Tribune article on the application process

November 30, 2010 at 7:31 am 50 comments

Thanks to a reader for sending the link to this recent Trib article.  Not much here that most of us don’t know (but it’s interesting to see some of the stats laid out.  Ouch.  The magnet odds are really that crummy?)   I think I’m becoming a bit of a magnet cynic, but I think parents have to almost assume it’s not an option, you know?  I think the current trend of parents funnelling into the up-and-coming neighborhood schools and putting their efforts there is probably going to continue to be the best path.   As I like to tell people (well, I don’t like it, but I do it,) CPS is very much a do-it-yourself system.  Parents have to make it happen.   As some of you have pointed out we (I) need to do more than sit here and complain.  My new year’s resolution is going to be to get more involved in regards to expanding high school options.  I’m not sure what yet, or if it will be productive, but I need to know I tried.

One thing in this article that made me laugh was the heading:

“Moms and dads schmooze at open houses and pay for expert advice.”

I was curious about these alledged CPS paid consultants as I haven’t heard of any around town.  I wondered if it was like NYC where parents pay big bucks for that stuff.  The “paid expert” she refers to is the parent seminar I’d posted on here, at a cost of $20!  Just me, but I’d hardly call that “paying!”   I attended one of the seminars and the cost just covered the room and the materials given out in a nice folder that were probably worth the admission price alone.  So I feel good that we’re all still somewhat sane in Chicago, and nobody is making a fortune off nervous parents.

Chicago parents scramble with new rules for best schools

Moms and dads schmooze at open houses and pay for expert advice as many applicants go after a few coveted spots

By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Tribune reporter

Getting her son into one of the city’s best magnet schools for preschool didn’t mean Rosa Yang Kato could relax about kindergarten.

A year later, Kato is back at the starting line. Preschool programs at many magnet schools do not directly feed into kindergarten, so Kato is again visiting open houses at Chicago public schools, schmoozing with moms, attending parent seminars and figuring out what she needs to do to secure a seat at a top-tier elementary.

“During drop-off, pickup, on the playground, it’s what all the moms talk about,” said Kato, who has been so disheartened at times that she has turned to documenting the experience on a camcorder.

“I feel like I’m at the mercy of this system, like the fate of my 4-year-old is in the hands of a plastic (lottery) ball.”

Every year, the competition for a precious spot in the city’s top schools is fierce. Many neighborhood schools have significantly lower test scores, and parents see the competitive and magnet programs as their only option for a good public education.

But the odds of their children scoring a seat in one of the top schools are slim. And the nerve-racking admissions dance has become even more complicated by the fact that the rules keep changing — twice in the last two years.

Last year, the guidelines were rewritten to take an applicant’s race out of the equation and replace it with socioeconomic factors from the applicant’s neighborhood. This year, further changes to increase diversity were approved at a board meeting just a month before the Dec. 17 application deadline for the 2011-12 school year.

Even parents who thought they mastered the old system are at a loss, some wondering if their younger children will have the same opportunities as older siblings.

The bottom line is that there are many more children than spots at the elite schools. Last year, 13,065 teens took a test for 2,942 seats at the selective-enrollment high schools. For top selective-enrollment elementary schools, 10,050 students applied for 1,787 seats. Magnet schools, which choose students via computerized lottery, saw 31,185 applications for 3,352 spots.

“We’re saying lots of prayers,” said Jenny Khalaf, whose eighth-grader is hoping for a shot at the city’s most competitive high schools. She said her daughter has had virtually no social life for two years and has forsaken extracurricular activities for extra math, English, science and language arts lessons. “We’re hoping all her hard work pays off.”

With multiple formulas to understand, depending on what kind of school they’re applying for, some parents pay for expert help.

On a recent Saturday morning, about 50 parents paid $20 and crammed into a Park District room in hopes of learning how to crack the code from Christine Whitley, a therapist whose daughter got into kindergarten at one of the newer, coveted schools, Skinner North Classical School.

The seminar is part of a cottage industry of parent-led information sessions that explain Chicago Public Schools offerings.

“There just was a real need to help parents navigate this really complicated process,” Whitley said. “Most people are feeling overwhelmed. They don’t feel like the neighborhood school is an option, and (the selective-enrollment process is) like a part-time job — doing the research, getting all the paperwork. Parents know there’s a lot of information out there, but they don’t know how to find it or what information to trust.”

CPS’ own school open houses and information sessions are packed across the city. Parents come eager to learn about the schools and the process, only to be told by principals that their chances of getting in are slim.

At a recent open house at Franklin Elementary Fine Arts Center, a magnet school in Old Town known for its arts program, Principal Carol Friedman told parents there were only 30 slots open for next year’s kindergarten.

Her advice wasn’t encouraging.

“Apply everywhere,” she told them. “You might get in.”

Misty Drake lives in Austin. She and her husband have been visiting schools and attending CPS programs since their daughter was 18 months old, trying to make sure they knew everything before applying for kindergarten. Still, Drake said, they continue to get good tips. Last week, she said, her husband learned that they needed to start the online application process a week before the deadline to get a PIN number in time.

“This is just such a ridiculous process,” said Drake, an administrator at a community health center. “You have to totally be on top of it, checking the CPS Web site, going to open houses.”

A federal order banning the use of race as a key admissions factor led CPS last year to adopt a new format to address diversity. CPS evaluated the city’s 874 census tracts on five criteria: median income, adult education, percentages of single-family homes and homeowners and the percentage of children living in non-English-speaking households. This year, a sixth factor will be added: performance of schools in that census tract.

Applicants are placed into one of four socioeconomic tiers based on these criteria.

Last year, 40 percent of openings in selective schools were awarded based solely on academic merit, and the rest were divided among top-scoring students in the four socioeconomic tiers. This year, the ratio has been changed to 30-to-70. Parents such as David Galowich feel the new rules are punishing kids who score well simply because they live in a decent neighborhood.

His youngest son applied to Whitney Young last year as a sixth-grader, hoping to get into an early acceptance program that his older brother had gotten into just two years before. But despite earning higher scores than his older brother, he didn’t get in, Galowich said, and he wonders what his odds will be like for high school.

“Kids he knows with less-than-stellar scores got in just because of geography,” said Galowich, a Lincoln Park resident. “It’s really frustrating seeing a child like my son who has worked his tail off not get in, only to have people less qualified get in.”

Ron Huberman, whose last day as schools CEO was Monday, has said the latest admissions rules are only for one year and could be tweaked again next year to best promote diversity. CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said the guidelines keep changing because the schools system is in “unchartered territory.”

“We believe that once the process has been completed and we have an opportunity to evaluate the data, it will be fair,” she said.

So this month, parents continue to navigate the process. What aggravates many is the idea that it shouldn’t have to be this difficult.

“My suburban friends say, ‘Why do you have to do this?’ They think this is crazy,” said Karen Ferrantella, of Lincoln Park, whose son is applying to selective-enrollment high schools for next year.

“I just wish the city had a lot more really good neighborhood high schools. That would eliminate some of the panic.”

nahmed@tribune.com

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Entry filed under: Applying to schools.

Screening of Race to Nowhere One person’s predictions for CPS High Schools (guest post)

50 Comments Add your own

  • 1. M  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:32 am

    It’s interesting to see how much the cut off for Payton is now significantly higher than that of Northside. This goes to show that location matters. Payton is significantly more centrally located and therefore can attract top scorers from a wider area. I think this factor will help Jones continue its path of increasingly tough admissions standards as well.

  • 2. Ann Marie in Mayfair  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:52 am

    As far as trying to get involved expanding high school options, I vote for a organization like RYH, but titled “Make Neighborhood Schools an Option”
    MNSO sounds pretty good! You’ve got the platform!

  • 3. cps Mom  |  November 30, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Whitney dad pretty much illustrates what’s happening. The goal disclosed above is diversity. The system will continue to be “tweaked” until the desired diversity is achieved.

  • 4. RL Julia  |  November 30, 2010 at 11:13 am

    I find these articles really depressing – the only feed into people’s anxieties and this general hysteria. What a feel bad. Why do 13,000 kids apply for roughly 3,000 slots? Well because why not. Are all of those 13,000 kids expecting an offer? Apparently not because if the SE’s were truly the ONLY choice for most of these kids and they didn’t get there would be a complete uproar. This website would be flooded with parents of kids with no decent educational option, the Tribune would be overrun with stories etc… I get the point and all but I just don’t see how these types of articles do much for anyone except make everyone feel a little more pressured.

  • 5. Mayfair Dad  |  November 30, 2010 at 11:51 am

    @ RL Julia: I find these articles depressing too, but maybe the pressure will grow into political action. 13,000 kids applying for 3,000 spots tells me the system is broken and needs to be overhauled. 50% of high school students NOT graduating underscores the gulf between SE and neighborhood high schools. Hopefully the next Superintendent of CPS will make the tough, brave moves necessary to radically change the system, because bragging about a handful of acceptable high schools while the rest of Rome burns is not my definition of success. Everyone on this blog should attend the RYH Mayoral Candidates debate on December 15 at Payton HS.

  • 6. ChicagoGawker  |  November 30, 2010 at 11:53 am

    @4, Well where DO those not accepted to SE HSs go? It would be very interesting to get this info. Personally, I am happy the Trib is giving this issue publicity. It is a reality. Maybe it will be a catalyst for a movement of parents and CPS to do something. I hope all of us make this an issue in the mayoral election. Are any of us here ready to start a parent advocacy group to pressure CPS? Who is in ?

  • 7. sfw  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    I suspect the reporter was overblowing the paid expert part. I also got a kick out of the couple that said they’d done everything they could, since their kid was 18 months old, to learn about the school sytem, but didn’t know until very recently that you had to have a PIN number to apply online to CPS schools.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    I find the articles depressing, but also a bit trite by now. Same old story. You’re right, ChicagoGawker… a more interesting twist would we WHERE those 10,000 kids end up. And are those stats really representative? I thought you pretty much know which schools your child has a shot at when you apply. So why are there so many applications? People hoping for a miracle?

    Also, 13,000 teens. Is that freshmen? I think each class has about 25,000 – 28,000 kids in it (at least kinder does.) If HALF the kids are applying, something in application system is screwy.

  • 9. Mayfair Dad  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Fellow obsessors:

    Here is the link for the Raise Your Hand Chicago Mayoral Forum on December 15, 2010. Seats are limited, so sign up quickly or be disappointed.

    http://ilraiseyourhand.org/civicrm/event/info?id=8&reset=1

    Let’s make sure the candidates hear us loud and clear.

  • 10. 32nd street Mom  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Many of the 13000 who apply don’t have a snowball’s chance at the top 4 schools because they have a B (or 2) and they’re not in the 9th stanine on both reading comp and math. They’re still allowed to apply, but in reality they’re not in the running, no matter what their tier. The Blue Ribbon Committee considered raising the stanine requirement for admission, but did not. So the new point calculator on the oae website is the best way to determine your child’s odds. The trick is guessing what your kid’s final test score will be when you rank the schools…nerveracking to blind apply that way. BTW, the trib runs an article like this every year and will run a similiar one after the letters go out…

  • 11. cps Mom  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    The 13,000 teens are all qualified to apply. In the BRC report, there was a mention of looking at upping the stanine level. They observed that there were students that got into SE with a stanine level of 5 so it was kept as is. I would agree with that.

  • 12. ChicagoGawker  |  November 30, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Mayfair Dad, I her Rahm Emmanuel is not attending, so how are we going to get his ear on this issue?

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  November 30, 2010 at 1:56 pm

    I can’t find the link to the BRC recommendation document… can anyone find that?

  • 14. Mayfair Dad  |  November 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    @ ChicagoGawker: if you put a Gery Chico lawn sign in front of your house, you might have Rahmbo ringing your doorbell to ask why.

    Apparently he was previously engaged, although the event organizers were flexible and willing to accommodate his schedule. Personally I find his education ideas a little thin right now and I don’t think he’d fare well in a crossfire with Meeks and Chico. I predict many of the Northsiders will be surprised how well Meeks performs in front of a live audience at Payton. Crazy like a fox.

  • 15. momof3  |  November 30, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    @ 32nd street Mom ~
    “Many of the 13000 who apply don’t have a snowball’s chance at the top 4 schools because they have a B (or 2) and they’re not in the 9th stanine on both reading comp and math. They’re still allowed to apply, but in reality they’re not in the running, no matter what their tier”

    that’s not true… my oldest was accepted at lane tech and he had all B’s, 8 statines… I think they stating acceptances for the first round picks. many freshmen get in on the second round or even 3rd…

  • 16. cps Mom  |  November 30, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    The qualifier to @11 should be tier 3 or 4 and aimed at 4 schools (as she stated). I find it interesting that Lanes second round offers were very consistent between tier groups. I think Lane is the one school that truly marries diversity with skill level.

  • 17. copy editor  |  November 30, 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Where do the students who don’t get in go? Well, some go to Catholic or private schools. Some go to different IB and magnet programs at neighborhood schools. Some go to charters. And some families decide to move to the suburbs. And, those kids with no other options end up at their neighborhood schools.

    CPS needs to put more resources into the neighborhood high schools, but that’s unlikely to happen with all the budget cuts.

    As for consultants, there are a handful of test prep programs to help students go better on the ISATs and high-school selective enrollment tests, such as Selective Prep. I find their very existence to be disgusting, but I’ll probably pay up for it.

  • 18. cps Mom  |  November 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    I think parents should seriously consider the open invite by Alan Mather of Lindblom for a “cps obsessed” field trip/tour.

  • 19. mom2  |  November 30, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    @17 stated, “CPS needs to put more resources into the neighborhood high schools, but that’s unlikely to happen with all the budget cuts.”

    I am not so sure that “resources”, which I assume means money, is really the answer for neighborhood high schools. While money always helps in some areas, I think CPS needs to evaluate what really keeps people from sending their good students to the neighborhood high school.

    At least on the north side of the city, if they could address the things that keep parents from sending their kids to the neighborhood high school, I think those schools would turn around without a lot of extra resources.

    Of course, some parents want more sports, facilities, extra curricular activities that cost $’s and things like that. But many others are more interested in finding a school where about 90% of students want to learn, care about education, are well behaved, think homework is critical for success and have families that agree and support them every step of the way. When you have that at a school, other things such as great teachers, parental involvement in the school to help, etc. just come along with it.

    People tend to live in a neighborhood where they are comfortable with the people around them (unless they cannot afford it, of course). So, until the “neighborhood” high schools have 90% neighborhood students, and reflect that neighborhood, people will not send their kids there – even with “resources”.

  • 20. Christine  |  November 30, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Yes, the “paid expert” to which Ms. Ahmed-Ullah was referring was me, and honestly, if there is a “cottage industry” of parents giving such workshops I’d like to know who they are! As far as I know, there aren’t any other education consultants offering these services, probably because figuring out the system is a part-time job, as you well know!

  • 21. ChicagoGawker  |  December 1, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Mom2, you are spot on. There is currently a discussion on my neighborhood board and this is exactly what people are saying:

    “Of course, some parents want more sports, facilities, extra curricular activities that cost $’s and things like that. But many others are more interested in finding a school where about 90% of students want to learn, care about education, are well behaved, think homework is critical for success and have families that agree and support them every step of the way. When you have that at a school, other things such as great teachers, parental involvement in the school to help, etc. just come along with it.

  • 22. momof4  |  December 1, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Christine:
    I agree. Where are these so-called paid experts, other than selective test prep groups? Luckily, I am in the know …with one child at a SEHS, one in a RGC and two in a neighborhood school. If someone wants help in understanding the system a bit more, they call our house to speak to me for counsel. And I’m free. And Christine, I seriously think you are undercharging for your knowledge and wisdom. Now that you’ve made the papers, take advantage of the opportunity to get your name out there. Let me know if you need a business partner!

  • 23. copy editor  |  December 1, 2010 at 10:30 am

    I’m bothered by what seems to be a bit of racism in @19’s post:

    “People tend to live in a neighborhood where they are comfortable with the people around them (unless they cannot afford it, of course). So, until the “neighborhood” high schools have 90% neighborhood students, and reflect that neighborhood, people will not send their kids there – even with “resources”.”

    Who do you think attends most neighborhood high schools in Chicago? Kids who live in the neighborhood! My guess is that Crane is 90% neighborhood students; Simeon, Harper, and Wells are probably 90% neighborhood children, too. Does this make them better schools?

    This isn’t just Lake View and Amundsen that we’re talking about. Doesn’t every kid in this city deserve a good education, clubs, and sophomore sports? Or only the people that you feel comfortable with?

    And what about the people you feel comfortable with but who can’t afford to live in your comfortable neighborhood? Don’t they deserve good schools?

  • 24. ChicagoGawker  |  December 1, 2010 at 11:29 am

    23, I believe you are overreacting. The people I am comfortable with have kids who won’t beat up mine, offer her drugs, prevent their kids from producing babies before they are adults, don’t say F**k every other second, value education and put their children 1st, make their kids do their homework and stay home to make sure, supervise their kids, and expect their kids to productive members of society who will have jobs. These people come in all races, ethnicities, shapes and sizes, and as along as they adhere to the above, most people are comfortable with them. This is what Mom2 is talking about, I believe.

  • 25. mom2  |  December 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

    ChicagoGawker and I agree here. I don’t care at all about the race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. of the students or family members. My children both attend schools that are very diverse both racially and economically and we love the schools and the students. This is all about caring about education, behavior, attitude, priorities, values, etc. Nothing about race comes into play here.

    Of course I think that all children should have the options for a “decent education”, sports, clubs, etc. I just don’t think that throwing money at the problem will give you the all the solutions. It is so much more about parents, families and priorities and I don’t have an answer on how to change some of that.

    If you notice, my post is specifically about the north side and what CPS might be able to do to get parents to consider sending their children to the north side neighborhood high schools without necessarily needing to put more “resources” at those schools.

    One step at a time. I know my comments may not apply or work for some of the poorer neighborhood high schools and I wasn’t intending them to apply to every location.

  • 26. Christine  |  December 1, 2010 at 11:51 am

    Momof4 — I used to give my advice for free too! Until I decided to throw together a workshop. I think you’re right about under-valuing my services and wisdom. This was my first foray into hosting and marketing such an event. I’ll know better next time.

    it makes me laugh when people say “now that you’ve made the paper!” as if my in-box is suddenly flooded with questions and appointments. I have had exactly zero traffic as a result of the article and radio interview. But then again, the article didn’t give my contact information so I don’t know how easy I am to find. I’d be happy to have another workshop if enough people wanted it. I’ve even thought about doing a workshop specifically for SEES test prep after the 17th.

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:03 pm

    I think it was nice that pretty much anybody could afford the workshop, but yeah… those materials were so well organized they were worth at least 20 bucks. You could have people pay more for smaller sessions where they’re allowed to ask more one-on-one questions.
    It’s funny because I was sort of laughing about the “expert” title, but truly, the fact that you’ve done all the homework does make you as much of an expert as most parents need! It’s easy to forget how confusing it all is when you’re starting out.

  • 28. Mayfair Dad  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Imagine a public school system where the words “magnet” “gifted” or “selective” do not exist, and every family attends their neighborhood school. Alternative schools offering accelerated or enhanced coursework do not exist, so neighborhood schools are compelled by law to provide this. Federal incentives are made available to schools based on all children at all ability levels progressing, not just students in the lowest 20%. School excellence is determined by student achievement and not student skin color. In fact, asking a student to self-designate their race is forbidden as it is completely irrelevant. Since the highly motivated and academically capable students remain at the neighborhood schools, so do their equally motivated and capable parents – these are the folks who run the PTO, Friends of and LSC.

    Sound far-fetched? No crazier than the convoluted dysfunctional mess we have now.

  • 29. anonymous  |  December 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Mayfair Dad — Totally agree. Of course, I’m a neighborhood school mom. It’s a great neighborhood school, but it has always been — because parents in the neighborhood invested in it for many, many years.

    But we closer to a very popular and highly sought-after magnet. It makes me sad that this magnet “divides” a neighborhood where many parents send their kids to public school. I keep thinking it would have been nice if all our local kids could go to the magnet — not as a magnet, but as a neighborhood school.

    I think the future is in neighborhood schools period. And it’s not just because I’m biased. I just don’t understand the mentality of good education for the “lucky” few. Or gathering all the brightest students in only a few places.

  • 30. RL Julia  |  December 1, 2010 at 3:28 pm

    I am all for your vision Mayfair Dad – and I actually sort of see this happening -well I can see it as a possiblity for many CPS elementary schools in the not so distant future. There will always be people who want the best for their kids -and who insist on defining that as not their neighborhood school -no matter what the school is – but for the rest of us, it will be a relief – and maybe the Tribune will have nothing talk about.

  • 31. EDB  |  December 1, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Where I grew up (suburbs of DC), we had one public school option. Kids were grouped according to their ability and taught material appropriate to their level. There was a pull out gifted program that was an hour or so a week. It was a great system. People from outside my city paid hefty tuition to attend our public schools.
    I’m now navigating K enrollment in Chicago and am amazed at the work and chance that goes into getting a decent education. Are the Chicago suburban schools closer to Mayfair Dad’s vision?

  • 32. Paul  |  December 1, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I echo all the sentiments of focusing on neighborhood schools. I don’t think anything should be done to undermine the success that some magnet schools have achieved, but improving neighborhood schools should be the priority.

  • 33. RL Julia  |  December 1, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    31. I’d like to think that the suburban schools are a little more even but it seems like it depends on who you talk to and what suburb you are talking about in terms of quality. With NCLB data – it seems like everywhere else – if you are coming from a non-impoverished household, have involved parents (even better if they are well educated) etc… you will do fine. If not – well its more a crap shoot. After looking at the NCLB reports for places like New Trier (and more recently the Trib article about Evanston Township HS) – if you are from the kind of family mentioned above you’ll get a great education and lots of opportunities. If not – well….. its a different story – although I’d bet those schools are slightly safer. The biggest difference is the ratio of performing to underperforming students – in Chicago there are many schools which are full of underperforming kids and in the suburbs there are more good testers than not.

    As for your experience in the DC suburbs – I am assuming here that you were probably in the upper groupings of kids grouped according to ability -and probably got a great education. Would the kids grouped into lower groups feel the same? Did the different groups tend to attract kids from the same sort of backgrounds or do you think they were economically and racially blended? Tracking works well for high performing kids perhaps not as well for lower performing kids -especially now since everyone is supposed to go to college basically and many voc-ed programs have been cut.

  • 34. Kathryn Pierce  |  December 2, 2010 at 12:28 am

    Curious whether or not you consider Wells a northside school? It’s my neighborhood school and I just don’t see that any amount of resources or attention will turn the school around by the time my K and PreK kids are ready to attend. I did a fair amount of school-to-work on-site work with the kids at Wells through my former employer and the kids that we worked with seemed to really care and want to do a good job. But, sadly, as juniors they didn’t appear to be remotely close to college-ready. Between the violence and the poor academics, I just don’t see it as a feasible alternative. I’d love to hear otherwise.

  • 35. cps Mom  |  December 2, 2010 at 9:52 am

    I am wondering too. I think many elementary schools can and have shown progress. The high schools are another story due to violence – North or South. The best performing school, Lakeview, still has a ways to go before it’s “college prep”. In other threads I have seen posts inviting suggestions as to if and how a school like Lakeview could become a viable option. I haven’t really seen any response.

  • 36. Hawthorne mom  |  December 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

    @#34 Kathryn,
    I can’t say what the chances are of Wells becoming a good viable HS option, but I can tell you a little bit about the principal there. His name is Ernesto Matias and he is an amazing leader and person. I used to work with him in a different school. Ernesto never thought of himself as “above” his staff….he’d fill copy paper in the copy machine and help teachers move boxes. Once, we had a little jr. high girl try to walk into oncoming traffic after school in an attempt to hurt herself. Matias got wind of this from one of her friends and ran into traffic, picked her up and carried her back to the sidewalk. I have never seen a principal love his students and his staff more.
    I don’t know if that helps you or not. I probably wouldn’t send my own kids to Wells as it currently stands. But a school turnaround process, with him at the helm, might just lure me back into that kind of community work after a bad experience with my local school, just because I trust Matias completely. Wells isn’t my neighborhood HS, as well, but wow, I wish he was the principal at mine!
    and @#35, go to the Raise Your Hand Site. There is a large group of parents dedicated to turning around LVHS.

  • 37. cps Mom  |  December 2, 2010 at 11:55 am

    Would love to read about those kind of efforts – went to the site and couldn’t find it. Could you direct me? Thanks

  • 38. Hawthorne mom  |  December 2, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    I think it is on the blog section
    http://ilraiseyourhand.org/blog
    I scanned through and couldn’t find the section I’d read re: lakeview, so it is possible that isn’t where I saw it. The other thing is that there are a ton of responses to each blog post so you might have to read through each one to find it. Does anyone else happen to know where that info is? Where it talks about the parents who hired the retired Bell principal to help guide the transformation of Lakeview HS?

  • 39. cps Mom  |  December 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Your link proved interesting. She raised an interesting question – Would active parents still remain active for the neighborhood if they were targeting SE schools? Parents like CPS Obsessed need to have the foresight to look beyond the 2nd grade to the day that their child will be attending high school (it happens sooner than you think). A viable neighborhood option would mean freedom from the stress and politics of the selective enrollment system. Yes – teachers, principals and staff make a big difference but what really makes Northside Prep is that they have the brightest students and active parents. In fact, reading SE teacher bios show that some have taught at schools such as Welles and Clemente and are recruited out again to help create programs at other schools.

    Lakeview is not my neighborhood school but I wonder if a plan exists that can be translated to other neighborhood schools.

  • 40. stranded in Albany Park  |  December 2, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    @Hawthorne mom
    Perhaps you’re thinking of the recent “anyone else not thrilled with the city HS options” thread on NPN? Someone mentions hearing something about the former Bell Principal. There’s no real solid info though.

  • 41. M  |  December 2, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    @37, if you become a fan of the Facebook group Northside HIgh School Initiative, you can read some information about their year-long efforts so far to work with Lake View HS. (@38, perhaps that’s where you read about it?) I found the letter from the current LVHS parent to be very informative. One of her daughters went to Lane Tech for a year but found it much too big and is now happily attending Lake View. Also, she gave reassuring statements that the school is very safe and calm, even reporting that her kids joke that it’s too boring and it would be fun to have more fights break out in the hallways. Interesting reading.

  • 42. Mayfair Dad  |  December 2, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I read about another setback re: the new Audubon High School group and their negotiations to secure space at Gordon Tech. Apparently the deal had not been formally approved by the Archdiocese and was revoked, after Audubon had announced its opening for next Fall. This project is really in a tailspin, both sides claiming “miscommunication”. It seems like Gordon Tech got cold feet when the Audubon project became something larger than originally discussed. Plus their enrollment is up.

    Surely there are other under-utilized or empty school buildings owned by CPS or the Archdiocese. I’m not talking about forcing a school community out of their home (i.e. Carpenter) but I have heard about empty buildings owned by CPS being used for storage, boxes stacked to the ceiling of old files, etc. I wonder if a list of these “storage schools” exists somewhere?

  • 43. cps mom 5  |  December 3, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Although the article was depressing, it brings light to an issue that needs to be dealt with. My suburban friends are amazed at what hoops we have to go through in the city. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what schools some of the mayoral candidates children attend? That would speak volumes.

  • 44. cps Mom  |  December 4, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    OK Mayfair Dad, I think you were right about the lawn sign thing. I stopped in at Dominicks on Lincoln Ave. and Foster just now. While in the deli section I was approached by a man asking what he could do for me – thinking he would pick out some cheese, I said sure and then noticed it was Rahm. He was introducing himself to shoppers at the store.
    I asked him where he stands on the issues with CPS, since he won’t be at the forum at Payton. I received a quick 2 minute summary. Bottom line is that he feels the base for success is the principals, teachers and parents. He is going to put in place incentives for active parents and will fund schools based upon parental participation. Parents in turn will be able to grade principals and have a say in staffing of the school. Didn’t have much time to really get into it but he did say that he was making an address on the 15th about CPS (if not at Payton, I don’t know where).

    To the poster who wonders where the candidates will send their kids to school – he volunteered (I did not ask) that he was interested in a selective enrollment school, I won’t say which one.

  • 45. ActiveMomof1  |  December 5, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    Parents selecting staff sounds frightening. What happens when grades don’t go their way? I am a high involved parent who is very well educated, but I do not believe I am in any position to interview candidates to teach Advanced Placement Math or History.

  • 46. cps Mom  |  December 5, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    I think he’s talking about grading the teachers – I had many questions and he had little time. Supposedly making a complete “address” on the 15th.

  • 47. Hawthorne mom  |  December 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I don’t think there is even a tiny chance of parents having any say in teacher selection, so I’m not worried about that for a second. The teachers’ union would NEVER allow that. And Rahm is smart enough to know nothing like that would ever be allowed through the current contract or any future contracts. It’s just a nice sound bite.

    Fwiw, sometimes I think all the attention surrounding the choice of the “right” mayoral candidate is too narrow of a focus. If parents really want to influence the direction schools are going, it would be wise to spend just as much time, if not more, lobbying and meeting and persuading the CTU. Whether you like it or hate it, the CTU is usually holding the bag of power. If there was some way for parents and the CTU to work together to get what each needs, that’d go a lot longer than trying to work with politicians.
    As a teacher and a parent, I distrust the union just as much as anyone, but there are some big areas where we agree (the need for smaller class sizes, the need for safe schools, etc….).

  • 48. RL Julia  |  December 6, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Interesting about funding schools with high levels of participation. Here’s a link to an article about parents burning out on school volunteering commitments – and what about the ethical obligation to educate every child – regardless of/despite their parents – so now it is front and center that a child with an involved parent gets/is entitled to a better educational experience? I am on the fence about this one. I am all for rewarding good behavior but in the end this proposal sounds like it punishes the child for the parents actions (or lack thereof) – and some parents just don’t care about their kids or have other things going on.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/garden/02parents.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=school%20volunteering&st=cse

  • 49. cps Mom  |  December 7, 2010 at 9:19 am

    His stance was that uncaring parents need to care and would need to do things like read to their child etc. He would provide incentives to do so. I like the article and have passed it along to some “volunteer alcoholics” I know. The comments were interesting too.

  • 50. smp  |  March 10, 2011 at 11:45 am

    @ Christine who provided the workshop – can you please contact me at spynetorres@gmail.com.

    Thanks!

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