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Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy today unveiled a new University of Chicago Crime Lab analysis of City data showing the most recent school year was the safest on record since CPS started tracking student safety data in 2007. The progress is being driven by the City’s comprehensive school-based strategy, which is founded on reforming school discipline to a more restorative approach, implementing intensive mentoring and tutoring for students, reengaging with disconnected youth, and a strong partnership between CPS and Chicago Police.
“Over the past three years we have made great strides to turn around the decades-old zero tolerance policy in our schools that took students out of the classroom and funneled them to the criminal justice system, even for minor misbehavior,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Today, we’re keeping students in the classroom where they belong, and ensuring they can focus on their studies instead of their safety. This is just the beginning and we have a long way to go, but we’re making real progress for our children.”
Leading indicators of student safety, school climate and academic achievement show significant gains over the past three school years. Compared to the 2010/2011 school year, the recently-completed 2013/2014 school year saw:
• More than 27,000 fewer out of school suspensions—a 33% drop in out of school suspension rate
• Nearly 1,300 fewer CPS students referred for expulsion—a 37% drop in the referral for expulsion rate
• More than 1,000 fewer in-school arrests of CPS students—a 35% drop in the in-school arrest rate
• 49 fewer CPS students who were victims of shooting—a 25% drop in the CPS student shooting victimization rate
• A 12% drop in the number of students who were victims of homicides, including a 50% drop over the prior school year
“By reforming our disciplinary system to minimize punitive measures and address the root causes of student misconduct, we have begun a culture shift that benefits our students, their families, and our communities,” said CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett. “This change in approach will help not only to reduce suspensions and expulsions, but also improve student connection to school communities, and most importantly, will ensure students have access to the tools they need to graduate 100 percent college ready and 100 percent college bound.”
The City’s comprehensive, school-based strategy is driven by four core approaches: 1) Reversing a “zero tolerance” disciplinary system and implementing a restorative, instructive approach to student misconduct with expanded social emotional learning for students. 2) Implementing evidence-based, intensive mentoring and tutoring programs proven to reduce violence involvement and improve academic outcomes, like the highly-successful Becoming A Man program. 3) Reengaging youth who are disconnected from school through alternative option school seats and an anti-truancy program. 4) Collaborating with Chicago Police, law enforcement agencies and communities to prevent, intervene and respond to youth violence.
“While we continue to make progress in reducing crime and violence, that progress is about more than just policing alone,” said Superintendent McCarthy. “Whether it’s our team that proactively works with at-risk youth to de-escalate situations, our officers helping kids get to and from school safely, or our District Commanders who work with principals and teachers in their communities on a daily basis, our relationship with CPS drives results.”
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