The Differences between Chicago Schools and Suburban Schools

John Heintz Chicago
John Heintz, Chicago

A graduate of the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, John Heintz recently served as assistant superintendent of operations and chief legal officer at Niles Township High School District 219 in Skokie, a suburb of Chicago. Now leading Second Rail Education, John Heintz consults on educational matters and writes about education-related topics. In a recent article, he discussed the disparity in educational quality between Chicago schools and the city’s suburban schools.

Although the best schools in Chicago outperform many suburban schools, including those in wealthy districts, the overall quality of education in the suburbs is greater than the quality of education in Chicago schools. Among the reasons for this difference is the tendency of middle-class parents to move their families to the suburbs, leaving parents in the city with less political power to demand better schools.

Another problem is the disparity in spending between wealthy suburban districts and city schools. Chicago has one of the most inequitable school systems in the United States. Some of the wealthiest suburban districts spend nearly $30,000 per student each year, whereas disadvantaged districts spend only about $8,000 per student. For city schools to catch up to suburban schools in terms of quality, legislators have to tackle the problem of inequitable funding and enable all urban students, not just those at selective charter schools, to obtain an excellent education.