Rachel Carson opened its doors in 1991. Prior to that, the building had housed Richards High School. In 1991, Rachel Carson elementary consisted of what now is the Intermediate Building. The primary building opened in 1997. It was opened in order to alleviate overcrowding in the area. Rachel Carson is a school that is over 95% low income. Unlike a lot of other urban schools in the surrounding areas, Carson students tend to perform higher than a lot of peers in similar neighborhoods. Consistently, Carson has exceeded 97% attendance. In 2001-2002, Carson had the highest attendance in CPS even surpassing magnet schools. Rachel Carson has set high standards for its staff, students, families, and community members. Carson has been shaped around the following beliefs:
  • The school staff must embrace the belief that fundamental change is possible.

  • The school has an obligation to address both the academic and social needs of the students, as well as the needs of their families. The staff must always take a problem-solving role in meeting these needs, rather than casting blame.

  • Carson’s students are capable of a high level of academic mastery. The staff’s responsibility is to develop methods that allow all of their students to learn at high levels.

  • Student engagement in learning is the key not only to educating students but also to avoiding a range of problems common in urban schools, such as discipline problems and truancy.

  • The school must respect the students’ and families’ culture, which should be constantly incorporated into the educational program. Families will then feel a sense of ownership in the school and contribute to their children’s learning and development.

  • Teachers must work collaboratively as members of teams. Such teamwork is the path of excellence. Through teamwork, teachers become leaders.

  • School staff must take responsibility for intervening anywhere in the school to solve problems (such as dealing with students’ behavior).

  • All school staff must be efficient. Procedures for carrying out routine activities must be carefully spelled out and followed, to maximize the time available for higher value activities.
  • While similar views are voiced in many schools, the Carson school community buys into these views and consistently acts on them.

---Designs for Change, September 2003