Back to School Sept 2014


This awesome logo makes ME want to go to school!

This awesome logo makes ME want to go to school!


They say that as you get old, time goes faster.  A summer now is a smaller percentage of your whole life than it was as a child so it feels like it passes faster.  That seems so unbelievably true.  The summer went by in a blink.

Back to homework and lunches.  And structure.  Wahhhhhhhhh.  

There may be a lot of activity this week in school offers and openings so I figured we could start a new post.

If you hear from any schools, feel free to post here so people can see what’s happening.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, CPS has a new logo and web site.  It’s more clean on graphics.  FINALLY, the OAE site is directly linked from CPS.  Finding everything else may take a little more time.  Find a School, which I use a lot is one extra click away now.

Other CPS news – free lunch for everyone.  I’m not sure how the logistics will work, but it should save a lot of admin time collecting, counting and transporting the lunch money.  I understand that families will still be asked to fill out income forms to determine if the school gets “low income” funding, but I’m curious if parents will have the same incentive to submit the form if the free lunch program isn’t an incentive.

Anything else new going on in your school?

August 25, 2014 at 8:07 am 72 comments

Local Enrollment for Neighborhood High Schools

Thanks to HSObsessed for passing on WBEZ’s Tweet with this interesting data on the % of students at each neighborhood high school who live within the school’s boundaries.

I’ve included those with 1000 students or more and highlighted those with high and low local enrollment.  As HSO points out, on the north side, LVHS and Amundsen have a very low share of local students, while Senn seems to be attracting the neighborhood families (despite having selective programs (IB and arts.))

I think this is also interesting given the “sorting” article we just discussed.  that even aside from the SEHS, there is sorting going on.  Lots of kids are travelling out of their own neighborhoods to other high schools, meaning a neighborhood HS is not a neighborhood HS in the eyes of many Chicago families.  There is some kind of motivation to seek out a different (better) option.


cps hs 1

July 19, 2014 at 11:27 pm 381 comments

Alderman Pawar’s Note on Neighborhood High Schools (Lake View and Amundsen)

I attended a meeting last week at the alderman’s office North Center about Lake View HS.  The school has a new principal (imagine a young Ken Jennings) and he has the backing of the CPS district office and the local Aldermen.  Lots of parents from the Lakeview feeder schools attended, and there is great excitement about making LVHS into a desirable neighborhood high school option.  I’m hoping to get some time on the new principal’s calendar soon to talk more about his vision and I’m currently working on a meeting time with the Amundsen Principal.  That school just had a big improvement in their IB pass rate this year, which is a very impressive accomplishment for both students and staff.  So I hope to continue sharing more about these north side high schools.

Here’s is a post from Pawar’s Facebook page.  Links are below to the LVHS and Amundsen support groups.

By Alderman Ameya Pawar (47th Ward: Lakeview and Amundsen HS)

Why building a neighborhood K-12 is important:

Last Thursday, my office hosted the rollout of the new ‘Lake View Partners’ with Principal Scott Grens, Lake View High School STEM partners (Northwestern University, DePaul University, Microsoft), Ald. Tunney, Ald. Cappleman, and over 70 of our neighbors. The event was a tremendous success! People had an opportunity to meet Principal Grens and learn more about the university and technology partnerships. Most importantly, everyone had a chance to hear about Principal Grens’ vision to make LVHS a solid choice for everyone in our community. In sum, complete ‪#‎GROW47‬‘s vision to build a neighborhood K-12 system in our community.

Neighborhood schools have been my ‘all-in’ since taking office – but I still hear some skepticism about neighborhood high schools. But here is what I know: People move to our community for elementary schools, but move to the suburbs for high schools when their children reach the sixth or seventh grade (sometimes much earlier). Why? Families and students are living in a pressure-cooker. If you live in Tier 3 or 4 of the CPS Tier system, your child has to get straight A’s, never miss a day of school, and test in the 95-99% percentile to test into a selective enrollment high school. For many families, the stress is just too much and they move to the suburbs. What do they get in the suburbs? Suburbs make schools the starting point for everything they do. Property values, economic development, and community sustainability is tied to the school districts. So one tax bill nets a family an entire K-12 system. This means there is no stress about getting into the right high school to get into the right college as everyone goes to the same high school. There is more stability and equity for all kids. And this allows kids to be kids and families to live with some peace.

To combat the suburban outflow, I launched GROW47. The goal: give families in the City what they seek out in the suburbs — a neighborhood K-12 system.

The completion of a neighborhood K-12 system in our community begins with you and me. And it begins with shaping our perception of neighborhood high schools. Everyone has to get involved-parents, homeowners, renters, business owners, etc. It doesn’t matter if you have children. You can do your part by running for Local School Council. Or join your school’s parent organization. Volunteer at an event or put a sign in your window. At a minimum, spread a positive message about your neighborhood school. How does this help? Because performance follows perception.

If you and your family are tired of living in a constant state of stress, I urge you to take a second look at Lake View High School and Amundsen High School. Both schools have transformative principals, vision for excellence, and great programs. What’s missing? Buy in.

Shaping school perception begins with you. And again, performance follows perception. So what can you do? Get involved. Here’s how:

- Join the new Lake View Partners –
– Join the Friends of Amundsen

- Work with both principals to set up school tours

- Begin a dialogue on your block about neighborhood schools – and name the time and place and I will do my best to be there to give your neighbors my pitch on building a neighborhood K-12 system. Email to make arrangements.


July 13, 2014 at 3:49 pm 107 comments

WTTW Digital Series on Selective Enrollment High School Admission – 5 students


I’ve been meaning to post this for a while – WTTW has done a nice web series on the SE enrollment process, following 5 kids from different elementary schools through the process.   The episodes are a nice length – 15-18 minutes each, so it’s easy viewing.

The episodes are also on YouTube

Most of us know about the process already so that part won’t be as newsworthy, but the fascinating part is getting a glimpse at some of these schools (both elementary and high school.)  I’ve noted a few episodes that are particularly interesting and some quotes/thoughts on them.  This was really my first time seeing the Disney pods! charter schools, a turnaround school, and some of the SE High schools.

Episode 2 highlights the 5 students’ elementary schools:

Wilmette Junior High: “Every single kid in our class is a masterpiece.”

UNO (Charter:) “There’s a strong expectation of behavioral compliance.”

Disney (Magnet:) “You have 7 classrooms in a pod, without any walls. It’s essentially an open space.” (See the principal and the open spaces)

Marquette School of Excellence (AUSL/Turnaround:) We are in a very data-driven mindset because we want the students to grow. But data doesn’t just come from test scores, it comes from natural observation too.”

District 149 STEM, Calumet City – 1 building with 3 “small schools” within it: “What I want to do is make you the most employable kids in the country.”

Episode 6 shows several high school options (could be a great preview for 8th graders to understand what to expect a bit on the tours)

Lane Tech


Whitney Young

New Trier


Golder College Prep (Noble Charter)

Episode 7 is about the administration at the elementary schools:

AUSL – Teachers have an open door policy for observation, teachers share feedback with each other to help each other improve, share best practice

UNO – I’m sorry, I can’t get past the principal phrasing everything like it’s a question?

Wilmette Junior High – just skip past the stuff about their arts program and new science lab or you’ll cry

Disney – Arts CPS-style, looks fun

STEM Cal City – The superintendent discusses Urban Prep wanting to open a charter in the district


I haven’t watched through the end yet to see what happens with the kids.  If you comment, please remember that these are real kids/families, so no judgy comments about them.

July 6, 2014 at 10:51 pm 46 comments

Neighborhood still challenging Lincoln Elem addition, PUSH coalition joins in

lincoln annex

Ok, a couple things.  I had NO idea this Lincoln Elem expansion was still being debated/contested.

Even more interesting, Jessie Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition is joining forces with those protesting on the grounds of 1) playground being eliminated (that must have been one kick-ass playground the way people are protesting its removal.)

And “Jackson said that kind of spending is part of a pattern:  residents in white, wealthier neighborhoods are given more access to better schools, and the concerns of their local school councils are heard.” as reported in the Sun Times.  Full article here:

Crain’s has information on the protest which seems to be based on lack of green space in the neighborhood and increased traffic congestion.  I will admit that I sometimes feel bad for the people who live in my son’s school’s immediate vicinity because the traffic is a mess during drop-off in the morning.  And…then I remember that by being among the first to send my son there when the school was expanding I have probably helped each of them increase their property value by at least $100K.

From the Crain’s article:

Another extensive legal fight is brewing in Lincoln Park, complicating the planned redevelopment of the former Children’s Memorial Hospital site.

This time the fight isn’t over the redevelopment itself, in which developer Daniel McCaffrey wants to build two 214-foot towers, 760 residential units and more than 160,000 square feet of commercial space. City Council approval of that project already has been challenged in court.

Instead, the new flap is over plans to expand the nearby Lincoln Elementary School by building a $20 million, seven-story addition on the school’s playlot and moving the play area to the roof.

“This is just a terribly improper place for an expansion,” said attorney John Pikarski, who represents 51 parents in the zoning matter and predicts that the dispute eventually will end up in court.

A seven-story school is not good for kids, and the area already has severe traffic problems even without 400 additional children a day getting to and from Lincoln, he said. (Editor later noted that the building will be only 3 stories high.)

June 25, 2014 at 11:42 pm 79 comments

Increasing diversity in Selective Enrollment high schools


Blog reader, RLJulia sent me a link to this NYTimes article yesterday where Richard Kahlenberg, inventor/advisor to CPS on the Tier model writes an Op-Ed piece encouraging New York city to adopt a similar model to increase diversity in their SE high schools.  Currently their system is all based on one test which results in very very low % of Af-Am and Hispanic students in the top schools (they don’t mention the very very high share of Asians who get in which was the topic of another interesting NYTimes article last year.)

Blurb: New York City schools have never been subject to a citywide desegregation suit, and the state’s schools are now more segregated than Mississippi’s. But the unfortunate reality of segregation can be leveraged to promote a positive outcome in the city’s elite schools. Isn’t it time for New York City’s top schools to recognize that excellence can be found among students of all racial and economic backgrounds?


I then saw this Reader article this morning urging the same – more diversity in top schools to help more minority kids get to college. I’m happy they’re covering more CPS topics, with more people authoring the articles and this provides a great overview of how the Tier system came into place.

Link to full story, feel free to comment there as well.


Chicago’s entire school desegregation strategy needs a turnaround


When the City Council holds hearings on Chicago’s selective enrollment high schools this summer, I hope aldermen consider the larger questions about racial and economic segregation.
The article discussed that since the shift from racial balancing, there are fewer spots at the top 4 SEHS schools (Payton, Jones, Northside, and Whitney Young) for minority kids, and that there are good piplelines for college.  Does this potentially mean that the formula needs to be modified further to ensure that more Af-Am kids are getting spots?
The article also questions whether the SEHS current strategy is meeting the goal of socio-ec and racial diversity in these schools (which the NYTimes story points out is WAY more diverse than the NY SE high schools.)
It also give a good overview of the history of the consent decree and shift away from it a couple years ago and the resulting shift to a high % of white kids in the top schools:
“To ensure that the magnets weren’t racially segregated, they were required to be 15 to 35 percent white. Soon the magnets were the city’s best schools, with intense competition for admission. So the result of the consent decree was ironic: it was supposed to mainly help rectify the harm done to minority children by the district’s segregated system, but its main achievement was a set of prized schools to which white students got disproportionate access. By 1988, white children were only 13.5 percent of all CPS students, but they were 27 percent of the students in the magnets.
Even with the “special little programs,” the proportion of white students citywide kept declining; today the enrollment is only 9 percent white. And access for white students to the elite selective enrollment high schools has become even more disproportionate: the combined enrollment of Payton, Jones, Northside, and Young is now about 33 percent white.”
Importantly it points out the main rub with tweaking the Tier Formula: What about the rest of the kids?
“But while tweaking the formula might get a few more high-achieving black students into the top selective high schools, it would do nothing to help the vast majority of black and Hispanic CPS students. They remain stuck in schools that face long odds because of their high-poverty enrollments. Just under 40 percent of students at Payton, Jones, Northside, and Whitney Young are from low-income families, but 85 percent of the citywide enrollment is low-income, and many CPS students are in schools whose enrollments are virtually all low-income.”
And to conclude, “more ideas are needed.”  Indeed, but what?  Especially given the CPS budget restrictions.
“No one approach will (work). More ideas are sorely needed. The hearings on the selective enrollment schools could be an opportunity to consider such ideas. The selective schools are part of a system, and the hearings about them should focus on the problems afflicting the vast majority, not just the luckier few.”

June 24, 2014 at 9:05 am 315 comments

MAP scores Spring 2014

Cat on laptop

Got spring MAP scores today – anyone else?

These scores will be used for admissions into Academic Centers, SEHS, Military HS, and IB programs.

There IS information about a retest.  The child can take the Fall MAP to use as the score for selective enrollment.  If they take that test, they MUST use that score, even if it’s lower. Students can re-take math, reading, or both.  The re-test form has to be submitted by Sept 5th.

cps.oae says informtion about re-testing will be available in June.

You can sign up for updates here:


Thought about MAP? Scores? The re-testing process? (summer tutoring anyone?)  Have you determined if your child is in/out of the running for a program?


Another question that came up in a discussion with a parent in my class – should the schools be giving the “good time slots” for the MAP tests to the classes that are vital for selective enrollment admission?  My son’s class had what may have been the worst day to take the math test (friday after they’d spent 3 days at an overnight class trip, exhausted – Friday at 2:30-3:30 pm (per my son.))  The challenge with MAP tests (unlike the ISATs in booklets) is that classes have to take turns with timing because of the computer usage issue.  So somebody is going to get the early morning slot and somebody is going to get the end-of-day Friday slot.

June 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm 126 comments

Older Posts

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,078 other followers



Get up to the minute obsessive updates on Twitter

Blog Stats

  • 3,846,731 hits


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,078 other followers