanie Farmer, Roosevelt University,, 312-341-3746.  Complete list of 107 Chicago-area Education Researchers who signed this letter available at

UPDATE April 3, 2013 - Education Researchers Nationwide endorse CReATE Open Letter. 
A complete list of the 100 education researchers from across the country who have added their signatures to the CReATE Open Letter is available at

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

CReATE Releases Research Brief on School Closures

When a school is closed, the facility is shut down, school staff is displaced, children are sent to other schools, and the community loses a vital resource. If Chicago Public Schools (CPS) follows the city’s Commission on School Utilization March 2013 recommendations, 80 CPS neighborhood schools (13% of the entire system) will be closed, disrupting the lives of nearly 25,000 children. CPS expects that students will need to travel an added 1 to 1½ miles to get to their new schools. Over the years, CPS has mobilized three different types of arguments to justify school closings: underperformance, cost savings, and underutilization. In this new brief CReATE researchers examine each of these arguments in relation to current educational research.

The CReATE Research Brief on School Closures is available for download here in English, and here in Spanish.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Factsheets on Education Issues Facing the 2012-2013 Illinois Legislative Session

CReATE is a network of over 100 professors from numerous Chicago-area universities who specialize in educational research and who work collectively to conduct, review, and distribute studies in order to promote public learning and dialogue about education issues. Sorting out the rhetoric from the reality, CReATE is pleased to release a series of FACTSHEETS in November 2012 about five of the most pressing education issues in the 2012-2013 Illinois legislative season. Highlighting numerous studies about the nation, the state of Illinois, and the city of Chicago, these Factsheets share a common message. They tell us that the research is clear: Several of the most common and commonsensical reforms have not only been unsuccessful at improving schools, but more significantly, have already proven to make things worse as school governance becomes less democratic, school funding becomes more inequitable, and public education becomes far less capable of serving the needs of the children of Chicago and Illinois.

Factsheet on Charter School Funding (November 2012)
Factsheet on Charter Schools (November 2012) 
Factsheet on  School Closures, Governance and Accountability (November 2012)
Factsheet on School Funding Formulas (November 2012)
Factsheet on Tax Increment Financing (TIF) (November 2012)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Research Brief #3: Tax Increment Financing and Chicago Public Schools Construction Projects Introduction

CReATE |Research Brief #3
June 2012

Tax Increment Financing (TIF) is one of Chicago’s leading financing tools for development. TIF districts create a development fund based on the property taxes generated in the TIF district. When the TIF district is formed, all the properties in the district have the property value amount on which taxing bodies draw their revenues (the baseline) frozen for 23 years. Any new tax revenue created above the property value baseline amount (the increment) is diverted into the TIF development fund, used to finance community development projects in both the public and private sector. State law requires TIFs to be used for the development of blighted or deteriorating communities. In recent years, the city of Chicago has expanded its use of TIFs to increasingly include sections of the city that are economically developed and stable. Currently, TIF districts cover over 30% of the city.

The effects of TIFs are controversial. On the one hand, critics of TIFs note that each district diverts revenues from the public school taxing body, thus depriving them of revenues that would have otherwise gone to them. TIFs capture about $500 million in tax revenues each year, about half of which is diverted from the public school system. Critics have also pointed to the revenues given to large corporations, such as Boeing and United Airlines to finance the expenses of moving their headquarters to the downtown Loop, as an abuse of the intent of TIF. On the other hand, city officials and TIF proponents claim that the TIF is the only game in town for financing local development projects. They emphasize the public works projects and new school construction to demonstrate the benefits of the TIF program. Since 1983, 46% of TIF revenues have been allocated for public works projects, with 47% of those revenues going towards Chicago Public Schools construction projects.

This white paper examines the nature of TIF funded public school construction projects. Key findings include:

  • 1 out of 3 schools receiving TIF funds are in the highest socio-economic communities (Tier 4) as measured by Chicago Public Schools (CPS), even though the TIF was designed to help develop blighted communities. 
  • Selective enrollment schools constitute 1% of CPS schools but receive 25% of TIF funds used for school construction projects. 
  • Schools with some form of an exclusive enrollment process (includes selective enrollment schools and charters, magnets, etc) received nearly 50% of all TIF funds used for school construction projects. 
  • Neighborhood area attendance schools constitute 69% of CPS schools but receive 47% of all TIF funds used for school construction projects. 
  • 78% of the schools receiving TIF funds are located in the northern 50% of the city, even though the TIF is suppose to help underdeveloped communities.