Blue Ribbon Committee Meetings – SOON!

June 21, 2011 at 11:09 am 277 comments

A reader just passed on this valuable information.   I feel like we just went through this!  So what are the hot topics still at the top of the list?  Is the committee only about the admissions process?  Or do they cover things like the grading scale, etc?


Just got a robo-call from CPS. The Blue Ribbon Committee will hold 3 meetings for parents — very soon.

Westinghouse June 25 at 10 am
Lane Tech June 28 at 7 pm
King h.s. June 30 at 7 pm

The last time the BRC met, they held meetings one week apart, and one was at WYoung, which is centrally located. This year CPS is cramming the meeting together with days notice.

The robo-call did not say what the changes will be. You might remember that CPS had said there would be no more changes for at least 2 years, after the last time.

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Newsweek’s List of Top High Schools (Guest post by HSObsessed) What would be on your list for Lake View High School / Meeting Notice

277 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mom2  |  June 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    One item I think I heard was that they want to modify the sibling policy to also include children of current teachers. I think that makes a lot of sense and can’t believe they didn’t think of that originally.

  • 2. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Well, it sounds fine, until you realize that CPs is the largest employer on the south and west sides of the city, and that means thousand of students will qualify for the extra boost.

    What about a boost for other city employees, like firefighters or police officers?

    Or for other employees who work for the public good, like nurses?

    the list could go on, couldn’t it?

    But what about the folks who pay property taxes but don’t work for CPS? How is this CPS employee perk a good thing at all? It is merely favoritism, nothing more.

  • 3. MoJo  |  June 21, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    With some exceptions, city employees are required to live in city limits. They are paying taxes like any city resident but don’t have the option to move out of the city if they want to keep their jobs. Giving any city employee, in this circumstance, a boost isn’t unreasonable but their kids should still be required to meet the academic and test criteria. Is it a perk or simply fair exchange for giving-up the freedom to choose to live in a less expensive city/town in order to serve the city?

  • 4. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 21, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Crazy. I pay taxes like any other city resident, but my kid doesn’t get any advantages in applying for CPS schools. And I know that Karen Lewis is fond of the slavery analogy, but a CPS teacher who hates living in Chicago and who does not want to send his or her children to the neighborhood school can move to another town and teach there.

    There’s already a huge shortage of spots at the best schools. Affirmative action for teachers’ children isn’t going to help – and it isn’t going to make parents and taxpayers think warm and fuzzy thoughts about the upcoming contract.

  • 5. CPSmama  |  June 21, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    The robo-call at my house said that the meetings are to discuss the current magnet and selective enrollment process for the Chicago Public Schools.

    “The policy is currently under review for the application process for 2012-2013 by the BRC and all interested parents are encouraged to offer feedback on recommendations for revising the policy.”

    My personal feedback:

    (1) Unify the grading scale throughout CPS and/or go to numeric grades for SEHS & AC admissions;

    (2) Modify the admissions formula so it is 50% grades and 50% test based, rather than the current 2/3 test and 1/3 grades;

    (3) Stop manipulating the admissions process by adding NCLB kids after the Tier sytem is applied and doesn’t turn out the way CPS wanted/expected;

    (4) If there are not going to be 2nd/3rd rounds, state that up front in the offer letters;

  • 6. Anonymous  |  June 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I don’t know. But I’m always happy to know the kids of teachers go to our school. I don’t think it’s a huge “perk.” Put yourselves in their shoes. It’s NO DIFFERENT to me than the sibling policy (which I also approve of, even though my children are not in magnet schools). Before it was a lottery. All kids were equal. Now, siblings have much MORE than an advantage. They have a guarantee. Not “fair,” per se, but logical and practical and family-friendly.

    I think in my school there was ONE teacher’s child in kindergarten. One. And this is a neighborhood school with a large kindergarten class — and a large school with a lot of faculty members.

  • 7. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Well, there’s anecdotal evidence that children of teachers and other CPS employees are over-represented at the selective enrollment and magnet elementary schools. And really, if teachers aren’t the types of parents in the best position to make a difference at their own schools or to ensure that their children do well, who is?

    The real issue is the shortage of slots in good schools,the slow progress in creating more good schools, and the lack of transparency in the admissions process, which gets to CPSMama’s point.

  • 8. Anonymous  |  June 21, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I don’t agree about creating NEW schools, but I totally agree with the transparency issue. It really is a crime — literally — that we never seem to know who is accepted into what school and what their waitlist number is, how they scored, what tier, etc.
    Sorry you are now CPSDepressed. : ( (But it’s the sign of a good copywriter to have a clever name like that.)

  • 9. 7thgradesurvivor  |  June 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    BTW, policy passed in November required Commission to reconvene by June 1st. This could just be CPS calling meeting b/c they were required to, or they could be looking at wholesale changes. CPSMama you make excellent points.

  • 10. Balanced  |  June 21, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    How would such changes impact the African-American student population in each of these desirable schools? More? Fewer?

  • 11. Hawthorne mom  |  June 21, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    I am not giving an opinion on this issue, but this new proposed policy to allow teachers to bring in their own kids to the school they teach in will probably not change the AA population much since, one, there are so few desirable schools and two, not all teachers would bring their kids with them for a long list of reasons. The sibling policy as a whole and the proximity percentage, I believe, will cause most magnets to become more and more white and more and more higher income.

  • 12. John  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    I highly doubt they plan to discuss children of teachers attending schools. A SEHS principal could use their 5% to select a teacher’s child anyway. I think this is pure speculation.

  • 13. interested parent  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    Also – is the children of teachers thing limited to attending the school of the parent or does it mean they can get into any magnet – something that has been a common practice before they ended principals discretion in the last couple years.

  • 14. Hawthorne mom  |  June 21, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Not speculation. Right now, only high school principals can use their discretion for 5% of spots. Elementary magnets had that option removed. This is going before the BRC. There was a petition circulated regarding the policy a week or so ago. The proposed policy would only go so far as to allow the child of a teacher to attend the school that the teacher is working in. Not any magnet of their choice.

  • 15. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Read more on these changes by PURE, Parents for Responsible Education, who have been watching and working with CPS for decades.

    “UPDATE: It’s been pointed out to me that the OAE web site announcement says the rules changes are not just for selective enrollment high schools but for all magnet schools.

    The site also claims that this is an input-gathering process as they PREPARE to work on revisions. Uh huh.”

    Much more to read. Go to:

  • 16. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    H-mom, Was the petition circulated among teachers only?

  • 17. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    From PURE — in case you haven’t clicked on the link — and if you are or ever were a 7th grade parent, you will understand.

    “Here goes CPS changing the rules for selective enrollment high schools again. In case anyone wondered whether the process for getting into these exclusive “public” schools was remotely aboveboard, fair, or accountable, just consider how many times CPS has changed the criteria for getting in (nearly every year) and all the other “rules” that makes this the likely winner of the prize for Chicago’s least transparent public participation event in Chicago.

    And that doesn’t even begin to address the emotional toll it takes on children. One might even call it institutionalized fraud in the service of child abuse.”

  • 18. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:31 pm

    under the current admissions policy, Chicago’s Tier 4 children, it has been decided, don’t deserve preference in selective schools admissions, while children from lower socioeconomic tiers do.

    But many CPS employees and spouses make $60,000 or more, which is the minimum for the top income tier, Tier 4. Why should their children, who are not in the lower socioeconomic tiers, get preferential treatment?

    This is a zero-sum game. Preferential treatment for teachers’ children would come at another child’s cost — and most likely would squeeze out even more of the highest scoring students.

    Btw, the public service of fire fighters or police does not earn their children the same kind of automatic preferential treatment as teachers’ kids would enjoy. How is their service to the public less important?

    This change seems to be an instance of institutionalizing CPS cronyism. I hope Mr. Brizzard and Mr. Vitale remember the importance of keeping the CPS selective admissions policy fair.

    Regarding the very tight “BRC” Meeting schedule: it will be all over within one week, which is one-third of the time that CPS used to hold 3 BRC meetings on changes to admissions last summer.

    Why the rush? Why were no flyers sent home last week?

  • 19. cpsobsessed  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    I can see the concept behind giving teachers’ kids preference – it helps build community and keeps teachers at a school. It just makes life easier for people and prevents more hauling around town.
    However in a system like CPS where the seats in magnets are so coveted, I can’t see if flying. I certainly can’t see if happening in selective schools (not that I know that they are asking for this.)
    Someone wrote to me last week or so about a top magnet school where the parents created a petition for the school to let in the child of a well-regarded teacher. I respect the effort, but I can’t see how that would fly – it’s got to be all teachers or no teachers. Trying to get special treatment for one teacher is never going to work in this current atmosphere of no principal discretion.

  • 20. cpsobsessed  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:44 pm

    Hey, I’m sorry – new mayor, new CEO. I’m unclear how PURE can be utterly shocked about the BRC committee re-convening. If I recall correctly, there were a couple points the committee didn’t reach consensus on last year.

  • 21. Hawthorne mom  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:45 pm

    No, it was circulated at our school among parents. I am not sure who originated the petition.

  • 22. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    RH and the BRC said there would be no more changes to admissions for 2 years, that’s why she humorously pretended to be “utterly shocked,” (you know, echoing the famous line in Casablanca.)

  • 23. cpsobsessed  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    lol. Did they? I still think that totally new admin for CPS kind of nullifies that.

    Someone above mentioned going to 50% for grades – that seems risky to me as it puts too much power in the hands of teachers and over-controlling parents who will beg for grade changes on their kids’ behalf. Or even do homework/assignments for their kids. That level of power/intervention scares me.

  • 24. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    I appreciate your effort to be considerate of teachers who haul their kids around town to sitters or to other schools, which many of us also must do.

    But this change will push out another child whose scores and socioeconomic position would otherwise have given him that seat.

    How is that a fair system? How is the teacher’s child more important than another child whose parent is not a teacher?

    It reminds me of another famous line: All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

  • 25. cpsobsessed  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    You are good with the quotes tonight!
    I agree – it works fine in a suburb, etc – but not in a school system where parents are already clawing at each other to get a few coveted spots.
    But I will admit that in a neighborhood (non-magnet) school I can’t see why if there is room for kids outside the ‘hood, those spots couldn’t at least be lotteried for current teachers first. Or teachers with most seniority.

  • 26. Grace  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    We have met in the middle, cps obsessed, and I agree completely about teachers’ kids filling open spots at neighborhood schools where they work.

  • 27. cpsobsessed  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    Don;t go……!

    Thanks again for all your commentary and contributions.

  • 28. @#6 Anon  |  June 21, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    Hate to tell you this but…the sibling policy at magnet schools does NOT guarantee entry! My DS is #2 on the waitlist for a spot in his brother’s magnet school. I think the guarantee may only mean a Kindergarten seat guarantee. All other grades be damned! Also, I even wonder if the the sibling ahead of him (it must be a sib since sibs are given preference) is a real sibling and not a cousin or a friend. The wonderful clerks and the principal have admitted that they don’t even know who #1 is. I had been bugging them weekly and probably every other day toward the end of the school year and #1 has not even made themselves known 🙂 Well maybe I’ll hear something in August…aargh!

  • 29. feeling helpless  |  June 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    And I’d like to comment that in magnet cluster schools, kindergarten is NOT a guaranteed seat. My older daughter is in a classical school with a neighborhood component. My younger daughter didn’t test well enough to gain admission to the classical class so is on a sibling wait list for the neighborhood program. It’ll be a wait and see for us all summer to see how many neighborhood kids register and if there is any room for us. Not fun and not fair.

  • 30. mom2  |  June 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    @Grace, the addition of children of teachers would only be for spots at the school where they teach and only at schools that don’t require testing to get in. Scores are not a part of the picture. It doesn’t take spots away from kids trying to get into se schools. It totally fits with the sibling policy idea of keeping families together, school community, etc. With principals no longer having any say so and no discretion, there is no other option. None of this is about race.

  • 31. TwinMom  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:16 am

    I would like to see some sort of tweaking of the SEES admission policy for twins. My twins were almost identical re: classical scores, and only 4 points apart for RGC scores. We’ve had to play this crazy gambling game in order to try to get them in the same school (should we accept this SEES offer and hope that the other gets a spot, too….or decline it and put them both back in the pool for another draw?)? Then we’ve gotten sequential offers for each twin from the same school (we opted to decline when one twin got an offer, only to get an offer for the other twin later). Ugh. Trying to get them both into the same school is impossible. And it shouldn’t be (if we were Tier 1, 2, or maybe 3 instead of 4, we’d have offers for both of them at our first choice school and we’d be done with this). Maybe they could allow a twin to accept a SEES spot but still stay in the pool in case both twins can get in the same place? I don’t know; that’s just my first thought and I haven’t thought about it very much. If they were born sequentially and the older kid got into School A, well then we’d ONLY apply to School A on the younger one’s application if we wanted them to stay together. But we don’t have that option with twins, because they’ applied at the same time and are both getting offers at the same time and it just seems so inefficient.

    They also need to change the damn SEES-with-neighborhood policy, too. Right now, there is a “sibling” waitlist for the neighborhood program (as others have mentioned) if your OLDER child is in the RGC or Classical class. But current CPS policy (not for any good reason – just because that’s The Way It Is, according to OAE), twins do not qualify as “siblings” for this wait list. Right now our daughter will be going to an RGC next year for K, and we have to MOVE to have ANY chance of getting her twin brother in the neighborhood program at the same school. They will not put him on the sibling waitlist for the neighborhood program. This really pisses me off, because if they’d been born sequentially, he would get a spot on the sibling waitlist for the neighborhood program and could, at some point (might not be until later in the school year) join her school WITHOUT us having to sell our house in this market.

  • 32. Mayfair Dad  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:33 am

    @ # 5 CPS Momma

    I like your list. Harmonized grading scale across all CPS has been my hot button for a few years (as faithful readers of this blog roll their eyes…)

    I can’t fathom how they will conspire to make it even more impossible for “priveleged” Tier 4 kids to gain admission into the SE high school of their choice, but I’m sure they will try. Watch them further reduce the pure merit component of the SE high school admissions formula to what, 20%?

    FYI, New York City uses a race-neutral, socioeconomic-neutral system based on a single admissions exam score. I would advocate a similar colorblind system that incorporated grades, ISAT and admissions exam score AND eliminated socioeconomic tier voo-doo .

  • 33. cpsobsessed  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:51 am

    I’m wondering how NYC gets away with that, but I imagine they have a LOT more slots at selective high schools than we do. I know they do with elem gifted program, so I’m imagining it is the same?

    Surely their top programs are not all upper income white kids or somebody would be complaining there, no?

  • 34. RL Julia  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:54 am

    So does everyone in NYC secretly complain that the system is unfair to the economically disadvantaged?

    It seems to me that the real problem or issue is that by instituting the tier system for SEHS admissions, CPS is pretty much admitting to the fact that its elementary schools are not created equal and that the ones in the richer neighborhoods tend to post better outcomes. If you go with that logic, it is then pretty incredible the this education inequity problem is then supposed to be “solved” through the tier system – as opposed to fixing the elementary school issue in the first place.

  • 35. Mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Mayfair Dad – “I would advocate a similar colorblind system that incorporated grades, ISAT and admissions exam score AND eliminated socioeconomic tier voo-doo .” I agree 100%.
    I also totally agree with you on the harmonized grading scale across all CPS, but it must be 90/80/70/60 because many parents fought very hard to get that change at Lane and I don’t want to ever see this year’s old scale come back.

  • 36. cpsobsessed  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:56 am

    @29: How would you suggest the school handle the entry for siblings into the neighborhood (magnet cluster) program? We have the same thing at my son’s school — siblings of kids in the options program get lotteried for a spot in the ever-popular neighborhood class.
    I feel bad, but I think the neighborhood kids need first priority. The question is how big to make the classes to let the siblings in. Certainly sibs should come before out-of-neighborhood kids.

    I’ll tell you, dealing with CPS is one part of life where I am happy to have only one child!!

  • 37. Gapper  |  June 22, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Another way of looking at it: “It seems to me that the real problem or issue is that by instituting the tier system for SEHS admissions, CPS is pretty much admitting to the fact that [families/neighborhoods] are not created equal and that [those with higher SES] tend to post better outcomes.”

  • 38. CPSmama  |  June 22, 2011 at 11:08 am

    @Mom2 (#35) : I don’t think the numeric scale matters if it is universal. The reason so many Lane parents fought for 90/80/70/60 was that other SEHS had the scale.

    @RL Julia (#34): In most cases, I don’t think it’s the schools that are unequal- it is the students who attend those schools. No matter how great a teacher/principal is, there is only so much he/she can do with a kid from the projects where there is daily crime/violence, possibly drug/alcohol/physical abuse in the home, no reliable electricity, no books, illiterate parents, etc. Some schools in the worst neighborhoods have a large percentage of their students from such backgrounds. The Tier system is designed to take the top achievers from such backgrounds and give them a chance at SEHS/SEES.

  • 39. RL Julia  |  June 22, 2011 at 11:50 am

    CPS Mama
    Perhaps all elementary schools start out equal but the needs of the student population and lack of resources in the community quickly render them unequal – aside from the student population -this is why many people shun their neighborhood school and try to get their kid into a magnet or a neighborhood school in a different/better neighborhood.

    I get what the tier system is supposed to do – but I would have to question if it really does balance it out equitably -especially since CPS ends up “balancing” the freshman classes at Northside and Payton with NCLB kids. As is pointed out endlessly during admissions season – lots of not so affluent people live in Tier 4 and 3 neighborhoods and plenty of richer folks are in Tier 1 and 2 neighborhoods. I am happy that CPS has moved on to more than just race in its equation but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for a lot of improvement.

  • 40. Mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 11:55 am

    CPSmama – I agree with you about the grading scale for the most part. However, with the scale the way it was this year, I know of several students that could never get an A (or move from a C to a B) once they received one poor score on one test or project. Because the range for an A was only 5 points, there was never enough exams or projects given that could ever bring the grade up to the next level. That is a huge drawback to the 95-100 is an A scale. And teachers didn’t work within that scale to give them enough ways to pull a grade up after only one bad performance. (Sorry to be off topic a bit)

  • 41. CPSmama  |  June 22, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    RLJulia, I agree that there is room for improvement and that SES is not working as CPS intended. BTW, NCLB kids are added at Lane & WY as well. And this year, CPS didn’t give any extra $$ to the schools who took NCLB kids.

    ^mom2: I agree with you about how hard it is to get an A on a 95-100 scale (a 6-point scale, BTW) and that many teachers didn’t give enough graded assignments to recover from a low test score. And, considering that GPA is important for college admissions & scholarships, I retract my earlier comment about it not mattering what the numbers are. 90/80/70/60 is better all around. Don’t think this is off-topic at all.

  • 42. HSObsessed  |  June 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Re: NCLB kids — I believe that it happened once, in spring 2010, when they decided to place top-performing 100 8th graders from the worst-performing schools into NS/Payton/WY/Jones for ’10-’11, even after all the offers were out and rounds were done. As far as I know, that was a one-off situation and I didn’t hear that it was done again this year, or that it is now a set part of the SEHS process. Does anyone know anything to the contrary?

  • 43. Mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    CPSmama – I stand corrected on the 6-point scale (oops) and I appreciate your retraction. I hope others see it that way, too.

  • 44. cps Mom  |  June 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    @42 – you are correct. Problems, particularly funding for a special program made it go away.

  • 45. Mayfair Dad  |  June 22, 2011 at 2:11 pm

    Gleaned from the NYC Board of Ed website:

    In NYC there are nine Specialized High Schools, roughly the equivalent of our SEHS:

    Bronx High School of Science
    The Brooklyn Latin School
    Brooklyn Technical High School
    High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering at City College
    High School of American Studies at Lehman College
    Queens High School for the Sciences at York College
    Staten Island Technical High School
    Stuyvesant High School
    LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (ChiArts equivalent)

    For eight of the Specialized High Schools, students are required to take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT). The SHSAT is the only requirement for admission. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts requires students to audition for the programs/studios they apply to but does not require the SHSAT.

    They also offer Career and Technical Education (CTE) high schools (100+), Charter High Schools (a lot!), Small Learning Communities (schools within a school, like IB or Rickover Naval Academy), something called New Schools which looks a lot like turnaround schools (?), Small Schools that form partnerships with non-profit organizations, cultural institutions and businesses that bring additional resources to enhance learning and may have a theme, such as science, law, business, or the arts, and Transfer Schools which look like where they send the riff-raff until they are old enough to drop out permanently.

    For grins I used the site search tool for the word “Diversity” and only two references popped up: a school called Peace and Diversity Academy and the EEOC policy for hiring teachers.

  • 46. CPSmama  |  June 22, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    #42 HSObsessed & #44 cps Mom- that is not correct. NCLB students were definitelyadmitted to the SEHS again for this coming school year. The only change that was made to the NCLB admissions program was that the students had to have a minimum score of 650, which drastically reduced the number of eligible NCLB students.

  • 47. Mike-CPS Employee  |  June 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    What is taking place in NYC selctive schools admission policy will NEVER happen in all of the Mayfair Dad’s out there can just give it up on this “colorblind” system, you so desperately want but will never get. And even if it occurs, there would probably be only a couple schools you probably want your kid to attend anyways. Would you send your child to King? Westinghouse or how about Lindblom in Englewood if this new “colorblind” system was created and those were the schools your child had to attend? Let’s face the facts, not all of your “high scoring and privileged” children would get into Payton, Young Northside or even just would not be enough seats so some kids would have to attend the other schools. And some of the parents on here don’t want their kids traveling pass Cermak Road,remember, Mayfair Dad? Some of you don’t want your children in different areas of the city, so this new “colorblind” system wouldn’t work either . Chicago is very diverse but still very much segragated in our thinking for that colorblind system to exist. Additionally, Rahm is too connected to AA & Latino leaders for that to even happen. Most of his friends are AA and Latino leaders throughout Chicago. I’ve worked in NYC public school school system from the mid 90s to the early 2000s and many of those same schools you listed above did NOT follow the “highest scoring kids only” admittance policy. NYC has a long history of letting Politcians, friends of friends kids, attend those schools listed above. Their system is actually very much similar to Chicago system where if you know the principal, administrator,is connected to the mayor or a teacher, your child would get an acceptance letter. This is NOT a race issue, this is NOT a income level issue, this is ONLY about being connected/political craziness.

    I think its time to stop thinking that different states’ policies are better because it isn’t. It is all just a bunch of political “garbage” where if you are not “connected” or “do not know anyone, then you will have to go through the daunting admission process and there will never be enough qualified schools to satisfy every parent. NYC school system is more pathetic and in crisis than Chicago. My friends that are still there tell me that they are still allowing Politcians and friends of friends kids attend selective schools even though they don’t meet the score requirement. Their system is actually very much similar to Chicago system where if you know the principal or a teacher, your child would get an acceptance letter. I have been in the CPS system for five years now, LA public school system for ten years and was with D.C. public schools for about six years. Furthermore, having now been with the CPS system for five years now, I know with all certainity that CPS has no plans on building anymore selective enrollment high schools on the north,south or west sides of Chicago, so that idea can vanish as well. Now we must all learn to deal with the current system, even though it isn’t the best or consider moving to the suburbs(which can be tricky as well) or paying for private schools.

  • 48. cps Mom  |  June 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    So how did admissions work differently for a tier 1 student scoring over 650? I’m confused. Are you saying that some students were allowed into the regular program “out of sequence”? The program as a special set aside has been discontinued – at least for now.

  • 49. Mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Well, I have actually heard that they really are thinking of changing the policy for SE schools to 80% tier and 20% merit. Unreal. Are the selective schools really selective if we keep moving in this direction? At what point will those schools stop being thought of as the ones that everyone wants to go to? What if you took out all those lucky and smart tier 4 kids and their rich parents that devote so much to the school and just let in mostly the most needy kids with the parents that don’t and cannot give anything to the school community? Will those kids and parents be happy or will they no longer want to go to that school because it somehow just isn’t “the best” any more?

    Sorry to be so sarcastic. I’m just very frustrated.

  • 50. Mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    Trying to stay calm here. If they really are trying to stop looking at merit as a big portion of SE high school admissions, maybe they should at least look back at the idea of proximity being a larger factor. So, 20% pure merit, 40% tier and 40% within 5 miles (or something like that). I still believe that many parents don’t want their children traveling over 5 miles to get to and from school each day and when kids live closer to their school they (and their families) can become more involved in the whole school community and experience rather than spending all their time on public transportation.

  • 51. cpsobsessed  |  June 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Just saw this online…

    CPS community forums on selective enrollment admissions

    By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Tribune reporter
    12:21 p.m. CDT, June 21, 2011
    Chicago Public Schools will be holding three community forums this month on the 2011 admissions policy for selective enrollment and magnet schools.
    Chicago Public Schools will be holding three community forums this month on the 2011 admissions policy for selective enrollment and magnet schools.
    Parents will get a chance to provide input to the Blue Ribbon Commission, which will then prepare and submit written recommendations to the district for the 2012-2013 school year. Two years ago CPS adopted new policies to maintain diversity in its most competitive high schools after a federal order banned used race as a key admissions factor. Last year, those policies were further tweaked, and based on the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendations additional changes may be made this year.

    The community meetings will be held on the following dates and locations:
    10 a.m. June 25 at Westinghouse College Prep, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
    7 p.m. June 28 at Lane Tech, 2501 W. Addison St.
    7 p.m. June 30 at King College Prep, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd.

  • 52. cps Mom  |  June 22, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Are the members of the BRC the same?

  • 53. CPSmama  |  June 22, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    @#48- NCLB students were added after the fact and outside of the Tier process. Presumably, most were Tier 1 & 2 kids. The NCLB program was NOT discontinued for the upcoming school year, it just decreased in numbers due to the “minimum 650 points” requirement.

    I hate to say this, but I could see CPS moving towards a 100% Tier admissions model and eliminating the admission of NCLB kids. I don’t think its a good idea, but I could see them doing it.

  • 54. cps talk  |  June 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    I heard that Obama was going to end No Child Left Behind

  • 55. 7thgradesurvivor  |  June 22, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    Help me with the math. Do we know what percentage of kids by tier get into SEHS through the rank system? If most of the kids are Tier 4, then I think we can safely say that Tier 4 kids have an advantage in the system because there are less of them competing for spots when CPS pulls from the Tier system. That’s assuming tiers have an equal number or children, which they are supposed to. Am I missing something here?

  • 56. mom2  |  June 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    What number and what percent of tier 4 students qualify to take the SEHS exam and how many of those actually have scores higher than others from other tiers that are currently getting into those spots? It isn’t number of kids in a tier, it is number of kids that meet the qualifications and the number that try to get into each school and the scores of those students that matter.

  • 57. interested parent  |  June 22, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Right 56 – if 2000 tier 1 kids qualify and 6000 tier 4 kids qualify then tier 1 would have an advantage.

  • 58. Mom  |  June 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    In NYC, some of the top selective enrollment high schools are predominantly Asian American. I’ve seen a couple of interesting things about how this has impacted the school culture. These are issues that CPS and other urban districts are going to be grappling with for a long time.

  • 59. cpsobsessed  |  June 22, 2011 at 8:46 pm

    But Tier 4 comprised 25% of the city, and those kids get 25% of the seats. (or more, based on the merit spots.) Is that not fair?
    I would contend that if 6000 kids from Tier 4 qualify vs 2000 Tier 1 kids (i know these numbers are hypothetical, but we know it is a higher qual rate) then Tier 1 kids might argue that they don’t exactly feel “advantaged.” But statistically speaking, you’re right.

    @55 7thgrade survivor: I was just wondering the same thing today. I would LOVE to see those numbers. In the absence of that, I think given the scores for each Tier we saw for SE admission, one could conclude that Tier 4 kids score higher than Tier 1 kids and statistically, MUST be getting more than 25% of the merit spots. There’s not way this isn’t happening. We just don’t know to what extent. They could be getting 30% of the spots. Or 50%.

  • 60. Mayfair Dad  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:17 am

    It would be illuminating to discover the Tier make-up of SEHS students admitted through the merit component. For example, if the majority of incoming merit freshmen were also Tier 4, then CPS might be compelled to lower the merit component yet again to obtain the optimal socio-economic mix.

    @ 47 Mike: my takeaway from your post is that crooked politicians exist everywhere, no admissions process is perfect, and the SEHSs south of Cermak are extremely segregated, while the SEHSs north of Cermak are not.

    I agree, although I am hard-pressed to understand why there is no plan in place to desegregate the SEHSs on the southside. Perhaps if the AA admissions were capped at a certain percentage (similar to how the Caucasian admissions are capped at Northside, Payton, Lane and WY) this might encourage children from diverse enthnicities to attend.

    Diversity is good for everybody, right?

  • 61. Hawthorne mom  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:54 am

    I agree with Mayfair dad. There needs to be some kind of desegregation plan for the other SE high schools.
    I also think that EVERY single school in the city, elementary and high school needs some kind of score based, test-into program in it. Not “we are gonna take our highest scorers in our school and put them all in one class” deal. Rather a “here is the standard, meet it and you can be in our special program”.

  • 62. tiredcpsparent  |  June 23, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Exactly where is your information from?
    Unless you have very strong sources, you shouldn’t be just be throwing out information/misinformation to make parents even more crazy.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  June 23, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    @Mayfair Dad, I HAVE to imagine that there is a theoretical cap on AA students at those schools, but that doesn’t mean that CPS can make it happen.

    In my son’s class which 3 years ago was supposed to be capped at 35% Caucasian, they could not make it happen. There are “minorities” in the class (I say that based on their heritage, not Tier level) but 3 years now and there has not been one fully AA child in the class. I’m certain offers have been made, but when the logistics don’t work, CPS can’t make it happen. I have to imagine that top White/Asian/etc. kids who wanted a spot at those schools could get them, no?

  • 64. Mom2  |  June 23, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Someone showed me an email from a Lane Tech parent that is usually “in the know”. I suppose it could be just talk, but it was addressed to many people and I tend to believe that they could be thinking something like this (based on it first being 50%, then 40%, then 30%. Why stop there when they don’t see the value in selective enrollment being based on merit? That’s all I know.

  • 65. Junior  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    I think the admissions criteria for SEHS should be based on the things that actually correlate to success/achievement in our society:

    30% looks
    30% personality
    35% connections/money
    5% brute force

    Instead of grades and testing, can’t we simply have a pageant or maybe a “popularity decathlon”? Or maybe even a reality TV show called “How Bad Do You Wanna Get Into This School”? It could be judged by Monica Lewinsky, Bernie Madoff, George W. Bush, Anna Nicole Smith, Lebron James, and anyone named Kardashian or Hilton.

    Serously though, I think the impact of grades in the admissions process should be minimized or eliminated entirely. Even if you standardize the grading scale, there is too much variation between how easy/hard it is to get an ‘A’ in the tough schools versus the easy schools. There should just be a minimum GPA required, but there are too many instances where a single B on a report card from a tough-grading teacher can torpedoe a kid’s chances.

  • 66. Mayfair Dad  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    @ 63 cpso: Based on 90%+ AA student populations at southside SEHSs, the evidence suggests there is no cap on AA enrollment. Conversely, I have personal knowledge that the racial composition of the student population at Northside College Prep was/is closely monitored to ensure a diverse, multi-ethnic learning community. Why isn’t this same diligence applied to southside SEHSs? Is it reasonable to expect a Caucasian or Asian family to send their child to an “all black” high school? (sorry if this expression offends)

    If the results of Year 2 of the tier system continue to skew Causasian at northside SEHSs in an unhelpful way, CPS will need to further tweak the process to regulate Caucasian enrollment to achieve pre-determined acceptable levels. One way to accomplish this is to lower the pure merit component, which is comprised of mostly Tier 4/Tier 3 (i.e. predominantly Caucasian) students.

    By simultaneously raising the bar for one category of students and lowering the bar for a different category of students, CPS engages in a blatant form of favoritism. Some might be tempted to call this reverse discrimination.

  • 67. Mom2  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    You are correct that a tough-grading teacher can hurt a kid’s chances and that you cannot always compare one A with another A even with a standard grading scale. However, some kids are just not good at standardized tests. They may be a wonderful student with great grades on projects and even on unit tests or finals, but when it comes time to sit down for these all-in-one tests, they struggle. Without grades and/or other criteria, these students would be left out and the schools would miss out on some of the best day-to-day students out there. I know because I have a child like this who did great this year in high school, and did better than several friends that got B’s in 7th grade but did great on the SE admissions test. If it wasn’t for the current policy of looking at grades, too (and we came from a very tough school), we would be in the suburbs right now.

  • 68. Mom2  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    And Mayfair Dad, besides reverse discrimination, I don’t see how it isn’t against the law that says you cannot pick students for SE based on race (since really that is what they are trying to do).

  • 69. CPSmama  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Junior & mom2:

    I agree that grades can be subjective. However, grades provide a year’s worth of information about a student. Standardized test scores are 1/2 day of a child’s life. Admissions test scores are another 1/2 day of a child’s life. It seems unfair that the test scores currently comprise 2/3 of the admissions criteria while grades are only 1/3.

    Also, if CPS switches to numeric grades rather than letter grades, it would eliminate the unfairness over different grading scales. There is always going to be subjectivity in grades, though

  • 70. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 23, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I would just love it if we could improve ALL elementary schools in Chicago so that ALL kids could get a good education and we didn’t have to monkey around with the different categories. The goal should be for the schools to be naturally diverse and for EVERY high school to be a good one.

    It really gets back to the shortage of quality education in the city.

  • 71. cps Mom  |  June 23, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    I have to say that I agree completely with Junior. The grades and tiers are both too subjective. Please don’t get me wrong – I completely see the value of the “day to day” kid. The reality is that there are so many highly qualified kids that the top schools have a huge waiting list of kids that do extremely well on tests AND perform well day to day. With the pressure on grades now, that component becomes subject to teacher discretion and level of curriculum. Every 7th grade teacher knows that they need to grade accordingly – or not. The grade component is a farce. The only true break in this system is with the tier level – another component prone to abuse.

    And junior – I would add to the list of qualifications “the ability to kiss a@@”

  • 72. RL Julia  |  June 23, 2011 at 3:21 pm

    While I not surprised that there is some sort of diversity quotient going on at Northside, I can’t say that appears to be particularly successful given what I have seen of the student body – This is mostly due to geography. I like that the reason NSCP has a quotient and the south side high schools don’t has to do with the fact that the student body of CPS overall is 45% AA, 41% Latino, 9% white and 3.6% Asian. Divided over nine SE high schools with a total of 11,915 slots, that mean there should be about 5,362 African American SEHS students and about 1,072 white students (4,885 Latino students and 429 Asian students I haven’t included Native American student numbers)- Northside has 1,074 students and while there is some diversity there, I am pretty sure there are more than 1,074 white SEHS-ers (and more than 429 Asians for that matter) total in the system currently – and probably less than the numbers of Latino and AA students. I am not saying that this is right or wrong, I am just guessing that this is what CPS is going for in terms of their definition of racial equity. As an aside, the overall poverty rate for CPS is 86%. Only ONE SEHS school exceeded that rate – Westinghouse – although Brookes was close at 85.6%. Surprise, surprise, the lowest (read richest) schools were Northside at 34.8% and Payton at 33.4% followed by Whitney Young (42%)

  • 73. Junior  |  June 23, 2011 at 3:40 pm

    @69 Mom2
    To say that standardized tests measure 1/2 day of child’s life is just a wild misrepresentation. Personally, my school grades varied tremendously with the teacher, whereas my test scores did not. I remember as a kid being asked by my parents how I thought I did before my report card came out, and I’d seriously have no clue. My kids are the same way — kids often don’t comprehend in a practical way what their grades are based on.

    If you’re going to judge on grades, you’re going to get (1) perhaps most of the grade based on a handful of assessments that amount to (by your own standard) less than half a day of time, and which are not designed with any scientific rigor to guarantee the objective and accurate measurement of what was learned, (2) a component of homework, which may involve wildly varying levels of parental assistance, (3) maybe some component of class participation (again, subjective and perhaps biased to the more social kid and sometimes against the exceptional child), (4) maybe a component of “effort” (ie, the teacher gets to upgrade the kids who meshed with his/her style and likeness, while downgrading the kids s/he had issues with), and (5) the teacher has to think about which parents are going to cause the biggest stink if they don’t get the ‘A’. Also, if a teacher knows that a child is applying for SEHS, s/he may intentionally upgrade or downgrade the child based on whether s/he wants to see the kid succeed or whether the school is looking to keep its high achievers in the school.

    I know when my child was applying, we talked to the teacher at the begining of the year and basically told her that we want immediate notfication of any performance that might jeopardize getting all A’s in the key subjects. This teacher knew that she better be able to justify any B that was given or we’d be upset, so if she hadn’t given us advance notice, she’d really be hesitant to give a B. If we did hear of potential B’s, we’d be asking for extra credit or any way to get a grade up to an A. The grades system is just too easy to game.

    In test situation, if you miss a couple of questions, you lose a couple of points. In a grade situation, if you miss a couple of questions, you either (1) get no penalty whatsoever because your grade is unaffected, or (2) your grade goes from an A to a B, losing 25 points in the admissions process for perhaps one or two questions.

  • 74. Mom2  |  June 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    @73 Junior, I did not post @69. That was CPSmama.

    You can see from what you wrote that you had a different experience with standardized tests and grades than we have had. If you want to comment on my post, it was @67.

  • 75. Junior  |  June 23, 2011 at 4:07 pm


    Yep. I should’ve said CPSmama, not Mom2 –sorry. Confusing when this board is mostly a bunch of mothers.

  • 76. cps Mom  |  June 23, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    yep @73 – there you have it. Think about it. The only thing the grades can do is exclude an otherwise qualifying child – grades alone will not include a child that does not test well. Is this desirable?

  • 77. Answeringquestion  |  June 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    @66 Mayfair Dad. To answer your question, yes it IS reasonable to expect a Caucasian or Asian family to send their child to an “all black” high school? African American families do it all the time (send their children to all white schools, sorry if this expression offends, in search of the best educational opportunities. My son was the only African American boy in his gifted elementary class for years and noone thought the lack of diversity in the gifted program was unreasonable in that case.

  • 78. tiredcpsparent  |  June 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    I attended the new student orientation at Edison RGC. I almost fainted! The incoming kindergarten class was almost ALL WHITE. I saw two minorities in the group. What is with that?
    I have a sneaking suspicion that some parents are gaming the tier system.

  • 79. @#72  |  June 23, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Don’t forget that the poverty rates come from the luch applications and I know plenty of parent’s who lie to get free or reduced lunch and I do not believe that CPS is 86%. I would think it my be about 60% right now due to poor economy or maybe a little higher. I think when times are good it is really around 50%.

  • 80. CPSmama  |  June 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    #73-Junior:The part of ISATs that are counted for the SE score is a tiny fraction of the test so it really is just a day or less of a child’s life. And the SE admissions test is 9-12 on a Saturday. Again- that’s 1/2 a day. Don’t know how you legitimately argue otherwise.

    Unlike you, my children’s ISAT scores have fluctuated over the years. Their grades have remained pretty consistent depending on their effort. And by 7th grade, I think the child has responsibility for their grades so I don’t find it appropriate to threaten a teacher with “my kid better get all As this year.” Really?

    Aside: I think you have a warped sense of teachers trying to sabotage kids chances to get into SEHS

    I’ll also add that many people fee lthat the SE admissions test is too easy. It doesn’t differentiate b/w students enough so it leads to multiple perfect scores. An admissions test should not be that easy to master.

    #76-CPSmom- do you realize that many kids at NS, WY, WP & Jones fail one or more of their classes. Is that desirable? Letting kids in based heavily on test scores can lead to this outcome b/c although these are great test takers, their test taking prowess didn’t equate to being good students. HS is a very different ballgame for some of these kids. So when you ask if good grades & not-so-perfect test scores are desirable, I’d have to say yes.

  • 81. junior  |  June 23, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    #80 CPSmama
    I think you miss my point about the tests representing 1/2 day of a kids life. If it is not obvious that those tests assess years of learning as well as the kid’s overall intellectual skills developed over a lifetime in a standardized/objective way, then there’s not much point in arguing. They are primarily reflective of a child’s efforts and abilities over years, not their efforts/abilities on one day.

    Maybe some kids are not good test takers. Other kids are just not that knowledgeable or intelligent as other kids. Just sayin’.

    On the other hand, I’ve seen teachers give assessments, where a child got 1 out 6 questions wrong, giving them a score equivalent to a ‘C’. (And it was a poorly constructed question.) So then the child has to be near-perfect to raise the C to an A, even though you can argue that he already was near-perfect when he missed only one poorly constructed question. I’d much rather have them take standardized tests, which aremore thorough, constant across schools, and undergo psychometric testing to eliminate bias.

    I’m not sure who you’re quoting about the threat to the teacher but that holds no resemblence to any discussion I have had with a teacher. I would expect any parent going through the SE process to keep close tabs on their kids grades and to request that the teacher communicate closely about grades throughout the year.

    No, I don’t think teachers would generally sabotage grades, but I do think teachers would nudge a grade up to try to help a kid they liked whom they knew was going for selective enrollment. They might think they are helping someone, when really they are hurting the system by introducing more subjectivity and variability and unfairness.

    When you complain about kids failing classes, how do you know which kids are failing? Is it kids who didn’t have the test scores, but were from lower tiers and had good grades? Is it kids who got straight A’s without having to work who suddenly were faced with situations that required study habits and organizational skills that they had not developed. Show me your data, please.

    I suspect there are many very gifted kids who don’t get good grades in their school because they are unchallenged and bored. These kids need to be put into rigorous and challenging environments — some will thrive, others will not, but I believe that’s our duty as a society to try to challenge and nurture these minds. If these kids continue in unchallenging environments, then they are being done a great disservice. Many great minds have dropped out of high school because it could not provide appropriate challenges (Einstein, Sartre, Bill Gates, Daniel Negreanu to name a few).

  • 82. Mayfair Dad  |  June 24, 2011 at 8:30 am

    @ 77: Where did your son attend high school? Did he attend an all black SEHS on the southside, or one of the more racially diverse SEHS on the northside?

  • 83. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:11 am

    I don’t know of any white parents who have gamed the tier system, which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. (I’m sure it happens.) I do know a lot of parents who work in the arts or for profits, and thus can’t afford better neighborhoods despite their fancy educations, or who bought houses in less-desirable neighborhoods thinking they were going to make a killing on the real estate, but that didn’t happen. And, hey, just because you’re white doesn’t mean you’re rich! That probably explains more of the white families in lower tiers than gaming.

    I have a friend who used to worry about high school until she realized that her neighborhood was Tier 2. She’s in that non-profit category, too kind to even think of playing games. Her kids will be those Tier 2 white kids at Payton.

  • 84. tiredcpsparent  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:19 am

    Thank you. I do appreciate your perspective. And you are absolutely correct … white does not equate to rich. I stand corrected.

  • 85. CPSmama  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:24 am

    #58’s links to the articles aout NYC’s elite public HS are fascinating reads. NYC uses only an admissions test, and its top HS- Stuyvesant is 72% Asian. Right or wrong, I can’t see CPS moving towards a test-only admissions which could have similar results b/c Asians in Chicago simply don’t have enough political power in this City.

    I don’t need anyone to agree with me, but I think a mix of grades & test scores is still the best admissions process, and that 7th grade grades are weighted to heavily in the present system.

  • 86. Mom of 4  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:29 am

    To continue to use tiers as a determinant factor in getting a spot in a SEHS undermines the entire idea of these schools being selective. Academics should determine it and that’s it.

  • 87. cps Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 10:23 am

    CPS Mama – I do know what is happening in selective enrollment, I’m there. There is a range of student abilities due to NCLB, tiers and I’m sure some students that got in with great test scores and grades that are having difficulty with the transition and mastering certain subjects. For the most part, kids are there because they had both high grades and test scores. There are no students that get into SE with low grades and high test scores.

    Contrary to what you may have heard, the entrance exam is not “easy” that’s why the great majority of kids do not have perfect scores. The growing number of perfect scores is a reflection of the growing number of AC’s and RGC’s working well above grade level. To the credit of CPS and private schools – there are a lot of really smart kids out there. I would be in favor of adding the ISAT writing component to the mix since it is already a graded test and gives some weight to writing ability. The enrollment test is a fair and accurate measure of student abilities in math and reading and also includes grammar and vocabulary. I suppose it could be made harder if needed to further weed out students. The only way to determine that would be to go to a NY system – entrance exam and that’s it. Not a bad idea (without all the political clout etc as described above).

    Nope, not a fan of grades as a measurement at all. Everything that Junior depicts above is absolutely true about what is now happening with grades. The current 7th graders have received more A’s than any in the history of our old school and others that I’ve heard of. The teachers are under a lot of pressure. To their credit, they are not penalizing the kid for it – they’re issuing the A’s and letting CPS sort out the mess.

  • 88. CPSmama  |  June 24, 2011 at 11:27 am

    ^ and people are taking test prep which is another form of gaming the system.

    CPS Mom – to say that you are “not a fan of grades as a measurement” is odd given that kids performance in HS is evaluated by grades. Obviously you have a kid who is a good test taker. Not everyone is a test taking machine, though.

    BTW, the kids I know who have failed classes in SEHS are not NCLB kids (although I’ve heard that many of them failed as well). They are kids who attended various SEES and/or AC’s, had amazing (99.9%) test scores but struggled with their grades in HS. And, they continued to be excellent standardized test takers (perfect ACT scores) but had average to below-average grades. HS success is based primarily on the grades kids get day in and day out so to suggest that that information should not be used in SE admissions doesn’t make sense to me.

    I’m curious how you know that the SE admissions test is not easy. have you taken it? Seen it? I never said it was easy, I said many people feel that it is too easy.

  • 89. cps Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 11:47 am

    I am not arguing on this. What I said was that SE students have both high grades and test scores – meaning that if you’re in SE you tested well and had high grades (have I said that enough)

    No argument either that some kids struggle in HS. Don’t know of anyone with 99% scores and “below average” grades (meaning C’s or D’s ??) in selective enrollment?? Not at the top 4 maybe 5.

    My child took the SE test and was able to give a detailed account. There are books available with practice tests that I have seen. If you don’t study for the test you may not do well – same principal applies to HS you need to study to do well.

    I won’t go into the issue with grades – junior explains it all very well. I am all ears if you have a plan that will standardize grades between various schools, different teachers and teaching abilities, various grade scales, class conditions and the element of human subjectivity and error.

  • 90. Mom2  |  June 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    I’ve already had my say on this subject, but I do want to support CPSmama on this one once again. Someone can be very bright in terms of knowing facts for a test, but can be the type of person that doesn’t apply themselves in school each day and the end result is B’s and C’s in class (even though they get 99% on standardized tests).

    For those of you that want SE to be based only on test scores, you must have kids that do well on tests. I don’t and I know that my kids are excellent students and have seen first-hand that they can excel in the SE environment on a day-to-day basis. If you base entrance only on test scores, schools will miss out on some very talented students. Just like many top colleges that look at much more than test scores because they have learned that that alone doesn’t tell you what you need to know about someone’s ability to succeed, SE high schools should continue to look at many things.

    This conversation shows that this part of the current system (grades and test scores) could be tweaked, but shouldn’t be scrapped. If the concern about grades is that one year of “begging” teachers to give all A’s is somehow not showing the truth, maybe they need to base the grade portion on several years. I would hate to add that stress for 2 or 3 years, but I could see how that might help.

  • 91. Junior  |  June 24, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    If we look at these schools essentially as gifted programs, then we should measure giftedness. We know that the tests can do a pretty good job measuring that. However, if you have two students from two very different schools, one with four A’s in core subjects and one with three A’s and a B — you can’t tell me in a meaningful way what those grades have measured and which kid is the better student. Yet, the 25-point penalty in the admissions process is a huge determinant against admission for the kid with one B.

    I’m not saying that grades do not have value as some measure of success.But their variability adds even more unfairness to a system where tiers have introduced a very high level of variability and inaccuracy (a tier itself may have a broad range of individuals of greatly varying socioeconomic status, but all are treated as if they were the same).

  • 92. CPSmama  |  June 24, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Mom2-thanks for the support :^) Your college admissions analogy is spot on.

    Junior: I don’t think its fair or accurate to characterize the SEHS as gifted schools. And, FYI- neither the ISATs or the current SE admissions test measure a child’s “giftedness.” They are simply assessments of what a kid knows at the time the test is taken, not their aptitude. Perhaps the SE admissions test should be more of a gifted test (like the one used for AC and gifted school admission)

    Cps Mom: It may be hard to believe, but I know of a number of kids at the top 5 SEHS with 99% test scores and below average grades. I’m talking C’s & D’s. And some F’s. Since HS is more than test scores, the admissions should be based on more than test scores.

  • 93. Mom2  |  June 24, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    @Junior, I am tired. I agree that a child with 4 A’s compared with a child having 3 A’s and 1 B, you cannot tell which one is the better student. My child had all A’s and did pretty good, but not great on the SE tests. Several friends had 3 A’s and 1 B and did better on the SE tests. They are all great students and most are doing well in their SE schools with one exception that did great on tests and isn’t doing well with grades in school. We would consider all of them pretty equal in terms of “giftedness” although the friends are better at reading and mine is much better at math.
    I think what this shows, and what always shows in these conversations, is that CPS needs to have more schools in which parents can feel confident that their child will get a good-great college prep curriculum, working with other college bound kids, in a safe school in a safe neighborhood. If we had that, this concern over details about how to pick kids for a small amount of schools would just never need to be discussed.

  • 94. RL Julia  |  June 24, 2011 at 1:30 pm

    As far as I can tell, SEHS’s are not really interested in accepting or acknowledging different kinds brililance- if they were they’d have a different (see Von Steuben or Lincoln Park) admissions process. Unfortunately, being bright doesn’t mean that a kid will get into an SEHS – even if they could do the work, even if they are smart, etc… Conversely, some kids who get in will do poorly. Maybe they are tired of school, disgusted, rebellious- there are really a million reasons.

    I’ll be the first to agree -this is not fair -but then again, anything that has an admission’s process attached to it in the first place is generally not fair.

    Luckily, despite what many people think – there are other options – just the same way when you get rejected from one college, there are other options and life doesn’t end., I was rejected from Yale. Since I lived in New Haven, As a high school student, I was able to take classes at Yale, and I did just fine (as in B’s) – but I was still rejected from Yale -even though if I had gone there, I would have done just fine (provided I had avoided Trigonomtery and any language). However, I was not Yale material and I didn’t get in (a decision I completely agree with, I would have been miserable). The SEHS”s are the same way – its not about kids not being able to do the work and thus not getting in its about the SEHS’s being interested in getting kids who score the highest on their set of criteria. – as stupid, random, arbitrary or meaningless as that criteria might be – same thing with Decatur or the classical schools or even with the RGC’s.

    Now I know that many people will now go on about how there aren’t any other GOOD options or ones that have the same cache or what not – and that is a matter of personal preference – but that personal preference is well, personal and is not the same as there there being NO options. I for one, think that there are quite a few acceptable options out there for high schools that aren’t SEHS’s. They don’t have the cache, the elitism, the bragging rights of the SEHS’s but they are places that are generally safe, where a kid could learn enough to get themselves to a decent college and stay there and where they would have the opportunity to join clubs, sports etc… and perhaps be at the at the top of their class.

    The point really is that any selection process is inherently unfair and thus the SEHS one is as well.

  • 95. Junior  |  June 24, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    @92 If these are not gifted schools, then where do the gifted kids in the system go for HS? The point of differentiation in a system is to be able to group kids of similar needs together. It makes sense to group gifted kids in the same schools, so that the similar resources that gifted students need are pooled and used efficiently.

    You still don’t address the point about how a single ‘B’ can tank a student, even though we have no meaningful parameters about what a B means across very different schools. What we need is a baseline minimum GPA requirement, but we don’t need to select students based on comparing grades that can’t even be compared.

    For the record, my daughter consistently gets all A’s, so I am not arguing from self-interest (I am actually arguing against my own interests). On the other hand, she was not in a gifted program, so getting an all A’s with an average school population was not like getting all A’s in a gifted program. The current grade system penalizes kids who opt for the more rigorous programs.

  • 96. Answeringquestion  |  June 24, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Mayfair Dad. My son was in a gifted elementary school where he was the only black boy for years, not a selective enrollment high school.

  • 97. cps Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    @92 – we are talking 2 different things – with regard to grades as an entrance requirement, there are no kids that get into SE with below average grades. There are plenty of C’s and some of the unfortunate D’s and F’s in SE high school (as high school grades). The same A students are not necessarily going to earn A’s in HS – which is exactly my point. In my opinion, the entrance exams are a better gauge of ability – if it’s a good test. Maybe the test does need some tuning up.

    In order for CPS to gauge entrance into HS like the colleges do, they would need to evaluate the quality of the elementary school along with the quality of the classes offered – impossible and again not fair to all. Colleges do value the tests heavily.

    Again, no matter how you slice it, in the sea of 7th grade A’s the high testing student will prevail. The grades portion as it is now does not allow enough depth to lend benefit in evaluation.

    3 years of grades – interesting. I don’t know how you evaluate HS admissions based upon 5th grade performance. The A/C’s do that now. Maybe we should expand the AC program and those would be the only kids that would graduate directly into SE. I think you’d see a lot of disagreement with that situation.

  • 98. Mom2  |  June 24, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    Junior and cps Mom – most of what you say is true about high testing students being the ones that usually prevail in getting into SE schools. But, because of the use of grades, some students that don’t test well, but do get very good grades, still have a shot at the SE schools. That is the part you keep missing when talking about how tests are the only true measure and that grades can be manipulated by some less than ethical teachers. The ability to still get into a SE schools because your grades were fabulous is something that some of us feel is very important. Those kids, from very personal experience, can do extremely well in very competitive SE high schools and shouldn’t be left out just because they don’t do well on standardized tests. In fact, many do better in those schools than those that just test well.

  • 99. cps Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I will say one last thing then stop monopolizing the conversation. My opinion is that proper testing is the best way to gauge abilities. Not looking for agreement or disagreement.

    I am not trying to be harsh and apologize for coming off that way. What I do want to say is that for everyone that has great students with testing issues you need to work on that. Study for the tests and take the prep classes if you can and hopefully you’ll come out on top.

    RL Julia is the soft heartened one with the sage advice. No one wants to hear early on that you don’t have a chance. You do but some may need to work harder at it than others. Consider all your options – good students will find a place.

  • 100. RL Julia  |  June 24, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    @95 – Don’t the gifted kids go to IMSA?
    @99 – Thanks.

  • 101. Mom2  |  June 24, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    @99 we can agree to disagree. My child went to a great and difficult elementary school that really worked on helping kids take standardized tests, took all the outside test prep classes and still didn’t get the 95-99% on tests that most people would need to get into SE schools based only on test scores. Yet the A’s on report cards in that rigorous curriculum elementary school and now in SE high school somehow indicate that you must be mistaken that tests are the only way to judge who should be admitted. Glad CPS doesn’t agree with you on this one.

  • 102. cps Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    Your A at a difficult school has the same value as an A at any other school. The only thing that makes your A of greater value is the test. Not my system, it’s CPS. These are just some issues people may want to take up in these meetings with the BRC.

  • 103. Mom2  |  June 24, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    cps Mom, you are right that an A at a difficult school is the same points as an A at an easier place. I totally understand that this isn’t necessarily equitable, in fact I really don’t like that. But because of the issue for some kids with taking tests, I am willing to put up with that inequity in order to have criteria other than tests as part of the SE process. I agree with everyone that the grading scale should be uniform which should help a bit, but there will obviously still be differences in how hard or easy it is to get an A. I just want there to be other options besides only looking at two tests when determining my child’s future.

    (Of course, for parents that hate that their child’s elementary school is more rigorous than others and therefore harder to get an A – keep in mind that the faster pace and more inclusive curriculum is most likely giving them an advantage on those standardized tests as they have covered more material or more in depth. At least it is an advantage for those kids that do well on standardized tests.)

  • 104. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 24, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    This whole issue would be moot if CPS had more good high schools. That’s what’s so depressing. Unfortunately, a lot of kids aren’t mature enough to get the stakes in 7th grade.

  • 105. RL Julia  |  June 24, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    This whole issue would be moot if more CPS parents were able to see past the SEHS label and realize that there are many acceptable choices already out there as well.

  • 106. Angie  |  June 24, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    @105. RL Julia: which non-SE schools are acceptable choices for a parents that care about their children’s education and do not want them to be harassed by gangs?

  • 107. Measured Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    The SE admissions exam should not have an achievable “top” score. No student should have a perfect score. Instead the test should extend beyond what even the highest tester could reach. That would then serve as a better ranking of those students taking the test. Why are perfect scores possible?

  • 108. Measured Mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    If you’d like details about how colleges employ test scores and everything else considered in admissions, check out It’s a bit like cpsobsessed for the college-bound set.

  • 109. cpsmama  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Measured Mom, I agree 100% with both of your posts. @

  • 110. Mom of 4  |  June 24, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Improving neighborhood high schools needs to be a citywide priority. It would significantly reduce the huge amounts of stress that kids and parents both feel from an early age.

  • 111. Chicago mom  |  June 24, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    It is not fair to CPS students that private school students can take ISAT test in the 8th grade. CPS students take this test in 7th.this needs to change. If private schools care so much about Isat then offer the same test as CPS!

  • 112. Glad it's over  |  June 25, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Private school kids can take the sat-10 in the fall at their local school. The score is adjusted for 8th grade. Private school kids can also pay to have a test done by a psychologist and have the scores age adjusted (works great if your child has a late spring bday). What is really crazy is since private school kids aren’t in the cps system, they can take multiple test and submit the best score. I know for a fact of one school that does this. They offer the sat-10 three times in the year, only math and reading, for the students and then submit the best score. My opinion is if tests were the only criteria for SE, the private school kids scores would be hard to touch.

  • 113. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 9:54 am

    #78 tired cps parent — I have wondered, too.

    Take a look at the incoming classes for Lenart and Keller and you will see a very different mix. Beasley, Bell, etc.

    When the federal consent decree was lifted in 2009, whites made up 23% of the system overall. That share has gone down since then. Hispanics share has risen considerably.

    I believe that there are more selective / gifted schools on the west and south sides and this accounts for a larger share for minorities overall.

  • 114. cps Mom  |  June 25, 2011 at 10:16 am

    @112 – with grades pushed up at many schools, we now or will soon have a system based upon tests anyway. That’s why the need for a meaningful test that challenges and measures different abilities.

    The situation you describe is exactly the sort of inequity that parents should be bringing up at these BRC community meetings. This is the first I’ve seen or heard.

  • 115. Grace  |  June 25, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Hi — just back from the first BRC meeting at Westinghouse h.s. at Homan and Franklin.

    First, what a beautiful, beautiful school.
    Second, the BRC weren’t there! Not one showed up.
    Third, there were fewer than 50 people there — possibly because of the very short notice.

    But a very intelligent and pleasant OAE staffer was there, Katie Ellis.

    Her presentation, she said, will be on the OAE web site on Monday, and so will the minutes from this first meeting.

    Some comments from parents and Katie, in random order.
    1. OAE information is very confusing and hard to access. (This got applause.)
    2. No s.e. school implemented cut-off scores this year. They had to take everyone in each tier that qualified.
    3. Principals currently use the goal of increasing diversity when considering their 5% principal picks.
    4. Last year’s new criteria increased diversity among selective and magnet students.
    5. This year, the 100 NCLB students were not simply added to the 4 top selective schools after testing was finalized, as in the first year. There was a sincere effort to locate and encourage children who have the potential and are enrolled at the lowest performing elementary schools to take the test, and they had to score a minimum of 650.
    6. Whites share of seats has not gone up.
    7. Hispanics share of seats has gone up.

    Sorry this is so general, but specifics were not tossed about much. The LSC chair from NSCP had a few good comments, too.
    So did PURE and Vernon Fort.

    The next two meetings are:
    Lane Tech: Tuesday June 28 at 7pm
    King h.s.: Thursday June 30 at 7 pm.

  • 116. Hawthorne mom  |  June 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Did the OAE rep say why the BRC was not there?

  • 117. Grace  |  June 26, 2011 at 8:32 am

    She may have, H-mom, but I came late. Btw, Saturday’s meeting was quiet and parents were calm, unlike last summer’s meetings. And parents could ask questions without having to sign up in advance or stand in a long line.

    Also Katie Ellis said that there are roughly 3,000 freshmen seats annually. Not very many considering the demand. So really, goo luck at LVHS and MPHS in starting up the rigorous programs that parents want for their kids.

  • 118. local mom  |  June 26, 2011 at 9:36 am

    White parents seem to be seeking more access to the Ag HS rather than hoping to chage MPHS.

  • 119. cps Mom  |  June 26, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Hi Grace

    On the NCLB – If a student tested and scored over 650 were they placed into the top 4 schools or were other programs included as well? Did they elaborate any further on the current kids. What is their situation now that funds don’t exist for a special program.

    Did parents/the public comment on the current system? Any interesting proposals?

    I’m not sure that having race based discretion should trump the applicant need. Any time there’s an opportunity to override the system seems like there is always someones agenda that takes precedent.

    Thanks for your information.

  • 120. Mayfair Dad  |  June 27, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Hello everybody:

    While it may not be possible for everyone on this thread to attend one of the Blue Ribbon community meetings, you may contact them using the following link:

    Send them your ideas, concerns and suggestions. If enough of us flood their inbox with demands for a harmonized grading scale across CPS, it might just happen.


  • 121. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 9:39 am

    @cps mom, it’s been a while since I read the BRC report of last year, but one of the goals of the committee was to reach out to A-A boys, in particular. That may be why OAE has put forth the special effort for 100 NCLB children. You have good questions, and they might be best answered if you can make the Lane meeting on Tuesday at 7 pm. I’ll be there. Reminds me of klm’s earlier point, that no one in college admissions is reaching out to whites who live in trailers — and no doubt, others, such as immigrants from the Middle East or Poland.

    @118 — With only 3,000 selective high school seats, when one group represents 20% they have 600 seats. About 14,000 children tested last year. Really Chicago parents/taxpayers are scrambling for far too few seats. It is a terrible situation.

    Students who have scored “exceeds expectations” on the ISATs are considered “college ready” because there is a direct correlation with “exceeds” scores and higher ACT scores.

    All Brizard has to do to meet one of his performance goals, which is to increase the number of kids who are college ready, is to keep more of the “exceeds” kids in the system.

    I’d like CPS to ask parents if they want to allocate more dollars to implement an existing, proven CPS selective h.s. curriculum in their neighborhood or magnet high schools — nothing watered down — for the next 3,000 kids of all races on the list.

    I want it to be a CPS product, not a charter, because I want the benefit of laws to oversee implementation of the program, the qualifications of who will run it, and how my taxes are spent. And because the existing selective programs are a real, proven success story with a long track record.

    That goal should be an essential part of Brizard’s and Donoso’s employment contracts, if they are listening to Chicagoans.

  • 122. MarketingMom  |  June 27, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I am disappointed that the BRC are not attending these meetings. It sends a message that the decisions have already been made and these town meetings are moot. My son received the petition from school a few weeks ago and I did not sign it. I for one, hope they do not allow children of teachers to get an automatic pass in selective enrollment and magnet schools. This will take away the already limited amount of slots for everyone else. If some of the principals didn’t abuse their power, they would still have had an opportunity to do this on a case by case basis.

  • 123. Mom of 4  |  June 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

    There are a variety of parents, black and white, hoping for improvements at MPHS. There are also others hoping to increase the amount of neighborhood seats open at the Ag, although there are already 40% of seats dedicated to those living within close proximity to the school. The alderman stated that all of those who met the criteria to apply for neighborhood seats were accepted.

    I was also at the meeting at Westinghouse and came away rather discouraged. I fel like the tier system is ridiculous, although I agree that maintaining diversity at SEHS schools is important. However, kids in tier 4 shouldn’t have to score as many as 300 points more than students in tier 1 for a seat. I don’t see this system going away until there are corresponding drops in test scores at these schools. This makes it that much more important to get neighborhood schools up to more acceptable levels.

  • 124. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 10:47 am

    @122, I am pretty sure the petition did not say that they were trying to get children of teachers an automatic spot at selective schools. It was just for schools that currently let in kids based on lotteries only. As long as it isn’t for test-in schools, I agree that they could just let it be a principal pick item if they gave that back, but I actually do see a value in allowing children of teachers to be at the same school where they work. Just like siblings, it improves the overall school community.

  • 125. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 10:54 am

    @ Mom of 4 — You’r right: Tier 4 kids must score a perfect or near perfect score to get a seat. This year, many fewer tier 4 kids are going to NSCP, WP, WY but they are getting seats at Jones and Lane.

    Another change OAE made with the census tracts — they decided to have each tier hold the same number of students — 136,000, if I remember correctly. And, because some neighborhoods might be more densely populated, Katie Ellis said, they added more census tracts to certain tiers to come up with an even distribution of students. Some parents came away from that thinking the tiers are being manipulated, and that median income levels were not the main determinant of which tier your child fell into.

    Obviously, the level of transparency is low. And before OAE closes comments on the changes to admissions, they should hold a meeting informing parents of what the admissions policies are NOW.

  • 126. CPS mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

    I also attended the BRC meeting on Saturday morning. Katie Ellis was very informative and helpful. Her answer to the question “Where are the BRC members?” was answered with “they are volunteers and are doing this in their after work hours.” She did say they would be at the other meetings which is problematic in it’s own right. They can attend a meeting on the North Side but not the West Side. I could write an entire post on the frustration regarding that comment. As a result, I have tried contacting several media outlets to expose this and encourage some reporting on this at the other meetings Whether it will make a difference I don’t know.

    However, my thoughts on this are that there is a ton of energy being put into figuring out how to get into the selective enrollment schools, focusing on turning around some of the neighborhood schools. There are many schools that have done this and as a result we WILL need more high school options close to our homes.

    Additionally, I would argue that one of the main reasons that many of the elementary magnet are looking more “white” is bc they stopped busing children to schools. So, they are asking people who already have limited resources to find a way to get their children to school 1/2 way across the city.

    I second Grace when I say Westinghouse was BEAUTIFUL. Anyone who does get in there would be very lucky.

  • 127. RL Julia  |  June 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

    @106: – here is an interesting report about safety and schools – basically, safer schools will be located in neighborhoods where the poverty rate is less than about 30%, where male unemployment is lower (under 40%) and where crime rates are average.

    You can also search crime rates around schools using this mapping search engine – however be aware that a certain amount of crime happens around EVERY high school before drawing conclusions.

    If you are looking for places I consider to be safe – I’d say off the top of my head -Audubon, Ogden, Van Steuben, Taft, Lakeview, Noble Street Charter, CICS Northtown, Admunsen, Lincoln Park, Maybe Roosevelt and Schurz are “safe” as well – but I am not so sure about the educational opportunities at those schools – I’ve heard some really mixed reports – ditto Mather and Senn.

    In my limited experience, if your child makes it clear that they are not interested in being in a gang and does not seek to engage, befriend or antagonize kids in a gang, chances are no one is going to bother them about joining a gang or not being in a gang -at least not in school.

  • 128. Junior  |  June 27, 2011 at 11:44 am

    The devil is in the details. Having each tier hold the same number of students I suspect will make it even more difficult for kids in Tier 3/4. In my neighborhood (tier 3/4), there is a dramatically lower density of children than in the neighboring Tier 1/2 areas.

    And I assume they are counting all kids, like the census does, and not just CPS kids. If they count just CPS kids, with a higher percentage of kids in private schools, it will make the density of children in Tier 3/4 tracts even lower. Of course, the private school kids still apply to many CPS selective enrollment schools, making it so incredibly competitive — some would say to a ridiculous degree — to try to get into an SE school from Tier 3/4.

    It is disheartening to have kids performing nearly perfectly in all you ask them to do and not have many programs available to fit them. It sure does seem that the we need more SE capacity, or at least more programs in neighborhood high schools that are tracked toward higher-level college prep.

  • 129. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    @Junior, we agree here. Very disheartening.

  • 130. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    The concern now is that CPS will decide to further reduce the share of seats set aside for kids based on scores and grades (Rank). Currently, that share is 30%.

  • 131. cps Mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Would there also be a concern with a shift to renting vs. home owning? Census numbers do not reflect this. It would be very easy to manipulate an address now that people have an idea of the stakes and consequences. It’s not even a matter of “playing the system”. Where would you choose to live if you were renting with an up and coming HS kid. Establishing tiers to ensure diversity is too difficult to define.

  • 132. CPS Teacher/Parent  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm

    I believe they should up the rank to 50%(or more), and then except the remainder by proximity. For example, the second 50% should go to students that live within a 8 ( or any determined radius) mile radius of the desired SEHS or within that schools region. If their are not enough students who accepted seats at the SEHS, the SEHS could then accepts students from a larger radius in the second or third round.

  • 133. cps Mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    @131 brilliant! Look no further for the answer.

  • 134. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    @131, I like that, too. It totally goes against their plan to make the schools racially diverse (which is against the law), but it makes total sense in terms of having a SE school be selective and not crazy in terms of trying to get there every day, be able to stay for after school activities, etc. The tier method is really not accurate and we all know that and see that when looking at tier 4 people that live in a small two bedroom apartment above a store with 4 people living inside, etc.

  • 135. RL Julia  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    132 – like the idea but what about the kid from the far north/south side who wants to go to Payton or Jones – what about kids who have two addresses (joint custody) – how does that play out? Just playing this scenario all the way out – what is going to happen to Northside (drawing from geographically richer neighborhoods) v. Westinghouse (drawing from geographically poorer neighborhoods)after a few years of this – Northside becomes harder and harder to get into – for no other reason that it is drawing on a pool of richer, higher testing kids while Westinghouse becomes easier to get into and thus is known/regarded as not as good an SEHS.

  • 136. cps Mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    Actually, isn’t it in keeping with the way things have been working out diversity wise? Schools like Jones, Payton and Whitney are located in diverse neighborhoods making those schools an option for many and the most diverse. Others schools predominately black, white, Latino are so because of location relative to the neighborhood.

    Teachers are really smart.

  • 137. magnet mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    I think that creating a proximity for the SE high schools is totally wrong. The SE high schools are very important city resources built over time by people from all over the city. Much like the magnets which are built by more that the neighborhoods around them.
    The consent decree should never have been lifted in the first place.
    Obviously the city needs better neighborhood high schools. The SE schools remain a mix from the whole city.

  • 138. Angie  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    I would like to see more magnet high schools for kids who are interested in learning, but can’t make it into the SE program. Maybe start a few schools from scratch, in some of the building left over after the consolidation.

    Make these schools safe, and admit only those children who want to be there. Also, give the principals the ability to remove the troublemakers if they find their way in.

  • 139. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    @137 – I’d take that over the current system of get into a SE or other gifted schools/programs or you are out of luck and need to move to keep your child safe and with others that wish to learn. The current system makes no sense to me.

  • 140. RL Julia  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    I would prefer an admissions system based on economics,access and opportunity over one based on race personally.

  • 141. Mayfair Dad  |  June 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Adopt a SEHS admissions policy based on harmonized classroom grades for an entire year, ISAT scores and the results of a comprehensive entrance exam that includes an essay writing component. Nothing else. Excellence begets excellence.

    Bump up Principal Discretion to 10% and put controls in place so this option is exercised only to address access for underpriveleged students with potential, who excelled in spite of extreme challenges or somehow slipped thru the cracks. This is how compassion can be infused into the process.

  • 142. Steve  |  June 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    Way up at @115, Grace – thank you for being one of the first boots on the ground there and for your excellent volunteer reportage back. As a Bucktowner, I hope to make the session at nearby Lane; it would be nice if the BRC graced us with their presence as well. No sign yet on the OAE website of Ms. Ellis’ presentation. @122 illustrates the sense of learned helplessness that we minority citizens (i.e., the vanishing Chicago middle class) acquire via these proceedings. We don’t need a Rubber Stamp Commission.
    Anyway, just curious from any attendees whether there was any indication that these BRC meetings were interested in doing any real soul searching, or if the focus was on tweaks and tinkering.
    Condensing the “big questions”, at least from the standpoint of offering enriched academics, and not necessarily fixing the entire school system, seems to arrive at the following polarities for debate:
    (1) Should there be ANY selective schools, period? Do away with them and just ensure that the neighborhood schools can challenge students of all levels. Or, the converse: shouldn’t ALL schools be selective enrollment schools? This would effectively end the concept of a neighborhood school. Or, in between, at least designate enough schools SE to accommodate the 14,000 who are apparently motivated enough to take some action to find better opportunities.
    (2) Assuming there are selective schools, how “selective” should they be? And I do think it’s high time CPS shared its statistics over the last three years on the economic and racial makeup of the students that are accepted at SEHS by rank alone. I believe there would be more diversity in that number than we’d assume – maybe not a mirror of the city as a whole, but I think it’s unlikely these are all Tier 4s, or all Asian, or all girls.
    (3) What are the true, measurable expectations the people (both with schoolchildren and without) of Chicago should have from a selective component system? Increasing % of students headed to college? Retain a tax base of middle class, educated families? Or is this just considered an entitlement to everyone with students at a certain level of achievement by 8th grade?
    (4) Subjectivity vs. Objectivity in assessing merit and readiness: grades, whether or not harmonized, principal discretion, siblinghood may well have high correlations with a student’s readiness to benefit from (and contribute to) an accelerated environment. On the other hand, a well designed examination, or collection of examinations, is supposed to be statistically validated over time such that its scores predict outcomes. And a truly well designed examination is supposed to overcome cultural and socioeconomic divides, e.g., by avoiding an excess of questions involving yachts 🙂

    At least some recognition that a system is making broad, general choices would enable better informed choices about the details.
    And regardless of the choices, even more general principles require that the system seem transparent, and not subject to games and manipulation.

    These might, in fact, be the least controversial topics for today’s BRC to be pressed on, and pressed on relentlessly. The tier system is SO obviously designed to sneakily accomplish racial (and more importantly, vote-counting) objectives with a broad brush, and its probably failing to accomplish even these questionable goals because it is so riddled with absurdities: a tier 1 with average income over $100K, the many tier 4 areas with families who would never be capable of opting out for private schools, but are tier 4 because of high levels of (modestly priced) home ownership . The selective enrollment exam is shrouded in mystery – without even a broadly stated set of objectives; under these circumstances, even bright, motivated kids are at a disadvantage unless they purchase test prep from a company that exit-polls students about its question types after the test (or have older siblings.) And who KNOWS what goes on in principal discretion?! Sure, in any given year, idealism (and more likely, sensitivity to recent abuses) might produce wonders through careful individualized assessment; but ask yourselves the simple question, “ok, so why not just have 100% admitted on the basis of P.D.?” and except for the few principals out there reading these pages, I think you’ll see the flaws in P.D.
    Didn’t mean for this to run on, but I truly believe the system, which has so many noble goals and benefits, is in jeopardy. Go to the meetings, ask questions, get specifics.

  • 143. Steve  |  June 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    It appears that Ms. Ellis’ presentation has made it up to the OAE website at

    It doesn’t look to me, at first glance, much more than a reformat/reprint of last year’s –

  • 144. Grace  |  June 27, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    There is no way that want my child’s options for an s.e. high school limited by proximity.

    There have been complaints by some who dislike seeing some s.e. schools that are less diverse than NSCP, WP, WY, Jones and Lane, which also may have higher ACT scores.

    However, parent choice is important.

  • 145. mom2  |  June 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm

    @Steve, I hope you come to the meeting at Lane and I hope you read your post (or email it to them). You are correct that they should be looking at all of this and not just tweaking what they currently have and assume there is nothing more to think about.

  • 146. 3 kids 3 schools (formerly 6th grade mom)  |  June 27, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    I looked over the OAE presentation on the OAE website, thanks for the link Steve.

    The issues under review for next year appear fairly narrow, unless they also intend to review items not listed. Most of the items appear pretty straight forward but if anyone goes to the remaining sessions a clarification would be useful on a couple of the items they plan to consider.

    “Magnet school re-enrollment”, what does that mean? A policy for kids to re-enroll in a magnet school if they leave the school for some reason?

    Also “refine magnet school boundaries”. A few schools are magnets with an attendance area, such as Wildwood, but most are not, so I am not sure if the boundaries they are talking about are attendance areas or what. That is all I can think of, but it isn’t at all clear. If anyone finds out, please post. Probably won’t have the energy to make it to a meeting myself this week.

  • 147. cps Mom  |  June 27, 2011 at 10:58 pm

    I think the idea of selective proximity allowance mentioned by teacher/parent was a way to give preference without getting into the issue of tiers – perhaps to give some diversification and allow access to high scoring students passed over. The idea was more about 50% + merit. Steve has a point, the current rank students could be more diverse than perceived. Middle class AA (and others) are the losers in this game. Again, what are the objectives? Does the hierarchy of schools fill the void or will it always be flawed in our eyes? Will the new admin take the bull by the horns? Have to say that the fact that not one person showed up from the BRC is disturbing. Personal time aside, I would think this aspect would be important – makes me wonder.

  • 148. Grace  |  June 28, 2011 at 8:19 am

    The OAE wouldn’t have scheduled the 3 meetings without conferring with the BRC. Since not one of the BRC showed, it had to be a conscious, mutual decision. Imho, any BRC member who doesn’t show at Lane tonight or King on Thursday should be “counseled out” immediately and replaced.

    Btw, wonder who gets to decide who sits on the BRC? That would determine a number of their subsequent decisions, don’t you think?

    Last summer, the BRC included 2 aldermen, LaTasha Thomas and Fredenna Lyle, as well as Miguel del Valle. I remember being a little shocked at the obvious show of clout on the BRC, especially because there wasn’t one expert in social or educational policy included. And you would at least expect CPS to include the Harvard professor Huberman hired to develop the socio-economic tier / rank system in the first place.

    You would expect him to be there if only to remind the BRC and parents of the reasons for structuring the system the way he did, and how it is working in other cities.

    Otherwise, incremental changes for political reasons could eventually skew the original intentions of the system.

  • 149. CPS Teacher/Parent  |  June 28, 2011 at 8:31 am

    RL-Julia- An 8-10 radius covers a lot of ground. If you took Northside and drew a line straight south 8-10 miles, you end up as far as 35th and Kedzie. Growing up on the west side of Chicago, I know you have many diverse communities in all directions from Northside Prep. The north side of Chicago has neighborhoods like Albany Park, Edgewater, Rogers Park, along with many other communities that offer diversity. Head south and come across Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Garfield Park and other communities up to 35th street that offer diverse communities. You pick up all the northwest side of Chicago and even reach into Galewood and parts of the Austin neighborhood. All the students from diverse socioeconomic and racial backgrounds would be eligible for Northside Prep in the first round after they have taken their students with the highest rank citywide.

    Most students living on the Northside would be eligible for Northside, Lane, WY, Jones, Westinghouse, and WP. Families living on the west side would have access to many of these schools. South side families would have first round rights to schools like Brooks, WY, WP, Jones, King, Lindbloom and Westinghouse. Students who do not make in the first round would then be eligible for any 2nd round spots city wide.

    The truth is.. no matter what happens there will always be a group of unhappy people. I know many people who will be using a family members address (Tier 1/2) during eighth grade to try and improve their chances of getting into their top choice. I’m not saying it’s right, but if your alternative is Schurz (sorry Schurz), I do not blame families for trying to give their child the best education the city has to offer.

  • 150. Grace  |  June 28, 2011 at 8:45 am

    CPS Teacher – Parent

    What you are saying — in a roundabout way — is that if I live on the Southside and 15 miles from downtown, my high-scoring children no longer have first round rights to top s.e. schools like Payton.

    This change is a big problem! It severely limits parents’ ability to select the school they feel is best for their children — once their child has already jumped through all the CPS hoops by rank and tier.

    But my children could get a seat at a school in Englewood, Roseland, or Austin. Let’s not forget that Chicago has 2,300 fewer cops than it needs. The kids can’t safely take public transportation, of course, but, as you say, there will always be some parents who will be unhappy. How utterly ridiculous of them!

    This criteria is just another way to shake out high-scoring kids from the system to make room for lower-scoring kids at the top schools. No wonder the BRC didn’t show on Saturday. Stop making foolish changes to the criteria.

  • 151. cpsobsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:02 am

    So if the BRC isn’t going to be there, what happens – they have a note taker recording the comments and they pass it on to the BRC?

    Anyone know?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 152. Mayfair Dad  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:35 am

    I am re-posting this link from #120.

    As usual, the cpsobsessed community has come up with excellent observations, solid suggestions and provocative questions that deserve to be answered.

    Take a moment to share these with the Blue Ribbon Committee:

    At a bare minimum, copy and paste your insightful posts into an email and hit the send button. Takes thirty seconds.

    Even if we can’t all attend the meetings, CPS will know we are engaged, concerned and “watching” them. There is strength in numbers. Thanks.

  • 153. mom2  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:55 am

    @cpsobsessed, at one time you talked about sharing the good posts with others that can make a difference. Have you ever taken whatever you consider the best of the various posts and putting them in an email to the BRC (or Rahm or CPS)? If not, even just sending them a link when there are a bunch of good ones might be nice. I agree that it would be great if people that could actually do something were able to read some of these.

  • 154. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 9:58 am

    From the BRC presentation regarding the meetings:

    All remarks will be recorded by a court
    reporter for review by the entire BRC.

  • 155. CPS Teacher/Parent  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Grace- If your child falls into the first 50% of students (based on rank citywide), then your child will have a chance of getting into any of the SEHS…including Payton. The second group of students (2nd 50%) would be based on proximity and scores. Last time I checked Austin did not have a SEHS in their community; but if students did not make it in the first group, they could still get into schools like WY, WP, Jones and Westinghouse so long as they met the criteria. I am unsure if your reference to the Roseland and Englewood communitites were referring to Lindbloom and King..but if they were you have to remember they are still SEHS. I know those schools are in some rough areas of the city. The school itself still has hard working and high achieving students enrolled in the school. If your child is traveling a long distance, they are more than likely going to travel through some rough spots. I currently live on the northside and I hear many parents talk about their child going to private school if they do not get into Lane, Payton, or Northside. They absolutely refuse to consider Westinghouse. I on the other hand would absolutely consider sending my son to Westinghouse. I know the neighborhood is tough in comparison to where I live, but when gets off the CTA bus he is right in front of the school. Those are tough decisions that we have to make as parents. If I did not have to live in the city I would absolutely be out. Not because I dislike Chicago, but I hate that we have to subject our kids to this.

  • 156. Mother and Teacher  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:38 am

    There is alot of discussion regarding the SE entrance exams, but I was wondering what the average EXPLORE score is for incoming freshmen at the SE schools. The average ACT score for NorthSide is 28.5. But if kids are coming in with EXPLORE scores already in the 20’s shouldn’t their scores be higher on the ACT? (Particularly since 100% of students are scoring over 20 on the ACT) It makes me wonder if the over 100% of kids are really high to begin with.

  • 157. Mayfair Dad  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

    @ 155 and Grace:

    Proximity is already factored into the process vis-a-vis how families rank their choices of SEHSs – you wouldn’t place a high priority on high schools that are logistically impractical. Holding aside safety and perceived quality of education concerns, it just doesn’t make sense for a kid to travel 15+ miles each way to attend high school. For families on the northside, easier choice to make because the most logistically practical SEHSs also happen to be the most diverse and perceived to be the best in the city.

    So what about the students from Englewood, Roseland, or Austin (or Beverly or Mt. Greenwood for that matter)? Why would these students elect to travel 15+ miles each way to attend a SEHS on the northside, passing up several SEHSs closer to their homes?

    Lack of Diversity and its companion: fear-my-kid-will-be-beaten-up-by-kids-who-are-a-different-color. Grossly unfair to fine schools like Westinghouse and Lindblom, but sadly perception is reality.

    Until CPS addresses the desegregation of 90%+ AA SEHSs on the southside, this situation will continue. Diversity will not occur there overnight, or organically happen over time.

    Couldn’t the NCLB covenant be applied to deserving low-income whites/Asians/Hispanics on the southside, to offer seats at a SEHS closer to their homes? I don’t think families on the northside have the implied moral responsibility to integrate southside high schools.

  • 158. Steve  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Having just endured 8 years of the elementary school game, my personal slant leans to high schools, and I think any consideration for proximity in the SEHS process would be a disaster. It should be a fact of urban life, as well as a life-learning experience, that high schoolers commute to school (unless they happen to be lucky enough to live or move to near their school) That put forth, it would perhaps be nice if the CPS and the CTA could coordinate things a bit for what must be a significant ridership population. There’s a good several blocks between a bus stop and Payton, not exactly the most wholesome blocks for a girl to traipse in twilight, and winters are a b***h. Couldn’t CTA buses sidetrack by all of the high schools, even if only at certain times of day?

    Proximity-preference is just another way of tilting the city into “good neighborhoods” and “bad neighborhoods” by decree. This happens organically for other reasons, a bigger civil engineering problem than our forum can address. In fact, I’m an arch-enemy of the tier system, but part of me has wondered if it not might have the eventual unintended effect of desegregating the city as pioneers from tier 4 start moving to tier 1 areas once the mortgage spigot loosens up.

  • 159. Angie  |  June 28, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    I think test-in high schools should be 100% merit only. Kids in 7th and 8th grades are old enough to understand that one has to study and work hard to get somewhere in life.

    Leave the proximity and tier games for lottery-based magnets, where everyone has a chance to get in. It is grossly unfair to require tier 4 kids to score so much higher to compete with tier 1.

  • 160. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    It looks like one point that the BRC is reviewing is “Redefine proximity percentage for magnet high schools”.

    So just to clarify, in CPS parlance, a “magnet high school” is not the same as a “selective enrollment high school”. There are only four magnet high schools in the city: Ag Sciences, Curie, Clark, and Von Steuben. Magnet high schools do have a proximity preference — I want to say it’s 2.5 miles if I recall correctly — and applicants get a certain level of preference from within the boundary. (So I assume the BRC will look at whether that boundary should be narrowed, expanded or eliminated?)

    If you thought the admissions process to SEHS was complicated, crack open a beer and read the process at Von Steuben at the link below. Interestingly, the brochure for applicants is silent on the proximity preference, but it details how kids must meet minimum ISATs, submit grade transcripts, obtain a letter of recommendation, and write an essay. Then there are two different programs (general and Scholars), there is/are sibling lotteries, and a there’s also a component of racial balancing evident if you click on the applications provided on their website (VS still requires applicants to identify their race).

    Also, you may find it useful to refresh your memory of all the different high schools types out there. This is my go-to document for that:

  • 161. Alejandro  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Hi guys!
    It’s me Alejandro again, well i’m an eight grader now, and now i have to get into the grueling process of the CPS Selective Enrollment High Schools process. I just wanted to get an opinion from all of you on something. I really want to get into Northside College Prep. I got straight “A’s” my entire 7th grade year. I got perfect attendance all year. And I got a 99th percentile in the Reading ISAT and a 97th percentile in the Math ISAT. Do you guys think that applying to Northside is reasonable and realistic for me? Oh and one more thing i used to live in tier 3 but i’m moving to tier 1. I’m still going to the same school though.
    P.S I’m asking this because a lot of kids at school are telling me that I should stop cheating myself and that I wont get into Northside. They say that I should put Walter Payton or Jones as my first choice.

  • 162. Spedmom  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Regarding magnet high schools, are the requirements different for students with IEPs?

  • 163. Spedmom  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    @Mayfair Dad.

    You really believe all SEHSs are equal save for the racial diversity?! Might want to get south of Roosevelt more.

    Please excuse the snark. But, you have to be called out.

  • 164. Mayfair Dad  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    I believe Lincoln Park High School is considered a magnet high school, with their own admissions process independent of the SEHS process. 75% of the students at LPHS attend thru one of the three city-wide magnet programs: IB, Double Honors and Performing Arts.

    Note to Alejandro: it sounds like you have an excellent shot at any of the SEHSs you want to attend, including Northside. Make sure you tour all of the high schools that interest you, and I hope a concerned adult in your life accompanies you. Make sure you are well rested for the SEHS entrance exam. Do your best.

    P.S. You might consider applying for Lincoln Park IB, too.

  • 165. Alejandro  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks Mayfair Dad. Yeah i’ll be going to all the Open Houses with my older brother (he attended Northside) and with my mom.

  • 166. mom2  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Alejandro, based on the scores you have so far and the tier you are in and/or will be in, you have a great shot at any SE high school and Lincoln Park IB. Remember that your priority no longer matters like it used to. If you really want to go to Northside, you can put that first and if you don’t get in there, it will move down your list until it finds a place where you have the scores and tier to get in. I think you could get in anywhere, but it doesn’t hurt to put your first choice first like it used to. Congratulations.

  • 167. Alejandro  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Thanks @Mom2

  • 168. Mayfair Dad  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    @ 163: No offense taken. I know how to reasearch CPS data and I am well aware of the disparity of ACT scores, etc. among the SEHSs. But why the disparity? Same amount of money spent per student, same rigorous curriculum available (maybe not implemented). Its not a matter of northside schools receiving more public funding than southside schools.

    My point is if southside SEHSs were forced to integrate thru some reverse tier system mumbo jumbo to achieve a more diverse student body, than maybe Caucasian families south of Roosevelt would consider sending their kids to Lindbloom, Westinghouse, instead of Catholic high schools or schlepping 15+ miles north to attend high school.

    There is no reason King couldn’t become the Northside of the south side, is there?

  • 169. JKR  |  June 28, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    HSObssessed: Are Ogden International and Alcott HS considered magnet? Or are they some kind of hybrid? i know Ogden has a “neighborhood” preference.

  • 170. Mayfair Dad  |  June 28, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    Good point about Ogden and Alcott – I presume they are magnet high schools, too.

    How would Rickover Naval Academy (located on Senn campus) be categorized? IB program at Senn considered city-wide magnet also?

  • 171. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Lincoln Park and Ogden International are listed under IB high schools. LPHS is not one of the four magnet high schools, although it does have the magnet programs of AP/HH and performing arts.

    Alcott is not mentioned at all. It’s kind of in a league of its own, in that it accepts all Alcott 8th graders who want to enroll first, then has a lottery for those within a set boundary, then a lottery citywide for any remaining spots. Grades and test scores are not considered, unlike places like Curie and Von Steuben.

  • 172. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    @170 – If you get a chance, take a look at the second link I provided. It’s all in there. Rickover is a military academy, and they require a certain level on the ISATs as well as an interview. They are not magnets.

  • 173. Steve  |  June 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    @161 – Excellent work, so far, Alejandro – and you deserve bonus points for reading a board such as this to ask questions and become informed.

    With those grades and scores, you would basically have to score below (rough est.) a 64th percentile on the entrance exam next January not to pass the cut-off for Northside, at least based on 2011-2012 entrance statistics. That would be a pretty big drop for you. But with standardized tests, “any given Saturday” can throw you, so make sure walk into that test rested, confident and ready to think.

    My advice – the same I gave my daughter exactly one year ago – read A LOT this summer, especially things that might not be the things you’d pick up automatically for fun. Newspapers, classics, and nonfiction are starters. Find yourself a good vocabulary builder – there are hundreds out there and make it a summer goal to know its words – use them to show off to your friends. Finally, there are also good books filled with math problems (for the SAT and ACT – skip anything with trig problems, you don’t need to know that) and find a way to enjoy working through them, not as tests, but as games and puzzles. You’ll do great.

    And your friends are misinformed – if this year’s statistics repeat next year, you actually need a higher point total from Tier 1 (806 vs. 792) to get into Payton than for Northside. This makes sense, because Payton is a better school despite what Newsweek says :).

    But at this point, dude, you should shoot for that perfect score next winter and you’d get in either school by rank (which means, your neighborhood didn’t matter, as some of believe it shouldn’t.) Good luck, kid. I take that back – hard work, kid.

    And tell this stuff to your school’s guidance counselor next year. S/he is apparently not giving you information if you’re getting it from kids at school.

  • 174. Angie  |  June 28, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    @ 171. HSObsessed: “Alcott is not mentioned at all. It’s kind of in a league of its own, in that it accepts all Alcott 8th graders who want to enroll first, then has a lottery for those within a set boundary, then a lottery citywide for any remaining spots.”

    Ogden High is supposed to work the same way. Ogden Elementary students get in automatically, and the remaining spots will be filled via the lottery. At the open house, the principal specifically mentioned that it’s not a neighborhood school, and kids who live in the elementary attendance area won’t get in unless they actually went to elementary school or won the lottery.

    So, I’m wondering what this high school is going to be like compared to Ogden Elementary. After the 8th grade, some of the kids will leave for SE, private and suburban high schools. Will the remaining students and newcomers be able to make it as good as the elementary school is?

  • 175. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    @174, Alcott is similar to Ogden, except that after admitting its 8th graders, Alcott HS does hold a separate lottery first for those living within the boundaries of North Ave, the lake, Belmont, and Western, before it then holds a lottery for citywide for any other available spots. No grades/test scores are considered for either of the lotteries (nor for the Alcott ES graduates).

    But from my limited knowledge of speaking to one Alcott ES parent, the high school is not a coveted option yet for Alcott graduates. They first prefer SEHS or LPHS (which is the neighborhood HS anyway for all living within Alcott’s boundaries). So my guess is that Alcott HS is currently made up largely of Alcott graduates for whom SEHS/LPHS was not an option, and kids who come citywide. Not that that’s bad, it just doesn’t seem that Alcott is turning into the K-12 school that might have originally been envisioned.

  • 176. mom2  |  June 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    @175 – “So my guess is that Alcott HS is currently made up largely of Alcott graduates for whom SEHS/LPHS was not an option, and kids who come citywide. Not that that’s bad, it just doesn’t seem that Alcott is turning into the K-12 school that might have originally been envisioned.” Why do you think that happened/why do you think that is? What could they have done differently, if anything, to achieve what they had hoped/envisioned?

  • 177. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 28, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    What I had heard (but don’t know for sure) was that Hamilton was going to be turned into the Alcott high school, and that it was supposed to be a strong college-prep alternative for kids who didn’t get into a SEHS. But the Hamilton closing didn’t happen, and then Alcott’s location was up in the air. I think (but don’t know) that it lost momentum.

  • 178. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    @176 — Theories off the top of my head:

    Parents would rather enroll their kids in a school that has “proven” test scores like the SEHS, or that has a program like LP IB with an established faculty, known academic rigor, etc. Like it or not, there’s a known hierarchy in most people’s minds as to the prestige of the high schools, and it’s hard for people to break away from that. A start up high school (whether it’s Alcott or Westinghouse SE) has no reputation, and therefore zero in the prestige department. Many don’t want to risk it.

    The fact that LPHS has three strong and interesting programs that nearly all Alcott graduates can gain entrance to (I mean at least one of the programs) also likely contributes to the brain drain.

    The fact that Alcott is all non-test-in, just pure lottery, makes it likely that there will be a huge variety in academic preparedness of the kids, just like in charter schools. Parents may worry that their kid might not be challenged, if they do pretty well academically before high school.

    I know the small size of Alcott HS (90 per grade) would be a downer for my very social daughter. Also, small high schools have limited extracurricular offerings, especially at the beginning.

    For me, the location not near any el stop seems like a strange choice for a school drawing citywide. It’s near the Damen bus and the Diversey bus lines, but that’s about it. I’m all about short commutes.

  • 179. James  |  June 28, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    For what it’s worth, I just sent this to OAE:

    I am writing to urge the office to reconsider two recent and troubling changes to the Selective Enrollment High Schools admission process.

    First, CPS should reverse its decision to reduce the number of students who are admitted to those schools on merit alone. When the tier system was originally announced, the policy was that half the class would be admitted on merit without looking at a student’s income, skin color, census tract, or any other factor other than academic achievement. The 50% policy was then curtailed to 40% before it was even implemented. And, of course, this last year, CPS sharply reduced the number of students admitted on merit alone yet again, to just 30% of the class – meaning that fewer than 1 in 3 students admitted to these selective schools are being admitted solely on their academic achievements. This rollback should stop now. The percentage of the class admitted on academic merit should be put back to at least 50%. These are selective schools, and they are among the best in the state. To maintain that academic rigor and reputation, they must continue to be places where smart capable students want to go. To do that, they must be places smart capable students are admitted because they are smart and capable, not because of where they live or other academically-irrelevant factors. Reserving 50% of the class to be admitted on merit alone helps meet that goal. Anything less than that (and certainly anything as low as a mere 30% of the class) does not.

    Second, individual schools should be permitted to reinstitute minimum scores for admission. Again, this is so that the schools can continue to be academically rigorous and leaders for other schools in the state and nation. Forcing schools to do away with minimum scores this last admissions cycle resulted in students being admitted to these schools who never would have met the admissions criteria in past years and who simply cannot do the advanced work at these schools. At Northside, for example, the minimum score for an admitted Tier 1 student this year was nearly 60 points below the minimum score for an admitted Tier 1 student the year before. Similar eye-popping drops were seen at Payton and Whitney Young. This not only results in students being admitted who are unable to do the accelerated work at these schools, but it results in massive score differentials between admitted students in a single class. What will happen to the students who are admitted with scores that would not have gotten them admitted in prior years and that indicate that they cannot do the advanced work? The answer is that these students will either flounder or fail out of the school or the academic rigor and standards of the school will be watered down. Neither scenario is a good one – and both can be avoided by allowing the schools to determine, based on their own culture and criteria, what minimum scores are needed for admission. I read last year that the Office of Academic Enhancement is “confident” that the prohibition of minimum scores would not result in diluted academic standards at the schools. I’d like to know what this confidence is based on since simple common sense says that when you admit students with dramatically lower scores than in prior years, something has to give. Moreover, according to media reports, this change has alarmed principals at the SEHSs. As you probably know, Dr. Joyce Kenner from Whitney Young (who presumably knows what it takes to succeed at her school better than the OAE central office does) has urged that schools be allowed to reinstitute minimum scores. CPS should heed that request starting now.

    Finally, the two issues I’ve raised are, of course, related, and they together pose a real threat to the continued excellence of these schools. If more and more of the class is to be admitted via tiers instead of via merit and if schools are required to accept students from the tiers who cannot do the work at the schools, then these schools will almost certainly suffer a drop in excellence and rigor. This will be felt most immediately at the smaller schools, like Payton and Jones, but it will affect them all. If allowed to continue, these schools will no longer be considered among the best in the city and state. And they will no longer be seen as viable alternatives for smart and capable kids. They will be good schools, but they will no longer be the great and cutting-edge schools they are today. Rolling back the two ill-advised changes I’ve mentioned is one critical way their greatness can be maintained.

  • 180. Southsidemom  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    @ Mayfair Dad: “There is no reason King couldn’t become the Northside of the south side, is there?”

    Instead, we have to ask how it could happen. How could all SEHSs be equal? I have not yet heard (or been able to conceive) any way logistically this could happen. But I probably lack imagination.

    Once a CPS HS loses its white students and becomes 100 percent black, how can it get the whites back? Has anyone proposed a realistic possible scenario for future racial integration at MPHS? BTW, it already has Academic Center, IB and World Languages programs, but folks question their rigor and quality. FWIW, some middle-class AA families in my neighborhood choose not to send their students to MPHS. The cops say it’s too gang-infested. The teachers say it’s too weak academically.

    In the ‘70s, WYHS started as a magnet school (not an SE school) with a freshman and sophomore class plus a program for hearing impaired students. It was diverse from the get-go, as that was the goal — racial integration. Only later did it switch to SE, but as we can see with all these SEHS admissions machinations, one of the main goals is still racial integration (albeit sans consent decree).

  • 181. mom2  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Thank you HSObsessed. I think your thoughts make a lot of sense. I too have a child that would hate a small school and all the other things you mentioned certainly must have contributed to the current status. It is too bad that there isn’t another larger and more selective/college prep high school opening on the north side somewhere to help accommodate those on the north side that either want an alternative or don’t get into a current college prep/SE near their home. On the other hand, maybe those working on Lakeview or even other neighborhood high schools will have some success so this stress can be a bit lifted for those of us with little ones still waiting to go through this hell. I have my doubts based on some of what I have read here, but I can hope.

  • 182. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    James and Mayfair Dad, I’m looking at you here —

    If you’d like to submit a school-related question for our mayor to answer at his first town hall forum on Thursday, or you want to vote up or down which questions already submitted that he should answer, go to

  • 183. HSObsessed  |  June 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    @181 — I agree. This is why it makes so much sense for families to work together now to get good things happening at schools like Lake View. There’s a huge core of smart students within CPS heading toward high school in the next few years, and the time is right to take the Nettelhorst walk-to-school model up to the high school level.

  • 184. BB  |  June 28, 2011 at 11:13 pm

    Interesting comment by Rod Estvan on Substance: “Here is my problem with this framing of the discussion, public schools are not owned by parents of particular geographic areas. They are owned by the citizens of the City of Chicago as a whole who are voters and tax payers. If that were not the case then north-side middle class communities could argue that their higher tax base should be used to fund their own local schools at a higher rate than those in poorer communities.

    “Chicago has unfortunately been disenfranchised from electing a Board of Education and by state law that power has been given to the Mayor. Effectively the citizens of Chicago elected the school Board when they elected the new Mayor. Given the geographical nature of poverty and race in Chicago we need to be very careful about arguments of community control over schools. We could very well see middle class largely white communities seeking more power to exclude effectively poor students and utilize their property tax base for the benefit of only their own children as a result.”

  • 185. Mayfair Dad  |  June 29, 2011 at 8:47 am

    FYI, Rod’s daughter graduated from Payton College Prep.

    Nice letter, James.

  • 186. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

    To Rod Estvan’s point, I think that’s why it ticks me off so much whenever I hear that the only problem with Lake View is that it doesn’t have neighborhood children, because it sounds so racist. As a taxpayer, I don’t want to hear that only white children can get high scores and that white children are somehow better for a school than other children. And I say that as a white person.

  • 187. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 9:28 am

    The one point Rod Estvan fails to realize is that for most “white middle class” families that want to go to CPS schools, what they are looking for are safe schools with a the vast majority of the school and programs focused on college prep. When I read blogs and talk with parents, they aren’t asking for more money or more of their money to go to their schools instead of others or anything like that.

    By the way, last night’s meeting made me feel like the OEA thinks that you have to have white/middle class students in order to have a good school, but only just enough and then the rest of the school should be “diverse” no matter how you achieve it.

  • 188. James  |  June 29, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Thank you, Mayfair Dad, for the comment on my letter.

    For those interested, I went to the BRC meeting at Lane Tech last evening, though I didn’t get a chance to speak. There were three members of the BR Commission there, though they did not talk. Katie Ellis from OAE was the moderator and ran through her presentation before getting to the community input segment of the evening, which was the bulk of the program. The meeting was quite well-attended; I’d say there were between 100 and 125 folks there before people began trickling out.

    As for substance, there were multiple (and, frankly, repetitive) comments on the issue of reserving spots for the children of teachers at the magnet, classical, or selective elementary schools where the teachers work. The speakers made the case (over and over and over again) that this change would keep good teachers at the schools and that it was good for the school’s morale. These comments got a good reception from the crowd — at least the first three times the point was made; after that, it was overkill. Of course, no reaction from either OAE or the BRC members. It wasn’t clear how the speakers wanted this change to be implemented, but most seemed to think that the return of principal discretion to the elementary schools was the way to do it.

    Another point that several speakers addressed concerned SE high schools and the desire of the audience to have the percentage of kids admitted by pure rank increased from the current 30%. One woman gave a powerful presentation in which she compared CPS’s tier system to the one in NYC, where all of that system’s selective schools are filled using pure rank. All of these comments were enthusiastically received by the crowd. Again, no comment from the BRC. Katie Ellis from OAE responded briefly to one commentator to note that many of the NYC schools that are filled this way are not diverse and that the CPS tier system was actually doing a decent job of insuring diversity in our selective schools. My sense (and this is pure speculation) is the BRC and OAE got a passionate earful about reducing the pure rank percentage further, and I personally don’t think they will reduce it this year. I don’t think they will put it back to 40 or 50% and they may reduce it again in the future, but it seems hard for me to believe that they would blithely ignore the strongly-held and vocal opinions of so many parents on this issue.

    The only other issue of note was that there was some talk from a couple speakers about introducing a proximity element to SE HS admissions. This didn’t get much discussion and my guess is that such a change would be too significant a tinkering with the elaborate tier system now in place to be implemented this year. Finally, there were no comments (at least while I was there) about putting in place a uniform grading system or altering the current weighting between grades and test scores for SE HS applicants — topics that have been discussed on this board recently.

  • 189. cps parent  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Thanks for your comments and input from the community meeting. I support your position and appreciate your well crafted letter. Would you be able to send your letter to the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times and Rahm Emmanuel as well to make sure that it is heard? I am concerned that the Tier System is unfair and weakens the academic level of the SE school system.

  • 190. Tattoo Mom (JM)  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Two years ago, I tried to unite all the CPS schools to do a “postcard campaign” to the Board of Ed on a unified grading scale. I contacted Principals, LSC Chairs, and PTO/PTA/Friend’s of groups…. I even sent them a template -all ready to simply be printed on card stock and sent out. It took me about two months to notify every school of the city wide campaign. NOTHING HAPPENED. Only a handful of schools participated.
    Some Principal’s wouldn’t participate simply because they didn’t want to lose their top performing students to SEES schools. (Their words to me!)
    My school’s population sent it out and then after a dismal showing from other schools across the city, we ended up lowering our grade scale to the 90/80/70… so our kids could remain on equal footing with other schools for testing purposes. We really did not want to use this low of a scale.

    I still fully support a unified grading scale city wide. I hope this is under consideration “for real” this time around. It’s not fair that some students get a 90 A, while others need a 93-95 for an A. I don’t care if what the scale is, as long as it’s the same in ALL CPS SCHOOLS-
    or at the very least they should accept percentage scores and not letter grades on applications.

    About the rest…. it makes my head hurt to even think of all the factors that go into trying to diversify schools. While I don’t like the Tier system. I have no better suggestions.

    What I do wish however is that instead of hiring all the PhD candidates they’d hire some go getter parents to tell them how it really works for families using the school system. I know they could find some brilliant minds right here on cpsobsessed!

  • 191. cps Mom  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:37 am

    James – completely agree. Great letter. Mom2 I agree with you and others that the CPS system as it stands has become all about how to divvy up the white kids in an attempt to appease the population at large. The sad state of affairs @186 is that there is a desire for diversification, no plan to diversify black SE schools other than to hope white families choose them, qualifying whites and minorities are being precluded from attending the school of their choice. It seems to me that by restricting access to tier 3 and 4 kids the overflow of qualified students would spill over to other programs. My bet is that there are far fewer people willing to go private or to the suburbs given the economy and the state of the housing market and this is an opportunity to revitalize CPS. Could this be the plan?

    Anything significant at the Lane meeting last night?

  • 192. cpsobsessed  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:45 am

    Back from my little vacation and catching up. Whew, lots to read.

    I’m OK with the BRC themselves attending the forums, unless they all attend all of them. Based on my experience doing focus groups, if 1-2 members each attend a forum, they’ll go back to the group being somewhat biased based on whoever was the most persistent or best-spoken speaker in the room. It’s hard not to be. Or the tide of conversation can turn based on who is in the room.

    Ideally, the BRC WILL read all the comments that parents make to the committe. So it is IMPORTANT that you write to oae at the link someone posted above to share your thoughts. The more they see consensus on certain topics, the more they’ll be likely to believe that “parents think that xyz.” If you OPPOSE something, that is worth writing to them as well.

    Hopefully the comments made on the site have the same priority as those made at the forums.

  • 193. CPSmama  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:59 am

    #179-James: I enjoyed your letter- you make some very good points. However, I want to point out that the reason for the 60-point drop in scores at NS, WP & WY from last year to this year is that NCLB kids scores are included in the scores this year but were not last year.

    Also, WY has never had a minimum score cutoff (other than the 650 that all SEHS have this year)- previously,NS & WP have had 850 as a their minimum cutoff score.

  • 194. Mayfair Dad  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:04 am

    @ 188: great recap, thanks.

    As far as teachers receiving some type of preferential treatment getting their children into magnet/SE schools where they work, I’m not sure I agree. While I readily acknowledge it would be a nice benefit for teachers, why wouldn’t this proposed consideration apply to firemen, policemen, and other city workers? It smacks of an insider deal. Teachers can fill out magnet school applications and have their kids tested for gifted schools just like the rest of us. The current proximity lotteries and sibling concessions already apply to teachers, just like the rest of us.

    Since the Caucasian enrollment numbers have remained constant at SEHSs, no compelling need to tinker with the governor valve (pure merit component). If the Caucasian enrollment numbers start to climb, CPS reserves the right to tinker at a future date to obtain the optimal ethnic mix. If somebody has the tier breakdown of the pure merit component for 2011 incoming freshman, I’d love to be proven wrong about my assumption. It would also bolster the argument that the elaborate tier system (affirmative action 2.0) is unnecessary.

    I agree with Rod Estvan’s position that adding a proximity component to SEHS admissions would only excaserbate the existing segregation in the city. SEHSs are a citywide resource, not a neighborhood resource. Particularly since the single race SEHSs on the southside are perceived as inferior/unsafe compared to the racially integrated SEHSs on the northside, these schools will never be viewed as a viable option for many families. Adding a proximity element will effectively deny southside families access to the highly coveted northside SEHSs. Why there is no plan in place to integrate the southside SEHSs and bring them up to parity with the northside SEHSs continues to baffle me.

    Unified grading scale? Low-hanging fruit, so obviously needs to happen. Maybe when Rahm’s younger child reaches 7th grade he will realize the stupidity of random grading scales.

  • 195. cpsobsessed  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:13 am

    So if the BRC somehow took the reco to go back to 50% merit admission for SE high schools (and I’m guessing that parents are not making that same argument at the meetings in the Tier 1/2 neighborhoods) what do we proposed that CPS do to accomodate the top-scoring Tier 1-2 kids who don’t make it into an SE high school because the Tier 3-4 kids had an ingoing life advantage? We’re basically telling these kids “yes, you worked hard and overcame a lot of obstacles, but it just wasn’t enough. Off to the crappy neighborhood school for you!” We go on an on about the lack of SE HS’s on the north side. I feel there also needs to be an option (safe, academically rigourous) option fo the top scoring kids throughout the system.

    It embarrasses me a bit to complain about spots for Tier 3-4 kids in SE HSs when we know full well that they *could* attend one of the SE schools if they were willing to travel across town. The spots are there – people are not taking them. Not saying I would. I understand it. But I’d rather advocate for good options for kids at the top of each Tier. Easier said than done, of course.

  • 196. cpsobsessed  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:15 am

    @190: Tattoo Mom. Admirable effort. And frustrating that it never took off. I’m sure half the people don’t understand why it even matters – no fault of their own. Not everyone is a CPS policy geek like we are. 🙂

  • 197. James  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:16 am

    #193 (CPSmama):

    I’m not sure that’s true. Earlier this spring, I asked OAE about whether the published cutoff scores included the NCLB kids. After some back and forth, I was eventually told no. I was told that, unlike last year, the NCLB kids did have to actually submit application materials this year, but OAE continued to segregate them into a different admissions process. And their scores are not reflected in the published cut-off scores for the schools. (Or anywhere else, for that matter — so much for increased transparency in the NCLB process.)

    As for whether WY had a minimum admissions score before last year, I don’t know. I assumed they did and that it was removed last year — which is what prompted WY’s principal to protest the lack of a minimum score. But maybe she was just anticipating problems.

    So, no, I believe the scores for Tier 1 kids dropped so dramatically last year not because of NCLB, but because OAE said (a) you have to take more kids through the tiers and (b) you have to take one-quarter of those tier kids from Tier 1 no matter how low their scores are.

  • 198. CPSmama  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:40 am

    @James: I don’t think OAE gave you accurate information.(Big surprise, huh?)

    If you look at the 2011-2012 published cutoff scores for the SEHS, you will see that several schools (King, Brooks & Lindlblom) have Tier 1 minimum scores of 650 or 651- which is exactly the NCLB cutoff that OAE agreed to. Since none of the 9 SEHS had to take any kid from any tier with a total score of less than 650, it looks to me like they were included in the cutoffs. Here is that link:–%20First-Round%20Scores.pdf

    If you look back at the SEHS cutoffs for 2010-2011, you will see, for example, that NS’s minimum was 850 in Tiers 1 & 2- but as we know, NS, WP, Jones & WY were required to take NCLB kids after the fact and those scores are NOT included in the published cutoffs (Actually, I don’t think those students had scores b/c they didn’t participate in the process). Here is that link:

  • 199. CPSmama  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:51 am

    Since these issues have not yet been raised at BRC meetings, I sent the following letter to OAE on unified grading scale and my personal proposal to change the SEHS admissions formula:

    (1) I would like to see CPS institute a unified, system-wide grading scale of 90/80/70/60. With children at different SEES’s & SEHS’s with different grading scales, I have seen firsthand the unfairness that exists when one child can earn a grade of “A” for 90% and above while another earns an “A” for 95% and above. Moreover, in recent years, some schools have bowed to pressure from parents to lower their grading scales while others have not. It is not fair to have the relative power of parents at a school be in a position to determine the grading scale for that school while others cannot do the same. Another reason to change to a unified 90/80/70/60 grading scale has to do with applying for college and scholarships where GPA is an important consideration. Across the country, students who have a grading scale of 90/80/70/60 are at a huge advantage when applying for college and scholarships. CPS is doing its students a disservice by having a non-unified, higher grading scale.

    (2) Since the SEHS admissions process is formulaic, CPS should use numeric grades rather than assigning points to letter grades. For example, instead of giving 75 points for each “A” in the 4 required classes, CPS should give the student points equal to their numeric percentage. (i.e. 91 points or 98 points). This would eliminate the unfairness associated with varying grading scales and would further differentiate the total scores of applicants. It also gives slightly higher weight to grades than the current formula does. This is a much more fair approach because it takes each child’s actual grade percentage into account and does not over-penalize a student who gets a single “B” in 7th grade with the loss of 25 points.

    Following the above logic, the SEHS formula should be revised as follows: 300 points for 7th grade ISATs, 300 points for SE admissions test and 400 points for grades, for a total possible score of 1000 points.

  • 200. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

    One point I’d like to make…The reason North side parents (of any race) don’t send their kids to the “black” SE schools is not because they are black, it is because they are either in neighborhoods considered unsafe or their children would have to travel 45 minutes or more each day and travel through neighborhoods that these parents consider unsafe. Period. So, each time someone says that we need more SE schools on the north side, it isn’t just selfish north side mentality. It is because south side parents are wanting and willing to send their kids north (or central) because it is considered safer. So, why not have the schools in the location where everyone wants to be? It makes me crazy that south side parents say it is unfair to add more schools north when those are already good or “they” already have so much. But, in the same breath, they say they want more spots in those north side schools for their kids. It all seems so logical to me, based on statistics and reality, that if you have the schools where people are willing to go, they will come (If you build it, they will come 🙂

  • 201. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    @Mayfair Dad, as I have mentioned before, the request for children of teachers to be a part of the same system as siblings is not for any test-in/SE schools. It is just for pure lottery schools. If the BRC already determined that it is more of a benefit to admit siblings due to all those community reasons, it makes sense to allow a child of a teacher to be admitted under the exact same reasons. Not for test-in schools, just lottery schools.

  • 202. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    @CPSmama – very nice letter. It sounds quite fair. I do, however, see a new issue that would arise when parents of kids trying to get into Payton or Northside start fighting with teachers over one test question or subjective scoring on one project that would make a difference between a first a 97 and 98 and then later between a 98 and a 99, etc. Could makes teachers want to quit. At least once a kid is in the A range, the parents and students leave them alone :).

  • 203. CPSmama  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    Mom2- I doubt that a system can be designed that would resolve the pushy parent issue-LOL. Also, I think that happens now with the difference b/w an 89 & a 90 (or wherever the cutoff b/w A & B is for a given school). And losing that one point (down to a B) results in the loss of 25 points. Under my proposal, the student would only stand to lose 1 point in such a scenario (ie 97 rather than 98), and there would be few, if any “perfect scores.”

  • 204. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    CPSmama – “Under my proposal, the student would only stand to lose 1 point in such a scenario (ie 97 rather than 98), and there would be few, if any “perfect scores.” – Good point. Thank you!

  • 205. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    @ Mayfair Dad. Yes, one of Rod’s children graduated from Payton.

  • 206. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    A summer beach read: Fortress of Solitude — This is the story of two boys, Dylan Ebdus and Mingus Rude. They are friends and neighbors, but because Dylan is white and Mingus is black, their friendship is not simple. This is the story of their Brooklyn neighborhood, which is almost exclusively black despite the first whispers of something that will become known as “gentrification.”

    This is the story of 1970s America, a time when the most simple human decisions-what music you listen to, whether to speak to the kid in the seat next to you, whether to give up your lunch money-are laden with potential political, social and racial disaster. This is the story of 1990s America, when no one cared anymore.

    This is the story of punk, that easy white rebellion, and crack, that monstrous plague. This is the story of the loneliness of the avant-garde artist and the exuberance of the graffiti artist.

    This is the story of what would happen if two teenaged boys obsessed with comic book heroes actually had superpowers: They would screw up their lives. This is the story of joyous afternoons of stickball and dreaded years of schoolyard extortion. This is the story of belonging to a society that doesn’t accept you. This is the story of prison and of college, of Brooklyn and Berkeley, of soul and rap, of murder and redemption.

    This is the story Jonathan Lethem was born to tell. This is
    THE FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE. (source: publisher)

  • 207. cps Mom  |  June 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    Regarding kids of teachers admitted to magnet school – I see this as a minor point. At any given time, how often do you see a teacher trying to get their kids in. At my old school there were exactly 2 kids of teachers. Most teachers did not have kids or they were not school age (older or younger). I don’t even think that I would want my kid to go to the same school that I teach at. I also wonder as a parent about the ethical issues.

    James is right – all SE schools had a cut off. WY and Jones were lower than 850 so it was not obvious and they had more of a “give or take” attitude.

    @199 – schools like Lindblum and Westinghouse (and the others, maybe) provide shuttle services and have taken security very seriously in order to attract high scoring kids from outside the neighborhood. As the northside 7th grade mom I know put it – “I would like to consider Westinghouse but not a single kid from our school will go there”. Kids that do consider these schools fight with “prestige” issues when comparing notes with classmates. Kids talk, just look at Alejandro’s post. I think that with an open mind, transportation issues could be overcome, it’s just another reason to rule these schools out. There needs to be major changes all the way around to make all SE schools a viable option.

  • 208. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    One idea: Put all the new academic centers and SE high schools downtown. Safe transport. No more problems about on which side a student resides.

  • 209. cpsobsessed  |  June 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    @207: Great idea! I think the Sears/Willis tower is for sale (or looking for a buyer.) Think how many SE kids could fit in there!

    I get the safety thing. I guess I just don’t like the double standard that south side parents should do “whatever it takes” to get their kids into the top schools – i.e. letting them travel all the way across the city. While north side parents don’t feel it’s worth the effort to figure out a safety plan to utilize existing schools on the south side. Maybe I underestimate the safety (or lack of) in those neighborhoods. As I’ve mentioned, my mom has taught in the worst high schools and other than getting her wallet stolen once, never had a problem.

  • 210. Mayfair Dad  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    @ 199 mom2: The school address does not make the school safer, it is the multi-ethnic, inclusive school community (teachers, parents, students) that make a diverse student population feel welcome and safe. This did not happen organically or by accident on the northside; it was carefully nurtured by design and reinforced by socioeconomic tier admissions policies and tweaked by invoking NCLB. This didn’t/doesn’t happpen on the south side. Why?

    @ 200 mom2: Thanks for the clarification, but I’m still not convinced. How many CPS teachers total? 15,000+? And we’re going to give them an insider’s advantage for magnet school admissions? That’s going to displace alot of non-teacher taxpayer’s kids. Put another way: if Daddy is a fireman, does that mean Junior is automatically entitled to attend school at the same firehouse Daddy works at. Golly, it sure would be more convenient, but entitled?

    @ 207 SMM: perhaps you missed our earlier conversation re: Sky High located in the Willis (soon to be CPS?) Tower. Actually makes alot of sense.

  • 211. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    @Mayfair Dad – “This didn’t/doesn’t happpen on the south side. Why?” – My guess is because of the attitude that cpsobsessed references above. North side parents don’t even try to get their kids into those schools. If it isn’t close by and/or in a neighborhood that they feel is safe, they don’t apply. Therefore, the school has to let in others and those others, because of the location, are not white/tier 4/wealthy or whatever you want to call the ones preventing diversity. I am assuming that they don’t have enough of those people applying. I guess I could be wrong.

    Regarding the kids of teachers, I guess I don’t see why the small few (and I agree it is very small) kids of teachers is a big deal when no one complained about siblings automatically getting in. That is a huge number in comparison. If you are worried about someone being “entitled”, I don’t see the difference here at all. I think the benefits of having a teacher able to come in early/stay late/volunteer to be a coach after school, etc. far outweighs the concerns. And if a teacher doesn’t want their child to go to school where they teach, they don’t have to send them there. Why wasn’t there an uproar about siblings?

  • 212. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

    Oh, and I still love “Sky High”. I think it is a wonderful idea.

  • 213. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Some of the safety concern is veiled racism, but some of it is real. Another downtown high school is fabulous idea, because it would be accessible to almost everyone in the city via public transit. It explains in part why Jones, Whitney Young, and even St. Ignatius are so popular. Plus, you’d have access to the museums and civic events to enrich the curriculum.

  • 214. RL Julia  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I think that the safety issues about getting to the South Side SEHS’s are largely ones of perception rather than reality – Its also a matter of what one is used to. Quite frankly most of my friends who live south (or west) are more used to there not being an El almost everywhere or things being a little more spread out.

    Ironically, I would probably worry more about putting my (imaginary) african american son on CTA than my other imaginary children because of the assumptions that might be made about him. Last time I checked of all the CPS high school students murdered in the past few years, I can’t remember ANY of them being from a SEHS….although I could be wrong.

    As for the teacher kid’s preference – well many CPS teachers can and do live outside the city limits and as someone who is mandated to live in Chicago, I’d leave the whole thing up to principal discretion as far as teacher’s kids being at the school where the parent teaches.

  • 215. Mayfair Dad  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Once more and I will get off my tiresome soap box:

    It is not the moral responsibility of northside families to racially integrate southside SEHSs that are impractically located, non-diverse and academically inferior to the SEHSs located on the north side.

    It is the moral responsibility of CPS to enact meaningful policies to impose racial diversity on these single race SEHSs. Policies might include capping African American enrollment or invoking NCLB covenants to provide opportunities for deserving low-income Caucasian, Asian and Hispanic families to attend these SEHSs.

    Once these desegregation policies have taken root, and a measurable degree of diversity attained, then tier 3/4 southside Caucasian families who now send their children to Catholic high schools or travel across the city to northside SEHSs might consider these schools viable options.

    More choices for everybody, closer to their homes. Diversity is good for everybody, and you shouldn’t have to drive across town or pay Catholic school tuition to find it.

    P.S. to mom2: from the standpoint of teachers not having to race out the door at 2:45 p.m. to pick up their own kids from a different school and thus be available for after-school tutoring or parent conferences, I might warm up to your idea yet. That was a benefit I hadn’t considered.

  • 216. RL Julia  |  June 29, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    Mayfair Dad@209 – I would hardly call NSCP diverse or integrated. While you speak eloquently about careful, organic, nuturing (are you really talking about CPS here?) I highly doubt that happened – on any side of town.

  • 217. RL Julia  |  June 29, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    It is not the moral obligation for southside parents to racially integrate northside schools either – however if you want to play the numbers of getting your kid into an SEHS (and its up to the individual to decide if Kenwood is better than Schurz), you might end up with a cross town commute. Remember- the system is not meant to be fair (convinient or even particularly rational) – that’s what select means.

  • 218. mom2  |  June 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Mayfair Dad, I see us coming back together again :). I now better understand your ideas about the south side SE schools and better understand that you are talking about finding ways for those white parents on the south side to feel good about sending their children to the SE schools closer to their home. I get it.
    Also, thanks for at least considering the children of teachers idea. The staying after to be more involved in the school and volunteering was the main point brought up at the meeting last night (or at least that is what I got out of it).

    RL Julia, No one said it was a moral obligation for southside parents. They have chosen to select these schools as their first choice. From what I see, for them, it is harder to get into the “cross town commute” schools than the ones closer by. Is that not true?

  • 219. Mayfair Dad  |  June 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    @ 215 RL Julia and others:

    Compiled from the Illinois State Board of Education website:

    NORTH SEHSs including: Northside*, Payton, Lane Tech, Whitney Young and Jones.

    Black: 20.28%
    White: 32.24%
    Hispanic: 28.34%
    Asian/Pac Island: 18.42%
    Other: 1.16%

    *Northside College Prep, the least diverse SEHS on the north, has a 5% Black student population and a robust Hispanic and Asian population as well.

    SOUTH SEHSs including: Lindblom, King, Brooks and Westinghouse.

    Black: 83.5%
    White 1.6%
    Hispanic: 13.78%
    Asian/Pac Island: 0.93%
    Other: 0.1%

    RL Julia, are you familiar with the SEHS enrollment policy that preceded the Tier System, the policy that capped Caucasian enrollment at 30% in an effort to comply with the Consent Decree? This is what I mean by careful and nurturing manipulation — nothing organic about it. Diversity on the northside was created by policy, not happenstance.

    Now, in addition to forfeiting seats at northside SEHSs to less qualified applicants in an effort to sustain diversity, high-performing northside Caucasian students must also compete with high-performing southside Caucasian students who refuse to attend all black high schools in their own neighborhoods.

    I have yet to hear a plan from CPS how they intend to remedy this situation.

  • 220. Aunt Julia CHGO  |  June 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    218 – Yes, it is all nonsense and a numbers game. The city neighborhood grammar school was good. Now we are on to private HS like so many classmates. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in future years, but I’m glad to be done with it.

  • 221. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    There was a WYHS student murdered after school a year or so ago. Killed on the southside. Found him in the Little Calumet.

  • 222. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Oh, Cal Sag, rather.

  • 223. cps Mom  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Mayfair dad – I agree with all that. It is not Northside families obligation to integrate southside SE schools but it is an option that families do not take up for a variety of reasons – fear, concern, ignorance, prestige. Travel is probably very low on the list for those living in the near north. Yet, near south side parents will go as far north as Lane to get their kids into selective enrollment schools. So we have a bunch of people that live all over the place that won’t go to King, Lindblum etc not primarily because Hyde Park is dangerous to get to but that the school is viewed as dangerous to be in. Talk about low hanging fruit. We have the schools and even those in proximity do not want to attend. I think we need to hit the “reset” button here.

    Yes – it’s interesting to see how this plays out in the future but what about changing things now?? Why is the process so shrouded in secrecy and dropped with changes in leadership. Very frustrating that we seem to be back to square one.

  • 224. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm

    Re: “Now, in addition to forfeiting seats at northside SEHSs to less qualified applicants in an effort to sustain diversity, high-performing northside Caucasian students must also compete with high-performing southside Caucasian students who refuse to attend all black high schools in their own neighborhoods. I have yet to hear a plan from CPS how they intend to remedy this situation.” — There is no plan. It’s not even seen as a “problem.”

  • 225. SSM  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    Also, there really aren’t many (any) white residents near those SEHS on the southside.

  • 226. south side/ north side  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    I hate to say it but the white middle/upper middle class that lives in the South side is completely different from the north side counterparts. (of course one has to carve out the exception of Hyde Park). I have friends/ colleagues both black and white that are in CPS and their stories are drastically different. One friend tells of the black public school that is directly across the street from the white catholic school. Both schools are equally good. There is just no mixing.

    I have another friend whose child is in a coveted south side neighborhood program but already thinking of withdrawing her child because of potential ‘racial issues’ in the upper grades.

    We seriously considered Kenwood and ultimately it was the distance that kept us away. Apparently back in the day there was a bus that picked up from Rogers Park and went down Lake Shore Drive but not anymore.

  • 227. Matt Farmer  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    I was not able to make last night’s meeting at Lane Tech, but I did send the following piece to OAE (via its website) and to Abigayil Joseph, the head of OAE (via her email address). I limited my focus to just one of the problems with the current system.

    Dear Ms. Joseph,

    I was told you are the person to whom I should submit concerns about CPS’s selective enrollment policy.

    I voiced my concerns on this topic most recently in this March 2011 piece for Huffington Post:

    (The text of the article is set out below.)

    Two months from now, Rahm Emanuel will be in charge of Chicago’s public school system. Don’t be surprised, however, if the Mayor-elect and his wife end up sending their own kids to private schools.

    Emanuel knows, of course, that he’ll take some heat if he and his wife decide that CPS isn’t good enough for their kids. But the Emanuels also have every right to do what they believe is in the best interest of their children. “If [that decision] comes with a political price,” the Mayor-elect recently told reporters, “I’m willing to pay it.”

    But Emanuel could also pay a political price if he decides to send his kids to public schools. Why? Because Chicago’s selective enrollment system, as it currently stands, gives an unfair advantage to his kids.

    When the Emanuel family returns to its home on the 4200 block of North Hermitage Avenue, the family will reclaim its spot on one of Chicago’s “power blocks.” WTTW newsman Phil Ponce lives just a stone’s throw from the Emanuels, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Jane Theis is only a few doors away if a dispute needs to be resolved.

    The homes are gorgeous and the lots are large. And, for reasons I still don’t understand, the kids lucky enough to live on this stretch of high-end real estate can gain admission to Chicago’s best high schools with scores that are markedly lower than those needed by kids from low-income families at my neighborhood school, Philip Rogers Elementary School.

    I serve on the local school council at Rogers. The kids who attend that school live in the West Rogers Park neighborhood. They walk to Rogers and they live within the school’s attendance area. Nearly 80% of the kids at Rogers come from low-income families that qualify for the federal free-lunch program.

    But when it comes to selective enrollment high schools, CPS has stacked the deck against these students, telling them, in effect, that they actually have a leg up on Emanuel’s kids, because their West Rogers Park apartment buildings sit in a part of town that’s more desirable than Emanuel’s block.

    The Rogers kids live in what CPS calls a “Tier 4” census tract. As a result of this classification, these kids need to be damn near perfect if they want to get into one of the city’s selective enrollment high schools.

    CPS currently has the bar set a little lower for Emanuel’s kids. Because those kids (and their Hermitage neighbors) have had to negotiate the challenges of life in a less affluent “Tier 3” census tract, CPS allows them to earn a spot in one of the city’s top high schools with scores that may end up being 20-30 points less than what the low-income kids from Rogers would need to gain admission.

    Emanuel certainly didn’t design this system, but I hope he’d agree that it gives his kids an advantage they don’t deserve.

    And it’s not just Emanuel and his neighbors that get a leg up on the low-income kids from Rogers.

    Remember the TV trucks that used to camp out in front of Rod Blagojevich’s beautiful home on the 2900 block of West Sunnyside Avenue? Those trucks were slumming on another chunk of “Tier 3” real estate.

    And be sure to drop by Ron Huberman’s $900,000 home on the 2000 block of West Wilson if you want to see how one more “Tier 3” celebrity rolls.

    To win a spot in one of Chicago’s handful of decent public high schools, you need to win a numbers game. But a lot of low-income kids from Rogers never get past two big numbers: a Section 8 apartment that sits in a “Tier 4” census tract.

    And unlike the Emanuel kids, the free lunch bunch from Rogers can’t count on Latin or Parker as a “safety school.”

    (End of article)

    Here’s the kicker — a few weeks after this piece ran in Huffington Post, I got a call from a Sun-Times reporter. It seems a realtor selling a gorgeous house on Rahm’s block was handing out copies of my article to prospective buyers. I’m assuming the realtor wanted to let those would-be buyers know that they’d be getting a million-dollar Tier 3 house AND an easier path into the city’s best schools.

    That’s messed up.


    Matt Farmer

  • 228. Pointofview  |  June 29, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    Not true @224. Some Whites live near Morgan Park High School and Kenwood High School and not terribly far from Brooks High School or King High School. I agree with cpsobsessed @195, “…The spots are there – people are not taking them.”

  • 229. cps Mom  |  June 29, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    @224 – What….?? Hyde Park, Kenwood, Mount Greenwood, Morgan Park, Beverly, Midway, China Town, Bridgeport, Pilsen, South Loop, Ukranian Village – did I miss any?

  • 230. HSObsessed  |  June 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    @226 – I remember your piece when I read it in March. Definitely worth reviving as a point during this process. Thanks for the kicker info, too; that truly is messed up.

  • 231. cpsmama  |  June 29, 2011 at 10:51 pm

    Matt Farmer – excellent article that really highlights one of many inequities in the SE tier system.

  • 232. Dad  |  June 30, 2011 at 12:43 am

    sorry, kinda long comment responding to a few earlier comments.

    @mayfair dad
    Re: teacher’s children- while there might be 15000+ teachers in CPS (really?), how many teach at a magnet school, have school-aged children, and would consider said school desirable for their own children? I would guess <100. That's the population that you are worried about. The child of a teacher at Scammon doesn't get an advantage at Disney; SE admissions aren't affected; neighborhood schools follow their own rules for outside boundary.
    And there's no comparison to a firefighter/policeman. Does the firefighter stationed down the street from Lasalle contribute to the school community? I'm gonna guess no. Does the school library teacher? I certainly hope so. In a comparable way to an upper grade student? Yup. Do you really not see how this is not cronyism but rather fostering community?

    Re: SSide SEHS segregation. What your numbers in comment 218 are missing are how many white/black/latino/asian students RANKED each of these schools, and how many white/black/latino/asian students were ACCEPTED to each of these schools. Without those, interpreting the disparate ENROLLED percentages is of limited utility. I have to think everyone would agree that it is shameful that there are schools that can draw citywide, yet have 90%+ single race attendance. And I have to think that CPS is actually concerned about this and would like to see it changed. To "improve diversity" at SEHS's, they nudge tier definition and percent merit, and add NCLB exceptions. So at Payton this works, right? Kids of a mix of races get offers, and guess what? They almost all accept! The same system affects Brooks. But if white and latino families from ANY tier don't even bother ranking Brooks, they aren't getting offers, so they aren't accepting. Some posts here a few months ago suggested that this year CPS went even further, offering spots at some of these schools to well-qualified kids who didn't even rank them. We saw quite a few parents say "not sure how, but I got an offer from Westinghouse. gonna decline though". I just don't see what else you'd expect the district to do… I'm not sure it has the power to remove racial prejudice from Chicago. That's about all I see standing in the way of many of us allowing our children to have these schools as options. I drive by Brooks in Pullman every now and then when I have a donut craving (Old Fashioned Donuts in Roseland). The school is in a huge open tract, clean exterior, big new wing, no ruffians hanging outside. I have not stepped foot inside. But when everyone claims they are concerned more about the neighborhoods where these schools sit rather than the school themselves, at least with regards to Brooks, I call bluff.

    @James- I appreciate reading your letter.
    "What will happen to the students who are admitted with scores that would not have gotten them admitted in prior years and that indicate that they cannot do the advanced work? The answer is that these students will either flounder or fail out of the school or the academic rigor and standards of the school will be watered down."

    I humbly offer a third potential answer: that these students will thrive. I'm sorry but I've seen no evidence of more tier 1-2 kids floundering in SEHS than tier 3-4 since instituting tiers. Admittedly CPS isn't rushing to show any data one way or the other, but it's pure speculation at this point. Based on reasonable assumptions, but still speculation.
    Remember that even with 0 merit admission, a VERY SMALL number of kids from each tier will be admitted to each school. While the scores of those tier 1 kids are lower than those tier 4 kids, the admitted tier 1 kids have the highest scores in their tiers. They are probably at the top of their class. They probably know how to succeed in a given environment.

  • 233. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I just read Matt Farmer’s piece and had a question: if the tiers are based on census data, then new tiers should be in place for this year, yes? That would go along with all the redistricting, etc., and I’ll bet a few people are going to be surprised – some in a good way, some not.

  • 234. Mayfair Dad  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:56 am

    As I re-read my posts, it occurs to me that I tend to over defend my positions to the point of redundancy. It is not my intention to sound so strident or intolerant. I am not hating on black children, but I have a very low threshold for hypocricy.

    The disparity of diversity between northside and southside SEHSs is astonishing and fixing this should be a priority for CPS. Shrugging our shoulders and saying, “well, southside people are just prejudiced” is unacceptable and grossly unfair to white families who live on the southside.

    But one thing does appear obvious: white families on the southside have abandoned public education in droves, at least at the high school level. Anecdotally I know this has been going on for at least two generations, people my age and their children, who now have children of their own.

    I don’t have enough information yet to draw conclusions why this is. I don’t know the history of the southside SEHSs, perhaps some were opened as a different type of school and rebranded as Selective Enrollment after the demographic details were irreversibly set. Perhaps it is the preponderance of Catholic families who settled in the area that makes Catholic high schools such a popular option. Maybe its a religion thing, not a race thing.

    Personally I don’t think the bungalow dwellers in Mt. Greenwood are any different than the bungalow dwellers in Mayfair. Well..except for the whole White Sox thing and an unhealthy fascination with mullets.

    If we – parents of CPS children – are to have a meaningful discussion about the CPS Diversity Policy (also known as the socioeconomic tier system), then we can’t ignore the elephant in the room: southside SEHSs.

  • 235. cps Mom  |  June 30, 2011 at 9:49 am

    231 Dad – agree on the children of teachers thing. It’s a shame that this topic garnered so much press at the meetings so as to overshadow so many other issues.

    As far as HS performance by tier/NCLB – I’d like to know if you have further info disputing that disparity between entry scores does not correlate to a disparity in performance. We have just completed year one under the tier system. It is very clear that those students with high scores are on top. The program was not watered down and there is a segment of the student population that is floundering.

    I do agree that CPS cannot fix prejudice. They can restructure to accommodate a need. Maybe what you’re saying is that there is no need, south-siders want to go to catholic school or all south-siders want to go to downtown or north-side schools? These south side SE schools are even plan B for AA students. It seems silly in this city to be bound by prejudice (not saying it doesn’t exist). With elevating education for all at stake I feel that we need to further define what the issues are and come up with a real game plan.

  • 236. James  |  June 30, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Dad (#231) —

    I appreciate your optimism about the admission of low scoring kids into the SE high schools. I continue to think, however, that admitting kids into rigorous SE high schools whose scores are way below most of the students there and way below what the curriculum was designed for isn’t a recipe for “thriving” kids. But don’t take my word for it. The principal of WY thinks the same thing. According to news reports from last year, she argued that admissions scores directly correlated to success in her school, which is why she (unsuccessfully) argued for the retention of minimum admissions scores. We all know that Dr. Kenner has a lot of issues (including a federal investigation for potentially abusing the principal discretion process), but I think we can all agree that she is likely to know what she is talking about on this front since she’s been at WY for many years.

    But even beyond logic and the opinion of an expert, there is now ample proof from Northside, Jones, and Payton that admitting kids with low scores doesn’t work. Talk to kids and teachers at those schools about the NCLB kids who were thrust into the schools at the last minute last year. Most of those kids have simply dropped out and those that have stayed are floundering badly. And, last year, the schools were given extra money to support these kids, which, I understand, is going away next year. So either such non-thriving will continue on a wider scale at these schools or the schools (voluntarily or by edict from OAE) will water down their academics. I really don’t see another alternative, your admirable optimism notwithstanding.

    Could a relatively low scoring kid from Tier 1 thrive at Payton or Northside? Sure, and I’ll bet a couple are. Is it more likely that most of them will not? The answer is unfortunately obvious.

  • 237. msg  |  June 30, 2011 at 10:23 am

    Another great Joravsky piece in today’s Reader…but it’s just another example of how hard it is to be trying to work with CPS when they are simply so…hard to work with.

  • 238. SSM  |  June 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Sounds like Chicago/CPS must intervene earlier (birth/pre-school) to capture and ensure the intellectual, social and emotional growth of poor children in this city. Then, perhaps you’d see more racial diversity among the high-testing students in this city. No?

  • 239. SSM  |  June 30, 2011 at 10:35 am

    “These south side SE schools are even plan B for AA students.” Not even plan B. Plan C or D, from what my AA neighbors tell me.

  • 240. SSM  |  June 30, 2011 at 10:43 am

    “Hyde Park, Kenwood, Mount Greenwood, Morgan Park, Beverly, Midway, China Town, Bridgeport, Pilsen, South Loop, Ukranian Village – did I miss any?” — I wouldn’t really call most of those southside. Maybe Hyde Park. Of course Mt. Greenwood, Beverly & Morgan Park are southside. Also, MPHS and Kenwood are not SE, from what I can tell. (MPHS has an AC, and a few white students do attend it.) Let me know otherwise. There’s a lot more territory of this city on the southside that is AA or Latino, but almost no white folk.

  • 241. CPSmama  |  June 30, 2011 at 10:54 am

    ^@221 SSM- The murder of Chris Pineda, WY Senior, happened in March 2007. He was beaten to death by a group of thugs on the far SE side of Chicago (where he had gone to drop his girlfriend off at work). He was nowhere near WY or his home. Horribly sad story as he was going to be the 1st in his family to attend college and he had already been accepted to UIC 😦

  • 242. SSM  |  June 30, 2011 at 11:04 am

    “But one thing does appear obvious: white families on the southside have abandoned public education in droves, at least at the high school level.” That is true, MD.

    The only grade school that seems to be holding against the tide of racial re-segregation in the Mt. Greenwood, Beverly & Morgan Park area is Sutherland — it is well diversified by race and is a majority-to-minority school, too. Others local grade schools seem to be trending toward almost 100 percent white or 100 percent black around there.

    I read research a few years back that tracked a “tipping point” at which white students stop enrolling in a general public school — that point was when the white student population dips below 30-25 percent, if I recall correctly. Of course, in that MG/B/MP neighborhood, there’s also a 50- or 60-year traditional of Catholic education. However, with the economic downturn, white families are opting for public school over Catholic school more frequently. Some try for Keller or Morgan Park Academy or other little private schools such as Council Oaks or Ridge. Others are driving their kids all over the city to CPS special schools or other privates (Lab, etc.).

    Plenty of white city residents — yes, even southsiders — passionately want and work to achieve racially diverse communities and lives, but they seem to run from being what’s called an “extreme minority” in a school. About 30 years ago, MPHS was basically 50-50 white & black students. Why the switch to almost 100 percent black and to seemingly being an option quickly rejected by high-scoring and middle-class AA families?

    Ah, these are the questions always with us southsiders. It’s different down here.

  • 243. SSM  |  June 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

    “If we – parents of CPS children – are to have a meaningful discussion about the CPS Diversity Policy (also known as the socioeconomic tier system), then we can’t ignore the elephant in the room: southside SEHSs.” Absolutely, MD. We also can immediately label anyone who broaches the topic as “racist.” (Not saying YOU are. Just a general statement!)

  • 244. CPSmama  |  June 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I think Brooks, King, Lindblom and Westinghouse are hidden gems with amazing offerings and would love to see more integration of these SEHS’s. However, assuming that there are northside parents who can get past the neighborhood issue (and there are at least a handful of us), it is hard to justify a commute from the northside to Brooks, King or Lindblom which would run 1-2 hours each way on the CTA. A commute to Westinghouse would be more manageable b/c it is somewhat centrally located. I predict that it will be the first of these 4 SEHS’s to become more diverse.

  • 245. SSM  |  June 30, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Ooops. Make that “CAN’T label…”.

  • 246. Mayfair Dad  |  June 30, 2011 at 11:44 am

    @ SSM. Understand what you mean. It is a radioactive topic and even bringing it up in a thought-provoking way I risk sounding like some neo-nazi crackpot. I’m not.

    Oh well. Maybe we should reconvene at the Cork & Kerry and continue to solve the world’s problems from there.

  • 247. cps Mom  |  June 30, 2011 at 11:52 am

    239 SSM – I think you’ll find that the those neighborhoods are south and in close proximity to King, Lindblum and Brooks

    238 SSM – Don’t know about your neighbors but many kids attending Jones, Payton and WY have siblings that attend Brooks, Westinghouse and Lindblum. Judging by the highest scores accepted to these schools, looks like there are top notch students that choose these schools as a #1 choice. These are high performing schools that have some level of demand.

  • 248. cps grad  |  June 30, 2011 at 2:08 pm

    @241 SSM — It is very interesting your info on the tipping point of 25-30% of when white students stop enrolling in a school. In the 2010 census Chicago is 31.7% white (non-Hispanic). I looked for the data on % of school age children by race. I couldn’t find this data, but assuming that the % of school aged children is around the same % (it is probably a little lower because of higher birthrates in other populations that is cited nationally) this should be the % of white in CPS. The reality is that CPS is only 8% white. In ideal world most CPS schools would (at least the high schools that draw from larger attendance boundaries) would reflect the demographics of the city population more closely and without tinkering by the BOE.

  • 249. Southside Mom  |  June 30, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Cps Mom: I do not view ‘hoods that ring downtown as “south” in this city. Those are close to Jones & WY, also.

  • 250. mom2  |  June 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    For many of us north side folks, we view “south of the city” as anything south of Roosevelt Road or Cermak Road.

  • 251. Mayfair Dad  |  June 30, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    When compiling my North/South SEHS statistics (#218) I glanced at a map and determined 35th Street was the midpoint. You might be able to make the argument that Jones and Whitney Young are Central (not North), but lumping them in with South would be a stretch.

  • 252. Angie  |  June 30, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Why aren’t people all that interested in south side SE schools? Look at the ACT scores for the answer. The link to CPS site is available in the “Are you smarter than a third grader” post, and the scores are much higher at the north side schools.

  • 253. cps Mom  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Maybe north or south could be determined by Sox or Cubs. Just ask anyone in Bridgeport. My point is that these neighborhoods have a large % of white/Asian kids and are located much closer to Westinghouse, King or even Lindblum than they are to Lane or Payton. Kids are traveling from all over the city to attend Lane and the centrally located schools but will not make the leap closer to home.

    The Act scores are lower because south-side SE schools accept students with scores in the 600’s. Thus making the school undesirable. I see a vicious circle here.

  • 254. soon2beHS  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    At the meeting at Lane on Tuesday, there was great reference to NYC schools. Anyone have the exact URL to those stats? I’ve been trying to find info at without luck.

  • 255. West Rogers Park Mom  |  June 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm

    To Matt Farmer,

    I read your well-written article and my initial response was complete and utter indignation. After all, my part of West Rogers Park was reclassified from Tier 3 to Tier 4, making our families journey through CPS that much more difficult. And of course this happened in a year where bungalows in my block are literally selling for 1/2 what we purchased ours for years ago.

    I think the disparity lies in the fact that the population of Rogers school is not representative of the neighborhood as a whole. There are many many orthodox jews in the neighborhood that would never dream of giving their children a secular education. There are also many families that send their children to the nearby Catholic schools. So what we have is a student population that is not representative of the neighborhood population. The same situation seems to be occurring inversely in the Tier 1 areas you describe in your article. The million dollar home Tier 1 areas are also much more densely populated than the Tier 4 areas with 80% low income kids. Those school probably don’t have the same high test scores as Rogers, which is a factor taken into account while designating tiers. But how much of a factor is the performance of the neighborhood school? ? Should I be rooting for my neighborhood school to flounder even more to bring me back down to ‘Tier 3’ in 2 years when my oldest is applying for high school?

    I would love to see the ‘secret formula’ that calculates the tiers.

  • 256. Mom of 4  |  June 30, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    For all of those southside parents, please go to Facebook and check out the Make Morgan Park an Option for Your Family group. We’d love to see MP return to it’s formerly great reputation and we need everyone’s input. It can be done but only if people get on board.

  • 257. HSObsessed  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    @254 WRPM – You’re joking about the ‘secret formula’, right? Because CPS has provided boatloads of information to the public on every step. Here’s a little bit of it. There’s much more available if you look on their site.

    Section 1: Consideration of Socio-Economic Factors in the Selection Process

    A. Census Tract Evaluation. The District’s magnet and selective enrollment admissions processes will
    consider Socio-Economic Status (“SES”) factors that relate to the Census tract in which an applicant resides
    at the time of application. Parents/guardians are responsible for providing a true and correct address on all
    applications and updating their current address with the Chicago Public Schools on a timely basis. The
    application address will update a student’s address with the system of record (IMPACT). The Chicago Public
    Schools will utilize data in the following six areas to calculate SES scores and designate an SES tier for each
    Census tract: (1) median family income, (2) adult educational attainment, (3) the percentage of single-parent
    households, (4) the percentage of home ownership, (5) the percentage of the population that speaks a
    language other than English; and (6) a school performance variable Results from these six SES factors will
    be combined to create a composite Census tract score for each Census tract in Chicago.

    B. Source of Information. The first five SES factors are derived from data gleaned from the U.S.
    Census Bureau and other updated sources of reliable and relevant information. Although the U.S. Census is
    administered every 10 years, current estimates of data tracked by the Census are made available through
    updates published by the U.S. Census Bureau and through reliable commercial demographic marketing firms
    that use a variety of supplemental data sources. These data are widely used in retail, health care,
    telecommunications, real estate, and economic development industries, among others. The sixth factor, the
    school performance variable, is calculated annually from ISAT scores for attendance area schools in each
    census tract.

    C. Identification of SES Tiers. The District will determine the number of school-aged children in
    Chicago who reside in each Census tract and divide that population into four relatively equal-sized SES tiers.
    The calculation of socio-economic scores and assignment of each Census tract to one of the four SES tiers
    involves five steps:

    1. Extraction of the relevant metrics from updated Census tract data and CPS data;
    2. Calculation of percentile scores for each tract based on the relevant metrics;
    3. Calculation of the composite socio-economic score for each tract;
    4. Ranking of tracts based on composite socio-economic score; and
    5. Assignment of SES tier designations (tier one, tier two, tier three or tier four) using the composite
    socio-economic score and an approximately equal distribution of students into four tiers.

    The final SES tier assignment for each Census tract will be published on the Office of Academic
    Enhancement’s website at Note that SES tract designations also may be referred to as
    ‘tiers’ in literature published by the Office of Academic Enhancement and in these guidelines.

  • 258. Cheese  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    BRC meeting. A picture is worth a thousand words:

  • 259. another cps mom  |  June 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    @cps Mom:

    “The Act scores are lower because south-side SE schools accept students with scores in the 600′s. Thus making the school undesirable. I see a vicious circle here.”

    How could that circle be broken? Any ideas? It’s an admirable goal. Logistically, how could it happen?

  • 260. Grace  |  July 1, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Got time for a quote?

    “You don’t really understand human nature unless you know why a child on a merry-go-round will wave at his parents every time around – and why his parents will always wave back.” ~William D. Tammeus

    We all love our kids. CPS should have good schools like Brooks and Lindlbom in challenging neighborhoods. There are hard-working, bright kids there who deserve a really good education. It’s an unfortunate fact of life here in Chicago that test scores sometimes divy up educational resources. It makes us parents a bit crazed at times. But as crazy as things can appear to be, each of our children is much more than a test score.

  • 261. cpsobsessed  |  July 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Grace, I love that quote. Makes me all teary eyed. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 262. HSObsessed  |  July 1, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Grace, I love that quote, and your sentiments. Here’s my favorite, an oldie but a goodie:

    “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” Elizabeth Stone

    Yes, we all want the same thing for our little hearts walking around Chicago.

  • 263. SSM  |  July 1, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Here’s a fun new tool from ProPublica for checking out CPS schools:

  • 264. CPS parent  |  July 4, 2011 at 11:20 am

    @ 253 The NYC school data is online through their website but it is pretty difficult to find. For a succinct compilation go to The independent site is run by The New School and monitors NYC schools and compiles loads of data.

    For those who were not at the Lane meeting, here is the statement referenced by 253:

    “Selective Enrollment High Schools provide academically advanced students with a challenging and enriched college preparatory experience.”
    This is the mission statement of SEHS, as taken from the website of the Office of Academic Enhancement. It seems a very direct statement of a legitimate goal.
    And yet each year time and money is spent on efforts to engineer the SEHS admissions outcomes to satisfy special interests and political factions.
    There is a simple solution to the question of how to fairly admit students to Chicago’s SEHS. Adopt the blind admissions system used by the nation’s largest school district: New York City Public Schools.
    New York City’s eight academically selective enrollment high schools admit students solely on the basis of academic achievement. No consideration is given to a student’s neighborhood, ethnicity, religion, income, parents’ marital status, athletic ability or access to political power. Nothing but the student’s academic performance is used to decide selective high school admission.
    This past February, 28,000 New York City 8th graders took the selective enrollment admissions exam; 5400 students earned admission to New York’s selective high schools.
    New York’s policy results in a transparent selective enrollment process focused on academics. One that is so important to the taxpayers of New York that the state legislature passed a law barring changes to the admissions procedure so that no school organization, political faction, or special interest group can alter the admissions requirements or standards. This system has thrived since 1934.
    Chicago parents are tired of the constantly changing admissions process for SEHS. Our children are tired of being political pawns. CPS needs to step up and adopt a transparent and constant admissions system that is immune to political influence and focuses on academic achievement.
    Thank you.

  • 265. chicago taxpayer  |  July 6, 2011 at 8:46 am

    To CPS Parent:

  • 266. Southsidemom  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Hmmm. Then maybe the SE test should not have a top score, and the number of SE school seats should be limited. Then, we could get a truly academically elite group of the very tip-top scorers that could fill SE schools with a relatively small number of students. The rest could avail themselves of the neighborhood schools.

  • 267. mom2  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:03 am

    If the neighborhood schools were college prep schools, I might agree with you. Right now, there are 14,000 students that are qualified to take the SE test and there are 3,000 spots. Maybe not all 14,000 students really should be attending a college prep school, but most of them should. And, let’s say, that only 10,000 students should be there for those 3,000 spots – that is very limited from what I see. Why do you think that it isn’t currently “limited”? Then add that some of these schools are just too far away from some of these students (or they would have to travel through bad neighborhoods to get there), it becomes even more limited. Finally, add the growing number of kids that are exceeding standards on the ISATS each year that are opting to go to some of the CPS elementary schools, and that “limited” definition becomes more and more limited every year.

    So, add a bunch of neighborhood college prep schools or add more SE schools. Either way, we need more schools for those types of students.

  • 268. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 6, 2011 at 10:27 am

    What mom2 said.

    It seems to me that the neighborhood schools are mostly set up to keep kids in school so that they get a diploma. I don’t get the impression that they are sending kids to college, nor that those who go to college do well.

    A lot of kids in this city are being screwed, and it’s a damn shame.

  • 269. RL Julia  |  July 6, 2011 at 11:30 am

    It seems to me that 11,000 kids is a lot of kids to spread across a finite number of high schools. Why can’t the local options be made better able to serve all kids needs. I run into this with my local neighborhood school. It wasn’t until 1/3 of the kids started exceeding on the ISATs hat conversations about what to do with the accelerated student in terms of meeting their needs really resonated with the LSC – although there had been plenty of discussion about what to do with the SpEd students, the ELL students etc….

  • 270. Hawthorne mom  |  July 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    RL Julia and others, I have always found it odd that we as a system do not give as much thought, time, effort, etc…. to our highest achievers as we do to our lowest and neediest kids. I teach in NU’s gifted program for kids and have read quite a lot about how our really motivated, smart, and sometimes gifted kids will NOT be fine no matter what. I feel like we treat our highest achievers like they are an afterthought in CPS. Or like only the very top 1-2% of scorers on the Kindergarten gifted classical/test deserve accelerated, compacted, or in depth coursework.
    It seems to me that for years, there wasn’t that large of a group of “exceeds” kids in CPS because so many people simply fled the system. But there is now. And the only way to get kids in the top quartile the services and instruction they need (just like ALL of our students, ELL, Sped, regular ed, deserve) is to constructively advocate for them…..long and loud if need be.

  • 271. CPSDepressed (was copyeditor)  |  July 6, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    RL Julia, if you think of it, 11,000 kids divided by 40 high schools is 275 kids per school. That seems to me to indicate that CPS needs real college prep throughout the system, which would also make sense in this modern global information economy.

    Obviously, many of these 11,000 kids leave the system via private school or moving to the suburbs. But not all.

  • 272. mom2  |  July 6, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Those 11,000 might not move or go to private schools if there was a good college prep school at CPS with space for all of them (in a good neighborhood, safe, etc. etc.) Then they and their parents with money to spend moving to the burbs or paying for private would remain in CPS and help the schools get even better. CPS has to be the first move!

  • 273. RL Julia  |  July 6, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    269 – I agree – however, as the parent of two really high scoring kids who are fine in their neighborhood school (and knowing any number of similar such kids), I really question the use of the ISAT as a meaningful test in measuring the kind of high intelligence that really makes it practically impossible for such kids to be served by a traditional classroom. CPS does treat the intelligent kid as an after thought which is sort of sad – however, I sort of get it – I mean EVERYONE thinks that their kid is gifted or special or talented in some way (esp. when said child is under the age of seven) and CPS isn’t going to go out their way to test five year olds in a meaningful way to dispel that parental notion (since it will most certainly result in a certain (higher than current) percentage of parents opting out of the system entirely when it comes up that their child is (gasp) normal.

    In terms of the conversations I’ve had with other LSC parents – well it becomes very difficult to advocate for the accelerated subgroup within a school when that group (at least as they are identifed by the ISATS (see above)) is economically advantaged in general compared to the rest of the school population. It also becomes a matter of distribution of resources. If a school only has ten beans to give away and will be penalized if students don’t pass a test, well there’s an awful lot of pressure to give the beans to lower scorers rather than concern oneself with whether or not the highest scorers are being sufficiently challenged – especially when those kids are coming from the families most capable of providing outside simulous….I’m not saying it is right, its very hard to get really empowered about arguing for this type of student’s rights to be engaged in a classroom.

  • 274. mom2  |  July 6, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    RL Julia – I think you have to stop using the word “gifted” and start using the word college bound. My children would not be considered gifted by my own definition, but I do expect that they have the skills and abilities to eventually attend a good college/university. I disagree with you that we are talking about special or gifted kids that could somehow “get their stimulation outside of school” or that CPS should even think that this attitude is appropriate. It is their job to educate all the students in Chicago. It should never be an “either or” and they should never think that they can just brush off these students and assume that their parents will take care of things elsewhere. I understand that there are limited financial resources, but everyone in the city should have equal representation in the public school system. We all pay taxes. That is exactly the reason why parents flee to the burbs or go to private – because people at CPS have this exact philosophy.

    With the above perspective, CPS will forever be the poor school system with the underprivileged kids that are below grade level, etc. etc. If they want that to change, statistically, they have to give attention to ALL those students that are college bound. Then those kids and parents stay in the system which makes it better for CPS (statistically) and, based on what everyone says about those with less do better when they learn around those with more, everyone should do better. I have to assume this would be what any new mayor of Chicago would want for his legacy.

  • 275. CPS parent  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:36 pm

    Bingo. All boats rise if we keep all ends of the academic spectrum in the system. They may live in different neighborhoods, attend different schools or different programs within a school/grade/classroom but we keep them and their parents as parts of the public school compact. We all remain invested knowing that the system is designed to serve all of our children.

    At the grade school level, many of us have been willing to commit our children to the uneven CPS system, knowing that we can supplement where necessary. Public library programs, free museum days, workbooks, 826Chi, you name it. The end comes when our children hit high school age. Most of us never took or don’t recall trigonometry, calculus, Human Geography, or Mandarin Chinese. We no longer have the tools to supplement at the kitchen table and may not have the money to supplement outside the home. That’s why top notch college prep programs need to be available to all qualified students if we are going to keep these kids and their families in the system. Only then can all of the boats rise together.

  • 276. CPS parent  |  July 6, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    And diversity is a red herring. The ‘diversity’ argument is what’s left when there’s no objective explanation for a CPS policy.

    We live in this city because we love it here and much of what we love is that we learn something new everyday when we walk out our front door. We want our kids to grow and learn in this environment, rich with the influences of other cultures, languages, races, religions and political beliefs. If we wanted our kids in homogeneous schools we’d live in Wilmetka.

    Let’s move on to addressing the actual facts of education policy, reform and implementation of same in Chicago.

  • 277. cps Mom  |  July 9, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    @251 – What are you saying? With the exception of King at 19.7 Brooks and Lindblum are both over 20 and very close to Lane.

    Don’t know the answer to how to make the selectives in difficult neighborhoods more attractive to the general public. I would think that there needs to be a group of families that band together to make the school an option. This is not something that works well at the selective level due to admission restrictions. The schools are beefing up curriculum along with addressing the concerns of safety to and from. I guess that as more forward thinking whites continue to trickle into these schools until it’s “OK” for others you may see changes.

What do you think?

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