Why do we stay in the city?

April 9, 2011 at 9:07 am 152 comments

I got an email today from mom of 3 kids who is going to be moving to Chicago from outside NYC and was asking about some of the north side schools.

One of the questions she asked was “Do you think a good CPS neighborhood school (with parents supplementing the kids’ education with all that the city has to offer) can truly compete/compare with a top suburban public school in the affluent suburbs (Wilmette, Winnetka, Hinsdale, etc.)

This has been on my mind for the past month or so, ever since this blog link was included as part of an article in TimeOut Chicago Kids.  Apparently that magazine must have a large suburban reader base, as the online article generated a lot of nasty comments from suburban parents about the lack of concern we must have for our kids’ education by staying in the city.  Moving to the suburbs is framed as the only sensible/smart solution (thus implying that we are…. well, I admit I had some choice words for a reader who posted directly on this blog.)

I don’t know why the question puts me on the defensive so much (not from this recent writer, who clearly wants to believe that the answer is YES so she can live in the city without guilt.) I suppose maybe it means that I DON’T think the CPS schools are as good as the best suburban schools.  But how can they be?  CPS has to cover a huge low-income, at-risk population without the benefit of high, school-directed property taxes.  I think I can say without question that those suburbs have schools with lots of extra “nice-to-haves” that we never will (small classes, good supplies, tech stuff?, more “fun” classes like gym, library, art, more often, nice buildings, etc.)  But is the education itself as good in CPS?  Can a halfway intelligent kid with committed parents get their child as good an education in Chicago?  I want to say that I think they can.

Maybe it comes down to what a parent considers to be a “good” education.  I feel confident that my son will learn the amount he needs to know in CPS.  He’ll be challenged, he’ll have fun, and he’ll learn a lot.   And he’ll reap untold benefits from living in a large, diverse city.  Which I guess to me is a important in his upbringing as having more bells and whistles at school.

I acknowledge that high school is more of a wild card.  And the more kids you have in the system, the harder it probably is to ensure they ALL get a great education.

I admit, the craziness of CPS, the reams of worksheets that come home, the large class where my son seems to get lost sometimes, makes me question whether I’m being selfish by wanting to stay in the city.  Am I shortchanging my kid so I can have Vietnamese sandwiches, the El directly to downtown, cool neighbors, weird little stores, walking around our block and seeing everyone out walking with kids and dogs, good parks, festivals, and people from all over the world and walks of life around us?  Ok, I just talked myself into it.  We’re staying.

Curious if anyone else questions staying in the city and how you would answer this mom who wonders whether CPS can compare to the suburbs…

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2nd round Elem and High School Principal Discretion Updates Raising the bar at neighborhood schools (Guest Question)

152 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Jenny  |  April 9, 2011 at 9:51 am

    We believe that education comes from much more than just a good school. What we feel we get from the city rounds out that education for our family. We hope to never have to move out!

  • 2. chitownmama  |  April 9, 2011 at 10:13 am

    My favorite info to share with people trying to decide about staying in the city is this article from Grist about the environmental benefits of staying in the city with kids and the research of Suniya Luthar on the psychological maladies of wealthy suburban teens like this study.

    Re high school, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are high schools that “no one” would willingly send their kids to today that will be absolutely fine in ten years; just like there are a lot of elementary schools that “no one” would’ve sent their kids to ten years ago that we’d love to get our kids into today.

  • 3. Grace  |  April 9, 2011 at 10:18 am

    Great question. For us, Chicago is home, and our ties here have kept us in the city.

    But at the start of my children’s CPS education, I was surprised by the way things were done at one top elementary school. So I visited top CPS schools on the north side, south side, and top elementary schools in the suburbs. I attended a PTA meeting at one school and I helped out in the library at another.

    If your reader has the time, a visit to the schools they are considering would be the only way to determine the best fit. The other thing to keep in mind is how CPS’ $720 million budget hole might affect services in coming years.

  • 4. Christine  |  April 9, 2011 at 10:42 am

    I always find this question hard to answer because I have no personal experience with suburban schools. I am probably just as biased against the suburbs as they are against the city.

    Smaller class sizes would be nice and a guarantee that both/all your children could go to same school would be nice, too.

  • 5. Christine  |  April 9, 2011 at 10:55 am

    Oh — and also the mean comments started pouring in once the story was picked up by yahoo news. I think Time Out Chicago Kids’ reader base is mostly city-dwellers.

  • 6. Amy  |  April 9, 2011 at 11:00 am

    This is our second time enduring the CPS lottery hell and testing. I find myself wracked with guilt every single time. I ask myself why a multitude of questions such as, “Why didn’t I research more when we purchased our house?” or Can we afford to take a loss on our home?”, and Should we rent out our house, and rent an apartment?” I am sure that we are not the only parents that go through this guilt and anguish, second guessing all the decisions that we have made along the way that have brought us here.

    My son has missed getting into the regional schools by 1 point twice now. He aced the reading portion of the classical test but lost placement due to his math score.. We as well as his teacher are stunned as he is the top performer of his class;math is easy for him, we have no idea what happened. I have been told by his teacher that he is 2 grades above the rest of the students in his class, but his school does not allow skipping grades, and yet he did not get a golden ticket.

    What I have learned from all of this is that parents who care and take the time to supplement their child’s education is the crucial and determining factor in the quality of their child’s education. . If the parent and the child do not have the drive and determination, it does not matter what school a child attends. Every good school despite it’s credentials and advantages will have a group of poor performance students just as poorly advantaged schools will have a group of students that outshine others. It does not matter where you live, it depends on you.

  • 7. goingtogermany0693  |  April 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I feel the same way about some of the points you made (walking around, independent stores, public transportation) I also like the Park District and the neighborhood we live in (block party, everyone looking out for one another) When we sold our condo lat year, we could have decided to move to the suburbs. On a google map, I didn’t like what I saw. Everything was so far away (the gym, library, kids activities, etc) and people were much more dependent upon their cars.
    I think living in the city is a good fit for some, but not for others. I like the diversity and all of the touristy things like sites to see, museums and festivals, plus public beaches. Compared to what people in the suburbs pay for taxes, I think with two kids who we have in a few activities, we pay lessl for their overall education (not just what it costs for taxes.) I know it is not the same in other parts of the city.

  • 8. Kelly  |  April 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Chitownmama, thanks for those links. They were some intersting reading.

    Speaking as a person who couldn’t afford to move to a Wilmette or a Winnetka even if I wanted to; I think leaving town would be doing a disservice to my children. An education includes a lot more than attending school. And I’ve long been suspicious that the culture of suburban high schools was poisonous. Looks like Suniya Luthar agrees.

  • 9. K  |  April 9, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I grew up in Chicago and attended CPS schools. This was in the 80’s and I tested into the gifted stuff that was available at that time (more limited than what’s available now) and attended an “options” program for high school when “options for knowledge” was a new concept and the big hot thing.

    My sister attended one of the city’s well known private schools. She got a better all round education than I did–there’s no arguing that, it’s just a fact. As a product of CPS, I am admittedly very cynical about CPS.

    Despite that, I am sending my daughter to a CPS school for kindy this fall (moving her from a lovely private school, by the way), and would NEVER move to the suburbs. No way. We are city people! I don’t think that the school my child will attend is better than a suburban school, but I think it may be as good as a suburban school. And certainly, for our family, the pro’s of staying in the city out weigh the cons–socio economic diversity, access to all our great cultural institutions (many of which have partnerships with various cps schools), being part of an active engaged urban parent community, etc

    So yes I think active parents who are involved in their urban communities can get, for their children, a good education through the CPS system AND through supplementing their kids formal education with all the great resources we have in the city. And we can do that even if we are cynical–or maybe realistic is a better way to express it–about CPS.

  • 10. Mich  |  April 9, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    It is all about the suburb too, isn’t it? If you can’t afford to live in the wealthiest suburbs, is it really that much of an advantage? I’ve heard about gang issues at high school in many suburban high schools in less wealthy areas. And do you really want to be the poor child in the wealthy district? I grew up that way and I’m not certain the social isolation it causes is worth the academic education it provides.

  • 11. Another Rogers Park Mom!  |  April 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    @10, so agree with you! If we could afford a $700k house in Wilmette or Winnetka, would we truly consider it? I don’t know. When we bought our condo in East Rogers Park, for which we paid about 250k 7.5yrs ago, we looked in Naperville… we could have had a LOT more for our money then, at least a townhouse with 3bd/3ba and a finished playroom/den, but we literally RAN back to the city. It’s just not ‘us’, lol! We could not do it.

    My aunt raised her kids in the Shamburg area, and teaches in Rolling Meadows/Hoffman Estates/Hanover Park area; she’s a Golden Apple-winning Special Ed teacher. The schools in that area are utterly plagued with gangs, violence, etc, and the low-income housing has boomed from those burbs all the way to DeKalb. The affordable suburbs have the same issues, and the elite North Shore burbs, Hinsdale, etc, have no affordable housing outside of condos for ‘retirees’ and a few apt building. I do not want my kids to be the ‘poor kids’ (HA!) of their class. In the burbs, that is a social stigma I would never inflict on them.

  • 12. cps Mom  |  April 9, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    The question posed above is about CPS neighborhood schools competing with the top schools in affluent suburbs. This is an apples to oranges comparison. As if families actually do have a choice between an “affluent suburb” or their neighborhood school.

    Having grown up in the city and also having lived for a 10 year period in the suburbs I realize that some people feel just as comfortable in the suburbs with all its positives and faults as I do with the city. There is, however, a certain prejudice prevalent against “city kids” and many misconceptions. When some say they are getting “a better education in the suburbs” this may be just a polite way of saying “I don’t like Chicago schools with run down and old facilities and unruly maybe even dangerous kids”.

    Being city savvy we of course know that
    – The top schools in the state (elementary and high school) are in Chicago. Most of these require testing and accept only top scoring students. A family looking to avoid the pressure associated with competing for these schools can certainly chose to move and go with the assigned school that is “good”.
    – Many special programs are available to those unable to secure seats at selective schools. Many of these programs are “on par” with suburban schools and widely available.
    – There is a large segment of the Chicago CPS population that is relegated to bad conditions and poverty that impacts the level of education for many. That’s pretty much a given in society in general and about as far away as you can get from “the affluent suburbs” as you can get. I also want to assume that this situation is improving.

    We never had the big back yard or the picket fence routine in our household but we’ve considered our lifestyle to be almost surreal. When my son was in the elementary grades we had the museums as our back yard. A membership at the Field kept him quite fascinated and we probably know more about mummies and world history than the average suburban kid. Not to mention that a short walk or bike ride puts us easily to 5 different parks with large set-ups and waterplay, (1) pool and an ice skating rink. Much better than the back yard swing. The high school my son attends is in the heart of the city accessible to programs at city colleges, the art institute and the public library. Hopping the El to Chinatown, the movies or Water Tower food court is amongst the activities in his teen years.

    I can say more but know that others here will want to share their own experiences.

  • 13. Chicago Mom  |  April 9, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    Let’s be realistic. The only Chicago parents who are happy with CPS are the ones who had the presence of mind to move to an area where there is a great neighborhood school, those who won the lottery and got into the SEES or magnet of their choice, and those who got a ridiculous number of offers b/c they live where the worst schools are located (which for a shrewd parent is probably by design!)

    For the rest of us, who did not win the CPS lottery or get our children, some of whom scored well into the 98th%, into the SEES or a magnet, CPS is nightmare. We are the parents who have to pay taxes for public school and pay for private school so our children can get an above average education.

    I would never advise anyone with school age children to raise them in the CPS system. The idea of having to go through this again for the AC or the high schools is ridiculous. No child should be put under that kind of pressure to get a quality education. Hopefully, the little ones who do take the test to try to get into the SEES have no idea what is at stake. Unfortunately, by 6th grade you do. The system is too unreliable to believe that when it comes time for high school your kid will just get in to one of the great schools. What kind of blow will it be to their self-esteem if they don’t?

    Incidentally, there are many suburbs that have phenomenal schools that are just as affordable as the city. The North Shore is not the only place to find an excellent school.

  • 14. classicmom  |  April 9, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    My kids attend a CPS classical school and yes, their education does compare to a top suburban school in an affluent neighborhood. My kids’ school has all of the “nice-to-haves” mentioned (e.g. good supplies, tech stuff, gym, library, art, music, and a nice new building) EXCEPT small class sizes.

  • 15. Torn b/w City and Suburbs  |  April 9, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Having just pulled losing lottery numbers at three different preschool coops, I am much more aware of how it would feel if my kids didn’t get into a desired lottery-based CPS elementary school down the road. Additionally, “buying into” a strong neighborhood school district seems more risky in Chicago given CPS and the State of Illinois’ track record re: education and fiscal responsibility. This makes me lean towards moving to a suburb with a strong and stable education system/funding. There is no perfect decision here — the suburbs we are considering lack the diversity (all types) and cultural vibrancy that the city has.

  • 16. Patty  |  April 9, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    I love Chicago and even though we can afford an suburban home., I would NEVER move to the suburbs. We live in Beverly and I love my home, my neighbors, the diversity, the family atomosphere of Beverly and close proximity to the suburban malls and stores. I also love going downtown and to the museums. We can get to those places in 20-30 mins. My husband works downtown and can get their on Metra in 20 mins. Beverly is it for my family!

    I have one child in a gifted school, Keller Gifted School (7th grader) and one child (2nd grader) that didn’t get accepted anywhere. No magnets, no classicals and no gifted schools. At the time, our neighborhood school, Sutherland, was overcrowded with kids from outside the district, test scores were average and many of my neighbors enrolled their kids in local catholic schools to avoid Sutherland. My husband and I didn’t want to do a religious school because we are not catholic and we believed in public education. After a long conversation, we were determined to make changes to our local school. We enrolled our son and talked to our Alderman and school administration. After about two years, the school had did a complete 360. Now, Sutherland offers the IB program for all grades (K-8), French is offered to all students (K-8), Art, Music, Library, Gym, Tech (all gardes K-8) and many after school activities. Sutherland test scores are now in the (95%- 98% percentile). Our school no longer accepts students from outside of the school boundaries and local parents have chosen to enroll their kids in Sutherland!!! Most of our 8th graders go on to SE high schools or Catholic/Private high schools. I am saying this to everyone who isn’t satisfied with their neighborhood options.

    I want to encourage you guys to see that a school can and will change for the better if you take the initiative. I know many of you don’t want your kid(s) to be a “guinea pig” but I am an example that it isn’t an awful thing. I worked for CPS for many years (currently on leave for medical issue) and I also have friends that live in the South Loop School district (south loop) and Nettlehorst school district (northside) and all of those parents turned their schools around. Now both of these schools have excellent programs and are well sought after schools. Another example of parents demanding better for their kids, is the new STEM Magnet School with a neighborhood component. The parents that demanded this new school went to their Alderman and stayed on him to do something about the schools in their area. My prediction is that this school will be another top magnet school in the coming years. Nothing is impossible, but it make take some time, energy and commitment.

    I am not trying to convince anyone to stay in Chicago. If you feel that you can provide a better life for you and your children, then you do what is best for your family. But for those that want to stay in Chicago, I would strongly suggest that you see your Alderman and gather your neighbors to discuss your options. If you need help with this process (because it can be a daunting task), feel free to contact me and my husband and I can assist you.

  • 17. diane  |  April 9, 2011 at 10:59 pm

    I have 3 children, and my 2 school aged children attend our CPS neighborhood school. Before they attended CPS, they attended a pricey independent private school.

    We have no plans to leave the city anytime soon, and I don’t feel guilty about it. Although I will admit that the move to our CPS neighborhood school has been somewhat of an adjustment (mostly for me, because I honestly never thought I would send my kids to CPS), I find very few faults with our school. And trust me, I look pretty hard, as if I will find that one thing that will give me a justifiable excuse to put the kids back into private school. Unquestionably, there are more children in my kids’ classes, but for us it hasn’t been a problem because our kids’ teachers have been great. Our school has the extras like art, music, gym, technology, library, IB curriculum (for older kids) and beautiful newer facilities and outdoor space.

    I think that for us, it would be very difficult to live in the suburbs, and I don’t think that we are being “selfish” for staying in the city. Our kids get to do so many amazing things because we live here and have easy access to all Chicago has to offer. That said, city living certainly is not for everyone, and I’m not sure that I would necessarily recommend CPS as a K-12 option to a family moving here. I think that so far, our family has been lucky to be in a neighborhood with a decent CPS elementary program, although I am far from committed when it comes to middle and high school.

  • 18. cpsteacher  |  April 9, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    As a product of CPS schools, I loved growing up in the city. As someone privy to the ongoings of CPS as an educational institution, I would not send my children to any schools but the SE or Gifted/Magnet schools. Today, my son received an email from his HS counselor about his reading support program. Would this happen in the city? No. Would his counselor be discussing his program with his athletic coaches to plan the best summer program for him? No. I know that life in suburbia is….and I am saying this from the heart….boring as hell…but truth be told, the system works better for kids. I may not get to walk to a restaurant for a glass of pinot and pasta, or even to the grocery store for a pound of ham, but I feel good knowing my children are in an environment that is providing for them. That being said, I work my butt off every day at a CPS school to provide for my students that way my own children are provided for. In any educational institution, it is what you make it. I had an average high school education and feel that I am a very successful individual. I wouldn’t trade any of my city experiences for anything that I’ve seen in suburbia. I hope my children are well educated enough to know that there is life outside of our little village here just outside of chicago. As parents, we just do our best and hope everything else falls into place.

  • 19. citybychoice  |  April 9, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    I just want to comment on two points that were raised here earlier and are heard so often at parent gatherings:

    >>suburban schools have more art and music classes and their classrooms are newer and cleaner. Wouldn’t it at least partially outweigh all the benefits of raising kids in the city?

    I am not sure either of these make much of a difference to me.

    1. I do not consider it school’s responsibility to teach art and music to my son. Don’t get me wrong – art and music are great, but I don’t think that ‘regular’ school is the best place to teach those (beyond the introductory level of course). I think that The School’s immediate responsibility is to teach (and/or foster) critical thinking, social skills, common decency and citizenry, and core curriculum. Art, music, swimming, dance, and horseback riding are great – but I would not consider them core. Let’s face it – there are only that many hours in the 5-6 hour school day that our children get. Also, art class is much more costly for school than, say, an extra recess, and I don’t think it is fair for my childless friends to subsidize (through taxes) my kid’s enrichment activities. This is what my personal wallet is for. And this is why living in the city is so great: because of urban density I have awesome programs available to me within a short distance;and again, because of urban density, I can find even most esoteric programs for my child should he be interested in something extremely rare.
    So my point can be summarized as: I am sending my kid to public school and I expect to be provided with great ‘general’ education, and after 3 o’clock I am going to be dipping into the buffet of great enrichment choices (for which I will be paying less than my car upkeep in the burbs) for my future Mozart.

    2. Most schools I toured in Chicago did look a little dingy. But it is a known fact that most children don’t care about peeling paint and slightly torn seats. It is us, adults, who notice and worry. But we should not, it is really not that important. (If anything, our obsession with picture perfect may even interfere with today’s popular desire to ‘someday live in a foreign country for a year so that we and little Johnny can learn how the rest of the world lives’. The rest of the world, of course, has splotchy floors and ceiling). Of course, fixing up schools would not hurt, and teachers especially will be grateful, but let’s not use the state of the building as any criterion for picking schools or moving to the burbs.

  • 20. Patty  |  April 10, 2011 at 12:21 am

    @cps Mom…I absolutely enjoyed reading your comment. As you described your family’s experiences, I imagined your son going to the museums, parks, and the Water Tower..lol! Those are all the things that I do with my family. It is also the many reasons why we have remained in the City.

    P.S..I am guessing that your son attended (or attend) Jones College Prep?

  • 21. @16 patty  |  April 10, 2011 at 1:10 am

    I think Sutherland is a nice school. Looked into it a couple years ago for my son as an outside the area transfer BUT the scores are not 95-98% percentile unless you are referring to your own child’s scores. However, Sutherland’s scores are competitive with other schools in the area.

  • 22. Torn b/w City and Suburbs  |  April 10, 2011 at 6:37 am

    More food for thought —

    When I toured the three Wilmette elementary schools (while I was also touring strong neighborhood CPS schools), a few things stood out:

    1. Foreign language was taught 1x/day — in the neighborhood CPS schools I toured, it was much less — I think about 1x/week, max 3x/week. The downside in my mind was that the only language choice during school hours in WIlmette was Spanish. I would much prefer Mandarin and that is a choice in some CPS schools (tho’ not the neighborhood schools I toured). The frequency of exposure to a foreign language is really important.

    2. P.E. was 1x/day in the Wilmette schools instead of 3x/day in the CPS neighborhood schools I visited. This was also important to me.

    3. “Differentiation specialists” pulled individuals or groups of students out of classes in Wilmette — in the CPS neighborhood schools, I did not see this support. Teachers did differentiated learning (like in Wilmette) but did not have additional support unless there were special needs students. I realize that this is a different ballgame if you are in a CPS classical or selective enrollment school.

    A little more suburban gossip — Wilmette just passed a referendum to increase property taxes to continue education funding at current levels. A little under 2/3rds of voters were in favor. The Wilmette parents I spoke to — all city transplants — said that they missed the city but that Evanston’s downtown helped fill that city gap (and it is a really neat area). All of the parents said that they expected to be bored silly (making the decisions only for their kids), but were surprised to really like it — great sense of community, kids out all the time on everyone’s yards, phenomenal park district, etc.

  • 23. Torn b/w City and Suburbs  |  April 10, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Whoops — in prior post for #2, I meant 3x/WEEK for CPS PE. Sometimes, I think, it was even less depending on the school.

  • 24. CityMom  |  April 10, 2011 at 8:40 am

    I am on the fence about CPS (teetering towards private school), but I am not on the fence about living in the city. We love where we live and we take full advantage of our city dwelling lifestyle. A big thing for us is being part of a diverse community and our little corner of the city is very diverse and we enjoy being a part of it. We are a multi-cultural family and no one ever bats an eyelash or gives us a second look (unless they’re looking at my cute child!).

    I have had a child at a highly sought after CPS magnet school for 2 years. Kindergarten was a pretty good experience, 1st grade not-so-much. I think that the school itself is probably great for a lot of families, but it is not a good fit for us. There are many concrete reasons why it doesn’t work so well for us, but a big thing is that it just doesn’t *feel* good. We do not fit in and have not been embraced by the families that are in ‘power’ at the school. It is not for lack of trying…we have tried to volunteer and be a part of the PTO and LSC, but that hasn’t made a difference. I hate the vibe of the school and my child is not happy there either. She asked if we could find another place for her to go next year. Grade wise, she’s done excellent….it’s just not a good fit and I can’t in good conscience leave her there another year.

    I hope that another family is thrilled to have the opportunity to take our spot and that it works for them. CPS does have some great schools…we just can’t get into any of them. I am totally disgusted by the “breakfast in the classroom” mandate, we have not been lucky in the lottery, seem to have just missed the cutoff for a SEES spot and our neighborhood school is absolutely not an option (zero diversity and is failing, but not quite hard enough to qualify for NCLB). So….we will likely be in a private school next year if a spot opens up for us (we’re #2 on the waiting list). I have a few plan B’s but am just waiting now to see how things play out.

    All that being said, I have no desire to live in the suburbs. We’ll navigate the city as best we can and if we wind up in private schools for the duration, so be it. I still don’t want to live in the ‘burbs.

  • 25. cps Mom  |  April 10, 2011 at 8:54 am

    @20 Patty – Thanks and yes, my son does go to Jones. We love Chicago and our experience with the schools. If my son did not get into SE we would have sought out – and did apply to other programs in the City.

    A couple obseravations/ questions

    – to the parent that says CPS is a nightmare trying to negotiate lotteries etc. I do not take our situation for granted. We feel privileged to have had the benefit of such great schools for free. I wonder if you haven’t tried to cast a larger net? It has been 10 years for us applying to K, but there does seem to be so much more available since then. I totally understand the frustration of parents that have smart kids unable to secure a spot. I have to think that perseverance will be fruitful.
    – to the teacher/parent that traded a “boring lifestyle” for a “better education”. I know that you stipulated SE’s as an exception but I did want to emphasize that my experience has been the same. I not only receive e-mails but phone calls telling me about specific issues related to the class, teachers are totally available before and after school, if there is a problem or question a return e-mail is quaranteed within 24 hours, the dedication and skill of the teaching staff is incredible. I don’t doubt your inside knowledge but have also heard of great teachers even at the neighborhood level. I thinks that its all what you make of it. If anyone outside of selective enrollment can support this, I would be interested in hearing about your experience.
    – Tom thanks for those comparisons. I do agree about art. We value art and music but also see that any child looking to enhance a talent will do that outside of school with private lessons. Of course, a general program available to all is a good outlet for the kids and needs to be available in some capacity. As far as your comparisons go, depends on the CPS school and depends on the suburb. I know of 1 NW suburban school that started a Spanish program and then removed it because parents thought it was a waste of time.
    – My question since it has been a number of years out of the suburbs – Are the class sizes much different? They weren’t a few years back. Keep in mind, the suburbs have to deal with budget cuts too.

    Patty – thank you for your encouraging words about neighborhood schools.

  • 26. @ Patty  |  April 10, 2011 at 8:55 am

    Beverly is a beautiful, safe, integrated, middle class neighborhood of lovely older homes. Sutherland has been an excellent neighborhood school for many years. I believe that its biggest years of improvement began in the 1990s with the principal at the time. Middle years IB program began back then — as part of a neighborhood-wide implementation — another excellent idea for boosting schools throughout the ward. The principal encouraged even more parent participation, and there continues to be a large cadre of volunteers at the school.

  • 27. Grace  |  April 10, 2011 at 9:24 am

    If you are lucky enough to be able to decide between a top suburban school and a top SE or gifted or magnet school, then it may come down to a purely personal choice about family lifestyle, b/c the education will be comparable and excellent.

    Perhaps it might be helpful to consider one of Hawthorne Mom’s earlier posts on another thread? She talked about how all schools teach to the test now, and that this results in a narrowing of the curriculum to emphasize reading and math. Perhaps the important areas to look at — not that PE isn’t important, it is — are how well schools teach the core subjects that are not tested, like science, or whether there is an advanced track for math, or a strong curriculum for writing, like Lucy Calkins.

  • 28. copy editor  |  April 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

    A lot of this is just personal preference. I have a love/hate relationship with CPS; our neighborhood school has great teachers, but the principal is an autocrat, and what is with this breakfast thing? The education is better in most private and in many suburban schools. That’s just a fact. They have more money, they can hold teachers to higher standards, and the kids spend more time in school. On the other hand, it is easy to supplement the education here, and kids get a more diverse experience living in the city. City life itself is intellectually stimulating.

    Keep in mind that property taxes in the suburbs are insane. Taxes in Oak Park are more than twice what they are in the city, and on the North Shore, they are as much as the house payment. If you look at it that way, you can afford to pay for supplemental music lessons or for private high school, if that’s what it takes to offset the weaker city schools. If we lived in Winnetka, we couldn’t afford to travel, and travel is an educational experience.

    But some people want the big lawn and the big house and the nice new school, and that’s just their preference. If that’s what you want, go for it.

  • 29. Mayfair Dad  |  April 10, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I agree with an earlier poster who stated the answer to this question depends on if you are a winner or loser in the CPS magnetgiftedselective derby.

    I grew up in Evanston and attended high school in Libertyville. I would be willing to move to the suburbs in a heartbeat. My wife is a die hard city girl from Ravenswood and proud Lane Tech alum. She breaks out in hives the moment we cross Howard Street.

    As long as our kids continue to receive the best education in the most sought after schools CPS has to offer, we stay. If our luck ever changes, we move.

    I would encourage the young Moms and Dads on this thread to start doing their high school research now. Be strategic about which neighborhoods you purchase your home. Be realistic about your chances of getting into a SE high school.

    Years ago a work colleague purchased a modest ranch house in Glenview at about the same time we bought our bungalow. I thought we had bought the nicer house for less money. My colleague still lives in his modest ranch house which is also in the New Trier school district. He definitely bought the better house.

  • 30. Experienced with Sutherland  |  April 10, 2011 at 10:53 am

    Beverly-bound. If you go to Sutherland, you go to Morgan Park H.S. if you follow the public school route. The sad reality is that only about three white students attend Morgan Park, which is almost 100 % AA. Almost all whites in Beverly go to private or elite high schools. So, there’s a very weird racial component to living in Beverly. It’s not very diverse, especially along the lines that northside parents here value.

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  April 10, 2011 at 11:00 am

    I don’t know that I see it as being unfair that city families have to be wise in choosing where they live within Chicago to get into a good school. That’s exactly what the suburban families have done, isn’t it? Chose their town in large part because of the school? Granted, I didn’t think about it for some reason when I bought my house and went into shock when I figured out the CPS thing. But isn’t it someone people should think about if they think they’re going to have kids? I should have.

  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  April 10, 2011 at 11:05 am

    My frustration reading about all the fun things to do in they city is having a boy who hates leaving the house! We rarely do any other those things. He’s a little homeboy and in some ways I don’t blame him, as he’s at school from 8:30 – 5:30 each day. On weekends he just likes to be at home. But what a waste of all the city has to offer….

    I guess I agree with those who’ve said it comes down to personal preference. I know there are suburban parents who just can’t fathom sending a child to CPS, while I can’t fathom living in the suburbs.

    I got an email recently from a suburban mom who said she really like the people she’s met out there – same kind of people as in the city, but they just don’t talk about schools all the time. Hmm, not sure what I’d talk about!

  • 33. Beverly Mom  |  April 10, 2011 at 11:11 am

    @ 16 Patty, you are misinformed about Sutherland not accepting students from out of district. Their policy is to allow for applications, space-permitting, starting in 1st grade. That said, Sutherland is a great neighborhood school, as is Clissold and Kellogg.

  • 34. @ 30 Experienced  |  April 10, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    True, Morgan park hs isn’t at all diverse. The smaller Ag school (Chicago H.S. for Agricultuual Sciences) in nearby Mt. Greenwood is diverse. It’s a magnet school, requires stanine 5, has a lottery.

  • 35. @ copy editor, MayFair Dad  |  April 10, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    Have to agree with you.

  • 36. cps Mom  |  April 10, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Mayfair dad

    I see your point of view if school stats are the only determining factor. And, if they are, that limits the choice of suburbs. Moving a kid from Chicago to the burbs is a completely different story at K than it is at HS. In the burbs the HS cliques are predetermined by the elementary school that you come from. Any Chicago school will not be easily accepted in the social scene.

    You yourself have mentioned that Selective Enrollment is not everything. Not winning a lottery at PreK is a whole different animal than HS admissions. A bright college prep oriented kid will find a good spot comparable to a good suburban school if that is the desire. At 9th grade, many choose private education as the best path for their child. I rarely hear of kids at the 9th grade level moving to the suburbs because they have no options. I do know someone who was moving if her daughter did not get into Northside (Payton and St. Ignatius were not good enough). I thought she was crazy yet her child did get into Northside!! I know of one other person that instantly moved out of state when her daughter did not get into Northside or Payton and private was too much with multiple children. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it depends on your threshold.

    Evanston and Oak Park are distinctly non-suburbia in my book – great places to live 🙂 You’re permitted LOL

  • 37. Michele  |  April 10, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Hi everybody –

    I am the mom who wrote in with the question that originated this discussion. I just wanted to say thank you for all of your thoughtful comments; it is certainly helpful to hear from what I consider to be the best source – other parents!

    I am flying into Chicago later this week to check out the burbs AND the city, so we will see what feels like the best fit for us as we continue to define what a “good education” means for our family. Thanks again!

  • 38. Jennifer  |  April 10, 2011 at 8:05 pm

    We’re in a top rated North Shore suburban elementary and we’re trying to move back to the city. Apart from the fact that we’re bored out of our minds out here, the school she attends simply doesn’t have any provision for students such as her that are ahead of the pack. She was the only student able to read and write when she started K, and spent most of the year in a corner reading books alone while the rest of the class learnt the alphabet. 1st grade hasn’t been much better.

    I was really disappointed when she didn’t score well enough to be offered a classical or gifted spot in CPS. This has left us with only a few options for neighborhood schools, none of which we can really afford to move into the boundary for.

    If Michelle is the poster I referred to this site from City Data, I believe she is in the position to be able to live in the Lincoln, Ogden, Bell etc boundaries. I don’t have any doubt that these schools are just as good as any suburban elementary. I don’t think they are doing their kid’s any injustice by sending them to any of these schools. It’s a no-brainer when you are talking about a top performing Wilmette school over a level 2 school that’s on probation on the south side, but that’s not what’s on the table here.

  • 39. Educate  |  April 10, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I have 3 daughters ; 1 who attends a gifted school and 2 who attend our neighborhood magnet school.We live on the south side of Chgo. We must live in Chgo due to my husband’s job with the city. I was very saddened when my 2 girls who attend the neighborhood school -did not get a seat offered this year for the gifted/classical schools. So I am currently working w/that principal to attain AP classes in our neighborhood school so my daughters have something to look ffd to in their school.I also was a manic a few weeks past in re:to my other daughter who attends the gifted school for she is an 8th grader and we had to brutally wait for high school letters to come in the mail. She will be attending Lane this fall, which will be a commute but we are confident she will be attaining a good high school education. But the misery we had in our minds of not getting in a SEHS was torture. I searched suburban high schools near family members who do reside in Bridgeview, Hinsdale and Willowbrook. I researched the high school’s report cards and their PSAE scores and ACT scores they were nothing to brag about at all. One in particular ,Stagg it is a pretty school with a lot of nice courses and beautiful grasslands,however their scores were too low for us to even think to send our daughter to that school. So I might hate the fact that I must reside in Chgo. for work purposes however, I feel the elite schools of the city definitely can give your child a great education as well teach our kids about diversity in the real world.

  • 40. City Mom  |  April 10, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Every moment our children are awake they are learning. Most of this learning is outside of the classroom. A child’s academic success and potential start and are nutured in the home. We can continue to build our children’s IQs until at least age 10 maybe longer through how we talk to them, their life experiences, and so many other avenues.
    I work with about 90 of Illinois top performing high school students who as undergraduates have a guaranteed seat in medical school. My college students come from both the city and the suburbs and they are all extremely accomplished. The most noteable difference is that my city kids tend to be more mature and independent. Keep in mind this is a very small group we’re talking about.
    We have chose to remain in the city because of my husband’s business and my job in the city. Also, neither one of us is from here so we also don’t know anything different and have no desire to live in the suburbs (although sometimes when I visit extended family in Deerfield I get a little space envy). I like the fact that in 15 minutes we can be at the lake, museums, e.t.c.
    We went through the CPS application hell and trust me I shed many tears and sleepless nights until I came down to reality. Our daughter tested gifted (within the top 1% tier 4) and did not get placed in a gifted program. However, we have decided to go to Prescott, a school not on the radar right now, but in about 3 years it will be. We applied to Prescott because my husband really liked the principal and his vision. We knew nothing else about the school. We ended up choosing Prescott because it has the best teachers in the district (according to the alderman’s office) and many who are award winning. The parent group is extremely active and the class sizes right now are relatively small (one K class has 23 students, and the other 25). It will always be a small school as well because of the building size. They lack some enrichment programs and that has been one area where the parent group has stepped in to help. Prescott was almost forced to close due to low numbers. It was kept open because of the quality of education going on inside.
    As parents I don’t think we are every quite sure about a school until we’re in it and city or suburbs perception is everything. Most parents I know city or suburbs is never totally sure about a school until their in it. We felt that same way about the elite private schools we applied to. Almost everything in life is that way…you have to just try it out to know if you like it.
    Last night I went out to Deerfield to my nephew’s variety show..it was adorable and something I would like to do at my daughter’s school. The school has an excellent reputation and my niece and nephew are thriving and happy kids. I couldn’t help but notice though that every child at the performance except for 1 was white 🙂

  • 41. city girl  |  April 10, 2011 at 10:15 pm

    Check this book out:

    Triumph of the City
    How our greatest invention makes us richer, smarter, greener, healthier and happier

    Edward Glaeser

    Another vote for city in my book!

    @38 – Check out charter schools, specifically CICS-Irving Park and CICS-Bucktown. They will tailor the curriculum to your daughter.

  • 42. Jennifer  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Unfortunately the CICS schools do not accept applications from families not currently residing in Chicago and the deadline for 2011-12 school year applications has passed. Thanks for the tip though, both look like interesting options for 2012-3.

  • 43. LR  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I grew up in Glenview. My husband grew up in Northfield. We are raising our 2 kids in the city.

    My point of view:
    1. There are things I love about Glenview, but I had ZERO perspective growing up. That is something I did not get until college, or even afterwards when we started living in the city. When I was young, I thought we were poor because we had one bathroom. I was embarrassed to have friends over. On the contrary, we live in an apartment now and my kids are seemingly oblivious to this type of thing. Not that all kids who live in the burbs have no perspective, but you really have to try harder as a parent.
    2. Growing up, I went to Glenview Public Schools. When I was young (and I don’t think much has changed) the social hierarchy was largely based on wealth. The rich kids were the popular kids. I think this is just because in the burbs that we are talking about in this post (Glenview, Wilmette, River Forest, etc.) there is definitely much more “keeping up with the Joneses” and much more emphasis on what you have/own. I rarely to never feel this way in our neighborhood and I like that.
    3. Even in Glenview Public Schools, there are good and bad teachers. This is true ANYWHERE you go to school.
    4. My husband lived in the award-winning Sunset Ridge/New Trier school district growing up. However, his parents chose to send him to the crappy Catholic school across the street (I think his class had 8 kids and is closed now). Compared to the education I got at Glenview Public, his education was a joke (e.g. long division in 8th grade). YET, he went to Loyola, and ended up with nearly perfect scores on his college entrance exams. Somehow, the lack of quality of his grade school education made absolutely NO difference in the end. Interestingly, some of his neighborhood friends who went to Sunset Ridge, ended up completely ruining their lives.

    In summary, yes, CPS is a pain in the butt. However, I would seriously worry about my kids in a high-class suburban environment. I would worry that they will grow up, like I did, thinking that wealth is important. And that having things (nice clothes, cars, a big house) makes you worthy. And I would worry about their feelings of low self-esteem, because we have the smallest house and cruddiest car of all their peers. I don’t want my kids growing up like that. Even the thought of it makes me feel sick inside. I would rather put up with the nonsense of CPS. Furthermore, it is hard to imagine putting my kids in that sort of situation, when the truth is, in the end, I’m not sure it makes any difference at all.

  • 44. @ Jennifer  |  April 11, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Jennifer — might you be willing to talk offline about your experience in Wilmette and trying to get back to the city? My email is northcentermom@yahoo.com or you can post an email of your own…

  • 45. Jennifer  |  April 11, 2011 at 8:08 am

    North Center Mom I emailed you, although we don’t live in Wilmette.

    I have to say we havent experienced the ‘haves/have nots’ thing yet although I suspect it will come around eventually. I was pleasantly surprised to find there are lots of parents earning as little as we do and renting like us in our village.

  • 46. Tattoo Mom (JM)  |  April 11, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Chicago Magazine does a state wide comparison yearly of the top schools in IL. Schools like Saughanash, Edgebrook, Norwood Pk, Burley, Oriel Pk and Blaine, to mention a few, make the list every year. These are neighborhood programs.


    I think that what we can offer our children in terms of life experience and culture far outweighs the nice quiet suburbs. You can get to museums, restaurants, libraries, festivals, parks etc without ever loading the hoard into a minivan. School field trips are abundant to these places. I think my children are far more self assured than I was growing up in the suburbs. My parents found it too cumbersome to take us to museums downtown so I looked forward to our YEARLY family trips into the big city on the train. It was like a mini vacation along the lines of National Lampoon’s European Vacation…you know…”soak in the culture”. LOL

  • 47. Tattoo Mom (JM)  |  April 11, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Sorry, link I posted was only for Chicago. I need to find the link with everyone mixed in the same pool.

  • 48. Tattoo Mom (JM)  |  April 11, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Here’s a link from the Sun Times. Shows same info that I was talking about.


  • 49. klm  |  April 11, 2011 at 8:40 am

    The “suburbs” are more than the middle, upper-middle places that come to mind Hinsdale, Lake Forest, Barrington, Northbrook, Naperville….there are too many suburbs with great public schools to name! However, I grew up in a “suburb” that was gritty, working-class and the public schools were really awful, low-expectation failure factories (the valedictorian going to community college, etc.) –kinda’ like one huge broken-down trailer park with people whose world-view corresponding to their surroundings. It was really ugly and grim –I could not wait to get outta’ there! Where I live now in Chicago is such an improvement, even in terms of the neighborhood public school where my kids can go, not to mention all the possibilities open to them (RGSs, Magnets, several of the best high schools in the state, etc.). My kids see successful professionals and play with their children –role models are all over the place. Not to mention the culture, museums, parks, the lake, the beaches, the skyline, the plethera of kids’ camps, the restaurants, etc. —WE LOVE CHICAGO! So, for me, Chicago is definitely a “move up” in terms of what my kids can achieve. My kids go to CPS schools with kids whose parents are blue-collar, but also ones whose parents went to Ivy Leaugue colleges, which is not something very common anywhere. So, yes there are “nice” suburbs, but there are also ones that are “ghetto” or “redneck” (sorry, but these insensitive labels really are apt) and where living in a middle-class neighborhood in Chicago is huge improvement AND provides a better public education.

  • 50. Grace  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Would anyone like to share some of the more interesting city ‘extracurricullars’ that your child has enjoyed?

    One example, is the U. of Chicago’s Math Scholar program, which is held Sat. mornings during the school year and in the summer. It is not a remedial program, it is an enrichment program, tught by U. of C. grad students in math.
    And it is free.

  • 51. copy editor  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:19 am

    I have two more comments. First, if you have a child who needs special ed, you might need to consider the suburbs, because CPS does a terrible job with these kids. Terrible.

    Second, consider that if you live in the suburbs, your social life – and your child’s – will revolve around the school. In the city, kids meet lots of kids who go to different schools in their neighborhoods, at their churches, and on sports teams. They don’t get pigeonholed by their slot in the classroom hierarchy. That’s just wonderful. Yeah, we obsess over schools here, but in the suburbs, the schools are often the family’s entire life.

  • 52. cps Mom  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:28 am

    @50 Grace. Along those lines, I think it’s worth mentioning the many High Schools that have shared programs with city colleges and universities including U of C, UIC medical, Northwestern and DePaul. Many high schools (CPS and catholic) offer the option of taking courses at nearby colleges for credit.

    The Marwen Institute offers free art training and classes. Northwestern has a gifted program starting in the 6th grade (I believe) and a robotics class. DePaul offers robotics camps for kids. UIC offers a science camp which is also an ongoing program. There is a math enrichment class offered at Walter Payton for 5-12 graders.

    I am rattling these things off the top of my head without looking up the particulars so anyone can feel free to elaborate or correct me on details.

  • 53. Grace  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:37 am

    Maybe later you could offer specifics on the college/h.s. connection?

  • 54. Jennifer  |  April 11, 2011 at 10:00 am

    On suburban life, can I just say we don’t have a minivan, but we do have annual memberships to several museums, including Discovery World in Milwaukee as well as Chicago ones. We do take the train with our two kids and have friends that aren’t people our kids go to school with! Just saying…

  • 55. Hawthorne mom  |  April 11, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I definitely agree with #51. Special needs services in Chicago, for the most part, are awful. Other than really minor things like speech, if I had a special needs child, I would lose my home before sending him or her to a CPS school.
    I think the suburbs and the city both have positives and negatives to them and I am not sure one is “better” than the other. Like pp’s have said, it also depends on which exact schools you are comparing. It is my opinion that once a school is “good enough”, then it doesn’t really matter where a child goes….it is the family that matters. I think the problem for many city families and some suburban families is that their school is not “good enough”.
    While I love the city, I don’t really feel like we have more opportunities or more culture or more anything here than anywhere else. It is just different. Museums are nice, but I am not convinced they are the only or the best way to be intellectually stimulated. My kids just spent the weekend with their grandma in the burbs and got to dig in the dirt in her garden…..the entire day and had a total blast. They cannot do this where we live in the city. It led to a huge science conversation in our house. It seems to me, that everyone can take advantage of the strengths of where they live and build on those things. Suburbs have street fairs and farmers markets and great park districts and really, my opinion is that “culture” comes from strong relationships with other people…..you can just as easily never have a deep friendship with someone from a different place or a different social class in the city as you can in the burbs.
    My neighborhood has its good parts and bad parts. We love living in a very diverse Rogers Park, we love being able to walk to the beach and to take public transport. We don’t love the shootings, like the one last month where a young man was killed less than a block from us or like last summer, where three doors down two men were shot. And our neighborhood school is not a place we felt good about sending our kids, academically and otherwise.
    CPS as a whole has some very serious issues and deficits. I really feel for families who want/wanted to stay in the city but can’t because their neighborhood school is not okay and they didn’t get in anywhere else.

  • 56. chitownmama  |  April 11, 2011 at 10:18 am

    @43 LR, yes! That’s exactly what I worry about—the social milieu to be endured will not make up for any education benefits gained. I went to some truly crappy elementary schools and a firmly average middle school/high school with a few bright spot teachers along the way. It did not hinder my ability to end up with a lot of degrees from great institutions of higher education.

    I live in the city not just because it is more enjoyable for me and my husband and our children (it is!), but because cities are a crucial component of a healthy society. Healthy cities need families and children to sustain them. These families and children need healthy schools. Anywhere we send our kids, we will be volunteering our time, energy, and money to assist them. I feel better about helping out a school and a school system where not all the parents have the resources to provide this help. My kids have already won the socioeconomic lottery; they will be fine whether they go to a good elementary or a crappy one. It’s my duty as a community member and as a human to consider not just my own children’s immediate existence but also consider what kind of city I want them to have as adults and to consider what kind of city I can help to bring into existence right now. Unfortunately, our economic system and our lack of a publicly-funded social safety net in this country means that the emphasis is always on taking care of yourself and your own children first. If someone has the means to do more than that, I think it is the most ethical path to take.

    That’s not to say I fault anyone for moving to the suburbs because that’s where their job is and they can’t stand the reverse commute. Or because CPS can’t provide the services their special needs kid requires (I know several families to whom this applies.)

    I think moving because you think you will more cheaply acquire a “good education” for your child is not necessarily sensible though. For one thing, the added costs of transportation may very well outweigh any housing savings. (Here’s a great map app that demonstrates this.)

    And, for the most part though, what are considered “good schools” are simply schools where the population is white, wealthy, and English-proficient enough to get good scores on standardized tests. This is true even within the city. Once you take into account demographics, a lot of the “good schools” are not necessarily an amazing value-added proposition. (A nice demonstration of this is Chicago Mag’s Best Elementary Schools list from last fall where they ordered CPS schools purely by ISAT scores; if you instead take into account the percentage of low income students, it can tell you which schools are doing better than expected.)

    Such an interesting discussion!

  • 57. cpsobsessed  |  April 11, 2011 at 10:36 am

    I have a similar outlook about those really nice suburbs that LR does. I went to college with a lot of kids from those schools and it ended up being a real turnoff for me. There a sense of competitiveness and entitlement that I couldn’t see raising a child in. Just not my thing. Most of them could not see NOT raising a child there, so it’s just a matte of personal preference.

    Now that I have a kid, I still can’t see myself feeling comfortable there, but I do see some advantages to raising a child surrounded by models of success (financial, business, etc) and where it is assumed everyone will go to a good college. I think it sets a high bar and reflects why none of us want our kids going to CPS neighborhood high schools where the dropout rate is 50%.

    The posts have been really interesting and have made me think that in large part it’s just a matter of where it feels right for you. After going through a big life examination and some changes in the past couple years, the one thing that I knew I was unquestionably happy about was where we lived. The neighborhood and people and school just feel like a good fit, just as the suburbs feel like a a good fit for people.

    I do think that in the city you have to work harder to make education work – whether it’s working the system, supplementing with activities, tutoring, etc. but it’s just part of the price you pay for living in the place that feels right and makes you happy.

  • 58. cps Mom  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Grace – Many high schools will permit students to take classes at colleges/universities on an individual basis for high school parent. The school needs to have a partnership with the college. For example, Jones partners with Roosevelt University for writing. The school also hooks up with other schools like the Art Institute and Columbia College. Kenwood and Mount Carmel partner with U of C. UIC college prep offers classes at UIC.

  • 59. JoeyB  |  April 11, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    We stay in the city for so many good reasons, many of which horrify my in-laws, who still live in a well-to-do and absolutely dull Detroit suburb. Yes, their lives are fairly controlled, much like the interior of shopping mall – everyhting is safe, idyllic and requires tons of driving and tons of striving as well. My wife grew up in that environment, but she’s decided to stick it out in the city with our three kids and send them to our neighborhood school, which is excellent. As much as we worry about the negatives of the city (well, she does, I grew up in NYC and wouldn’t trade the experience for Scarsdale), we also are able to walk with our kids everywhere, including eventually walking them to school every morning. How many people still do that? Besides, it’s true that there is less “keeping up with the Joneses” in the city – do I really want to hear my daughter at 17 complain about the fact all her friends have BMW’s while she rides a Schwinn? Of course, there are those types in the city – like the two doctors who told my wife that if kids don’t go to Latin School that they’ll be failures – but they seem to be fewer than what you’d find in the nicer burbs.

    I’m hoping we raise wordly, sophisticated, knowledgable, compassionate and just wonderfully fun kids – and I think we have a better chance raising them in the city than in the burbs. I could be wrong, but that’s our mistake to make.

  • 60. mary  |  April 11, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    It’s fascinating to read all these entries. I have lived in chicago 41 of my 45 years, so I feel qualified to comment on the city vs. suburbs debate.

    We moved to a close-in suburb 4 years ago, and I feel like our family gets the best of both worlds -close enough to get downtown quickly, and excellent schools.

    We bought a small house down the street from an excellent elementary school – with the bonus of a yard, which has always been my dream.

    IF my kids want to live in the city when they get older, I totally get it, and I”ll be the first to visit them!

    I am not, nor will I ever be, a snob based on “where” I live, i.e. city OR suburbs. Most would agree one is not better than the other, just what is most appealing to you and your family.

    Hopefully we are all raising socially-aware, well-rounded children no matter where we live.

  • 61. Mom2  |  April 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    My personal opinion is that once you have a child in high school, if you can get into one of the great SE High Schools or a great IB program, you are better off in the city. Although your kids may be out in the big city taking public transportation all over the place and having to deal with the dangers of those strangers around the city, at least they are not in a car with other bored teenagers doing things that teenagers do. I am hoping that there is a real plus to them not having as many opportunities for dealing with drunk driving, driving into trees, etc.

    I also totally agree with those that mention a better feeling about not having to keep up and all that financial pressure and issues.

    On the other hand, I question myself often about if we made the right decisions to stay in the city when you have younger kids. Although it is great being able to walk to restaurants and little shops and that great community feel, I can’t help thinking about how nice it would be to have the suburban community with the community pool, all the kids on the block playing together, going to the same school, living near each other, playing in each others yards, etc. Not having to worry about what school, schools with a bit more money to do the things wanted/needed, etc. I don’t think I will ever be sure we have made the right choices for our younger ones.

  • 62. beth  |  April 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    My comments for the family from New York, and for the families who did not get into select elementary schools and feel like they need to pack up and move to the suburbs are these:

    CPS is not so different from New York’s public school system or any urban school district: if you live in a neighborhood like Forest Hills the public school is fine, if you live in the South Bronx, well . . . and if you live in a transitional neighborhood you might hit a school full of strivers or a school in a neighborhood where homes are selling for 700K, but no one buying these homes are willing to send their kids to the school down the street. You can be the change! (as Patty says above)

    I think it’s important to know that your child can attend non-magnet, non-select elementary schools and be fine. They can do this in still “gentrifying” or “transitional” neighborhoods and be fine. A lot of it depends on what kind of parenting you practice (as many of the comments affirm), and what you are comfortable with.

    My daughter went to the neighborhood school down the street, and she got into a select high school (and she is doing well at that high school). Sometimes the comments on this site might give you the impression that if your child doesn’t get into a select elementary school, they are doomed. Of course not—but they will be in classes with children from a variety of cognitive and social-emotional abilities and a variety of socio-economic backgrounds. Their peers may not be “gifted and talented” or at least their “gifted and talented”-ness may not be testable. In fact, when your child does get into a select high school, teachers will raise their eyebrows when they hear where she went. Your child might be of the minority race or ethnicity in the school. And there will be teaching to the test. And there will probably not be any foreign language classes (except for the vocabulary her friends who are English Language Learners teach her). Or much social studies (because CPS doesn’t test for it). Or a working science lab (but CPS offers high scoring students special algebra and science courses at local universities). But there are good teachers throughout CPS. And your child can walk to school (by herself when she gets older!). And there are a lot of other plusses (less homework because she does it in school for one and therefore more free time for reading and discovery; learning to deal with and appreciate kids who have different abilities and talents; less pressure so young).

    Again, it depends on what you are comfortable with. Statistically children achieve on par if not better than their parents, despite the “formal” education they get, because academic achievement is mostly tied to parent’s socio-economic background and academic achievement. This means that your child will probably thrive despite the circumstances of her “formal education,” if you are a middle to upper middle college graduate or better (or some variation thereof), whereas the child from a less privileged socio-economic background whose parents may only have a high school diploma, if that, will need more from that “formal education” to achieve on par with your child (statistically, of course there are exceptions). So by sending your child to a non-select elementary school you are not dooming them to a life of academic failure; in fact, you might be providing them with tools that they will need to thrive later in life. The only exception is special ed students—CPS does not have the resources—move to the suburbs. But you need to be comfortable with your choice—that’s the most important thing– because you can second guess yourself all the time and a lot of the whole select process, especially for elementary education, is about parental anxiety and managing parental anxiety.

  • 63. James  |  April 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    #61 (Mom2) —

    Your comments are exactly what I think. I questioned our decision to stay in the city more when my kids were younger. Although we did many kid-friendly things in the city, I think many of those activities went over the heads of my kids when they were young. And when we did visit the suburbs, I had to acknowledge the value of the large yard and the tucked away subdivisions (even though they also made my skin crawl a little).

    But, honestly, now that my kids are older (just started high school (in an SE) and in 7th grade), I don’t question our decision nearly as much anymore. My kids are now at an age when they can begin to fully appreciate the cultural depth of the city, the ease with which we can access it, and the true diversity that surronds them. Yes, of course, a family can try to impart those things from anywhere. But it simply is far, far easier to do when you are literally living in the midst of it.

    So if you can provide as many suburban-type experiences as you can when your kids are younger (going camping, getting to parks regularly, etc.), you really do begin to reap the benefits of the city when they are older. My kids may well have liked a larger yard when they were in the 2nd or 3rd grade. But by 9th grade, they could not care less about that while do appreciate being able to walk or take a short El ride to some of the finest cultural institutions in the country. And I really like that they are partaking of that, on foot or in public transportation, and not sitting bored in a car on some suburban drag somewhere.

  • 64. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Anyone in the know? I am seriously considering ETHS as we rent, and it will be a miracle if Humanities overachieving, but arithmetically impaired Chicago Gawker daughter breaks the 90th percentile on SEHS test. I’m thinking it’s not as entitled or competitive a culture as other N suburban schools. After all New Trier kids refer to it as a ghetto school, I take that as a good sign possibly. Pros: It’s diverse, has strong academics for those want it, I wouldn’t hate living in Evanston, no long commute waking at 5am for CG daughter, no rat race/stress for her of the SEHSs.admission. Cons: No bells and whistles academically? No IB program, no international focus and trips like eg. WP. Socially it may be hard to break in, bcs. we weren’t there for elementary. Perspectives from anyone?

  • 65. Not Sure  |  April 11, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    After going through this, what I can only describe as a traumatizing kindergarten admissions process, with wide eyed naivete wishing for the best, only to feel horribly let down…I don’t feel like my available options don’t match what I’m looking for my child. My child loves school (private) now, the idea of sending him to one where he’d get lost in a crowd of children…kinda breaks my heart. It’s sad and crazy trying to get a few coveted spots and I’m sure I’m alone being turned off from the system in disappointment. Why do I stay? I’m not sure, having happy, safe kids means more to me than Thai food delivered to my door. The suburbs aren’t looking so bad anymore…

  • 66. Avid Walker  |  April 11, 2011 at 10:13 pm

    It’s so refreshing to follow an intelligent, stimulating discussion. (I guess I should spend less time reading the comments on the Yahoo boards.) My husband works in Evanston, and when he told his colleagues he was going to live in Chicago and send his kid to school there, they looked at him like he had just sprouted an extra head. We were fortunate enough to move into one of the more desirable neighborhood school districts here. That said, there’s no foreign language or formal music program, but I believe I can supplement. Also, with gas approaching $5/gallon, I have even more of an excuse to walk everywhere. I like places that are built for people, and not for cars. I want to spend my weekends exploring, and not mowing my lawn. Which, of course, is a personal preference, as some previous posters mentioned.

  • 67. WestLooper  |  April 11, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    How about a 20 minute commute (walking) or 5 (by cab)? That’s a lot of extra time with the kids that would instead be spent on Metra. No thanks, I will stay in the city.

  • 68. Ravenswood Mom  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Just want to thank all who have posted here both pro & con. We are a city family just starting out (DS is 2), but thinking about education already. It’s encouraging to read the stories of those who have made the city and public schools work for them. In the end it’s really all about what’s best for you & your children – city or suburbs, we’re all doing the best we can! Thanks again for the thoughtful discussion.

  • 69. Grace  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Gawker: Have you been following the story about Evanston h.s. changing their honors classes to become more inclusive? I think ETHS was starting with honor English, in case that matters to your Humanities-lover.

    Btw, google study island, perhaps that can help with math?

  • 70. Tattoo Mom (JM)  |  April 12, 2011 at 9:39 am

    @50… all of the museums offer free days and have lots of hands on things to do for kids. I would highly recommend the smaller places too like Chicago History Museum, Nature Museums, cultural centers, zoos etc.

    Awesome bug/nature camps offered at North Park Nature Center, for I think around 30 bucks. My kids LOVED it.

    We used to look online at museum sites to see if we could see what they had on display and make scavenger hunts for the kids. It’s really fun and the kids learn stuff to boot! (My favorite is at the Art Institute…find a painting by Picasso, Monet, etc. Find a piece of sculpture from Africa, find a vase from Greece. My kids are all “older now” 9, 11 & 13 and still want me to do this! LOL It’s getting harder to stump them as they know the lay of the land now.

    If you want enrichment classes there’s National Lewis or Northwestern’s Center for Talent Development. These can be costly though.

    Chicago has SO much to offer our families, I couldn’t imagine not living here. Getting excited for all the upcoming summer neighborhood festivals already!

  • 71. Grace  |  April 12, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Ah, summer!

    Hawthorne Mom, or anyone else: do you know of a centrally located decent writing program 8th grade or higher?

    To be fair to our suburban friends, the best parade ever is Hinsdale’s 4th of July. It has lots of old-time firetrucks, civil war, and WW 1 and 2 re-enactors who march and fire muskets, gymnasts marching and performing, Little League baseball teams squirting kids, and a number of marching bands — the most exciting, imho, is Proviso East. Worth a visit.

  • 72. ChicagoGawker  |  April 12, 2011 at 11:43 am

    Grace, google UIC elementary summer enrichment. You’ll have to call to find out how much focus there is on writing.

    I do know that what ETHS is trying is teaching Freshman English/Literature at the honors level for all students in hopes of raising the achievement level and self expectations of low achievers. This has been reported in the press that they eliminated their honors program. Not true. It remains to be seen if the course can genuinely be taught an honors level when some of the students are just not at that level. I support the intent behind it. It is a stratified school in terms of having high achievers vs. low achieving socio-economically disadvantaged students and they are trying to break down the ‘tracking’ for failure of the latter group.

  • 73. Grace  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    Thanks! CG, will check it out.

    And Hawthorne mom, thanks for the Chgo mag ranking of CPS schools. I immediately checked our 8 neighborhood & 1 RGC schools, of course, and all ranged from a low of 85.6 to 100, except one neighborhood elementary school.

    And regarding charters, I also happened to notice that two charter operators were allowed to combine the test scores of all their schools into one score, which seems odd to this data-head.

    UNO combined 3,334 students’ scores to hit #93 in the list. CICS combined 7,281 students’ scores to hit #160 in the list of top CPS schools. I couldn’t find any other school that collected test scores that way. Maybe I’m reading this wrong?

  • 74. Hawthorne mom  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    I don’t know if this would fit, but NU’s CTD program has some writing classes for upper grades/high school. The only catch is a student has to test in. It might be worth a shot. You also might try contacting the Chicago Area Writing Project. They provide professional development for teachers in the area of writing and while I don’t think highly of 99% of the PD in CPS, CAWP is a VERY good program. They might be able to point you in the right direction.
    @#72, It was my understanding that ETHS was combining all their freshman humanities courses….that they were NOT teaching it all at an honors level, but that students could earn honors credit by doing more difficult assignments within the class. As I read about it, it appeared to me that instruction would not necessarily be at an honors level, it would be the additional work that students could choose to do that would earn them the honors credit, thus allowing “regular” students to earn the honors credit if they, too, could do the work.
    It is an interesting proposition and I give ETHS a lot of credit for trying it out. The worst that could happen is it doesn’t work. It is only one class. Evanston is known for its innovative techniques and while I am not sure their lower/average kids will succeed at earning the credit, at least they have a shot.

  • 75. Hawthorne mom  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t know if this would fit, but NU’s CTD program has some writing classes for upper grades/high school. The only catch is a student has to test in. It might be worth a shot. You also might try contacting the Chicago Area Writing Project. They provide professional development for teachers in the area of writing and while I don’t think highly of 99% of the PD in CPS, CAWP is a VERY good program. They might be able to point you in the right direction.
    @#72, It was my understanding that ETHS was combining all their freshman humanities courses….that they were NOT teaching it all at an honors level, but that students could earn honors credit by doing more difficult assignments within the class. As I read about it, it appeared to me that instruction would not necessarily be at an honors level, it would be the additional work that students could choose to do that would earn them the honors credit, thus allowing “regular” students to earn the honors credit if they, too, could do the work.
    It is an interesting proposition and I give ETHS a lot of credit for trying it out. The worst that could happen is it doesn’t work. It is only one class. Evanston is known for its innovative techniques and while I am not sure their lower/average kids will succeed at earning the credit, at least they have a shot. I’ve gone back and forth on this….first I thought it was a mistake, but now I guess I think, “why not”?

  • 76. movetoEdgebrook  |  April 12, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Consider a move to Edgebrook. Great families and a pretty good neighborhood and private schools. Some houses are popping up for sale. It’s a nice community with tons of amenities, like our public library, forest preserve, coffee shops, …. And tons and tons of kids. Plus Edgebrook School is getting an addition to double its size. We’d love to have you.

  • 77. SuburbanCityGirl  |  April 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    I grew up in the Western burbs. I loved my childhood. That said, I think my kids are having a great childhood in the city, too. It’s all about what you’re comfortable with. There are great schools in the ‘burbs and here. We moved into a great neighborhood school district because I can’t handle pressure and didn’t want to deal with magnets/SEs. It’s working out great.
    However, if I didn’t have a neighborhood school, I’d probably be off to the burbs because I do like having a lot of families in the neighborhood at the same school. It’s what I remember, so it’s what makes me comfortable. I know a lot of parents don’t mind driving their kids across the city because it’s more about the “community” created by the school. So, it’s just what makes YOU comfortable.
    Don’t let anyone tell you the suburbs are better. Don’t let anyone tell you the city is better. Because you know what? Everybody (including me) is wrong! : )

  • 78. karet  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    I grew up in a North-shore like suburb of Minneapolis and was disturbed by the lack of diversity. My high-school was 99% Caucasian and I always wished we lived in the city. I’m delighted that my son’s school (starting at Skinner N next year) is 30% Caucasian 30% African American 30% Asian 10% Hispanic.

  • 79. karet  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    I should also add that my husband went to Maine South in Park Ridge and loved it.

  • 80. Grace  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    HM — Thanks again!

  • 81. ChicagoGawker  |  April 12, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Hawthorne Mom, I’m happy to have the opportunity to clear up misconceptions about the new honors program at ETHS. The Chicago Tribune did a completely misleading, sensational article saying that honors were eliminated. It is not the case that Freshman Humanities is not taught at the honors level and that honors credit is awarded for doing more difficult assignments. http://www.eths.k12.il.us/assets/1/D…s%20Cred outlines the new program, as does the ETHS website , http://www.eths.k12.il.us/a_message_from_the_superintendent/, which states that it will include “all freshmen who read at grade level in the existing mixed (honors and regular) level Humanities course that offers the same honors curriculum, aligned with AP program standards, that is taught in the honors-only sections.” The same honors level teachers and curriculum will be used. If you really want an eye opener go to the Evanston city-data forum at http://www.city-data.com/forum/chicago-suburbs/1151025-evanston-township-h-s.html and read all the hysterical, dire predictions people are making about how having kids below the 95% in an honors class is going to tank the property values of the entire city of Evanston. One poster says she was going to move to Evanston,but won’t now bcs. this will obviously make ETHS an inferior school. She’s right, her kids sound like they belong at New Trier.

  • 82. Gary  |  April 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    Following is my letter published in the Sun-Times April 8th:

    Who will teach my children?
    Apr 8, 2011

    You wrote an editorial in the wake of the news that Chicago is the only top 10 big city in the nation to lose population over the last decade. Your list of negatives included the weather (how droll) and taxes. You then attempted to offset those two items with all the wonders that this city has to offer. I must agree, I love this city and all it has to offer. The problem is what it does not offer: the opportunity for all children to have a decent and safe education.

    My wife and I have two children, one about to enter kindergarten and another just a year behind. The public school in our neighborhood is not acceptable. While walking through the school last May, we found a pledge outside the fourth-grade class that had been signed by every child. Is the pledge to read one book a week or watch less television? No. It’s a pledge not to bring a gun to class. I cannot enroll my child in a school where the consequences of a broken student pledge can be literally deadly.

    So the next step was to apply to every single magnet school regardless of the difficulties related to distance from our home. Of the 18 schools we applied to, we were accepted at none. The private school we love and would work our budget to attend? Wait-listed. The “gifted” programs available in this city? The test was passed, but we did not get in.

    I am so happy that, as you wrote, you could write a list of wonders as long as a Chicago winter. I bet I would agree with every single one. But who’s gonna teach my kid!?

  • 83. parent  |  April 12, 2011 at 4:07 pm

    I believe the documentary Waiting for Superman address this question thoroughly. Rural and suburban public schools are experiencing the same problems, regardless of funding. Seems to be hit or miss across the nation in rural, suburban, and urban environments.

  • 84. Chris  |  April 12, 2011 at 6:26 pm

    “Years ago a work colleague purchased a modest ranch house in Glenview … in the New Trier school district. He definitely bought the better house.”

    I expect you meant Glen*coe*, as no part of Glen*view* is in NTSD.

  • 85. Chris  |  April 12, 2011 at 6:29 pm

    “After all New Trier kids refer to it as a ghetto school”

    I went to the “ghetto school” (referred to to my face) in my smaller midwest city. Don’t think there was a black or chicano kid in my class. It’s just pathetic HS-snob BS, and, really, only a sign that New Trier probably ain’t the place for your kid.

  • 86. Chicagojlo  |  April 12, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Chicago Gawker nice judgement of two children you know absolutely nothing about there.

  • 87. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    @86 Huh? What 2 children? What judgment?

  • 88. Chicagojlo  |  April 12, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    ” her kids sound like they belong at New Trier”.

    I’m assuming you meant my two since it was my post that you mentioned.

  • 89. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 12, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    I was referring to a post on city-data.com. My point was only that the poster probably wouldn’t be comfortable with her kids at school like ETHS where you have low achievers and very high achievers, and if allowing kids who score below the 95% into an honors class makes her nervous about the quality of the school. This would not be an issue at NT. No judgment about her kids made.

  • 90. Chicagojlo  |  April 12, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    I am the poster – at least I am the one saying she was re-assessing the possibility of moving to Evanston because she felt the removal of the honors programs would damage the school.

    When you said “her kids sound like they belong at New Trier” you were talking about my kids, not me.

    Perhaps you need to read your earlier post again, perhaps putting yourself in my shoes as you do so.

  • 91. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Wow, it’s a small world. As I explained above, the point I was making was about what HS you , the parent, would be comfortable with based on what you posted, despite the way I worded it “her kids”. I apologize if you felt offended, but based on that post that’s what it seems to indicate. Her “kids belong at NT” might even be seen as a compliment by some.. 🙂 Now, I don’t want to bore everyone and derail this discussion with our misunderstanding….

  • 92. I like CPS!  |  April 12, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Getting back to the original question — Can a “good” CPS neighborhood school compete w/ the ‘burbs? — I say absolutely… at least with respect to elementary (K-8) schools. I’m very happy w/ our neighborhood school (Bell). There is great parent/neighborhood involvement, a rigorous curriculum, high test scores, appropriate differentiated instruction and sufficient recess and extracurriculars. (Is there room for improvement? Sure…. But I think that is true in the ‘burbs as well.)

    Anecdotally, I recently asked my son’s neighborhood first grade teacher to compare Bell with her prior experience as a second grade teacher at an elite north shore private school. She said that the schools were very similar in terms of both parent involvement and rigor. She said there are kids in her neighborhood first grade class at Bell who could have mastered the second grade curriculum at her north shore private school.

    Obviously, not all CPS neighborhood programs are created equally — and I understand the negative feelings associated with the stress of magnet lotteries, test-in programs, etc. in the city However, I feel strongly there are neighborhood programs in CPS that are just as good as the ‘burbs.

    Good luck to the families moving to Chicago!

  • 93. cps parent  |  April 13, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I reasonate with your e-mail. If you have an unacceptable neighborhood option and did not hit the jackpot with either gifted/classical testing or literally with the magnet lottery — then your options are limited or non existent.

    I think that more educated, middle class people have been chosing to stay in the city to raise their kids over the past 5-10 years and that this has made spots in the good schools increasingly unattainable. As a city resident, I think that expanding these options — ADDING MORE OF THESE SCHOOLS — is vital to the continued health of the City of Chicago. Chicago needs these taxpayers to remain economically viable. I think that NOW is the time to contact the mayor elect to make sure that he is aware of this need and prioritzes it.

    Chicago’s accelerated programs — gifted/classical — at both the elementary & high school level — can offer advantages that are lacking in suburban schools and are a competitive advantage!! Across the state and the country school districts are eliminating advanced programs when budgets are tight — and having these programs and EXPANDING them can actually provide an incentive for parents to move to the city. Many of the accelerated programs in neighboring areas have been curtailed and these parents are looking at the City’s programs with interest. WOULDN’T IT BE REALLY NEAT FOR SUBURBAN PARENTS TO SEEK OUT THESE ADVANCED OPTIONS & MOVE TO THE CITY FOR THEM???
    Some folks already are. Why don’t we build on this advantage???

  • 94. klm  |  April 13, 2011 at 8:36 am

    I know people roll their eyes when I mention this, but there is a CPS neighborhood elementary that out-tests even most North Shore schools, has extraordinary extras (music for everybody, incredible after-school programs, etc.), 8th graders can take a “graduation trip” to either Paris or Casablanca to its sister schools (the PTA helps kids that can’t afford it with financrs), parents LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!, etc. —Lincoln Elementary. We’re lucky enough to live in the “Lincoln School District”, although none of our kids attend. People in the Lincoln District more often than not don’t even bother with maget or SE enrollment CPS elementaries, since most aren’t even considered “as good” as Lincoln (at least according to parents and test scores). Obvioulsy, socioeconomics plays a huge roll –the parents’ raise huge amts., enough to employ a full-time music teacher and lots of others extras CPS will/can’t afford. There is a large SuburbanNorthShore-like “white, upper-middle class” population of students (which virtually guarntees great ISAT scores), but there’s diversity, too. A fairly large amount of public housing falls in the Lincoln District and those kids benefit from the great Lincoln education. A higher % of kids qualify for free lunch than at my kid’s RGC. So, if one wants a 100% guaranteed great CPS neighborhood school that as good or better than any “Suburban” school, Lincoln is it. One of our kids attends a RGC and Lincoln parents we know often wonder why be bother. Sometimes, so do I.

  • 95. Mom2  |  April 13, 2011 at 8:44 am

    @93 CPS Parent – I totally agree with you. Please visit Rahm’s web site where he asks for suggestions for the city and post your views/thoughts. You are right on in terms of trying to make/keep Chicago the best place to live in the USA. Great for the city, great for business, great for the city economy, etc. That would be any Mayor’s goal.

  • 96. mary  |  April 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

    #93- I could not agree more. I am ever hopeful our new mayor keeps improving schools for every single child in this great city. No child is more deserving than another, and shouldn’t be penalized for where they live in regards to the quality of education available.

    I do struggle with the decision to move to suburbia, which was based on more than schools: being in much closer proximity to elderly parents, family members (beloved cousins and babysitters), shorter commute to work, etc. A free, highly-rated school at the end of the block? BONUS! We do not make a lot of money, and cannot afford private schools.

    There are many reasons why people do what they do, and it isnt’ always about education. It does take a village, and my village happens to be here where I live, not Lincoln Square.

    If only Chicago could consistently provide an equally awesome education for all, right?

  • 97. Mayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

    @ 84 Chris. Contact a reputable real estate agent in Glenview to locate the thin slice that is in the New Trier school district. Not well known, a little under-the-radar intel from your pal Mayfair Dad 🙂

  • 98. Mayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:25 am

    @ 84 Chris and others.

    Avoca Elementary School
    235 Beech Drive
    Glenview, IL 60035
    (847) 724-6800

    You probably won’t be able to walk to your favorite BYOB Thai restaurant, but your kids will attend New Trier High School. No admissions lottery, no Tier 4 mumbo jumbo, no disappointment.

    My gift to this thread.

  • 99. Chicagojlo  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:40 am

    @Chicagogawker it is a small world, please remember that next time you are making snarky comments about someone else and their children.

    Back to the matter at hand – it’s nice to hear all these suggestions of top rated neighborhood schools but the property prices in those areas are outrageous. We don’t qualify for public housing by a long mile, but I also can’t afford the $400k minimum it takes to live in Lincoln or Bell now (for a small 3 bed condo, not even a SFH).

  • 100. cps Mom  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:45 am

    There are some real deals right now housing wise plus plenty of rental available in Lincoln Park.

  • 101. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Yes, Mayfair Dad, I have family that lives in that area in Glenview that is in the NT district. It’s that area SE of Wilmette Golf Club.

  • 102. klm  |  April 13, 2011 at 10:02 am

    I’m always amazed when people talk as though only “rich” people live in the North Shore, send their kids to New Trier, etc. Drive/explore much of Wilmette (further from the Lake) or parts of Northbrook, etc. For every “mansion”, there a a dozen “regular” homes, including lots of apartment and townhomes. Friends of ours (an elementary school teacher at a parachial school and a school counselor –with no ‘family’ money) live in a perfectly nice, but small house on a street with similar homes. Accross the street are townhouses that are rentals. The townhouses are full of very nice, “regular” people that they’ve come to know (including a family of West African immigrants –the dad’s a taxi driver and the mom cleans houses and babysits). They all live there so that their kids can get a New Trier education, of course. I’m not advocating for anybody moving out of Chicago (I’m very ‘Pro-City’ for child-rearing), but people should know that if their kids’ education is their first priority, it’s not only the very wealthy that live susburbs with great public schools. Renting a 3-bedroom apt. in “nice” neighboroods of Chicago is usually no more expensive (and often cheaper) to renting in Northbrook, Deerfield, or even Wilmette, etc.

  • 103. klm  |  April 13, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I meant to say that renting in the suburbs with good schools is usually cheaper than the “nicer” neighborhoods of Chicago. I can also attest that there are decent rentals (including 3 and 4 bedroom apts.) that may not be “luxury” homes, but are (relatively speaking) affordible in the Lincoln School district. Obviously, if anybody wants a kitchen that looks like it belongs in an orange juice commerical (wether in Chicago or the North Shore) they’ll have to have some real money. But if living in a “regular” apartment is fine, then there are options for the non-wealthy.

  • 104. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 13, 2011 at 10:32 am

    ChicagoJilo, How could I be expected to be mindful of the feelings of someone who hadn’t even posted on this forum???? Shall we all refrain from disparaging the CPS school board because one might be reading these comments?I find the continued offense you are taking bizarre. There is no shame in not wanting to risk your kids HS experience, if you think ETHS will be risky.. Have the courage of your convictions. But keep in mind that ETHS will continue to offer 24 AP courses to its students and only the Freshman honors course is open to all. The normal tracking continues after that.

  • 105. Gary  |  April 13, 2011 at 10:35 am

    For sure there are MANY deals out there right now housing-wise. INCLUDING MY HOUSE. Before we can move to a Chicago neighborhood with a good school or any of a multitude of suburban school districts, we need to sell our house. Worst market in a more than a generation- and currently still trending downward.

  • 106. cps Mom  |  April 13, 2011 at 10:39 am

    @103 One thing that I experienced in the suburbs that complicates your scenario is the driving. Every activity down to grocery shopping and even going to the park required driving. The distance and time spent driving can be inordinate. I agree with the poster who mentioned this factor and the need to view this in light of $5 per gallon. And, don’t tell me that the type of car you drive makes no difference. You would not want to pick up your teenager from soccer practice in a 7 year old Chevy.

    I do agree that you do what you have to do to get a good education. When I think of trying to navigate living in an apartment in Wilmette and my child having to contend with being on the lowest rung of the totem pole, it’s not worth it for me.

    The latest news is that the residents of Wilmette are “debating” letting low income residents reside in a proposed apartment complex. They have already stated that IF they allow it, teachers and other city workers with lower salaries would have priority. Doesn’t sound like this is something widely available to all.

  • 107. Chicagojlo  |  April 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

    @Chicagogawker this will be my last comment on the matter, because it doesn’t belong here. I do post here regularly under another name actually, but the tone you took when describing me and my children was rude and wrong and my biggest problem with it is your refusal to admit that. The fact that you didn’t think I would ever read it doesn’t make it ok.

  • 108. Mayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Here is another nugget of free advice for young families deciding where to put down roots: Park Ridge.

    Close to the city, including the restaurants and nightlife of Edison Park – 5 minutes away.

    Mix of real estate at different price points, including rental units

    Home prices comparable to the more affluent neighborhoods of Chicago, where the most desirable neighborhood schools are located (and you know MD has the statistics to back this up).

    Sure you could buy in Region 1 and go to a great neighborhood elementary school on the NW side, but guess what? Your neighborhood high school is Taft – average ACT score 19.1

    Convinced your super-special kids will get into a Selective Enrollment high school? So were the other 85% of families who were declined.

    Neighborhood high school in Park Ridge: Maine South, average ACT score 24.6 BOOM! Hey, if its good enough for Hillary Rodham Clinton, its good enough for my kids.

    Knock knock. Who’s there? Adult responsibility. (NOT the sushi restaurant delivery man)

    That gurgling little bundle of joy currently crawling across your hipster kitchen floor will be a teenager in a blink of an eye. Consider yourself warned.

    Maybe I should start a new blog: EscapeTheCPSMadness.com

  • 109. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 13, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Be careful M Dad, Taft HS parents might be reading your comments.

  • 110. Hawthorne mom  |  April 13, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I am wondering about “regular” apartments in the Lincoln school district. What would a small, not fancy, 2 bed/1 bath apartment with no parking go for?
    I’ve always assumed even the smallest and dingiest 2 bed apartment in Lincoln Park would go for at least 1800 a month. But, perhaps I am wrong?
    I am used to Rogers Park prices which would be about half that…..

  • 111. ThatsMe  |  April 13, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    @Mayfair Dad. Let me first roll my eyes . To infer that staying in the city is lacking adult responsibility is ridiculous. I’m glad you love Park Ridge. Please stay there. I live in the NW side and I”m not a so-called “hipster.” My husband are very responsible adults. Ugh. I hate it when someone uses the word “hipster” to bolster their argument.

  • 112. Angie  |  April 13, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    @110. Hawthorne mom: I think you can do better than that. Here are couple of links for $1500 per months: http://classifieds.chicagoreader.com/chicago/lincolnwebster-2/ViewAd?oid=3241379


    But the quality of school is included in the real estate price. That’s just a given. When I moved to Chicago, I had no clue about the CPS insanity, SE, magnets, etc. I just new that if you had kids, you had to live in a good school district, so I’m paying arm and leg to rent in one. In retrospect, I think I would have done things differently. I would have rented in a cheaper area, applied to all the schools from there, and if things did not work out, then moved close to a good neighborhood school.

  • 113. Chicago Gawker-The Inside Poop on Evanston HS  |  April 13, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    Those of us who follow M Dad’s posts know that he does not live in Park Ridge, but in the city. His post was tongue-in-cheek and meant to be humorous. Dad is satirizing our experience.

  • 114. copy editor  |  April 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    If we’re not careful, this will turn into the district 299 blog . . .

  • 115. Mayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    @ 111.

    No, I live in Mayfair, that’s on the NW side, the less attractive bucktoothed stepsister of Sauganash, Wildwood, Edgebrook, Edison Park and Forest Glen. Golly, if you really live on the NW side you probably already know that. We bungalow dwellers of Mayfair enjoy an enviable quality of life in spite of being completely ignored by our alderman.

    My message was to young families just starting out on their parenthood quest, and overwhelmed by the daunting decisions concerning their children’s education. I offered them a glimpse of a different life path, one outside city limits. Suburbs can be cool, too.

    I’m sure you realize less than half of CPS high school students graduate? Of course you do, you savvy non-hipster city person you. But living on the NW side, the most affluent and suburban-eque quadrant of the city, you are insulated from most urban realities.

    So given the choice of rolling the dice and hopefully winning the CPS magnetgiftedselective derby or establishing your household in a close-in suburb that guarantees your children a solid education, I say to young families: take a look at Park Ridge, you might like what you see.

    And I have no doubt you and your husband a very responsible people who pay their taxes on time and always return the grocery carts to the proper spot at Whole Foods, etc. etc. Didn’t mean to impugn your life choices. I rather like living in the city, too. I just don’t claim to live here “for the kids.”

  • 116. Just Depressed Me  |  April 13, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    Mayfair Dad, I don’t agree with you on most points, but I like reading your posts and I think you are witty. “Less attractive bucktoothed stepsister” description is apropos and hilarious.

    The thing about Park Ridge is absolutely no diversity.

  • 117. Mayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Glad somebody is smiling.

    Yeah, Park Ridge is about as white as a scoop of Oberweis Dairy vanilla ice cream. Score one for the city crowd.

  • 118. Michele  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Hi, it’s the mom who asked the original question again. Interested in hearing some additional perspectives on how the very large class sizes of CPS play out day to day, particularly in regards to the younger grades. Do you feel that your child receives enough attention from the teacher? Is the teacher forced to “handle/control” versus “engage” the class etc. and how does this affect overall classroom dynamics/teaching method.

    I had assumed that the larger classes have both a teacher and an aide or two (some of you may be chuckling at my naivete!) but I have since learned that in many cases there is only a teacher. (not sure if this differs amongst neighborhood versus classical/gifted/SE schools).

    A friend with a daughter in a NYC public school first grade class of 28 said it has not been an issue, but she believes that is the case simply because there have not been any substantive behavioral issues to take up the teacher’s attention. She also thinks her child has learned to speak up for herself more and come out of her shell a bit as a result of the large class.

    Curious about your experiences. Thanks!

  • 119. klm  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    @110. There’s a 2bd/1ba. apt for rent near me in the Lincoln school district for $1595 a month IN A NICE (to me) BUILDING. It seems like a lot to some people, but that (obviously) includes taxes, upkeep, etc. –no “money pit”-type, unexpected (but always occuring) problems that would require more money from a non-renter, etc., PLUS a guaranteed admittance to one of the best elementary schools in Illinois. I know a family (playground pals) that has lived in such a place with 2 boys for several years (3rd and 5th grades at Lincoln). Until recently, they didn’t even have a car, so they would always tell me –“it’s cheaper than living in the suburbs”. Not to mention all the free (or nearly free) stuff they have within walking distance –Oz park, the Zoo, the lake, Notebart ,Green City Market, etc. –plus their kids went to the kind of public school that people in the North Shore are required to pay in crazy amnts. for PROPERTY TAXES. The mom’s a social worker and the dad works part-time at Whole Foods and mostly takes care of the kids –hardly millionaires. It can work if people are willing to make sacrifices in terms of space. Who needs space when the city is your “living room”? (Although I think winter must be tough).

  • 120. cps Mom  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    No one has offered an answer as to whether suburbs have smaller class sizes than the city. My guess is depends on the school in both cases.

    Our elementary class had 27 in K and 30-32 in the other grades. It seems almost every year there was more than one adult educator – student teachers, teacher aids, small sized reading group, aids for kids with IEPs that helped the class. There was even a parent that helped out full time in the classroom for no pay. Other parents also helped as needed. I was always amazed at how much attention the kids got for the number of kids to a class.
    Our HS has 25 to a class (which I have heard is low). They tend to have class lecture/discussion and then work in small groups.

    I know that many talk about class size as a requirement to a good school. I have never really understood this (not having memory of any class less than 40 in my entire educational career). It all depends on how it’s handled. My son received as much “one on one” as he needed. The teachers at our schools were exceptional and went above and beyond the call – lots of pride in their vocation.

  • 121. Mayfair Troll  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Yeah troll…I heard you like trolling so I thought I’d troll your trolling, troll

    Here is another nugget of free advice for young families deciding where to put down roots:

    **Quiet everyone an ADULT is talking… This is gonna be good.. ..Please continue…oh sage**

    Park Ridge.

    **Really? Park Ridge? Let me Google this Nugget you’ve given me…..ahh here it is

    Park Ridge, Illinois, is a picturesque suburb of 37,775. I’m guessing “Picturesque” means WHITE, oh yeah here’s a picture of a colonel town hall building THAT’S like super WHITE IMO…ok you’ve haven’t convinced me yet but I’ll read on.

    Close to the city, including the restaurants and nightlife of Edison Park – 5 minutes away.

    Close to what city? Chicago?. Why is this important to note? CLOSE TO THE CITY. We will see in a bit let’s move on. BLAH BLAH…nightlife. All right I’m down for that when we can get a sitter. So what’s the “Happs” in Edison Park…..Moretti’s well I don’t know about that…sounds a little I don’t know ……………Ethnic. I thought those people eat onions and smell of garlic (just joshing w/ cha Bro)

    Mix of real estate at different price points, including rental units

    Are you a realtor? if not STFU, we are in a housing crisis Captain Obvious, I’m guessing there are a WHOLE buncha Homes for sales including rental units cause up to a few years ago everyone thought…Hey I make 70K a yr. Why don’t I live in a house with 5 bedrooms and a 3 car garage? That’s about 300K more then it’s really worth but its ok maybe MOM & DAD can help out just like they have been for my entire life…. Its AMERICA I DESERVE IT…..ME ME ME ME ME ME

    Home prices comparable to the more affluent neighborhoods of Chicago, where the most desirable neighborhood schools are located (and you know MD has the statistics to back this up).

    Please insert Statistics directly into your rectum

    Sure you could buy in Region 1 and go to a great neighborhood elementary school on the NW side, but guess what? Your neighborhood high school is Taft – average ACT score 19.1


    Convinced your super-special kids will get into a Selective Enrollment high school? So were the other 85% of families who were declined.

    I haven’t gotten EVERYTHING I ever wanted, Boo F’ing Hoo. CPS is to blame. They failed me. I give up I’ll move

    PROTIP: School should really only supplement the Education you are providing your children everyday through..you know like LIFE experiences and stuff. So if your child isn’t doing well in school maybe it is YOUR fault. Turn off the TV and read to them. Look I know your tried of course you are, Christ you just drove 2 hours back and forth to the city so you can drown in debt in some McMansion while your kid buys extra super focus Pills from his bored privileged classmates cause he cant live up to the stupid standards that you imposed on him just because you yourself couldn’t live up to those standards, Your shortcoming have become your kids Goals. How sick is that?

    Neighborhood high school in Park Ridge: Maine South, average ACT score 24.6 BOOM! Hey, if it’s good enough for Hillary Rodham Clinton, it’s good enough for my kids.

    Really? ACT is that like a SAT for dumb kids? Most serious students these days don’t even bother taking the ACT grandpa, way to be current.

    Knock. Who’s there? Adult responsibility. (NOT the sushi restaurant delivery man)

    Go away ADULT RESPONSIBILTY…..oh maybe this beer will make it go away…..ahh that’s better sweet sweet alcohol eases the pain……..now I’m hungry I wonder if there’s any leftover Moretti’s pizza (see no hard feelings bro)

    That gurgling little bundle of joy currently crawling across your hipster kitchen floor will be a teenager in a blink of an eye. Consider yourself warned.

    Question: What is a “hipster kitchen floor”? Is it like art deco or something? Chrome maybe? Dose it have Ironic Tile? Is it single track?No Brakes? Black?Skinny? I know A LOT of Hipsters and I only hang out in the Kitchen at parties, mostly cause I’m an Alcohol but also for the vibe….and I have never seen this” hipster kitchen floor” you speak of. Please Post a link anyone if you know WTF he’s talking about.
    “a teenager in a blink of an eye”….My son came home just the only day so much like a man I just had to say……

    Maybe I should start a new blog: EscapeTheCPSMadness.com

    Maybe you should, you must be good at something. Lord knows your evening are quie, nesseled in a snuggie by your police scanner, gun in lap, coors light in the other waiting for THEM to move into your neighborhood. TICK TOCK TICK TOCK

    The bottom line is this suburb people, you are a suburb BECAUSE you live near Chicago. OK got that. Some of us don’t view the city as THE LOOP, or OMG Lincoln park (how exotic). It’s not a place to go binge drinking at before we drive drunk home in our stupid big car while posting to our FACEBOOKS about how “kewl” Wicker Park is. Some of us want to live here. If you don’t great. DON’T. You won’t be missed. Please do us a favor….K? The next time you are on some vacation somewhere and someone asks you where you are from….don’t just answer Chicago. Cause you know, YOU DON’T ACTUALLY LIVE THERE Please tell them all about your crappy little strip mall town, and how it would have never even existed if to weren’t for fear and the comfort of sameness…let them know about the dreams of your kids, their dreams to GTFO ASAP… I don’t believe he’s trolling and if he is, well L2troll derp
    I actually come here for infobecause I care about city schools I do not come to read troll posts. So go be snarky somewhere else FUNNY GUY

  • 122. copy editor  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Yep, we’re now in District 299 territory! Next up: how teachers work 80 hours a week and people in private sector only work 30; why the University of Chicago is horrible; and how Paul Vallas and Wendy Kopp are the spawn of Satan.

    Now, on topic here: I’m not sure class size is the be-all and end-all. I went to Catholic schools when 35 was a normal class size. I also lived in California when they passed a referendum mandating that K-3 classes have 20 students or fewer. That was a disaster; districts had to hire warm bodies to teach and subdivide gymnasiums to accommodate the extra classes. Money that could have gone to improving curricula or special services went to keep the classes small.

    The research shows that the best thing for students is a good teacher and a small class; the next-best thing is a good teacher and a large class. I’m more concerned about teacher quality than anything, and we’ve had good experiences with that.

  • 123. Mayfair Troll  |  April 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    He started it…..fine I’m taking my bridge and going home…..TO CHICAGO

  • 124. Chris  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    “Chris and others.

    Avoca Elementary School
    235 Beech Drive
    Glenview, IL 60035
    (847) 724-6800”


    Funny thing is, the NT T’ship map on the NTHS website really doesn’t want anyone to know that.

  • 125. Wow!  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    @mayfair troll-are you the product of CPS? If so that does not say much for the school that you attended. Many parents would love to move out of Chicago so their kids can attend an acceptable public school. Unfortunately the current economy and real estate market have made that an impossibility. You should probably have taken that into consideration before posting your rambling and disjointed rant. Good luck to you, I hope you get the help you need.

  • 126. Mayfair Troll  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    you are missing the point hero

  • 127. klm  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    @Mayfair Troll.


  • 128. MagnetMom  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    This discussion seems to have deteriorated, but one thing I don’t believe anyone has mentioned here is choice: for my friends and family who live in the suburbs there is ONE school everyone attends. In some cases there is a parochial school option. But if you or your child don’t find the right fit, you’re basically out of luck.

    While I didn’t love the magnet lottery process (two years ago), I always knew that I had many more schools to pursue if it didn’t work out for my child on the first try.

  • 129. Gary  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    MagnetMom…Please see my comment in post #82. We had many many choices. Zero for 26 so far.

  • 130. cps Mom  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    Good point magnet mom. I wanted to say that I find this particular thread extremely interesting. #59 JoeyB you crack me up. I love all your stories pro and con. I am amazed and impressed by the variety of outlooks we have here….and yes, today has left me chuckling away at my desk.

  • 131. Mayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    @ 120.

    Enjoyed your post. I can be insufferably haughty. Thanks for a well deserved punch in the nose. Let’s do it again sometime.

  • 132. CPSorBustMom  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    I think choice is the issue. Its an issue that a lot of the parents here have a hard time with. Maybe they didnt see themselves still being in the city, but here we are, be it due to the housing market or choice. The point is we are here and in my mind just cutting and running away to somewhere else may not be the answer. Many of us are now stuck here like it or not so find a way to make it work. The local school down the street may not be the best right now but who knows you might be the one to get the ball rolling. I know we all want the best for our kids that isnt in question but sometimes its not as easy as flipping a condo and moving or getting a low wait list number to a “good” school. Sometimes its hard work but your kids, my kids they are worth it right?
    So wherever you are suburbs or city, get involved with your schools even if they arent the best right now, find other like minded parents they exist at all schools. Talk to teacher, administrators, your alderman or mayors (Suburbs only on that one I’m guessing) tell them your concern. They may know the issues you face but put a face to those issues.

  • 133. Mayfair Troll  |  April 13, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    awww man nowI want to buy you a beer Mayfield Dad.
    Cheers and godspeed to you and yours


  • 134. Mayfair Troll  |  April 13, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Correction MayfairDad

    Oh and BTW WOW – @mayfair troll-are you the product of CPS? If so that does not say much for the school that you attended

    K-12 13yrs Private School education in the BURBS (IRONY),the best money could buy oh yeah

  • 135. CityMom  |  April 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    @Michelle — Regarding class size:

    My daughter had 29 in her K class with 2 FT adults (1 teacher and 1 aide). The teacher was absolutely fantastic at class management and there was no problem at all with the class being “too big”. My daughter learned a ton during K. There were a few kids who got in trouble a lot, but it didn’t overtake the class. In 1st grade, she has 27 kids with the same setup (1 teacher/1 aide). There are many things that I do not like about our school (we are moving for next year), but class size has not been an issue. The teachers have been very good at managing the classroom.

  • 136. Chicago Gawker-  |  April 13, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Sock puppeting! MD. I call sock puppeting 🙂

  • 137. Jennifer  |  April 13, 2011 at 5:29 pm

    Our current suburban school has had to eliminate a K class due to budgets, previously they had 5 kindergarten classes of around 16 or 17 and this year they have 4 of around 20. 1st grade this year was 24 kids in our class.

  • 138. cps Mom  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:07 pm


    Sorry to hear about your situation with schools. It’s only April, still some time left. There’s bound to be room after all the shifting around.

    Another perspective on your experience with your neighborhood school:
    10 years ago when I was looking at K for my son, I attended several open houses. A parent on tour at one of the highly sought after magnets asked the question “has anyone ever brought a gun to school?” I was stunned by the comment – I had a five year old and the thought was beyond comprehension for me. You can imagine my shock when the answer to the question was “yes”. I thought “whoa” I’m concerned about after school care, recess and foreign language – l’m asking all the wrong questions here. We received our rejection letter from the school stating that they enrolled 100 kids in total and put an additional 500 on the wait list and we didn’t even make that (in kind of a cocky way too!).

    I am not at all defending the city when it comes to guns but perhaps this is worth considering. With all that is in the news about shootings and gun accidents….cities, suburbs, small towns. Shooting rampages in schools (ie Columbine etc), hostage situation in a Wisconsin HS, a 6 year old shooting a girl at school because he just doesn’t know any better, death threats to teachers… the list goes on. It really is not too early to educate kids on gun safety in Kindergarten. The gang bangers aren’t the only ones with guns. There are suburbanites and city dwellers defending their homes. My best friend in HS (suburban) had an x military father with an arsenal stuffed in the rafters of the basement. We were certainly exposed to it.

    My son has just made me aware that there is a some kind of in the HS (he is at a selective school) where they practice their reaction to a student or other assailant threatening with a gun or explosives (turning off lights, gathering in one area) much like a fire drill or the old bomb drills.

    It’s shocking, I know and very sad.

    There may have been other reasons for not liking your neighborhood school but I wonder if some education on reality at an early age could help prevent kids taking guns into their own hands later on.

  • 139. RL Julia  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    in answer to your question about class size. While I think it is certainly nicer to have smaller classes for the younger grades, I am sure your daughter will be fine. She will learn plenty and what she doesn’t pick up in class you can teach/supplement and etc… Of course, a more experienced teacher is going to manager the class better but I have had really good luck with CPS teachers and while I haven’t loved all of them, they all had very good classroom management skills. I think you’ll do fine. Best of luck!

    Gary -sorry to hear about your and your child’s experience with gun safety. I actually went to a high school where a teacher was shot (and killed) by someone who walked in off the street (a quarter of the school was also blown up by a bomb – but that was a little before my time). As tragic and sad as it was, it didn’t prevent me from getting to college (and graduate school) so I wouldn’t completely discount the school’s ability to educate based on one poster – as scary as it might have been.

    As for all the posters talking about why they live in Chicago – well for me- why not. You can get a great education or a mediocre one anywhere – there is no sure thing or magic bullet that guarantees you a safe school (am I the only one who remembers Laurie Dann? ) or a good education without seeking it – it just depends on what you set your mind to (at least in my experience). I managed to graduate from a completely mediocre school system – and dangerous too but my family had set their sights on me going to college and that was that. Apparently, I learned enough to get in and stay in.

  • 140. Gayfair Dad  |  April 13, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    This is one of the best threads: fleshes out serious business.

  • 141. cpsobsessed  |  April 13, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Man, is there a full moon tonight? Interesting day of posts…

    @Michelle, regarding class size.
    I am personally not a big fan of the classes in the high 20’s/low 30’s range. I often hear people say “a good teacher is fine with a big class.” I do agree with that, but sometimes I want a little more than “fine.” My son has had 28+ kids in all 3 years of CPS and his teachers have been great. We also have no blatant behavioral problems in the class (except 28+ chatty kids.) The classroom management has been excellent, in my opinion. But I fee like logistically, it’s impossible for kids to get a good amount of personal time when there is 1 teacher for all those kids. Great or lousy teacher, it just doesn’t work, timewise. Now that math is getting harder I can’t even imagine how the teacher can cover the topics without having some one-on-one or small group time to really help the kids understand new topics. I try to stay on top of it, but working full time, it’s hard. And I don’t know the best way to teach it all the time. I feel like in a class of 20 kids or with an aid, the teacher would have more time to explain stuff and to really know where a child had strengths/weaknesses. I remember thinking this about when the kids were learning how to write in Kindergarten too. My son still makes some letter in a weird way (bottom to top) because the teacher couldn’t see what every kid was doing.

    Anyhow, I think it’s fine, but not ideal. I feel like I’ll need to put in time to make sure my son keeps up and help him learn things along that way that I might not have to in smaller classes/longer school days.

  • 142. cps Mom  |  April 15, 2011 at 8:10 am

    Interesting you should mention Hinsdale as one of the desirable locations. The Trib offers this look at the upscale community lifestyle.

    They compare themself to the “real housewives” reality show. Looks to me like they have a little too much time on their hands.

  • 143. Hawthorne mom  |  April 15, 2011 at 9:16 am

    @118, that is so interesting! If a nice place can be gotten for just under 1600, I wonder what a really small, not nice place would go for? 1600 is still way above what my own family could pay no matter how we worked our budget, but it isn’t as much as I had imagined things to be in LP. Good to know.

  • 144. Cari  |  April 15, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    CPS does educate kids. And a lot of them. Top city high schools like Whitney Young; Northside Prep and Walter Peyton must certainly be neck-to-neck with suburban counterparts.

    That said, the most disconcerting thing about this post is the author’s following comment, in discussing about what city parents have to give up: “more “fun” classes like gym, library, art,” Let’s stop calling things like library, art and music “fun”. The rest of the world values books and the fine and performing arts. They teach just as much as math, science and language arts. So a CPS education: not for MY kids if the city isn’t going to step up to the plate and deprive them from being well-rounded, thoughtful and interesting citizens of the world. Let’s stop accepting cuts for programs that are considered essential by educators around the world. And let’s stop writing off anything that isn’t math or science.

  • 145. @140 cpsobsessed  |  April 15, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have two BOYS 3rd grade classical, 6th grade (great magnet) AND I’m the LSC chairperson at the classical school AND I work full time. I am so happy it is spring break that I could do back flips. I am exhausted from putting in extra time because I think my kids get lost in the large class sizes. Classical has 27 & Magnet has 31. I have NO complaints about the teachers they are miracle workers BUT I do HAVE to put in time with both at home. I feel like all I do during the week is correct (work) on homeowork, cook dinner & prepare for the next day (Sunday through Thursday). I am totally useless on Friday ;-0

  • 146. Chicago Gawker-  |  April 15, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    143, I couldn’t agree more also. Art, music, gym, and library are NOT EXTRAS or fat that should be 1st on the chopping block.

  • 147. Chicago Gawker-  |  April 15, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    And ditto cps obsessed. Weekly routine:work, home, make dinner, homework, bath (only when homework is not too long) bed. Get up and do it again x5. i”m too tired too read anything.

  • 148. Rogers Park Mama!  |  April 16, 2011 at 6:23 am

    Yup… Totally agree and I thus far have only one in classical…

  • 149. cps Mom  |  April 16, 2011 at 8:17 am

    This is just a question – I thought this was the normal routine for parents actively involved with their child’s schooling. Is this different in the suburbs or when there is a smaller class size?

  • 150. Rogers Park Mama!  |  April 16, 2011 at 11:52 am

    Well I have a 9yro.. so 5-9:30 pm being all about homework is a lot!!!

  • 151. Waitingmom  |  April 16, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    Hey, Mayfair Troll, should I assume that you are just an angry parent whose child did not get a selective enrollment offer or do you live in the burbs? This site has always been a place to get and share great information and not to read insane senseless rants. Don’t ruin what this place is for so many of us navigating the system.

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