What’s with all North Side gifted programs?

July 13, 2008 at 10:43 pm 4 comments

OK, I admit it – I am excited to have my kid in a gifted program.  It is probably the closest I’ll come to being able to “brag” about my kid in any way.  I’ll never utter the words “My son goes to Harvard” unless his Dad and I plan to sell our house and live in a box under Lower Wacker Drive to pay the tuition.  I’m quite sure I’ll never be saying “My son, the doctor” since he currently freaks out like a wild banshee if he has to look at a scrape on his own knee.  So his greatest educational achievement may have come about from a test he took at age 4.  Go figure.

So although I am thrilled to have scammed into this opportunity, I can’t help but wonder what is up with this plethora of Gifted Programs on the north side.  Edison, which used to be located way-too-far-to-consider (unless your child is really really smart and needs to be with like-minded smarties,) is moving to Albany Park this Fall.  Coonley is located curiously close to Bell.  Beaubien is up north, and of course Decatur skims off some of the pool.  So in an fairly narrow locale there are 4 accelerated classes that a kid can test into.  It begs the question, “Isn’t it a wee bit inefficient?”   Does it make sense to have Bell and Coonley existing with similar programs like little RGC “twins?”


It’s a good idea on several counts:

1. In theory, the principals of Bell and Coonley can pop over to visit one another to share best practices (let’s face it, in this day and age I’m guessing they’ll just be emailing each other, if anything.)

2. It makes it easy for the French teacher who will work in both programs. (Maybe this was all HER idea! Merci Beaucoup! – I hear she is fantastic, BTW.)

3. Perhaps Coonley is being positioned to take the overflow of Bell, which is close to bursting at the seams.

4. CPS has something up its sleeve.  (Conspiracy Woman emerging here.)  My personal suspicion is that Coonley is being set up as the buffer for Bell.  If the Bell neighborhood continues to grow, they’ll have to either redraw the school boundaries or move someone out of the school (choices are the Deaf program or the Gifted program… who would you feel worse about booting?)  And the RGC could easily be phased out grade by grade, starting at the bottom.  Or heck, they could just move it all out of Bell in one fell swoop like they did with Edison.

5. The Coonley neighborhood is ripe to transition into a Bell-esque neighborhood – with a strong school that attracts families and drives up property values.


The downside of having several gifted programs clustered together is:

1. Well, it just doesn’t seem fair.  Most people choose schools that are generally close to home.  So I have to figure that kids in certain neighborhoods, whose parents may lack reliable transportation are stuck without a gifted option, even if they test well.

2. Terrorists could pinpoint Chicago’s epicenter of youthful intelligence and wipe out a chunk of smart kids with one well-directed missile. (Just kidding, that is only in the Hollywood version of the CPS story, which will clearly never be made into a motion picture.)


Only time will tell whether it was a good “business” decision or if my paranoid conspiracy radar is working accurately.

Entry filed under: CPS, Regional Gifted Program. Tags: .

Getting into a Chicago Public School Our CPS Gifted/Classical Testing Experience (Pre-Kindergarten)

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jay  |  September 2, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    We Northsiders are willing to pay good money to ensure that our children are gifted. If property values don’t correlate strongly with intelligence–why then, we’re just throwing our money away!

  • 2. Jennifer  |  October 7, 2008 at 1:50 pm

    If you look at the CPS map of the city, you’ll see a shocking dearth of RGCs on the southwest side. Not one. It’s *almost* comical…but it is not. If CPS even got around to putting one there, it would surely become a problem because the neighborhood schools are overcrowded and would want the space, too. Isn’t that what happened at Edison?

    Your Downside #1 is what I’m dealing with right now. You wrote that “most people choose schools that are generally close to home,” but that’s not what happens on the SW side’s gifted kids. There’s no choice. The closest is Keller–11 miles from our home school (but at least in a familiar neighborhood). The farthest is Bell–18 miles. Bus service is essential.

    My daughter was told at the end of 1st grade that she should test for gifted, so we’re starting that process now. (And I’ll have my Kindy son tested at the same time.) That means I’ll potentially have to find open spots for a 3rd grader (impossible?) and a 1st grader next year. Instead of walking three blocks to the neighborhood school, they’ll be on a bus.

    Our neighborhood school is a good one, and I still wonder if we should just stick there, but I can’t put aside the fact that I was told my daughter should be tested. So, we’re entering this new world with lots of questions and we just have to see where it goes. I’m frustrated by this new world already–I had noticed the proximity of Coonley to Bell.

    Great blog!

  • 3. Slow  |  June 11, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    I know I am really late in commenting on this but, alas, I am not gifted. Frankly, I am shocked at the number of people that have questions about things like this. The folks on the north look a certain way and the folks on the south look a certain way. One, although possibly more deserving given the current funding mechanism, gets the safety of classes that others cannot get into while the other gets little or nothing.

    This is neither new nor confined to education. The same could be said of many city services, from buses to police.

    I know nobody wants to think about race in this situation – we all want what is best for little Jenny or little Jenniqua – but let’s call a, excuse the expression, a spade a spade.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  June 11, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    Slow, I saw read your post on my Blackberry and wasn’t quite sure what you were getting at, but now I see which topic its under and it makes sense.
    From my own point of view, I can’t believe that somebody is sitting at a desk saying “give the white kids more than the black kids.” But I can’t argue with the discrepancy and I see many examples of stuff being funded up here that makes me wonder.
    If I were running the city, I’d be doing things differently, as would many of us.
    There is a great organization called PURE that questions many of the inequalities you hint at. They’re always putting up the good fight against CPS and I’d encourage anyone who supports their mission to check out their website or make a small (or large!) donation.

    I will though, that I’ve met some parents from the South Side gifted schools and they can be just as nutty as the North Side parents in terms of schools and education stuff.

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