Education

Our future is dependent upon how we educate our kids

Why we’re involved

We know that a strong public-school system is a hallmark of a world class city—where people want to live, work, and build futures.

Unfortunately, student outcomes in Chicago lagged behind national standards for decades and the Civic Committee recognized that a comprehensive effort would need to be made in order to strengthen outcomes for kids and our city.

In the late 90’s and leading into the early 2000’s, most of Chicago’s students dropped out or failed to achieve college-readiness – and student achievement was at a standstill. In the city’s neighborhood schools, few students had the tools they needed to succeed in college.

What we’ve done

To initially bolster student achievement, and shift the school district, the Civic Committee was at the forefront of charter school legislation in 1996. As the reform movement grew, we created New Schools for Chicago (formerly Renaissance 2010) in 2004, whose goal would be to catalyze dramatic improvement within Chicago Public Schools, which had languished with decades of dismal outcomes for kids.

Supported with over $20 million in seed funding, New Schools for Chicago (NSC) drove the collaborative public-private partnership that catalyzed new school creation and functioned as the accountability partner to CPS in the school selection process. The initiative contributed to systemic change in CPS through greater choice and competition, and provided many underserved communities with high-quality education options.

The Civic Committee has always been focused on broader systemic change, ensuring a healthy and efficient educational ecosystem for all. Supporting the creation of a robust charter sector was our initial and primary vehicle for transforming the district’s overall performance, and was always meant to be one in a series of strategies towards the same goal—improve outcomes for all children in Chicago.

Now, NSC continues to ensure that all families have access to high-quality schools, of many types, that education policies put kids first, that school quality is at the forefront of discussions around education, and to leverage charter results in support of district-wide performance improvement.

In addition to NSC’s focus on education, one of our affiliated organizations, The Civic Consulting Alliance,  restructured the City Colleges of Chicago to improve the quality of education and provide students with the necessary skills for finishing college and finding gainful employment.

The Civic Committee itself has released multiple reports evaluating student learning, exposing stark truths and emphasizing the importance of quality teachers.

What we’ve learned

As a thought leader on education, we have produced the following reports:

Still Left Behind (2009)
Left Behind (2003)
Improving Results: Transforming the Teaching Profession in Illinois

And that’s not all 

Our commitment to education is not new.  Over the last two decades, we have worked on school reform, school quality, school funding and teacher and principal quality at the state level.