One person’s predictions for CPS High Schools (guest post)

December 3, 2010 at 12:50 pm 55 comments

I have some exciting news (exciting in the world of CPS blogging, that is.)
Someone contacted me about writing some guest posts on the topic of high school once in a while.  I used to enjoy reading her posts on NPN and I know that the high school topic is one that is near and dear to our hearts so I thought it sounds fun.  Reading her first post made me think “this is what I should be writing as a blogger!” but due to my current situation as a Single Working Mom Trying to Eke Out a Small Scrap of a Social Life (which would probably make a more humorous blog topic some days) I find my myself left with roughly 6 minutes a day to get into deep thought about schools — never quite enough to formulate coherent thoughts, let alone get them on paper and bullet-point them.

So, for all our reading enjoyment, I present the first official guest post that I’m certain will provoke some good discussion…… (and remember, we’re not fancy here.  Feel free to treat a guest the same you would me, snarky comments and all.)

One person’s predictions for CPS high schools
I’ll be contributing an occasional guest column on high school topics for CPSobsessed and have been mulling over first topic ideas. I’ve decided to begin with some predictions.  They’re just my opinions, as a north side CPS parent for 7 years, and a CPS observer (OK, obsesser) for 10 years.
1/ Selective enrollment high schools’ admissions cut offs will continue to creep upward.
  • Yes, this is even with the reduction of slots from 40 to 30 percent for top scorers regardless of socioeconomic tier. Remember that remaining slots will still go to top scorers, just that each tier slice will be slightly bigger.
  • This upward trend is driven by more middle-class families who stayed in the city in the 1990s whose children are aging into the high school years, as well as more families leaving private schools for economic reasons.
2/ Jones and Lane Tech will join Payton/Northside/Young as number one choices for many students, instead of retaining the “sloppy seconds” reputation they still have in some circles.
  • While many students across the city would be thrilled with an offer from Jones or Lane, there remain many parents who are fixated on things like ACT scores, and they won’t consider schools whose scores are less than some arbitrary level they have in mind.
  • Luckily, admissions cut offs are rising (see #1), and so the academic aptitude of enrollees keeps going up, which will be reflected in upticks in ACT and other standardized test scores. For example, Jones’s average ACT score in 2006 was 22.0 but by 2010, it had risen to 24.8. (Take that, Glenbrook South, at 24.4!)
3/ Neighborhood high schools whose feeder elementary schools have gentrified will slowly enter the radar of people who today only focus on the selective enrollment high schools.
  • Many kids will continue to be shut out of any SEHS in which they are willing to enroll.
  • Schools like Nettelhorst and Burley will soon begin graduating big classes of eighth graders whose parents will seek out strong high school programs. This bodes well for the continuing strengthening of neighborhood high schools like Lincoln Park, Lake View and Taft.  Other neighborhood high schools like Amundsen and Mather will follow.
4/ CPS will continue to establish special high schools and programs within existing schools to attract and retain the middle class.
  • Nothing attracts middle class parents to a school like a special program that sets it apart from “the others.”
  • This is what CPS did successfully at the elementary level, starting with the creation of gifted and classical schools, magnet schools, then magnet cluster program, then tuition-based preschools to get families in the door, and most recently “sister schools” (like Disney II), new Montessori schools, IB Middle Years and IB Primary Years programs.
  • For high schools, this will be done with the existing IB Diploma programs, as well as the continued spread of AP and honors programs in more high schools.
  • New specialty high schools like DeVry Advantage Academy and Chicago High School for the Arts will begin to attract students to niche interests like technology and fine arts.
  • Will there be additional SE high schools built? Perhaps. Of the 9 SE high schools, 6 of them were established since 1999, which is a rate of about one every two years.
5/ Charter high schools will have a tough time becoming more racially and socioeconomically diverse in the near future.
  • Charter schools have historically served underprivileged children in underprivileged areas, and that’s a hard reputation to overcome.
  • Charter schools admit by lottery, and so even though they may be accomplishing fantastic feats and producing upstanding citizens, their standardized scores will remain relatively low, and that will make it tough to attract a more diverse population.
Only time will tell if any of this will materialize. I look forward to hearing what you agree with, and even more so, where you think I’m off base.

Entry filed under: High school.

Tribune article on the application process Moving kids mid-year

55 Comments Add your own

  • 1. cps Mom  |  December 4, 2010 at 9:49 am

    This is very exciting that HS issues will get more exposure/discussion. I think this will really help the goal set by CPS Obsessed to put high school options on the game plan and to start doing something about it.

    I can see the reality of your predictions. Jones is already a top pick for many – even the “near perfect” scoring kids. I’m sure that Lane honors is the same. And, yes, that is already on the rise.

    I would also predict that you will see more high school expansions from existing successful programs similar to the Westinghouse format. Westinghouse has a SE program and a tech program (broadcasting, technology and medical academy) available to select students by application.

    I wonder how you predict programs on the south side to fare (charters, agricultural school, art academies)? I also wonder if you think near northsiders would reach out to programs south and west (selective or otherwise)?

    Thanks so much for reaching out to us.

  • 2. High School  |  December 4, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Any predictions on Clemente? Major renovations, close proximity to many of the niche schools. Also being on Western Ave. easy access.

    However to offer something “different” that will attract the populations leaving the magnet II’s, Montessori, Pulaski IB etc. will have to completely close and reopen otherwise would never happen.

    This isn’t anything new to CPS it will just have to begin at the High School level soon to make way for the elementary kids they are doing this for currently.

  • 3. Hawthorne mom  |  December 4, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    My FIL taught at Clemente and he described teaching there as “similar to being in combat”. He is a Vietnam Vet and that was not said lightly. Maybe if the area became unaffordable to anyone making less than 6 figures AND the school was shut down and completely revamped, including transferring the current student body out (not that I believe that should be done, just saying that is what it would take), that school won’t be an option for anyone who has any options.

  • 4. CPSteacher  |  December 5, 2010 at 7:30 am

    Interesting post. I agree about Jones becoming a first choice pick. I personally see Lane as a good 2nd choice, particularly for those in the immediate area who still want the “neighborhoody” feel of a high school, but not moving to that #1 choice pick.

    Teachers are trying to get into Westinghouse. I have a friend who teaches there and says its a great place for kids. They are focused on academic rigor and the admin is really trying to drive up ACT scores. They have freshmen and sophomores in AP classess. I think that will be an interesting place to watch, particularly since it is technically on the north side, easily accessible from all parts of the city.

  • 5. brenda  |  December 5, 2010 at 8:58 am

    Von Steuben’s “Scholars” program (academically rigorous, AP classes required, school within a school) is also gaining popularity.

  • 6. also obsessed  |  December 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    to #5…yup…I”ve got my eye on that one: Von Steuben.

  • 7. mom2  |  December 6, 2010 at 10:11 am

    #4 – I actually think that Lane may have already moved past that #2/backup type of position for many people. I know quite a few kids with perfect 900 point scores that picked Lane as their #1 choice this past year. I think it is the “neighborhoody” feel, the huge number of choices for classes – even huge number of AP classes – the sports opportunities, and the overall school spirit, etc. In fact, we know some kids that picked Payton or Northside because of their academic standing and now wish they had gone someplace else because the schools are so small, they really miss out on some of the total high school experience and have trouble making friends, etc. Everyone has their perfect fit and no one should pick a school based entirely on one thing.

  • 8. lane mom  |  December 6, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    I don’t want to make it more competitive to get in since I have another one in the pipeline but we are so happy we picked Lane even though my kid scored high enough to get into Payton and NSCP et al. It’s a very normal school and I am so happy that he can just take a bus and if I do have to drive him, it’s 15-30 minutes depending on traffic.

  • 9. anonymous  |  December 6, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    I never heard of IB Middle Years. What’s that and will it come to OUR school? Ha. : )

    I really hope neighborhood schools become safer places to send our children. I already got out of the magnet craziness by going to neighborhood and I hope I can do the same in high school.

    It’s funny, but if I were in the burbs where I grew up, it’s not like I’d have an option. And I wouldn’t care, because I’d know that our high school was at least safe and had opportunities for kids who excelled (not that my child would be one).

    Thanks for doing this!

  • 10. AHSGP  |  December 6, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    Hi, I’m the Anonymous High Schools Guest Poster (note to self: come up with more catchy moniker). Thanks for your comments so far. I agree that Jones is already a #1 choice for many: I’ve been crunching some numbers in preparation for my next column, and yikes! I had no idea.

    I’m always glad to hear of more students liking their experience at Lane Tech. I’m a big fan of the school, as I know graduates and current students, and it seems like a great choice for “normal” kids who don’t get straight As all the time.

    As for many other topics you’ve brought up — south side schools’ potential to draw from the north, Clemente, Von Steuben, Westinghouse — they’re all great subjects for future posts, so stay tuned!

    @9, the IB Middle Years is the 6th-8th grade part of the entire International baccalaureate spectrum, and the early years program covers K-5. Full information as well as lists of which schools have the program or are trying to get certified is at this link:

  • 11. Mayfair Dad  |  December 6, 2010 at 3:52 pm

    To # 10 – HSobsessed

    Welcome to the board. Some fun ideas to kick-off future discussions:

    – Where did mayoral candidates go to high school?
    – Where do/did mayoral candidates children go to high school?
    – Comparison of mayoral candidates plans for CPS, particularly high schools. Gery Chico has a fairly detailed plan for education on his website; De Valle had some interesting quotes in the Sun Times on Sunday. Not sure where the rest of them stand.
    – Continue to spread the rumor about an international high school for entrepreneurship to be built in the 39th Ward near the expressway at Foster, funded by the MacArthur Foundation and Gates Foundation. Hey, if we keep saying it, maybe it will come true!

  • 12. mom2  |  December 6, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    @AHSGP – “…it seems like a great choice for “normal” kids who don’t get straight As all the time.”
    Maybe I should keep quiet as lane mom mentioned (I don’t want the school to become too popular either), but I should mention that I know several students, including my own child, that had straight A’s and go to Lane. So it isn’t just “a great choice for normal kids who don’t get straight A’s all the time” – although I would say that the students I know (including my own) are very normal 🙂

  • 13. Not yet CPS Mom  |  December 6, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Mayfair dad – where did you hear that rumor about the International school?

  • 14. Mayfair Dad  |  December 6, 2010 at 4:58 pm

    This rumor has been floating around for at least five years. Some years back I remember seeing a PowerPoint slide show given by Jimm Dispensa from CPS demographics. Somebody asked about overcrowding in Region 1 elementary schools, and there was some discussion that there would be a need for another high school on the NW side in the not-too-distant future. The site that is frequently mentioned is the current K-Mart off Elston at Foster, plus several parcels just east — it would be more of a vertical high school, not horizontal. The MacArthur Foundation connection is because John D. MacArthur started Bankers Life Insurance in that neighborhood, which became the million$ that fund the foundation. You might call Alderman Laurino’s office and ask them what is going on with the new high school.

  • 15. anonymous  |  December 7, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    AHGSP Thanks! Our school already has “IB Middle Years,” then. I guess the name keeps changing. I thought it was now “International Gifted” or something. We do not have Primary years. I just checked the link and we are not a candidate.

    I guess you can’t have it all. And who’s to say my child will qualify? It’s just great to have the opportunities. And I’d love to see them extend into the earlier years.

    Thanks for your response.

  • 16. ChicagoGawker  |  December 7, 2010 at 2:19 pm

    Lane Parents:

    Can you speak about Lane’s size and how that does or does not impact your kid’s academic and social success? Doesn’t the enrollment top 4,000? Did your kid feel lost or intimidated by the size? How many students are in the core subject classes? I wonder what kind of adjustment that would be for kids who went to small elementary schools with small class sizes.

  • 17. cps Mom  |  December 7, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Not a Lane parent, but I believe all CPS high schools have the same number of students per class – around 25 (give or take depending upon scheduling). This number was at the heart of much debate when budget cuts occurred over the summer. Original talk was 33 then 28. Budget cuts are still anticipated so class size could change for any given year.

  • 18. mom2  |  December 7, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    My child did not have an issue with Lane’s size and we did come from a small school. In fact, I believe it has been a real benefit in terms of opportunities and friends. Lane had a Freshman Connections program over the summer that allows Freshman to come to Lane and learn about the school, learn their way around, meet teachers and meet other Freshman students. They also have mentors from the Senior class that help them learn the ropes. Many of the sports teams have summer camps and try outs so, if your child is interested in sports, they can meet other kids and develop a group of friends long before school even starts. The first day of school, they had the Freshman arrive earlier than the other kids so only they were in the building when school first started which may have helped those that would fear coming to school with “the bigger kids.” My child has said that the kids at Lane are all so nice and they high five and smile at each other as they walk down the halls. I have even heard that kids from other SE schools come to Lane when the weather is nice to hang out after school since it is such a friendly place and such a nice outside area to spend time.

    I’m sure it isn’t for everyone, and I have heard that the halls are crowded in between classes which can be intimidating, but it works for us.

  • 19. CPSmama  |  December 7, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Lane needs to address its grading scale being way higher than ALL the other SEHS if it seriously wants to attract more top students. If they can go to NS & get A’s for 90%, why would they come to Lane where a 95% is needed to get an A

  • 20. cps mom 5  |  December 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    Keep in mind that Lane is not for everyone. Not everyone can adapt to a school with 4,000 kids.

  • 21. lanemom  |  December 7, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    My kid had no problem adjusting and came from a very small school. He made friends very easily –sports helped. Kids find their niche. Teachers have been accessible and I didn’t have to wait in any lines on report card pick up day to meet with them even though the parking lot was jammed and it was prime time. When we went to open house, the school just felt right and it still does. There is a lot of positive energy.

  • 22. mom2  |  December 7, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    @CPSmama – On that subject, I totally agree with you! It makes me crazy, but I did hear they are discussing following in NS and Payton’s steps and going to the 90/80/70 scale. But, I think parents need to let their voices be heard by the principal in order to keep that momentum going. So, if anyone is lurking out there and either has kids at Lane or is thinking about Lane but concerned about their grading scale, write to the principal right away. Her address is on the Lane Tech web site and she has asked for feedback.

  • 23. cps Mom  |  December 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    There was an article in the Sun Times about the grade scale issues – almost as though they have tuned into our discussion. Very interesting – 5 SE schools have the 10 point scale, 3 have 95 for an A (the scale “recommended” by impact). The article says that more and more schools are “snubbing” the CPS recommendation and says that the uniform scale is up for approval. Looks like we have gotten someone’s attention.

    @20 – do you have first hand experience that the large school format hasn’t worked? I’ve always consider Lane to be more of a school within a school type program given all their tracks. Great academic offerings at Lane – that’s always my first criteria.

  • 24. AHSGP/HSobsessed  |  December 7, 2010 at 11:24 pm

    I’m transitioning to the HSobsessed name — thanks Mayfair Dad! (Also, thanks for the great ideas for future posts.)

    Breaking news about Jones. According to e-mail blasts from Jones as well as Bob FIoretti (alderman for the ward), it’s a go-ahead for the proposed new building for Jones. It will be a brand new eight-story building at State and Polk, immediately south of the existing one, and will be much bigger, with a gym, swimming pool (“natatorium” in their words, shma shma shma), theater, labs, and more. Importantly for all of us, it will increase capacity from the current 800ish enrollment to 1200, so instead of each class having 200ish students, they will be able to accept 300. The planned opening is in September 2013, so this will benefit current sixth graders and younger. They will have a community meeting on the project Dec 14 at Jones.

    No word from anyone about whether there is still consideration for adding a “neighborhood component” to Jones, which was bandied around a year or two ago. Anyone have any scoop on that?

  • 25. Hawthorne mom  |  December 8, 2010 at 8:28 am

    Re: class size at SE high schools. SE class sizes, I am sure vary, but my friend who teaches at an SE school has classes with 32+. I have heard of higher from other teachers.

  • 26. cps Mom  |  December 8, 2010 at 10:14 am

    @24 – Jones has a whole program in place along with dates – 2013 is it. Until a formal announcement is made on the 14th, the specifics have not been released.

  • 27. cps mom 5  |  December 8, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    In response to @23, I did not say that a large school format doesn’t work. It just does not work for everyone. I graduated from Lane and so did my husband. We both loved our experiences at Lane and it prepared us well to succeed in Champaign and in life. We would love nothing more than having our children attend Lane and continue the myrtle and gold tradition.

    However, students need to know going in that at a large school you are not going to be coddled. This is not CHEERS, where everybody knows your name. You are going to have to take initiative. In today’s helicopter mom world, many children will not be able to make it in a 4,000+ student environment.

  • 28. cps Mom  |  December 8, 2010 at 5:57 pm

    Yes, I see you did not say that. As a question to get further info on the Lane inquiry, has the format of Lane changed since you were there to address kids getting lost in the crowd. Having gone to a large suburban high school of over 4,000 (I think many of them are that big) size didn’t seem to be an issue. It was what it was and everyone seemed to find their niche. Of course I don’t remember ever being in an elementary classroom with less than 40 kids so we were pretty well groomed for large groups.

  • 29. Class Size  |  December 9, 2010 at 8:06 am

    #17: “I believe all CPS high schools have the same number of students per class – around 25”

    My high school has class sizes in the 40s without enough desks for all students, classes taught in hallways, no a/c and some rooms even without heat – the building is literally crumbling. We sure could use just a little of that $125 million slated for the Jones rebuild. Then again, we’re “only” a neighborhood school (that shows greater student growth than all but 4 CPS high schools).

    I sure wish CPS supported neighborhood schools as much as they support magnet schools.

  • 30. ChicagoGawker  |  December 9, 2010 at 9:47 am

    29, That is outrageous, and this kind of inequity really needs to be outed and publicized. Since you can remain anonymous, please tell us what school this is.

  • 31. cps Mom  |  December 9, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Another factor affecting class size is teacher lay-offs. Some schools kept teachers and laid off admin, keeping the class sizes in tact and getting parent volunteers for admin. In any case, all the press on school cuts stated that class size would not be increased. Very curious to know what school has kids in the hall!

  • 32. cps Mom  |  December 9, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    sorry, one more comment – I totally agree and see your point about the way funds are allocated but lets look at a bigger picture. In spite of the challenges of not having an adequate building for a high school, Jones has become one of the top ranked schools in the city. They do not have a gym or a pool or a football field or any fields for their students. They don’t even have hallways big enough to put students in if they had to. PP have talked about kids entitled to the “full high school experience”. Isn’t Jones entitled to become a real school? They have been promised this money for years.

    An article in the Tribune talks about the proposed expansion of Andrew Jackson. Because 66 neighborhood kids applied for 13 neighborhood spots they feel that they need to expand the magnet options (a lot better odds than anyone else has). Never mind that this neighborhood already has 2 magnet schools, 1 SEES, 1 academic center and, of course, a failing neighborhood school. The plan is now to set aside 5 million to repair a closed school and convert it into another magnet school. There’s your money. There is something fundamentally wrong with how CPS $ are spent – you are right about that.

  • 33. Mayfair Dad  |  December 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    I brought this up a week or so ago: there are vacant school buildings all over the city, owned by CPS and Archdiocese of Chicago, that could be upgraded and made functional for Audubon High School, Lane Tech Academic Center and similar initiatives. Currently these buildings are stacked with boxes of old files and falling apart desks (or so I am told by reliable source).

    How do we get a list of these buildings? It seems to me the greatest barrier to launching a new school would be facility start-up costs. Wouldn’t it be a lot cheaper to rehab an existing building (like Disney II for instance)?

  • 34. cps mom 5  |  December 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    I also read that article in the Trib yesterday and was livid. Just because you live next door to a top rated magnet and your child doesn’t get in, that is not reason enough to split the school just to say your kid goes to Jackson. This will take away everything that makes Jackson special. What is wrong with parents working to make Smyth a better school?

  • 35. Mayfair Dad  |  December 9, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    From a Substance article:

    Mulligan Elementary School currently sits vacant (but still owned by CPS) at 1855 N. Sheffield (ZIP 60614). A few blocks farther south, Near North Career Magnet High School sits also vacant at 1450 N. Larrabee (ZIP 60610).

  • 36. Hawthorne mom  |  December 9, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    #31, Many schools increased class sizes or lost specials teachers. It was just kept on the down low.
    And the anonymous teacher may not want to even say which school he/she is from. I have a friend on this board who won’t ever comment because she teaches in CPS and is afraid that somehow it will come back and get her fired.
    Crumbling ceilings and kids in hallways are common in CPS. I personally tutored one boy who attends Jahn on the north side who has had his special education reading classes in the hall because there is no room anywhere else. Noone seems to care that he has ptsd and hearing loss, both big issues in the hallway.
    Other school are way worse. Most of the northside has better facilities, but really, we should all go on a field trip to schools around the city to see what the news didn’t cover. Most people would be horrified

  • 37. cps Mom  |  December 9, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    @33 MD – there are schools out there with no function. Take Near North Career for example. That building has been shut down for at least 10 years. Reasoning, “it was structurally unsafe”, they would not allow our preschool to rent space at one time. Translation – Cabrini Green rehab was in the pipeline, developers and politicians have side-marked the building for unknown purposes. Townhouses are literally built right up to the doors. From the outside, looks perfectly safe and newer than most schools in Chicago. It has since been used for a police academy and temporary housing for schools undergoing construction.

    When I hear about these dilapidated buildings still in use – not to mention that it is illegal to not heat a public building – I wonder why they are not condemned? How do they get so overpopulated? Then you hear about a school like Smyth that “has room” but they are going to rehab and open a school down the street. Ahhhh politics. Alderman Solis seems to know his way around the block.

  • 38. dave4118  |  December 9, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    This is totally hearsay…a neighbor told me that at a barbeque, she talked with Alderman Dick Mell. He claimed that Gordon Tech(private catholic high school) will phase out their private enrollment and eventually be sold to the CPS as a new neighborhood high school. AGAIN, totally third person rumor.

  • 39. mom2  |  December 9, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    @38 – I believe Audobon is trying to/planning to open a related high school and plans/hopes to use part of Gordon Tech’s building. I believe the plan was to share the building. Not sure if that is set in stone.

  • 40. Hawthorne mom  |  December 9, 2010 at 5:19 pm

    The Gordon Tech deal fell through. Someone mentioned it on this board and then on another board I am a part of, a parent posted a letter from GT saying that CPS was not going to be able to use the building. At least not this fall. So Audubon will have to either find another building or postpone a year.

  • 41. copy editor  |  December 10, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Something’s definitely going on with Gordon Tech, but what? There have been rumors for years. They brought in a new principal from St. Ignatius about eight years ago, and then he was gone in no time, and I think his successor was gone quickly, too. I’ve heard they wanted to merge with St. Ben’s and St. Ben’s wouldn’t do it. I know a lot of north side families that would send their kids to Catholic high school who are really frustrated by the confusion there, and my guess is it’s just the last gasp before it closes.

  • 42. ChicagoGawker  |  December 10, 2010 at 9:49 am

    GT’s enrollment is up actually, and there seems to be new energy there. St. Ben’s is trying to raise their profile and revamp their academics to be perceived as a stronger school. Hope it works for both. These are lower tuition Catholic HSs.

  • 43. Mayfair Dad  |  December 10, 2010 at 11:20 am

    I’m with ChicagoGawker on this one. With the SE high schools on the North Side becoming hyper-competitive for Tier 3 & 4 kids, many families will take a closer look at the parochial high schools. If GT and St. Ben’s can ramp up their academics to compare with Loyola & St. Ignatius, they will fare well. Don’t forget St. Pat’s and Luther North, too. Just as the Catholic high schools benefit from the lack of public options on the South Side (and have for years).

  • 44. RL Julia  |  December 10, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    In regards to the Jackson elementary debacle – It doesn’t seem right to condemn families who don’t want to invest the time and energy into their neighborhood school to make it better- that isn’t everyone’s idea of fun – ironically including many of the familes at Jackson whose children aren’t attending their neighborhood schools either.

    That being said, I don’t see why they shouldn’t clone Jackson at Jefferson – and have it be Jackson II – it worked for Disney. If the success of the model is that they keep it small, well then run it like two small independent schools and keep it at that.

    What I am wondering is what the Smyth parents have to say about all of this – they are the ones who are sort of being insulted in this whole affair if you ask me. Oh – I forgot, they aren’t rich and their kids don’t test well.

  • 45. cps Mom  |  December 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Smyth parents are totally being insulted plus not included in the neighborhood applicants that want to go to a good school. I certainly don’t fault parents for applying and wanting to get into a great magnet program – I think that’s a first choice for many and of course people will choose a program like Jackson over the neighborhood school. I do like the idea of copying the success and providing opportunities to others but the Disney and LaSalle off shoots were specifically set up in neighborhoods separate from their parent schools in areas that had no magnet options. The Jackson neighborhood has 2 magnet schools plus other options. They are not looking to invite all the neighborhood in – just the ones from the townhome development mentioned in the article, otherwise “they’ll leave”. They also did not mention that these residents in need of a “good school” can get into Galileo but chose not to because that school does not have the desired demographic either. So what do they expect to happen with this new school? Will the name make a difference? If so maybe we should just save a bunch of money (or use it to heat schools with no heat) and rename Galileo Jackson 2.

  • 46. mom  |  December 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    We toured GT last year. I really liked it –my son did not. Very multicultural and seems pretty strict. It was hard to believe it was within 10 miles of Loyola Academy–they were so different. Our tour guide was a first generation nigerian who had a full college scholarship. Great sports.

  • 47. Mayfair Dad  |  December 10, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Here is the unvarnished, ugly truth about the school system in Chicago: not every school is intended to be a great school. Since the P in CPS stands for public, that means the extremely poor, the newly-arrived with limited language skills, the innocent with crack-addled parents, the chronically truant, the undiagnosed mentally ill, the gang-banger, the hungry, the forgotten, the never-had-a-chance kids – and all of the societal problems they bring with them – require a place to go to school, too. And as long as there is a shiny new magnet or gifted school for Buffy and Jody to attend, their affluent parents can remain in the city, living the urban hipster dream, secure in the knowledge that someday their exceptional offspring will graduate from an Ivy League university. So I don’t blame the would-be Jackson II parents for wanting a better choice than Smyth, and I don’t think that its their responsibility to fix Smyth. They didn’t invent poverty and all of its attendent inequities, and they didn’t create the dysfunctional public school system in Chicago.

  • 48. cps Mom  |  December 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I hear you. I just think that they are going about it wrong. How many more schools are we going to throw at that neighborhood until everyone gets in? They do have a second magnet already in place that is not the school of choice. And I do know that it takes a group of really committed parents to turn a school around which is obviously lacking too. Why are they in particular “entitled”. Seems like everywhere else anyone with financial means not getting into a magnet or special program and unhappy with the neighborhood school opts for private. It just seems to me that even the impoverished kids that you speak of have a chance if you catch them at kindergarten. With $ being a major issue right now and in the future, it would seem viable that the 2nd magnet be made a Jackson clone. Heck, if money is no object, give everyone Jackson 3 through 150.

  • 49. Mayfair Dad  |  December 10, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    @ cps Mom: My better angel took the day off so I’m back to my curmudgeonly self. I promise tomorrow I’ll take my meds.

    I’ll concede those Jackson2 wannabes seem a bit greedy. It sounds like there are other designer upgrade schools nearby, so opening yet another shiny magnet school shouldn’t be a top priority for CPS. But I don’t blame the parents for trying, and I don’t blame the alderman for using his juice to get it done.

    The current Jackson1 parents seem a wee bit selfish also. They’re protecting their kids – I get that.

    My rant ties back to my larger, oft-repeated rant about the existence of magnet schools, how they were initially conceived as a band-aid in response to the consent decree and morphed into “choice” to prevent the white middle class from abandoning the city and how this whole con job cripples meaningful school reform and how kind and decent people like ourselves can agree the entire rotten system needs radical change…but not until our kids graduate from a top SE high school.

    I hope on February 22, 2011 we elect a really smart mayor and I hope they hire someone really smart to fix this train wreck we call a public school system.

  • 50. cps Mom  |  December 10, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Agree and laughing – it does seem that the seeds of change do not take hold until you are well into the system and then on your way out. I would never have thought when I sent out those mass applications at Kindergarten that I would or even could get involved in making a change. I really hand it to all the parents on this blog and otherwise that talk about getting involved with the neighborhood school having only a 3 year old at home or teacher/moms that not only have the ability to bring their child to excellence but also take along as many others as they can. We can all benefit from your wisdom.

  • 51. Sharyn  |  December 13, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Keep an eye out for King HS to rise in stature alos. The Principal is phenomenal,the facilty is awesome and they have some really good Engineering and Arts programs. A little more diversity and I think they could be a contender.

  • 52. anonymous  |  December 13, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    It’s funny. If the magical formula is just calling a school a magnet and all is fine, then let’s do that to all neighborhood schools … and just limit the lottery to the school boundaries. I’m only half-joking. : )

    I actually think if you just call a school an “academy,” then half the battle is done. (joking again)

    This issue is TOO BIG and I hope somebody addresses it. Not the particular Jackson issue. The CPS magnet/SE system.

    I’d LOVE a thread about the mayoral candidates! I have no clue where they stand and if they have any fresh ideas. I know. They’re not in charge of CPS … except, Daley really was. I am not supporting anyone right now. Nobody.

  • 53. HSObsessed  |  December 14, 2010 at 11:24 am

    For those of you who want to hear the mayoral candidates speak about school issues, but who can’t make it in person to the debate tomorrow evening: Raise Your Hand is providing a live web feed, link below. Rahm Emanuel won’t be there (boo!) but I believe all the other major candidates will be. It’s Wednesday, Dec 15, beginning at 7:00 pm.

  • 54. grace  |  January 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Hawthorne mom — apropos of nothing, as my editor used to say.

    Do you, or your son, have an opinion of what is the best textbook or curriculum to teach Algebra 1.

    I am familiar with Glencoe and CME, and think that the former is needlessly exhaustive and the latter like Algebra “lite.”
    What does Hawthorne use?

  • 55. Questioner  |  March 29, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    The predictions came true.

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