New data obtained by WBEZ and the Better Government Association reveal that reports made public by Mayor Rahm Emanuel that Chicago Public Schools graduation rates climbed to a record 69.4 percent were false.
Whether it was an honest mistake or an outright lie, the damage is the same. Black and Latino youth, who make up nearly 85% of the student population suffer. Currently, Blacks make up 39.3 percent of CPS population and Hispanics make up 45.6%.
According to WBEZ:
CPS records recently obtained under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act show at least 2,200 students from 25 Chicago high schools were counted as having transferred out of the district between 2011 and 2014. In reality, they were dropouts. The transfers aren't factored into CPS graduation rates, while dropouts are.
More than half of the 2,200 labeled as moving out of town or going to private schools actually went to alternative schools. Those students should stay in the graduation rate.
Another 610 of the so-called transfers were listed as getting a GED. State law and policy dictate that students who leave districts to go to GED programs are dropouts.
An additional 1,300 had no explanation of what school they were supposedly transferring to or were vaguely listed as going to different states or countries.
Although less than 70 percent is a weak C grade, the announcement about the increase in the graduation rate came before the last mayoral election and helped give Mayor Rahm some bragging rights about a school system that had little to brag about.
District officials acknowledged problems with the system's accounting, but said they had no plan to go back and adjust the numbers. They insisted the numbers weren't purposely skewed to help Emanuel look better to potential voters, according to WBEZ and the BGA.
About the author /
Author Toure Muhammad is the head bean, publisher and chief strategist of Bean Soup Times. The Morehouse graduate has written front page cover stories for The Final Call and N'digo. He has been featured in the Chicago Reader, Upscale magazine, rolling out newspaper, and N'Digo magapaper. He's been featured on Tavis Smiley's radio show on NPR, on Chicago's WBEZ (Chicago public radio), and many other radio shows.