Friday, October 30, 2009

How Well Is Uplift Doing?

A reader sends in the following link and observation:

"Helen says 90%+ (of Uplift Students) go off to college.

Not sure how that's happening:

2009 Illinois School Report Card Database: Uplift Community High School

High marks in reading and math in grades 6-8 ... but look at the scores afterwards."


  1. Oh, and another thing:

    Intentionally or not, the state formula also compensates school districts that are losing money to TIFs. That's right—the more money Chicago diverts into TIFs, the more money it gets from the state to meet the target level. How much are we talking about? Based on the city's property tax yield, its public school enrollment, and the state's foundation level, I figure the state paid Chicago about $112.6 million in 2004 to compensate for the TIFs, about 70 percent of the $163 million TIFs diverted from the schools that year.

    Remember, we were told by our elected official that TIFs didn't affect schools?

    Yeah. Me, too.

    I also remember people howling when the state started cutting back on social services due to budgetary constraints.

  2. Whether it be the gangs, the teachers, the CPS administration, that school is doing a disservice to its students. I heard that the principal is good, so it must be other factors. Regardless, something needs to change ASAP. The school's admin, CPS, and Illinois should be ashamed.

  3. Meg what exactly do you know about Uplift? I would wish Uplift's scores to be better--but without knowing fully what's happening in that school, in particular with the teachers, I think it's mighty unfair to say "that school" is doing the kids a disservice. I mean, do you have any first hand knowledge AT ALL about the school its teachers, anything at all rather than these tag-a-long agreement with posters who are relentless in taking any opportunity to smear Uplift--and by "connection" Helen Shiller?

    Be clear: I am not trying to minimize low test scores, but unless you have a clue what the Uplift teachers and administration are doing, you really have no basis to say the school is doing them a disservice, and to continually imply that Uplift is some sort of gangland just smacks of unfairness. Guess what: kids who are minors (even those who might be gang affiliated) still have to attend school. So what's your proposal for schools that have to deal with this reality?

    Uplift will have to work to raise those scores just like any other school where the scores did not make the cut. If you have some proof that Uplift graduates aren't going to college, then please present THAT--because as we all well know, having a low test score does not automatically preclude someone from being able to attend college. So why not offer up that proof instead of another subtle Uplift smear post.

  4. Oh and Meg and whoever else, if you as a "concerned citizen" want to contact Uplift, they appear to have a pretty nice website with contact information for various members of the administration, listing of their classes, teachers, etc.

  5. The lack of diversity is shocking.

    * 93.9% of the student population is low income?

    * Only 3.7% of the student population is white?

    They should change the name of the school to "Segregation High."

  6. Zesty, the school is about 77 % black, 15 % hispanic, 3.7 white and 3.7 Asian--but nice of you just to focus on the white students so as to make some weird "point."

    By Chicago standards, a school that even has kids of different races in a building together is quite diverse, and the mix seems in line with the way I recall it being when Uplift used to be Arai--more black students, but also a healthy and visible mixture of other races so that it was quite possible and probable for students to have friendships with people of different races. The sad thing is this would sometimes change when kids left middle school for high school--in a small school, where some of these kids may progress through middle school into high school together, such friendships may have a better chance at survival through the teen years.

    So hardly segregationist, Zesty, but nice try.

  7. So why not offer up that proof instead of another subtle Uplift smear post.

    Don't think this is an Uplift smear post, t'all.

    Looks to me as if the point being made is that Helen Shiller lied to everyone about Uplift's success rate.

    I can't imagine anyone cheering for a school to fail.

    Heck, the high math and reading scores were pointing out, were they not?

    And 88%+ is damn fine.

    Compare these numbers to Helen's rhetoric - used to justify WYTIF, and there are certainly things to answer for; but not from Uplift.

  8. Oh, ok, Yo, except this report does not prove SHiller's a liar because statistically speaking, 65 out of 68 is pretty darn close to perfect.

    So, maybe she shouldn't have tacked that 5% on, but if UU and its posters weren't so invested in trying to make Shiller look like a liar at Uplift's expense, they might have pointed out that as reported by one of UU's favorites, Lake Effect News, on August 5, 2009, 95% did graduate, which seems to severely undercut the impression that Uplift is a school that is, in Meg's words, doing a "disservice" to its students:

    "However, most impressive for this “performance school” (a school established by Mayor Daley’s controversial Renaissance 2010 plan, which requires the school to be evaluated every five years), is that the 65 of 68 seniors who graduated last June have all been accepted to post-secondary institutions, ranging from Howard University to nearby Truman College, garnering more than $300,000 in scholarships along the way."

    Complete article:

    Also, a little interview with the Principal with some insight to some of the educational programming happening in the school, including adding on AP classes (wow, source of shame there...):

    It takes so little effort to learn what Uplift is actually doing and trying to do, one can only assume that you deliberately ignore what positive things Uplift is doing in order to create some ammunition against Shiller.

  9. My "weird point" is that Uplift is hardly representative of the population of the Uptown community and it is hardly representative of true and balanced diversity.

    Your explanation below, Uptown Writer," speaks to why:

    "By Chicago standards, a school that even has kids of different races in a building together is quite diverse,"

    "By Chicago standards..."

    Don't get me wrong, Uplift may be on "the cutting edge" of integration, but Chicago obviously has a long way to go if this is the best we can do against "the Chicago standard." It is shocking, whether you call it a "wierd point" or not.

    I also mentioned that 93.9% of the student population is low income. This is also hardly representative of the Uptown community and is also shocking.

    Uptown prides itself in diversity, and I think your "Chicago standard" is what needs some serious consideration.

  10. UW,

    I hear what you're saying; however, even though Lake Effect News published the 95% graduation rate, were they basing that on the word of the alderman, or were they supplied data to verify?

    What I take from this report is that Uplift is doing a bang up job through the 8th grade, but after that the numbers start to dip.

    That does not mean, to me anyway, that Uplift is failing.

    What that does mean to me is that I'm having difficulty seeing 95% of the seniors at Uplift going onto college if the ACL scores are all 17 and below.

    Overall point being that Helen makes a lot of claims that, upon closer scrutiny, cannot be verified.

    However, more often than not, the data which can be found on the perimeter tends to put Helen's statements into question.

    And unless Helen wants to slap some data on the table to back her claim, that's what this data does.

    The onus is on her, not Uplift.
    Remember: Helen brought this matter into the public arena for discussion. Not UU, nor Uplift.

    I live right next to Uplift, and I'm a strong advocate for education, so I have a vested interest in not seeing Uplift fail, and have even commended them on occasion.

    It's just that the most important thing a public official can garner from their constituents is trust (not votes. Trust).

    And once again, our "elected" official, by her own accord, rattles the foundation of that trust - and in this case, does so to validate her need to suck more money from the same till that we're supposed to use to fund education.

    Personally, I'd prefer see CPS be properly funded rather than an agroponics center and parking (which, as more details come to light, is just another back-door financing trick to make up for the TIF drain).

  11. Does anybody know how many of the 65 are going to Truman College?

  12. "Does anybody know how many of the 65 are going to Truman College?"

    And of those, how many were shepherded through the process directly by the Alderman's office? We've read enough about the U of I scandal this summer to know that colleges favor some students at the requent of elected officials. Would anybody be surprised if Truman College agreed to take any and all Uplift students in return for, say, a new parking garage and tons of cash?

  13. By-the-bye...

    Truman's offerings include GED and remedial courses. There's nothing wrong with that, indeed it's a noble thing to want and endeavor to improve one's lot. I'm quite sure the school offers many challenging and rewarding courses. But as Helen and her minions remind us..."it's not your college campus sweetie."

  14. Zesty, who said Uplift is on the cutting edge of integration? Maybe you need to take a look at yourself and wonder why the only numbers that mattered was the smaller percentage of white students. You say these numbers aren't reflective of the community, but Uptown has a lot of schools, including Catholic schools. Perhaps your "shocking" demographic information is impacted by factors, such as financial means to attend other schools, if they so choose.

    And Yo, I understand you and others here want to point out the ways in which you feel SHiller lies, exaggerates, etc. I'm not trying to take that away from you--all I'm saying is, why continue to beat up on a school that seems to be working very hard to provide a good education and opportunities for its students in the process? Those standardized test numbers and whether or not kids are going to college--please show me how one precludes the other. So again, this post still doesn't prove your point. The report from the school is that 65 of 68 went on to college.

    ANd who cares how many are going to Truman--haven't you heard? A lot of people are getting the best bang for their buck getting Gen Eds done in Community College before going to four year universities. Whether community or straight to a four-year, I am glad that over 90% of these graduates are continuing their education--but goodness forbid we look at this in a positive manner. That would dull the SHiller-hate.

  15. The Truman College Admissions Page cites an "open acceptance policy". It goes on to say that "Truman College does not require students to take an admittance test."

    This does not necessarily mean Uplift is a bad school.

    If most of Uplift's placements are at schools that take anyone, however, it does mean the oft-cited 95% stat is insignificant.

  16. UW, I agree that for many of these students, it is an accomplishment to get them to continue their education.

    Would you agree that we need to use better statistics for measuring a school's success?

    I'm not looking at this in a positive or negative way. I'm trying to loo at it in an objective way.

  17. So again, this post still doesn't prove your point. The report from the school is that 65 of 68 went on to college.

    The report said "post-secondary".

    Shiller said "college".

    Heck, you just said "college".

    The implications being a 4-year, degree granting institution.

    "Post-secondary", while still commendable, may/may not garner an undergraduate degree.

    While it may be a nit that I'm picking, the reason I'm picking it is that Shiller continually points to Uplift as an example of how effectively she stewards TIF money, and leans on Uplift to justify taking even more TIF money.

    When I sit in the same room with her, and hear her tell everyone that 95% of the Uplift kids go to "college", I'm impressed.

    Then, I read deeper into that data (data which she does not willingly make available) and find out that it isn't so much "college" but another institution ... and then dig deeper into the scores, and see some good and some less-than-stellar results it generates further doubt about whether we're being told the truth by the same person who is looking to take tax money we don't want her to take.

    And she knows we don't want her to take it - but she takes it anyway (because, of course, condo owners don't "need" it, and she, of course, knows how best to use it).

    Then to have her state that she needs $350k for Uplift, then to find out that the state has budgeted that same amount, for the same project Helen cited.

    Hey man - it's not Uplift I'm trying to kick around.

    I'm just trying to sift through the smoke to find out how my tax dollars are being spent.

    And it's always difficult to figure that part out when Helen continually uses verbal slight of hand to justify whatever the heck it is that she's trying to do.

    I'm supportive of Uplift as a learning institution.

    I'm thrilled that a large percentage of students are getting out of CPS and into higher level institutions. (though - what of the kids who are still in CPS? Don't we have a commitment to get them the funding/schooling/oportunity they need as well? The "TIFs don't affect CPS" argument is running out of steam).

    I am not supportive of Uplift, or the students, being used as tools of political convenience to justify a project (WYTIF) which apparently cannot be justified on its own merits.

    If anyone is bothered by people taking hard looks at Uplift, might I suggest that Helen stop pointing to Uplift, or at least stop making such broad statements?

    Helen thinks she is disliked due to her strong support of social services and the like, when the fact remains, people do not like her since they cannot trust her.

    That's not "hate", it's "frustration".

  18. Yo since when does post-secondary not include a community college? And what's that word in there--COLLEGE. I went on to a four year after high school, but one might argue your insinuation that community college does not count as college is a bit elitist. Kids who continue their education after high school--rather straight on to four year college/university or a two-year community (with perhaps aspirations to finish off in a four-year institution) is not indicative of Shiller over-inflating Uplift's success--especially when a lot of those students may have ended their education with just a high school diploma. So yes, an argument could be made for your point that community college isn't really what people think of when they hear college--but in this economy, many folks may beg to differ.

    Now if you want to challenge Helen Shiller's use of TIF money (duh), I'm saying there must be a way that is more effective than engaging in rhetoric that gives the appearance, at least, of constantly ripping on a school that is doing well (with the caveat that it may need to improve), and giving those in the community with very little knowledge of the school the impression that it's some sort of black hole that's doing nothing positive for kids in the community.

  19. Uptown Writer, what is your connection to Uplift?

  20. and giving those in the community with very little knowledge of the school the impression that it's some sort of black hole that's doing nothing positive for kids in the community. -UW

    No one said Uplift is a black hole that's doing nothing positive for the kids. We're asking for a little accuracy in reporting, and given the lies we've hard all these many years, it's not too much to ask that she be a little more truthful with her use of facts.

    Helen's mantra is that the 23rd Police District is the safest in the city so therefore, Uptown is really safe. Gee UW, are you disagreeing with Helen?

  21. UW -

    Since when does "post-secondary" not include trade or vocational schools?

    Helen also made mention that she's put kids into trade training at Wilson Yard, with TIF $, did she not?

    She sure did.

    Were you at the WYTIF amendment meeting?

    Trade schools are necessary and honorable institutions; but they are not colleges - unless I completely missed that day at reclassification camp.

    If you want to continue to split this hair, I'd highly recommend that you produce a dataset which indicates where each and every one of those students went after leaving Uplift.

    If each and every one of them went to an actual college, I'll be happy to cede the point to you.

    You know full well the point I was making, and you're simply putting protective pro-Uplift top-spin on your replies, and trying to "insinuate" that I'm that I'm dodgy in the sincerity of my comments.

    If you're cool with Shiller using Uplift as a political prop for her horrendous mismanagement of public funds, that's up to you.