Brizard Meeting – Part 1

November 14, 2011 at 4:31 pm 116 comments

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present the original Buffy and Jody

Based on a couple comments today on here about whether we should be working to fight for the kids in the system who are in the most need or work to acknowledge a range of challenges in CPS, I figure I’ll start some writing about my Brizard meeting.  The day before the meeting, they sent me the info at the bottom of this post about the achievement gap in CPS.  I think anyone would agree it is appalling.

During that same time I was debating which would be the key issues I’d want to verbalize during the meeting.  After a LOT of thought, the high school problem seemed worth bringing up.  And by that, I mean what feels like a problem to “parents like me” who are Tier 3-4, have kids who may not make it into the SE high schools, and feel great uncertainty about the other CPS options.

I had great angst, having read the numbers about how many kids in this city are so horribly far behind in the basic skills while I was about to go in rallying for a high school solution for upper middle class parents who are scared of most of the city high schools.  But as I thought about the size of CPS (something like 666,666 kids – ha, that 666 sticks in my head) I figure that Tier 4 kids (which I am not, but should be) comprise over 150,000 kids.  And I write the blog, and I was there to represent my readers.  Who have tended to be of a similar background as I am, for whatever reason.  I never advertised this blog (except at the NPN fair lately) so anyone on here is just here by finding me on their own.  We are who are are and I think our interests are valid.

So I sucked it up and expressed my concern on behalf of Tier 3-4 parents who need some high school options.  He knows about the achievement gap, clearly.  He knows that is the giant problem to solve in CPS.  I needed to bring the POV of parents who are in the same boat as I am and feeling great angst about it.

I did not ask for more SE schools.  I asked for more seats in places where parents will feel comfortable sending their kids.  I asked if I or some other group could meet more often to try to figure it out.  And if it is even on their radar.

In terms of answers… hm.  Hard to say.  I believe he understands the problem.  I believe he wants to have more options.  The CPS motto now is that they will go neighborhood by neighborhood, at a granular level to figure out what is needed.  I get the feelings that more SE high schools is not going to be the answer, except in rare exceptions.  He says we need to try to solve these problems while also considering the greater good of the system.

Which to me is saying “no we’re not building you guys a bunch of SE high schools for Buffy and Jody when kids in this city can’t read.” (my interpretation.)

If things are granular, I think we need to work at a local level to push for what we want.  Charters are an options. Perhaps programs within current schools are an options.  Squeaky wheels may get the grease?  It’s nice to hear that CPS is listening, but I think more than ever parents have to continue to advocate for more options.

Achievement Gap info from CPS:

Chicago Children Need Access to Higher-Quality Schools

 Providing all CPS students with a world-class education and ensuring that they graduate college and career ready starts with an honest dialogue about the quality of education in our schools.

These are the facts: far too few Chicago Public Schools students have access to a high-quality education — particularly African-American and Latino students, whose graduation rates, test scores, and indicators of college readiness lag behind those of Caucasian students. Worse, these already large gaps continue to widen. Though CPS has pockets of excellence, too many parents cannot secure a high-quality CPS education for their children. Overall, too many of our students are either not graduating from high school or not graduating college and career ready, pointing to a need to fundamentally reinvent CPS to boost student achievement.

Taking a hard look at the facts is the first step on the road to turning the system around. More than anything else, these facts drive home the urgent need to provide high-quality schools in every Chicago neighborhood.

Achievement gap facts


Not enough students are graduating:

  • Overall, the graduation rate for CPS students stands at 57%. Just over one in two African Americans in CPS graduate from high school (52.7% in 2011).
  • While graduation rates have increased over the last decade, the graduation gap between African American and Caucasian students has increased by 5.5 percentage points.

Students are not graduating college ready:

  • Only 7.9% of all CPS 11th graders in 2011 tested college ready.
  • Barely one in seven African American students scored at or above a 20 on the ACT, which represents a 43.2 percentage point gap between Caucasian and African American students. The benchmark for college admissions is a score of 21.
  • Over the last decade Caucasian scores have improved at three times the rate of African Americans, while Latino students have improved at twice the rate of their African American peers.

Achievement gaps are in double digits for high school and elementary students:

  • On the ISAT statewide test for elementary students, the achievement gap between African American and Caucasian CPS students was 31.3 percentage points in 2011 – an increase of 13 in the last five years alone. The achievement gap between Hispanic and Caucasian CPS students was 27.1 percentage points, an increase of 7 over the last five years.
  • On the Prairie State Achievement Exam for Illinois high school students (PSAE), the achievement gap between African Americans and Caucasian CPS students was 44.5 percentage points in 2011. The achievement gap between Latino and Caucasian CPS students was 33.4 percentage points.
  • Caucasian CPS students are 16 times more likely to exceed standards on the PSAE than African American CPS students.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Galewood New Charter School Dissent Talk to the Man Thurs 11/17 at 6:10pm

116 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mayfair Dad  |  November 14, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Nothing wrong with sticking up for Buffy & Jody, whose parents value education, pay taxes and volunteer their time at school. Kids from tier 3/4 have unmet needs too. If it wasn’t for the tenacious middle class willing to stick it out and make the system better for all, Chicago really would become the next Detroit.

  • 2. mom2  |  November 14, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    I greatly appreciate your efforts and after reading your first post about this, I feel quite defeated. 😦 Do you think JCB realizes he may just drive away the very students he wants in the system?

  • 3. CPSDepressed  |  November 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    I see Brizard’s point, I really do. I’d be happier about it if, say, my child were in kindergarten or already in high school. This statistic is what scares me: Only 7.9% of all CPS 11th graders in 2011 tested college ready. I have a really hard time believing that the problem is simply that 92.1% of the children in CPS aren’t college material, and that all the kids in the prepared 7.9% set would be prepared no matter what high school they went to.

    So as a citizen, I like the idea of improving the neighborhood high schools instead of creating more SE programs. As a parent, I hate it.

  • 4. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    I think he (and any other CEO of a major urban low-income schools system with limited funding) has to figure out how to balance it all.

    I don’t even know that driving us away or not is a top priority. I mean most of those kids are not utilizing CPS high schools now unless they get into an SE school. A girl on my block drove DAILY to Glenview (some private school up there.) CPS neighborhood elementary school has barely been an option for (what I will call) Tier 4 parents until just recently and high schools – not at all. So in CPS’s eyes, they’re keeping more upper middle class parents than ever, I’m guessing.

    It’s tiring to think about but when I look at Lake View high school, with a vibrant new leader and think that if every family who’s kid just missed the cutoff applied there and demanded more out of the school (with the principal’s support) there’d probably be a pretty good option right there.

    I always tell people that CPS is a do-it-yourself school system. Unfortunately.

    So I guess I’m saying, don’t feel defeated. Yet. 🙂

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    “So as a citizen, I like the idea of improving the neighborhood high schools instead of creating more SE programs. As a parent, I hate it.”

    That sums it up perfectly. And the Galewood dilemma. And charter school dilemma. It stinks. It’s easier to offer a small number of good seats via charter/magnet/SE than to try to fix the whole system. So what do we do?

  • 6. WK  |  November 14, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    I agree, there is nothing wrong with working on both. We can try and improve basic standards for the whole district and advocate at the local level neighbhorhood by neighbhorhood. So many of our schools that perform well do so because of what parents bring to the table – fundraising, hours of volunteer work, grantwriting. You need a crop of parents working f/t to make a school great these days. I think CPS needs to raise the bar for all schools despite what parents in the community can offer. They have not done a good job with this and they need to be accountable for improving the curriculum, offering a wider range of programs, and making sure leadership is excellent at the schools. CPS needs to meet the needs of all students. I don’t think we should fall into the trap of making it an either/or scenario of taking care of failing or successful students.

  • 7. Lakeview Mother  |  November 14, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    I find it very interesting that he seems to be focusing on achievement by race, when race cannot be used in determining admission. I’d love to see achievement by tier levels – do they even track that? And I wonder how much of the increase in scores by whites is due to middle class on up white parents staying in the city, vs. an actual bump in scores of whites who never left the city. My guess is that those two groups would generally average out at different tier levels.

  • 8. LR  |  November 14, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    Exactly the response I expected from JCB. I understand that they must focus their attention on the schools at the bottom. But, don’t issue blanket mandates that are aimed at fixing things at the most under-performing schools and then try to convince me that the same things are going to be good for Buffy and Jody, too. That is what I find frustrating and if something ultimately drives our family out of CPS, likely that will be it.

  • 9. sskcorn  |  November 14, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    I think Lakeview Mother (#7) and I are on the same path. I don’t think race should be the main factor in judging achievement. CPS schools have such inequity in quality of education that I think a more telling statistic would be if you included family income as a factor and the overall performance of the school attended by these students. In other words, if you have a Hispanic, Caucasian and an African American children attending the same school is there the same level of achievement gap between the races?

  • 10. sskcorn  |  November 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm

    BTW- I love the fact that the parent blogger quoted in JCB’s newsletter praising the Parent Blogger get together never actually sent her child to CPS schools. It seems the people who are most impressed with CPS, Mr. Brizard and Rahm’s commitment to children are usually not the people who have ever had to rely on CPS to educate their children:)

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 8:07 pm

    Where is that newsletter?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 12. HSObsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you for representing parents of kids already in the system! I think the anxiety about high school options is doubly fueled by the fact that 1/ there are so few acceptable options for the “B+” student and 2/ a parent has 8 years to worry about it!

    So I understood your question, but the answer was less clear: They will go neighborhood by neighborhood to figure out what is needed and then do what? That’s the big question.

  • 13. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 10:29 pm

    Yep, HSO, that appears to be the big question. And perhaps that’s not totally figured out yet. I mean the guy’s been on the job just a few months. In this conversation and on WBEZ he mentioned this granular approach and charters always seem to come up.

    You’d think that hopefully there would be some other solutions as well (as someone pointed out before, a ton of kids just missing SE enrollment need a place to get work that is more challenging that what we imagine is in the typical neighborhood high schools.)

    But I think it’ll help if parents locally have a clear idea, probably supported by the alderman and take those ideas to CPS. That would probably help the granular ideas get on their radar.

  • 14. grad rates  |  November 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    LOL, CPS can’t even get the graduation rate correct! According to their own website it’s 58.3%.

  • 15. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 10:36 pm

    At the meeting, it was me and 3 other moms who blog about stuff, plus 2 via skype.

    The 3 in person had kids who are babies/pre-schoolers so there were a LOT of questions and complaints about the preK system.
    Granted, now that the HS and elem admissions have been made more streamlined, PreK looks like a mess. But I still don’t get this new sense of entitlement about free PreK among parents who do not have kids “at risk” (developmental, socio-economic.) We didn’t have free PreK for everyone back in our day! (says the grumpy blogger with a big old 3rd grader.)

    I think one of the moms said something like “and it’s only like 2 and a half hours. I mean, is that enough?” To which I had to blurt out “IT’S FREE!” Granted for at-risk kids, no, it’s not enough. I got the sense she was not amongst this group. Perhaps I judged too harshly.

  • 16. cpsobsessed  |  November 14, 2011 at 10:55 pm

    @9 sskcorn:

    Here are the % Exceeds state standards by race at Hawthorne, one of the top elementary magnet schools in the city:
    Report for combined grades 3-8: No ELL (English Language Learners)

    Reading % Exceed
    White 75
    Hispanic 56
    Af-Am 39

    Math % Exceed
    White 87
    Hispanic 68
    Af-Am 43

    Science % Exceed
    White 70
    Hispanic 41
    Af-Am 33

    For Af-Am kids, this is still better than at Burnham, that school that was written up by Eric Zorn and mentioned by Brizard as showing stellar performance with low income kids. At that school the % exceeds is: 22/37/12 (pretty good.)

    But even at the best magnet school where, as we say, the parents have self-selected to enter the lottery and get their kids there, a race discrepancy exists.
    And a fairly dramatic one, I might add.

    One could also explain the results by income levels:

    No free lunch 72
    Free lunch 43

    No free lunch 81
    Free lunch 54

  • 17. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 14, 2011 at 11:07 pm

    Well his answers from what you posted sound very unsatisfying–particularly in regards to the high school issue. Nothing to keep me from running to the burbs, but then again families like mine don’t seem to be their primary concern (and understandably so).

    I don’t have a problem with this “granular” approach, but it seems like something that could take forever. They would actually have to study and figure out what each neighborhood needs, and that could take several years.

    This statement stood out to me as well: “Only 7.9% of all CPS 11th graders in 2011 tested college ready.” There have to be more than 92% of kids that have the capacity to be college ready. This makes me wonder if having your kids in a decent (but non SE) highs school is wise with a stat like that. If the neighborhood school seems like its doing OK, its probably only in comparison with other CPS schools that are in horrible shape. There is something besides SES going on with these results. I’m curious as to why the achievement gap would get bigger too. Probably a systemic issue related to that 7.9% stat.

    Parent advocacy in neighborhood schools may be the only thing that yields a positive outcome in the short run.

  • 18. Michi  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:46 am

    There need to be more SE options but there also need to be safe, decent educating neighborhood high schools. Most of us who grew up out of the city didn’t even consider that our local high school wasn’t acceptable – and here we live in fear if our child can’t make SE levels.

    Even Tier 3/4 parents have kids that aren’t bound for SEHS. In my area I think some of the hope on working with Lakeview is to get back to a neighborhood school that graduates kids reading/writing/computing at 12th grade level not 8th grade level (or, horribly, lower in some cases).

  • 19. B. Lou  |  November 15, 2011 at 8:07 am

    The tier system is totally flawed! I live in a tier 4 neighborhood which is VERY socioeconomically diverse. Along with a few affluent kids, there are kids whose parents have limited literacy, and some English language learners. Many of these kids face the same hurdles, if not greater, than some tier 1 kids. In my tier 4 community, there are homeowners, apartment renters, and SRO residents, and the price of the homes has a huge range –from the small, inexpensive condominium, to the four-story luxury house. The neighborhood high school is racially segregated and facing many challenges. It is a struggling school, and would be a step back for the child who has been working at or ahead of grade level, and who meets the SEHS admissions criteria required of a tier 1 kid. Yet, the kid who lives in tier 4 has no chance of being admitted to selective schools by virtue of his living in an arbitrarily drawn tier 4 “socioeconomic” category!

  • 20. cps Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 9:28 am

    The problem with the tier system is that it allows some students to get into SEHS with much lower grades. Unfortunately, this does not necessarily correlate with race. You have the top of the tier kids getting in that are from mixed neighborhoods like the one in @19. The system does nothing to address the “achievement gap”. The Hawthorne scenario described above is the same at other magnets and SE schools.

  • 21. Mayfair Dad  |  November 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

    @ 20. I think many posters on this thread would be startled to learn how closely the Tier system does correlate with race. To satisfy my own curiosity, I compared the CPS Tier map to Chicago census maps of the highest concentration of Caucasian population & highest concentration of African American population. Conclusion? Tier 1 = African American, Tier 4 = Caucasian, statistically speaking.

    To B. Lou’s point, the imprecise nature of the socioeconomic indicators on a household-by-household basis is hugely unfair to the low income families who moved into an apartment in a safe (Tier 4) neighborhood. I too live in a Tier 4 neighborhood but I am correctly labeled. At the end of my block there are rental apartments filled with Yemeni immigrants who came to America with nothing more than the shirts on their back to seek a better life for their children. These kids are penalized for living in a safe neighborhood.

  • 22. CPSDepressed  |  November 15, 2011 at 10:10 am

    Given that a single B is enough to keep a Tier 4 kid out of most of the SEHS, it’s a stretch to say that the tier system allows some kids to get in with “much lower” grades. It’s really just a reflection of the dreadful shortage of quality high school education in this city. See also: only 7.9% of 11th graders score as prepared for college.

  • 23. AlsoAnonymous  |  November 15, 2011 at 10:22 am

    IT makes me angry that any preschool parent bloggers were even there.

    I’m sorry. But when I hear about a neighbor in our very Tier 4 community wax poetic about her free preschool and how it is her right as she is a tax payer, too, I turn red. Until preschool is required by the state (a whole different argument), I believe that money should go exclusively toward Head Start and preschool for low income kids with parents of little or no income truly NEED this. And, of course, kids with disabilities that can be helped with early intervention.

    That is, unless we suddenly strike oil and become Dubai or something.

    Why doesn’t CPS get out of the free Pre-K business? I guess if it were truly preschool for ALL — as in, there is a spot for everyone and you have the option of paying to go if you so desire — I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  • 24. cps Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 10:23 am

    @21 – I don’t think that the tier system is translating into SE acceptances of African American kids. The SEHS are not racially balanced in grades effected by this system. If the tiers are indeed racially calculated, how is this so?

    @22 – Kids in tier 1 and 2 are getting in with “much lower” scores/grades than tier 3 and 4.

  • 25. Mayfair Dad  |  November 15, 2011 at 11:16 am

    @ 24 cps Mom: to do the deep dive on this, we would need the racial breakdown of Tier 1 accepted students by high school. Also we would need to know the racial breakdown of the merit component by high school. My hunch: the reason Northside College Prep has a larger percentage of white students than other SE high schools is because its merit component is almost exclusively white and Asian, while the merit component at King is almost exclusively black. This has as much to do with geography as anything else – Northside is located in the (statistically) “whitest” part of the city.

  • 26. cpsmama  |  November 15, 2011 at 11:17 am

    If so many CPS HS student are not college ready, why are they going to force them to take gym in 11th & 12th grades? Is that going to make these kids college ready or is it going to take up a class period that could otherwise be used to work on their college-readiness.

    Another example of how CPS solves one problem and creates another

  • 27. cps Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 11:22 am

    @26 – CPS does not want gym for 17 and 18 year olds, CTU is pushing this issue. I agree, they have better things to do with their time, especially junior year when they are prepping for college entrance exams and taking AP classes.

  • 28. cps Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    @25 – at Jones the AA % decreased a small amount over the last 2 years while the Hispanic % increased. We were told we were the most diverse this year. My understanding is that the AA % decreased significantly at Whitney and Payton this year (someone else could verify this) and the white/Asian % increased.

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:11 pm

    I think the net outcome for SE high schools was fewer seats for AA kids, more for Hispanic, and nothing notable for Cauc or Asian (maybe a slight decline for Asian who used to have the edge in the Non-Caucasian group.). Whites continue to have more seats than they account for in CPS (something like 9percent? of kids in the system?)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 30. Mayfair Dad  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    @ 28: One possible explanation: more Tier 4 families are prioritizing Jones (south Loop, gentrifying area) Payton (Cabrini Green is finally gone) and Young (consistently ranked among the city’s best schools) due to hyper-competition for limited seats. If this trend continues, schools such as Lindblom and Westinghouse will become acceptable to northside whites, displacing students of color. To offset a net loss of AA students at premier SEHSs, CPS will be compelled to further reduce the merit component.

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:25 pm

    Wait, if AA kids don’t get the merit spots at those schools, then the tier 1 scores would actually rise there because the upper kids in tier 1-2 would now be getting in due to tier, not to merit (gross generalization, but speaking from a data standpoint.)
    Ulitmately, the lower scoring tier 1-2 kids in those neighborhoods would lose seats to tier 3-4 kids.

    I WOULD like to see the percent by tier at each school. Shouldn’t THAT be reported rather than race since that is our new balancing criteria?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 32. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    @21/28: The very example of your Yemeni neighbors contradicts your idea that tiers are perfectly categorized by race. Either way poorer families of (regardless of color) get screwed. Remember: all whites are not affluent, and all black and brown people in Chicago are not poor.

    If 5% of of the residents in a Tier 1 and 2 neighborhood have a higher SES, I guarantee they will make up the vast majority of those accepted to SE schools even if they have lower grades. Why? Because the number of slots available is TINY and they will probably do much better than the kids the Tier 1 and 2 kids this system is designed to help.

    And because of this reality, the relatively privileged white proportion of students at SE schools (who make up a much smaller proportion of the city and an even smaller proportion of CPS) who you care so deeply about will not experience a dramatic percentage decrease even if CPS is “further compelled to reduce the merit component.” So rest assured. Kids like yours are not (and will not be) the ones getting screwed by this system.

  • 33. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm

    That comment was for Mayfair Dad at @21 & 25; not Cps Mom @ 28

  • 34. B. Lou  |  November 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    From reading previous posts, especially @30: It seems, generally speaking, as if tier 1 students will end up going to schools located in tier 3-4 schools (Payton, Young, Jones, Northside) while tier 4 students will go to schools located in tier 1-2 (Lindblom, King, etc.). In the meantime, residents in each of these tiers are supporting their own communities through taxes, TIF districting, etc. -Jones is an obvious example- while not necessarily benefitting from their contributions. Does this uprooting and shuffling of students, who will, in some cases, be subjected to long commutes, make any sense?

  • 35. LR  |  November 15, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    #23: Well-said. I am a strong believer in early childhood education, but I too get angry when people prioritize “free Pre-K for all” over other things. It’s unfortunate that this group was so heavily represented in this meeting because it diverts attention from more important issues.

  • 36. RL Julia  |  November 15, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Anecdotally, I think that some of these choices for SEHS’s have to do with public transportation. Son at Taft AC friend’s seem to want to go to Northside (because it’s on the North side), Whitney Young (because, like Taft it is accessible by the Blue Line) and Lane Tech (also on the North side). Not hearing a lot of talk about Payton and Jones (more accessible by the Brown Line). Also, I wonder if Jones is going to become much more popular NEXT year after their new building is (theoretically) finished. Nothing like a new building to attract new interest.
    In terms of reassuring the tier 3 and 4 parents with B+ students about their options, I would still love to see some data on what happens to those students and where they really go. I have to admit when filling out the HS application, I was really stunned at the number of schools to apply to between the SEHS’s, the IB programs and etc… this doesn’t even begin to touch the number of charter schools that are considered to be acceptable as well. I would love to be able to determine how much of the purported “need” for another SEHS on the North side is based in reality (as in there really is a need) over desire for bragging rights or the desire to not have parental ideals about education, high school, safety, other kids/neighborhoods/cultures etc… be challenged.
    I am currently watching some very bright 7th graders I happen to know not completely apply themselves grade-wise and hence jeopardize their SEHS acceptance potential for next year. My own observations on this would be such:
    Schools understand the game and most seem to be quite generous in their willingness to help get a kid to a better grade if even a tiny bit of interest in such is expressed.
    It is much more painful for the parents to give up on the dream of the SEHS acceptance – or to entertain the idea that there are other educational options out there that might be better fits and/or acceptable.
    The kids are a lot more optimistic about their ability to get a decent education out of CPS than the parents are.
    After attending some open houses, I guess I would also say that I also have a better understanding that the SEHS’s are really not for everyone. I have walked away from every SEHS dog and pony show with a better understanding of how and if a particular school would be a good fit for a student and I can say for sure there are some (different) SEHS’s that probably wouldn’t work for my kids.
    Am I wrong for thinking that a person could probably get an adequate high school education that gets them to the next step (whatever it is) without requiring three hours of homework a night minimum for four years?

  • 37. wren  |  November 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    RL Julia, you’re asking the wrong crowd. Seriously. I took my son out of an RGC because I felt it was a poor fit. Despite the fact that he’s much happier and learning like crazy in his new school, (and having fun!) I question my decision every time I come here. There are many who believe that non SE schools are a fate worse than death. In Chicago high schools, this may be true.
    More on topic, I’ve noticed that since the tier system has been implemented, the RGC classes at my kids’ school are far less diverse. My older son’s (pre-tier) class was about 1/2 black, whereas my younger’s class has maybe 3 AA children. Likewise, we are in tier 1, but we are white. It’s hard not to think that my younger is taking a spot that was intended for an AA child.

  • 38. IB&RGC Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    @16 Wow, I am actually surprised at the difference in % exceeding due to racial background at one school. Especially a school as good as Hawthorne. With all kids getting the same education, what is driving that difference? Is it simply value of education? Though one could argue that if you figured out how to apply to get into a better school you do value education, but is that not enough? Are the white parents pushing their kids more? Are they supplementing their education somehow?

    As for tier 4 parents wanting good public schools for their kids, what is so wrong with that? I am glad that is what CPSo choose to represent at this meeting. Tier 4 folks are likely paying the most in taxes and still many who can afford it are still sending their kids to private schools. Those of us who cannot turn to private and don’t want to move to the burbs (or can’t due to the economy) need more options if the spaces in SEHS’s are not there for us. I refuse to send my daughter to a school clear across the city because that is where the tier 4 students who have gotten a single B (even in an advanced level class) in 7th grade will be accepted. It makes no sense.

    B. Lou – when reading your post in @19 I felt like we could be neighbors. Until you got to the 4 story luxury homes. We don’t have many if any of those in my tier 4 neighborhood. But we do have plenty of affordable houses for sale. Wouldn’t suggest to anyone moving to buy there though if you can live in a better neighborhood and give your kids a better shot with this system for high school since it is so flawed.

  • 39. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 15, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    @38 : This discrepancy in scores should not be surprising at all. All kids in the class don’t have the same SES, level of parental education, etc. Different values may be part of it, but it is not always the sole explanation.

    I find it interesting that people aren’t ready to supply the same explanation for why Asian kids blow white kids out of the water on every measure of academic success regardless of SES. Do their parents push them more? Are they supplementing their education more? Maybe. Statistically speaking, they are THE LEAST involved parents in their childrens’ classroom, but their kids still do well, probably because of what goes on at home.

    Re: taxes Tier 4 people absolutely don’t pay most of the taxes. What a laughable concept. And I say this as a Tier 4 resident. The city would implode if we left Tier 4 people alone to support the city. Everyone that works pays taxes, and the less money you make the higher your tax rate. Don’t forget that a disproportonate number of businesses (which also pay taxes) are in Tier 3 and 4 neighborhoods.

  • 40. RL Julia  |  November 15, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    @ 38 I wasn’t saying that tier 4 kids (or anyone else for that matter) don’t deserve a good education, what I was questioning was this idea that a good education can only be gotten at an SEHS and that SEHS’s are a good educational fit/experience for every high achieving, smart, talented child.

    Also however much anyone pays or doesn’t pay in taxes is not a valid argument for their being eligible for better services- educational or otherwise. Public education is considered to be a public good. Do you also think that people who pay more taxes should get their garbage picked up or mail delivered more frequently while people who didn’t pay as much (or who didn’t pay at all) don’t also deserve these services?

  • 41. Mayfair Dad  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    @ ChicagoNewbie: seems I struck a nerve.

    If you re-read my post re: my Yemeni neighbors, I readily concede the imprecise nature of the tier system is not fair. I never ever said all white people are affluent or all people of color are poor. My comments re: the CPS tier map and its uncanny resemblence to the racial demographic maps created by the US Census Bureau tell me socio-economic tier segmentation is being used by CPS as a blunt instrument to achieve racial diversity without using the word race. Blunt instruments are notoriously imprecise, but the intent is clear.

    I continue to speculate in my next post how this social experimentation might impact melanin-deprived children from the north side, although I wouldn’t characterize my pasty-skinned working class offspring as priveleged.

    And I wonder if the students at King (72% low income/94% African American), Westinghouse (86% low income/72% African American) Lindblom (70% low income/73% African American) and Brooks (85% low income/86% African American) – all Selective Enrollment High Schools – feel as though they are being screwed by the tier system. Probably not.

  • 42. BeenThere  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:04 pm

    and so it goes . . . the same old arguments over and over. I’m so glad to be out of CPS.

  • 43. cpsobsessed  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    @39: I wrote a post a couple years ago called something like “CPS kicks ass if you are Asian.” Clearly I should have written a book called Tiger Mom right after that, since I was onto something.

    But some readers commented that education is SO highly valued in the Asian culture, even among recent immigrants, that they will not let their kids fall behind. They use tutoring or whatever it takes to get the kids to succeed. From the little I’ve read in excerpts from Tiger Mom, the academics sometimes come before socializing, sports, hobbies, etc.

    I think someone could really learn a lot about parental involvement by studying the group in depth some more. I mean really, the whole immigrant population in general – did you see the spelling bee this year? I think well over half the top kids were Asian or Indian.

  • 44. cps Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    @32 – thanks for conveying that idea. I guess one point that I would consider here is that it’s one thing for higher scoring tier 3 and 4 kids to be set aside because there are smart minority and economically disadvantaged kids of any race that need an extra break to compete with entry requirements. It’s really another matter if you are surrendering a seat to another lower scoring white kid that may have equal or better economic standing. How much of this is happening, not sure. Like CPSO says the breakout by socio-economics would be a better (or more informative) gauge.

    RLJ and others – All the schools are easily accessed by public transportation. The El is filled with kids going to various high schools at the 7:00 hour. Kids ride the Metra line from the far south to attend school. Distance and transportation (within reason) is not a big issue. In our case, it was more about the feel of the school and best fit. Going to a school that is challenging, fun and offers programs/activites that appeal to your child is worth the commute. Taking the El to Jones, Whitney, Payton, Lincoln Park, Westinghouse or Lindblom from the northside is 20 to 35 minutes. By Metra 20 minutes. (give or take before I get corrected). Our commute is 25 minutes.

    Yes, you are right there are a lot of options. SE is not the only way to succeed nor is it a guarantee of success. I too was happy with the various options and found it difficult to decide. As mentioned above, people need to be open to other options to appreciate this.

  • 45. Lawmom  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    The system is not perfect but once a federal judge abolished the Consent Decree, CPS had to scramble to find a way to represent racial and socio economic diversity without asking for the information. Thus, CPS turned to the census and the tier method. We live in Tier 4 and have actually had success so far with CPS. My daughter is at Whitney, missed Payton and Northside because she had one “B”. Whitney seems to be challenging her and she likes the diversity after attending a small private school. Our son is in the “choice” program at Pritzker and I am pleased with the teachers and the curriculum. We could have opted for private, but we chose not to.

    I know the CPS system pretty well because our son has an IEP and we soon learned where the resources are and how to get them. But I have heard horror stories from friends in the burbs — moving is not a panacea and if you value diversity, there are few schools in the burbs that offer it. My African American friend in Oak Brook is looking to send her son to a more integrated school because he feels awkward out there so they are thinking of moving into the city.

    There are more than SEH options that are excellent in the city. Look at the International Baccalaureate programs. We were very impressed and actually we wanted that program over Whitney for our daughter. The program at Lincoln Park is nationally recognized and modeled. You can move your child into the program in 6th grade at some schools. Also, I have many friends whose children tested into the academic center at Whitney and seem to be doing very well. They just opened up another at Lane. There is also the double honors program at Lincoln Park and other schools. Not to mention, performing arts specialty schools for those who want to pursue that.

    I spoke with Brizard at a recent taping of “Justice and Law Weekly” at WYCC Channel 20. He did a 2 part interview which will air soon in 2 half hour segments. I specifically implored him about the grading scale discrepency and how the playing field needs to be leveled. He didn’t have an answer for me, but agreed it puts some students at a disadvantage — the more he hears this message, the more likely there will be change. However, I know his first priorities will be those outlined in his employment contract, some of which have to be accomplished with 1 year. The achievement gap is a huge priority for him. I am intriqued and dismayed about the Hawthorne stats and the discrepencies there. Thank you for sharing. I wonder what is going on.

  • 46. IB&RGC Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    @39 Ok, I wrote that incorrectly. Sorry. What I meant to say is that tier 4, if classified correctly, should be the areas of the city paying the highest taxes and should still have the opportunity to have our kids go to good public schools (SE or not). Just like in the suburbs. Not have to pay high taxes and pay for tuition on top of that if we cannot afford both. I do not think think anyone else should have any lesser schools, but kids should have schools within their area that can meet their needs. The needs are different from area to area, especially if some areas don’t have parents who can or want to be involved. Schools will need to carry more of the load in educating the child in this case and test scores may not tell the whole story.

  • 47. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 15, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    CpsObsessed@43: Looks like it would be a good read. I’ll have to check it out later. I have been fighting the urge to read Battle Hymn of A Tiger Mother, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t interested in what she had to say.

    I always find that kind of discussion interesting since my parents are from an immigrant culture that uses the same methods supposedly described in Chua’s book. I started to think there was a difference in what goes on in (white but probably other) Americans’ homes when I tutored high school kids in Palo Alto as an undergrad. There seemed to be to be a more permissive attitude (to me) when it came to hanging out with friends, sports, drama, and general social activities. If I didn’t have a 3.7 minimum, all of that was out the window if I didn’t perform. But the parents of kids I tutored would often reschedule because of their kids’ extrac-curicular and social activities; even when their GPA was anywhere from a 2.7-3.3. I found it different–and when I say ‘different’ there is no value judgement, I just mean it was simply ‘different’.

    A few books I’ve read recently Bronson’s ‘NurtureShock’ and Tyre’s ‘The Good School’ (even Gladwell’s ‘Outliers’ a little bit) boil the children of Asian immigrants success to primarily thing: their belief that smartness is not about genetics, but practicing, putting in time, and studying hard. In other words, one is not born smart, but becomes smart by studying hard.

    NurtureShock also has some interesting empirically backed data about 1) how labeling kids ‘gifted’ before age 7 leads to errors (including many who aren’t and excluding many who are); 2) how labeling young children ‘gifted’, or constantly telling them they are ‘smart’ could have negative consequences for their future academic progress because they feel there is something wrong with them if they have to ‘work hard’ on a new topic.

    On another note, it makes more sense make public policy decisions so that **all** kids have the opportunity to get a good education, rather than make policy based on groups’ assumed behavioral characteristics or values in regards to education.

  • 48. IB&RGC Mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    @40 – RL, my comment was written before I saw your post so I was not responding to you, but to some of the other posts that I basically read as tier 4 students not needing schools to meet their needs as much as lower tiers (albeit very different needs). I agree that in general the schools need to be better, not necessarily that we just need more SE schools. But in a system that SE schools are some of the only schools producing (and not even all of them) college ready students then I do see a need for more if that is the only thing that is working. I also agree that some of the more challenging SE schools are definitely not for everyone, but that is why they are SE. They are not for everyone, but everyone runs to them scared of what their neighborhood may have to offer, and you cannot blame them. I still worry that sending my daughter to an SEES will be the reason she does not get into one of the schools she choose. She has all A’s and 1 high B right now, but can she pull up that B? Can she keep all the A’s for the rest of the quarters? Is this too much for a 7th grader to go through? I have taken her to many of the open houses and she is finding ones that she likes that and she will need to have near perfect scores for. I try as often as possible to go back to the fact it is not where she goes, but what she does with it, and also to the fact that she can continue in the school she is in as a fall back option so she will not end up in her neighborhood high school, but she still wants to go elsewhere and I hope she gets the opportunity to do so. She knows the amount of homework each school gives and that is one of the main things I ask at every open house, but she is pretty used to that being in SEES for so long.

  • 49. cpsobsessed  |  November 15, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    Q47, yeah that chapter on gifted testing in Nurture Shock was right on the mark and made me realize what a farce it is in Chicago.

    I never read the Tiger Mom book and she really rubs me the wrong way, but I agree with what she says about a “softness” in American parents, about choosing the fun over the school. I think about it every night when my son wants to relax and look at the computer and play legos, etc. and then I think “why am I not having him practice his math fact more?” I value education a lot (much more so than sports) so why am I not pushing harder? In some weird way she’s motivated me a little. Or at least made me feel guilty more often. 🙂

  • 50. Old White Lady  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Where to send a Southside Irish kid to high school in CPS? What are all the options?

  • 51. BeenThere  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    50 — Good luck. What is your neighborhood school?

  • 52. RL Julia  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Chicago Newbie,
    Your post made me laugh as I just spent last night and this morning with my daughter who has been moved to a more difficult math class and who seems surprised by the idea that she will actually have to work, take intiative, ask questions, see her teacher for clarification before/after school. As was explained to her multiple times in the past 24 hours, you have the capacity to do this and do it well, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have to work at it.

  • 53. RL Julia  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I would send the southside kid to the Ag. high school. That place is awesome!

  • 54. Matt Farmer  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    @45 — “The system is not perfect but once a federal judge abolished the Consent Decree, CPS had to scramble to find a way to represent racial and socio economic diversity without asking for the information.”


    Maintaining islands of diversity in our city’s de facto segregated school system is tough, but CPS never should have been in “scramble” mode back in the fall of 2009. Let’s remember that CPS had been trying since 2004 to get that consent decree lifted.

    By June 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court had issued its ruling in the Seattle/Louisville school admissions case.

    At that point, CPS’s lawyers had a fairly good idea of what would and wouldn’t pass constitutional muster going forward.

    Judge Kocoras did not vacate the consent decree until September 2009.

    But as of February 2009, during a hearing before Judge Kocoras, CPS’s then-Chief Education Officer Barbara Eason-Watkins told the court that the district had not yet developed a post-decree plan for maintaining diversity (such as it is — in CPS’s schools.

    And as the United States noted in its February 20, 2009 post-trial brief: “Richard Kahlenberg, CPS’ expert on socioeconomic status (SES) diversity, testified that he is working with others on a plan for economic diversity that he believed would also further racial diversity; however, he had not drafted such a plan or even met one of his chief collaborators, Dr. Blanchflower. Neither expert has conducted any runs or simulations projecting what the schools’ enrollments would look like under an SES-based plan. Given that 85% of CPS’ students qualify for free and reduced price lunch (FRL), that such a plan might produce economically and racially diverse enrollments is certainly not self evident.” (Post Trial Brief, at 4.)

    CPS was definitely scrambling in the fall of 2009, but only because that’s how it chose to operate.

    Finally, thanks for raising the “grading scale” issue with Mr. Brizard during your recent discussion with him.

  • 55. CPSDepressed  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    @50: Brother Rice? Fenwick?

  • 56. BeenThere2  |  November 15, 2011 at 4:48 pm

    50 – Ignatius

  • 57. HSObsessed  |  November 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    OK, JC Brizard is e-mailing me now daily. What’s UP with that?? In case any of you aren’t on his e-mail list, here’s your chance to talk to him via a teleconference, or at least listen to him talk:

    Dear CPS Parent/Guardian,

    Please join me for a “teleforum” discussion this Thursday, Nov. 17, at 6:10 p.m. This is the first of what I hope to be many opportunities for me to talk with you about what CPS is doing to drive the academic achievement of your children and to hear your feedback. We want to make sure we are being as inclusive, responsive and transparent with you in our efforts as possible, and having these discussions with you on an ongoing basis will help us accomplish that.

    To access the teleforum on Thursday, please call 1-877-229-8493 toll-free from any phone, and, when prompted, enter the access code 18528.

    I hope you will be able to participate. Thank you for engaging in the discussion and for the invaluable role you play in the success of your child and of the district as a whole.


    Jean-Claude Brizard
    Chicago Public Schools | CEO

  • 58. sen  |  November 15, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    The CPS problelm is a social problem that a school or a school system alone cannot fix. Brizard talked about the scores getting worse for certain populations. Hasn’t it been all over the news how the poor are getting poorer. I would think that would affect test scores. We need to deal with the social problems like poverty, hunger, violence, drug abuse, lack of jobs or education, etc, etc,. before we think we will see improvements in the schools. You can go to the best school in the world and if you are going home to a house where you do not get fed, people are using drugs or you are afraid to go outside because you may get shot (or go by a window, because you get shot there too) school work will not be high on that child’s or parent’s priority list. Brizard and society in general need to address that issue. Also parents should have a right to a decent education for their children at any school. CPS makes us jump through too many hoops to get that done most of the time. Also preshool at CPS should only be for kids who need it.
    Save the money to help the kids who are falling behind. I like the idea of breaking down the schools into smaller systems to see what each school needs to suceed. Do not apply all or nothing programs like Breakfast in the classroom. My kids did not need it and I do not want them to have it. That is my right as a parent and how dare CPS try and make us feed bad about that decision. By all means give it to the kids who need it. Also use the money you would save by not giving breakfast to my kids, give some other kid lunch and dinner!!! My children do not go to the neighborhood school, but get the bus there. I often seen people walking their kids to the school on a day off (it is on a Track E schedule) How are they going to help their child with their schoolwork when they don’t even know when the kids have a day off? Brizard does not have an easy job.

  • 59. CPSDepressed  |  November 15, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    I always hear the argument about it being impossible to teach children if the parents are not involved. I’m not sure I believe that, but anyway, why isn’t there more effort in getting parents involved WITHOUT FUNDRAISING? I’m sure there are a lot of parents in Chicago who want to help their kids but who don’t know what to do. In Mexico, for example, I’m told that parents would never dare interfere in any with a teacher. School is not the parents business in any way there. If that’s true, then that would explain why some parents aren’t involved.

    And maybe we need to define what we mean by involved. As far as I can tell, “parental involvement” means raising money and making sure your kid gets an education no matter what happens in the school. Hence, Tier 4 parents are making their 7th and 8th graders do test prep – and that alone may explain why the Tier 4 scores are so much higher than the Tier 1 scores. (That would be an interesting study, wouldn’t it? How many kids at SEHS did some form of test prep, and how that breaks out by tier?)

    So, in my perfect world, there would be some consensus on what “parental involvement” means (Loving your child? Owning books? Writing checks at the silent auction? Signing your kid up for Selective Prep?), and then there would be some actual communication and training for parents on what this means. Sure, not all parents will be on board, but are we really okay with the idea that 92.1% of children in CPS have parents who do not care?

  • 60. Old White Lady  |  November 15, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    @ 51. Sutherland Elementary (kid has high ISATs, but probably not high enough for SE)

  • 61. mom2  |  November 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I think parental involvement means checking your child’s bag every night to see what the school wants you to know and to check what they have for homework. Then, helping them with their homework or at least verifying it was done and maybe see if it was correctly done (when it isn’t over your own head). At least until high school. Then, if you notice an issue with their ability to learn something, finding a way to help them understand it – going to the teacher for help, a friend, a tutor, teaching it to them yourself, etc. With class sizes of 32 or so, one teacher alone cannot guarantee that your child is learning everything they need to know on any given day.

    By they way, I too have heard that same comment from some Hispanic friends – that their culture taught them that the only thing parents should be involved with when it comes to school is making sure their children are behaving in class. I think that philosophy is changing.

  • 62. anonymous  |  November 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm

    Next week at my school the other teachers and I are doing a parent workshop to teach parents some really interesting and cool ways to help their kids at home. I know that some of our parents won’t be able to come because some work in the evenings and some won’t be able to secure childcare. (we looked into the budget to see if we could pay someone to do childcare, but there was no money) I am hoping many can come. It will be quite telling who takes the time to show up.
    I define an involved parent as one who:
    comes to conferences
    makes sure their child has all needed school supplies
    occasionally asks how their child is doing
    helps their child complete homework
    reads to their child
    talks to/loves/feeds their child
    makes sure their child shows up to school (you’d be amazed at the percentage of CPS kids who miss 40 days of school or more per year. There is data on this somewhere)
    requires that kids read at home
    requires that their child behaves and will back a teacher up with consequences/rewards/whatever it takes at home
    I suppose it can be hard to believe, but it has been my experience at former schools that most of the system’s families do not do all of these things.
    At the same time, there is always a small percentage of parents who do all of these and WAY more. I mean WAY more. I think it can be really hard when 10% of the population is doing 100% of the work. My guess is most folks on this board are that 10% who do all the work.

  • 63. Lawmom  |  November 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Matt@54. Thanks for the timeline on the litigation. I agree CPS shouldn’t have been “scrambling”, just an explanation for those who might be new here or not know how we got here.

    @58 The societal problems such as poverty, drug abuse, etc. are huge. However, I don’t see any way that the school system can be family and educator as well. There has been some experimentation with “boarding” schools for “lost” children, but I don’t know enough about that to elaborate. What seems to make the most successful schools are involved parents and perhaps it is easier to try to “woo” the able parents to be involved at the school and breath life into the place. If the child sees that a parent cares about his/her performance, that should incent them to do better. Not to mention involved parents are educating their children in many ways — outside of school hours.

    @59 There are several ways one can volunteer without having to fundraise. Successful schools are fundraising, but I see parents shelving books in the library, supervising at lunch, filing, sewing costumes for the school play and on and on. Every one is valued.

    Lastly, as to Tiger Mom and her ilk — my husband was relating to me of a thread on his wine board last night where asians were lamenting stories from their childhood days and school performance. The common theme was “not shaming the family”. Many of the kids were beaten if they did not perform well and to quote one — “As far as grades were concerned, there was “A” and “F”. School trumps everything else.

  • 64. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    @RL Julia, that’s sounds like a super cute funny convo you had with your little one, LOL.

    It seems like Brizard is really trying to reach out. Hopefully he’ll start having more substantial issue-centered convos with people and this all not some kind of PR stunt.

    It seems like many immigrant communities take a hands of approach in the classroom. Some of this perceived lack of parent involvement on the surface (not going to school meetings, PTA, etc) could definitely be a cultural one.

    anon@62: said “I know that some of our parents won’t be able to come because some work in the evenings and some won’t be able to secure childcare. (we looked into the budget to see if we could pay someone to do childcare, but there was no money) I am hoping many can come. It will be quite telling who takes the time to show up.”

    If teachers know that some parents can’t come because they work or don’t have childcare, how exactly will it be “telling who takes the time to show up. Like what will the teachers conclude? From a teachers’ standpoint how can you verify who didn’t come and why, and what does it matter from an instructional standpoint? I’m really curious. Maybe the school can have an open meeting where kids can come and just hang out too. It can be tricky, but I’ve seen that work before.

  • 65. another cps mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    The Tiger Mother book is a quick read and more of a “this was my life” story than a “how-to” manual. Still, four-hour-nights of music practice. Whew.

  • 66. mom  |  November 15, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    @62: that sounds like an awesome idea! Is that something you came up with on your own, or is there some sort of CPS push behind it? I agree that actually giving parents some ideas about how to get involved would be useful — not a panacea, but useful.

  • 67. anonymous  |  November 15, 2011 at 10:50 pm

    #66, Thanks, yes it was my idea.
    #64, I’ve done this before. It is always the parents with the most successful students, the ones who do all the “involved” things, who come to these kinds of things. The parents whose kids are struggling, who can’t be bothered to show up to conferences too, who don’t read to their kids, the very parents who need to be there most, won’t show up. I have two parents who work at night and a few, based on their free lunch apps, who I know will struggle to pay for childcare. I understand those things. If I didn’t have children of my own that needed me, I’d make plans to go to those parents’ homes and teach them at home, but I can’t do that kind of thing anymore. Not everyone can come to every event. But when the ones who are totally uninvolved to begin with also don’t show up, then I know their children need waaaaay more help in school.

    It tells me from an instructional standpoint that I am pretty much alone in trying to help the child succeed and I shouldn’t keep hoping I’ll get help from the parent. I then step up my small group work with that child. From an instructional standpoint, it means that I need to arrange a “mentor” match with another adult in the building who will make it a point to also seek out that child and make sure the child knows the adults in the school care about their success. From an instructional standpoint, it means I have to go and collaborate with the RTI team (response to intervention) to get additional ideas on how to help the children with the non-supportive parents since I can’t expect help.

    Open meetings don’t work when a person is trying to teach something as important and as detailed as reading comprehension or phonetical skills. I allowed parents to bring kids to our school’s open house and it was really hard to hear and parents kept asking me to repeat stuff. I am glad that format has worked in meetings you’ve been to though.

    My own students cultural background does not prevent them from school involvement. I am well aware of this because I share the same culture. I cannot speak for anyone else’s personal situation.

  • 68. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 15, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    anon@67: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. It must be very frustrating to feel like you are ‘alone’ in teaching the kids. I’ve never though about it that way before. It sounds like you are a great teacher who cares about their kids. That sounds like an amazing program. Wish you luck with everything!

  • 69. Anonymous  |  November 16, 2011 at 7:16 am

    Old W.L.

    You can go to your local public school or library and get the CPS Options for Knowledge book that describes all school options.

  • 70. Tier system meant to be gamed?  |  November 16, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    If CPS really wanted to ensure socio-economic diversity they’d simply ask to see W-2s. Instead they have set up this awful tier system which allows for gaming of the system by the wealthy and exclusion of many do the poor (ie above mentioned immigrants living in a tier 4 apartment.).

    We all know a few tier 1 or 2 dwelling double income professional families smirking at the system as their kids (who wouldn’t have gained entry if they had a tier 4 addresses) take up selective school spaces.

    I say set household guidelines, not broad tiers just barring to be gamed.

  • 71. Tier system meant to be gamed?  |  November 16, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    ^ begging not barring

  • 72. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    I think there are 2 main challenges of doing it by individual.

    1. there are roughly 660,000 kids in the system. Granted in any given year it is mainly the entry into Kinder and High School that need to be checked, but that is probably a good 40,000-50,000 applications? Even if 10,000, that is a lot to process.

    2. It is ripe for lying. What’s to stop me from reporting only my income instead of mine and my spouse? Or, I currently get child support money from my ex every month. Why on earth would I volunteer that information on my income sheet for CPS?

    3. In theory, socio-economic tier takes more into account than just income. (not saying that matters per se, but somebody somewhere thinks it does….)

    I’m thinking perhaps there could be the ability to file a “Tier Exception” for the people who getting screwed over in their Tier. (ie a low income worker who is living in Tier 4 could file for a Tier revision? I can’t even fathom how it would work – again, ripe for falsifying.)

    Once we are all implanted with government chips, we’ll be all set….

  • 73. Mayfair Dad  |  November 16, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    @ 72: Wouldn’t “principal discretion” be another name for tier exemption? A process to plead your case already exists, although I don’t know how widely it is used or understood. I wonder how many principal exemptions were submitted for SEHSs during the last enrollment season?

  • 74. mom2  |  November 16, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Every time we get on the tier issues conversation, I just want to scream. What we are all really saying is that there are not enough spots in college bound/college prep type CPS schools (or at least not enough spots within 4 or 5 miles of your home). Let’s fix that rather than fighting about the tier system and the tons of flaws within that system. If a child meets a minimum criteria (650 points or whatever we determine), there should be a spot for them at a school that fits their needs and potential. Then, use principal discretion or other methods to allow entry to those that didn’t quite meet that cut-off, or that have special needs, LD’s, etc. That means either adding schools in certain places or changing the schools that already exist to have a college prep curriculum (and I mean elementary schools, too).

  • 75. Lakeview Mother  |  November 16, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    #70 – how exactly do wealthy parents game the system with regards to tiers? I’m not wealthy, but clearly tier 4, in both income and where I actually live. I cannot imagine moving into a tier 1 census tract to get my kid into an SEHS. I’m not saying that there isn’t anyone that would actually do that, but I think it would be pretty uncommon. And what to do if you have more than 1 kid, and the younger kid goes to the (current tier 4) neighborhood school?

    #74 – If only they would do something like that! I know that NYC public schools do something similar at the elementary level for gifted programs. If you score in the 90th percentile or greater, you are guaranteed acceptance into a gifted program. Not necessarily the one you want, and in a city that big, the distance to the school could be a deal breaker, but at least it’s an option and a choice. I’m assuming in CPS you need 99th+ to get into a gifted program if you’re tier 4. Of course, neighborhood schools would look a lot different if the top 10% wasn’t going.

  • 76. Anonymous  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    When you go to report card pick-up, you’ll see new Scantron test scores for your child and for the school’s performance. I am not comfortable with the accuracy of the data. I’d like to hear from other parents what they think.

  • 77. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    I got the sheet with the school performance last week and it was hard to interpret and looked surprisingly low for my school.

    Our asst principal is holding 2 info sessions today to help us interpret them. If the data iis meaningful, the charts look nice, but I’m undecided yet.

    Keep in mind that the ratings based on student or parent input could have low response rates. I was looking for sample sizes but couldn’t find that info.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 78. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Where did folks find the meet/exceed expectations percentages by race and ethnicity? I wasn’t able to find it on the Illinois Report Card site.

    @72: I think the “tier exception” idea is a good one. Wouldn’t fix the high SES issue in Tier 1/2 neighborhoods, but its better than nothing.

  • 79. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I meant the percentages for CPS elementary schools.

  • 80. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:58 pm

    If you do a web search for CPS Research, this site has a lot of data.
    Input the school you want then click on ISAT over time and you can scroll through to find info by gender, race, free lunch, etc…

  • 81. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    They used to have a nice line chart by race (which is what freaked me out about Hawthorne a couple years ago to see the race disparity…) but they don’t seem to do those charts any more.

  • 82. Anonymous  |  November 16, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    Heard that the first set of Scantron tests were administered only two weeks after school started up again in the fall — that isn’t close to enough time to get kids back in gear for yet another high-stakes standardized test.

  • 83. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I assume that first scantron test is considered a baseline and we”ll see a followup later in the year to see “progress?”

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 84. AlsoAnonymous  |  November 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    @74. I really don’t understand this logic. In other words, all kids should be tested and then slotted into schools based on their test scores?

    What about intellectual diversity as well? Did any of us go to a school where there were ONLY high-performing or ONLY low-performing students? Would we want to?

    It seems like you’re suggesting we “all” want that.

    I guess maybe I’m in the minority, but I wouldn’t want that for my child. I don’t want my child going to a school where there’s a cut-off to be a part of a community.

    I say, again, let’s fix the neighborhood schools so that they’re SAFE places for children of ALL abilities to learn to their utmost potential.

    I use Oak Park high school as a model. And here, it’s LPHS. There are so many options for students of ALL abilities. That is my dream. But maybe I’m alone.

    We could take the time and energy of building yet another SE and put it into making neighborhood schools safer and offering more challenges for students of all abilities.

  • 85. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 16, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    Yumm data! Thanks @CPSObsessed 🙂

  • 86. another cps mom  |  November 16, 2011 at 7:36 pm

    “…school[s] where there were ONLY high-performing or ONLY low-performing students…” — welcome to CPS.

  • 87. cpsobsessed  |  November 16, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Yep, data is fun. Dive in and report back!

  • 88. Tier system meant to be gamed?  |  November 16, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    Everyone wouldn’t have to prove income, rather W2s would be submitted only upon acceptance to the selective school. In fact it could just be checked on an audit basis.

  • 89. mom of 3  |  November 16, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    Can anyone find a high school, outside of CPS, where the achievement gaps are not in the double digits? And if so, where the schools is meeting or exceeding standards by at least 60%

  • 90. mom2  |  November 16, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    @84 I believe that those parents/students that apply to a SE high school, for example, want and hope to go to an SE high school. I’m not certain, however, that everyone wants to go to an SE high school because they want to be with only high performing students. I think they want to be at a school that offers them college prep curriculum and has a student body where the majority of students expect to go to college. Right now, especially in tier 3 and 4, you can meet the criteria that CPS has deemed necessary to be able to attend a SE high school and not be able to go to one that is within 5 miles of your home. There just aren’t enough slots. How does that make any sense?

    I agree that making the neighborhood high schools safe and a place where everyone can learn is critical. But, we also have to make sure that these schools offer a curriculum that is challenging and equal to those offered at the SE high schools so people wont need or want to choose the SE high school over their neighborhood school. I think LPHS does a great job by offering IB and double honors programs (selective) within a neighborhood school. That should be the standard for others to follow. I agree.

  • 91. Anonymous  |  November 17, 2011 at 5:22 am

    When the kids are young, CPS has options that can work for many families. When high school comes, that narrows sharply.

    So when deciding whether to stay in the city or move to the suburbs, keep in mind how few seats there are for high schools that are safe and offer a great college-prep curriculum.

    And yes, it is likely that if your child gets one of those seats, he will commute a long distance, so keep that in mind, too.

  • 92. CPSDepressed  |  November 17, 2011 at 7:00 am

    @88, how do we handle people who are self-employed, run their own business, or work off the books and thus do not have W2s? Should a nanny’s children be denied access to an SEHS?

  • 93. B. Lou  |  November 17, 2011 at 7:13 am

    There is probably always cheating, or do we have to assume that they would cheat on their taxes, but not assume that some would not cheat when they claim they qualify for a specific tier or neighborhood high school?

  • 94. CPSDepressed  |  November 17, 2011 at 8:41 am

    No, the thing is, many people do no have W2s QUITE LEGITIMATELY. A W2 is issued only for people who are employed. Someone self-employed or running a business would not have a W2. Period. And some people with W2 income may have extensive non-W2 income, say from a family trust.

    To get around the loopholes, we’d have to ask for a complete 1040, kind of like on a FAFSA. There’s a difference, though: with a FAFSA, people give up private information in order to receive financial aid for college. Do we really want to make everyone turn in a 1040 in order to ensure that the kids who live above a bar in Tier 4 are not screwed and that the family that rents a studio in Tier 1 to have an address there is punished?

    It seems to me to be far preferable to put that money and energy into improving the schools for all children. I do not want my 1040 to be circulated at my child’s school. Do you? Would families that list lots of “Friends Of” contributions on their charitable deductions have an advantage over families that have no charitable deductions? After all, schools want parents who participate!

    Finally, what do we do about children of illegal aliens, who certainly aren’t filing taxes and who probably are paid off the books. These children have a legal right to an education. Who wants to take up the court case that says, yes, they have a right to an education, but unless their parents file taxes, they’ll have to go to Dyett no matter how smart and motivated they are! (Oh, right, but “your children will do fine anywhere”, so they should be thrilled to have their kids in Dyett.)

    No matter what system there is, there will be a few winners and losers on the margin unless and until the entire school system improves. The real scandal is the scarcity of quality education in this city.

  • 95. Tier system meant to be gamed?  |  November 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

    My point is that CPS doesn’t really want socio-economic diversity just like it never wanted racial diversity. Sorry to start a W2 vs 1040 debate. There are ways to put diversity into place and CPS cares not to use them.

  • 96. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2011 at 9:51 am

    What are the ways to make diversity happen?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 97. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2011 at 9:55 am

    Also, why doesn’t cps want diversity?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 98. klm  |  November 17, 2011 at 10:08 am


    You bring up so many good points.

    I know people that “make” next to nothing in terms of traditional employment income, but have “family money” –annual gifts (currently up to $13k given/allowed tax-free from one person to another annually, some some families of 4 have $100k+/year gifted tax-free as part of ‘estate planning’ of parents/grandparents with means), money given/property transfers for a home (yes, some grown adults ARE lucky enough to have expensive homes given to them), etc…. These people are not poor, but their offspring would be “disadvanted” according to their W-2 forms and get a preference over say a “middle-class” family of, say, a teacher and part-time bartender, as an example. Is that fair?

    Not to mention all the bureacratic nightmare scenarios: Who wants CPS snooping into peoples’ finances to verify? Plus, the legal problems/issues involved. CPS doesn’t have the legal authority to delve into the finances of people like, say the IRS. Even if it did, where would the money come from to pay for these activities (would it be taken away from ‘instructional’ budgets?!)? Forensic accounting is enormously expensive and I for one would not be in favor of CPS taking away from insruction funds to pay for it. Since CPS would ultimately be legally powerless, W-2 “copies” can and certainly would be forged by some people very easily –there’s no doubt about it. And on and on…….

    The problem with every “virtuous” social engineering solution is that good intentions run up against the reality of unintended consequences that often work against the problem trying to be solved in the first place.

    I think people would feel better if say at least HALF or more (maybe even 60-70%) of amissions decisions were made accoding to the traditional objectives like test scores/grades and the rest were allowed using Tiers.

    New York City uses an SE admissions test for its SE HSs. Period. There have been howls for decades over overrepresented/underrepresented populations, etc., but they’ve stood firm to the original idea of merit-based admissions as a proxy for fairness.

    Personally, I love the NYC idea. Any racial/ethnic disparities in admission would/do simply serve as a point of reference for the “achievement gap” that needs to be addressed, rather than a grievance about outcome. It’s much easier to “social engineer” away an achievement gap through preferences and piece-meal solutions (e.g. the NCLB kids being asked to enroll at Northside, WY, Paytonan, even when they hadn’t applied or had ISAT scores nowhere near those of many ‘rejected’ students, etc.) than actually do something about it.

    As it is now, a 100 point difference between Tier 4 and Tier 1 kids in admission to Northside, for example, is enough to make some/most parents scream and it is reasonable in wondering about the fairness of it all.

  • 99. Mayfair Dad  |  November 17, 2011 at 10:21 am

    “The problem with every “virtuous” social engineering solution is that good intentions run up against the reality of unintended consequences that often work against the problem trying to be solved in the first place.”

    The history of CPS.

  • 100. Mayfair Dad  |  November 17, 2011 at 10:26 am

    Big news. Changes to the high school application process under consideration. Read here:

  • 101. cpsobsessed  |  November 17, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Thanks MFD. I will post and we can discuss….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 102. cps Mom  |  November 17, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Tax return can be anything using Turbotax.

    Fair would be using merit only. Many AA students do get in that way. AA kids living in Beverly, South Loop, Lincoln Park, West Loop, Mount Greenwood, Hyde Park, Bridgeport are at the same tier 4 disadvantage as the northside. Many of the AA kids that I have talked to have been from schools like Lenart, Skinner, Keller, Odgen, South Loop not necessarily getting in by tier. Tier is by no means “the best that we can do” for diversity.

  • 103. AlsoAnonymous  |  November 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    90 — I think more people would agree if more were done to go toward THAT model, rather than the solely SE model. I, too, cannot see sending my child to a school that did not offer a curriculum to satisfy the higher-achieving student (although I don’t know what my child will be). Challenging both ends of the spectrum, and everything in between should always be the goal of every school. But in this warped system, it is not.

    That is the problem. As another poster said in response to my post, “welcome to CPS.” But my issue with that is that I am not satisfied with creating even more of a divide. I know it exists. And I think creating more SEs will only further that disparity.

    After all, I’ve said it before. At some point, when the assignments according to test scores gets to a low enough point, in effect, we’re creating SE schools devoted to “average” students. Why? So their parents will feel good about sending them to a CPS high school? For the “cache” of an SE? Or is it for the safety? How many seats will satisfy? How far down the test score scale do we have to go? And does testing really say enough?

    My husband was a very average student yet has achieved great things in his field. I was a very good student. I have not achieved nearly as much.

    Should our children’s education be guided entirely by test scores?

  • 104. concernedHSmom  |  November 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    103 – Abolutely. CPS SEHS does not guarantee future achievement. Most of us want our kids to have a good education in a safe environment in a public setting in a large city. I don’t think that is asking too much.

  • 105. ChicagoNewbie  |  November 17, 2011 at 1:20 pm

    Good points@103. The all or nothing focus on SE schools is not logical or workable in the long term.

  • 106. bookworm  |  November 17, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    @ 82/83
    I don’t think the scantron snapshots are considered a high stakes test. They’re just a super quick look.

  • 107. klm  |  November 17, 2011 at 6:09 pm

    OK, nobody wants their child reduced to a score on a standardised test score or labeled “gifted” or “non-gifted” at the age of 5 –end of story!, have their 7th grade grades and test scores determine their life’s future projectory (a la Germany), etc.

    However, for all of us that have decided to stay in Chicago because we love city living, or are “stuck” in an underwater property, self-rightously insist on public schools because we’re idealistisct urban hipsters that resent our Bougeois upbringing, coudn’t get into Latin, Parker, Lab, etc., pro-public school by choice, love and wants ‘Diversity’ for his/her kid(s) [says the person who went to New Trier and Swarthmore and reads the NYT every Sunday at the summer cottage in Michigan during the summer] …… etc., for WHATEVER REASON we want/are stuck with a CPS education for our kids, CPS sadly does come down to a fairly simplististic “good school vs. bad school”, all-or-nothing choice in terms of which school our kids go to.

    If only that were not so –BUT IT IS!

    Yes, in a perfect world, ALL CPS enrollees would be able to obtain a good/excellent education……but that’s all Air-Fairy Daydreaming.

    Kids currently enrolled in CPS need an education that will prepare them for current economic and educational “real world” facts and realities. Those of us that use CPS Gifted programs, “good” magnet schools, SE enrollment HSs, pay more to live in the Lincoln or Bell school districts, etc., are simply doing what we need to do to avoid educational mediocrity …or worse (the day my daughter is happy to go to a baby shower for one of her HS classmates is the day I pull her out of that school).

    Some CPS schools are are or are mong the the best in the state, but (many/most) others suffer from all the dysfunctional behaviors (indifferent and/or burned-out teachers clinging to their tenure, majority of students chillin’ and hangin’ out rather than preparing for a rigorous higher education, etc.).

    People do NOT want to have to go through all the stress, heartache, parental self-loathing (couldn’t you have done better on that prerequisite exam?!…Wait, I love you just the way you are –I’m the worst parent in the world and I want to kill myself for putting you through this “parental vanity” trip…maybe we should just move to Vermont…or at least Naperville, etc)., that comes with SE admissions. However, for many of us, it really does come down to a decent magnet or SE school or almost-certain life failure or a struggle in economic purgatory for our kids–so many CPS schools really are that bad (and anybody that thinks otherwise has never attended a ghetto public school, as I have).

    Everytime somebody brings up test scores or the reality about certain schools people jump on the “you’re just a ‘hater'” band wagon and go off on a diatribe about how we need to make ALL schools “good” (Well, duh, but meanwhile those of us on Planet Earth, Chicago, USA, need to get our kids educated without getting beat-up or shot to death).

  • 108. Mom  |  November 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm

    KLM, you know, I’m with you. I just wonder whether it will make that much difference where kids attend without MASSIVE support around kids from lower-socio-economic tiers. People often talk about how CPS has some of “the best high schools in the state.” Namely, Northside, Payton, Jones, Whitney Young, etc. To me, honestly, these are not necessarily “great” high schools. They just happen to perform well because they self-select only the brightest by test scores. This means that nothing they are “doing” is making the scores so great — as a matter of course. We just don’t know whether the education there is superior to another school’s. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t Nothing about reporting the test score data of already-bright kids tells me one way or other. So, literally, for every such list I see, I cross off the schools with selective populations. I would expect nothing less from them than universal “exceeds.” It would only be telling to me if they were far down on the list. .

  • 109. 1 more  |  November 17, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    As a grad of WY, I’d say it was the fellow students (and the genetic gifts of their families) that created the “great results” rather than the teachers. Some were awful and evil. Some were fabulous. But it was really the students that performed.

  • 110. cpsmama  |  November 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm

    For those who are advocating the NYC model, are you aware that Asians account for nearly 70% of students admitted to those schools based only on the Admissions test? Caucasions are about 25% and AA & Hispanic get 5% of spots combined.

    I would not like my kids to attend a racially unbalanced school like that. (I’d have the same feeling about a school that was 70% Caucasian or 70% AA or 70% Hispanic-I don’t want anyone thinking I have an issue with Asians)

    Being around many different types of students is supposed to be a benefit of magnet schools and I think SE magnets should remain as diverse as possible

  • 111. Anonymous  |  November 18, 2011 at 4:36 am

    cps mama, do you have a link?

  • 112. klm  |  November 18, 2011 at 1:57 pm


    I read the Education Section of the NYT fairly regularly. There are articles about this fairly often.

    It’s upsetting to me (the parent of African-American kids) that so few black and latino kids are enrolled at these kinds of schools (Stuyvesant, Brooklyn Tech, Bronx Science, Hunter College High School), but maybe my concern is different than yours. I’m wondering why so few black and latino kids are NOT achieveing, not that Asians are taking “too many” spots.

    I have no problems with Asian kids being “overrepresented” as long as they took the admissions test and scored high enough to earn a spot, fair and square.

    What would you /anybody do? Tell Asian kids (many/most of whom that attend these schools in NYC are from working-class, recent immigrant families from from places like Chinatown and Jackson Heights, NOT kids who are living in luxury apartments on the Upper East Side with invesment bankers as parents).

    I read an article in the NYT recently about how kids from the Bangladeshi immigrant community (overwhelmingly families of limited means, but obvioulsy very concerned with academic achievement) are enrolling in large numbers at learning centers (started by another Bangladeshi immigrant) in order to sharpen their academic skills in order to prepare for and hopefully gain admissions to one of these highly regarded HSs. Those kids are spending their weekends and weekday evenings learning and studying (in other words WORKING really hard). Good for them, if after all their hard work and perseverance they are able to obtain admission to one of these excellent schools.

    What would you do? Have different standards for different ethnic groups? Apart from no longer being “legal” per the U.S. Supreme Court (in k12 public schools, higher education is a different story) as of a few years ago, how does one go about increasing one group’s representation without taking away from another?

    As the parent of black kids myself, yes, it would be nice for them to not be “a fly in the buttermilk” in terms of schools they attend. However, I can’t imagine for a second any scenario where I would be happy for them taking the place of a South Asian kid (who scored higher) from a recent immigrant family that studied and worked really hard in order to do well on an admissions test.

    As I mentioned before, it’s much easier for schools (and socirty) to aesthically camouflage achievement gaps with a virtuous “pro-muliticultral” social engineering move than actually do something about them. However, in the long run the problem remains. I think of the forementioned statistcs about low black and latino at SE HSs in NYC as an alarming statistic that needs to be resolved BY MAKING SURE MORE BLACK AND LATINO LEARN AND ACHIEVE well enough to be admitted to these schools, not “take away” places that Asian (or any other kid –and is there any doubt that this would have to happen [no matter what nice-sounding name one puts on it] to suddenly get a school with a higher percentage of non-Asian minority kids) kids almost certainly worked very hard to obtain.

  • 113. cpsmama  |  November 18, 2011 at 2:14 pm


    Here is a link to a fascinating article entitled “Paper Tigers” which details the overrepresentation of Asian-Americans in NYC’s elite public HS and the excessive coaching, tutoring and cramming for the NYC elite HS admissions test. The article asks the question: What happens to all the Asian American overachievers when the test-taking ends?

    It was a riveting and insightful read for me. My takeaways:
    Not only do I NOT want my kids to be “coached” into a selective HS, I don’t want them to be in a school where 70% of their classmates were so coached. (Warning: the writer, who is Asian-American,uses some graphic language)

  • 114. klm  |  November 18, 2011 at 4:04 pm


    A good read.

    I’m not entirely convinced, however, that “coaching” is what got those 70% Asian enrollees into these schools. If by “coaching” one means working to improve and gain more knowledge, I’m not sure that all bad. They had to have LEARNED something about math, science, engish, etc.

    My child goes to a RGC where Asian kids (many/most from recent immigrant families) are definitely overrepresented, relative to their % of the CPS population. However, from what I can tell (and we socialise with many of these families) they are not the emotionless, unquestioning, quasi-miserable, unrounded academic-obsessed-at-the-cost-of-happiness people one might think after reading the linked article.

    There are good points to be made.

    Anybody familiar with South Korea, for example, knows that Korean kids rock achievement tests when compared globally, but the pressure to succeed academically at all costs (happiness, emotional health) takes a toll –many Korean kids are miserable, there’s a high rate of suicide, depression, etc. Also, when they go to U.S. universities they find it hard to participate in classroom discussions or engage professors (even –God forbid– disagree openly with them), which is usually encouraged and considered part of a good education here.

    In the US, we have 101 “2nd chances” in life. People theoretically could drop out of high school, later get a GED, start community college then transfer to a great university and maybe even go to a competetive grad school. Not typical, but it’s possible. One of my old neighbors was an admitted “screw up” in high school, later joined the military, took some commity college class,……….now he’s a pediatrician. Not possible in most countries of the world where there’s a “make or break” test at the age of 10, 12, 16 or 18 that determines one’s entire life trajectory. In many/most Asian countries there’s a “succeed academically or starve in the gutter” mentality that immigrants bring with them, so often there’s a sense of panic about kids and academic success whereby any outside non-academic interest is at best a waste of time and at worst something that’s going to take away precious time that could be used to succeed academically. Blah, blah, blah… we all get the picture.

    That said, I still think the fairest way to award places at a SE HS is through merit (I like that CPS also uses grades in the equatuion). It really is unfair that in order to be admitted to Northside, one must score at the 97th percentile in some places, while (sometimes only a few blocks away) somebody with score at the 65th percentile is admitted because of their census tract.

  • 115. anonymous  |  November 18, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    @109 That is exactly why my family sends our children to the school that we do. Even though I have personally seen the teachers in action and based on my experience as an educator I find them to be beyond fabulous, I feel like the quality of the students is as important of a factor as any other. When choosing a school for my kids I looked at: test scores, the quality of staff (based on reputation from my teaching colleagues and principal friends), the quality of student/family (meaning, do 90%+ of the families demand very hard work and excellent behavior from their kids) and the vibe I got when in the building myself.
    I do think great teachers add value. I wouldn’t be a teacher if I didn’t believe that. I also have found that great teachers add MORE value when students care, work hard and behave. Yes, a hardworking student can do well most places. But a hard working student can get more out of their education when most of the class is at least on grade level and when most of the class isn’t constantly disrupting. So, even if I thought the teachers are our school were just average (which I don’t), I guess I’d say in the end, my first priority in choosing a school was based on the student body who attends. I know others who would disagree, but that’s what I chose.

  • 116. Whit  |  November 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Thank you 115! That too is how I chose a school form my daughter. The quality of student attending the school IS important. Parent involvement IS important. The parents’s view of the importance of education IS important. So CPS will not be able to reverse these statistics without very much parent education.

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