Fact vs. Fiction: The True Story on Academic Achievement at Chicago Public Schools

Last week, President Trump discussed Chicago’s students in a conversation with business executives at the White House, lamenting, “If you look at so many elements of education, and it’s so sad to see what’s coming — what’s happening in the country.” He went on to say that “the numbers in Chicago are very rough.”

While public schools in Chicago are undeniably facing significant financial challenges, we will not stand by and let President Trump diminish the hard work and incredible progress made by the students, families, teachers, and principals in Chicago’s public schools.

Here’s the truth: Chicago’s graduation rate is at an all-time high: 74 percent. That is 17 percentage points higher than it was just five years ago. Our students have made significant gains in both reading and math on every major assessment (ACT, NAEP, ISAT, etc.). In fact, Chicago’s students are showing more academic growth on the Trial for Urban District Assessment of the Nation’s Report Card than students in any other city, except for Washington DC.

Is there more to do? Yes. But for the President of the United States to call these numbers “very rough” is to diminish the work done by hundreds of thousands of educators and students across our city every day.

We urge our leaders to take a more constructive view of Chicago public education. When it comes to academic progress, Chicago should be recognized as an exemplar for urban districts striving to help students learn and grow; our steady, consistent progress is unassailable.

We must continue to work toward delivering on the promise of high-quality public education for all of our students, but our educators, students, and families deserve to be championed for the tremendous work they have already done, and supported through the work ahead.