New magnet admission policies

December 17, 2009 at 12:37 am 24 comments

Thanks to Hopeful for posting the following news from today’s CPS board meeting.

“It appears from the website that the board has approved the proposal with one small change. Instead of 50% of remaining spots going to proximity kids, after siblings get as many as are available, only 40% will. The other 60% goes into the general lottery.”

So the new changes in the magnet schools for this year will be:

-Siblings get priority
-40% of remaining spots will go to neighborhood kids (how do we even know what the boundaries are for magnet schools?)
-The remaining 60% of spots will be given out by general lottery which no longer is divided on race, but on 4 socioeconomic groups based on your Census tract.

This system will be in place for one year.

So, I totally get the sibling thing.  I pretty much get the socio-economic thing instead of race.

What I DON’T get is the neighborhood preference for the magnet schools.  I just have not read one thing that explains what CPS is trying to do with this policy.  Is it to reduce bussing?  I truly don’t see any other point in making these hybrid schools.  Does CPS want to slowly phase out (or slim down) the current magnet school system?  I’m not totally opposed to that since it would force families to stay in their neighborhood schools and work for improvement.

I just want to know the motivation because I need to know what’s up their sleeve.  Or if nothing is up their sleeve, why is this change happening?

Yes, I’m a little resentful of families who happen to live close to the magnet school and have suddenly lucked out.   And I guess if I knew that CPS had a bigger plan I could take the “unfairness” of it right now.  But I can’t process it because I just don’t get it.

Does that mean that some families have 2 neighborhood schools now?  They must, right?  So you might buy a house in the Stone district, but you can’t count on getting in, so you need a backup.  Will parents move into the magnet areas in hopes of getting an edge?

I’m curious to see what’s going to happen.  And I really don’t envy the parents who get to be the guinnea pigs this year.

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Some resources for gifted/classical test “prep” Introducing the new admission criteria for Gifted/Classical schools

24 Comments Add your own

  • 1. magnet mom  |  December 17, 2009 at 9:19 am

    Considering the fact that there was a stabbing in front of Stone on Sunday night I don’t know that I would recommend buying a house near the school. Its also an extremely dense area with very few houses until you get north of Warren Park, west of Western or towards the ‘Patch’ east of Ridge.

    And don’t quote me on this but I think the magnet schools/CPS know what their neighborhood boundaries would be because they use it to see who qualifies as LSC community representatives, and who qualifies for bussing drop off/pick up at the school.

  • 2. Paul  |  December 17, 2009 at 9:32 am

    I share your confusion. To make matters worse, Ron Huberman said in the board meeting that CPS will take a look at how the process works this year, and if schools seem to be re-segregating based on race, they’ll make adjustments before they send out admission letters. So I take that to mean that CPS may not follow this new policy completely.

    I do know that magnet schools have had a proximity lottery for awhile, so my understanding is that the “neighborhood” for a magnet school is the same as the “proximity”, which is 1.5 miles from the school.

  • 3. cpsobsessed  |  December 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Paul, you think a little incident like a stabbing would keep parents from trying to get into certain schools?! 🙂

    Many of the current magnets have had no proximity factor in the recent past so it’s all new. Now that magnet mom mentions it, I do recall learning that a certain magnet school had a surprisingly wide radius for the “neighborhood” – much bigger than a typical neighborhood boundary. So maybe that will make more sense when I see it. I guess it just seems like it can’t help but increase segregation since Chicago is a very segregated city in terms of where people live.

  • 4. magnet mom  |  December 17, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    . . . just to clarify the earlier comment is by no means a negative towards Stone. I just wouldn’t move to the neighborhood to increase my chances of getting in.

  • 5. hopeful  |  December 17, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    I could be wrong, but my understanding about Huberman’s comment regarding using race, was that IF this year got too skewed one way or another regarding race, then NEXT year they might try and factor it in. I don’t think they will factor it in at all this year.

    What drives me crazy is that so many of the magnets, particularly the best magnets, are clustered around one area of the city, effectively shutting out those of us who live more than a mile and a half from Lakeview/Lincoln Park/Goldcoast. My own children are “safe” because we totally lucked out with a ticket to Hawthorne this past year for my oldest, and my youngest will now be guaranteed a spot this coming fall in Kindergarten. But wow, for everyone else it sucks. There are 64 K spots at Hawthorne each year. If 35 siblings apply, that only leaves 29 spots left. That would mean 12 spots go to kids living nearby (who will then bring in THEIR siblings in years following) and only 17 spots for the general lottery. 17 spots for what 2500 applications? I mean, maybe the odds weren’t good before either, but wow! And those 17 spots will be divided up into 4 “tiers”, meaning that for families in my tier 1 neighborhood, there’ll be about 4 spots total.
    I too feel sorry for anyone having to go through this no matter which way they slice it.

  • 6. Mayfair Dad  |  December 17, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    You are probably right on the money re: neighborhood bias as a means to reduce/eliminate bussing. Only reason I can come up with, too.

    But I also think all this teeth gnashing about magnet and selective enrollment schools misses the larger point entirely: when 50% of Chicago public school kids fail to graduate high school, the entire system is broken. Instead of this intense competition to win seats at a handful of succesful schools, Chicago parents should demand excellence at ALL neighborhood schools.

  • 7. dave4118  |  December 17, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    Proximity lotteries are mentioned in the ‘Big Book’ for the 2009/2010 issue, whicj means that proximity determinations were in place before the who;e SACD was thrown out. if Huberman is boldy saying that the administration will look at whether the one year policy seems to be resegregating….isn’t that saying race is still THE factor that they are considering? Despite the cited ‘socioeconomic’ factors, racial balance is still the underlying motivation. This is setting up the argument for a future reverse discrimination lawsuit.

  • 8. Chris  |  December 17, 2009 at 5:57 pm

    This doesn’t relate to the testing admission schools (Skinner/Edison/etc) does it? How do those school’s admission policies change?

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  December 17, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    My neighborhood just experienced a woman in broad daylight having her purse snatched. She resisted and the teenager hit her in the head with a brick! It’s crazy out there!

    Chris, I am pretty sure that the only affect on GEAP schools is that instead of balancing on race they’ll use the 4 socio-economic groups instead. But maybe I’m just assuming. Maybe this new policy was for magnets only. Does anyone know?

  • 10. Paul  |  December 17, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    Here’s how the Sun-Times quoted Ron Humberman at the Board meeting: ” ‘We’ll have plenty of gut checks” before fall 2010 admissions are finalized, he said. Officials will review how admissions shake out under the latest proposal, and if the results don’t provide enough socioeconomic and racial diversity, the admission formula could be changed again, Huberman said.” I read that as saying CPS could change the admissions policy before they send out acceptances for the Fall 2010 school year. But, I could be wrong too. I couldn’t find any clarification on the CPS Web site.

    For gifted and classical programs, I was under the impression that socioeonomic tiers were not going to be used. I think that admissions will be done purely on test scores without regard to race or socioeconomic factors. Again, I couldn’t find any clarification on the CPS Web site about that.

  • 11. also obsessed  |  December 17, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    From what I understand, on gifted/classical schools:
    40% of the kids will be let in solely on merit.
    The other 60% will be split between the 4 tiers.

  • 12. Paul  |  December 17, 2009 at 10:24 pm

    Yes, also obsessed, I finally found a description of the policy on the CPS Web site. It looks like all the selective enrollment schools, including gifted, classical, and the selective enrollment high schools will follow that 40/60 split.

  • 13. dave4118  |  December 17, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    I agree with also obsessed. It defintely seems as though the gifted will be broken down into to sections, merit and ‘other’ considerations.

  • 14. dave4118  |  December 17, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Here is a CPS link that will allow one to figure out 1-your census tract; 2- your CPS-calculated socioeconomic score. http://cpsmagnet.org/apps/news/show_news.jsp?REC_ID=118406&id=0&rn=9913722…. I suddenly love all those high-density apt buildings to the west of us.

  • 15. hopeful  |  December 18, 2009 at 8:32 am

    We definitely need better schools for everyone. I am seriously beginning to wonder if a parental “strike” is in order. What if we all, meaning rich and poor, south/north/west sides all kept our kids out of school in a concentrated effort for 2-3 days? I know there are so many factors at play here, and poorer areas are prone to lower academic performance because of what does or doesn’t happen outside of the school day, but there are some basic equity questions (like schools that run out of toilet paper in January, and oh well, there is no more now!) and parents who just don’t have the skills/time/ability to help their kids, But you’d think that a relatively nation like ours could work around/with those issues.

  • 16. Mom  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:20 am

    A couple questions I’d love the answer to, if anyone knows…

    Do those within the proximity of a magnet get two bites at the apple? Meaning, they get to be part of the 40% neighborhood lottery, but then, if they don’t get in that way, do they get to try again as part of the socio-economic tier lottery? (We are not in the proximity of anything, unfortunately).

    Also, we didn’t check the race box because that is what the downtown CPS office told us to do. I know a lot of others who didn’t check the box — so how is Huberman going to do his “gut check” on us?

  • 17. Mayfair Dad  |  December 18, 2009 at 11:51 am

    My understanding is the gifted/classical admissions policy mirrors the SE high school policy, which is as follows:

    Hypothetical: 100 freshman seats available in Great North High School

    50 seats assigned to applicants in a citywide pool based on ranking using 900 point system (similar to current system minus attendance due to H1N1) and preference indicated on application form.

    Remaining 50 seats split equally between Socioeconomic groups 1 thru 4, again based on the 900 point system and preference indicated on the application form.

    Listing School A as a higher preference than School X does not hurt the applicant’s chances of getting into School X. The algorhythym does not play favorites.

    Socioeconomic grouping based on latest census data. The criteria is strikingly similar to key indicators for success stated in the book Freakonomics. Read it.

    From socioeconomic maps I’ve seen (produced by CPS) it looks like a large portion of the Northwest side is solid blue, i.e. Group 4. Not sure if the actual data suggests a more nuanced approach, block by block. We live in a nice neighborhood but not everybody is considered “comfortable.” The local CPS school is 75% reduced/free lunch — are all these kids blue too?

  • 18. hopeful  |  December 18, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    A thought occurred to me last night. I think each school when they do their lottery, is now going to have to look up each applicant’s address to determine their tier. Imagine the poor clerks at the more popular magnets! They’ll be figuring out 2500+ tiers! Can you imagine all the work that is going to be?

  • 19. Y  |  December 18, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    @Mom – Yes, I believe those who live near a magnet get two tries to get in, first through the proximity lottery and second through the socio-economic lottery.

    The people who are within the proximity limits of a magnet school and also have a good neighborhood school should be set in the new scenario. I’m thinking particularly about someone living near Hawthorne, where Nettelhorst, Burley, Blaine, and Agassiz would be your backup neighborhood school. Or LaSalle, where Lincoln and maybe Ogden are your backup schools.

  • 20. dave4118  |  December 18, 2009 at 9:32 pm

    We live in a CPS-designated group 2 area…..none of the ‘troublesome’ factors that make up the composite score really apply to us. Very good friends live in a group 4 area, ditto as far as their lifestyle. I think we would get two bites of the magnet apple(we are within the 1.5 mile radius by .05 miles), I think we get two bites of the gifted apple; we weren’t savvy and engineered this situation….but I am sure there will be plenty of number-crunchers that will assess the lay of the land and take advantage. it seesm magnets have turned into regional schools, as opposed to neighborhood schools.I wonder what will happen when they sneak in the principal’s discretion again.

  • 21. Mom  |  December 21, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I called downtown and was told that if you are in the proximity lottery you do not get a chance in the socio-economic part of the lottery. If you are not accepted at a school off the proximity lottery, you are placed on a proximity list wait list. There are not two bites at the apple. Of course, I’m not confident that the person on the phone has got it right…I’ve been told incorrect information by them before…. 🙂

  • 22. Paul  |  December 21, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    It looks like CPS has clarified Huberman’s statement about doing a “gut check” before admissions letters go out. As the commenter “hopeful” said above, Huberman was saying that if the schools are re-segregating, then CPS would make changes in the admissions policy for the next year, not this year. There’s a story about it here:
    http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/district-299/2009/12/gut-check-confusion.html

  • 23. wondering  |  January 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    When do the letters for selective enrollment go out?

  • 24. 2 cents  |  January 13, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Sometime in March….

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