What happened in a high-stakes Chicago school merger

[caption id="attachment_205992" align="aligncenter" width="650"] Ogden International School of Chicago[/caption]

Last fall, 1,300 students from two very different schools on Chicago’s Near North Side joined together as one. The merger of Ogden International School and the Jenner Academy for the Arts was a bold experiment — an attempt to break down long-standing racial and socioeconomic divides at a time when enrollment declines in the city are forcing hard decisions.

Our Adeshina Emmanuel spent this spring talking to those experiencing the challenges of bringing together under one roof Ogden’s mostly white students from middle-class families and Jenner’s mostly black students from lower-income families. He learned about setbacks, struggles, and successes — and got a strong sense things were headed in the right direction.

Then this week, on the last day of the first year of the merged Ogden-Jenner school, came stunning news: The acting principal had resigned.

Now the school community heads into summer break with uncertainty similar to what it faced when it began. You can read our full story here. We’re also excited to share that the Chicago Sun-Times simultaneously published a version of Adeshina’s story online and plans to run it next week in print.

— Cassie Walker Burke, bureau chief

Week in review

Rebuilding child care’s safety net: One of the tasks facing Gov. J.B. Pritzker is how to start stitching together an early learning system that is fragmented by disparate funding streams, myriad organizations, and politics. This week, Chalkbeat looked at efforts to rebuild a state program that helps pay for child care so that low-income parents and college students can work or attend school.

A surprising stumbling block: Some of the reasons Chicago public school graduates may stumble when they get to college are more basic than you think. Chalkbeat Chicago looked at a new survey that found housing instability and hunger were concerns.

Rolling out the red carpet: Chicago plays a pivotal role in a new documentary, No Small Matter, that delves into the world of exhausted parents and underpaid providers. Chalkbeat spoke to the filmmaker.

Census concerns: The U.S. Supreme Court is actively weighing a proposed change to the U.S. census that would likely result in immigrants going uncounted. In Illinois, early childhood advocates are also fretting over a different group that has long been undercounted: babies and toddlers. Chalkbeat Chicago has more.

Teaching consent: With a growing national movement against sexual harassment on campuses and in workplaces, and after the revelation of widespread abuse in Chicago Public Schools, more schools are teaching the meaning and practice of consent. During the waning days of school, Chalkbeat Chicago sat in on a lesson.

Funding gaps: Illinois is still short $7 billion to adequately fund its public schools, according to the state’s “evidence-based” funding formula. WBEZ looked at the latest numbers.

Making music: When Chopin Elementary School lost funding, its orchestra — made up of students between the ages of 9 and 14 — decided to do events for hire. As arts programs in public schools continues to shrink, the private sector offers other opportunities for young musicians, Block Club Chicago reports.

We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, Yana Kunichoff, and (new this week) super intern Catherine Henderson, and we round up Chicago education news every week — just for you. Please send any tips or story ideas our way:

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Looking ahead

Chicago’s new Board of Education meets Wednesday, June 26. Meet the members.


A Chalkbeat #HighFive to all of the city’s educators who are packing up classrooms and can see time off on the near horizon. OK, so we’re not taking the summer off at Chalkbeat Chicago HQ — in fact, we’ll be covering the city’s new mayor and the new school board — but we are hoping to live vicariously through you. If you’re an educator, tell us: How are you spending your summer? And how will your summer plans inform what you do in the classroom? Our survey takes 5 minutes.