For the third year in a row, every senior at Urban Prep Academy, the only all-black male charter high school in Chicago, has been accepted to college, according to the Chicago Tribune. The school has made international headlines year-after-year for their perfect college going rates—including a segment on the Oprah Winfrey show—but some say the successes also begs questions.
“This is so tough—I consider myself among those who cannot accept this news at face value, and it’s disheartening that wonderful news like this is seen as too good to be true,” said Colorlines.com’s education reporter Julianne Hing.
“Urban Prep has become a symbol of the possibilities of excellent charter school education in low-income neighborhoods. It’s also attracted a lot of skeptics who question discipline practices that allow for this track record.The practice of pushing out kids with learning disabilities and discipline problems is called “creaming,” as in skimming the cream off the top of a community’s highest-achieving students, and it’s become part of the general common wisdom about how rigorous charter schools operate,” Hing said.
Urban Prep officials told the Chicago tribune that this year’s senior class of 85 was almost twice that size when the students started out as freshmen. They also “vigorously” denied that “that troubled students are forced out or encouraged to leave.”
However, consultants hired by Chicago Public Schools looked at rates of expulsions and transfers and couldn’t find enough evidence to prove that creaming was actually happening at a higher rate in charter schools than in traditional public schools.
Julie Woestehoff, executive director of Chicago’s Parents United for Responsible Education questions how the Urban Prep is getting their numbers.
“The aura of 100 percent is just a cover for what is a fairly typical Chicago public high school where about half the kids don’t graduate,” Woestehoff told the Chicago Tribune. “They may say they’re not forcing or encouraging kids to leave, but what is happening? The public has the right to know, especially when they present themselves as a miracle. This is not a miracle.”