Forum on Selective Enrollment and Magnet School Admissions Policy

August 4, 2010 at 2:21 pm 311 comments

This looks kind of interesting…

If only these meetings would set up a cash bar,  I think attendance might be a bit higher.

CPS Blue Ribbon Commission on
2010 Selective Enrollment and Magnet School Admissions Policy
Community Forums
All are welcome!
Tuesday, August 10th
Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, 211 S. Laflin St.
All forums will begin at 7 pm.
Please call (773) 553-1477 with any questions.

At the very least, this will give me the incentive to figure out where Whitney Young high school is.  Hopefully I can make it to find out what the talk is for the upcoming year.  Anyone want to join me and we can be a pack of annoying parents who know way more than CPS wants us to? 🙂

Which I guess brings me to the next questions: What should be the admission plan for next year?   Assuming they’re open to opinions, I’m not quite sure what I’d recommend.  I feel like the 4 Tier System worked OK (aside from the inherent issue that it isn’t house-specific.)  I guess some issues I had would be:

-The twin issue (siblings get admission to magnets, but that doesn’t include twins for some reason.)
-What exactly is the rationale about making magnet schools into sort-of neighborhood schools?
-What will be done to prevent that 100 students from the worst schools getting the lucky spots at the end of the high school selection process (I support the idea of kids who bright and motivated but stuck at crappy schools getting a shot at a good high school, but I don’t know that this 100 in one fell swoop was the way to go.)

What else?

UPDATE: What I’m hearing from someone who attended one of these meetings is that CPS won’t be sharing any information. Rather this is the place for parents to express their opinions.  They run it like they do the public input section of a CPS board meeting.  You have to sign up ahead of time (right before the meeting starts) and then you get a minute or 2 to say what you want.  They’ll listen, I assume not respond, and they’ll move on to the next person.  I’m debating whether or not to go now.  I was hoping to hear them give some information or have some discussion.   I guess I need to think about what *I* would truly want to tell CPS about these policies that I felt there was reality for improving.  I totally get the problem with the Tiers being unfair to some people.   But I don’t know of a feasible solution.  There’s no way CPS is going to verify income at a household level, nor is Tier totally about income either.  Maybe I’ll just yell out “CPSOBSESSED.COM! read that and you’ll know our complaints!”  🙂

Entry filed under: Applying to schools. Tags: .

School Fees aka Book Fees CPS Budget Hearings Open to the Public

311 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cps mom 5  |  August 4, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    I plan to attend. I heard the attendance at the first two were very dismal. Perhaps CPS will think no one really cares about the admission policy so they’ll just leave the current process in place for next year.

  • 2. interested mom  |  August 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    It was dismal. The whole discussion under the race statistics (in the last blog) is very thought provoking and brings up many issues. At the magnet school level – gearing entry towards the neighborhood works if you live in an area that has a magnet school. There are none northwest except maybe now Disney II. Some areas have multiple magnet schools while others have zero. That’s not a fair opportunity for all.

  • 3. sibling  |  August 4, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Just to clarify, only siblings going into kindergarten get admission to magnet schools. There are many families that got caught in the change with one student in a magnet school and now there is no sibling lottery or principal discression.

  • 4. Hawthorne mom  |  August 4, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    #3 is correct, if you get a sibling into a 3rd grade classroom for example (let’s say a family moved into the city later in life) and have a 1st grader, that 1st grader gets no sibling preference. The sibling policy applies only to incoming Kindergarteners. Which means that if a twin gets into a K spot at a magnet, the next year, the sibling doesn’t get any preference because the sibling would be a 1st grader also. Sucks. Totally sucks.

  • 5. Hawthorne mom  |  August 4, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Should clarify. I looked up the policy and it says that sibling priority is given to the entry year only, but I suppose there could still be preference to siblings, just not automatic admission like at the entry year (if there are spots available). I wonder if anyone else has info on this. I have a friend who this affects and am hoping I am wrong.

  • 6. RL Julia  |  August 5, 2010 at 6:37 am

    Keep the same policy but require people applying for SE schools to submit the tax form (or some equivalent) on which the child was claimed for the (previous) year (a huge invasion of privacy, I know and would have some unintended consequences for illegal parents etc… – there are obviously some kinks to this idea).

    Unveil a plan that discusses how individualized instruction and other methods of gifted education are going to be integrated into EVERY (elementary) school in order to engage/retain/serve brighter students in their neighborhood elementary schools.

    Use another test in which to identify bright kids- the ISAT is a joke and really doesn’t indicate much. Use nationally normed tests that actually indicate whether or not the kid is gifted.

    Expect that higher income kids coming from households with well educated parents are going to score disproportionately high on these tests and figure out a tenable solution for them when they don’t ALL get chosen for an SE school (see paragraph 2 above).

    Understand from the get go that lower income kids with multiple barriers to education/learning will score disproportionately low on these tests and figure out a way to address both their barriers and their talents in a way that keeps them engaged in the educational process long term.

    A girl’s gotta dream.

  • 7. Mom of Boys  |  August 5, 2010 at 7:49 am

    The old SE method for HS also controlled for gender. I would like to see gender statistics on the new process. The newspapers said fewer AA boys were accepted this year. The SE elementary have never used gender and I looked around at each classroom in my son’s classical school there are always more girls (sometimes way more) in every classroom.

  • 8. Mayfair Dad  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:38 am

    My biggest concern with the new process is the imprecise nature of the Census tracts. Within the geographic territories, one household’s socio-economic profile can vary widely from their next door neighbor’s. My own household is properly classified, but what about other families who are less fortunate? How can you have a neighborhood school with 75% poverty in a Tier 4 tract? Check out John M. Palmer Elementary. The inaccurate and dated Census information compromises an otherwise equitable process. The theory is sound…implementation is flawed.

    Another problem with the high school admissions process is the lack of a standardized grading policy throughout CPS. Since final 7th grade results are so critical to the High School admissions process, one might think CPS would have fixed this prior to rolling out the new process. Also, I think the penalty for getting a B versus an A in core subjects is much too steep when computing composite scores.

    As an example, my own son is enrolled in the International Gifted program at Ogden. The curriculum is rigorous – two years above grade level. Additionally, an A is earned at 94 or above. So my brighter-than-average son completed 7th grade in a gifted program earning high Bs in his core subjects. As a Tier 4 student, this means he will not be accepted into Northside, Payton, Young or Jones because his composite score will be too low to qualify. Even if he aces his 7th grade ISATS (which he did) and the Selective Enrollment High School Exam (which he will), the 100 point penalty he paid for getting Bs in 7th grade will keep him out of the top high schools. This needs to be re-evaluated.

  • 9. Mom2  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:54 am

    I agree about trying to balance gender when making selections for magnet and especially SE high schools. If someone wanted their child to go to school with mostly the same gender, they would send them to a gender specific school.

    As far as other changes to the system and selection process, I think we need to look at what causes all this in the first place. Usually Magnet and SE Parents want to send their children to school with children that come from a family that cares about education. They want their child in a class where the kids pay attention and the teacher can teach and the kids want to learn. They want to feel comfortable sending their kids on play dates and hanging out with other kids with similar values (race is not important in the least, values are the key). In this city, the only way to have the best chance of this is to send them to these schools or go private or move.

    So, how can we achieve this without doing everything under the sun to get them into these schools? Would it work if every neighborhood school had a gifted school within it and if your child tested into that program, they were guaranteed to take classes only with other kids from the program (like Lincoln Park IB, for example)? Since a huge portion of these parents live north of the city, do we need even more SE schools or should some of the neighborhood schools be made into 50% SE or ???

    I’m not certain anything other than adding more schools will work because the other benefit you get from SE and Magnet schools is the school becomes financially better off. This again happens because you tend to have wealthier parents or parents that believe so much in education that they are willing to shell out money to a public school. In turn, that causes more parents to want these schools. Maybe if every neighborhood school had a SE program, the schools could gain something financially, but would it be enough?

    The new tier system was better than the race based system, but because they didn’t fully follow the plan and added 100 other students to the mix, we don’t really know if it was a good plan or not. Why not build a special SE High School near these schools where they found those 100 kids and send them along with others in need there. Special, in that it isn’t part of the open tier plan. It is just designed for kids like these 100 that need a better place to learn.

  • 10. sfw  |  August 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

    @ 7, that’s interesting. At Decatur K, as of May their were 19 boys and 7 girls. I was shocked.

  • 11. interested mom  |  August 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Mom 2 – OMG I couldn’t agree more. Good suggestions. It won’t cure CPS’s embarassment at having to color correct their tier method and then keeping the true statistics burried. But I believe that hard working students trapped in a losing situation do need an out – just not at the top SE schools, as it was haphazardly decided last year.

  • 12. Mayfair Dad  |  August 5, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Mom2 wrote: “Why not build a special SE High School near these schools where they found those 100 kids and send them along with others in need there.”

    These special SE High Schools already exist: King College Prep (93.6% black), Brooks College Prep (84.6% black), Lindblom Math & Science Academy (77.6% black), Westinghouse (data n/a). SE high schools located in predominantly African American neighborhoods that serve predominantly African American student populations.

    However, Northside College Prep, located in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood, has a 35% “cap” on Caucasian enrollment.

    Perhaps CPS would consider putting a 35% “cap” on African American student populations at the SE high schools listed above, with the stated goal of encouraging diversity? Would Caucasian parents on the North side consider sending Buffy and Jody SOUTH…gasp…for high school?

    All this talk about skin color is silly, since the Supreme Court ruled it irrelevant.

  • 13. SEN  |  August 5, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    I have a general question in regards to the grading for the gifted program. Does an A or a B in a gifted class get you more points than an A or B at a neighborhood school when applying to SE High Schools?

  • 14. cps mom  |  August 5, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    #13 – An A is an A (75 points) and a B is a B (50 points) no matter what school you go to.

    I would love to drop all the racial analysis. Question is when will CPS? We still have a system that is in essence race based when unqualified students are plugged in in order to achieve “socio-economic equality”.

  • 15. Northside mom  |  August 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    Buffy could have gotten in to and would have gone to Westinghouse but Sissy (the older sister) was already at Lane – we opted for sanity sake to stay with one school. It would be a straight shot on the Kedzie bus for us. Westinghouse is a beautiful school and more white people need to consider it. These types of changes would help to achieve what we’re all talking about. I think we’re really all saying the same thing (almost) perhaps going to these meetings and speaking up will do some good with CPS.

  • 16. jmom  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    For high school admission, are extra points given for an A from an SE school than a non SE school or are they weighed the same?

  • 17. Mom of Boys  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    I agree with everyone that the grading scales at all schools need to be uniform. If a kid is working above grade level then some special weight should be given to their grades. For instance, my son at SE elementary has 90-100 A, 80 to 89 B (great because it makes it fair that he is working above grade level) but my son at the magnet elementary has a grading scale where 95-100 A, 85-94 B (which is almost OK because the range for B is large but it is definitely harder to get an A). Maybe they should get rid of the grade factor because of the various grading scales, the accelerated curriculum at SE schools and the overall subjectivity of grading based on teachers and their opinions (if there are short responses vs. multiple choice questions on a test). To be perfectly honest I don’t know wgat CPS should do…I hate that great parents whether your child is gifted or smart on grade level are quibbling over a few coveted spots at a FEW high schools. My magnet child is bright but can only work at grade level and he deserves a good HS option. More than likely I will be paying for a Catholic school (we are not catholic) and while my SE child is bright is he bright enough to win one of the few coveted spots…I don’t know only time will tell. If he doesn’t thwen he will be at a Catholic school, as well. I just hope the economy will allow me to be able to make this happen! **sigh**

  • 18. jmom  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Never mind, I see the answer and have a problem with it.

  • 19. Christine  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Yes I plan on attending.

  • 20. jmom  |  August 5, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Why should my child’s B at a gifted school be weighed less than a child’s A at a regular school? By 7th grade, gifted students are doing 9th grade work and regular students are doing regular 7th grade work. We agonize over getting our children into these SE schools only for them to be penalized for it as they apply for high school.

  • 21. cps mom  |  August 5, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    One solution would be to have the grade component scored like the rest of the components, as the number that it is. For example, a 92 would have a value of 92 not 75 if it is a B at your school.

    Compounding this problem, schools like Hawthorne, Franklin and Skinner all lowered their grading scales last year so that they would be more competitive in the selective enrollment process. It’s even stated that way in their LSC minutes.

    Because of this and the subjective component of grades, I feel as though the grade component should have a lesser weight than the testing that is consistent with each applicant.

  • 22. cps mom  |  August 5, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    Correction 92 is a 50 for a school that has a 93, 94 or 95 cut off for an A.

  • 23. Hawthorne mom  |  August 6, 2010 at 8:07 am

    I wasn’t aware that our school had lowered the scale, but it makes sense now that I hear it.
    It seems like the most fair thing, besides creating more SE high schools, would be for all schools to have the same scales. Though, of course, then we’d see even more grade inflation and subjectivity and parents who annoy teachers with constant arguments about every single little point.
    The problem with lowering the weight of grades is then, if a child is a bad tester, or has a bad testing day, if tests are weighted more heavily, then they are screwed. But, it sure seems like unless a child has a near perfect ISAT, a near perfect entrance exam and straight A’s, they don’t have a shot at any decent northside high school, so I am not sure how much difference that would make.
    I like the idea of capping the racial breakdown at those better southside SE schools, to force integration there as well.
    All things considered, I hope to god my family isn’t still here in 8 years. The thought of my kids having to go through that stress (and my husband and I) makes me feel sick to my stomach.

  • 24. Jennifer  |  August 6, 2010 at 8:23 am

    I completely agree about the grades. Our A’s (neighborhood school) are 93+. It is frustrating to know that my child’s potential 98.4 average (say, four perfect 100s and one 92) will score less than another school’s 90 average (say, five 90s at a school that gives As for that grade). I plan to discuss this at the next LSC meeting.

    I believe that diversity should be encouraged at all SE schools.

    As a parent who is interested in a good education for her children, It is disheartening to visit this board and stumble across occasional landmines such as #9’s: “Since a huge portion of these parents live north of the city…” The description that preceeded this statement included: “want to send their children to school with children that come from a family that cares about education,” “want their child in a class where the kids pay attention and the teacher can teach and the kids want to learn,” “want to feel comfortable sending their kids on play dates and hanging out with other kids with similar values.”

    While I am sure there are a huge number of parents on the North side who want this for their children, I do not think it is fair or accurate to say that it is a “huge portion” of the total.

  • 25. Jennifer  |  August 6, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I want to note that my own comment about grades does not address the difference between an A at a neighborhood school and an A at a gifted school. I was comparing apples to apples (neighborhood to neighborhood or gifted to gifted). The problem really is twofold.

  • 26. cps mom  |  August 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

    #23 – The grade problem is actually 3 fold – different grading scales, different levels of schools acdemically and subjectivity. Really 4 fold if you throw private schools into the mix with their grading. If a child is a “bad tester”, he/she is not going to make it anyway so why not focus on measurements that are uniform. I don’t mean to be insensitive about it but the reality is that space in selective enrollment is limited.

  • 27. jmom  |  August 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Supposedly, CPS has made grading uniform across the system whether your school adheres to it or not. If the grades are entered in the IMPACT system, CPS uses one grading scale where an A is 93. 7th graders at Lenart found that out this year. At Lenart a 92 was an A, but students who received a 92 A were given points for a B because that’s what IMPACT says an A is. Because of the confusion, Lenart is changing is grading scale for the upcoming school year.

  • 28. cpsobsessed  |  August 6, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    @jmom: I’ve been wondering about the IMPACT system as well (although I didn’t know it had a name.) I do know that even for first graders, everything is numercial now. Teachers have to quantify everything so it IS possible to compare 90% across schools without taking A’s, B’s etc into account.

    In regards to the gifted vs regular class test scores I can’t decide what I think. In theory, gifted kids are working at a more natural level, so an A there should be an A and a B a B. if the gifted class grades counted for more, it would be even more of a mindf*ck (for lack of a better word.. although I love that word) when you tested your child for gifted/classical Kindergarten as that would be giving them an edge for 8 years in the future. Ugh. On the other hand, I can’t see just using standardized testing as it just skews too much towards kids who test well, had a good day, are good at playing back what they’ve learned. I just don’t know what the best method is for figuring out who gets those limited SE high school spots (that can be done in a reality with a giant school system.)

  • 29. cps mom  |  August 6, 2010 at 7:14 pm

    #23 – that’s interesting. I did not know. Looks like next year they’ll have to make sure all those 92’s are 93’s. There are no bounds for subjectivity. Not to mention that the private schools will have a clear advantage over existing CPS students.

  • 30. cps mom  |  August 8, 2010 at 11:03 am

    I wanted to add a thought

    #8 – Mayfair Dad – I could be wrong about this but it would seem to me that a grade school associated with a high school is also somewhat of a disadvantage. Other private and public schools sending kids off to high school brag about where they get their kids into. One parent of a private school child told me that she “noticed a definite lift in grades” once her daughter hit 6th grade. It would seem to me that Ogden might want to keep their brightest kids for their own school. Another reason I am against the grades carrying too much weight. It really allows the teachers and the school to play God. I’m even guessing that they would rather not have that kind of power because right now they do have their hands full dealing with the parents who are all over them for a grade.

    These upcoming meetings may be the last chance to have impact on the current system. Whatever is decided here may be in place for years to come – not just one year as was the case last year.

  • 31. LR  |  August 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

    I agree with creating more SE high schools. And I think they should just go to a straight numerical grading system with no letter equivalents.

    That being said, I just wanted to put some perspective on all the minutiae that are being discussed. I know of at least a couple people who have children that are older than my own who live in the city and have gotten into decent Northside high schools (I consider Lane Tech to be decent). Their kids didn’t have straight A’s, perfect ISATs, perfect attendance, etc. Maybe it’s because my kids have so many years until high school, but I’m not going to panic yet.

  • 32. cps mom  |  August 8, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Yes, there are plenty of kids getting into great schools. What happened this year is that many did not get into the schools they wanted because of the issues discussed above. This year our grammar school, as well as others saw a significant decline in students getting admitted to top schools. I too consider Lane to be a good school. Others on the north side don’t. Those on the south side are stuck commuting to a school way out of their area with the only closer options of Jones, Whitney and Payton being extremely difficult to get into. If your child is clearly an A student with high test scores then none of these issues will impact you (unless you have the situation of Mayfair dad in #8). It’s the rest of the maybe 50% of the 13,000 high scoring/high achieving students that will have to settle with their “B” plan and deal with the commute. I will tell you that they are not happy. This year we lost students that moved because of the school situation and that had to attend catholic schools that they could not afford. We did not have that last year so one has to think the system and the demand for space had something to do with it. Given that we have the demand (as we should with or without economic factors), the system needs some work. These same issues also affect anyone looking to get into a gifted centers. Our magnet school lost 15 of its brightest 6th graders to the Whitney Young program. I wonder if the 5th grade teacher will be as generous with the A’s next year given that they no longer have control over who they can bring in to replace those students. I also know of a couple students in the Whitney program that would have liked to go to Payton or Northside but cannot because of B grades.

    I do think that overall there are great options for kids in CPS. There are not enough to service the demand. We are going backwards – losing people to the suburbs. I also feel that I should not have to say that the system works great for most kids unless you go to a gifted school or a school that has a high school or a private school or that it will work in your favor if you go to an underperforming school. We have what we have and it should work the same for everyone.

  • 33. smp  |  August 9, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Back to #3 and #4. I requested at the Lane Tech meeting that siblings at Magnet schools be given preference or priority for grades 1st and higher. The current policy only only provides admission to kindergarten (entry level) siblings. So right now I have one twin entering kindergarten into a magnet school and when I apply next year for my other twin I would like some preference or priority for him – under the current policy he will be placed in the general lottery with the other 1000 applications. I can’t even think about the grade scaling and high school yet —-

  • 34. Bussing  |  August 9, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    • Eliminating 200 school buses and adding up to 10 minutes to the average student bus ride, part of $10 million in transportation savings.,CST-NWS-skul09.article

  • 35. Dad  |  August 10, 2010 at 12:22 am

    I can’t attend the meeting, but if I did I would suggest a change so that gifted testing be completed before the GEAP application is submitted, particularly for kindergarten. It makes no sense for a parent to make a blind wish list rather than a realistic choice based on a child’s test results. Do you apply for college before taking the SAT? It seems a decent amount of time for CPS and worry for parents is wasted each spring going through rounds of declined offers, and the backwards process is a big reason.

  • 36. freshman mom  |  August 10, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    My son put Lane down as his first choice. It seemed more balanced than the other northside SE schools and he didn’t like Whitney Young. It turned out that his score was high enough to get into all of the SE schools–even Payton– which we didn’t even look at because we didn’t think he’d get in. We were in Tier 4. It was probably a good decision since he is much more interested in sport than academics and Lane can provide both.

    He tells me that out of 35 kids in his homeroom on launch day, only 13 were boys and there were about 5-6 who were non-white or anglo. I think Lane is about 70% girls as are most of the SE schools.

    This is a problem but if race cannot be considered in the process, then certainly gender cannot be. Take a look at the article in the Atlantic called “The End of Men.”

  • 37. Grace  |  August 11, 2010 at 1:19 am

    Tonight was the last public forums held by the “Blue Ribbon Panel.” Good attendance. Many heartfelt pleas.

    The “Blue Ribbon Panel” doesn’t have a single expert in social or educational policy from the Illinois Assoc. of Gifted Children or any of our universities — Northwestern, National Louis U., De Paul, Roosevelt, or the U. of Illinois. It had a at least 3 lawyers. It had two black aldermen. To me, it seemed a blatant admission that politics will decide the issues, if only CPS can avoid a lawsuit.

    CPS won’t release a report of the socioeconomic make-up of 2010-11 new entry students, which is odd considering that would be the proof of whether the new criteria actually did what it was supposed to do.

    But those factors were a proxy for race, and their analysis by race shows a slight overall drop in African American enrollment and a slight increase in Hispanic enrollment. Whites and Asians have stayed about the same overall in the system, but whites have risen in magnet schools in particular — where a change gives 40% of seats after sibling preference to students living within the neighborhood — a policy change made in order to reduce or eliminate expensive busing.

    Whites have also risen somewhat or stayed steady at the top high schools, Northside, Payton, Whitney and Jones. Asians account for 30%+ at Northside, and that school has the highest ACT scores in the city. Hispanics dominate at the largest selective high school, Lane Tech, which has 4,000 students total. Northside, Payton and Jones have 800 each, roughly. Whitney has about 2,000. Lane Tech’s
    size can skew the overall system’s numbers. Blacks dominate at King, Lindbloom, Brooks. Much of this reflects the segregated neighborhoods the schools are in. Some may be due to the achievement gap.

    Everyone agrees that using census tract data to determine the socioeconomic tiers is not the fairest way to go about finding the most deserving students. Individual financial data would be better. CPS should release the socioeconomic data; I believe it will show there is a strong, vibrant black middle class
    in Chicago. And they were out in force to tell the panel they wanted more seats, so change the current admissions policy to eliminate giving 40% of seats to the highest-scoring students, regardless of race or socioeconomic factors. Just take each entry class and divide it by the 4 tiers.
    Or go back to using race as a criteria.

    But they did not say that poor families can also be white, Asian and Hispanic.
    That many middle class blacks have moved out of the city to the suburbs.
    That admission to the top schools is highly complicated, that this information is not easy to find — which may account for a 2.6% drop in applications by blacks.
    That CPS has not made an outstanding effort at reaching out to poor black students, but did add 100 of the top performing students from the lowest performing schools under NCLB, which made many middle class blacks feel they had been overlooked. They are well organized.

  • 38. mom2  |  August 11, 2010 at 9:27 am

    #37, Why would it benefit middle class blacks to make the system 100% based on tiers? If they are middle class and live in tier 3 or 4, wouldn’t there be less opportunities for their children rather than more? Right now I assume (but can only assume because we don’t have data to back this up) that more spots in the top 5 (I include Lane in the “best schools” category) come from those two tiers because the first 40% based on merit tend to come from the wealthier areas (due to all kinds of factors) and then the rest of the 60% were supposed to be divided equally. If black middle class families live in those areas, making the system more based on merit and less based on tiers should help them. Making it more based on tiers would cause even less of those spots to come from their tier. Am I missing something here?

  • 39. Dad  |  August 11, 2010 at 10:40 am

    If CPS were to actually eliminate a significant number of seats based on merit alone, there would be a revolt of those in Tiers 3 and 4. These families would leave CPS and send their kids to private schools or leave the city altogether– It would be clear that CPS is not about education, but social engineering.
    Anyone who has worked hard enough to deserve a spot by merit alone, apart from and socioeconomic or racial considerations, wll be loathe to become a sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered on the altar of affirmative action. Better to be done with CPS.

  • 40. Christine  |  August 11, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Last night, the argument made by some, and that I’ve seen in the various cities I’ve lived in (St Louis, Orlando, Indy, Dallas, NYC, and now Chicago) is that given the segregation of this city and others, studies have shown that people congregate where there are more people like them. Basically, even Blacks who have higher incomes still live in particular neighborhoods. The argument could be made that they are living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 neighborhoods and if you change the criteria to 25/2/5/25/25, then you could have a more fair representation of Blacks.

  • 41. Christine  |  August 11, 2010 at 10:52 am

    #39, As the gentlemen at last night’s forum pointed out, CPS has done a good job over the last 10 years of recruiting more whites into schools like Whitney Young and Jones. I think they were able to do it based on the race criteria. When I went to college in 1992 and met a lot of students from Young and the other magnets in Chicago, they were predominately black. When I started looking into schools before moving back to Chicago and trying to determine if I’d go suburb or city and if City, where in city, I was very very very surprised to see how the makeup of the schools has changed at a rate I’d say is faster than the city has changed. In essence, I’d say the last 10 years have all been about social engineering it’s just been more subtle than people may realize.

  • 42. Angry  |  August 11, 2010 at 11:21 am

    We are a Tier 4 family with 2 young, black children. I want my kids to attend a SE high school based on merit – not the color of their skin.

    These decisions are years off for us, and quite frankly, we will not have them attend CPS for HS if racial quotas (or some proxy for it) are used. I think this perpetuates racism and minimizes all children’s accomplishments.

  • 43. Steve Jones  |  August 11, 2010 at 11:27 am

    #37 (Grace) —

    One small correction to your comments. Jones and Payton are significantly smaller than Northside and Whitney. As a result, the admission of the 25 NCLB kids to these schools may have much more of an impact than it will at the two larger schools that are taking them. I particularly wonder about Payton, which this year was the most difficult SE school to get into. Can it absorb those kids (who, by definition, aren’t as high achieving as the rest of its incoming class) and maintain its sky-high status as one of the best schools in the state? Time will tell….

    To those who went to the forums, any discussion about the NCLB kids and whether this ad hoc program will continue?


  • 44. mom2  |  August 11, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    #39, I agree. Thank you, #42. I wish more parents felt that way. #40, I don’t understand this at all. If black’s with higher income want to live in tier 1 or 2 to be with people “like them”, then why would they want to go to schools with people not “like them”? Wouldn’t they be wanting to go to schools like King that are good SE schools with people “like them”? I still think what we really need to more of these SE schools. Maybe a “Payton South” and a “Payton South West”? Maybe if it has the name associated with a great education, and using their philosophy for teaching which seems to be working, it will have a bigger draw. Then add a few more north of the city so we don’t have Tier 4 kids having to move or go to private school because their spots that they deserved based on merit went to kids living far away from north side SE schools. I really don’t think kids want to spend over an hour on a bus or train trying to get to school each day.

  • 45. Dad  |  August 11, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    @42: I really think your attitude is the only honest way to get through this morass.

  • 46. Southside Mom  |  August 11, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    #44 – I’m one of those “blacks with higher income” (six-figure each) who choose to live on the mid-South side. I am in the process of examining gifted and classical elementary schools for my child who will enter elementary in the fall of 2011. I think it is a very complicated issue on why many people tend to live and worship near or with people like themselves – whether intentionally or consequentially – and we won’t be able to diagnose those reasons here, but it is a very prevalent phenomenon in Chicago. We, like all parents, desire the best education for our children, no matter where that is and will do whatever is within our power to achieve that. I think is regretful to assume the academic acumen of a child based on their race.

  • 47. freshmanmom  |  August 11, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    #42’s comments bring to mind Stephen Carter’s book about 15 years ago “Reflections of an Affirmative Action Baby.” Yes, AA of higher socio-economics do not want others to think they got there because of affirmative action. I think the new admissions policy was attempting to address this with the Tier system.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has held that schools may not use racial quotas so that is not going to happen. While the schools can look at individuals in the interest of a diverse population, the numbers at CPS are just to high to allow this particularized process.

  • 48. mom2  |  August 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    #46 You said, “I think is regretful to assume the academic acumen of a child based on their race.” I totally agree. That is why I think SE acceptance should be based on merit. You know that the schools that everyone is calling “the top 4” are really good because of the students that choose to go there in the first place. If those top students that lived closer to other SE schools chose to go to those schools instead, those schools would become better.

  • 49. RL Julia  |  August 11, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Maybe we need to examine how we measure merit.

  • 50. cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Hi guys – I did not go to the forum. After considering it, I realized that I am pretty much in agreement with the CPS way of doing things, (did that just come out of MY mouth?!)

    While not perfect by any means, I feel like the Tier system is a better method than race in “balancing” the schools. Yes, it would be great if CPS could confirm Tier at a household level, but let’s face it. It’s impossible in a giant, cash-strapped school system.

    I don’t feel that the grades of gifted/classical schools should be counted differently for SE high schools. I think if you child is in a program like that and it’s too far above their level, they should move into a regular class. As long as CPS uses % and not letter grades, I’m OK with the current system (perhaps I could have made a statement on that topic, now that I think about it.)

    So all in all, I just didn’t know if I could listen to all the different opinions in person. Just my opinion of course and it’s great to see how many different opinions there are on the topic.

  • 51. cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    OK, so now to chime in on the “merit” conversation.
    @46 – is it regretful to assume academic acumen of students based on race? In theory, yes. Of course. But test scores support the difference. Is it truly race related? No. It is socio-economically related (which is correlated with race?) Yes.
    This is why the more I think about it, Tier is a good way to attempt to balance. Kids from Tier 1 household (many of which are minority, plenty of which are not) are operating at a disadvantage (or many disadvantages.) If we assume that the Tier system take the brightest of each tier, the high schools should be getting the best kids. Is that “merit?” Yes and no.
    But in defense of affirmative action, if people who are under-advantaged (minority or not) never get a break and are always competing against kids from priveledged homes, there’s almost no way out. It just perpetuates generation after generation.

    As RL Julia notes, how do we define merit? If most of the highest merit kids are “coincidentally” coming from Tier 3 and 4 is that really merit? Or is it advantage? By taking background into account and taking the top kids from each tier, is that not merit as well?

    OK, off my soapbox for a while. Continue to discuss….

  • 52. cps mom 5  |  August 11, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    @ cpsobsessed
    I have to agree with you. I did not attend because it doesn’t matter what we think. The decision will be a political one that we have no contol over. We are black middle-class and most likely will move to the suburbs anyway.

  • 53. Grace  |  August 11, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Wouldn’t you like to have expert opinions by real experts who are not subject to political pressure?
    Also, wouldn’t it be good to have the admission process audited every year?
    Can a CPS blue ribbon panel, staffed with 2 alderman in a school system run by the Mayor, be considered free from political pressure to make the best decisions for kids of all races and backgrounds.
    What would happen if CPS parents asked the politicians to hang on a minute and then asked CPS to invite professors of educational and social policy to review the situation and any proposed changes?

  • 54. Grace  |  August 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Any comment for the record can be submitted by fax to CPS, attn. Victor Scotti
    Deadline is today.

  • 55. mom2  |  August 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    The reason this topic generates so much interest is because parents are in a panic about getting their child or children into a SE school. Parents of kids in Tier 3 or 4 would be very unhappy if their child did not get into a SE school simply because a spot that they qualified for had to go to someone from Tier 1 or 2 even if they didn’t score as well overall.

    I totally understand that a child with less advantages should be given similar opportunities as children with more, but as a parent, the feeling is “not at the expense of my child.”

    So, it still comes down to needing more SE schools or special SE programs in every school (like Lincoln Park’s IB or the gifted programs at elementary schools). If every child that had a total of (let’s say) 800 points was guaranteed a spot at an SE school or full program within 5 miles of their home, and everyone knew that 800 points was the cut-off ahead of time, would that help reduce the anxiety?

  • 56. cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Thanks Grace. I’m about to fax a letter.

  • 57. cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    @55 – you raise a good point. It is easy for me to be on my high horse about equal opportunity when my son is in 2nd grade and high school admission is in the distant future. We’ll see if I’m singing a different tune when the time comes. I guess I have already resigned myself to the notion that he won’t be attending a top HS given his slacker qualities, but that could all change.

    I guess having been a part of a neigborhood elementary school revitalization, I have hope that there will be more “regular” high schools that are options for our kids. I don’t necessarily want him in a high school that is super academic. I want a good, safe high school where there are other kids he can related to and he has a shot at a decent education.

    Obviously more schools would ease the anxiety, but in theory if there are tons of us who AREN’T going to get kids into the SE schools, doesn’t that mean the regular high schools should see some improvement? (Assuming we don’t all bolt for the suburbs… ugh, what a depressing thought.)

  • 58. mom2  |  August 11, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    @57, If I knew that my neighborhood high school could get revitalized like the neighborhood elementary schools near us, I would be in heaven. Having talked with parents near my home, however, the “bolt for the suburbs” or “go to private school” options always come up rather than anyone taking a chance on the neighborhood high school. That is why I keep mentioning more SE schools or a guarantee of a full gifted program (not just some classes) in the neighborhood school. (I also don’t think you give your “slacker” son enough credit. He is only in 2nd grade and you will be surprised how advanced he will be in comparison to the majority of CPS students. Then you will see that he could and should be in a special program and not part of the average level classes of CPS high schools.

  • 59. cps mom  |  August 11, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I have heard about a few of the highlights from last night. I still have a big problem with 100 assigned seats. If these children are at the top of a non-performing school, I would assume that the grade portion of their scores were A’s. Given that they did not score well enough to get into those 4 schools on their own, the test portion of the score had to be pretty low. It’s my understanding that the study/homework for any child at the 4 top schools is a 24/7 rigor. The steady progression of the students in general will mean that the 100 kids placed in this enviornment will be continually behind. Yes, this will impact Jones and Payton if this becomes standard policy (although it seems that CPS will randomly change policy as needed)

    Another thing that disturbs me is that a student from Lenart read a letter stating that she should be admitted to Whitney instead of Lane because the teacher over-rode the grades to give them A’s. According to this student, Lenart teachers feel that their ciriculum is at a higher level and their B students are really A students. Is this not a prime example of what is goiong on with the grades now? Many schools are savy to the grade issue and are doing this. This is really beyond subjectivity and out and out cheating – which makes the grade component a major source of manipulation of the system.

  • 60. Hawthorne mom  |  August 11, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    Maybe others will weigh in on this. But I think it is easier to imagine sending a child to a neighborhood school that is being revitalized because the kids are 5 and cute. It is a totally different story to think of taking a chance on a high school where kids are not really very cute anymore, some are in gangs, some are bringing weapons to school (like at Gage Park where there was a shooting the very first day of school this week). But even more than that, there is this very valid fear that incoming freshman aren’t anywhere near working on grade level. Time magazine just did a piece on how most lower income kids, due to not being in school throughout the summer, lose 3 years of gains by the time they enter their freshman year. So take your very average middle class child who is performing pretty much right on grade level. Not behind, not ahead. That child is ready to take Algebra I or possibly Geometry their freshman year and do fairly well. In contrast, a lower income peer is still trying to figure out how to line up decimals, to multiply basic fractions, etc…..
    At least for me, this is my concern. I myself went to a not so great high school. But because my classes were in the honors or AP track, all my classmates were college bound.
    I don’t personally care if my own children get into an honors program. I do care that they are doing work appropriate for their age. And learning how to write a basic essay or adding decimals is something all 5th graders are supposed to be able to do. Not freshman. As well, I don’t want my kids getting shot in random gunfire as they try to walk into school.

    Beyond our current conversations about SE high schools, I think it is time for CPS to start creating many more alternative high schools for students who hold to gang affiliation or who bring weapons or who assault other people on school grounds. Imo, one strike and it is at least a year at alternative school. CPS has to stop allowing students who are violent attend regular high schools.

  • 61. Grace  |  August 11, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    I recently read a research piece by Professor Brian Spittle of DePaul which you might want to google. He has tracked CPS students who attended a rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB)( program at their neighborhood high school. The students didn’t test particularly well, and were given a chance at DePaul.
    Over the past 10 years he has found the students have been successful in college primarily, he believes, because the IB program calls for hard work.
    Closer to home, I have a nephew who attended the IB program at Morgan Park h.s. He went to the U. of C. and is now in graduate school at Stanford. I believe few parents know paths like these exist at certain neighborhood schools.

  • 62. Thanks Freshman Mom #36  |  August 11, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Thank you Freshman Mom! I have been trying on multiple blogs to bring attention to the plight of boys. Yes, it’s completely self serving because I have two sons. I was wondering did everyone on this blog have girls in SE elementary schools! I wish everyone would look around SE elementary and high schools and see that there are more girls and in some instances waaaaaaaay more girls than boys attending SE schools. Even cpsobsesed calls her son a slacker. Boys are not slackers–many of them just are not as focused as girls and require a little more “mom helicoptering” than girls. They can be equally as smart but just generally tend to not think school is all that important. They can function just as well as girls but I think they need a little more prodding and more leeway as far as selection into SE schools. Now of course there are exceptions to what I’m expressing right now. There are some “rock star smart” boys and “slacker” girls, but if you look around your SE school you will see what I mean. I would really like to see some gender consideration in the next SE selection process!

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    Hey, you know I’m just kidding when I call my son a slacker. Well, I mean he *is* currently a slacker (which is probably my fault.) So *if* his work ethic remains constant through 7th grade, I may be correct. But who knows?
    I was one of those diligent little girl students who always wanted to do things perfectly and I sneered at the little boys who did a crappy job on everything, yet I am a bit of a slacker myself these days. People change over time.

    Although this article suggests otherwise:

  • 64. hey cpsobsessed  |  August 11, 2010 at 11:20 pm

    I meant this as no way as an insult to you or your son. Yopu feel my pain as many mothers of sons do! I have two “slacker” sons!!!! One is brilliant but won’t use his ability for every subject. He learns what he wants when he wants! Often threats are used in my house to get the slacker to work to his potential. My other magnet “slacker” works pretty well now on homework but will NOT study, which in 6th grade (this upcoming school year) I have warned will be his downfall. All I wanted to point out is that girls far out number boys at ALL SE schools and I think something needs to be done about it!

  • 65. RL Julia  |  August 12, 2010 at 9:49 am

    I know this is a minority opinion here but I think that for many people it is perception (rather than any reality), fear and a little bit of ego that keeps many from even considering neighborhood schools as an option. When you look at that report card – are there ANY kids who are make the ISAT exceeds list? If yes, then there is a teacher capable of teaching that child to exceed – and why shouldn’t it be your kid?

    A lot of people in my neighborhood took/take one look at my neighborhood school’s report card and go magnet – without even setting foot in the school to see what it was about. The school is safe, clean, has a couple of award winning teachers in it, a nice arts program, is thoughtful about discipline and instilling a sense of community, has a few after school options -its a great school, however, because of the test scores/poverty level etc… people didn’t even bother walking in through the door. I know that this post will be followed by a lot of other posts saying “I hear you but….” but all it took for me was to let go of some of my fears and ego about my kids being able to succeed in a non-SE environment (& my mother’s year long campaign about how it would be much better for my family if the kids could walk to school 1.5 blocks away).

    My opinion is; if you are educated and have a willingness to be an active participant in your child’s education, your child will most likely be fine at any safe school. Horror stories are not limited to non-magnets – they are everywhere. If anything, one thing I have noticed (anecdotally) is that neighborhood schools are often more willing/able to accommodate the quirkier behaviors, learning styles their magnet(ic?) counterparts.

  • 66. KG  |  August 12, 2010 at 10:07 am

    I think sometimes people miss the point about “name” SE schools (e.g. Northside, Payton fr high school, Decatur Classical, Edison Gifted for elementary, etc.). Many people are saying, “Let’s offer the same curriculum to students at neighborhood schools, let’s create lots more SE high schools, gifted programs in all neighborhood schools…etc”. Not that I disagree –more options for people that want to have CPS as an option would be wonderful. However, the reasons these schools are so sought after is because their test scores and student achievement are so much higher than other schools, not just for Chicago, but compared to the “best” suburban puclic schools in many cases. MY POINT IS: These schools are so high achieving and “prestigious” in their own way beacause admission is so competive, relatively speaking, so that most kids who try don’t get in. Do people really think (for example) that if a school like Nothside or Payton (where average ACT scores are 28-29+) can just be transplanted to an area where ACT score average 14-16, have “open admissions” and the same or similar caliber of school would appear? IT’S THE FACT THAT SO MANY APPLICANTS GET REJECTED THAT MAKES THESE SCHOOLS SO HIGHLY SOUGHT AFTER AND THE REASON THEIR STUDENTS DO WELL. I know some people hate the whole stress related to testing, scores, grades, applications, waiting to see where your childs gets in, the heartache when things don’t work out,etc. (and I am one of them!!), but let’s be honest for a moment. The reason I (a person who consideres himelf open-minded, not prejudiced, etc.) want my kids to get into these high performing-type schools with the “right kind” of fellow students is so that thay won’t have to deal with the dysfunction, violence, frightenly low academic achievement, etc., that are a systemic part of so many CPS schools. As a (very obvioulsly flawed and imperfect –I know we’re talking k12 public education) analogy: does anybody think Harvard would be Harvard if its admissions standards were the same as the University of Phoenix? In the same way, schools like Northside or Edison wouldn’t be Northside or Edison if just anybody could get in.

  • 67. cpsobsessed  |  August 12, 2010 at 10:18 am

    KG – yes, you are absolutely right. I was just driving a friend by Northside College Prep and I said “this is the test high school in the state” (then the research geek in my had to add: but kids have to test in, so it’s sort of skewed.) Yeah, it’s not necessarily that NCP is so great, it’s that they pick the cream of the crop so of course the scores top those of even the best suburbs.

    However, as someone astutely pointed out on here in the past, the problem is that there seems to be NO MIDDLE GROUND. You either get in on of these highly academic high schools (some of which sound too intense for my liking) or you end up with choices that seem totally impossible (due to gangs, shockingly low test scores, dropout rates, generally skankiness.)

    I think what people are implying that they want is more schools that somehow have a solid (though not overly advanced) curriculum for kids whose parents want them to go to college. Where there aren’t classmates who are reading at a 5th grade level or don’t know how to do multiplication. One might say we want the suburban experience in the city…….
    The trouble is, how to define who gets in there? The second tier kids who don’t make the top schools?

  • 68. to KG  |  August 12, 2010 at 10:25 am

    I agree with everything in your post and you are right. Not all kids, not even all kids of middle class educated professional parents have the academic strength to get into the SE schools.

    Though not as widespread as one would like there are options for the ‘average’ (for lack of a better word) child to thrive in the K-8 environment; through magnet, magnet cluster, and neighborhood programs. Sure, not every local school has been ‘turned around’ but if you really look you can find something.

    As a parent of an ‘average’ kid facing high school and 7th grade just around the corner it makes me sad that there are simply not the same options out there for grades 9-12. Granted I have discovered some but the pool is certainly diminished.

  • 69. freshmanmom  |  August 12, 2010 at 11:15 am

    I would not want to relive 7th grade again. Fortunately, I have a kid who scores really really high on standardized tests but is not that serious of a student unless really engaged in the subject matter. (I was the same way I confess). I had to kick his butt all through 7th grade and was on him 24/7 to get straight A’s. Of course, everything that could go wrong went wrong. In 8th grade I eased up and he did not do nearly so well.

    I don’t know the answer to the boy issue but I have been having the boy discussion quite frequently these days. I don’t think that you can penalize girls (and I have a daughter who will be going through the process in a few years). I don’t think gender weighting is legal so maybe some more boy friendly criteria–but I don’t know what that would be. Maybe boys just have to adapt and start working harder (while their moms kick their butts).

    Our neighborhood school has enrichment opportunities for high acheiving students and I have been very pleased with it.

  • 70. freshmanmom  |  August 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

    p.s. a neighbor said he daughter went to the Senn IB program and he was very impressed with it. He liked it a lot more than Lane, where his son went. I think the key is to find a good fit for your child. It was really my son–not me–who keyed into where he would feel comfortable. He realized that he did not want to be in a cut throat highly competitive environment with not great sports like NSCP–although he liked the school. He ruled out Jones when he found out the gym class consisted of lining up to go to a fitness center and felt claustophic in the building. He just didn’t like WYHS for some unnamed reason (although my daughter loved it). Although there were some aspects of LPHS IB that he really liked (and we loved the IB coordinator), he knew that he was not serious enough to thrive there. He didn’t think that he would fit in at SICP. Didn’t like Notre Dame School for Boys. He did like Loyola.

    He wanted a really balanced environment where he could do well and play sports. He was actually a lot more mature about it than I was.

  • 71. RL Julia  |  August 12, 2010 at 11:41 am

    The boy issue – it seems to be perhaps the hidden failing of the test-in school. Boys and girls bring different strengths to the classroom and that currently magnet curricular expectations favor girls (and their ability to sit still for longer periods of time).

    On the other hand, I have kids of pretty equal intelligences and I find that in the context of our neighborhood school it has been far easier to get extra work/accelerated work etc.. for my (jumpy, talkative) son who parks himself on the teacher’s desk and talks if he doesn’t have enough to do than my quieter daughter who covers her arms in drawings and quietly chats with her friends.

    Differentiated instruction is the only way to go.

  • 72. cps mom  |  August 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I can totally relate to all the boy things being said here. My son can be very brilliant in an abstract kind of way. He will ace any achievement test out there but when it comes to being creative on the spot or for a prolonged period of time – as required in social studies and writing it becomes difficult for him to perform within ‘the box”. And, yes, forget about studying unless I am kicking butt.

    With that said, the Social Studies B and the lack of notes in Science B can limit your choices when everyone else seems to be getting straight A’s these days. What Grace is saying about the black middle class being well organized with an ajenda was quite obvious at the Whitney meeting. 2 black alderman on the committee???!!!! I am concerned where this is going.

    I’m with #70 – there are some great options that would suit my son fine – maybe better and give him a chance to shine. Thank you for your insight on that. When it comes down to it though, #55 says it all – I would not want my choices limited by inequities in the system. Now that the jury is out deciding what the next mandate will be, were we heard? Did we even speak up? I guess we’ll find out.

  • 73. freshmanmom  |  August 12, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I keep hearing good things about Westinghouse. The Kedzie bus stops at the door. The neighborhood might be rough after dark but seems okay during the day. So far, I think it has one freshman class and this fall it will have freshman and sophmore. It is the most expensive school every built in Illinois, I think. Brand new.

  • 74. KG  |  August 13, 2010 at 11:44 am

    I find interesting the discussion about boys and girls in school, especially the elementary grades. We’ve been to four classmates’ birthday parties since the end of last school year and I’m always surprised that the parents of girls first talk about how much their daughters miss school and can’t wait for the new school year to begin…blah, blah, etc. Accross the board the girls really seem to love school! By contrast, the boys without exception are thrilled not to be in school for the summer and definitely are not looking forward to starting again soon. Also, the girls all seem to be heavily involved with summer reading activities at libraries while I can barely get my son to read a menu at a restaurant. I hear the same from parents of his male classmates. I swear, I’m not exagerating any of this. All the kids tested into a CPS “gifted” program, so nobody is lacking in ability. Sometimes it’s easy to wish that boys would be more like girls, but things are what they are. I do worry sometimes that teachers are too hard on boys for not being like girls, especially in the early grades when boys are the most “hyper” — “Why can’t you just sit still and concentrate on your work!!” So many little boys just can’t sit still and concentrate for extended periods, not bacause they’re “bad”, but because they’re genuinely not able. I was always kinda’ down on single-sex education, but when I toured an Independent primary school in Chicago last spring I was impressed by how the separate Boy and Girl classrooms were set up differently. In the male classrooms, some boys were sitting/bouncing on big rubber “bouncey balls” (insead of seats) while they were doing their work or reading. Also the “boy rooms” all had “tree houses” (lofts) where students could (and did) climb up to read and do their work, as needed. There were other diffrences, too, that seemed very enlightened. The teachers said that an all-male classroom was benficial for the more sensitive, relationship-ful type boys because they felt more comfortable being themselves, instead being grouped with the girls, thus eliminating much of the demasculinating “sissy” sort of labels that come with “acting like a girl”, etc. Apparently, in one class some boys even crocheted and knitted and were able to get more boys interested in these activities, for example (granted they were making ‘cool’ ski caps and army hats not tea pot covers). If only more (or rather ‘any’) public schools were as enlightened, I’m sure there would be fewer “problem boys”. Why haven’t I ever seen a “bouncey ball seat” in a public school?

  • 75. cpsobsessed  |  August 13, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Very interesting KG. Raising Cain also endorses the idea of same sex learning for that same reason.
    But I have to ask, how did boys deal with this for decades upon decades when classrooms were strict and “boring”? In fact not only did they deal with it, boys basically have gone on to rule the country from the viewpoint of top corporate and govt positions? Why all of a sudden should boys get extra sympathy and even affirmative action for their issues?

    I have to laugh about the boys knitting etc because when I was entering 1st or 2nd grade my school was going to try a split gender class but the girls were going to learn things like sewing etc and the boys… I don’t know what, but I imagine boyish things like woodworking? Or maybe that’s how they positioned it to us kids and it was deeper than that. It was 1971 which was things seemed to be getting more progressive about education.

    I am off to the fabulous Indiana Beach amusment park for the weekend. Keep up the interesting discussion….

  • 76. freshmanmom  |  August 13, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Boys will continue as CEOs and will continue in top positions. Most CEOs did not excel in school and went to their state universities. My son is reading a lot this summer–but books of his own choosing. He’s a big reader. I can’t get my daughter to read this summer.

    Carol Gilligan’s report is not that old–all girls needed was a little equality and they took over (at least in school).!

    Take a look at the Atlantic article. There is much I do not agree with, but it is troublesome that there are so many boys being left behind.

    I think single sex education can be a good idea.

  • 77. Grace  |  August 13, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    I have enjoyed the conversation. It has ranged a bit far from the CPS blue ribbon panel and its proposed — but unspoken — changes to the current admission process. CPSobsessed, the current way of doing things that you agree with will be no more by September.

    Those changes are set to be voted on during the September Board of Ed meeting. And truthfully, we parents will not have heard a single peep about what will be changed, and will have had no opportunity to comment on them.

    I want diversity in our schools and opportunities for all students. But I am afraid that, given politics in Chicago, CPS will swing the pendulum too far back.

    We have had 3 forums, poorly advertised, thinly attended and held during the summer when CPS couldn’t possibly send a note home in our kids’ backpacks. Not a coincidence, I am sure.
    The weak effort to include parents has a reason.

    Parents may not have children in middle school yet and may think this issue is not theirs. But those years truly do fly by.

  • 78. KG  |  August 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    I don’t for a moment mean to suggest that boys should be perceived as “vicitims’ deserving special anything just because they are boys. My own son has every advantage in the world and I wouldn’t expect anything more or less for him than I would my daughter! I’m not talking about CEOs, CFOs or any adult (even adolescent) endeavor. What I’m saying is that some kids IN EARLY ELEMENTARY GRADES (not ADULTS in prestige MBA programs, top law schools, top high schools, colleges or other engines for the [Adult] Power Structure) seem to have difficulty keeping in their seats and doing their work the way some teachers would like –and, yes, many elementary educators would agree that more boys (BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY BOYS) than girls fall into this category. It would just be nice if more schools tried to work with different ways of dealing with this “problem”, before kids get labeled “bad” or “trouble maker” and things really go from bad to worse.

  • 79. freshmanmom  |  August 13, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I could not agree more, KG. I even found that male teachers in grammar school were not generally more tolerant of boy behavior. Sports have been a saving grace. Coaches and dads of team members love the qualities about my son that drive classroom teachers crazy.

  • 80. weighing in  |  August 13, 2010 at 2:19 pm


    I don’t know what the answer is. Race cannot be used by CPS unless it figures out how to look at 20,000 applicants for high school individually. The tier system was supposed to select applicants based on soci–economic factors, which seems fair on its face, but I think the census data had some issue. The racial data that CPS used seems to indicate that the racial diversity remained the same but from anectodal accounts, it appears that schools are more white than they were before. I would be interested in knowing the racial composition of the incoming freshman class at Whitney Young.

    I would love to see a follow up on the 25 students placed at SE schools. I have a feeling that few of them accepted. The black families that I know have felt very unwelcome at Northside–and they are upper and middle class.

    Can you think of a better way than the Tier system?

  • 81. KG  |  August 13, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Sorry for digressing in my previous post. I have many concerns regarding SE and Magnet admissions in CPS. I would just like to point out that the reason certain Magnet schools have such high ISAT scores and are so sought after is because of the very proximity and sibling preferences that so many people seem to hate and think are unfair For example, LaSalle Language Academy is in Lincoln Park, Hawthorne’s in east Lakeview, Jackson Language’s in the West Loop (lots of UIC faculty children?). These are usually more expensive areas that attract higher income, educated adults –just the kind of folks that produce high-achieving children that do well on achievement tests, which in turn gets more local middle/upper-middle class parents interested in applying to these very schools (either a virtuous or visciously unfair cycle depending on your point of view). In online chat rooms and other forums I hear people complaining that these kinds of schools have students that not “representative” enough of the CPS demographics, so it’s “not fair” that more poor and nonwhite students can’t “have a seat at the table” of these “good” magnet schools, so the admissions process must changed and so on… However, it’s the current proximity and sibling preferences that favor people living in such “suburbs in the city” that keep these schools so sought-after, achievement-wise. I have a relative that teaches in a CPS magnet school in Englewood, but she tells me the school has to recruit heavily to get seats filled. Before people mess too much with Magnet school admissions, they may have to remember that there are plenty of CPS magnet school that most people would never consider, mainly because they don’t have the socioeconomic demographics to produce high ISAT scores feeding into them, thus are not perceived ad “good” by parents that care a lot about K12 education. It’s a tough, sensitive issue that I think relates to the disturbing ethnic and income achievement gap that (from what I can tell) nobody is really sure what to do about. The same goes for SE enrollment. Why isn’t the real issue/concern that there are such achievement gaps between socioeconomic groups rather than gaming the admissions procedure to create the “correct” outcome. Don’t hate the messenger (achievement tests) for pointing out the problems in achievement –do something about it, somebody! (I know –if only things were really that easy.)

  • 82. Grace  |  August 13, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    It’s tough to know what might work when we don’t know the whole story.

    From what I’ve pieced together, the overall s.e. system had 5% more Hispanics.and 5% fewer blacks, with whites and Asians steady. I believe that the top 4 s.e. schools had more whites and fewer blacks, but CPS didn’t bring anywhere near enough handouts, and CPS’ Abygail Josephs quickly rattled through the numbers school by school without offering any analysis.

    CPS has not released their analysis of the diversity of the schools based on socio-economic tiers. Perhaps there aren’t many from tier 1? That would point to mainly middle class children competing against each other.

    We also didn’t get data on the past 5 or 10 years of admissions, which might help us understand if this is a long-term trend or a blip.

    The number of blacks in the top 4 s.e. schools was the main concern of the many middle class black parents there. Also suggested was distributing freshman seats so that each school is racially or socio-economically balanced. So even if your child had tested high enough to get into Payton, s/he might be appointed a seat at Brooks in Roseland. Which she might
    not take, leaving seats at Payton and at Brooks for others who had lower scores.

    Because there was no comment from the “blue ribbon panel,” I have no way to know exactly how they will do it, but their objective is clear. And the political pressure is there.

    That’s why having experts in educational and social policy would have at least given the impression of fairness. These are the experts who have the experience in these issues. Not me. Cheryl Lind of National-Louis Gifted Program would be one person I would call up for an opinion, but not the only one.

  • 83. a dad  |  August 13, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    If they want to view and compare racial percentages (which is odd since that decree was overturned) they need to do it in an apples to apples manner. What percentage of all the SE applications were from black students and how many of those applications got in? What percentage of all SE applications were from asian students and how many were accepted, etc. You get the point. To say that 45% of CPS population is black but SE schools do not reflect that is an unfair comparison unless every single student applies. If 60% of the applications came from hispanic students then more than likely they will be more heavily represented. If you don’t apply you can’t get in. Well, um, unless they add 100 extra seats where people need not apply.

    When my child was accpted into the Options program and I told his friends’ parents that he was going to a new school, a good deal of them were unaware that the SE elementary schools even existed! So how many socio-economically challenged students even know of all the CPS options? Why don’t the alderman hold community events to tell their constituents of their options and how to apply instead of getting upset after the fact?

  • 84. CPS mom  |  August 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Grace – You’re right, anyone who did not attend meetings because they liked the system as it was did not get to rally for the current tier system because it will change. The changes may be in effect for a number of years. The old race/gender based system was in place, I believe, since inception of the process. Over the years we have seen the selective process create some great schools and I believe that we will continue to see the growth spread further given the large number of qualified candidates that we have. In that arena – it’s up to CPS to create the opportunities. Can the politics rise above the petty race issues and stand up to the challenge? Our magnet school had a rep from CPS out to hear concerns about grade scale, etc. It may make you feel better that they mentioned that the high schools want the grades considered in a different manner because they were getting a wide range of “A” students (this is a good thing). She also mentioned that the NCLB picks was something that had been in the works for a long time and this was “the first” year of the new policy (implying that it will continue). They picked the 4 schools because they were the only ones that met some sort of performance criteria. Glad to hear about the high schools having some sort of sense of fairness, and the rest of it – well do they think we’re stupid??

    At our magnet school (one of those mentioned in #81), children were picked out of lottery in an initial run then as seats were turned down, children left for various reasons or the suggestion was made that another school might be a better fit (translation, they did not perform to standard on ISAT) – those vacated spots were handpicked. Lots of CPS employee kids, Aldermans kids, cousins of those kids, and a large Asian population in a non-Asian neighborhood. There was nothing random about the student population. Any kind of system, neighborhood or not would be more fair.

    #75 CPS – How did we deal with Boy/girl thing? – same as ever the girls excelled and did a great job in school and the boys slid by and if they looked good in a suit would be on the CEO track in no time flat.

  • 85. J  |  August 13, 2010 at 5:03 pm

    What is the deal with these comments? Why do most of them have nothing to do with the blog post?

    The system will never be fair for everyone. Ever. It can’t be.

    To 35. Dad – I agree completely that the system needs to change. Makes us do a lot of work – waste a lot of paper – for nothing.

  • 86. weighing in  |  August 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    I still don’t know how they can come up with the racial data when applicants were instructed not to fill in race. That was posted on the CPS website.

    Middle class blacks may be upset about a lack of racial diversity BUT the diversity is of socio-economics. Whitney Young has many children of AA doctors and lawyers from Hyde Park. They do not need any extra edge because of race. I really don’t have a problem with 25 NCLB spots.

  • 87. cps mom  |  August 13, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    There was a non-mandatory spot for race on the application. At the SE school that my son is attending we must fill out a race declaration otherwise they will fill it out by sight.

  • 88. annoyed  |  August 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    To weighing in–in regards to the blacks not feeling welcome at NCP, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I am assuming you are referring to the 25 that were offered a spot. First of all, school hasn’t even started yet, but many of the kids who took the spot (I believe 15 chose the spot) have attended freshman connection, and sports practices, and they have been fully supported by the administration. That has been a big concern at NCP–how will they support these children who may have otherwise, not gotten into Northside.. Let’s face it, the school system has many flaws right now, but I can assure you the school is doing everything it can so that EVERY kid at the school (no matter how they got in) can be successful. I am sort of tired of hearing people saying that NCP is like suburban white school–again–couldn’t be further from the truth. It happens to be on the Northside so it draws from the areas of the city where not a lot of blacks live, so go figure. But there are a lot of kids from other races and socio-economic levels and the school is more diverse than you think. I have 2 children that go there although they think the way the 25 kids were given a spot in the 11th hour was totally unfair, they hope there is something positive that come from this–so really, I don’t know where you are getting your info that people aren’t feeling welcome, because everyone is doing what they can to make it a good experience. This blog is suddenly beginning to annoy me….

  • 89. hmmmm  |  August 13, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    to #88. Let me guess. You are not black. It may not be the policy of the school or event the mindset of the parents, but I have spoken to a few black families that attend there and believe me, have heard lots of anecdotes about how unfriendly the school is to black children. I am not talking about light skinned biracial children. This is also the reputation that NSCP has with the black students at WYHS.

    I have attended the open houses there and the only diversity you see is asian and whites.

    I haven’t heard anything about the incoming 25 NCLB students but I hope they are treated well.

  • 90. Hmmmm  |  August 13, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    You are right, I am not black but I am not white either, if it really matters…last I checked, the race thing doesn’t matter. I am responding to the comment about the school going out of it’s way to be unfriendly to blacks, which it doesn’t. I guess we can only hope that all incoming freshman, including the 25 (or in the case of NCP) 15 NCLB freshman are treated well.

  • 91. hmmm  |  August 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    I don’t see anywhere that #80 said that the school was going out of its way to be unfriendly to blacks. It says “The black families that I know have felt very unwelcome at Northside.” It may be that these families have a chip on their shoulders, I don’t know–but that is their experience. it was my impression that it came from the other students.

  • 92. Grace  |  August 13, 2010 at 8:40 pm

    hi CPS mom — When the CPS employee said there was a wide range of A students, I think this is what she meant.

    At Edison, an A was from 91 to 100
    At Lenart, an A was from 92 to 100
    At Keller, an A was from 93 to 100.

    There is a basic lack of consistency in grading practices across the elementary schools overall.

  • 93. Grace  |  August 13, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Hi hmmmm — it is so far to get to Northside Prep from the west or southside. We couldn’t consider it at all. I believe that distance accounts for the few blacks there. I imagine that the administration would be open to discussing the issue of welcoming blacks. An a.p. there I know is wonderful, and by the way, black.

  • 94. hmmm  |  August 13, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I am sure the administration would be open to that–but are they openly recruiting african american children from the south and west sides? I don’t know. I am simply saying that the families felt unwelcomed and there is not much diversity at the school. I cannot evaluate whether the feelings of being unwelcomed were rational or not. That was their perception. I do not stand in their shoes. There is a significant population of african americans on the north side.

  • 95. LR  |  August 14, 2010 at 1:07 am

    I also did not attend because I think the system they used this year is pretty good. I think (hope) that CPS is smart enough to realize that the only people who show up at these things are the ones who have something negative to say.

    If there is a lack of fairness, I think it lies in the fact that we are testing 4 to 6 year olds to begin with. And then, the fact that CPS is not able to accommodate all children who “qualify” by their own standards for some type of accelerated education.

    Anyhow, outside of big picture changes, I agree with CPS Obsessed on keeping the Tier system. However, why not ask people to submit a 401K? This is something that everyone should have readily available. And if you don’t pay taxes, then tough luck. CPS doesn’t have to go through the administrative nightmare of checking every single one. If they wanted to, they could spot check them (just to make sure reported income matches what is on the 401K). They used to use the honor system when race was a primary selection criteria. At least there is some way (although not totally fool proof) of checking income.

    Even taking income into account, we are still splitting hairs here. CPS would be well served to stop worrying about the small picture and think big. “How can we provide the most challenging education to the largest number of children possible?” should be the question they are asking themselves right now. Instead it’s like they are wasting a whole bunch of time and resources making changes that really impact very few – as the data this year suggests (at least the elementary school data).

  • 96. LR  |  August 14, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Oops…reading this over again, I realized I said 401K’s, when I meant to say 1040’s – their taxes.

  • 97. Cps mom  |  August 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Grace #93 – yes, the gradeing issue that you speak of is one thing. It seems that the SE high schools are getting high scoring kids because of straight A’s (no matter what the school) but they really aren’t qualified for the school because of all the grade issues discused above. They would like to see admission based more upon testing and a more difficult entrance exam.

    Northside prep – I can see where people feel unwelcome. I do and I’m white. At our high school fair the rep from NS emphasized how “extremely selective” they were and that if we missed their open house that would be the only chance we would have to see the school. An African American student ahead of us in line at Payton open house mentioned that he was curious about NS since the rep did not show up for their HS fair. On the other hand, a friend that attends an all white northside privatie school said that their whole class was invited for a private tour and presentation.

    #95 Being a CPA – I know you didn’t mean a 401K which is a retirement plan. Tax returns have many issues such as one time income bursts (inheritance, lottery winnings, and other items that don’t necessarily reflect income). Not to mention that the richer you are the lower your taxable income. Maybe they should use the real estate tax bills for the students address since the city of Chicago does such a fair job of evaluating your home (ha ha). Then maybe it should work in reverse – the larger your tax bill paid toward education the greater your chances of getting in. Kidding again.

  • 98. klm  |  August 14, 2010 at 10:26 am

    I’m not sure about the legality or the political ramifications of having people show their 1040s. Imagine the bureaucaracy involved, not to mention the obvious ease in which people could just (falsely) change a number on a 1040 –is CPS going to work with the IRS and the state of Illinois to investigate fraud? Obviously, that would be legally and politically unworkable. A public education for one’s child isn’t a goverment benefit dependant on income, like food stamps, Medicaid, Section 8 housing subsidies or AFDC, etc. I think if there is some indication of a family’s real socioeconomic status, it’s at least more than anything else the general neighborhood the family lives in (although there are obvious problems with this, too, since wealthy people live in close proximity to working-class ones in a city like Chicago). I have to mention that I have a friend who told me (with disgust) that his cousin used a false address in a low-income neighborhood for her daughter applying to a SE high school. Apparently the woman lives in a solidly middle class neighborhood, but used a relative’s address on the West Side. This kind of thing really makes one mad. Already, there’s the nonsense of “who you know” in City Hall or “relatives and friends of Alderman So and So” helping some people get their kids in the “right school” over honest people earnestly trying to provides their children with a decent education. Now I wonder how much fraud there is in people using a false address to game the sysytem to improve their kid’s chances of getting into a “good” SE or Magnet CPS school.

  • 99. Letsnotbeobtuse  |  August 14, 2010 at 10:38 am

    @88-89: If black families felt unwelcome at NCP, I don’t see how giving 25 black families prized spots at NCP–when they hadn’t even applied–will improve race relations.
    I am so fed up with the politics of CPS, I don’t think we’ll even bother when the time comes for dc to go to high school.

  • 100. Mom2  |  August 14, 2010 at 11:00 am

    I find it frustrating that black middle class families want to see the system changed. To me, it indicates that they don’t like the new tier system because it was harder for their children to get into a SE school than it was in the past and they don’t like that. They liked it better when their child would get in just because they are black when in reality, a child with the same socioeconomic status but better scores was left out in the old system. They want it based on race and not on merit.

    As I keep saying, instead of everyone trying to find the right “system” for our current SE schools (go back to race even though you can’t, change the tiers, use tax form information, make it 50/50 instead of 40/60 or 60/40 or whatever just because some people feel things must be racially diverse), we need more options for people – especially high schools.

    High school is a critical time for children. They make friends that can drastically change their lives – for the better or worse. Parents want to have as much of a guarantee as possible that their child will make “the right kind of friends”. They want them to have friends that feel school is a great place, doing homework is critical to success, listening to their parents makes sense (in most cases – I know teens don’t always listen – even the best and brightest), gangs are not cool, and other things like that.

    CPS – we need more schools with parents and students that care! Stop trying to shift around numbers here and there. The answer isn’t making changes to the current system, it is adding more choices for those that qualify. You have more students that qualify for this type of education than you do spots near their homes. Plain and simple.

  • 101. cps mom  |  August 14, 2010 at 11:21 am

    #98 – You are right. Address manipulation can run rampant now that people fully understand the tiers. Not to mention that many have legitimate multiple addresses. This is what the Harvard expert came up with and it failed to get the racial balance desired. In all honesty, I don’t believe that there is a back door method to adjust race. Out of all the scenarios (existing, 100% merit, O merit and 100% tier) – the highest scorers will prevail. That’s why I think it’s more important to create a fairer point system. Only 15 NCLB kids accepted Northside – that says something. We need more selective schools at other than star level centrally located and accessible to North/south/west. We do have that with King and Westinghouse but objectionable because of the neighborhood. CPS parents have a lot of requirements.

  • 102. momof2  |  August 14, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Regarding address manilpulation, that is only the beginning. When students take the admissions test, the school officials do not check an ID. The individual taking the exam simply shows the letter that was mailed to the child being tested. Anyone that is young looking and the right gender could take the exam if they show up with the letter (so an older sibling, cousin, friend could easliy take the exam). Lastly (and I am feeling really cynical now), there is a ton of fraud with free/reduced lunches. If CPS asks for some type of income verification for SE purposes, well, we all know what will happen.

    I agree with #101 – we need many more schools for the kids who might not be academic rock stars, but who deserve better than a dangerous neighborhood school (I know they’re not all that way). To achieve this, parents and communities must take some ownership in the schools – this is how to really turn things around. For example, parents should be REQUIRED to attend teacher conferences. Businesses should be required to get involved with schools in order to be considered for special development projects in their communities. Who knows, maybe a school that turns around in a neighborhood might be the catalyst to rejuvenate an entire community.

  • 103. Dad  |  August 14, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    “How To Walk To School”: the story of how a few ordinary moms turned around their neighborhood school and, in the process, rescued their community (Soon to become a major motion picture. Accepting suggestions for casting.).

  • 104. Grace  |  August 15, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I googled how to walk to school and was impressed with Nettlehorst’s story. thanks

  • 105. Mom2  |  August 15, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Do you think those same Nettlehorst parents will do the same thing for Lakeview High School? Why or why not?

  • 106. Dad  |  August 15, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Some months ago, I spoke with a mom in the neighborhood who already has her kids at Hawthorne. She sees high school out there in the near future, though, and she was working with some people to see if Lakeview could be turned around so that it could be an acceptable neighborhood high school. Don’t know what, if anything, has been done yet.

  • 107. cps mom  |  August 15, 2010 at 10:31 am

    Great article, thanks. I think that it is possible. Given that the high school has much larger boundaries a bigger challenge. Starting with a legitimate gifted and double honors program to appeal to all those interested in a good education (which is not automatically everyone – 1st problem of a neighborhood school). Bringing along those that don’t value education would need to be done and that would be the toughest issue. Security – there needs to be zero tolerance for gangs and gang related/gang like activity. I can only see an alternative school option for something like that. It will take time but if parents are actively pursuing this now a real possibility for the near future. It would certainly put an end to the high school hysteria and be an example for other communities.
    It would, however, continue to segregate Chicago.

  • 108. anonymous  |  August 16, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Am I alone, or am I the only one that thinks the whole SE and magnet system should be scrapped?

    As a neighborhood school mom, I am just as concerned about the sense of community. I have to think that one of the biggest reasons for the mass exodus to the ‘burbs that begins just before kindergarten (I lost 3 friends this year) and again before high school is due to the lack of community when your neighbors are stretched out to so many different schools, whether magnet or private. I think the focus on magnet and SE schools in general, is hurting our communities in many serious ways.

    The reality is, whether people want to accept it or not, that you truly cannot know if a child is “gifted” or not at 5 years old. A lot of changes happen, and studies have proven (read “Nurture Shock”) that children “find themselves” around 3rd grade, when more valid testing begins. So, to me, the city is wasting an incredible amount of money on creating selective schools and a selective system that does nothing to build communities … except those within the schools themselves. You can live next to someone, but heaven forbid your child goes to school with them?

    As for non-selective magnets, they are becoming more and more homogeneous. They were not created to be havens for wealthy white people who want to stay in the city and avoid paying private school prices. (Or were they?) But that’s what they are quickly becoming. And by “wealthy,” I’m not talking Bill Gates money. The level of poverty in the city is so desperate that it does not take too much to be wealthy here.

    I know I am likely a minority opinion on this blog that has such a strong focus on magnet/SE. But I truly wish Chicago would go to a neighborhood school program, with smaller neighborhood schools that ALL provided gifted programs within. Children in high-poverty areas have very different needs. I know, because I taught in one. And, they need FAR MORE resources that shouldn’t be wasted on a select few.

    With the money wasted on SE/magnet selections process, one might imagine neighborhood schools might be able to have gifted programs for ALL.

    Why are we, as a Chicago community, so “obsessed” with only the cream of the crop? And since when do we believe that only our children are the cream? Only gifted children and those who win a lottery are worthy of a great education?

    That is what CPS seems to believe when it created this system. But I don’t think that’s what anyone on this blog believes. We just don’t know how to escape the system.

    And I’m beginning to wonder if the only way to escape it is to just scrap it all and start from scratch.

  • 109. klm  |  August 16, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    For Lakeview High School to really “turn around”, there needs to be a quasi-separate “high school within a high school” with some Honors/A.P. and/or IB program, like Lincoln Park High School (LPHS). Don’t forget that LPHS was a gang-filled, frightening, dysfuntion-friendly school (even by urban school standatrds) before there was a concerted effort to attract more kids from the neighborhood and academic-minded ones from around the city with these kinds of programs (I believe more than 30 years ago). Even now, I know people familiar with CPS (substitute and full-time teachers) and they assure me that apart from the IB/HH programs, LPHS has all the problems typical of many CPS general admission high schools (gangs, girls getting pregnant –and happy about it [!!!], apathy and laziness, low achievement in too many cases –9th graders entering without even 5th or 6th grade language or math skills, etc.), although these seem to be systemic with the widely disparate socioeconomic reality of a city like Chicago –not necessarily the fault of the school. I love the idea of my kids going to our local high school (LPHS), but the stuff I’ve seen with some kids (i.e.language and behavior that I would be sure somebody with prejudices was exagerating for dramatic effect if they described it to me) from LPHS (I live in Lincoln Park) is truly enough to scare me away from my kids going there –except maybe the IB program. I know that there are some great neighborhood elementary schools and there are many that are getting there (who wouldn’t want to do without all the stress related to SE and Magnet admissions?), but general-asdmission high schools admit students from such a wide geographic and socioeconomic area that it would be very, very difficult to change things at the 9-12 grade level in the same way. Test scores (especially really low ones) don’t lie and gangbangers and thugs can really frighten off many middle-class people (and ANY parent concerned about their child’s safety and future success) from sending their kids to a CPS neighborhood high school, but I guess there’s always hope. Sorry to be so cynical, but after a few bad confrontations with some kids from LPHS (including one involving the Police and subsequent arrest of 3 students [2 of whom I found out subsequently had Parole Officers] –you don’t want to know the details) has left me a little jaded.

  • 110. playing the game  |  August 16, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    @ anonymous #108

    It sounds like your child didn’t get chosen for a SE or lottery magnet school. I felt the same way last year when my children had to attend the neighborhood school again. My heart goes out to you and others.

    You say “the city is wasting an incredible amount of money on creating selective schools and a selective system that does nothing to build communities …” But the purpose of CPS is not to build a community. i could care less. I want what is best for MY child. Every parent has to make their own decision.

    So what if we’re taking the cream of the crop away from the neighborhood. But let’s be real, there is no chance that CPS will add a gifted or accelaerated component to the neighborhood schools.

  • 111. klm  |  August 16, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    #110, I agree with you. Selective enrollment schools may not build “communities” in the way a good neighborhood school can help build a “neighborhood”. However, thinking of the City of Chicago as a “community”, these options have helped so many families remain that might have (or FOR SURE would have, in many cases) moved out of Chicago once their kids reached school age. Isn’t that itself a good thing for everybody that cares about Chicago and wants it to remain a viable? Also, think of all the bright kids from working-class and low-income families that have been given the opprtunity of a good education that they could never have received otherwise. I doubt Michelle Obama would have made it to Princeton and Harvard Law had she not been given a solid education at a selective school like Whitney Young, which in turn enabled her to return to Chicago and contribute so much later on –just one (obvious) example.

  • 112. anonymous2  |  August 16, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    #110 I know this is going to annoy some people, but here goes…

    There are some students who truly cannot be served at a neighborhood school. If they were given an IEP (which Illinois will not do for the “gifted” population) then they might be helped in a neighborhood school. The “gifted” program in CPS is not always really that. It is an accelerated program (although this varies from school to school.) My child taught himself to read at 2.5 and was doing basic algebra by 4. I’m not saying this to brag – I actually don’t know where this came from – my wife and I can hardly balance a checkbook. He needs a special program. We had him in our neighborhood school (which we love and are still involved with) and it was a disaster! So, I’m sorry to say that I disagree with #110 about the validity of testing at 5. And yes, I read “Nurture Shock”. If I could get the services that my child needs at our neighborhood school he’d be there.

    All of our children deserve an appropriate education in a clean, safe environment and it seems as if the parents are the only ones truly concerned about this. So, I guess it is up to us…

  • 113. cps mom  |  August 16, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    #109 – You are not alone – I think we are all saying that we need more/better/revamped schools (selective or not). Given that we have the system that we have, the parent of a 7th or 8th grader does not have any option right now other than playing the game. It makes me very happy to hear that parents are getting involved to turn around a neighborhood school. I would get on board with that. In the meantime, time marches on, students graduate and the next round of parents are left to struggle with the issues. Reform must come from CPS, supported by parents. Every child should have a safe school. There should be enough special (magnet/gited/selective) programs to accomodate all those students that want to learn and excel above grade level.

  • 114. klm  |  August 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    #112 – I agree with you. There are some kids that need a special kind of education with teachers that are trained for it. I think the word “gifted” is such a loaded gun. People imagine a sort of “backstage theater” type parent pushing a child (yes, maybe a little bright) to accel for reasons relating to the mother’s and/or father’s vanity, in order to feel smug around others or maybe the annoying kind of parent that vicariously lives through their child as a sort of “Mini Me” reflection of their own reality/nonreality (I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist). People on blogs talk about how people unfairly “prepare” their kids for whatever quasi-I.Q. test CPS uses for Gifted programs and think the whole thing is just a bunch of rigged nonsense that wastes money on annoying familiies that think their little angel is just too precious for regular school, or something along those lines. I admit that I kinda’ thought that way, too, until I had a child that was almost freakishly advanced for his age, inquisitive about science way early, able to memorize things in ways that gave me the creeps at times, asked about and grasped concepts that were way beyond his years, …..etc. I was always in the lowest reading group until 3rd grade and it’s not like my wife went to Caltech or something, so go figure. He’s attended a CPS Gifted school and thank God for it. He would have “acted out” if he’d had to do the work my daughter did in school (she’s a good student, but she’s just ‘bright’ and loves school –she may very well do better than my son, in the long run), since he would have been so bored. Also, it’s a big myth that CPS gifted schools/programs get Xtra money –they don’t. There really is a need for “Gifted” education for some kids, even if some people sneer and think the “GIFT” part of “gifted” means literally a gift –someting given to kids for nothing more than a good score on a test that’s probably worthless, anyway. So, yes, SE gifted programs do require a test when kids are 4 or 5 which may seem rediculous, but some kids that age really do need it and that accel because of it. My family is so grateful for that particular kind of SE school option –thank-you Chicago!

  • 115. Two Cents  |  August 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    Why they call it ‘gifted’ I don’t understand. As any parent of a truly gifted child can attest (I mean gifted versus very smart) it is NOT big fun. My KDGers science project “What happens when you combine Cyanide gas into the City of Chicago’s natural gas recepticle” had to be gently redirected with MUCH upset on his part. The kids are often very different in their thinking, attention and oh so many other ways. I have another ‘bright’ child who simply thinks that her brother’s classmates are all ‘wierd’.

  • 116. Mom  |  August 16, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    I understand the thoughts and feelings of parents with extremely gifted kids — there should be somewhere they can get educated to the degree appropriate for them. That said, I also agree with those who say there are not enough resources to care about how the .1% of the population is educated. While we are so busy debating admittance to gifted education, who is caring about the bottom 50% of the population who has serious “special needs” due to income, intelligence, etc. Just seems that society, as a whole, should care more about the bottom than the tippy top. The bottom is where the trouble stems from. (And if the answer is that gifted kids who aren’t appropriately challenged go on to commit crimes, well, my response is — it is such a small portion of the population that those of us paying taxes probably don’t need to prioritze the education of the .01% over the education of the bottom half.) Sorry, there are only so many dollars to go around, and the “gifted” kids, in my opinion, are not a big priority, especially at the expense of the majority of kids who will make a much bigger impact, as a group, on society. I’m just speaking about how my tax dollars should be spent. If you, as the parent of an uber-gifted cihld, feel differently, well, then I would recommend private school. I am happy your child is smart but don’t want my tax dollars to fund your child’s special needs at the detriment of my own children and the detriment of many more deserving kids than mine. Ugh, this is such an “elitist” discussion.

  • 117. the elitist  |  August 17, 2010 at 12:30 am

    How does a child needing a special ed (gifted) program turn into an “elitist” discussion? I pay taxes as well. And, if by “elitist” you are somehow linking my child’s special needs with affluence you couldn’t be further from the truth. There are “uber-gifted” kids, as you like to call them, who come from economically-challenged homes as well. That is supposedly what the whole tier system was about – finding kids who need a certain type of learning atmosphere and helping them get it when their families do not have the means for a private education. By making the solution “send your kids to private school” you are actually making “gifted education” elitist and only for a few.

    “Gifted” kids also come with a whole host of problems and challenges that can be just as devastating as those suffered by kids at the other end of the spectrum. Maybe we should cut those programs as well? We wouldn’t want to fund any child’s special needs “to the detriment of your children”, now would we? You might also want to consider that those children who are “more deserving than yours” just might be “uber-gifted” and would benefit from the program. Talk about elitist.

    Affluent is to “uber-gifted” as poor is to stupid. Now there’s an analogy that I’m positive was not on the test.

  • 118. Grace  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:18 am

    For those of you who’d like to get involved —

    Dear NoTo37 Supporters:

    All next week, the Chicago Public Schools will be holding public hearings on the budget for the upcoming school year. This is another chance for your voice to be heard.

    The public outcry you and thousands of other concerned citizens generated last spring succeeded in restoring critical funding. Thanks to you, there will not be 37 children in each classroom. However, budget cuts will still mean increasing high school class sizes and cuts to programs across the system.

    Attending one of the hearings is a good way to learn more about the budget and keep pressure on our leaders to minimize cuts to important programs.

    August 17 Community Hearing for Proposed 2011 CPS Budget
    Lane Tech High School
    2501 W. Addison St.
    Registration begins at 6:00 p.m.
    Hearing begins at 7:00 p.m.

    August 18 Community Hearing for Proposed 2011 CPS Budget
    Westinghouse High School
    3223 W Franklin Blvd
    Registration begins at 6:00 p.m.
    Hearing begins at 7:00 p.m.

    August 19 Community Hearing for Proposed 2011 CPS Budget
    Corliss High School
    821 E. 103rd St.
    Registration begins at 6:00 p.m.
    Hearing begins at 7:00 p.m.

  • 119. a dad  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for the information Grace. I wouldn’t have known about this otherwise. Let’s see if we can get even more people to attend than the last time.

  • 120. two cents  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

    @117 – thank you, I agree.

  • 121. LR  |  August 17, 2010 at 9:55 am

    #108 – I have a child in an options program for 1st grade this year and I understand what you are saying. There are plenty of suburban schools who provide gifted education within neighborhood schools, and the kids aren’t any worse off. If CPS did offer more gifted programs within neighborhood schools (even if they are not totally comparable to the RGC gifted programs), there may be less mindset of “SE or bust.”

    I don’t know that I would necessarily go so far as to scrap the whole system in Chicago, though. It’s taken a lot to build schools like Bell and Edison, or Hawthorne. I don’t think just doing away with them is going to be doing the kids who go there or CPS any favors. The city is known for having the “best of the best” and the “worst of the worst.” The trick is to keep the best of the best, but make everything else better.

    I do think your idea of offering gifted programs within neighborhood schools should be a universal thing, and would certainly help in “providing every child in Chicago the most challenging education possible” as I mentioned earlier. And I reiterate that I think it would eliminate a lot of the desperation that parents feel when their very bright child just misses the cutoff for an RGC, or is not lucky enough to get picked for another magnet. It would also provide an option for people who have more than one child who do not want to send their children to different schools.

  • 122. anonymous -- #108  |  August 17, 2010 at 9:57 am

    #110, Just so you know, I did NOT even apply to magnet or gifted school. And by any measure I believe my child would be considered gifted. But, I did not choose to measure her.

    So, I don’t feel bad about not getting something I didn’t try to get. : )

    I also realize my tone can be misinterpreted on a blog. So, I don’t want it to be misinterpreted. I love the discussion and did not intend for it to turn “elitist.” So, I was really just throwing it out there. I truly think we should scrap the whole system.

    But I respect and am very much interested in hearing others’ ideas — especially because I don’t have the solution.

    I believe there are better ways to handle our education system. MUCH better ways. Perhaps one of the issues is that a lot of parents don’t get involved until it’s too late to care.

    Know what I mean? I’ve seen parents on other blogs say, “I applied to 20 magnets and got into this one which I never researched. What do you think about it?”

    I, personally, would never apply to 20 schools I know nothing about.

    That’s not uncommon. So, I open up the discussion to ask if those of us who now are “settled” in our schools, whether they be neighborhood or magnet, should be leading the charge to change the system. After all, we don’t have anything to lose anymore.

    I was a teacher in a low-income neighborhood for some time, and I saw first-hand what the TRUE issues were. And they are issues of parental involvement, low income (it affects children in SO MANY ways to have no money, including the devastating affects of malnutrition), parents with poor education.

    As the greatest indicators of academic success are income and parental level of education, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the best neighborhood schools are in higher-income northside neighborhoods. Yet CPS acts like it’s an unexplained anomaly.

    These kids on the West Side and South Side aren’t going to get a chance. Believe me. How many of those kids might be gifted if they were given a chance early on to overcome HUGE obstacles like the fact that their own parents are under-educated? We can’t leave those kids behind.

  • 123. anonymous -- #108  |  August 17, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Sorry, #121, I didn’t see yours as I was writing. I like this goal:

    “The trick is to keep the best of the best, but make everything else better.”

    We will never make everything equal. But we can sure work a lot harder to make things better. And, yes. I think having gifted/accelerated programs within all neighborhood schools is really not asking for that much. I’m naive and rainbows and butterflies, anyway. : )

  • 124. cps mom  |  August 17, 2010 at 10:29 am

    mom @ 116 – I perused the list of underperforming schools that qualified for NCLB to see the grammer school that I attended in the 60’s on the list. This was an integrated school of which roughly 20% of the population did not want to be there. They spent the day interupting class and making a specticle of learning. In 5th grade taking turns reading a paragraph consumed hours because of students that could not read. There were fights, truancies, 15 year old 5th graders and learning was not on the agenda. And, yes, in the 70’s after we were gone, a 7th grade child gunned down 3 teachers killing my old principal. Fast forward to today – imagine the same situation with let’s say conservatively a 70% ratio of kids who don’t want to be there acting out vs those that want to learn. I know a young idealistic teacher who took a CPS inner city position teaching 2nd grade. The kids ran all over him and his job degenerated to referee. He would use his own money to get his students notebooks etc, only to be left blank. He said that he had maybe 3 students that he felt sorry for that seemed to really want to do well in school. He lasted 4 months. I work near a housing project – the obsinities that are hurled at a 2 year old walking down the street crying by his mother are heart wrenching. Is this the lower 50% that you’re talking about?
    Something needs to be done at a core level. This is a topic that we can go on and on about – touched upon in #109.

    Point is, performing to grade level is not unrealistic for most students. It means that you are doing your job as a student. For those that perform above grade level, why shouldn’t they be rewarded with the challanges and programs that they want, have earned and prize. My world is about a bright student trying to negotiate the nuances of a process that will earn him a seat at a school where all students are there because they want to be. If a gifted child can sail right in – more power to him/her. CPS doesn’t owe me anything other than a fair chance.

  • 125. @117  |  August 17, 2010 at 10:40 am

    You are kidding yourself if you don’t believe in the correlation between affluence and being “gifted” in the sense of performing well on these tests. My guess is if you look at the kids who were admitted this year through the tier system, you will find that the Tier 1 and 2 kids who got in come from families whose wealth is greater than the average in their tier. I also would guess that the vast majority of the Tier 1 and 2 kids who got admitted scored worse than many, many Tier 3 and 4 kids who did not get admitted despite their higher scores. What about those kids? There are just a ton of kids who have these so-called “special needs” in the sense of scoring high on gifted tests who are not being served by these few schools.

    But, in my view, the real problem is the kids in the 0-50%, not the kids in the 90-100%. I think it would be fair to focus on those kids at the bottom who are going to be the ones causing problems for society in the future when, as now, there are limited tax dollars to go around and hard choices to make. Personally, I think their “special needs” are more important to invest our dollars in.

  • 126. cpsobsessed  |  August 17, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Jumping in here….
    I think most of us *might* agree that if the money spent on the gifted/classical programs could be shifted to the 50% of underperforming kids and it would readily address the problems there, we’d be up for sacrificing the money (at least I would – but my child is more bright than profoundly gifted.) The trouble is that the gifted money is pretty minimal in the CPS budget. It covers probably less than 2% of kids (maybe even less than that… I figured it out once and it was reallllly low.) Plus, for the most part, I doubt that educating the gifted/classical kids takes much more money than for a typical student. (Meaning CPS is paying just a little more per year to educate these kids. Yes, there are costs for all the testing, administration, training. BUT, those classes are always at full capacity, thus effecient in that way.)

    So… the money wouldn’t even BEGIN to cover the 50% (or even 20%) of kids who need extra help to overcome the huge obstacles that #124 mentioned (God, so depressing, but thanks for sharing that.) Those kids will definitely take extra dollars per body to educate, and that is assuming that anyone really knows how to crack the code. I don’t think there is even an easy way to “fix” that problem, even with a lot of money.

    So in CPS, giving gifted/classical kids a program is a good bang for the buck in terms of input and return on investment (and keeping certain parents happy with the system so they don’t leave the city.)

    I DO believe that CPS has a decent program to address kid with actual learning disabilities (EIPs as CPS calls them?) I have heard that CPS is a much better place than private school to be if your child has real disabilities. So one *could* argue that CPS is giving attention to the truly needy students (as opposed to those who are hindered by life situation.)

  • 127. playing the game  |  August 17, 2010 at 10:59 am

    @ 124 cps mom
    I totally understand what you are saying about the huge number of children who do not want to be there and are a big distraction for those who want to learn. I feel bad for the teachers too. But I blame the parents. It’s not affluence. I grew up on the south side and didn’t go to a gifted or magnet elementary school, but my parents put the fear of God in me. They taught me respect. I had to answer to them, which is why I never got out of line. We didn’t have much money but they made sure that my homework was done, the TV was off and I went to bed at a decent hour so I could get up, eat breakfast and go to school everyday. Parents need to be more involved and take responsibility for their kid’s education. What happened to those days? Just because we’re part of this blog shows that we are concerned parents…but we are a small minority. There are hundreds of other parents who do not care if their kid is in school or where they are. CPS needs to hold parents accountable and only then will you see changes, but until then I have to do what’s best for my children.

  • 128. Mayfair Dad  |  August 17, 2010 at 11:36 am

    @ 108 – I feel your pain.

    As I have posted numerous times on this blog, too few people remember or understand the original intent of the magnet school movement. Now a new generation of young urban parents (college educated, living in gentrified neighborhoods) consider magnet schools designer label upgrades for their “gifted” progeny. This is not entirely their fault, because the magnet school movement fostered the “if the kid ain’t broke, no need to fix them” mentality at the neighborhood school. So if your kid is in the upper 20% of the class and meeting or exceeding state standards, no need to spend any additional funds or exert any additional energy to stimulate them – better to spend that money/focus the teachers’ energy on the kid who can’t keep up or the kid who doesn’t speak the language. Along comes NCLB and now there is FEDERAL pressure to lift from the bottom with nothing included for the top 20%. So college educated parents who have higher aspirations for their children have no choice but to misuse the magnets as an upgrade in the hope of finding stimulating curriculum for their college-bound children.

    So I do think it would make sense to dismantle the magnet school system, but ONLY if it was replaced by a mandatory plan to implement an accelerated learning program at EVERY CPS elementary school. If the bright kids stayed at the neighborhood school, you would see an immediate uptick in ISAT results which Huberman could take credit for as progress.

    As for the poor children who currently need to travel across the city to obtain a quality education — fix the neighborhhod school in their neighborhood! Plenty of examples of neighborhood schools who are 75% + poverty and also 90% meets and exceeds/30% exceeds (the widely accepted CPS benchmark for a superior school). Don’t believe me? Courtenay, Jamieson…they’re out there if you’re willing to look.

  • 129. Grace  |  August 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Just wanted to point two things out:

    1. CPS will not release the socio-economic data regarding admissions, even though socio-economic data was the basis for 60% of entry seats. We can only speculate about Tiers 1, 2, 3 and 4. Any parent could be the subject of a FOIA request, rerquest this information, though, through FOIA, which is very easy to do.

    2. Re: In-house gifted program. Contact the Director of Gifted Ed, within the Office of Academic Enhancement, for information on in-school gifted programs, which have been available for many years. I remember when Westcott School, a southside neighborhood elementary school, received a gifted program for the top 10% of the students enrolled there, based on ISAT scores.

    I believe there is a lot parents can do that would be good for all children, one school at a time.

  • 130. Grace  |  August 17, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Sorry for the garbled part:
    Any parent can request the socio-economic data through FOIA, the Freedom of Information Act. It is very easy to do.

  • 131. coonley mom  |  August 17, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    #125-I find it a little confusing why you think truly gifted children could not or do not have special needs? Maybe a little research and education on the matter would help you understand these well documented issues. I understand if you do not agree with having a gifted program (although I could not disagree with you more) but why do need to dismiss true issues that many of these children and families face on a daily basis?

  • 132. cps mom  |  August 17, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    #123 Your saying is perfect.

  • 133. Grace  |  August 18, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Re: # 70 and the IB program as an option to s.e. schools.
    The quote below is from Newsweek America’s Best High Schools, FAQs about the difference between AP and IB.

    “16. You seem to think AP and IB are pretty much the same, but I hear people arguing that one is better than the other. What do you think?
    They are both the gold standard of American high schools. Selective college admissions officers love them equally. I have written two books about AP and one about IB, and tell people they should make up their own minds based on their own feelings about the programs. It is like deciding between a Mercedes or a BMW. But I have a slight preference for IB because its exams are almost all free-response questions, with far fewer multiple choice questions than AP, and because the IB diploma program, unlike AP, requires a 4,000 word research paper, celebrated by many IB students as their most satisfactory academic experience in high school.”

  • 134. cps  |  August 18, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    The IB coordinator at LPHS gave us a sheet comparing the IB program with the AP program. The IB program truly is impressive.

  • 135. @#122  |  August 18, 2010 at 11:59 pm

    Excuse me #122 you insult all southside parents! We have many wonderful schools like Poe Classical, McDade, Lenart Gifted and Keller Gifted! There are many parents at these schools who care! The test scores aren’t always 100% in the Northside schools! For instance, Poe has 100% meeting or exceeding state standards and I believe the only other classical school that rivas these scores is Decatur a North side school. Skinner and McDade are one North side school and one south side school who do not have 100% of their students meeiting/exceeding state state standards! Please stop generaliziing what South side parents want for their children! This is the most frustrating thing that I find about this blog! There are many black parents who care about their children just as you do!

  • 136. @#121  |  August 19, 2010 at 12:21 am

    Amen! I have one kid a classical school and the other in a southside magnet school that is quite a distance away from my home. It would be lovely to send them to our neighborhood school, but it is just not possible! I even asked at my neighborhood school that my older child was attending if my child who scored a 99% on the classical test & and 90% on the gifted test could attend 1st grade in language arts and math only. She said No! LSC cirumstances caused me to remove my oldest from the neighborhood school. By luck (or the grace of GOD), my DS was admitted to a higher performing southside magnet elementary school. Having two children in two different schools is challenging but my husband and I have managed! I would prefer that both children could attend the same school closer to our home, but alas this is not possible!

  • 137. Mayfair Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Good luck getting into Lincoln Park High School IB program. More selective than Harvard. Every bright Tier 4 student that doesn’t get into Northside, Payton or Young due to ridiculously high point requirements will be applying next year (along with my son). Unless CPS decides to weight gifted Bs differently than neighborhood As, it will be a massive cattle call for Lincoln Park IB, already a popular and coveted choice.

  • 138. Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 9:10 am

    Does the IB program have an option to enter in 6th grade?

  • 139. @Mayfair Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 9:20 am

    FYI, my child was accepted into Lincoln Park’s IB program and did not meet the points necessary for Northside, Payton or Young (tier 4), but decided on Lane in order to have a more rounded high school experience. Quite a few friends were selected for the IB program, too, (much more than you would think) but they did not want all the stress associated with such a intensive program and also did not want to go to Lincoln Park HS due to some other issues mentioned in above posts. (I know the IB students are mostly separated from the rest of the school, but the school is more run down than other schools, less parent involvement, less funds, etc.)

    I can tell you that the criteria they use to select IB students is quite different than the simple point system used for the SE schools. I think the IB coordinator may actually do a better job of noticing abilities because they have their own test with more writing and an interview with parents, too.

    On the other hand, other friends couldn’t get into any SE or IB program and quite a few are going with Lincoln Park double honors. That program did not seem very difficult to get in, at least not for kids that we know.

  • 140. Agree with #'s135 & 136  |  August 19, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Personal testimony: My husband and I are well educated African Americans who reside on the south side by choice. I am now a stay at home mom since I resigned from my career when we decided to start a family in 2004. Our oldest daughter attended a top notch preschool program on the south side as will our youngest daughter. Our oldest will be entering K at a highly regarded magnet school this Fall. We are dedicated and committed to family and community and care about making a positive contribution to society. Despite what headlines the evening news or a few personal experiences, not all south side African Americans are uneducated, poor, welfare, single parent, gangbangers that care nothing about family, community or education. There’s room for improvement for all races on all sides of the city. Families like mine aren’t as uncommon as you might think. You just don’t hear about us!

  • 141. Mayfair Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 10:05 am

    @ 138 Dad: There is a GEAP program called International Gifted (formerly IB Prep) offered at Ogden International and Lincoln Elementary starting in 6th grade. The admission process is similar to SE high school: final grades for 5th grade, ISAT scores and entrance exam. This was thought to be the feeder program for Lincoln Park IB, but since Ogden opened its own high school things may have changed. (I feel like Ogden encourages their own “best and brightest” to remain at Ogden International High School).

  • 142. Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 11:20 am

    @Mayfair Dad: Thanks! So you would have to reapply for the IB?

  • 143. Mayfair Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 11:38 am

    If your child is accepted into the International Gifted program at Ogden in 6th grade, they are automatically assured a spot at Ogden International High School. However, students that graduate from the International Gifted programs at Ogden and Lincoln Elementary still have to go through the application process for Lincoln Park IB. We remain hopeful that our son’s solid (but not stellar) grades in Ogden’s International Gifted program, plus great test scores and winning personality will serve him well during the Lincoln Park IB admissions process. Otherwise we will be looking at remaining at Ogden International for high school or possibly Lane Tech, maybe Von Steuben Scholars program.

  • 144. anonymous  |  August 19, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    #135, And anyone I seem to have offended.

    This is my last post as I am feeling that every time I post I start some kind of argument when I mean only to spark debate, which I believe is healthy.

    However, I need to both apologize if you feel offended, AND defend myself. You see, you are actually making my point. I believe I have said that parental involvement, parental level of education, AND income all are the biggest indicators of success.

    Did I mention race? Besides, do you really know my race? Is it relevant?

    It seems to me that only involved parents get their children into the schools you mentioned. No matter the race, it is involved, educated, and interested parents who are getting their children into magnet and SE schools … all across the city.

    So, when I refer to South Side or West Side schools, it is NOT classical and magnet schools to which I am referring … like Keller, Poe, etc.

    That is my point, exactly. There are a lot of children out there without educated, involved parents and school is there only hope. I used to teach at one. I know.

    African-American, Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian, the closer we are to being in the SAME income and education level, the more alike we are. This is a fact. No matter our race, we have more in common with each other if we have more in common when it comes to those criteria.

    I believe magnet and SE schools pull people of all races with those factors in common, for better OR worse. So, I am not looking at race as much as socio-economic factors. Does that make any sense? Did you know that in the past, Edison school had a 4% low income ratio? FOUR percent in a city in which CPS poverty levels are upwards of 80 percent?

    In any case, I think I’m done with this blog as my child is already in school. And I am not going to risk offending anyone again. So, I hope you accept my apologies for having somehow offended you and understand my point of view … whether or not you agree with it.

    Those of us on this blog of EVERY race are here because we are deeply interested in education in this city. We are not like a great majority of CPS parents. Honestly, this is true. I wish I could probe it to you, but I cannot.

    Thanks CPSObsessed, and I am also sorry if I turned this into a debate you did not want. I will not post anymore. Promise! : )

  • 145. Agree with #'s135 & 136  |  August 19, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    #144. No hurt feelings on my end and it was certainly not my intention to lash out at anyone-black, white or purple with my story. I just felt the need to try to “defend” the south side and African Americans because I feel that sometimes we are a bit underestimated on this blog. Of course, if I felt that way then stay off this blog, right?!! Anyway, forgive me if you felt attacked.

  • 146. cps mom  |  August 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Anonymous – Debate is healthy. You and others have prompted me to consider other perspectives. So don’t give up. The news – even today with a 2nd shooting at Gage Park – has put a lot of people on the defense. Anyone who chooses to live in the city, no matter what their race, knows that the gang bangers are not representatives of the black, Latino, Polish, Asian, white…etc communities. They are raking havoc and getting plenty of attention so I guess they are accomplishing something in their eyes.

    Mayfair Dad – I am interested in your perspective. Looks like Ogden has accomplished what you are talking about being that it is an extension of the elementary school and has open enrollment for Ogden students. I have been to the open house and can see that the program looks excellent and is a true IB format. I’m curious as to your ranking of schools. I totally see the need to keep all options open but it looks like you prefer LP IB and maybe some others. Would you choose LP double honors over Ogden? I guess I’m asking what your take on Ogden is?

    I also noted some dissatisfaction with charter schools. They seem to be making a difference with kids plagued by failing schools as their only school option. Are they an option for higher performing students?

  • 147. Mayfair Dad  |  August 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    @ 146 – CPS Mom. We have been very pleased with the Ogden IB Prep program, teachers and school administration as our son’s junior high experience. However, as a high school option it feels very small: don’t like the building, don’t like the location, very few clubs and limited sports. Maybe for some students this would be a plus but I come from a massive high school in the suburbs with the best of everything and my wife is a Lane Tech grad. Since our son has a guaranteed seat at Ogden, it is a great safety-net school but not # 1 on our list. Lincoln Park IB has the reputation, the great ACT scores and the college placement track record to back it up. I have been cautioned about the non-IB student population at Lincoln Park but I think if your kid goes to an urban high school, they need to learn how to handle different situations and steer clear of trouble. Not sure how I would rank double honors vs. Ogden. Lane Tech impresses because of the great academics, variety of activities and diversity. Also closest to our home and many of the neighborhood kids already go. This would be a natural fit for our son and likely where he will end up. As noted above, my wife is a big fan of Lane Tech. Don’t know alot about Von Steuben Scholars Program except that it is a magnet like Agricultural High School on the south side. 7th stanine or above to enter the lottery, so weeds out the riff-raff. A few of our neighbors teach there and have told me good things, so we’ll take a closer look.

  • 148. cps mom  |  August 19, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Thanks #147 – good to have a safety net. I could see where small size and intensity of curriculum at Ogden could be a plus to some and glad to hear that there are some viable options. I also wanted to support the idea of a neighborhood school stepping up to the plate with a strong high school program. No easy feat.

  • 149. @#144  |  August 19, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    I don’t think you need to leave the blog and you have clarified what you meant. I just think you should reread your posts before submitting them and make sure you don’t inadvertantly offend anyone. If you just would have posted the #144 post then I would have agreed with you 🙂 You may be correct that I chose a classical school for one child and a magnet (not SE) for my other son because my neighborhood while OK was not acceptable in my eyes for either child. I hate that they are not at my neighborhood school because the children they play with on the block all attend the school and I think it would be less “wear and tear” on my husband and I because the dashing off to two schools with two different drop off and pick ups coupled with school meetings is starting to take a toll on us. But I guess I have to do what I have to do for my boys 🙂

  • 150. to 139  |  August 20, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    My son also will be at lane for similar reasons. It seems that my son also is similiar to freshman moms–maybe our boys will find each other! There was an interview for the IB program at LPHS IB and while some people told me that there’s was pro forma, she spent a lot of time with us and seemed to really like my son a lot. After a hard look, we realized he would probably end up in the double honors and regret not going to Lane. He thought a lot of the boys at the cirriculum night seemed pretty geeky.

    The open house at Von was a very strange experience. Beautiful facilities but we could not get out of there soon enough.

  • 151. South Side Mom  |  August 22, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    I am an LPHS IB graduate (mid-90s) who went through the pre-IB program at Lincoln (8th grade only, because we moved back to the city in the middle of 7th grade). This was when LPHS was the only IB school in the entire state. I did not find it hard to get into, and most of my friends and I just ‘showed up’ to take all of our tests….whether they were the IB entrance exams, the AP exams we took from sophmore year on, and even later on, the ACTs and SATs, which we scored fine on. I recall that we all got into a wide variety of selective private schools (and later grad schools)…..the idea was that if you don’t have it for the test situation, you’re not going to get it by cramming for it.

    BTW, I am all for the IB program….but you do have to watch the quality of the teachers. Back in the early 90s, the math ones I had were just awful. But the humanities and social sciences were on par with those I had later on at 4 year private universities. And I recently check and saw that the IB coordinator is the same person as when I was there–which frankly surprises me.

    I now live on the far south side (Beverly), and I am gearing up for the Kindergarten SE admissions testing for my now 4 year old daughter, and my biggest concern is private preschools that offer test prep for the SE schools. How do I know if my child is ‘gifted’ if she hasn’t even been to school yet? I mean, she’s bright, yadda yadda yadda, but is she ‘gifted’?

    Another question I have is why there are some schools with K gifted programs, but Keller (our closest option) starts at 1st grade? When I called the CPS office, I was shunted between three different people and ultimately told to call Keller and then call them back with what Keller said. (Huh?)

    Also, does anyone know that Lenart has a preschool? Again, when I called CPS’s main office, I was shuttled around….the PreK office didn’t want to talk because it was Lennart; the gifted programs said it was PreK so the referred me back to the PreK office; Lennart’s office never called me back… you get the picture? Frustrating.

    We live in a district (Barnard) that on paper seems sort-of okay, but everyone in the neighborhood (both white and black) tells me “nooooo, you can’t send your kid there,” I suppose because the school has a high-poverty rate, even though it has an IB prep program (?) We are half a block from Sutherland, which is a great neighborhood school, the premier one, in fact. Of course, the real feather in local parents’ caps is to say that your child attends Lenart and/or Keller.

    But, as both a product and now parental participant in SE schooling, I do think the system is a little backward with the pushing for earlier and earlier ‘gifted’ labeling and tracking.

    I personally am reluctant to push my daughter beyond her capacities….although like another commenter, how do I know what her capacities are without going through the process?

    So, I would just be happy with my child attending Sutherland…..but as a neighborhood school, there don’t seem to be many options for that, other than moving.

    Not to mention the fact that there is a complete lack of viable SE high schools for far south/southwest side CPS kids so far. The closest options are in the Hyde Park area, and well, that’s not easy to get to either.

    SO, personally, I would love to see an SE high school on the far south or SW side of the city!


  • 152. South Side Mom  |  August 22, 2010 at 4:59 pm

    And one more thing nobody has addressed: the rampant cheating that must occur in these SE programs to boost grades/scores.

    When I was in the IB program, it was downright scandalous. Hopefully, teachers have gotten savvier at catching it, but my guess (as a current college educator who fights the same problem all the time) is not.

    I have been discouraged by people in my community from applying to Keller for my daughter because “I don’t want to be doing all that homework with her.” Well, that’s a shame, because I should be helping her with her HW, not doing it with or for her…..or she doesn’t belong in the ‘gifted’ program.

  • 153. Cps mom  |  August 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm

    I have talked about cheating. In my book grade inflation (awarding a grade that was not earned) in order to get into a Selective school is cheating. Let’s just call it what it is. The current selective enrollment process promotes cheating.

    I know there are a few high performing high schools on the southside – Brooks and Chicago Agricultural school. Lindbloom, located in a tough neighborhood, is supposed to have an excellent program. Friends in Beverly have toured looking at their 7th grade academic center and say it’s kind of like the Emerald city of Oz. They do provide shuttle service.

    Jones, Payton, Whitney all great options because they are centrally located and easily accessible by El are very difficult to get into because they attract top students from all over the city.

  • 154. Steve Jones  |  August 23, 2010 at 12:10 pm

    About Lincoln Park HS IB. It is substantially easier to get admitted into that program than the top SE high schools — certainly much easier than Northside and Payton I don’t expect anything will change on that front in the next few years. As some have noted, it appears to let a lot of kids in knowing that many of them will not stick with it and will drop down to the double honors classes in their second semester or sophomore year. This last spring, about a third of my daughter’s 8th grade class was admitted — about 8 kids. Initially, 4 of them intended to go there. Over the summer, as spots opened up at other schools (some private and some public), the number was reduced to just one kid who will actually attend this fall. So, at least in our elementary school, LPHS IB was basically used as a solid back up.

    That said, I think it is a good program for the right kid. I do think more families would consider it as more than just a back up if it were removed from Lincoln Park HS or was more isolated from the rest of the high school. That school has some real safety/disruption issues. (And please spare me the “all city high schools do” talk. Of course they do. But there are degrees and LPHS is further along that contimuum than other schools we were considering.)

  • 155. Dad  |  August 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

    Steve: There was a great study out there about IB programs (especially Lincoln Park) and the selective enrollment schools from the University of Chicago. It pointed out how well Lincoln Park IB grads place in competitive colleges–even better than all the selective enrollment schools except for Northside (about even or a little better). Lincoln Park IB is like University of Chicago undergrad: easier to get into than the Ivy League, but harder to get out of. Success certifies a top gun student.

  • 156. Dad  |  August 24, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Sorry–here’s the link to the study:

  • 157. Steve Jones  |  August 24, 2010 at 10:08 am

    To Dad —

    I’ve seen that study on the LP IB program, and it certainly does give a positive view of the program at Lincoln Park. It’s worth pointing out a couple things about that study — none of which is intended to take away from the IB program, which, as I said, is a good one for the right kid.

    First, the data in the study is pretty stale at this point. It looks at 2005 and 2006, years after which Payton and Northside had just graduated their first classes. My perception is that if the study was re-run with recent data, things would be different given the strides those two schools have made over the last five or six years. Considering that this year’s freshmen will be graduating in 2014, what happened back in 2005 as those two schools were getting their legs under them is of limited relevance.

    Second, most of the charts and comments in the study compare LP IB to all of the SE schools combined. Yes, there is some breakout of some measures by school in the end notes, but, generally, the comparison is to all of the SE schools combined. This necessarily masks the differences (and there are many) within the SE group of schools. The study itself acknowledges this: “Lane Tech produces the most [SE] graduates by far, and the overall numbers for the selective enrollment high schools disproportionately reflect Lane. In 2006, Lane Tech graduated 43 percent of the city’s entire selective enrollment student population, followed by Whitney Young with the second largest proportion at 18 percent (see
    Figure 2). The other five selective enrollment schools are much smaller, collectively making up less than half of the selective enrollment population; Northside, Brooks, King, Payton, and Jones graduated less than 200 seniors each in 2006.”

    So the data is stale and the study does not make an apples-to-apples comparison between LP IB and Payton or Northside. It continues to be my strong perception that those two schools are academically well ahead of LP IB. Again, I don’t mean to denigrate that program since it is a good choice for the right student. But this study, which is trotted out constantly by well-meaning LP IB backers, doesn’t exactly say what it is often said to say.

  • 158. mom2  |  August 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    It is interesting to see the comparisons between LP IB and Northside or Payton, (sometimes it is just the quality of the students and not the program) but I really don’t want CPS to lose site of what we really need – more schools like any of these. Most of the people on this forum would be thrilled if there were about 25 more schools with the academic excellence like Lane, LP IB, Payton, Jones, Young and Northside. A top notch student that cares about education would thrive at any of these schools. These new or changed schools need to have the well rounded options of Lane or Young (academics, sports, clubs, the whole high school experience), with parents and students that care, and should be in a location in the city that is in a good and safe neighborhood that can be reached easily by public transportation. For many, it is hard to focus on comparing these two great programs when most are just concerned about their child getting into any of them.

  • 159. cps mom  |  August 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    strongly agree with #158

    I think that we could go back and forth on the merit of IB vs. selective enrollment when the bottom line seems to be that they are both great programs. What seems to be an ongoing trend is that the demand for public schools due to the economy and the quality of free education in Chicago is growing. Both programs are needed and in demand.

    Even though many kids had LP as their back up plan, some selected it over Lane, Jones and Whitney. It bothers me when I hear things like “for the right child LP is good” with the insinuation that the “right child” can tolerate gangbangers, drugs and teenage pregnancy. I think that it is always disappointing to have to go to the B plan but these types of statements/assessments are what’s causing much consternation among families that chose LP as their best option.

    Let’s look at the up side. Our magnet school sent the most ever excellent students to LP for 2010/2011 due to the change in the selective enrollment process, logistics and whatever other reasons that people have. My understanding is that other schools experienced the same. The last of the Cabrini Green projects is scheduled to be torn down this summer and the residents with a clean background still housed in the area are receiving assistance with various programs. They are replacing the principal at LP (which I hear is a good thing). I know of scheduled improvements to the school facilities. All in all, looks like Lincoln Park is making an upgrade – not down.

  • 160. Mayfair Dad  |  August 25, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Without making an elitist statement which could be misconstrued, the difference between the SE high schools and LP IB is exclusivity. EVERY student on the SE high school campus has demonstrated the motivation and academic ability to be there. LP IB must share the campus with other urban students who are not the “cream of the crop” and may be involved with gangs, drugs and other behaviors that keep parents awake at night. Same problem with Taft, Senn and other high schools with an IB program – do you really want your kid on those campuses when the rest of the student population has a 50% drop-out rate? I toy with the idea of doing away with compulsory attendance after a certain age – 16? – so only the students who want to learn will be in the classroom, but think of the cost to society due to the permanent underclass of the under-educated and under-employed already. Bottom line: some kids don’t want to be there so they make it a living hell for the other kids and teachers. Sad but true.

  • 161. RL Julia  |  August 26, 2010 at 9:51 am

    Mayfair Dad – while I agree with much of your statement and I would disagree that all it takes for a kid to get into an SE high school is motivation and academic ability- every kid who has gotten into a SE high school has motivation and ability but they also have at least one adult in their life making sure that they hit the benchmarks necessary to be eligible, filling out the forms (on time), going to the entire ISAT, figuring out where the test is, making phone calls to the current school to make sure they put the forms in on time. That child also has attended a school (at least in 5th or 6th grade) where the administration has it together enough to put the forms in, where the teachers have been able to teach that child and the classroom has been well organized enough and resourced enough that the kid could learn what needed to be learned. I don’t believe for a second that any kid no matter how brilliant could manage to navigate this system by themselves. This is what has me worried.

    Additionally, while I don’t disagree that the SE student is a bright one, I also worry about the late bloomer or the kid who is bright but doesn’t test well or the bright kid whose 7th grade teacher didn’t like them for one reason or another. Don’t those kids deserve a shot, wouldn’t they benefit from being in an SE school? Are they somehow less motivated or bright?

    My issue with the SE school is mostly that there aren’t enough of them and that talented kids who didn’t shine for one reason or another in 7th grade are denied significant educational opportunity in high school because of it. My other issue is that people seem to take acceptance into an SE school as proof that those students are somehow more deserving than others when what they are -are hard working, high achieving, very lucky kids.

  • 162. cps mom  |  August 26, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    Mayfair dad – I understand and see your point of view. I’ve said it too about kids that don’t want to be there wreaking havoc on those that do. Does that mean that all schools that have to accept the general public are dangerous or a liability for those that want to learn? I’m posing this as a question because I know several families from our school that chose LP double honors because it was their best public school option. I have of course heard both negative and positive from those who have actually attended the school. Does anyone know if there is actually something being done to assist and clean up the neighborhood portion of the school? Should my friends be concerned about sending their kids to the LP DH program? If so, how does this impact the upcoming classes vying for selective enrollment spots? I can tell you that my friend had 3 B’s and 1 A, 90’s on ISAT and 79 on SE test (which is harder than the ISAT’s and getting harder). He did not get into Lane. All the statements above #161 are serious considerations – bad test, wrong side of the 7th grade teacher etc – all things that can killl a SE opportunity.

  • 163. Mayfair Dad  |  August 26, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    According to the LP website, 75% of the student population is participating in a magnet program (IB, performing arts, etc.) so only a small percentage of actual neighborhood kids as general students. Portion of neighborhood kids – or magnet kids – that are truly disruptive is probably pretty low. That being said, my inside sources tell me the lack of safety, real or percieved, was part of the reason a new principal was hired. There is definitely a faction of the LSC who are not fans of the former principal. The new principal is the former AP at Kenwood Academy. I have heard rumblings over the years the smart kids are targeted for bullying at LP, but that could be said for any high school in the world. I also read somewhere LP had 5,000 applications last year, and I would not be surprised if this number doubled next year due to intense Tier 4 competition for SE spots. Bottom line: would I send my kid there? Sure. Would I send my kid to Taft IB? Nope.

  • 164. cps mom  |  August 26, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    OK – that sounds a bit more hopeful and makes sense (not that you didn’t before). I don’t want to be off in la-la land when I assure my friend that thngs are looking better over there. For many good students LP was the only option. The people I know are communting all the way from the Midway airport area to get there.

    It really comes back to our topic – the requirements for selective enrollment. The grading aspect is subjective with the norm now being straight A’s. As the grades are skewed upward, more emphasis will be on tests. We need more selective programs and IB/doulble honors programs that are segregated from the general population (IE those that are using school as a source of drug income or an opportunity to exploit other students) to service good students that are in the 700 point range. I hope LP and others can accomplish this. The key here is that there are many great existing programs in CPS – parents want them to be “selective” so that there is some kind of control over the student population.

  • 165. RL Julia  |  August 27, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I’d like to think that just as the SE population is a theoretical 5%-10% of students that the drug dealing population portion of any school is also 5 (and hopefully not) 10% – hardly the general population. Most people don’t want to be drug dealers (even if they aspire to dress that way) – even if they aren’t SE eligible. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.

  • 166. mom2  |  August 27, 2010 at 9:50 am

    Sorry, RL Julia, but I have to agree with CPS Mom 164 – “parents want them to be “selective” so that there is some kind of control over the student population.” If the school is selective, you greatly reduce (but do not eliminate) the chances that your child will end up friends with that 5-10%. In high school, you want to do all you can to reduce the chance that your child will be invited to someone’s house where, while the friend may be a wonderful person, they could be shot in a drive-by shooting while just visiting, where the friend’s parent or sibling may leave guns or drugs lying around, etc. If you can, you would even like to reduce the chance of your child being friends with someone that thinks it is “cool” to dress like a drug dealer.

  • 167. Mayfair Dad  |  August 27, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Whoa, mom2, you are painting a pretty scary picture. All of what you describe happens outside of the school, after school hours. Certainly you will exercise parental restraint to prevent Buffy and Jody from socializing with delinquents when they should be home doing their AP calculus homework.

    On the first day of school, ten brand new freshmen sit together at the table near the cafeteria window in a typical CPS neighborhood high school. By their junior year, five of them have dropped out because of substance abuse, gang involvement, chronic absenteeism, teen pregnancy, violent behavior in school and so on.

    Oh, by the way, this group of kids at the table near the window is your son or daughter’s peer group in a typical CPS high school. That’s reality.

  • 168. mom2  |  August 27, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Mayfair Dad, are you agreeing with me or disagreeing with me? I cannot tell. Of course parents would expect or require their child to stay home and do their AP calculus homework 🙂 But, are you saying that you would never let your child go to the movies with friends from high school and possibly go back to someone’s house for pizza on a Saturday if homework was done? Don’t your comments prove the need/want for more selective schools in good neighborhoods, etc? I’m confused.

  • 169. RL Julia  |  August 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    It would seem like your comments would indicate a need for better resident neighborhoods for SE students. Since I am pretty sure that one can score drugs/find someone willing to sell you drugs via the students at any SE schools, I also suspect that some of these sellers are also SE students. Just because you want to go to Harvard doesn’t exclude you from wanting to get high etc… Perhaps these SE student/dealers are smart enough to keep it outside of school. From my own personal experience (approximately a million years ago) it was far easier to score drugs at the prep school I went to than at the mediocre public high school I went to. I’d imagine drugs follow money more than they follow ACT scores.

  • 170. cps mom  |  August 27, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    yes – agreed. But – one of the complaints that I’ve heard about Lincoln Park is that the kids have an opportunity to go over to OZ park for their drug connection. This behavior is not instigated by the IB students who have no life outside of school but by neighborhood felons . I’m guessing that the exceptions to the rule are minimal. I have already noticed that my own son at the age of 14 who has led a pretty idyllic life – urban savey but naive

  • 171. cps mom  |  August 27, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    sorry – hit submit before I was ready

    has been offered drugs. I want his influences to be one of those who are working their butt off to get into a good school. Steady drug use or abuse just doesn’t jive with that goal. If they party every so often and happen to get high like the rest of the world, well I can only hope that good judgement will prevail. This type of student – yes, that you find at the selective enrollment schools – is not the same drop out, goal-less person that you find more frequently at a neighborhood school.

  • 172. Mayfair Dad  |  August 30, 2010 at 9:40 am

    “A friend with weed is a friend indeed.” Ooops, I was having a high school flashback. Sorry.

    So we are really all pretty much saying the same thing:

    1.) We need for more SE high schools
    2.) Attending a SE high school does not guarantee your child will not be exposed to drugs or other bad influences
    3.) The current SE high school admissions process is flawed
    4.) Successfully navigating the SE high school admissions process says as much or more about the parents as the student

    Did I miss anything?

  • 173. RL Julia  |  August 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Nope. Brilliant.

    My son start’s Taft Academic Center program next week. Any advice (besides learn how to open your combination lock in less than five minutes and be aware of where your belongings are – I’ve heard the rumors of sticky fingers)?

  • 174. Mayfair Dad  |  August 30, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    SE NORTHSIDE 99.2% 28.6
    SE PAYTON 99.1% 27.6
    SE YOUNG 98.8% 26.4
    SE JONES 96.1% 24.5
    SE LANE TECH 90.0% 23.2
    MAG LP HS 82.3% 22.3
    MAG VON STEUB 86.2% 20.6
    GEN TAFT 82.1% 19.1
    GEN AMUNDSEN 70.2% 17.3
    GEN SCHURZ 59.2% 16.4
    GEN ROOSEVELT 51.0% 16.2
    GEN SENN 45.4% 16.2

    Note: I guess I owe Taft HS an apology for lumping them into the low-performing general high school category. Taft actually compares favorably to Lincoln Park and Von Steuben.

  • 175. cpsobsessed  |  August 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    I ran into a mom from my neighborhood this weekend who’s daughters went to the Taft Academic Center. One stayed both years, the other left the second year for a better fit.
    She said that many kids there are neighborhood, which means they aren’t filtered in any way (we all know that, but sometimes it helps to state the obivous) and that they’re a standard lot of “non-selective” teens, meaning they’d smoke in the bathrooms (ergh, it makes me cry to think of 6th graders having to deal with that) and behind the school, but that they aren’t necessarily the more “dangerous” types we may think of that are at Lincoln Park. I wonder if kids smoke in the bathrooms at the top SE schools? I mean, can’t smart kids be deliquents too?

    I like the idea (was that Hawthorne Mom?) of shipping out the bad kids and making them take a bus all the way across town to get to school. Of course they’d probably just drop out, but I do think that removing the disruptive, dangerous, element would go a long way towards easing parents fears. Easier said than done, I’m sure, like everything else in CPS.

  • 176. cps mom  |  August 30, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Good summary. I also think that some of the great existing programs could benefit with a “selective enrollment” label to create more demand. I know it sounds like the designer tag thing that people have been talking about, Lets face it, that’s what they want.

    Regarding Taft – I ran into a family whose younger son was a freshman at Northside and older daughter a junior at Taft IB. The mother was very involved at NS but also thought that Taft was great for her daughter. Daughter was very enthusiastic about the program and had a lot of good things to say. Mother said that college recruiters thought highly of the Taft program. So, sounds like your son will have a great fall back plan when it comes to chosing a high school.

  • 177. Steve Jones  |  August 31, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Mayfair Dad —

    Thanks for posting that info. Is it from last year? And, somewhat continuing the LP HS IB discussion, I wonder if the numbers for LP include IB or are only the Honors and Double Honors kids. Any idea?

  • 178. Dad  |  August 31, 2010 at 11:05 am

    Back to Steve Jones: the ACT scores provided by Mayfair Dad (thanks!) indicate that the selective enrollment schools have improved a little since the U. of C. study was published. But (assuming Lincoln Park IB’s scores haven’t significantly fallen) LPIB’s ACT score slots in between Northside and Payton.
    It appears that this program continues to perform very, very well, particularly given its relative non-selectivity.
    Steve, who is the right kind of student for LPIB?

  • 179. Mayfair Dad  |  August 31, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Graduation rates and ACT scores gleaned from ISBE school report cards online. 2009 is latest year available. My assumption is that Lincoln Park, Von Steuben and Taft numbers are inclusive of the entire student body, not limited to magnet programs, which leads me to believe these schools are doing a pretty good job all things considered. You might expect Taft to receive a pretty high quality general student from the many top-performing Region 1 elementary feeder schools, i.e. those students who are not chosen by SE high schools.

    There is a link on District299 today – PowerPoint presentation given to CPS principals by Hubie & Co. Good information on college preparedness, baseline ACT 22> considered “prepared”.

  • 180. Mayfair Dad  |  August 31, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    Just for fun, open enrollment high schools in the suburbs:

    School Name – Graduation Rate – Composite ACT score

    New Trier – 99.5% – 27.4
    Highland Park – 93.0% – 25.3
    Libertyville – 94.7% – 24.9
    Adlai Stevenson – 95.4% – 25.7
    Maine South – 95.8% – 24.4
    Oak Park/River Forest – 91.2% – 23.9
    Evanston – 87.5% – 23.5

    Golly, can’t wait until the economy improves so I can put the For Sale sign up in front of the bungalow! (joking – sort of).

  • 181. RL Julia  |  August 31, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    I’d love to see this comparison again but also with the median income of geographic area, (% of parents with college degrees and crime rate thrown in for good measure). Its like comparing apples to raspberries.

  • 182. mom2  |  August 31, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    RL Julia, I think you are missing one point. When many people on this forum look at statistics, they aren’t wondering why a school doesn’t do as well as another. They are looking at the statistics and saying to themselves something like this: “My child is average or maybe a bit above average compared to what I know or compared to their friends. So, if I send my child to school X, where the average ACT is 25, I can assume or hope that my child will score a 25 or maybe a bit higher. However, if I send my child to school Y, where the average ACT is 21 or 18, I can assume that my child will score a 21 or 18 and that isn’t enough.” It doesn’t matter why this could happen (many parents without a college degree, crime rates in the area or income), or even that maybe it will not despite all the issues with the parents. People are trying to use the statistics to help them find a school that has the best chance of educating their child, and giving them the best chance to get into college, etc. Statistics is all they have to go on. No one wants to take a chance on a school that has those averages because it might impact their child negatively.

  • 183. Mayfair Dad  |  August 31, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    @ RL Julia: yes, unfair to jump to conclusions without all of the socioeconomic data. But consider: this is a small sampling of the better high schools in the nearby suburbs. Every child of high school age within the respective attendance boundary is entitled to attend. Your kid doesn’t have to test in, doesn’t need to be perfect in seventh grade, is not required to win a lottery. No contest, no hassle, automatically accepted.

    If you are a bona fide Tier 4 family – income, education, etc.- and you are not required to live in the city for employment purposes, why stay? I am curious to hear the answers…

  • 184. Mayfair Dad  |  August 31, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    From CPS white paper on Performance Management

    Among a group of 100 first-time CPS freshmen, approximately:
    • 58 enter 9th grade with an at-risk status;
    • 45 will not graduate from high school;
    • 13 will graduate without finding continuous employment or enrolling in college;
    • 12 will be continuously employed after graduation, and their median salary will be only $11,500 per year; and
    • 30 will enroll in college, but only 6 will attend a selective or highly selective institution, such as the University of Illinois, and only
    • 14 will go on to graduate from college.

  • 185. cpsobsessed  |  August 31, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    Jeez, MFD, that is reallllly depressing. 14 college grads out of that bunch. I think that sums up the fear of the non-selective enrollment schools – having your kids attend HS where over half the kids don’t even have college on their radar. Or maybe I’m over-reacting. Maybe college-orientation doesn’t matter that much. Isn’t that what diversity is about, in part? The numbers just sum up the sad state of education in Chicago. Sigh.

  • 186. cpsobsessed  |  August 31, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I’m not required to stay in the city and am currently debating about where to live, pending an upcoming move. But I just cannot get to the point of moving to the suburbs. Several of those particular schools are in towns where I would refuse to live for several reasons and I think we each need to weigh the value of a great education over personal identity, happiness, and other factors that create a child’s experience growing up. I cannot fathom leaving the city. Does that make me feel selfish sometimes? Absolutely. And maybe I’m like the kid believing in Santa Claus, holding onto my conviction that my child can still get a decent CPS education, even if he doesn’t get into a SE high school. I guess if it were 10-15 years ago when everyone fled to the suburbs or sent their kids to private school, I’d worry more. But the critical mass of parents who want to stay in the city and fight it out is growing all the time. I’ll feel like a quitter if I give up and move. That’s the easy (and unpleasant – for me) way out. But maybe as the time draws near, I’ll reconsider, once I actually picture my son going to a CPS high school. I’ve considered how his future might be different if he went to a school like New Trier, where success is so expected. I HAVE to think it would have a positive impact on him in some way, but I also think that growing up in the city will have different positive affects on him. For now, the ACT numbers impress me, but don’t sway me….

  • 187. Jennifer  |  September 1, 2010 at 8:48 am

    I have never been interested in leaving the city and ditto pretty much everything cpsobsessed posted above. Most of my family lives within the city borders–a SW side neighborhood–and the suburbs…just aren’t me. We’ve been saving $ for high school (separate from college savings) by putting aside the money that we would be paying for private grade school if we had chosen that route. If we have to go private for HS, it won’t be as painful a hit all at once.

    When I attended a Chicago public HS, I ran into alcohol and pot. When I attended a Chicago university and met some students from the burbs, I ran into cocaine users. Isn’t heroin a big deal in the some upper-class suburbs these days? Safety is my biggest concern in the city, but there are tricky roads to navigate everywhere. How do New Trier kids handle that pressure?

    Some suburbs definitely make a strong case for themselves–I will not argue that. But they don’t appeal to everyone.

  • 188. Mayfair Dad  |  September 1, 2010 at 10:01 am

    I would feel better about our own choice to remain in the city if the public school system wasn’t such a train wreck. We love our neighborhood. We tell ourselves as long as the kids get into the gifted programs and magnet schools, they are keeping pace with suburban kids academically. As a parent of an 8th grader, I am consumed with the SE admissions process. If our son doesn’t get into what I consider to be an acceptable CPS high school – he might be going to Maine South. (If you’re paying $15K/year to St. Ignatius, why not pay Park Ridge real estate taxes instead? Better schools, better park district programs, etc…) This could be the impetus to position ourselves in a better school environment for his younger siblings. It is a very real option we are considering.

  • 189. cps mom  |  September 1, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I grew up in the city and moved to the suburbs at age 13 – moved back to the city as soon as I could. Blue sky being that I could afford to live in any suburb, can’t think of 1 I would choose. Life is different in the burbs. People are distant (maybe because you have no real neighbors). Drugs were abundant in HS in part because of the times (which I don’t think has changed much) and hard core. The kids have the money to party hard and drive their own cars. An acquaintance living in Hinsdale (which has some of the top schools around) just experienced his son getting busted for heroin. Smart, blond and blue eyed – I don’t want him anywhere near my son. The kids are bored and get into trouble – we did. I echo all the other reasons above.

  • 190. Steve Jones  |  September 1, 2010 at 10:14 am

    To Dad (178) –

    I guess we’ll simply have to agree to disagree about LP IB. I’m not sure what your point is in trying to manipulate statistics to somehow show that the program is the academic equal of Northside and Payton. Your assumption that blended ACT scores from IB students who managed to stick with the program and not drop down to honors (as so many do) haven’t changed in six years and then trying to make a comparison of those scores to actual recent data from Northside and Payton is just one example of this.

    As I have said (and will only say one more time since I think I’m deliberately not being heard), the LP IB program is a good one. If it were moved out of LP HS, I think even more parents would consider it. But the fact of the matter is that it is a back-up for the brightest kids. Many kids initially admitted to it drop down to honors. While some of its teachers are quite good, more than a few are spotty and ineffective. Combine that with its presence within a high school that has serious safety, drug, and disruption issues, and the program just isn’t as appealing as the top two SE schools. (To take a relatively minor example, I’ve heard many stories from a couple different sources of IB classes being disrupted by screaming cat fights in the hallway and I understand that last semester the entire school was evacuated twice because of student threats. I assure you that that does not happen at Payton or Northside.)

    As I said, I don’t think continuing this discussion would be particularly fruitful, especially since I’ve acknowledged repeatedly that the program is a good one. But I have noticed that some parents who send their kids there (and I’m guessing you are in this group) have a bit of a chip on their shoulders about it. Perhaps it is because it was once arguably the leading high school program in the city before Payton and Northside came along and surpassed it. Perhaps it is because the parents believe that just because their kid didn’t get into Payton or Northside doesn’t mean they aren’t as good a student (even though getting into those schools is a function of how students are universally judged: grades and test scores). Perhaps it is because they just resent all the attention that Payton and Northside get. I don’t know. But the phenomenon is a curious one.

    And, with that, we’ll just have to leave it by agreeing that the LP IB program is a good option.

  • 191. cps mom 5  |  September 1, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Running to the suburbs in not the solution. I can’t tell you how many parents I know that moved to the burbs and hate it (lack of diversity, infrastructure, transportation, isolation, five figure property taxes, etc.). What amazes me even more is the huge number of kids that attend Ignatius that are from the suburbs! What does that tell you? All suburban schools are not what they are cracked up to be. Yep, we have problems in Chicago schools, but there are problems everywhere…just different problems.

  • 192. RL Julia  |  September 1, 2010 at 10:37 am

    I guess when I look at a school; I look to see if there are any kids testing into the highest quartile. I assume that since I went to college, have a stable household and am an involved parent in my kid’s education, that if there are kids testing high that the school has teachers who are capable of delivering an education to my child that will allow them to also test into the highest quartile if that is what they are capable of. I also look to see if the school is safe and relatively clean (which is some ways more important).

    There are lots of other things that make schools more desirable or less desirable, but it seems to me that looking at some of these performance stats don’t tell one a lot about the school’s quality or capacity to teach ANY child/my child as much as they say something about the kids who attend the school. Test scores are so closely correlated to family income and educational attainment (although there are exceptions to be sure); it seems to me that in relatively wealthy places, it should be assumed these standard indicators would be positive/high. That doesn’t mean that the kids at these schools are necessarily brighter (although they might be) or that the teachers are necessarily better (although they might be as well). I think it mostly means that these children/teachers have on average access to more resources both within and outside the school/school district.

    Thus these comparisons while initially helpful guides, don’t answer the question I am interested in – which is not what kind of kid goes to this school but are there a cadre of teachers who will be able to teach my child what he/she needs to know in elementary and high school?

    I am sure that there are some fantastic teachers in the suburbs and at the select high schools. I am also pretty certain that there are some mediocre ones – just like any school.

    While it is easiest perhaps to make the assumption that if I send my kid to a high testing school they will also be high testing, I think that this particular argument doesn’t really hold together – although since people who bother to go through this insane lottery system etc…are probably more likely to have kids who will test well, succeed in school etc… it often seems like it. The reason that your child is a success in school probably has more to do with the criteria I mentioned at the beginning of the post than the school – at least in the (early) elementary grades.

    That being said, there are still plenty of other reasons that the lottery schools are desirable places to send a kid. Hope this answers your questions 182 and 183.

    For the record, I graduated from a completely mediocre high school (complete with security guards, locked campus and bomb scares), where one in seven kids was a parent, where the freshman classes were about 500 kids and the graduating classes were around 250 and where I was (I believe) about one of 25-30 kids who went to college. Of that 25, I was one of only three who left the tri-state area. I was not a particularly inspired student and I didn’t have the best SAT scores either, but there was parental expectation that I was going to college (which I largely paid for myself) and so that’s what I did. While I do think that the world of higher education is a little more complicated now, I also think that if my completely disorganized, half a**ed, 18 year old self could make it from Connecticut to the Big Ten, that perhaps there is more leeway to this game than is initially apparent…. plus I had great street cred when I got to college for going to such an “interesting” high school.

    As to CPSobsessed’s 186 post – why don’t you stay for now and if it doesn’t work out, move later. If you don’t think the suburbs will work for you, then don’t move there. It will all work out fine and you have a lot of time before high school to see the train wreck coming if there is going to be one.

  • 193. Dad  |  September 1, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Steve: Hey, I’m not going to let you accuse me of manipulating statistics and then have you slink away. I used the stats in the appendix of the U. of C. report I referred to, which breaks LPIB out separately from the other IB programs, and compares it against each of the SE schools. True, the stats represent the performance of those that stay in the program, but that’s true for all of the schools. My argument was that the final product–should you survive–is an excellent one, on average.
    You accuse me of having a chip on my shoulder, but I think you’re the one with the problem: none of my posts have been demeaning to anyone here. When Mayfair Dad presented his new data, I got back to you because I remember that one of your points–which I took on good faith–was that the U. of C. report used data from the first graduating classes from Northside and Payton, likely underestimating their current performance. So when the new data did not suggest that this was the case, I brought it to your attention–all in good faith, of course. You, however, immediately presumed that I must have some ulterior motive in pushing “manipulated” data.
    (I have no agenda–except for, perhaps, rebutting your snobbishness.).
    By the way, I have no links to LPIB. I don’t even have a kid that’s anywhere near the age of applying.
    You never did answer my question, “Who is the right kind of kid for LPIB?” (Answer: “Losers who couldn’t get into Northside or Payton”?)

  • 194. RL Julia  |  September 1, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Realized that I didn’t answer all the questions from Mom2 and Mayfair Dad –

    I have no idea why anyone would stay in the city – or anywhere -except that maybe you like living there. There are plenty of terrible and annoying things about living in Chicago but that goes for anywhere. However, it has been my observation that very few people seem to aspire to live in the suburbs (and I am not counting Oak Park and Evanston which are really small cities unto their own) – however, they all seem to move there because ultimately they are afraid of the city as it relates to their children’s potential experiences. I find this ironic because most of these folks aren’t exactly living in Englewood or Grand Blvd.

    On the other hand, if you live in city and have kids, you will probably make a series of trade offs – less space for better access to museums and culture, playing the lotteries for some of best schools in the state instead of just no-brainer sending your kid to whatever school in your district, lots of traffic for…well more traffic. Some days I think this is the coolest place in the world to raise a kid. Some days I think I’m an idiot to stay a second longer.

  • 195. Dad  |  September 1, 2010 at 11:48 am

    @Steve: Here’s what you said at the end of your post:
    “Perhaps it is because the parents believe that just because their kid didn’t get into Payton or Northside doesn’t mean they aren’t as good a student (even though getting into those schools is a function of how students are universally judged: grades and test scores).”
    I think that what you really don’t like about LPIB is that it’s too non-selective–and that must mean that the students there can’t be as good as the ones at Northside and Payton. You may be right–at the start of high school. But what I’ve emphasized is the end product, which compares quite favorably to that of these vaunted schools. So, by graduation, who has the better students? My U. of C. comparison is apt here–it is much easier to get into than the Ivies, but by the time the Maroons graduate, they are the equal of graduates anywhere.

  • 196. Steve Jones  |  September 1, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Dad (178, 193, 195) —

    Give it a rest, bud. I never said I “don’t like” LP IB. I’ve consistently said the exact opposite. You’re the person who brought up the U of C study, but you misdescribed what it says. I merely corrected that to show (a) the study is now stale and (b) the study basically compared LP IB to Lane and Whitney, not to Payton and Northside. You’re also the person who then brought up the ACT scores and claimed that the stale and class-blended scores from six years ago (which tested only the IB kids at LP who stuck it out) could credibly be compared to a single class’s recent score from the entire class at Payton and Northside. I merely pointed out that that is wrong. I’m sorry that the study doesn’t support your agenda about LP IB. But it doesn’t.

    I also think it’s curious that you continue to vehemently argue that the LP IB program is better than Payton and Northside, but then admit that you have “no links” to LP IB and thus have no idea what that school is like. Well I do. I know several kids at all three schools and several families with connections to all three schools. And I can assure you that what I’m saying about the differences between LP IB and Payton and Northside are correct and verified, particularly the stuff about the atmosphere and culture at LP HS. And no apples-to-oranges comparisons using that U of C study will change that.

    Finally (and, now, I really am done with this topic), let me repeat that I nowhere said that I “don’t like” the LP IB program or that it is for “losers,” as you inaccurately put it. But it is what it is. Perhaps when you get some links to the schools in a few years, you’ll see what I’m talking about. In the meantime, don’t put so much stock in that misunderstood and inapt study or in an apples-to-oranges comparison of ACT scores. There’s a lot more to choosing a high school for your kid than that.

  • 197. Dad  |  September 1, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Steve: I am a relative newcomer to this site and to the scene, and I appreciate your real-life experience with all of these programs. It is precisely because I do not have these experiences that I rely on numbers and outside reports. No, I’m not stupid enough to base such important decisions just on the numbers-it’s just that I was unconvinced by your arguments, which descended into an unprovoked ad hominem attack. I sometimes wonder if we’re looking at the same study. I’m just going off the raw data in the appendices.

  • 198. Dad  |  September 1, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    @Steve: Please, please, please, I’m practically begging you: could you tell me what kind of kid is the right kind for LP IB? I really, really want to know, since you have so much insight into the program.

  • 199. Mayfair Dad  |  September 2, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Top ACT performance
    1. Northside College Preparatory High School 28.6
    2. Payton College Preparatory High School 27.6
    3. New Trier Township High School Winnetka 27.4
    4. Deerfield High School 26.4
    5. Young Magnet High School 26.4
    6. Hinsdale Central High School 26.2
    7. Adlai E Stevenson High School 25.7
    8. Glenbrook North High School 25.6
    9. Lake Forest High School 25.6
    10. Highland Park High School 25.3
    11. Naperville Central High School 25.2
    12. Wm Fremd High School 25.1
    13. John Hersey High School 24.9

  • 200. Mayfair Dad  |  September 2, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Illinois Top 20 High Schools – Newsweek. Different yardstick, different result.

    70 Northside College Prep Chicago
    95 Lincoln Park Chicago
    169 Stevenson Lincolnshire
    198 Riverside-Brookfield Riverside
    206 Walter Payton College Prep Chicago
    229 Jones College Prep Chicago
    271 Hinsdale Central Hinsdale
    290 Young Magnet Chicago
    323 Highland Park Highland Park
    480 Prospect Prospect
    518 Hinsdale South Darien
    537 John Hersey Arlington Heights
    583 Grayslake Community Grayslake
    606 Oak Park & River Forest Oak Park
    688 Barrington Barrington
    728 Vernon Hills Vernon Hills
    749 Lane Technical Chicago
    782 Elk Grove Elk Grove
    810 Glenbrook South Glenview
    845 Fremd Palatine

  • 201. cps mom  |  September 2, 2010 at 10:53 am

    I can say something about the IB program, since we did just go through the interview process My son scored high 90’s in Math/reading on the IB test and low 90’s on the selective test (if that gives you any kind of gauge). He did not do well on the writing portion of the IB test. He also scored very high on the Explore test, which they looked at. People say that they “chose” double honors because IB is too much. I think that is a crock. By the end of the interview we were told which program he would get an offer for. Due to the issue of many kids not making it through IB, LP added a new program – double honors to IB. Meaning that the student takes all DH courses (supposedly at selective enrollment level) and they are required to take an on-line course over the summer if they are eligible to join the IB program. Perfect for someone like my son that needs work in 1 area. We did not accept LP because of the overall conditions described above. I also did not get a “warm and fuzzy” feeling from the interview. Although the director seems great, they were definitely on the defense about any comment that could be construed as a negative obviously feeling that they were wasting their time on someone that would go to selective enrollment. This was our experience. I know of several families from our school that had to take LP IB or DH because they did not get into selective enrollment.

    This gets back to a question I posed a few posts back. Seems like improvements are being made to the structure of the programs, staffing and even the neighborhood. Does anyone know specifically if they are addressing the issues at LP and if so, how? Seems like they could be a beacon of hope for those that need it, a real choice for those that have a choice and a fine example of a turn around for CPS.

  • 202. Dad  |  September 2, 2010 at 11:18 am

    @cps mom: Is there a feeling that LP IB is more rigorous than the top SE schools, and that is why kids are washing out?

  • 203. cps mom  |  September 2, 2010 at 11:37 am

    That is what they say and that also jives with what I’ve heard from a friend of mine whose daughter entered IB and dropped down to DH. She says that LP is a great school for those who want to learn but that they do have some real trouble makers. Her youngest daugher will be in the new DH to IB program (she chose this over Lane). A co-worker’s son who attended a Pritzger gifted program did phenomally well with IB and chose it over Payton.

  • 204. went through the process too  |  September 2, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Give it a rest guys until you go through the process. I was very very impressed with LPHS IB. The curriculum is truly rigorous, in depth and inspires creative and independent thinking. The interview was a great experience as well–I felt the IB coordinator was able to size up my child very well. I have heard from people in the program that she stays on individual students and I believe it. She interrogated him on his conduct checks. He scored in the 99% in the SE test and I think his stanines were way up there on the IB test too except for one subject that I can’t recall. Despite testing well and being smart, my son is not a serious scholar and I think that is the type of student that is right for LPHS IB. There was a young woman at the curriculum night (those invited after the test results were in) who appeared to have really thrived in the program and could have gone anywhere to college. All the teachers were referring to her. I asked her where she was going and she had chosen a small school in alaska with no grades (as I recall) so she could focus creatively on environmental issues. She is probably the model IB student.

  • 205. cps mom  |  September 2, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    As I mentioned – I did go through the process. Your assessment is pretty much on par with what I have said and others in this post. However, you can’t put off or treat lightly the concerns that many have – those that turned it down, those currently enrolled in the program who are wary at best and those who will soon be making their own evaluations. I think it’s a legitimate question/discussion to get some feedback on what is being done to correct the problems that are creating a cloud over this great program.

    You analysis of the ideal IB student is interesting. Although she may very well be able to go off and save the world – conventions be dammed. I hardly think that this is the typical scenario.

  • 206. went through the process too  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    to cps mom: Not sure why you think that I don’t think this should be discussed. Not what I said. My son turned down the IB program because he didn’t want to spend all of his time studying and wanted to do other things. He also did not think that he would fit in well. I think the IB students are very isolated from the rest of the school–but there may be some issues getting to and from school.

    One of the questions my son asked at the interview was the difference between SE and IB and she spent a LOT of time explaining it. I think that IB is for a very serious student who wants to dig deep and spend virtually all of there time on academics. It is not for everyone and that is why kids drop out and go to double honors–which is probably what would have happened with my son.

    By the way, I hear there is gang activity at bryn mawr and kimball so even NSCP is not immune.

  • 207. Dad  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    @203-206: This was very helpful, and illuminating. I wonder if this is what Steven Jones meant by “the right kind of kid.”

  • 208. cps mom  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Point taken- agreed and understood.

    You started statement #204 with “give it a rest guys until you go through the process”. Dad #197 says that he relies on parent imput and sources outside of CPS to help him make informed decisions. Waiting until you go through the process is too late.

    I can see that you really didn’t mean it the way I took it and I do appreciate your good comments

  • 209. went through the process too  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I think it is the difference between someone who wants to learn by reading the original text in the original language and someone who is fine getting the information from a textbook. When my son picked up his textbooks at his SE school, they were very traditional. I felt a sense of loss of the IB program but he says it’s his life his choice and I think he will be happy.

  • 210. went through the process too  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:25 pm

    to cps mom. thanks–I was referring to the guys (presumably) with the statistical analysis. It is only one aspect.

  • 211. Mayfair Dad  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    Lincoln Park High School LSC Meeting
    10/6/2010, 6:30 PM – 8:00 PM
    Location: Room 103

    As a prospective parent, you are welcome to sign up for the public forum and ask the Principal what measures are being taken to address student security issues. Ask hard questions about the number/type of incidents, and what is the action plan to remedy. Inquire if the LSC has a standing committee on Student Safety. Wait until the end of the meeting to see if other parents pull you aside to tell you what the real deal is.

  • 212. went through the process too  |  September 2, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    I would also go hang out at all of the schools you are interested in after and before school and observe the students. Check out the school newspaper too. Most of them are online.

  • 213. RL Julia  |  September 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    I also like to look at the CAPS reports from the police department. If all the crime on a given beat is at the school, you at least know what the problems will be and can chose/act accordingly.

    You’ll all be happy to know that according to this, within the past two weeks there have been 15 crime incidents within .25 miles of Northside – everything from vandalism to drug abuse to burglary to handgun possession.

  • 214. cps mom  |  September 2, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    One other thing to mention to the Dad comparing IB to SE – My son was offered DH to IB because his analytical writing skills were not up to par. She said they would teach him that in the DH class. There was no assessement of writing for selective enrollment – not even in the grades that they look at (math, reading, science and S. Studies).

    Thank you for #210

  • 215. went through the process too  |  September 2, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    That reminds me–Ms. Tookey told my son the kind of books he should be reading for his brain. She said that a lot of boys read sports, newpapers, non-fiction and they needed to read at least 15 minutes of fiction, fantasy, historical fiction. She was a very interesting person. Too bad I don’t have a kid who is a right fit and I already graduated from high school.

  • 216. went through the process too  |  September 3, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Another memory jog. I remember we discussed that LPHS IB could look at the applicants qualitatively and quantivatively and she thought that was important. The SE schools cannot do that. Do you really think there is a significant difference between a student who received one or two B’s in 7th grade and one who did not?

  • 217. Dad  |  September 3, 2010 at 10:45 am

    So, perhaps LPHS IB is “easier” to get into because admissions is a little more forgiving–but a higher percentage of LPHS IB matriculants get weeded out down the line? What is the attrition rate, if anyone knows? What is the attrition rate at NSCP and Payton?

  • 218. went through the process too  |  September 3, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I think it varies by class. The current junior class had very few. I think (hearsay) this year’s sophmore class had a lot. I don’t think it’s fair to compare it to the attrition rates at the other SE enrollment schools since there is no other option at these school such as double honors. If you drop out of a SE school , you go private (and sit out sports for a year) or to your local neighborhood high school.

  • 219. cps mom  |  September 3, 2010 at 12:01 pm

    I don’t necessarily think it’s easier to get into IB than SE. The criteria is different. SE is strictly points based upon tests that evaluate in general if a student exceeds grade level and grades (that are subjective and are not necessarily indicative of level of mastery of the subject). Yes, you can still get into IB with B’s because they look at a test that is more of an IQ type exam with a writing portion and they look at the school you’re from and the program. With perfect tests scores my son did not get into the true IB program because of writing. He did, by the way, get into selective enrollment easily.

  • 220. Dad  |  September 3, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    @cps mom and went through the process too: Thanks for the really fruitful and candid discussion. My kid is several years away from high school, but I like knowing what options are out there. The IB program seems to me to be less well-known than the SE programs, and I was lucky to run into people who “get it.”

  • 221. RL Julia  |  September 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Are there any other IB high schools besides Lincoln Park that anyone would recommend?

  • 222. ib program  |  September 3, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    my neighbor was raving about the IB program at Senn where his daughter graduated from at the top of her class. She has graduated from college now so it was a while ago. He liked it a lot better than Lane, where his son went. He wanted his children to go close to home (vietnamese engineer immigrant) and that is why they did not go to schools farther away so I assume safety was an issue. I know someone else who went to Senn IB and is now in college–his math scores were way too low to get into SE. He liked it but they moved to Evanston so he and his brother could go to ETHS. He liked ETHS because there was more flexibility–he could take easy math and AP HIstory. HIs mom told me in the past few years (so he may have graduated) that he had done amazingly well in college as a history major.

    St. Scholastica also has an IB program.

  • 223. cpsobsessed  |  September 3, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    I agree – this discussion has been really interesting. I’m going to try to talk to my neighbor. Her daughter just left for college after finishing in the DH program at Lincoln Park. The brother went to Northside so I”m curious to get her perspective.

    So the question is… now that we’ve figured out a possible alternative to the SE high schools, do I delete this post and we all take a vow of secrecy? Heh heh.

    One question about the IB admission – it sounds more subjective than the SE admission process, no? That seems so un-CPS.

  • 224. Hawthorne mom  |  September 3, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    I think the one thing I got out of this conversation was that the IB programs at the HS level look at a student’s writing as well as other subjects and that the SE HS’s do not. I am actually quite shocked that SE high schools don’t look at writing since it is one of the most important and the hardest skill in literacy that people have to learn. It is also of utmost importance for college.
    I don’t have a stake in the matter (SE vs. IB) at this point, but I think SE high schools would really do a better job of selecting the best applicants if there was an intensive writing portion to the test.
    And, like PP’s, I agree that CPS really has to create more selective schools, be they SE or IB, if they want to keep families like mine in the city. 4 or 5 great high schools and a handful of other decent ones just aren’t enough.

  • 225. ib program  |  September 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    How do you hand grade 20,000 applicants on writing?

  • 226. cps mom  |  September 3, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    There were 13,000 selective enrollment applications for 2010/2011. The LP director handled all of their applications – there were 2 IB meetings in a full auditorium – 1,000 kids maybe?? She also personally interviewed everyone. Yes it would cost more to grade a writing exam (which BTW is why they have eliminated the writing ISAT for 6th and 8th graders for 2011) but would be a better guage. Maybe possible if they limited this test to contenders scoring above a certain level on the ISAT like LP does.

    Another new IB program worth condisering is Ogden. They have an international membership and the program is very rich. It is open on a lottery basis to students outside of Ogden and they have college prep and an accelerated track. As mentioned elsewhere, they are small and don’t have the sports options that other schools have.

  • 227. ib program  |  September 3, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    I’m not sure why the stanine cut off is so low for SE schools. Kids with average stanines are not going to get in. It would be interesting to know how many IB applicants made the cut after the test and were invited to interview. doubt if it was 1000.

  • 228. Hawthorne mom  |  September 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    What is the stanine cut off?

  • 229. Hawthorne mom  |  September 4, 2010 at 8:42 pm

    I just looked up the information. Stanines of 5? 5? Seriously? I think the cutoff should be 8, maybe 7 at the lowest.

    And, like a pp suggested, students could still be graded on the 900 point system, but also be required to write an essay during the entrance exam. Then, when the 900 points were calculated, the scorers would only grade the written portion of the top 30-40% of applicants.

    I can only guess that raising the stanine cutoff would eliminate half of all applicants and then only grading the top quartile’s written portion would reduce that to about 2000-3000 essays. Totally doable.

  • 230. two cents  |  September 5, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I just read on NPN that somebody just got a call for gifted admission, tier 4, yesterday! We’re all set in my house, but I was just wondering if anyone else has gotten a final hour call?

  • 231. anonymous  |  September 5, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    I know that 2 children were given spots to Bell just 2 weeks ago. Apparently people had changed their minds?

  • 232. Grace  |  September 6, 2010 at 5:11 am

    Hi Southside Mom (#152)
    Really, private preschools provide test prep for admission into gifted and classical kindergarten?

    Lenart’s principal is Mrs. Theodore and Mrs. Mintz, and they should be happy to talk with you if you called or stopped by: 8101 S. La Salle.

    The pre-k classroom is on the first floor. It is a combined classroom of 3-, 4- and 5-year olds (with late birthdays).

    I believe that still there is no tuition to pay, as it is state-funded, and it is open to any Chicago resident, not only neighborhood residents, but you might want to double-check.

    It is not a “gifted” pre-k (perish the thought). There is usually a screening for possible development delays.

    Lenart’s entry grade is kindergarten, as you know. Lenart is a very large school for 250 students. However Keller doesn’t have the classroom space for a kindergarten, and their entry class is first grade.

    Lenar’s kindergarten is rigorous, and students learn to read, write and do math well. Be aware that there is no regular daily recess for any Lenart student other than the pre-k kids.

    A few savvy Southside parents whose children tested into Lenart’s kindergarten later had them tested for entry into Keller’s first grade.

    The transition was easy, and many Keller parents like the daily recess and other decidedly “kid-friendly” aspects of Keller school. If you go this route, be sure to put Keller as your one and only choice.

  • 233. cps mom  |  September 6, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Hard to say what the cut off should be. It would depend on whether kids are getting into the 6 lower scoring schools with a stanine of 5 since the ISAT is only one component. If they aren’t, why go through the process if it is futile. Since scores seem to be climbing, maybe they should re-evaluate. Maybe they are for all we know. I tend to think that CPS will continue to keep certain things in place until either there is a public outcry about it or there are not enough funds to continue. Look at the political aspect. Who would CPS be shutting out of even being eligible for selective enrollment if they upped the qualifications? Also comes back to the age old question – Is it futile to apply for SE with low scores? Supposedly, that was addressed this year.

  • 234. Mayfair Dad  |  September 14, 2010 at 10:54 am

    ACT college admission scores rose slightly this year among the Chicago area’s Catholic high school students, continuing to outpace those of Chicago Public School students. However, the public school system’s average ACT score rose more than that of the Catholic system, and was produced by five times more low-income kids.

    6,100 Catholic high school seniors in Cook and Lake Counties averaged a score of 22.8 on the 36-point ACT, up 0.1 percentage point from 2009. 17% of archdiocesan test-takers qualified for free or reduced lunch. 94% of 2010 archdiocesan seniors took the ACT, representing 40 area Catholic high schools, including 23 in Chicago.

    25,000 Chicago public school seniors averaged a score of 17.3 — up 0.3 percentage points from the previous year. 85% of the CPS test-takers qualified for free or reduced lunch. The ACT is required of every public high school junior in the state.

    Complete story:,CST-NWS-SAT14.article

  • 235. Grace  |  September 14, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Curious to know if parents here have their children take the ACT in middle school?

  • 236. Hawthorne mom  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    When are they actually going to make some decisions about if or how the new policy will change? I know I shouldn’t even ask this question, since this is CPS and they probably won’t decide anything until March or April–a day or two before acceptance letters go out. But really, this is ridiculous. It is September. Applications will be going out to schools or to the new centralized office (apparently they are taking online apps for some schools this fall….which I am sure will be a mess somehow) in the next few weeks.
    They need to change the multiples policy and they need to restore principal discretion, at least in some form.

  • 237. cps mom 5  |  September 14, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Principal discretion benefited more people that abused the system (alderman’s relatives, donors, campaign workers, cps workers, etc.) than it helped with twins. That is not the solution. Now that Daley will be riding off in the sunset, Run Huberman’s first priority (along with hundreds of other political appointees) will be finding a new role within the administration where he can’t be fired from. There will be a lot of musical chairs within the next few months.

  • 238. Grace  |  September 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    I heard that the self-designated “blue ribbon panel” will deliver its analysis and recommendations for changes to the Board of Ed at their September monthly meeting.

    I believe that means that tomorrow morning, R.H. & others will vote on and implement these changes — without ever telling parents what they have had in mind — unless you are a parent with the Black Star Community PTA. Then you had a seat on the blue ribbon panel.

    It is important that parents attend the Board of Ed meeting, and to let their aldermen know of any concerns.

  • 239. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 7:24 am


    The author of this press release, Ms. Flowers, sat on the blue ribbon panel. She advocates that all children who test for s.e. high schools be placed into a lottery and that they be placed by race into s.e. schools throughout the city.

    So, for example, Rachel who scored a 900 would be put into a lottery and could well get placed at Brooks in Roseland, instead of at Payton, 5 blocks from her home. Of course, Max, from Pullman could well get a spot at Payton instead of Brooks, even though his score may be 850.

    This is their proposed solution to the problem of having ” too many non-minorities” at the top 4 s.e. schools.

    Here is the press release.


    For more information contact:
    Cynthia Flowers
    Chair, Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment
    Phone: 773.285.9600
    Mobile: 312.287.4458


    March 19, 2010

    Parents and the Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment Challenge Failed Policies to Create Diversity and Excellence in Best Chicago Public Schools

    Chicago Public Schools’ (CPS) latest plan to extend admission opportunities to the top students attending its lowest-performing public schools is an obvious distraction from the sub-optimal early results of the new admission policy.

    Analysis of early results by the Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment (CFMSSE) of CPS’s new trial selective enrollment process for high schools suggests that diversity among socio-economic groups was not achieved at several of these schools. CFMSSE predicts CPS’s practices will further negatively impact racial diversity in Chicago’s most elite public schools.

    Although CPS has made an attempt to be more transparent with its data, one glaring detail was omitted from its press release. The total number of seats awarded in each tier was not included in the data released; however, published information indicates that Northside Prep awarded only 15% of its slots to students in Tier 1 while it awarded 55% of seats to students in Tier 4. Furthermore, because Chicago is so segregated, the reverse will likely occur at schools on the south side.

    CFMSSE was formed by parents and community education advocacy groups last fall in response to CPS’s proposed changes to the selective enrollment school admissions process. CFMSSE advocates a fair and equitable process that ensures racial diversity is achieved at all selective enrollment schools. CMFSSE has made repeated attempts to meet with CPS officials, to provide input and oversight during key stages of the new selective enrollment process, yet no meeting has been scheduled to date.

    CPS’s use of the No Child Left Behind federal mandate to populate the schools with students from under-performing schools constitutes an unnecessary measure to meet racial diversity. Since the post-segregation decree was vacated, CFMSSE’s position is that RACE matters. Had CPS officials incorporated race as ONE criterion to diversify schools, a more equitable balance could have been achieved from the pool of students originally qualified to apply to these schools.

    “Selective enrollment high schools are not in the business of remediation. The most academically capable students seek the fast-paced, rigorous curriculum that many of these schools offer. Successfully navigating the culture and environment of these schools requires students equipped with well-developed interpersonal skills. It is imperative that students chosen not be set up to fail,” said Cynthia Flowers, President of the Black Star Community PTA and CFMSSE Chair.

    Based on historical practices it is apparent that although there is one application process for selective enrollment schools, each school seems to have its own separate, and many times very unequal, admissions policy. For example, at Northside Prep, and Walter Payton College Prep, CPS has historically skimmed the top-achieving students for admittance based on their composite score. This practice has essentially created a class system among the elite schools. According to 2010 early data, Northside Prep only accepted students who scored a minimum of approximately 94-95% or 850 of the possible 900 composite points while Lindblom’s class was formed with students who scored a minimum of 73% or 660 up to 99% of the possible composite points, which provided a wider range of students and abilities.

    CPS must address these system inequities and ensure that the same standards are used across the board at all of the selective enrollment schools. CFMSSE proposes that CPS do the following to ensure a wider range of students at each school:

    1. Collaborate with an independent oversight taskforce comprised of parents and community members. Seek input from the community for other proposals that provide a fair and equitable admission process at selective enrollment schools during this “trial” year.
    2. Raise the standards for selection across the board to require a stanine* of 7 or greater in math and reading for all students who wish to take the admissions exam.
    3. Stabilize and unify criteria (race, socio-economics and test score) at each school to create a consistent, acceptable range for admission that is the same for EACH school (75% or better to enter a lottery for their choice school).

    Additionally, CFMSSE calls for CPS to commit to increase standards and improve instructional levels at ALL neighborhood-based public high schools and to provide more viable alternatives for every student in the district to achieve academic success.

    CPS’s announcement to allocate 100 additional seats in four of its selective enrollment high schools does not help the selective schools that are receiving these students, may hurt the proposed students attending these schools and does not correct the failed policies that necessitated this action.

    The Committee will convene its regular scheduled meeting at The Black Star Project on Monday, March 22, 2010, at 6:30pm, and it will present its findings at the Chicago Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, March 24, 2010.

    *Stanine is a method of scaling test scores on a nine-point standard scale with a mean of five (5) and a standard deviation of two (2). The Stanine score is usually derived from the national percentile and compares with performance using nine equal units. Scores of 1-3 are considered below average, 4-6 are considered average and 7-9 are above average.


  • 240. cps mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 9:00 am

    This is the first I’m hearing about the supreme court ruling being vacated on race. This entire proposed system is based upon selection by race and highest scores (as was supposedly the case traditionally). Any attorneys out there know if they can do this?
    I do like the minimum of 7 stanine to qualify, I think that will alleviate many headaches.

  • 241. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 9:09 am

    The Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that race could no longer be a criteria for admissions into public schools. (You can read the justices’ opinions on lline, if you like.) This has changed admissions at schools in NYC, St. Louis, and elsewhere.

    Chicago then asked the federal court to vacate its desegregation decree, in light of the Supreme Court ruling — and probably to save some of the millions it spends on busing. CPS raised the attendance boundaries for magnet schools from 25% to 40%.

    I think that if CPS changes the admissions policy to the s.e. schools, it will be time to leave for the suburbs.

  • 242. cps mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 9:26 am

    And another thing…….while I’m at it.

    What about this statement about “non-minorities”. What is their definition of minority. Are Hispanics minority or not because they are now the majority? What about “mixed race” – a new measurable category listed at schools. Many students now are able to pick their race.

    This is a problem for hard working, high achieving students of all races.

    Many people are not going to send their kids to schools in a bad neighborhood. Once those positions are turned down, that will leave an even smaller % of high scoring “non-minorites” seats in schools that they deserve to go to.

    Why pick on Northside? They have achieved the status of one of the top schools in the county because they are appproached by and choose the top students in Chicago. Does CPS not want this? Principal of Whitney on the committiee…is this a power play?

  • 243. Mayfair Dad  |  September 16, 2010 at 9:36 am

    “CFMSSE’s position is that RACE matters. Had CPS officials incorporated race as ONE criterion to diversify schools, a more equitable balance could have been achieved from the pool of students originally qualified to apply to these schools.”

    This rhetoric makes me furious. The Supreme Court of the United States has already determined skin color SHOULD NOT matter in determining school admissions.

    I am all for tipping the scales to give the less fortunate a shot at a better life, and not holding children responsible for the poor choices made by their parents, but what does melanin have to do with anything?

    Sign me up for the class action suit. This anti-Caucasian madness has to stop. P.S. Nice bungalow for sale by owner on the Northwest side if anyone is interested.

  • 244. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 9:52 am

    There is a reason why the “blue ribbon” panel didn’t have one educational policy expert on it, but did have 2 alderwomen and Ms. Flowers of Black Star Community PTA.
    There is a reason why the first 2 meetings weren’t advertised and were thinly attended.
    There is a reason why the “blue ribbon” panel wouldn’t share their recommendations with the parents at the meetings.

    At the recent Chicago Tribune / PNC Education Summit — Meeks suggested that he would keep Huberman if elected mayor. What else would he like from Huberman?

    Meeks already wields serious power within CPS. He has put in place the principal of Brooks s.e. h.s. She is widely regarded as less than competent — by folks within CPS and without — just ask the Dean of Admissions at the Illinois Math and Science Academy.

    It will make for a huge mess of a mayoral race.

  • 245. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 10:04 am

    This really isn’t about giving the less fortunate a fair shot. Huberman did that when he pulled the top 100 students from the weakest schools. But that really made the community angry, because they felt that higher performing black students had been passed over.

    This is about a strong black middle class community in Chicago that wants seats set aside for their children at the top 4 s.e. schools. Period.

    It’s likely that the fictitious “Rachel” from the Oak street won’t travel to a high school in Roseland.Tthey know that she’ll leave the system and that this opens up 2 spots,: one at Payton and one at Brooks.

    To be honest, CPS ensures that blacks will be well represented in the s.e. high schools when they place the schools in primarily black neighborhoods, and 5 of the 9 schools are in black neighborhoods and have a majority black population.

  • 246. Am I missing something  |  September 16, 2010 at 10:06 am

    The press release is dated March 2010 yet the poster says this is what the panel will propose at the Board meeting. Either I am confused or this is misleading something. First, this person is just one panel member. Second, race may not be used unless it is in a particularized fashion and the numbers are too high for CPS to do that. The SE admisssion program based on census data was a first stab and trying to come to a solution.

    Do you have knowledge that this what teh panel is proposing or are you just basing it on what the panel member wrote 6 months ago?

  • 247. Mayfair Dad  |  September 16, 2010 at 10:27 am

    @ Grace. Next Chicago Board of Ed Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, September 22, 2010. Is this when the recommendations will be ratified? I am puzzled by the date discrepancy as well.

  • 248. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:00 am

    The press release is old, but I included it because it expresses their mission very well. However, I have had independent confirmation from a source who is well-connected.

    I am very aware of how well organized the black community is, and how aggressive they have been since fall of 2009 in making sure that they keep seats in the s.e.. schools once the set-asides were eliminated by the vacating of the consent decree.

    I’m also painfully aware of how secretively CPS operates, from bitter experience, and this has all the usual fingerprints on it. Once you’ve been through it, you won’t forget it, but if you haven’t, then it’s hard to grasp.

    But evidence that I can produce in a court of law? No. None of that.

    CPS”s typical m.o. is for the recommendation to be raised at the monthly meeting and approved then and there.

    Only a group of parents threatening to protest at the meeting, which is televised, ever gives them pause, and that only works if you’ve also spoken with your aldermen or the mayor, of course, who’s made a call.

    That’s mayoral control.

  • 249. Hawthorne mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I doubt they will actually divvy up kids the way that group proposed. There would be a mass exodus from the system. My family included.
    Is CFMSSE the same as the blue ribbon panel?

  • 250. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:36 am

    I put in a call to them (phone # was on the press release.) The person on the phone wasn’t totally certain of the new recommendation but said he thought there might have been some “concessions.” I’ll let you know if I hear back.

  • 251. Am I missing something  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:42 am

    Again, this is one person on the panel. Using race in such a blatantly manner violates federal law. I can understand that you are upset but it is irresponsible to say this is what will be proposed by the panel. The press release represents one view and presumably there are others on the panel. I suggest you say something like you fear this will be a dominant prevailing voice.

    it would be good if the proposal could be published for public comment before the board takes action but I doubt if there is time.

    The new census did not ask for this socio-economic data so I don’t see how it can be used in the future.

  • 252. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:44 am

    And just to throw my 2 cents in…
    I get their motives. And I think it’s great when people mobilize to make sure their kids are getting screwed in some way.
    But I think I’m gonna have to say that I think the Tier system, while imperfect, does a better job at meeting the goals of righting society’s wrongs. I mean, the Obama girls don’t need any help getting into certain schools based on their skin tone. It;s a socioeconomic thing. To me. I’m not living the life of an African American mother in CPS and if I were, I guess I’d like to think that I’d fight for what seems fair.
    But I think CPS has done a lot, given that they can’t use race as a decider any more. I think they could do MORE, of course, but given the segregation of the city, I don’t think they’re ever going to achieve what this group is striving for.
    The group is ignoring the fundamental concept that a school’s scores are a reflection of the students. A school that’s high on Tier 4 students is not going to have the same test scores if you bring in a ton more Tier 1 kids. (This is based on pure numbers alone, looking at the scores we saw for the 4 tiers.)
    I think it comes down to the one thing that all of us can agree on — there aren’t enough high schools that parents feel comfortable sending their kids to. And the lack of decent spots brings out the desire to fight for those spots.
    I can’t see CPS going back to the race-based system, but I applaud anyone who can get organized to make their requests known.

  • 253. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2010 at 11:51 am

    According to a document on, this are the policies that the Blue Ribbon panel will look at. I think it’s a good list:

    Sibling policy for magnet schools (non entry level, multiples)Principal discretion for magnet schools (if, how much, and how to enact)Proximity percentages for magnet schoolsPrincipal discretion for selective enrollment high schools (percentage, guidelines)Policy for non-entry grade for next year Factors going into SES variable Potential to use race in policy in some way

  • 254. Mayfair Dad  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Yes, let’s all take a deep breath. The press release March 19, 2010 does tell us a few things:

    – Willy Wonka 100 was a blatant attempt by CPS to color correct the results of the new tier system (no surprise here);

    – The purpose of the Blue Ribbon Committee was to advance the agenda of African-American families at the expense of other ethnic groups. No other facet of the new tier system was up for review or open to fine-tuning.

    While the press release lists one author, it does seem to imply the endorsement of the entire committee. Its an official pronouncement. I happen to agree with Grace that this is a foreshadowing of what we might expect at the next B of E meeting on September 22, 2010. Unfortunately the agenda won’t be posted until 48 hours prior – open meetings act.

    And I can see Meeks’ fingerprints all over this, too.

  • 255. mom2  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    The only parts of this recommendation that makes sense is that every SE High School should have the same cutoff scores or no cutoff score until they achieve the requirements from each tier and that they should try to offer more SE type options at the neighborhood schools. The reason why the plan failed this year is because the “top 4” schools were allowed to stop taking people from a certain tier if they ran out of people with scores at this higher cutoff score (a score which they refuse to share with the public).

    Everything else about this press release is horrible, and appears to violate the rules that no longer allow race to be a factor. It would cause most people that I know to leave the city. No one that I know is going to send their child to a school far away from home and in a bad neighborhood, even if the schools scores are going up. Never!!!!

    Let’s just hope that this was one opinion and not the final suggestions by that panel. I don’t see how they could ever be allowed to recommend what this says since it is violating the law and would totally hurt the city of Chicago in more ways than they could ever know.

  • 256. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Hi, Am I missing …

    I think you might not have made it to one of the forums? If you had seen the panel, you would know that it was a uniform bunch of folks. Besides Ms. Flowers, two alderwomen from the Southside sat on the panel. It was clout heavy. It didn’t have one expert in social or education policy. They were not debating issues and outcomes. They knew what they wanted.

    Certain speakers from the crowd appeared three times — at each one of the forums — repeating the same message, and these speakers clearly had been invited by the panel.

    It wasn’t hard to see the panel was a rubber stamp, if you were there. And this is the a typical way CPS runs things.

    Well, cpsobsessed, that list seems to leave it wide open, doesn’t it?
    What might” Factors going into SES variable” mean?
    “Potential to use race in some way” surely means that the Supreme Court decree isn’t a real hindrance.

    If this goes through, it will have big effect on many neighborhoods in the city, because CPS hasn’t put the resources in the neighborhood schools.

  • 257. cps mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    One problem is that no one rallied for the existing tier system figuring that if it wasn’t broken why fix it. I think that the statement that admissions should be based upon “race, tier and scores” would be way too difficult to actually sort out. There were plenty of “non-minority” (love that word, going to be my new WASP description – do people still use “WASP”?) students that got into the top schools that were in tier 1 and 2. Of course none of these statistics have been or will be provided by CPS.

  • 258. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    @Grace: yep, you’re absolutely right about it being wiiiide open. I’m looking at it through naive rose colored glasses, as in “well sure, it would be good to take a look at that.”
    Of course based on what you say about the rubber stamp and the agenda, it comes across totally differently. lol.
    I guess I still like to think that things are being done fairly and squarely, while I guess that isn’t reality.
    I keep thinking that this group will make their recos and CPS will say “fine, but we aren’t changing.” But I underestimate the power plays that go on.

  • 259. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Hi mom 2,

    I’m quoting because I’m not sure what you mean, AND THIS STUFF IS SO COMPLICATED! Sorry about the caps.

    “The reason why the plan failed this year is because the “top 4″ schools were allowed to stop taking people from a certain tier if they ran out of people with scores at this higher cutoff score (a score which they refuse to share with the public).”

    Do you mean that, for example, Northside could take more than 15% of its tier kids from Tier 4? Was it because not enough kids from tiers 1,2,3 scored high enough for the Northside administration to think they would be successfull there?

  • 260. Am I missing something  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Here is the panel:
    Huberman said CPS plans a full review of the one-year policy led by a blue-ribbon commission. The blue ribbon commission will include the following members:

    Alderman Latasha Thomas, Education Committee Chairman

    Miguel DeValle, City Clerk

    Anna Alvarado, Principal of Hawthorne Elementary

    Alan Mather, Principal of Lindblom Math & Science Academy

    Cynthia Flowers, Black Star Project

    Lisa Scruggs Esq. Jenner &Block

    Bertha Magana, Latino Education Alliance

    Dr. Mary Davidson, PhD, Center for Protection of Children

    It does not look uniform to me and there are a few people on the list who I know are highly credible. There is even a lawyer who presumably knows about legality. Again, it is illegal to use race in the admission process unless you sit down and look at all 16,000 applicants individually.

  • 261. Hawthorne mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I can’t speak for anyone else on the panel, but I can tell you that Anna Alvarado, Hawthorne’s principal, will be a voice of reason on the panel. She herself has twins (in college now) and knows the issues of families with multiples. As a long time teacher, prinicpal and parent, she is a VERY credible person within the group.

    CPS is so rumor prone. I remember thinking that FOR SURE we’d have 40 kids in classrooms this fall, complete with a teacher strike. That didn’t happen. So, I think it might make sense to hold back and just wait and see what happens.

  • 262. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Couple of quick points: I like to think that policy experts come before clout. I don’t see why aldermen were on the panel at all.

    Alderwoman Fredenna Lyle sat on the panel for the Whitney meeting,. I wonder why her name is not on this list now? Did someone at CPS think it was just too obvious a show of clout?

    And not to be beating the same drum, but why didn’t the panel include a PTA group that is primarily white, like I must assume that the Black Star Community PTA is?

    Why didn’t the Raise Your Hand group get involved? They are fighting for fair funding, shouldn’t they have a seat?

    This question of s.e. high schools admission affects all wards in the city, not just Ms. Thomas’ and Ms. Fredenna Lyle’s.

  • 263. Mayfair Dad  |  September 16, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Perhaps Ms. Alvarado was on the panel representing the “great white north”?

    It does appear to my cynical eyes that great effort was exerted by some to subvert (color correct) the new tier system. Specifically, to address the net loss of seats by African American students, mostly to Hispanic students.

    The new system, eliminating race and therefore set-asides for black students, never sat well with powerful African American ministers. Specifically, Rev. Meeks, who also happens to be a state senator and has his hands all over state funding for education and is currently collecting signatures to run for mayor.

    The Willy Wonka 100 was a direct result of this cadre of ministers putting the strong-arm on Daley to make it right with the black community. Could it be this same influential political force was able to stack the deck of the so-called Blue Ribbon Committee?

    Race is always on the table in Chicago politics, even when the Supreme Court tries to take it off the table.

  • 264. cps mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Grace – #259 – Last year the schools were allowed a point cut-off in order to keep the standards up and specifically to keep a tier 1 student (that was pegged as lower scoring from the start) from getting into a program that was over their heads. This was how it was presented at the initial forums where CPS presented their plan – I attended 2 of them. The Harvard expert that they paid big bucks to determined that the tier system would match the existing race based system. CPS was completely confident that it would based upon analyzing the existing background of the then current SE students. Of course they didn’t figure that many of the students were already in place due to patriotism, discretion and mandated racial allowances regardless of scores.
    I think that the schools should be allowed to maintain a minimum entry level if we want to keep the best the best. As someone mentioned, there are no funds to put into the CPS – selective or neighborhood to bring about that dream of upgrading the schools. Although this does seem to be an ongoing dilemma.

    CPS obsessed – I know that this is only conjecture right now but I do think that it’s important information that may require those interested to get involved. Is it possible to put the proposal on down further up on the list of posts??? Waiting until a decision is made at the meeting may be too late. Maybe an announcement of the meeting and agenda? Thank you for everything that you have done.

  • 265. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I agree, M-D. Race is always on the table. Folks who work in the private sector sometimes don’t realize it.

    Found something I think you’ll like.

    Mr. Hayes is a former principal at the elementary, middle and high school levels and he is brilliant writing on CPS.

  • 266. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    #261 Hi Hawthorne mom,
    Ms. Alvarado’s great reputation precedes her.
    Wonder what she believes the panel will recommend on Wednesday?

  • 267. Hawthorne mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I wish I knew! I perceive her to be very tight lipped and very confidential. I can’t imagine that she would say a word about anything until an official announcement is made.
    When all the cuts were rumored to be coming, she barely said a word until the full funding came through in late August. I can only assume she has learned that nothing is final until it is final and doesn’t speak before all the facts are in place.

    I have so many different thoughts about this idea of “distributing” kids more evenly based on race that I can’t get my head around it. It frightens me to think of my children having to commute by CTA to a neighborhood I don’t deem safe. And then I question how much of my safety perceptions are based in reality and how much are based in subtle racism that I might not even want to admit exists within myself. But really, I doubt the potential distribution will happen. I think CPS knows exactly what will happen if it does. They know they’d lose most of their higher income families very quickly.

  • 268. Am I missing something  |  September 16, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Alan Mather also has a great reputation especially amongst the students who were at NSCP when he was AP there.

  • 269. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    How can you be racist because you care for your child’s safety?

    But does CPS really care about a hundred or so white families who could just as well (as I’ve heard said) go to a Catholic or private school and leave that seat for a minority student?

    Honestly, I don’t think CPS cares. But the aldermen of a few wards might care what happens to their families.

  • 270. cpsobsessed  |  September 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    @Grace: I agree, CPS’ priority right now is not about making a small % of families happy, it’s about figuring out how to educate a challenging population with virtually no money. If they were a private business, then yes – they’d care about “losing customers.” I suspect there are bigger fish to fry. I think it’s almost easier to educate a population when there is LESS differentiation – then policies, curriculum, etc can be more standardized. That’s pretty much the M.O. of CPS classrooms, right?

    Unless I’m totally naive, I have to say there’s no WAY CPS is going to institute something where kids are bussed all over the city again. Those days are gone and the money for bussing is gone. It’s impractical in this day and age and the fact that CPS wanted out of the racial balancing business show that they recognize this.

    I fantsize about Ron Huberman issuing a statement that “if you want your kid to go to a school with high scores and more diversity, you are free to move into the boundaries of a neighborhood with a school like this.” OK, I know that is a bit of a fantasy. I think I am actually priced out of my son’s neighborhood school boundaries. I could find 4 other families to share a house there perhaps….. But I just don’t see racial balancing as the burden of CPS when people in the city appear to be choosing to live this way, for better or for worse.

  • 271. Mayfair Dad  |  September 16, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    The new CPS math: race-neutral admissions policy based on merit and socio-economic factors = unfair advantage for whites. Just doesn’t add up…does it?

    Is it unreasonable/unfair to have a SE High School in a predominantly white neighborhood with a larger percentage of white students? Or to have a SE High School in a predominantly black neighborhood with a larger percentage of black students?

    People live where they want to live, or more accurately, where they can afford to live. Karen Lewis is right when she says student outcomes at a given school say more about socio-economic factors in the neighborhood than the quality of teaching those children receive. But I don’t expect teachers to cure society’s ills, I just expect them to teach. Surely smarter people than me could find a more holistic way to measure teacher effectiveness not overly skewed by factors outside the classroom.

    I’m not so sure CPS is out of the racial balancing business, and I am deeply concerned all this social experimenting is going to screw over my eighth-grader when it comes time to apply for high schools.

  • 272. cps mom  |  September 16, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I can’t imagine that CPS will give up having 3 of the top 5 schools in Illinois with 1 ranking one of the highest in the nation. A risk if all the selective candidates are pooled together and randomly chosen. It’s got to mean something in the way of federal funding.

    Sadly, however, i wouldn’t put anything past them. These schools are one of the biggest things Chicago has going for it – as my suburban friends do point out to me.

  • 273. Grace  |  September 16, 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Hi M-D,
    I think it is about blacks wanting to control the same number of seats, at the same schools, that they did under the federal consent decree. They can do that if a lottery assigns your son to Brooks in Roseland, and you decide to opt out of CPS.

    hi cps mom,
    The interesting thing about the gifted, magnet and s.e. high schools showing up in the top ten lists all the time is that they put a gloss on a system that CPS itself grades as below average for over 200 of the 600 schools.

  • 274. mom2  |  September 17, 2010 at 9:11 am

    @259 Grace, I see that someone already replied to your question to me. Yes, Northside, for example, ended up being able to take more kids from Tier 4 (for example) than the rules say because they had a very high cut off score and they did not have enough students from other tiers with those high scores to fill their slots. I was also at one of the meetings where they explained that “some” schools were allowed to have a cut off score. Not “all” the SE schools were allowed or did have one.

    People are correct that these cut off scores allow some schools to appear to be the cream of the crop and “the best”, but again, as stated before, it really means that they have the best students to start with.

    Now, as far as CPS not caring about the small percent of families that might just as well move to the suburbs if they don’t want their child to go to a school far away from home in a “bad neighborhood”…Well, “CPS” may not care, but I would think that the Mayor of Chicago (whoever that might be) would greatly care about the negative affect on the city if the wealthier neighborhoods suddenly started to disappear. Mayor Daley, for all his faults, wanted Chicago to get better and better, more livable, safer, better for tourism, etc. One large way to achieve this is to have wealthy and educated people living in the city boundaries. If people like that move away because the schools offer nothing for them, then the city gets worse and worse. Can someone say, “Detroit”?

  • 275. cps mom  |  September 17, 2010 at 11:00 am


    True that SE is just the polish on an already corroded machine but you cannot deny the huge significance in the CPS armor. It wasn’t that long ago when Latin and Parker was just about the only game in town if you wanted superior education. The fact that CPS can offer a free alternative that has even the kids attending those schools striving for placement is almost unfathomable. Giving that up would be going backwards to the days of white flight.

  • 276. observer  |  September 17, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I seriously doubt if cps is going to make people travel 30 miles to selective enrollments schools. My neighbor is breathing a sigh of relief that he put down Lane as #1 instead of WYHS because already it has saved on a lot of wear and tear travel time. I do think that they should do away with the cut off scores. Just take the top people from Tiers #1 and #2.

  • 277. cps mom  |  September 17, 2010 at 11:02 am

    sorry #275 directed to Grace #273

  • 278. cpsobsessed  |  September 17, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Guys, I’ve started a special page to keep track of the selective enrollment policies this year since this post was getting so long.
    I’m going to put info there as it comes in, so if you want to move the discussion, it’ll be easier to track by having it on a Page instead of an old post.
    See you there….

  • 279. cpsobsessed  |  September 17, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Just looking back over that press release. I think most of you have figured this out, but it doesn’t state that the policies are the reco of the Blue Ribbon Committee, but of the Committee for Fairness in Magnet and Selective School Enrollment (CFMSSE) – a group who needs to make better use of acronyms.

    The author IS a member of the Blue Ribbon committee, but clearly the views expressed are hers and/or her committee’s, which may or may not be formally sanctioned by CPS. I mean heck, we could start a committee too and write press releases. Doesn’t mean that it would affect anything, but we could do it.

  • 280. am I missing something?  |  September 17, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    re #279. that was my point.

  • 281. Grace  |  September 17, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Nice idea! Let’s put out a press release and see if we get a seat on a CPS panel.

    But you’re right, of course. The press release isn’t from the
    panel because the panel will only announce recommendations at the Wednesday Board meeting. And they’ll be voted on immediately. Parents will have no chance to comment.
    And this bugs me. Not democratic. Who works for whom?

    I have to hand it to her. Ms. Flowers did what she said she would do. In her press release she said she wanted to convene a panel on the issue of fairness in admissions; she did that and she got a seat on it. Then she included two aldermen who agree with her. Very effective activism. She couldn’t have done any of that unless many in CPS wanted to push her position forward.

    People paid attention when RYH descended on city hall. RYH could very well help get the budget on the right footing. But will they get seats at coveted schools? Who knows? Not me.

  • 282. cps mom  |  September 18, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    One other thing to add about the cut offs at SE schools. All the schools were allowed to specify a point cut off if need be. Northside did not let anyone under 850 in but also Lindblom cut off much lower at, I believe, 660 and took a higher % of tier 4 kids also. At least at the 1st round picks Payton did not have any students under 850 taking a full % of tier 1 students so they did not have to default to a cut off. Those cut offs and the tier system held up through the second round (Northside had no second round). After round 2, I believe that offers were extended by score because tier 1 students were not making the cut-offs.

    Again, I think the cut-offs are a good idea. The fact that NS has a higher entry level makes sense especially given that there is little or no tier 1 students in the area. Why take a long commute to a school not easily accessible by El to a program that the child might be floundering in just to satisfy race or socioeconomic status requirements. What works well on paper is not necessarily the best in reality.

    Tier system may be out altogether, one can only speculate until we find out. Last year they did put the plan out for public comment and altered it slightly due to public demand. It’s starting to get late in the game for that again.

  • 283. Grace  |  September 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I’m wondering if, instead of worrying and typing, some folks might join me in calling CPS on Monday and Tuesday?

    We could ask Carole Wood, in the office of Local School Council relations and Abigayil Joseph, the director of the office of academic enhancement for an update.

    We could ask whether there will be time for the panel’s recommendations to be presented for public comment, like last year.

    And we could ask when the panel plans to present their recommendations to the Board.

    Would anyone care to join me?

  • 284. cps mom  |  September 20, 2010 at 7:58 am

    I will try to call today. I will post if I get any info.

  • 285. cps mom  |  September 20, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Hello all

    I have some information that may be of interest. I did contact OAE and spoke to Kara Karnz (guessing on the spelling) who is the Deputy Officer. She was very helpful and offered her direct number – 773-553-5732 to anyone who has questions or concerns. Here’s a summary of what she explained to me:
    – As mentioned in this post, the Blue Ribbon Panel proposal will be presented at the Wednesday 9/22 board meeting. The plan will not be voted on until the October meeting. At that time, there will be a venue, maybe not at schools but on line to respond.

    She asked about specific concerns and I mentioned political views of the board and specifically the proposal by Ms. Flowers. Response as follows:

    – CPS is concerned about accuracy of information. Their idea is not to scrap the existing plan but to “tweak” it. She specifically mentioned that the proposals with regards to twins and siblings would be addressed. As far the Blue Ribbon panel is concerned, the opinion of one member is not necessarily the “consensus” which is needed in order for their plan to be accepted. I asked specifically about race being used as a factor and was not directly answered. My feeling was that it would not be factored in since she told be that they were “only looking to make corrections to the current plan to better it”.

    I asked what the best venue would be to air any disagreements with the plan and she said that public can attend and offer commentary at the Sept and Oct meetings and that we should respond to their announcement (which will be on the OAE website in a couple days) in the venue suggested.

  • 286. Hawthorne mom  |  September 20, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    #285, thanks for calling and I am not disrespecting YOU when I say this, but I had to laugh when I read the sentence saying…. “cps is concerned about accuracy of information”????? Really? Since when?
    I wasn’t aware CPS was able to relay accurate information to anyone!

  • 287. cpsobsessed  |  September 20, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Thanks cpsmom! Kara Kranz used to head up the gifted office and she was always a sane influence there, so I’m glad to see they’ve made good use of her.

    I was thinking about calling in today, as Grace suggested (skeptical that I’d get any where.) I guess having served on an LSC, I feel like the process they have in place is the most efficient. They set up a panel, let parents give input, will take the panel’s recos (I’m dying to see how they resolved all the different opinions!) and they will allow parents to respond. I think that’s the best they can do. BUT, why wouldn’t this have been put into place before the application process started?! I will assume that the Tier System will stay in place based on what she said and that the changes will come on the “back end” after the applications are turned in.

    Grace, thanks for making the suggestion. I tend to fall into the whining-not-calling habit and I know I need to be reminded to just pick up the phone! At the very least, CPS needs to be aware of what issues parents are thinking about.

  • 288. cps mom  |  September 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Last year the system was not in place until, I want to say, the last day of November – Yikes! Applications were already in and they were soon to have the first test administered.

  • 289. Mayfair Dad  |  September 20, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Dear cps mom # 285:

    Thanks for the fine investigative work. At least the Census information has been recently refreshed – I wonder if CPS will have access to it for next year’s incoming freshman class?

    Still puzzled why there is no mention of this on the 9/22 agenda posted by the Board of Education. Why all the secrecy?

  • 290. cps mom  |  September 20, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    yes, we can only hope.. Thanks

  • 291. Grace  |  September 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks so much cps mom.

  • 292. Mayfair Dad  |  September 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    Just spoke to Katie Ellis (773) 553-3546. Don’t know her title or department but I was referred to her by Kara Kranz.

    Both Kara and Katie were very patient and helpful. I spoke at length with Katie re; SE high school process and what I perceive to be implementation glitches. Katie assured me the committee had the same glitches on their radar screen (because of parent feedback – they heard us!) and had remedies to propose at the B of E meeting on Wednesday.

    I was feeling very anxious about this lately but I do feel a lot better after the conversation. I think what we will see on Wednesday is a fine-tuning, NOT a major overhaul, of the current process.

  • 293. cps mom  |  September 20, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Thank God – thanks for following up.

  • 294. gladthisisnotmy year  |  September 21, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    We went through the process last year and it was very chaotic. Don’t send in your SE pplication until everything is finalized. I had to file a new application reranking the schools based on the change that you will get the school you put down as first if you qualify. Turns out my kid scored high enough to get in everywhere (Tier 4) but when forced to choose, wanted Lane. He’s there now and it seems to be a really good fit so far. It was very nerve racking. I’m not sure how they are going to update census information since the new census does not even ask for that information.

    I would suggest going to the open houses and paying attention to where your child believes they will fit it–they are probably right.

    I have another one in the pipeline in a few years. Ugh.

  • 295. Steve Jones  |  September 22, 2010 at 9:40 am

    #294 —

    The census sends out two forms: a short form that most people get and a longer form that is sent to a sampling of the population. This longer form, combined with selected follow-up questions from live interviewers, asks the questions from which the census tract information used by CPS is built. So, yes, the census IS collecting information that will be used to refresh the census tract data used by CPS. (And the data used last year wasn’t stale 2000 data anyway; it had been refreshed in some sense by private firms that do that sort of thing.) I don’t know whether the census tract data will be available and made public by the time CPS needs it, though that really isn’t until the spring, so probably.

    And I’m glad to hear that the likely recommendation from the Blue Ribbon panel will be mostly “tweaks” and not an overhaul. The hysteria we saw here several posts back based on a stale press release from a single panel member was apparently completely unfounded. That’s good news.

  • 296. cps mom  |  September 22, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Hysteria – Now, now Steve, things always look different in hindsight. I’m sure there will be a new set of “concerns” after today.

  • 297. Mayfair Dad  |  September 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I prefer the word vigilance, but whatever.

  • 298. Steve Jones  |  September 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    Any news from the Board meeting today?

  • 299. Mayfair Dad  |  September 23, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Nothing on District299 about the Board meeting, but another poster on a different thread found this:

    So I filled it out just to see what happens.

  • 300. cps mom  |  September 23, 2010 at 11:22 am

    I called Kara again for the update. She said she was told it was supposed to be announced yesterday and doesn’t know why they haven’t announced the plan by now. She is checking into it. Her team is poised and ready to post on the OAE website under “news” and will be entitled 2010/2011 policy. She said it will be “soon” but doesn’t have any further info right now.

  • 301. cps mom  |  September 24, 2010 at 9:28 am

    I just spoke to someone who just had their 8th grade meeting. The principal announced that the SE plan would not be made public until the October meeting and that it would be voted on right then and there. I’m not hysterical – but do wonder what’s going on.

  • 302. Mayfair Dad  |  September 24, 2010 at 9:48 am

    My guess at what’s going on: Daley’s announcement threw a monkeywrench into the timeline. Huberman needs more time to analyze and parse the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Committee. What might the unintended consequences be? Different political factions need to be sounded out, to see if the new and improved process passes muster. Certainly Rev. (Mayor?) Meeks’ input will be sought. Huberman can’t go public with the changes knowing he will be lambasted – he is seeking a cease fire from Meeks.

    There are no simple answers in Chicago.

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