A group of journalists had the opportunity to visit Muchin College Prep with the Education Writers Association (EWA). Emily Richmond, public editor at EWA recently published a story about their tour and their learnings about Noble Network. Check out a snippet of the article below:
From the exterior, Muchin College Prep doesn’t look much like a high school. It’s located in an unremarkable office building in downtown Chicago, where an elevator carries visitors to the seventh-floor campus. There, the walls are festooned with college banners, classrooms are bustling with discussions and group work, and football helmets rest on top of a long row of lockers.
Yes, Muchin — part of the Noble Network of Charter Schools — has a football team. Its students, nearly two-thirds of whom identify as Hispanic or Latino and another 29 percent as African American, also have access to a dozen Advanced Placement course offerings, and electives like jazz band and drama. The underlying mission of the network — the goal that underpins all other decisions, according to its leaders and staff — is to help more underserved students make it to college and to thrive once they get there. A recent study suggests its approach is making a big difference for many low-income students of color.
A small group of journalists recently toured the school as part of the Education Writers Association’s November 2019 seminar, “Education and the American Dream: Pathways From High School to College and Careers.” As with any school, first impressions — like Muchin’s front entrance — can be deceiving. That’s why education reporters should, and do, go deeper, using data and other evidence of a school’s trajectory and policies to balance out observations.
When it comes to the Noble model, there’s no shortage of stories that have been written — by local as well as national reporters. There have also been numerous studies of its approach to recruiting and retaining students, campus discipline, and postsecondary achievement.
Since 1999, Noble has grown from one campus with about 150 students to serving 12,000 Chicagoans at 17 high schools and one middle school. In February 2019, Chicago Public Schools renewed the network’s contract for an additional five years. (There have been some bumps in the road, including the founder of the network stepping down last fall amid allegations of inappropriate behavior that triggered a Chicago Public Schools investigation.)
There’s also been criticism of Noble’s “no excuses” model and approach to school discipline, examined closely by The Chicago Reporter in 2017. And in a 2018 interview with NPR Illinois and EWA member Dusty Rhodes, one teacher went so far as to call Noble’s strict campus culture “dehumanizing.” In the same segment, however, another teacher said the discipline policies, in the context of the school’s overall mission, are not out of line.
Read the full Education Writers Association article here.