Of the 2.7 million people who live in Chicago, nearly 437,000, or 16.2%, are school-aged children between the ages of 5 and 18. Children who are not privately educated attend one of the 660 schools that are part of the Chicago Public Schools system. This district, the 4th largest in the country, enrolls close to 400,000 pupils and employs nearly 42,000 staff including teachers and administrators. Though it may be a large district, for years there has been much disparity among the performance of the area’s schools.
Nearly 87% of the student population comes from low-income homes and feeds into underfunded schools where the education, performance, and test results are lacking. To remedy underperformance and transform the district into one that provided equal education opportunities for all students, the Renaissance 2010 initiative was adopted. This initiative focused on closing underperforming and low attendance schools to build new schools where kids could thrive. In 2013, the initiative succeeded in tearing down an astounding 50 public schools. It is yet to be seen if this initiative will lead to long-term transformation of the Chicago Public Schools.
Legislation aside, Revive Our Schools Fund Chicago believes it is the responsibility of the community to change our schools from the inside out. Started by a group of retired teachers, RSF Chicago is a non-profit dedicated to organizing volunteer work in local Chicago schools. We believe that by lending a helping hand as teacher aides, teaching special workshops for students in the arts and music, and tutoring students who need an extra boost, we can see a radical transformation of this city’s public school system. There is only so much that one teacher can do for his or her classroom, but with the help of the whole community, we can really make an impact on the next generation.