DuSable High School

DuSable High School is a large, complex, urban high school that is struggling to meet many challenges and obstacles. Often described as the poorest high school in the nation, based on socio-economic data, DuSable sits in the shadows of the largest public housing project in America. Despite formidable adversity, we are proud of our history as Chicago's first high school built for an African American population and the accomplishments of numerous alumni including the late Mayor Harold Washington and John H. Johnson, publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines.

Most of our students live in the economically stressed community that surrounds the school. A neighborhood institution, DuSable is a safe haven for many of our students, We view our students as survivors, before even reaching the school building, on a daily basis, students face violence and safety issues endemic to their environment.

DuSable's faculty is a highly trained and motivated staff knowledgeable in many reform initiatives including the Coalition of Essential Schools, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform, and the structural metaphor of the Small Schools Workshop connected with the University of Illinois at Chicago. Many of our faculty continually work to attain grants and other resources to help defray the ongoing costs of meeting the needs of our student population. For example we have recently received the MacArthur Challenge grant, the Annenberg Challenge grant, and a grant from the JC Penney community Education Trust. Our educational leader is principal Charles E. Mingo, a contributing author to Breaking Ranks, Challenging an American Institution (1996). Reform-minded, open, approachable, educational visionary, principal Mingo sees what could be. He has spent his career improving the educational opportunities for young people.

Unfortunately, teaching and learning often take a back seat to the running of a complex bureaucracy; such would seem to be the case at DuSable, as evidenced by our reading and math scores. Our major challenge continues to be the improvement of academic performance for a struggling population. DuSable is a clean, safe, nurturing environment that is drug, violence, and graffiti free. DuSable feels and acts like a "traditional" school in an average community, having solved much of our organizational dilemmas through the "small schools" structure; however, our students continue to struggle academically as assessed on multiple measures.

Currently, 96% of our freshman and junior classes are not reading at grade level. As a result of this statistic, DuSable High School will close this summer and reopen in September enduring a reconstitution procedure. We are confident that this initiative, coupled with extensive staff development and a re-commitment to teaching and learning, will improve the academic success of our students.

For more information, please contact:
Charles E. Mingo, Principal
DuSable High School
4934 South Wabash Avenue
Chicago, IL 60615

<Inquiry Initiative | Schools and Projects >