The Education Innovator #19
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 May 24, 2004 • Number 19
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What's inside...
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, Chicago, Illinois
What's New
OII releases the first Innovations in Education book: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs; President Bush speaks at the school that stimulated Brown v. Board of Education; the Fordham Foundation has posted background materials on Brown v. Board of Education; the Smithsonian presents a new exhibit, Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education; ED RSS is a source of press releases, funding opportunities, and learning resources; the U.S. Department of Education issues facts on funding to promote parental options; Colorado establishes a State Charter School Institute to provide an alternative way to authorize charter schools; VSAarts sponsors an international arts festival; the Life Learning Academy is among 15 finalists for an Innovations in American Government Award; and "From the Ground Up" is a new website with information about university-public school partnerships.
Innovations in the News
The South Carolina Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would create a statewide school district to approve charter schools, plus information on magnet schools, school choice, supplemental educational services, and transition to teaching.

Cristo Rey Jesuit High School Radiates Learning, Safety, and Community
Sometimes innovation comes from looking at a centuries-old approach through a new lens. The educational program at the Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago combined human compassion with a feasibility study to create a school that focuses on high educational performance, commitment to community, and a safe and caring environment. The school embraces the characteristics of the classical Jesuit education: formation of the total individual within the context of the community, religion and values, dialogue between faith and culture, care and concern for each person, active learning on the part of the student, intellectual rigor and curiosity, and concern for the poor.

The Chicago Province of Jesuits opened the school in 1996 to serve young people in Pilsen/Little Village, a Latino community on Chicago's southwest side. It is a co-educational college preparatory secondary school founded for the community's immigrant population. The school's mission is "to advance the human, intellectual, and religious capacities of the families it serves while respecting and promoting their cultural heritage and to maximize the potential of the Hispanic community to participate more fully and assume its role in the Church and the culture of the United States."

One of the founders of the school, Father Jim Gartland, SJ, recounts being asked to proofread a local boy's letter to Boys Town. The boy wanted to move to that residential program away from home to avoid the risky walk to school every day. Before the boy could send his letter, he was killed in a drive-by shooting. This incident spurred Father Gartland and others to look at what was needed. They found that, in addition to the neighborhood's being unsafe, less than two-thirds of students in the community graduated from high school, and most families qualified for the free or reduced price lunch program. Looking deeper, they found that, according to the Census Bureau, students who drop out of high school often cannot support themselves and are three times more likely than graduates to cycle in and out of poverty.

Cristo Rey has been the answer for the approximately 500 students who attend. The school revolves around rigorous coursework and a vibrant work-study program. As with most Catholic high schools, the school needed to charge tuition. However, the school's solution to meeting the needs of the poor community was to devise a program whereby each student works one day a week in an entry-level job at a local business. Each employer pays the school $6,250 per student, and the student's family pays $2,400. Madison Dearborn Partners, the Chicago Board of Trade, Archipelago, McGuire Engineers, Merrill Lynch, and the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum are just some of the organizations that have participated in this Corporate Internship Program.

The school is achieving its goals of preventing students from dropping out and preparing them for college. Graduation rates have been stable at about 93 percent, and of those graduating, 100 percent are accepted into college. In the 2002-03 school year, 82 percent of the 11th and 12th grade students took the Advanced Placement Spanish Language exam, and 94 percent earned a score of 3 or better, qualifying them for college credit at many colleges and universities.

The school also receives corporate funding based on its success. The school's program has been singled out for replication under the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Cassin Educational Initiative Foundation. Last year, these foundations granted $18.9 million to create 12 small college-preparatory high schools across the country, modeled after Cristo Rey, to "enable high-quality Catholic education to remain a viable option for young people living in some of America's poorest communities."

The U.S. Department of Education provides information and guidance on private school education through OII's Office of Non-Public Education. The Department also facilitates faith-based efforts through the Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

Resources: Note: The featured school is interesting and innovative, but does not necessarily have evidence of general effectiveness from a rigorous evaluation. The success of the school described may or may not be replicable, depending on unique conditions in differing locations.


What's New
Innovation in Education: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs
The Office of Innovation and Improvement has released the first book in the Innovations in Education series. Creating Strong District School Choice Programs gives concrete, real-world examples of innovations in public school choice, based on the experiences of five school districts across the country. (May 24)

President Bush Speaks at the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
President George W. Bush spoke at the school that stimulated the Brown v. Board of Education civil rights lawsuit in Topeka, Kansas, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that landmark decision. (May 17)

Thomas B. Fordham Foundation: 50 Years After Brown
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation has prepared an online set of background materials on Brown v. Board of Education. (May 17)

Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education
The Smithsonian has a new exhibit, Separate Is Not Equal: Brown v. Board of Education, with accompanying educational materials. (May 17)

ED RSS News Feed
ED RSS, the new, free daily news feed from the U.S. Department of Education, is a resource of press releases, funding opportunities, and learning resources. (May 17)

Fact Sheet on Improving Schools By Expanding Options for Parents
A new fact sheet on funding to promote parental options under No Child Left Behind is available from the U.S. Department of Education. (May 17)

Picky Parent Guide
The Picky Parent Guide: Choose Your Child's School with Confidence, the Years K-6 is a resource for parents going through the process of choosing and applying to a school. The book is a step-by-step approach to understanding a child's educational needs and planning how to meet them. (May 2004)

Colorado - State Charter School Institute
Colorado now has the State Charter School Institute download files PDF (976K) to provide an alternative mode of authorizing charter schools. The Institute was established based on the growing demand for charter schools in the state, and to assist school districts in utilizing best practices for chartering schools and to approve and oversee charter schools in districts not desiring to do so themselves. (May 18)

International Arts Festival
VSA arts, a program funded by OII, is sponsoring an international arts festival, June 9-12, in Washington, DC. The festival showcases cutting-edge visual and performing art from around the world. (May 12)

The Life Learning Academy
The Life Learning Academy, a charter school on Treasure Island, a former naval station in San Francisco, is among 15 finalists for an Innovations in American Government Award from the Ash Institute at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard. (May 17)

From the Ground Up
The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education invites visitors to "From the Ground Up," a new website with information about university-public school partnerships. (May 17)

Transition to Teaching Competition
The Transition to Teaching grant competition is now open. The deadline for application is June 14.

Innovations in Education Exchange
The next Innovations in Education Exchange will be May 27 on public school choice and supplemental educational services, featuring school district officials from OII's just released Innovations in Education publications. To register, please email


Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
The South Carolina Senate Education Committee passed a bill that would create a statewide school district to approve charter schools. [More-Wistv] (May 19)

Martin County (FL) is scheduled to open its first charter schools: one for autistic children and one for high school juniors and seniors who are interested in technology. [More-TCPalm] (May 19)

Magnet Schools
A look at Fort Wayne, IN, magnet schools is a time to reflect on their original purpose: to desegregate schools. One researcher says Fort Wayne magnet schools are the most successful she has seen. Today, Fort Wayne Community Schools offers a variety of voluntary educational options. [More-News Sentinel] (May 17)

School Choice
North Adams (MA) will open the doors of two high schools to school choice. The move is a proactive response to the impending opening of an arts and technology charter school. [More-North Adams Transcript] (May 19)

Fayette County (KY) school officials have begun working with parents who are definitely eligible—or may become eligible#8212;to transfer their children to another school in August under No Child Left Behind. [More-Herald Leader] (May 16)

Supplemental Educational Services
Nearly 1,400 Flint, MI students have signed up for a free tutoring program, which began in March as part of the nation's No Child Left Behind education reform initiative. [More-Flint Journal] (May 20)

Transition to Teaching
A teacher shortage coupled with the rising age of some teachers are two reasons Pinellas (FL) school administrators created the Transition to Teaching program two years ago. Angela Bolds left her high paying job in the private sector to participate in the program. [More-St. Petersburg Times] (May 17)


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Last Modified: 06/30/2011