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David Leonhardt's Sunday New York Times column credulously praised Mayor Rahm Emanuel's education record, seemingly based exclusively on data provided by Mayor Emanuel in October in emails FOIAed by the Better Government Association. But the mayor's record is more mixed than Leonhardt concedes.
There have been academic gains, but they have been marked by racial and economic inequality. In Chicago, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Trial Urban School District (TUDA) data shows that achievement gaps between white students and both black and Hispanic ones and between those qualifying and not qualifying for free school lunches have expanded substantially under the Emanuel mayorship. The gaps grew by double-digits while scores for blacks, Hispanics, and free-lunch eligible students grew by single digits or not all between 2011 and 2015. NAEP measures math and reading in 4th and 8th grade. In 8th grade reading, there was no statistically significant gain in scores for black, Hispanic, or free-lunch eligible students and none for 4th grade Hispanics. For math, black students had no statistically significant gains in either grade. In other words, math and reading scores increases were driven primarily by gains from white students and students with higher family incomes.