By Nova Safo, CNN
Chicago, Illinois (CNN) – When Chicago students return to school after summer break, they will do so in 48 fewer elementary schools. The city is closing a record number of schools to deal with a $1 billion budget shortfall.
The closures are just the latest in a string of public school closings around the country, according to Emily Dowdall of the Pew Charitable Trusts. Dowdall has been looking into the causes of public school closures:
[4:08] "And those are a decline in the school-age population, the rise in charter school enrollment, and finally, tight budgets that are forcing districts to act."
In Chicago, the schools that are being closed are in mostly African-American neighborhoods, where the recession has hit hard. Lack of jobs and rising crime have driven out many middle class families, and their school-aged kids have gone with them.
At the same time, public schools have lost even more students to charter schools, which are growing rapidly.
For Asean Johnson, a charismatic 9-year-old student who attended a protest against Chicago school closings, the fight to save his school was about keeping him and his friends safe. Many parents and students are worried about longer walks to schools farther away, in which they would have to cross dangerous gang lines:
[:41]“I’m worried about my school friends' safety. I’m worried about everybody’s safety. Because, I do not want anybody to die.”
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By Tommy Andres, CNN
Editor's Note: Listen to the full story in our player above, and join the conversation in our comments section below.
(CNN) - This week, 35 former Atlanta Public Schools teachers and administrators, including the former superintendent, Beverly Hall, turned themselves into police. They were indicted on charges ranging from racketeering to theft, all tied to a district-wide cheating scandal that was discovered in recent years. It's been described as the largest school cheating scheme in the history of the United States.
The teachers are accused of erasing and changing standardized test answers to improve scores. Those scores are tied closely to state and federal funding as well as teacher bonuses.
The arrests were another step towards closure of a three year saga that's left an indelible mark on Atlanta.
Errol Davis took over as superintendent when Hall resigned in 2011.
CNN Radio interviewed Davis about his journey through the scandal and about changes he's made on testing security at Atlanta's public schools.
By Jim Roope, CNN
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(CNN) – Getting into a good college is so competitive that even the nearly perfect student has trouble.
[0:38] “I got a 2390 out of 2400 on my SAT,” said 18-year-old Kevin Mark.
Yet with that near-perfect SAT score, a 4.0+ GPA throughout high school, an Eagle Scout and volunteer work for his church and community, he was not accepted to MIT, his first choice of college, nor his second choice Cal Tech.
What do you think about the pressure today's students are facing? Do you have any stories to share? Please leave your comments below.
By John Sepulvado, CNN
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Editor's note: Embed America is a partnership between CNN Radio and CNN iReport. This series tells the story of the 2012 U.S. presidential election through the people most critical to the campaigns: the voters. CNN Radio is traveling across the country to interview iReporters on election issues close to their hearts. These issues were named important by iReporters during phase 1 of the iReport Debate.
East St. Louis, Illinois (CNN) – The East St. Louis School District has some of the worst reading and math test scores in the state. That’s according to state and district statistics. Only ten percent of students are proficient in reading at their grade level. And for at least one resident, 17-year-old Louis Jones, it's a problem the presidential candidates need to address.
Meanwhile, education officials in Illinois are trying to take over the school district. The state cites systemic problems with corruption. Local board members disagree, and as is often the case with fights over power and money, both parties are now in court.FULL STORY
by Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) Summer enrichment programs in low-income neighborhoods across the country are in trouble.
Nine-year-old Nicole Levine at L.A.’s BEST Summer Program says that, without the program, she would probably just be at home watching TV. Something she'd rather not do.
She could also wind up wandering the streets in her Los Angeles neighborhood as her single-parent mom works two jobs.
Nicole’s grandfather Steven Levine says this neighborhood in the North Hills section of Los Angeles is a high-crime area with a significant amount of gang activity. He says he knows that his grandchildren are safe at the summer enrichment program on the campus of Noble St. Elementary School.
Kids from poor neighborhoods suffer significantly from what’s called, ‘summer learning loss.’ It’s the diminishing over the summer months of skills learned during the school year. Kids from middle- and upper-income neighborhoods have more opportunities to go to camp or travel, or be enrolled in programs that stimulate learning during summer vacation.Listen to and read the story from CNN Radio