School Stories

Featured videos playlist

School Project webisodes

Shanna Peeples of Texas, 2015 National Teacher of the Year, shares an inspirational moment from her classroom experience and describes how student poverty affects her day-to-day practice.

Episode 2 - Chicago Public Schools: Closed

In 2013, Chicago Public Schools announced that an unprecedented 49 neighborhood schools would be permanently closed. Follow Rousemary Vega, a parent turned activist, through the maze of hearings and protests that preceded the largest school closings in American history. 

Episode 3: Restoring Justice

Chicago’s school discipline policies have unintended consequences.  Is there a better way?  Young filmmakers from Free Spirit Media explore causes and solutions to Chicago's school-to-prison-pipeline. 

Episode 4 - Testing Season

Chicagoans are opting out of PARCC in record numbers and taking a stand on standardized testing. This documentary looks at diverse opinions on whether and how much testing is worthwhile.

Chicago Schools: The Worst in the Nation?

In 1987, U.S. Secretary of Education William Bennett made headlines when he claimed that Chicago had the worst school district in the nation. What has it meant for school reform in the last two decades?

Post from The School Project

October 27th, 2014

UnChartered Territory

UnChartered Territory

What are charter schools and where did the concept come from? The fifth episode of The School Project explores the unlikely history of charters and arguments for and against the charter movement.

Video from The School Project

April 25th, 2015

Parents bond over closing of a Chicago public school

Parents bond over closing of a Chicago public school

"I feel like parents and students didn't have a voice in the school closings."

Post from StoryCorps

May 22nd, 2015

Five Reasons Chicago Needs Charter Schools

Five Reasons Chicago Needs Charter Schools

Learn the pros and cons of charter schools in our new webisodes for national charter schools week. In Part I we break down five arguments for charters.

Video from The School Project

May 7th, 2015

Five Reasons Chicago Doesn't Need More Charter Schools

Five Reasons Chicago Doesn't Need More Charter Schools

Learn the pros and cons of charter schools in our new webisodes for national charter schools week. In Part II we break down five arguments in favor of charters.

Video from The School Project

May 7th, 2015

An Interesting Way to Learn

An Interesting Way to Learn

Twiggy came by StoryCorps Chicago to talk charter schools with her sister Cristena. It's an intimate subject for them both, especially Twiggy, who wouldn't be a filmmaker if it weren't for the video program at North Lawndale College Prep.

Post from StoryCorps

May 19th, 2015

Watch: National Teacher of the Year

Watch: National Teacher of the Year

Shanna Peeples of Texas, 2015 National Teacher of the Year, shares an inspirational moment from her classroom experience and describes how student poverty affects her day-to-day practice.

Video from Center on Great Teachers

May 12th, 2015

Should Charter Schools Have Teachers Unions?

Should Charter Schools Have Teachers Unions?

Most charter schools in Chicago do not have teachers unions. This webisode explores some arguments for unionizing charters. It also recounts the successful effort of teachers at one school to form the city's first charter school union.

Video from The School Project

May 1st, 2015

President Obama on National Charters Week

During National Charter Schools Week, we pay tribute to the role our Nation's public charter schools play in advancing opportunity.

White House

May 2nd, 2015

Lane Tech Students Get Crafty With First Maker Lab in CPS

Lane Tech Students Get Crafty With First Maker Lab in CPS

From a coat rack to a heating vent cover to works of technology-aided art, the goal of the school's new Maker Lab is discovering the simple pleasures of creating.

Post from DNA Info

April 30th, 2015

Four Lessons from the Opt-Out Debate

Four Lessons from the Opt-Out Debate

Thoughtful piece: Four lessons from the #optout debate.

Post from Robert Pondiscio

May 8th, 2015

The Algebra Project

The Algebra Project

The goal is simple: Take students who score the worst on state math tests, double up on the subject for four years and get them ready to do college-level math by the end of high school.

WBEZ

May 6th, 2015

The Reality behind CPS' New Reduced Testing Policy

More Than a Score breaks down how testing is really changing this year.

More Than A Score

March 31st, 2015

The Opt-Out Heard Round Chicago - Drummond School

The Opt-Out Heard Round Chicago - Drummond School

In spring 2014, 75% of students at Drummond Elementary refused to take the ISAT test. Watch what happened next.

Video from The School Project

March 26th, 2015

Chicago Marches Against the School to Prison Pipeline

Chicago Marches Against the School to Prison Pipeline

Malcolm London and Project NIA organized a march from a closed school to the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, as part of the National Week of Action Against Incarcerating Youth.

Video from The School Project

February 26th, 2015

Teacher Story Slam

Teacher Story Slam

Join the next Catalyst Chicago Story Slam on April 2nd at Red Kiva!

Catalyst Chicago

March 25th, 2015

What's Wrong with Standardized Testing?

What's Wrong with Standardized Testing?

Why are parents, educators, and activists speaking out against standardized testing? Education experts give 5 arguments against PARCC and other high-stakes tests.

Video from The School Project

March 12th, 2015

Why Do We Need Standardized Testing?

Why Do We Need Standardized Testing?

Why have standardized tests become so prevalent in our education system? Hear why some educators think they're good for students.

Video from The School Project

March 12th, 2015

Story - February 12, 2015, 9:15 pm

I have two small children and live in the Trumbull district. When I heard that it was closing and we were being reassigned to McPherson, I was delighted. Trumbull had a bad reputation in there are better schools we could walk to.

Post from Camille

February 12th, 2015

Showing spirit to keep a school open

Showing spirit to keep a school open

Santa Claus (a.k.a. school parent Jesse Terrazas) aims to remain on the roof until the school raises the funds it needs to be able to remain open for the next school year.

Post from Chicago Sun-Times

December 15th, 2014

CPS Success Story - Hamilton Elementary

CPS Success Story - Hamilton Elementary

2nd annual paper airplane invitational at Hamilton Elementary with Clinton and Henry elementaries. Great day!

Post from IL Raise Your Hand

May 2nd, 2015

Learning by Doing

Learning by Doing

Students at a Northwest Chicago magnet school are getting unique lessons in building everything from robots in the first grade to websites in the eighth grade.It's all part of a blended learning model that merges technology with education.

WTTW - Chicago Tonight

December 15th, 2014

The Mayoral Race & Chicago Public Schools

The Mayoral Race & Chicago Public Schools

Chicago is about to elect its next Mayor. What are the implications for Chicago Public Schools?

Video from The School Project

May 28th, 2015

Number of CPS students getting degrees on the rise

Back in 2006, the headlines screamed “appalling.” Out of every 100 CPS students, only six earned a four-year college degree ... 8 years later, that percentage has risen to 14/100 CPS students graduating from a 4-year college by 25.

Post from Chicago Sun-Times

December 16th, 2014

Tough lessons for Rahm

Tough lessons for Rahm

Education promises to be a central issue in the 2015 mayoral election, especially in black communities that have borne the brunt of school closings, teacher layoffs and charter expansion.

Post from Catalyst Chicago

November 20th, 2014

WTTW's Central Standard

WTTW's Central Standard

Check out WTTW's Central Standard program — videos and stories about education in Chicago.

Video from WTTW

December 5th, 2014

As CPS irons out school budgets, charters will also get more cash

CPS is increasing the per-pupil funding provided to charter schools for this year in order to “equalize” funding between them and traditional schools.

Catalyst Chicago

October 16th, 2014

Chicago's Local School Councils 'Experiment' Endures 25 Years of Change

A quarter-century ago this month, more than 300,000 Chicagoans took part in historic elections to choose who would sit on the city's first local school councils.

Education Week

October 8th, 2014

When a Family Loses Their Neighborhood School

When a Family Loses Their Neighborhood School

"Lafayette was more than a school - it was an institution." The Brooks family tries to understand why their neighborhood school Lafayette had to shut its doors in 2013, and seeks out a new school for their daughter Star.

Video from The School Project

January 29th, 2015

Story - January 23, 2015, 5:44 am

Your not including the schools the board closed or made turnarounds in 2012. I was one of the many from my school which became a turnaround and lost my job. Not to mention it was another West Humboldt Park School.

Post from Martha

January 23rd, 2015

Story - January 23, 2015, 12:04 am

I attended LaFayette in the 1990's when my family moved to Humboldt Park from another impoverished neighborhood. That year I learned that not all teachers were talented or passionate. The school should have been shut down even back then.

Post from FrmrLaFayette Student

January 23rd, 2015

CPS approves largest school closure in Chicago's history

The following scoreboard reflects how the Chicago Board of Education dealt with the 54 school closing recommendations on its agenda.

Chicago Tribune

May 23rd, 2013

Charter school teachers fight to unionize, and to win over Rahm

Charter school teachers fight to unionize, and to win over Rahm

On February 20 a scrappy bunch of teachers from the North Lawndale and Urban Prep charter schools took to the streets to announce they were trying to form a union.

The Reader

April 29th, 2015

Chicago's School Closings: Did They Even Listen?

Chicago's School Closings: Did They Even Listen?

Before CPS decided to close 49 of its public schools, the city held open meetings in the name of giving the public a voice in the decision-making process.

Video from The School Project

January 12th, 2015

CPS Principal Soars

The Golden Apple Foundation recognized Lindblom Math & Science Academy Principal Alan Mather for his transformation of the West Englewood institution that was closed two years before his 2005 takeover.

May 19th, 2014

New CTU report analyzes massive public school closings on one-year anniversary

The study, titled “Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago,” looks at what happened as a result of the mass school closings of 2013.

Chicago Teachers Union

May 21st, 2014

Threatened with expulsion

CPS says it wants to lower expulsions. But a new policy allows schools to send students threatened with expulsion directly to alternative schools, even before a legal hearing.

Catalyst Chicago

July 28th, 2014

Story - January 23, 2015, 6:42 am

Neighborhood public schools are the foundation of our communities. Instead of closing struggling or underenrolled schools, we should add services-job training, day care, eldercare, healthcare. All schools should be 24/7 community centers.

Post from Anne

January 23rd, 2015

The impact of charter school expansion

"The creeping transition to a charter school system has been going on for more than a decade now in Chicago. It's happening despite a lack of evidence that charters generally improve education."

Chicago Reader

March 13th, 2014

Comment from Carl

Comment from Carl

I'm going to engage in the public debate over making Chicago's schools better!

Post from Carl

October 27th, 2014

Comment from Rachel

Comment from Rachel

My School Project - running for my local school council!

Post from Rachel

September 1st, 2014

Comment from Laura

Comment from Laura

The best way I can think of to get involved in Chicago's schools is to vote for the candidates who make public schools a priority.

Post from Laura

October 28th, 2014

Comment from Tim

Comment from Tim

Free Spirit Media intern Tim shares his school project: Helping his sister.

Post from Tim

October 28th, 2014

Comment from Lakeisha

Comment from Lakeisha

Lakeisha is working towards equality, for ALL students.

Post from Lakeisha

November 3rd, 2014

Comment from Alicia

Comment from Alicia

Alicia is fighting for healthier communities in Chicago!

Post from Alicia

November 3rd, 2014

Comment from Andre

Comment from Andre

Andre wants to help transgender youth feel safer in school. #TheSchoolProject

Post from Andre

November 3rd, 2014

Comment from Cindy

Comment from Cindy

Cindy demands: No more school closings! #TheSchoolProject

Post from Cindy

November 3rd, 2014

From classroom to City Council?

From classroom to City Council?

More than a half-dozen educators are running for aldermanic seats in next year’s city elections. It’s a sign of the times: the Chicago Teachers Union now considers itself a “social movement” union.

Catalyst Chicago

November 17th, 2014

REPORT: K-12 funding down 9 percent in Illinois since 2008

REPORT: K-12 funding down 9 percent in Illinois since 2008

From the 2007-08 fiscal year to 2014-15, state spending on K-12 education in Illinois fell 9.3 percent, or $222 per student, after adjusting for inflation.

Chicago Sun-Times

November 17th, 2014

Why so few white kids land in CPS — and why it matters

Why so few white kids land in CPS — and why it matters

Legal segregation may be over in Chicago, but racial isolation is well documented in Chicago Public Schools.

WBEZ Chicago

November 17th, 2014

Is Illinois School Funding Discriminatory?

Is Illinois School Funding Discriminatory?

Schools in Illinois are funded by property taxes — meaning school funding varies widely depending on your neighborhood. Andrea Zopp discusses the consequences.

Video from The School Project

November 13th, 2014

Coalition pushing advisory vote for elected CPS board

A coalition of progressive groups and organized labor said Sunday that they have gathered enough petition signatures to place an advisory referendum on the ballot, asking voters what they think.

Post from Chicago Sun-Times

November 23rd, 2014

CPS Finally Releases School Ratings

This year, Chicago Public Schools officials changed the complicated calculation that determines the school ratings.

Post from WBEZ Chicago

December 5th, 2014

Elaine Allensworth on CPS Data

Elaine Allensworth on CPS Data

Public education expert Elaine Allensworth sat down with the producers of The School Project to dive deeper into Education Secretary William Bennett's 1987 comment that Chicago's schools were the "worst in the nation."

Video from The School Project

November 3rd, 2014

CPS tests causing more anxiety in teacher evaluations

"New research out of the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research shows 79% of teachers feel more stress and anxiety about their performance reviews."

Post from WBEZ Chicago

November 28th, 2014

Story - October 30, 2014, 3:46 pm

I'd like to see a more even playing field - good, neighborhood schools for all kids. Don't have to be GREAT, don't have to TERRIBLE, just good. I'd also like to see adequate, equitable funding and freedom from the tyranny of testing.

Post from Grace

October 30th, 2014

Losing students, neighborhood high schools caught in downward spiral

Losing students, neighborhood high schools caught in downward spiral

New data show that neighborhood high schools have reached a troubling milestone: Most now enroll only one-fourth of the students living in their attendance areas.

Post from Cataylst Chicago

December 10th, 2014

Are Parents and Principals Losing Their Voice in CPS?

Are Parents and Principals Losing Their Voice in CPS?

The Reform in 1988 decentralized decision-making in Chicago Public Schools, giving more credence to the voices of parents. John Simmons, President of Strategic Learning Initiatives, talks about this model.

Video from The School Project

November 20th, 2014

Public Education: A Keystone of Democracy?

Public Education: A Keystone of Democracy?

Terry Mazany, President and CEO of The Chicago Community Trust, believes that investing in public education is essential to the health of our democracy and the American Dream. Do you agree?

Video from The School Project

December 30th, 2014