NYTimes Article: For Asians, School Tests Are Vital Steppingstones

October 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm 199 comments

I can’t post every NYTimes education article because there are so many great ones, but this one today got my attention about high school admissions testing and the test prep culture in the Asian community.  Obviously this test prep/admissions stuff is an odd obsessions of mine, but I also always wonder if I should be channeling Tiger-Mom a bit more often.  The occasional instances where I “put my foot down” about homework or math practice (probably 1 percent of what Tiger Mom did) I feel somehow empowered knowing that another parent out there was strict about homework and the results were a daughter in Harvard.    The “meanness” that my 9 yo son accuses me of falls against deaf ears when I channel Tiger Mom (instead of usual Lax Permissive Hippy Mom.) 

I KNEW that the NYC selective enrollment high school admission process was strictly score-based (no tier, no race.) What I didn’t realize about the NYC high school admissions process is that ALL based on the 95-questions admission test.  No grades, no annual ISAT-like test, no reco letters.  Just that test.  Talk about high stakes.  

And the discussion about the test prep focus and the Asian culture is very interesting.  As we read last year, Asian students make up something like 75% of students at the city’s top HS, and there are something like 6 African American students out a few thousand.  So hard to believe that for all the moaning that goes on here about Tiers that NYC uses none of that.  Now there is a lawsuit being filed by the NAACP saying the process is unfair to black and hispanic students.   The comments are interesting, many people in support of using the test score as the sole admissions criteria, and supporting the idea of test prep as a way to show your dedication to passing this important test.

Michael Kirby Smith for The New York Times

Ting Shi said his first two years in the United States were wretched. He slept in a bunk bed in the same room with his grandparents and a cousin in Chinatown, while his parents lived on East 89th Street, near a laundromat where they endured 12-hour shifts. He saw them only on Sundays.

Even after they found an apartment together, his father often talked about taking the family back to China. So, following the advice of friends and relatives from Fuzhou, where he is from, Ting spent more than two years poring over dog-eared test prep books, attending summer and after-school classes, even going over math formulas on the walk home from school.

The afternoon his acceptance letter to Stuyvesant High School arrived in the mail, he and his parents gathered at the laundromat, the smell of detergent and the whirl of the washing machines filling the air. “Everyone was excited,” Ting recalled.

Ting’s father said he felt rejuvenated, and now dismissed the idea of returning: “I thought: the next generation will have a good future,” he said.

On Saturday, more than 15,000 students are expected to file into classrooms to take a grueling 95-question test for admission to New York City’s elite public high schools. (The exam on Sunday, for about 14,000 students, was postponed until Nov. 18 because of Hurricane Sandy.)

No one will be surprised if Asian students, who make up 14 percent of the city’s public school students, once again win most of the seats, and if black and Hispanic students win few. Last school year, of the 14,415 students enrolled in the eight specialized high schools that require a test for admissions, 8,549 were Asian.

Because of the disparity, some have begun calling for an end to the policy of using the test as the sole basis of admission to the schools, and last month, civil rights groups filed a complaint with the federal government, contending that the policy discriminated against students, many of whom are black or Hispanic, who cannot afford the score-raising tutoring that other students can. The Shis, like other Asian families who spoke about the exam in interviews in the past month, did not deny engaging in extensive test preparation. To the contrary, they seemed to discuss their efforts with pride.

They also said they were puzzled about having to defend a process they viewed as a vital steppingstone for immigrants. And more than a few saw the criticism of the test as an attack on their cultures, as troubling to them as grumblings about the growing Asian presence in these schools and the prestigious colleges they feed into. “You know: ‘You’re Asian, you must be smart,’ ” said Jan Michael Vicencio, an immigrant from Manila and a junior at Brooklyn Tech, one of the eight schools that use the test for admission. “And you’re not sure it’s a compliment or an insult. We get that a lot.”

Almost universally, the Asian students described themselves on one edge of a deep cultural chasm.

They cited their parents’ observance of ancient belief systems like Confucianism, a set of moral principles that emphasizes scholarship and reverence for elders, as well as their rejection of child-rearing philosophies more common in the United States that emphasize confidence and general well-being.

Several students said their parents did not shy away from corporal punishment as a means of motivating them. And they said that rigorous testing was generally an accepted practice in their home countries, with the tests viewed not so much as measures of intelligence, but of industriousness.

“Most of our parents don’t believe in ‘gifted,’ ” said Riyan Iqbal, 15, the son of Bangladeshi immigrants, as he and his friends — of Bengali, Korean and Indian descent — meandered toward the subway from the Bronx High School of Science one recent afternoon. “It’s all about hard work.”

No student, they said, was off the hook. Riyan, the son of a taxi driver and a Duane Reade cashier, and his schoolmates said their parents routinely plied them with motivational tales about the trials they endured back home, walking to school barefoot, struggling with hunger, being set back by floods and political unrest. “You try to make up for their hardships,” Riyan said.

The summer after sixth grade, Riyan spent most days at a small storefront “cram school,” memorizing surface area and volume formulas. In seventh grade, he was back there on Saturday and Sundays, unscrambling paragraphs and plowing through reading passages. The classes cost his parents $200 a month.

“I knew my parents would still love me if I didn’t get into Bronx Science,” he said. “But they would be very disappointed.”

Jerome Krase, a professor emeritus in sociology at Brooklyn College, and one of the editors of “Race and Ethnicity in New York City,”said that a growing number of Asian immigrants in recent years had experienced serious adversity in their home countries. “The children hold the honor of the family in their hands,” Professor Krase said. “If they succeed, the fComplaints about the test and its effect on the racial makeup of the top schools date back at least to the civil rights era. When school officials began openly discussing changing the admissions policy in the early 1970s, white parents persuaded the State Legislature to pass a law cementing the test as the only basis of admission to the specialized high schools. At the time, according to an article in The New York Times in 1971, Stuyvesant High School was mostly white, 10 percent black, 4 percent Puerto Rican or “other Spanish surnamed,” and 6 percent Asian.

This year at Stuyvesant, 72 percent are Asian and less than 4 percent are black or Hispanic.

Melissa Potter, a spokeswoman for the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, one of the groups that filed the complaint with the United States Department of Education in September, said that though some of the city’s poorest Asian immigrants had found their way into these schools, many were still being left out, for the same reason that poor blacks and Hispanics were: they do not have access to the grueling, expensive and time-consuming test preparation for the exam. The complaint argued that other factors, like school grades, teacher recommendations and personal experience should also be taken into account.

City education officials, as well as Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, have rejected the idea that the one-test entry system should be rethought. “You pass the test,” the mayor said last month, “you get the highest score, you get into the school — no matter what your ethnicity, no matter what your economic background is.”

The city began offering a free test-prep program several years ago for black and Hispanic students, but after a legal challenge, other ethnic groups were granted the same access to the course. Today, 43 percent of the students in the program are Asian. Three years ago, Ting Shi was one of them.

The filing of the complaint has led to some uncomfortable discussions about race, aided by the anonymity of the Internet. On the elite schools’ alumni Web sites, discussions can veer into “dangerous territory,” as one commenter from Brooklyn Tech recently noted during a heated exchange. The discussion included a post about how the N.A.A.C.P. ought to be pushing parents to get “more involved in their children’s education.”

Meanwhile, a parent on a popular education e-mail list referred to the “Asian-ification” of the elite schools, and a post on Urban Baby grumbled about “Asian kids taking all the spots because they prep excessively.”

Criticizing Asians’ success on the test is “like a defense mechanism,” said Faria Kabir, a sophomore at Brooklyn Tech, who emigrated from Bangladesh when she was 6. “It’s like someone is blaming you for something that isn’t actually your fault.”

Beyond issues of race, those who favor a broader admissions policy say the reliance on one test for admission, one that has spawned an industry of tutoring programs, has distorted what it means to be a top student.

Sharon Chambers, the owner of a karate studio in Queens, whose son, Kyle, was scheduled to take the test on Saturday, said students should be able to demonstrate their abilities in a more well-rounded way, one that might not cost so much. “A test like this is not a full indicator of a child’s potential,” Ms. Chambers, who is black, said.

Others take issue with the exam on philosophical grounds. “You shouldn’t have to prep Sunday to Sunday, to get into a good high school,” said Melissa Santana, a legal secretary whose daughter Dejanellie Falette has been prepping this fall for the exam. “That’s extreme.”

But a Bensonhurst resident, Emmie Cheng, who is of Chinese descent but emigrated here as a child from Cambodia, was not sure she agreed.

This fall, her daughter Kassidi has spent every Tuesday afternoon and all of Saturday at the Horizon Program, a tutoring program near her house, reviewing work she has done over the past three years. Kassidi also takes a prep class on Sundays.

Still, Ms. Cheng, a director at a shoe importing company, said guiding her daughter through this process — which cost her about $2,000 this year alone — paled in comparison to what she had experienced earlier in her life. Her father and four brothers died of starvation during Cambodia’s civil war. And once here, she said, she watched her mother struggle in a garment factory.

“This is the easy part,” Ms. Cheng said.

Entry filed under: High school.

Figuring out the High School thing CPS committee to help with community input on school closings

199 Comments Add your own

  • 1. local  |  October 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Just FYI, from substance:

    Test Resistance strategy forum November 2 at [St.] Xavier University on the far south side

    Maureen Cullnan – October 27, 2012

    FairTest’s Monty Neill, the leader of the national testing resistance movement, will be in Chicago on Friday, November 2, for a citywide strategy session on fighting Chicago’s standardized testing insanity, and a public forum on testing issues at 7 pm at [St.] Xavier University. Anti-testing fever has been heating up ever since the CTU strike, where the issue of excessive and unfair testing and test-based “accountability” as forcefully and effectively raised by marchers and their picket signs.

    From the first day of the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, the teachers, parents, and students on the picket lines and at the downtown and citywide marches and rallies made it clear that the strike was about more than just wages and benefits for CTU members. Signs proclaimed massive opposition to huge class sizes and abusive testing. Above, some of the 20,000 people who marched down Chicago’s Clark St. on September 10, 2012, the first day of the strike. The marchers above are passing in front of CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark St., which is to the right (not in photo). Substance photo by Kati Gilson.I spoke at a forum last week organized by CPS parents from Drummond Montessori School who are interested in opting their children out of testing. I will be sharing some of the same information as part of the panel for the Nov. 2nd forum,

    If you are interested in joining the citywide testing resistance strategy session, please contact me. And we urge everyone to come out to hear the amazing Monty Neill on Nov. 2:

    Over Testing Forum

    Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 pm

    Butler Room, St. Xavier University – 3700 W. 103rd St.

    Sponsored by St. Xavier University, 19th Ward Parents, and PURE.

  • 2. Jana  |  October 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I do not have a problem with testing. All children should have a chance to display their knowledge and be treated accordingly. The race or ethnicity should NOT come into play. I am Caucasian and an immigrant. I came to the USA when I was 14 with no English knowledge. Yet, the perseverance and hard work won me some wealth, pride and other benefits. The only problem I have with testing is that it does not show any difference that a teacher makes in a year, which should be the basis for performance evaluation. I know that CPS is trying to change that and I applaud the move.

    My son attends a selective school, which teaches one year ahead. So in the first grade, he is “learning” the second grade material. However, because of our prior home education, he is further ahead in his studies, and thus the school has been more of a social outlet. Given our situation, I would like each student to be tested at the beginning of the school year to determine his or her knowledge level in the subject matter to be covered during the new year. If a child already posses such info, then appropriate plan should be put into place to allow the student to grow academically.

    Nevertheless, this testing measure is not allowed currently at our school, because of lack of resources. As parents, it is painful to realize that we cannot advance our child to a higher grade due to its lack of maturity, and be forced to watch our child’s advanced knowledge being leveled-off. The longer school day and a long school commute leaves very little time to keep on growing academically at home. We went from hours to minutes of reading each day, and our minor learning customization moved into the weekend.

    In summary, I am for academic testing to evaluate the child’s knowledge base and gains during the school year and to determine the effectiveness of the teacher. I understand that teachers do not control all the variables that determine a child’s academic success, however they can influence them greatly. Afterall, our children spent most of their time now at school.

  • 3. cpsmama  |  October 27, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Most, if not all standardized tests are culturally biased against low income minorities. This problem MUST be addressed if our students have to be tested so often and if teachers jobs are on the line based on test scores

  • 4. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 28, 2012 at 12:00 am

    My spouse, the child of Asian immigrants, showed me this article today. Apparently it rang true. In their household, the mantra was: people who are smart are the ones who study, study, study. No excuses. Anyone can excel if they work hard. The parents told them often about what life had been like for them growing up. And yes, the kids felt they owed it to their parents to be more successful than their parents were.

  • 5. TeachingintheChi  |  October 28, 2012 at 6:58 am

    @3 But many of these Asian students in the article are low income minorities. Many are from immigrant families suggesting English is not the language spoken at home. The bottom line is these families stress education and hard work. There is no use of cultural bias excuses or anything else. They simply put in the work. We are a generation of excuse making and it is making us a country of mediocre. Fair or unfair, people need to put in the work. If every single child was putting in the “Sunday to Sunday” effort seen in this article it would be much different.

    I also love the quote about how the one student’s parents don’t believe in gifted. “Gifted” is such a middle class, white person problem. This board is evidence of that…

  • 6. Iheoma  |  October 28, 2012 at 8:22 am

    I read this article twice as well as several of the NYC reader’s comments. I rarely say this, CPS got it better (not right) by considering more than just one achievement test for selective high school admission. I’m not saying that there needs to be significant changes to the CPS model, but I think that it’s unreasonable for students’ achievement to based on a three hour test. As a parent living in a tier 4 community it would be dishonest for me to say that my child has not benefited from a school with resources, more stability and parent involvement than the Tier 1 school about 5 miles away.

    This article ( and NYC public schools) is saying that this just does not matter. I just can’t buy that. Of course it is wrong to vilify parents and students who work hard, sacrifice and prepare for this test. But it’s also a problem to say that the people pointing out the significant disparties in the make up of these schools ( due to the fact that it based on testing alone) do not have valid concerns. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like an “us” vs. “them” style article – with minority parents and kids on both sides. The bigger discussion should be why are there so few high quality public schools that this only way NYC can figure out how to place motivated students.

  • 7. genxatmidlife  |  October 28, 2012 at 10:00 am

    If large public school systems like New York and Chicago could adequately provide for all of their highly capable high school students, then this kind of thing wouldn’t be such an issue in the first place (or it would be far less of an issue, as intensity will exist even in a situation that is less high-stakes).

    But because the focus has been elsewhere — and not on providing enough good opportunities for good students — school systems forced themselves into setting standards that create a funnel, allowing only a small percentage in and leaving the rest stuck with either paying for better options, moving for better options or not getting better options. You can talk about the cultural implications, the disproportionate make-up of students, the odds stacked against a Tier 4 family, but the root problem is that these school systems put their resources behind something other than making enough spots available to accommodate all of the students who deserve them.

    The result is that everyone finds themselves having to beat the odds. A child in an environment where education is a struggle has to rise through those circumstances. A child whose immigrant parents count on them to be the first to “make it” has to live with the intense pressure. A Tier 4 A student has to stand in line behind others who are tenths of a percentage point ahead. On the whole, there is no upside… for anyone.

  • 8. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    I’ve heard that standardized tests are culturally biased, but I’d like to know more about that. How can math be culturally biased? I’d also like to see a comparison of black/hispanic kids who study to the extent that the asian kids do (or at least some comparison by level of test prep) to see the impact of cultural bias. Is the test culturally biased in favor of Asians?

    I’ve always been highly in favor of Tiers (or some sort of socio economic layering system) but the parents/students in this article sure make a case for giving the top spots to those who score the best. I guess they make it seem like anyone can do it if they put their mind to it (well, and some money and a lot of time.) I have to think that these same kids are also getting good grades and test scores. Can a child who is gettings C’s and low ISATS (or the NY version) really nail the admissions test?

  • 9. jfc  |  October 28, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    Put in the work, you get what you deserve, when the ONLY measurement is a standardized test. This has been looooooooooong established in Asian scholastic culture/history. “right” or “wrong”. May not “seem” fair to a western POV, but in an ever competitive globalized world we live in, this may be the first lesson our society needs to teach to our next generation. One can work to change the system, once one makes it to the position of power. Until then, stop expecting other people to make the world “fairer”, work as hard as you within your ability and hope for the best.

    Anyone who spends any time in higher education post-undergraduate communities in America knows Americans (whatever races) are severely under represented numerically speaking. Our generation with children coming up need to wake up and and think about the bigger picture. If one wants their child/ren grow happy-go-lucky like the boomer generation (yes, I’m generalizing to make a point), good for you. Your child/ren will be “happy”. Myself on the other hand, will make sure my child/ren work his/her behinds off like I did (I’m 2nd generation immigrant and worked my way through inner city public school environment via sheer hard work) and maximize their potentials, whatever they might be.

    Lastly, yes, I agree with the NYC system, if that’s not obvious already.

  • 10. lawmom  |  October 28, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Asians are the new Jews. They are smart and they work harder than any one else. For example, post World War II there were quota limits for Jewish students in the Ivies. Likewise in California, there are now quota limits for the Asians. Asians work twice as hard as most American students. Guess what — hard work pays off and until others recognize this, they will not get ahead.

    Sadly, at Whitney Young, the “regular” students are all underachievers. My daughter had two girls in her freshman honors class who were failing — they did not know how to spell, punctuate or write a cohesive paragraph. Why are these kids there when so many other talented kids can’t make it in? Like Payton and Northside, Whitney Young should be only an honors school.

  • 11. cpsobsessed  |  October 28, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    I think a key difference (I could be wrong…) Is the NYC has more spots of high achievers per student population than chicago does and has more acceptable schools that aren’t the all super high achievers. Which is why new yorkers haven’t complained as much as we do here about the few SEHS being allotted they way they have.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 12. sue  |  October 28, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    “Asians are the new Jews. They are smart and they work harder than any one else. For example, post World War II there were quota limits for Jewish students in the Ivies. Likewise in California, there are now quota limits for the Asians. Asians work twice as hard as most American students. Guess what — hard work pays off and until others recognize this, they will not get ahead”………..Wow lawmom, what a biased/backward statement to make!

  • 13. Iheoma  |  October 28, 2012 at 9:43 pm

    I agree with 12 (Sue) Lawmom made some really biased statements about “regular” students at Whitney Young and “most American students”. Does “regular” mean minority (if so which ones?) Or does “regular” mean students from Tier 1,2 or 3 communities? Or does “regular” mean any student that lawmom doesn’t believe belongs in the school because they didn’t make an overall composite 899-900 as an AC student or 99th percentile for SEHS admission? Poorly done.

  • 14. locxal  |  October 28, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Lawmom was not being biased about her Asians/Jews comment. That’s actually a chapter title from a book about the admission practices of highly selectivve colleges. The history of admissions is interesting.

  • 15. sue  |  October 28, 2012 at 10:21 pm

    “Sadly, at Whitney Young, the “regular” students are all underachievers.”

    Is this ALSO from a book?????

  • 16. local  |  October 28, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Book’s title: the Price of Admissions (?)

  • 17. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 28, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    #9~jfc~”If one wants their child/ren grow happy-go-lucky like the boomer generation (yes, I’m generalizing to make a point), good for you. Your child/ren will be “happy”. Myself on the other hand, will make sure my child/ren work his/her behinds off like I did” ~My children are working their butts off AND they are happy-go-lucky children who are very kind.’Happy go lucky’ doesn’t mean~slacker and ‘work his/her behinds’ doesn’t mean~no time for anything but studies. Why can’t they have the best of both worlds?

    I also agree w/#13~Iheoma~What does ‘regular’ mean?

  • 18. Jill  |  October 29, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Sadly, we fail to measure what matters: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

    Jill (Stuyvesant H.S. ’84)

  • 19. Stormy Monday | District 299: The Inside Scoop on CPS  |  October 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

    […] Article: For Asians, School Tests Are Vital Steppingstones cpsobsessed: As we read last year, Asian students make up something like 75% of students at the city’s top HS, and there are something like 6 African American students out a few thousand.  So hard to believe that for all the moaning that goes on here about Tiers that NYC uses none of that.  Now there is a lawsuit being filed by the NAACP saying the process is unfair to black and hispanic students. […]

  • 20. klm  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Wow. This is already getting testy.

    Yes, it’s very upsetting to me that so few black and Hispanic kids are obtaining admission to these kinds of high-achievement schools, but I guess I fall into the camp of “How are these tests culturally biased”? The fact that so few black and Hispanic kids are doing well on them seems to point out the glaring achievement gap that needs to be addressed rather than an inherent flaw in the test. I mean, they’re asking kids questions about academic subjects (math, relevant language skills, science, etc.), not word analogies about which kind of spoon is proper when serving caviar. This is about achievement, not provenance or innate intelligence, like an I.Q. test. Kids are being admitted according to what they’ve worked hard to learn, here.
    Yes, it sucks that it all comes down to a single test in some cases, but I’m not convinced that any other way would be fundamentally more “fair”, either.

    What would people have NYC do? Use different cut-off scores depending on which box one checks off for ethnic/racial group (the way college/grad school admissions is done)? That’s now illegal, per the U.S. Supreme Court for K12 public education. OK, then, socially engineer a “holistic” approach in order to accommodate the objectively lower academic qualifications of certain “favored” classes of people? Then which group would become “disfavored”? In other words, certain kinds of brown people need to limit their opportunities (even if they worked hard for them) in order to make some sort of “nice”, socially engineered student body. What kind of message would that send? Wow –you’re really smart for a BLACK person! Not as smart as the working-class kids of Bangladeshi immigrants, of course, but for the standards of the group that you’ve been proscribed by this school. What kind of equality is that?

    Also, if the these Asian kids described in the above story were from wealthy, privileged backgrounds, I’d understand the the backlash from some people. But they are not. They’re frequently the offspring of just-off-the-boat-arrive-penniless-no-real-employment-skills immigrants that have nothing to offer their kids but examples of hard work and determination in order to improve their lot in life. It seems heart-breaking to me to take opportunities away from non-advantaged kids because the brown-skin minority group they’re in is not the “right” one to make some people happy. How would that be “fair” or “equitable”?

    This comes down to a legal and social conflict that been around since the passage of Civil Rights laws in the 1960’s: equality measured in opportunity or by results.

    Obviously, people can tell that I believe opportunity should come from one’s own hard work and perseverance, not which racial or ethnic group one belongs to.

  • 21. Iheoma  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:23 am

    @20 I don’t think that this comment string is getting testy about fact that children who study for a test achieve access to better educational experiences. It seems to me that most people in this thread *do not* speak negatively about students and families who are committed to their education through hard work.

    What I find distasteful is the assumptions that I have read (and possibly misunderstood) regarding “regular” kids and “most American students” and their motivation and achievement abilities as measured by ONE TEST. Again, it’s a kind of “us vs. them” argument that really does a disservice to everyone involved. The real question is why aren’t there more resources for educating highly motivated students available.

    While I do not agree with the NAACP’s lawsuit, I do believe that there needs to be a discussion about what is going on with composition of top schools in NYC. It reminds me of Michelle Obama’s speech at the DNC this summer – something along the lines of not slamming the door behind us when we reach the top. Is there a way to increase opportunities for more students, support high achievement and not look down upon others – I don’t know….

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I assume that these top schools have felt that the one-score admission criteria has been giving them students who are up to the task of doing the challenging work. So the score must be measuring something more than just a one-day measure.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 23. RL Julia  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:37 am

    @12 Sue – Not going to defend the “regular” student comment which I don’t understand, but I agree – Asians as the new Jews – you can read all about it in “The Chosen: The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion….” Jerome Karabel. There are plenty of parallels.

  • 24. RL Julia  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:39 am

    @22 – In theory at least, the students mentioned in the article should have really good study skills!

  • 25. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I take “regular” student to mean anyone who got in via tier rather than rank.
    Would be interesting to see a simulation of what that would have looked like by tier and race. Obviously would include some tier 1,2, and 3 kids. Possibly some tier 4? I’m not sure.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 26. anon  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:44 am

    My kids are older now but we spent several years in Suzuki. The asian kids all excelled and were way ahead of everyone else. Suzuki requires a ton of parental involvement. The parents have to practice with their children. I rest my case.

  • 27. CPS Parent  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:45 am

    21. Iheoma the solution to your wish for more opportunities is already being (rapidly) implemented, they are called charter schools. In addition, Chicago is expanding non-charter school options as well – primarily IB and STEM programs standalone or within regular schools.

  • 28. HS Mom  |  October 29, 2012 at 9:55 am

    @25 regular could mean students taking “regular” level classes. Northside, Payton and Jones offers only honors and AP level classes.

    Either way, it’s not necessarily a fair statement. The programs at these schools are tough and the “best” elementary students get D’s and F’s in high school for a variety of reasons that don’t necessarily have anything to do with IQ. Some kids are stronger in one area than another, immature, disorganized, distracted, disinterested, become influenced in another direction etc – you all know what I’m talking about. Kids can test in just fine, it’s all what you make of it. I’m sure there are kids failing classes at these top New York schools too.

  • 29. James  |  October 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

    @28 HS Mom —

    Exactly. That’s what I took “regular” to mean: kids at WY not taking Honors or AP classes. What’s so mysterious about that?

    To be clear, I have no way of knowing whether the kids at WY (from whatever Tier and of whatever race) who stick to the easier or “regular” curriculum are slackers, as the original poster implied. It’s an interesting anecdotal observation that it’d be nice to hear more about, I suppose. But I don’t think it is necessarily a racist or mean term to use. It likely just refers to the kids at WY who take the regular classes and not the Honors and AP classes. At Northside, Payton, and Jones, ALL classes are at the Honors and AP level, so taking a regular track is not an option.

  • 30. anon  |  October 29, 2012 at 10:20 am

    A child from China came to my son’s catholic school in 7th grade not knowing any english at all. He was tutored in the library by the woman who wears a lot of hats in the school but has no teaching degrees or certificates. He got into Northside.

  • 31. klm  |  October 29, 2012 at 10:24 am


    It seems to me that you’re assuming that if a kid doesn’t get into one of these “achievement test” schools (Hunter College HS, Bronx Science, etc.) that they won’t have opportunities to excel academically and achieve in life. NYC has (from what I can tell more than CPS, even) many great options for kids in terms of HSs (charters, special interest, IB, etc.) other than these fore-mentioned achievement test ones. If they study hard, kids still can achieve and get into a decent college without being admitted to one of the relative few “achievement test” ones.

    It’s kinda’ like saying, “If a student doesn’t get into Harvard, Stanford or Caltech”, they won’t have opportunities for a good college education or many opportunities later in life. Lots of people go to Michigan State and U of I and do great in life.

    Similarly, we all know that not getting into Northside or Payton doesn’t preclude the opportunity to learn, work hard and do well later in college (maybe even grad school) and life. There are other paths (maybe not enough, right now, but there are some for those that want them) for CPS kids other than Northside and Payton. Likewise for NYC.

  • 32. Mather?  |  October 29, 2012 at 10:37 am

    I really don’t want my kids going to school with a bunch of over achievers.

    Good enough is good enough for us.

  • 33. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 29, 2012 at 11:02 am

    @5 The majority of students at Bronx Science and at Stuyvesant are not poor. At Stuyvesant (my father graduated from there; my wife was accepted there), for the past three years of data, the percentage of students receiving reduced and free lunch was 36%, 41%, 42%. At Bronx Science the same figures were: 32%, 32%, 46%. Data for 2011-12 are not compiled yet. While some parents in the article were low-income immigrants, others were not (one was a director at shoe importing company). All of the immigrant-families in the article paid for test-prep programs. So it is unsurprising that:

    …they said that rigorous testing was generally an accepted practice in their home countries, with the tests viewed not so much as measures of intelligence, but of industriousness.

    In the US, we tend to view the test results as measures of a student’s intellectual competence. In many countries, not just in Asia, there is a drill-and-kill/up-or-out approach. There are a few elite state schools, including universities, students are admitted based on entrance exams, and those who graduate go on to top positions in government and industry. Meritocracy in France, Germany, Japan, Korea, or Singapore means a bunch of students are “left behind” academically.

  • 34. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 29, 2012 at 11:17 am


    Lots of people go to Michigan State and U of I and do great in life.

    Indeed, they do, but they often have to work harder to get to the “great” spots. It is easier to get into Harvard Law, if you have a stellar transcript from CalTech than from MSU. When a top NYC law firm decides on who to make a partner, they want someone who can bring in business, which means a person who knows people from college who went on to graduate from top MBA programs or moved up the corporate ladder. A salesperson for a top institutional brokerage is expected to have connections to people working at top mutual funds from high school, college, or grad school. So, if you graduated from Bronx Science and went to U. Chicago, you’re more likely to be hired at a better paying job, than if you went to an H.S. that few people know of, and a college that, however excellent, is under the radar of others.

    The whole point of over-priced private education is not to make you smarter than most everyone else, but to make sure that even if you’re not smarter than most everyone else, you have the social connections to do very well in life.

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  October 29, 2012 at 11:49 am


    Haven’t read it yet, but another article about Asians becoming the new Jews. (I say this as a Jewish person who somehow hasn’t managed to glom onto that success bandwagon.)

  • 36. Mayfair Dad  |  October 29, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Here’s a fun experiment. Go to the website of your health insurance plan and use the “find a doctor” app. Take note of the Asian and Jewish names that pop up.

    Nothing new about the passion for academic excellence in the Jewish and Asian cultures. Hard work, perseverance, high parental expectations. No mystery.

  • 37. just a mom  |  October 29, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    Totally agree with you.

  • 38. Esmom  |  October 29, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    @7 “If large public school systems like New York and Chicago could adequately provide for all of their highly capable high school students, then this kind of thing wouldn’t be such an issue in the first place (or it would be far less of an issue, as intensity will exist even in a situation that is less high-stakes).”


    “…the root problem is that these school systems put their resources behind something other than making enough spots available to accommodate all of the students who deserve them.”

    And yes. As you said, people are forced to scramble to beat the odds. The level of stress involved is mind-boggling. On one hand I agree with the mentality of sucking it up and putting in the work. But on the other hand — and I really don’t think I’m being a complete slacker/hippie mom when I say that I think 12, 13 years old (or younger in many cases) is too young to be focused on academics and testing at the expense of everything else in life.

  • 39. cpsmama  |  October 29, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    Don’t you just LOVE people like lawmom who have misinformation and use it to draw completely incorrect & baseless conclusions about people-or in this case- about children?

    Hey lawmom- here are some “FACTS” that you may not know about WY students taking regular classes:

    Many take regular level courses by choice to avoid certain teachers or to have a certain teacher that has a good rep;

    Many take regular level courses to balance out their heavy load of Honors & AP courses

    Many take regular level courses to balance their heavy extracuriculars

    Some classes are not offered at the Honors or AP level (Art, Music, Gym etc)

    Honors & even some APs are not that much harder than regular level courses but get more credit

    At NS- I beleive that even their gym classes are deemed “honors” so I think it is fair to say that they use that term quite loosely. LOL

  • 40. Esmom  |  October 29, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    @39, sounds like a sensible balance. Although balance isn’t really much of an option these days in order to get into WY in the first place.

    As for Honors Gym, lol indeed. I’d like to see what that class entails (not to knock P.E. majors)!

  • 41. RL Julia  |  October 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    The root problem is that there is not enough money to meet every child’s need adequately (whether they are ahead or behind) or to the degree that every parent would like that child’s educational needs met. While it would be hard to satisfy every parent – it is an especially bitter pill to swallow when you look at better funded suburban school districts and see all the bells and whistles they can offer.
    It is additionally difficult when there are more or less arbitrary dates where access to certain types of schools are determined that have very little to do with what is developmentally appropriate and lots to do with the adults running the school system (for instance, why deciding that middle school (in the first half of puberty) is the right time to start winnowing the academic wheat from the chaff pretty much mystifies me – especially since practically every person I know with a Ph.D practically flunked out of middle school). This sifting perhaps would be more palatable if CPS actually seemed to have a plan or program about how to direct kids who are not necessarily college-bound (or should be) that actually led to real skill acquisition and/or employment. However –aside from a handful of small, not very well publicized programs (Schurz auto mechanic program comes to mind) you either get into a high school that prepares you for higher education or you go to a school that if you are a motivated student will prepare you for higher education or ….. really who knows (please those in the know… chime in!).

    Oh – And at Northside, the gym classes are not honors. Indeed – its not a school usually noted for its athleticism.

  • 42. cpsmama  |  October 29, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Personally, I am appalled that NYC uses a single 3 hr test for admissions to its SEHS. Geez- colleges don’t even do that.

    The whole standardized test debate has been going on for a long time in this country and shows no signs of being resolved.

    My problem is not that my own kids are bad at such tests (they are actually very good test takers), its that too much emphasis is placed on such tests.

    Black and hispanic students score much lower on standardized tests than whites & asians. This is true even across different income levels in these groups. I don’t know why and I don’t know how to fix it, but since we have this knowledge- is isn’tt fair to keep administering tests with such high stakes without making a concerted effort to get all groups oin a level playing field.

    I was always a 99% test taker as a student, but as an adult, that is utterly meaningless. As an employer, do I want a student (of any race) who has studied test taking techniques to such a degree that he/she mastered test-taking or do I want a well-rounded, hard-working student who knows how to think & create, who has poise and strong interpersonal skills? (ObviouslyI know that there are some who will have all of those attributes). My point is…. test taking prowess is not enough to succeed in life.

    I disagree with Christopher Ball’s comment @ 34

    ..”they often have to work harder to get to the “great” spots. It is easier to get into Harvard Law, if you have a stellar transcript from CalTech than from MSU.”

    ^^ that is inaccurate. After you get past the legacies & donors kids, Harvard law admissions is all about LSAT scores and GPAs. They do not care what college you attended and it is frequently easier to gain admission from a lesser known and less difficult undergrad school where it is easier to get good grades. This is an oft-discussed topic in law-school admissions circles and students are advised to go to a “lesser” undergrad to get a 4.0. This of course presumes that their LSAT scores is where it needs to be.

  • 43. HS Mom  |  October 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    @39 – you have some good points. There are definitely benefits to having a wider range of options. One of the most important being, in fact, that a regular class at a SE school is not that much different from honors, according to teachers that I have talked to.

    To clarify, there are most definitely AP art and music classes offered at NS, WP and JCP. The PE class is a “regular” glass for the standard credit. There are however options to take “honors” in the physical health area and anatomy.

    I think that law mom feels that if students are failing “regular” classes, this might be an indicator that these kids are not the best candidate for SE schools, especially since so many excellent students are unable to get in. She is entitled to her opinion and has a point. My opinion is that you have to draw a line somewhere – in or out. Once you’re in there are more challenges. It is too much for some and they leave or manage to get through it. I don’t think there is any way to avoid it or deal with it differently.

  • 44. klm  |  October 29, 2012 at 2:29 pm


    I agree totally about what you have to say about grad school admissions.

    I think people underestimate how P.C. many elite grad schools are. All things being equal, most want to be “elite” in terms of admissions standards, but somewhat “anti-elitist” in terms of the type of students that they admit and turn into The American Power Structure. Accordingly, a really smart working-class kid from Palookaville, AL that went to Regular College because it gave him a 100% full-ride (a dream to any kid that grows up hand-to-mouth and “doesn’t know any better”) but gets the same high LSAT score as a kid who grew up in Greenwich, went to Hotchkiss, Dartmouth, worked as a financial analyst at Goldman, Sachs after college etc., would most likely be given as much consideration, if not more, in many cases.. Grad schools know that people go to a variety of undergraduate colleges for financial and personal reasons (not everybody grows up in the North Shore or the Upper West Side in an aura fixated about with which highest-ranking college they can get into, with finances being a non-issue). Most people that grow up in trailer parks think brown is a color, not a school, no matter how smart they are.

    I used to work in legal recruiting. Now, yes, where one went to law school totally matters. That said, I can’t tell you how many CVs from lawyers that went to prestige law schools (Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU, Michigan, Stanford, etc.) included undergraduate degrees from “lesser” schools. One of my own friends went Grand Valley State before Harvard Law School. I used to work with two lawyers that went to Yale Law School –one went to Michigan State, the other went to Penn State.

    Yes, if one wants to get a job right outta’ college, sure it helps immensely to go to Princeton rather than No Name College (especially in ‘prestige’, the ‘right kind of people’ fields like publishing or finance or if one’s into certain ‘People Like Us’ social circles –but not many people really care about being in the Social Register, these days), especially in places like New York or Boston. And, yes, to be honest, I’d rather my kids go to U-C or Northwestern rather than community college. Who wouldn’t? But I think sometimes people believe that an undergraduate degree from certain schools is an automatic guaranteed elevator ride to the top. It’s not. And as far as “lesser” schools go, an undergraduate degree from No Name College is not the quasi-guaranteed elevator ride to the bottom that some college-admissions obsessed kids and parents may fear.

  • 45. genxatmidlife  |  October 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    @18 and @38… You both are so right! I’ve seen the TED presentation before, and I completely agree that by over-emphasizing test-taking achievement, we are ignoring the real root of innovation… creativity. It seems undervalued in our modern education system and, frankly, parenting style (over-scheduling, etc.). Yet, at the same time, as a culture we have tremendous reverence for highly successful creative individuals like the Steve Jobs of the world. What a mixed message!

    We do need to encourage our children to put in the hard work, absolutely. But, in this system, only a small slice of those who put the work in with get the reward. And, the hard work that is expected of them isn’t necessarily relevant to the skills that will help them be exceptional in the real world.

    I love the idea that a person can succeed if they put their mind to it. But, this is not what is going on in these testing situations, because not everyone who does well is going to make it in. For those who do make it, their hard work pays off. For those who don’t, they are simply left with a trip through the pressure mill.

  • 46. Stormy Monday - Military News | Military News  |  October 29, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    […] Article: For Asians, School Tests Are Vital Steppingstones cpsobsessed: As we read last year, Asian students make up something like 75% of students at the city’s top HS, and there are something like 6 African American students out a few thousand.  So hard to believe that for all the moaning that goes on here about Tiers that NYC uses none of that.  Now there is a lawsuit being filed by the NAACP saying the process is unfair to black and hispanic students. […]

  • 47. Mary  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:07 am

    As a social worker and mom it is hard for me to sit in judgment of families (kids and parents) struggling with the basics like food, water, shelter, and security to say “if they only spent more hours studying that could do just as well as the other kids.” This negates the reality of everything else that is going on the MUST take priority over reading a book. I am sorry, the reality is that if I don’t know where my next meal is coming from I am not real focused on helping my kid do a book report on egypt. I think in our quest to foster this “pull your self up by the bootstrap mentality” we have lost some of our humanity, understanding, and compassion.

  • 48. Mary  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:11 am

    The menality that just because XYZ did it so can everyone else is not true. Every situation is unique and it seems that now more than every poverty and struggle has become a mark of dishonor and shame. I worry about the future that we are creating and the current rhetoric of almost “disdain” that others need a bit extra. As a reminder, the definition od FAIR does not mean equal or the same……it looks at what is right and just.

  • 49. Mary  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:14 am

    Is it fair to give students (black, white, purple, or whatever) extra support and opportunities when we notice a disconnect or disadvantage? In my judgement yes, while it is not “the same” it is fair.

  • 50. Mary  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Education should not be a Lord of the Flies….only the fittest and strongest survive. As a society I believe in helping those who need extra, and if that means setting aside a certain number of seats for students who would not normally get in under traditional routes, then so be it. I am very comfortable with that. As a daughter of Irish immigrants I remember how my parents had very little time to spend with me on homework, trips to the museum, etc. If it had not been for an “unfair” advantage of getting free tuition to a private high school I doubt I would have been successful. If it was based on one or even two tests there would have been no way I would have gotten in, but once in I worked my butt off. I think these children deserve the same chance.

  • 51. Mary  |  October 30, 2012 at 12:24 am

    Sorry about the typos—working from my tiny phone.

  • 52. klm  |  October 30, 2012 at 9:38 am

    I think people are missing the point about these SE-type NYC HSs. It would be one thing if they were the only means to a decent public education in NYC (i.e., Styvesant or Failing High School). They are not. They are a relatively small subset of schools that have set aside admissions solely on achievement as measured by results of an examination. They were originally set up to provide a rigorous education for highly capable students, using a very democratic process in terms of admission: a test that measure how much one has learned and mastered, academically.

    Now, some people don’t like the current enrollment at these schools (too many Asians –what if we replaces ‘Asians’ with ‘blacks’ or ‘Hispanics’. Would there be the same concerns about ‘fairness’ because they were taking too many spots from “deserving”, but lower-scoring whites and Asians?), so they want to make admissions more “subjective.” But who gets to decide the new more subjective, holistic approach and what is their motivation? Who benefits? Who gets hurt? What’s wrong with certain minority groups being “high-achieving?” Are we supposed to reduce individuals to cultural stereotypes (i.e. advantage or disadvantage based on one’s ethnicity and/or family circumstances)? In other contexts, these would be called “prejudices”. Accordingly, should my kids be held to lower expectations because they are black? According to this kind of thinking, yes, at some level. That’s insulting. Also, we can assume single parents are not “good” ones (or at least not as good as 2 parents [even if the father is a drunk, abusive, etc.]), black parents aren’t as good at motivating their kids to achieve (tell that to my black spouse who gets made when one of the kids gets a B), etc. I’d rather my own kids not be reduced to a cultural stereotype that assumes that they are not able to compete with Asian-American kids (even those with uneducated parents that live in non-wealthy neighborhoods in very challenging socioeconomic circumstances) because of their own race, ethnicity and family circumstances Are we saying black, Hispanic and low-income kids that are not Asian simply can’t be expected to achieve at higher levels? If, yes, then this really is going along with the stereotypes that they really are not as smart, which is obviously wrong. So, I guess somebody that is black or Hispanic should be considered “high achieving/smart” by a (lower) score for black or Hispanic persons being enrolled at Bronx Science, but shouldn’t/can’t be held up to “Asian smart” standards.

    Every 8th grade student in NYC picks 5 HSs that they are interested in attending. There is an computer program (similar to the one used to match med students to hospitals for residencies) that takes into account certain things like geography, test scores (most NYC HSs are not allowed to have too many or too few lower-scoring or higher-scoring kids, etc). Kids are then “matched” to the high school that is highest on their list of preferences. Some of these “non-achievement test admissions” schools are nationally recognized and offer great opportunities in terms of culture, academics, etc. Their graduates frequently go on to do great things. Many are specialized in areas like world studies, STEM, legal studies, etc.

    Also, there is the whole question of “mismatch.” I’m fairly certain that I would not my kids to have to compete at a school like Styvesant (infamously rigorous and cut-throat) when they were let in with a lower achievement marker, just to make the entering class more P.C.-friendly and make some people feel good. It would be cruel and not in the best interest of any student to put them in the middle of a “hot house” academic atmosphere where the “middle” is Ivy League-competetive.

  • 53. RL Julia  |  October 30, 2012 at 9:56 am

    KLM – I agree with you. It seems like one can’t win – “race blind” admissions -which inevitably seem to be based on the results of one or two standardized tests end up favoring the richer and apparently the Asian leaving everyone else bitter and slighted. Race quotas (or in Chicago’s case tier quotas) leave the higher scoring populations upset that they have to work harder for the same opportunities. While I prefer tiers to race personally – the heart of the problem is both reality (it is easier to get a better education at some schools than other – which is true in some cases –but not all) and perception (a name school will give my kid a better education than a neighborhood one just cause – this is not always the case – I know of one kid at a very popular school who has received a pretty mediocre education – it has just been a not so great fit).

    I don’t know what the solution is – besides radically increase school funding or force people to improve their neighborhood schools.

  • 54. klm  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:05 pm


    Another element (that I’m seemingly obsessed with because it explains 95% of what’s wrong with public education and 100% of the academic disparities, IMHO) is the achievement gap.

    There are two ways of doing something about it:

    1. Demand better academic skills and raise expectations for black and Hispanic kids and really DO SOMETHING about it in order to provide true social equality. What are high-achieving kids doing and what are non-achieving kids NOT doing? Go from there.

    2. Effectively ignore the achievement gap and create “opportunities” by claiming any measure that appears to affect black and Hispanic kids negatively is simply ‘ipso facto’ culturally biased and warrants a civil rights-based (disparate impact) legal remedy or at least the threat thereof in order to scare institutions into being more “accomodating/holistic” in order to artificially produce Diversity (Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for Diversity [who isn’t?], but I want to see real Diversity in achievement, not by making it much easier for some people and much harder for others, depending on their race/ethnicity). Just sweep any glaring problems under the rug and let’s all just pretend to support “equality” (even if it’s at the expense of poor Asian kids) in some contrived quasi-pro-Diversity way. Oh, and yet another generation of black kids will be graduating from high school at an academic level that their white and Asian peers reached in 8th grade,on average (with Hispanic kids not far behind), but at least things will APPEAR more equal, but how does that bode for their future in an achievement-based, post-industrial economy?

    Some people want to label the achievement gap as an “opportunity gap” which make things sound more ominous for non-Asian minorities and somehow proof of some unfair benefit granted to whites and Asians when white and (especially) Asian kids achieve higher scores. Maybe it would be better for white and Asian kids to graduate 12th grade at an 8th grade level of achievement, that way there’d be “equality” as evidenced in achievement tests (I guess then these tests would suddenly no longer be ‘culturally biased’,). In fact, isn’t there some sort of pro-Asian bias to these tests for which white students should demand a remedy? Same goes for the MCAT, GRE, etc. –all statistically evidenced examples of pro-Asian/anti-non-Asian bias in testing. Somebody should do something! Obviously, I’m not serious, but it goes along with the same vain of thought.

  • 55. ncm  |  October 30, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    klm – Shout out to you for some excellent posts. Maybe everyone can actually learn something from Gangnam Style. 🙂

  • 56. OutsideLookingIn  |  October 30, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    And the winner of the most likely to score highest on any academic test, based on stereotypes, goes to….child of wealthy Asian Jews.

  • 57. LSMom  |  October 30, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    @56, I think that’s the Tiger Mom’s kids!

  • 58. klm  |  October 30, 2012 at 4:52 pm


    That’s funny. She is a Chinese-American woman who teaches at Yale and is married to a Jewish man –I guess they’ve got all American high-achieving stereotype bases covered (Ivy League, Asian, Northeastern AND Jewish), I can’t imagine the kids in that family are going to community college.

  • 59. frank  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    @ KLM—“Effectively ignore the achievement gap and create “opportunities” by claiming any measure that appears to affect black and Hispanic kids negatively is simply ‘ipso facto’ culturally biased and warrants a civil rights-based (disparate impact) legal remedy or at least the threat thereof in order to scare institutions into being more “accomodating/holistic” in order to artificially produce Diversity (Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m all for Diversity [who isn’t?],”

    Heavens forbid we create “opportunities”—-said as if it’s a dirty word. Since when did creating opportunities become so vile and distasteful? Oh, when it is given to someone else. Last time I checked the whole selective enrollment process was about providing “opportunities”…if not why bother? Why not send all kinds to the same kinds of schools, spending the same amount of money, and everyone gets what they get? The whole selective schooling is based on selecting and choosing who gets a different/better opportunity. So why can’t this same logic/principle be applied elsewhere?

  • 60. frank  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    —send all KIDS…..

  • 61. skinnermom  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:08 pm


    “Maybe it would be better for white and Asian kids to graduate 12th grade at an 8th grade level of achievement, that way there’d be “equality” as evidenced in achievement tests (I guess then these tests would suddenly no longer be ‘culturally biased’,)”

    Well this just took a nasty turn……
    VERY Ugly comment to make!!

  • 62. katy  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    @ klm- offended that you would post such a nasty comment. Of course no one is saying that Asian or white kids should graduate at a 8th grade level. To imply that is vile. The idea is to support struggling students and provide opportunities to help all students reach their potential. After all this is public education, and as such the concern should be all students. If it was a private school then so be it, but public funded education function all the time or at least it should in the best interest of the students. So if this means to provide additional seats at these schools along with supports then so be it. That should be the role of public education.

  • 63. katy  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    Frank and Skinnermom- I agree with you!

  • 64. mom  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    “Because of the disparity, some have begun calling for an end to the policy of using the test as the sole basis of admission to the schools, and last month, civil rights groups filed a complaint with the federal government, contending that the policy discriminated against students, many of whom are black or Hispanic, who cannot afford the score-raising tutoring that other students can.”

    At the heart of it is money. So now we are penalizing kids/parents/ families for not being able to afford this expensive test prep? Looking at it this way I would expect any child paying to be prepped for this test to do well. Maybe there should be seats for prepped kids and seats set aside for kids who cant afford this test prep. And, if I am reading correctly they are calling for this test being the only basis for entry. It is not like they are saying accept anyone into these elite schools, they are calling for a different or multiple measures when looking at how we admit kids. Unless anyone is really thinking that less than ten percent of the black and Hispanic kids are qualified?? If so then NYC has other issues that need to be addressed, such as why are they doing such a poor job of educating its’ children.


    NYC is dong such a crap job with educating black and brown kids that they are drastically under educated and not prepared to compete in these rigorous high school OR the test prep is giving the kids the advantage. If it is a crap education then aren’t they (NYC) responsible for fixing it, if it is the test prep then there needs to be multiple measures to provide equal access to this educational opportunity.

  • 65. mom2  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Well thought out mom (64). As I read I kept thinking that the kids testing are the motivated ones to begin with. It is not like the drop out kids or kids with slacker families are taking this test. These are the kids who want to attend these schools. So there is some motivation there already (kid or family motivation/involvement). This number seems troubling in any public funded entity.

    “The complaint does not claim the test is culturally biased. But it says that its use has led to racial disparities and that there is no conclusive data showing the test predicts a student’s success.

    Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy group, said that in researching 165 selective high schools around the country, he found that New York City’s specialized schools were the only ones that used a single test as the sole admission criterion. Others use multiple factors including grades, teacher recommendations, essays and interviews.”

  • 66. frank  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    “Noah Morrison, a senior who is black, was not ready to change the policy, either, but he agreed that “there needs to be more racial diversity at this school. “There are no black people and it’s horrible,” he said. “The test is fine, but there need to be more opportunities for people to do well on it. There need to be more test-prep programs in underachieving middle schools with high black and Latino populations. It’s a socioeconomic problem.”

    Seems like a plan

    New York Times

  • 67. Iheoma  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    @54 – I think that the comments were meant to be somewhat sarcastic but I guess I’m missing the point of your post. You want to see “diversity in achievement” but you don’t want there to be any possible attempts to achieve diversity? If there is a discussion about ways to address diversity, then why does it somehow diminish the rest of students?

    Why would considering additional ways to measure student achievement in addition to one test dilute the pool of highly motivated and intelligent students at the school? I’m truly curious about this because I’ve read a lot on this string about how appropriate it is measure students’ abilities to successful these select NYC schools, but I’ve yet to read why using additional measure(s) to assess this would be a problem.

  • 68. Iheoma  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Frank and Skinnermom- thanks for your posts. Well said.

  • 69. cpsobsessed  |  October 30, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I believe the article said the city does offer free test prep and it started out only for black and hispanic kids until, of course, someone made a stink about that. Now it’s free for everyone.

    If the test doesn’t predict success then there should be a lot of kids who get in but can’t cut it in the top schools.

    Perhaps when you have a district the size of nyc it’s just simpler to use this one test… Seems weird, but when you have kids from lots of schools and districts outside of nyc I can see why this is the easiest way.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 70. HS Mom  |  October 30, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    @64 mom

    “So now we are penalizing kids/parents/ families for not being able to afford this expensive test prep? Looking at it this way I would expect any child paying to be prepped for this test to do well. Maybe there should be seats for prepped kids and seats set aside for kids who cant afford this test prep”

    To add to CPSO test prep is free point, I don’t think test prep is the “magic bullet”. Plenty of kids take prep and tutoring and don’t do well on tests. The student must be at a certain level academically so that prep is truly a review, not learning material for the first time, and an 8th grader must be disciplined and focused (not flipping back and forth to FB and youtube). I would agree that prep could enhance the performance of a solid student. It goes without saying that kids need to study for and practice tests and any motivated kid even taking this test would not expect success walking in cold. From that respect, I think that kids who do well on this test most likely are very qualified, if not the most qualified. As KLM mentioned earlier, it could be disastrous to a kid to be thrown in to a hyper-competitive environment where they stand to be at the bottom on all counts.

    Does anyone know, is the test at a highly competitive level or are there a bunch of kids that score perfectly?

  • 71. klm  |  October 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

    @ 59 frank
    skinnermom and katy

    I think maybe I wasn’t making my point clear. What I was trying to say is what you all are saying: Yes, yes, yes. ….get kids to learn, achieve, be a success….school, school, school, etc.

    My point is that instead of doing this, some people find it much easier to “adjust” a few things in terms of expectations depending on kids’ socioeconomics instead of actually spending the money, doing the hard work, etc., to get kids achieving where they need to be.

    Also, in terms of “opportunity”, yes, at a school like Styvesant there are by definition only a relative small number of places. If one “gives” to one kid for something that is not normally factored into the admission rules, then, yes, one is “taking” from another –maybe even a poor immigrant kid. How is that right? NYC decided to make admission decisions for a handful of HSs based solely on what has been decided to be most democratic: an admissions test designed to measure what one has learned. Yes, it sucks that some kids are poor, some are rich, some have parents that don’t even speak English well, etc. Is it :”perfect”? No. My point was that it seems unfair to decide that suddenly the rules need to be changed since some people don’t like the recent demographics at these schools –again, too many Asians. If there are not enough high-achieving black and Hispanic kids, we need to create them, not knock down/take away from other kids in order “accommodate” this sad, shameful disparity.

    Look, I don’t like the demographics of these schools, either. It’s depressing to no end. I wish there were more black kids, like my own children. However, I want more black and Hispanic kids to get there by getting a good score on the achievement test, just like the Asian kids in the above article. fair and square. If things are made ‘”easier” for certain kids, then what kind of message is that? Well, we just give up –there’s no way we can educate you to be as smart as Asian kids?

    Disparities in achievement (per my tyrade about the achievement gap, etc.) need to be addressed, not glossed over with a new socially engineered plan that downplays achievement –what kind of message does that send?

    Also, as I made clear: a school like Styvesant is not the only pathway to success. And if one thinks a place there really is so “valuable”, shouldn’t it go to the kids that has worked the hardest to get there? It is a public school after all, so shouldn’t an achievement-based admission go to the highest achiever?

    My point about kids testing at an 8th grade level ,etc.is also a lament about where things stand now for black kids. I was trying to say that if black 12th grader are achieving only as much as white and Asian 8th graders, it doesn’t mean that the test is “culturally biased”, it means that black kids are 4 years behind, on average, and we need to do something about it.

  • 72. local  |  October 30, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Cool. If you graduate from a CPS HS (or any Chicago HS???) & get admitted to UofC, you can attend debt-free.

  • 74. local  |  October 30, 2012 at 8:12 pm

    IMHO, klm wasn’t making “ugly” statements. She was using irony. Quality comments, as usual.

  • 76. local  |  October 30, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    For those mentioning the important factor of “matching” the student achievement level to the school (this at the college level): http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444799904578050901460576218.html

  • 77. lawmom  |  October 30, 2012 at 8:28 pm

    By “regular” I meant non AP or honors classes (re Whitney Young). I feel badly for many able children not getting a seat at WY, only to have other students flunk out after freshman year and be sent to their neighborhood school.

    To the question at the heart of this thread, I am not sure whether one test (with no other factors considered) is the way to go. Although, I can say that grades are very subjective and an “A” in a gifted program at 93% and above, is not the same thing as an “A” in a non-gifted program at 90% and above. My son has been in both of these categories. This concerns me going into the selective enrollment process with him as I moved him into a gifted program.

    As a Latina married to a Jew and children Jewish, I am concerned about the lack of hispanics and other minorities making it into top tier schools. I am empathetic to an earlier post about not focusing on academics because of stress about food, shelter, the basics etc. However, Asian immigrants face those same things and somehow manage to overcome these issues and persevere as did Jewish immigrants when they first arrived on these shores. If intensive test prep will help these groups, I am all for it. I certainly could have used this when I was preparing for college.

    Bottom line is that not everyone is going to make it into the top 10% and that is ok. We need people to do all kinds of jobs and not all those jobs are doctors, engineers and the like. However, we have to give children support from early on, especially those at risk and our society will greatly benefit from this in many ways. But our children also have to realize that nothing comes unless hard work is involved. Listen to the NPR series about successful people airing now. Each agree, hard work is the priority component.

  • 78. NYC  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    “No. My point was that it seems unfair to decide that suddenly the rules need to be changed since some people don’t like the recent demographics at these schools –again, too many Asians”

    Actually (being a native New Yorker) there was a movement in both the 70s and 80s to get this requirement changed. So this is not anything new. In the 70s it was mostly white parents who argued for keeping the one test plan. Many people have felt this has been unfair for over 40 years. SO it is not new. I will find the article and cite it.

  • 79. NYC  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    Oh, It is right in the New York Times article:

    Complaints about the test and its effect on the racial makeup of the top schools date back at least to the civil rights era. When school officials began openly discussing changing the admissions policy in the early 1970s, white parents persuaded the State Legislature to pass a law cementing the test as the only basis of admission to the specialized high schools. At the time, according to an article in The New York Times in 1971, Stuyvesant High School was mostly white, 10 percent black, 4 percent Puerto Rican or “other Spanish surnamed,” and 6 percent Asian.

    This year at Stuyvesant, 72 percent are Asian and less than 4 percent are black or Hispanic.

  • 80. NYC  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    CPSO — as far as the “free” test prep goes….as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. The article also mentioned that only a limited number of students are offered this free prep.

  • 81. NYC  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:38 pm

    Interesting take on the whole selective schooling


  • 82. NYC  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:42 pm


    “In 2005, The New York Times reported that the admissions test had not been changed in 30 years and city officials acknowledged they had never conducted studies to gauge the validity of the test. Other select schools around the country, including the Boston Latin School and the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia, evaluate student applications based on test scores, grades, essays and teacher recommendations.

    John Liu, the Comptroller of New York City and a graduate of Bronx Science, has denounced the current situation. According to Liu,

    The woeful lack of diversity at our Specialized High Schools is troubling and something we have been watching closely. The admissions process — a single, grueling test — is flawed and must be changed. Admissions criteria must be broadened, the test must be analyzed for predictive bias, and the City must do more recruiting for those schools in communities of color”

  • 83. MY2CENTS  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    From the NYC article posted above:

    “Part of the problem with the current admission process is that it favors students from more affluent families who can pay for expensive test prep classes. Based on online advertising, New York Academics offers one-on-one instruction at fees ranging from $100 to $120 per hour.
    The Kaplan company offers individual SHSAT Premier Tutoring starting at $2,599 and class at $849.
    The Princeton Review also has multiple levels of preparation. Its Premier Level cost $6,300, its Master Level cost $3,879, and its low-cost online offering is a bargain at only $1,500. The Kuei Luck Enrichment Center in Fresh Meadows, Queens targets Chinese-American students and offers tutoring for only $2,200. The problem would be eliminated if there actually was a passing score and every qualified student was assigned to a specialized high school.”—

    Nothing new here, buying your way into school. Should not be the case in public education—-David

  • 84. cpsobsessed  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    But who knows what the success rate of those programs are. Can it take a C student and several thousand dollars later get them into a top school?
    Only if that kid has some basic intelligence and also busts his/her butt studying to get all the information into their head. Which could be a sign of academic readiness. It’s not like you just pay the $$$ and take your spot. Somebody still has to do the work.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 85. MY2CENTS  |  October 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    @ lawmom—
    ” However, Asian immigrants face those same things and somehow manage to overcome these issues and persevere as did Jewish immigrants when they first arrived on these shores”

    keep talking about how if everyone pulled themselves up from the bootstraps then anyone can make it and live the american dream —–Not always the reality. Your statement implies that these kids and families are not putting the same effort that jewish and asian immigrants put forth. Not sure exactly how you came to that conclusion. So poor are poor because they lack perseverance? This whole selective high school issue would not be so distasteful to me except (like an early post stated- maybe skinner mom? Frank?) it is public funded education. If this whole one test and test prep was for some ritzy private school then so be it. There are tons of private schools with 99.9% one race and ethnicity. I think kids are being denied a real-whole exposure to different races and cultures, but I don’t have major problems with these private schools. However, I feel strongly that this should not be the case in schools paid for by my tax dollars.

  • 86. MY2CENTS  |  October 31, 2012 at 12:06 am

    @ cpso —-I wont deny it. I don’t care how we cloak it and argue for who is “ready” based on a 90 minute test. Any test that disproportionately excludes access to a group of children must be looked at with skepticism. I guess that is why there is public education- for the public. We have enough exclusitivity already—heavens forbid CPS ever becomes this way.

  • 87. cpsteacher  |  October 31, 2012 at 12:12 am

    Lawmom–“Bottom line is that not everyone is going to make it into the top 10% and that is ok. We need people to do all kinds of jobs and not all those jobs are doctors, engineers and the like.”

    I am glad my son will have a job mopping floors or maybe washing dishes in a restaurant. After all, one two hour test is the best judge of who should be a doctor and who is fit to sweep floors? Geesh>>>>>>>>

  • 88. klm  |  October 31, 2012 at 9:55 am

    I hope people don’t misunderstand some of my comments.

    Do I think a child’s entire future should be determined by a single test? No way. Do I believe it’s proper to pigeon-hole a kid as “gifted” from a test taken when they are 4? No. I’m also making the point that if kids don’t get into (or actually do get into) certain public schools, it doesn’t mean that their lives are guaranteed one way or the other. There are other avenues besides Styvesant and Northside, etc., and I’m pretty sure that at least one of my kids will be taking them. As a mentioned before, just because somebody doesn’t get into Caltech or MIT, it doesn’t preclude them from becoming an engineer by attending another school. Same here.

    However, the reality is that when we are talking about public education, either CPS or in NYC, there needs to be an “open”, regimented system to decide these things. Public schools by definition have limited funds in order to make decisions. CPS can’t afford to pay an army of professional admissions counselors (in the way elite private colleges can) in order use a more holistic/complete admissions process for SE schools. I’m not sure I’d want CPS to take away limited/scarce instruction resources and put them into such a non-instruction place (more bureaucracy, more cronyism, people doing favors for friends, relatives and the alderman that helped them get the job, there’d be nieces and nephews that are miraculously admitted despite mediocre scores because of some hard-to-define ‘talent’, etc).. A less-defined admissions system would lead to lots of unfairness because many people would use influence or connections to pressure bureaucrats to admit certain kids –we saw that in CPS a few years when certain Aldermen pressed SE schools (e.g., WY) to admit kids that were not able to get in the conventional/above-board way. So, public schools use simple, explicit formulas. We all know how CPS does it. NYC is open about how it does it –people know what kind of score they need to get into Styvesant or Bronx Science and it’s up to them what they want to do (or not do) about it. It just so happens that lots of Asian kids (including poor ones from uneducated/low-skill households) are working really hard to do what they need to do to get the scores –what’s wrong with that? Is it 100% perfect for all people? No. But what is? In the sense that it’s explicit in its simplicity, it IS fair, IMHO –even if some people don’t like the results.

    If people want different kinds of kids to get the scores that they need to get into Styvesant, then they should help them achieve them, not simply complain and demand a system that will make it easier for some kids from certain other ethnic groups get admitted. This “creating opportunity” would be changing things, so that the kids that work the hardest will no longer be rewarded, in order to make some people happy. In that sense, “creating” opportunities for some really would be “destroying” it for others –unless Styvesant decided to add another 100 “special” places for kids that couldn’t score high enough to get in. But I can think of lots of unintended, but glaringly very foreseeable, consequences to that.,

    Some of my kids did great on a test and got into SE schools, some still did well, but not well enough. We are a Tier 4 family and believe me, I think the disparity between cut-offs b/t Tier 1 and Tier 4, especially for getting into Northside, Payton, etc. (I’m sure it’s the same or worse for RGCs) is so ridiculous that it seems “unfair”.

    But you know what? I could get all Tiger Mom on my kids’ a**es and make sure they get all A’s and work hard with them to make sure they’re prepared for achievement tests –but…nah, I’d rather just complain about how ridiculously unfair the Tiers are. I’m probably not up for all that work! Plus, some might say that this wouldn’t be fair to kids with parent that are not more involved in their academic achievement, I guess. At least CPS is open and publishes cut-off scores and formulas, so we know where we stand (in that sense I’m glad that things are more ‘rigid’ –I’d be upset if things were more mysterious/less well-defined because I’d never know if my kid was denied a spot that was given to another lower-scoring kid that has an aunt or parent working for CPS). Or we COULD move from a Tier 4 to a Tier 1 neighborhood. Maybe my family’s moving would be a happy consequence of the Tiers –an inducement for more middle-class families moving to Tier 1 neighborhoods to give their kids a better chance for an excellent public education (talk about counter-intuitive).

  • 89. Kmom  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:07 am

    Regardless of what this article says, Asians will continue to work and study their ass off to get a good education. If you change the criteria, they will still find a way to get a good education. If there’s a cap defined on race, they will work 3 jobs to send their child to a private school or additional tutoring on the side. Period. Yes, I’m Asian. America is changing people. There are tons if jobs in Silicon Valley, but no high skilled workers, so they are pushing to bring people in from china and India on visas. Sick of people whining.

  • 90. HS Mom  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:21 am

    @89 – I agree with you. If there is a cap, the new schools that Asians deflect to will become the sought after schools. Maybe that’s the idea.

  • 91. cpsmama  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:27 am

    @77- You have quite a knack for genereralizing. Your anecdotal evidence of “two girls in [your daughter’s] freshman honors class who were failing — they did not know how to spell, punctuate or write a cohesive paragraph” has now become

    “many able children not getting a seat at WY, only to have other students flunk out after freshman year and be sent to their neighborhood school”

    ^Ummm… your assumption is grossly inaccurate. Reality- very few {if any} WY students “flunk out” as you claim. Are there a few with awfully low grades that barely graduate? Yep. But flunk out? Not that I’m aware of.

  • 92. cpsmama  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:53 am

    I have no problem with Asian parents & Asian students having strong work ethics, studying hard and getting into top HS & colleges. However, I personally want my kids to be in schools that are ethnically diverse. Any school that has 72% of ANY single ethnic group is not appealing to me.

    Chicago’s top SE schools have become noticeably less diverse under the Tier system. yet even a school like Northside is only about 20% Asian (41%White %/23% Hispanic)

    I agree with NYC Comptroller Liu- a single test should not be the only criteria to admission to these schools- particularly a test that hasn’t been changed in 40+ yrs!

    Some of this has to do with plain old demographics– NYC is about 13% Asian whiile Chicago is closer to 5% Asian.

  • 93. Christopher Ball (@skepticismwins)  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:54 am

    @42, 44 I didn’t say an elite academic pedigree guaranteed a future elite academic pedigree or success in life, or that it a non-elite one excluded a future elite academic pedigree or success. I said it makes it easier to move up the food chain. Even though over half the HLS entering class comes from non-Ivy schools, the number of Ivy schools (which leaves out a number of highly selective non-Ivy schools) is much smaller than the number of non-Ivies, so the base rates are different from the get-go. And that doen’t tell us what the application levels were: if 2 out of 10 Ivy students made it in but only 1 out of 10 non-Ivy, it was easier for the Ivies.

    Let’s be clear, those at the top of the food chain aren’t necessarily smarter or more virtuous than others. Heck, it was the alleged best and brightest that brought us the 2008-2009 financial crisis.

    Again, this assumes that you want to move up the food chain. As they say, for every CEO, there are 19 people with knives stuck in their backs.

  • 94. SutherlandParent  |  October 31, 2012 at 11:15 am

    I haven’t tested my kids in a few years for regional gifted centers, but isn’t access to CPS selective enrollment elementary schools based on a single test ad,ministered at an assigned time and place? If that’s still the case, it seems strange that a single test is the basis for SE elementary school but not high school. Not that I’m advocating a single test for either.

  • 95. Esmom  |  October 31, 2012 at 11:22 am

    @84, I am very curious about the “success rate” of test prep here in Chicago. My feeling is that the test prep companies are preying on families’ anxieties and that people will pay pretty much anything if they think it will give them an edge — and especially if their child’s classmates are doing so. Even if kids DO put in the work, there’s still no guarantee of getting into the school of their choice. The only real winners are the test prep companies. It’s horrible.

  • 96. cpsmama  |  October 31, 2012 at 11:36 am

    @95 – did the test prep thing for one of my kids. Didn’t find it to be helpful.

    As my kids have gotten older, I’ve gotten over the idea that they can/should be test-prepped & tutored to make them better test takers. They test how they test and that’ that. I am OK with tutoring in subjects in school that they have difficulty with, although they’ve not really done much of that either. I’m probably just a cheapskate- lol

    Sadlty, expensive tutoring for high level students to help them improve already near-perfect grades and test scores is the norm these days.

  • 97. mom  |  October 31, 2012 at 12:18 pm

    We did test prep and it helped. My son is one of those kids who scores in the high 90’s but is not a great student. He said the test prep teacher was the best math teacher he’s had . .. He scored 99–maybe he would have anyway–who knows? My daughter is taking it now and, again, at the very least, it is a good review.

  • 98. another lawmom  |  October 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Lawmom is giving us lawyer moms a bad rap.

  • 99. SamIam2  |  October 31, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I think the commenters who identified the issue as a problem of whether the fairer measure of equality is one rooted in results or opportunity (and hence where we should be focusing our resources) have got it right. This is an idealogical debate that won’t be ended here, or anytime soon. But the fact that it seems to end up defining – and stalling – most threads generating more than 50 comments certainly makes for some spicy reading.

  • 100. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 31, 2012 at 1:31 pm

    #96~ cpsmama~’Sadly, expensive tutoring for high level students to help them improve already near-perfect grades and test scores is the norm these days.’ You are correct~it is the new norm.

    #97~mom~I never did the test prep for my kids, but I know 2 families that have and they felt helped.

  • 101. RL Julia  |  October 31, 2012 at 3:29 pm

    In the end of it all, most everyone wants to see an admission system that favor’s their child’s strengths, talents, economic or demographic profile – that is what is going to seem fair to them. It is a rare parent who is willing to say that at middle school they are completely comfortable with their child not being given a second chance to prove themselves in order to get an education that will make it easier for them to get into/stay in higher education.
    The fact is that whenever you have a situation where there are more (qualified) kids who desire a spot than there are spots available, you are going to have a situation that IS unfair to someone. There will always be a kid who had a bad testing day, who had a catastrophic year, who had a terrible teacher etc… That is why – the only “fair” solution is to improve the schools currently deemed undesirable until they fit the bill as acceptable and competent places for children to be educated. If every child could access the level of classes/education available at Lane or Jones, could go to a school with a “diverse” population where they felt safe – that’s the goal – not arguing about which way to cut a pie that is painfully small.

  • 102. Esmom  |  October 31, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    @101, Amen. We bought a house in 1996 just a few blocks from Lane. Kids weren’t on the radar then but when they arrived I assumed that was where they’d go to high school. Then it became a SEHS and it was only a couple years before it seemed to slip out of reach as an option. My kids won’t be going there even if they could get in because I decided the whole SEHS process would be too much for them.

  • 103. CPS Parent  |  October 31, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    102. Esmom – I don’t know how old your kids are now but by 8th grade it may not be your choice where your kids aspire to try for admission.

  • 104. Esmom  |  October 31, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    @103, not sure if I follow. Whose choice will it be?

  • 105. James  |  October 31, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    @92 cpsmama —

    Without wading into this too far, I just want to correct your demographic numbers. Northside isn’t approximately 20% Asian; it’s approximately 25% Asian. And, overall, it is notably less diverse than the other top SE HSs. From the latest score cards:

    White 43%
    Asian 25%
    Hispanic 23%
    AA 6%
    Multi/other 3%

    White 35%
    Asian 8%
    Hispanic 24%
    AA 25%
    Multi/other 8%

    White 29%
    Asian 11%
    Hispanic 31%
    AA 24%
    Multi/other 5%

    White 30%
    Asian 18%
    Hispanic 21%
    AA 26%
    Multi/other 5%

    The Asian and AA numbers at Northside are pretty eye-popping, one for being very high (given the group’s percent of the overall population of the city) and one for being very low (given the group’s percent of overall population of the city).

  • 106. mama  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Thank you James— So if diversity is working in Chicago’s selective schools I don’t see how changing the NYC one test system will wreck the selective enrollment HS. I dont hear of AA, Hispanic, etc kids flunking out of our selective enrollment high schools. The kids admitted are qualified. So why would it be assumed that if NYC created a plan to increase diversity all of a sudden the AA and Hispanic kids couldn’t hack it?? If they can hack it in chicago’s SEHS why not NYC? The major complaint seems to assume that by increasing diversity is the same as letting in unqualified kids. n It’s not

  • 107. katy  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    @ 106 mama you make sense. Our selective enrollment schools are tops and if we can have diversity and qualified diverse kids, I fail to understand new york’s problem. Several comments assume incorrectly that the “black/hispanic” kids they let in will not be able to handle the school. Someone even commented about setting them up for failure. Says who? Not many black kids are flunking out of our prized schools so why make this assumption? I don’t get it either?

  • 108. katy  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    CPSO–Post 8
    “I’ve heard that standardized tests are culturally biased, but I’d like to know more about that. How can math be culturally biased? I’d also like to see a comparison of black/hispanic kids who study to the extent that the asian kids do (or at least some comparison by level of test prep) to see the impact of cultural bias. Is the test culturally biased in favor of Asians?”

    Is the NAACP contending this? I didn’t read this in the article or see it mentioned in this complaint. Is that what they are claiming?

  • 109. frank  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:34 pm

    @ 108
    I didn’t read that this was the issue or claim.
    Not sure—cpsobsessed???

  • 110. frank  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:36 pm

    Quote-NY Times
    “The complaint does NOT claim the test is culturally biased. But it says that its use has led to racial disparities and that there is no conclusive data showing the test predicts a student’s success.”

  • 111. cpsmama  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    @James- Thanks for the correction. I think I was looking at last year’sdemographic info for NS. It has always been less diverse than the other SEHS. But then again, so are Brooks, King & Lindblom- although I believe those 3 are becoming more diverse each year.

  • 112. frank  |  October 31, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    “Regardless of what this article says, Asians will continue to work and study their ass off to get a good education. If you change the criteria, they will still find a way to get a good education. If there’s a cap defined on race, they will work 3 jobs to send their child to a private school or additional tutoring on the side. Period. Yes, I’m Asian. America is changing people. There are tons if jobs in Silicon Valley, but no high skilled workers, so they are pushing to bring people in from china and India on visas. Sick of people whining.”

    Asains are not the only ones studying and working hard! Per usual, “if we did it why can’t they mentality”. There are many reasons why.

  • 113. jfc  |  October 31, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    I don’t see where @89 said Asians are the “only ones studying and working hard!”. You are misconstruing his/her words’ intent. Also, care to expand on what’s wrong with “if we did it why can’t they mentality”?

  • 114. Iheoma  |  November 1, 2012 at 7:04 am

    It’s very interesting how this conversation has turned. My heart went out to the young AA man who spoke about the lack of diversity in his school. That alone can be a big, big factor in students’ and parents’ motivation for encouraging their kids to prepare for and attend these schools. Maybe this provides a bit of an explanation of why some AA families who do have a culturally history of hard work, academic achievement, sacrifice for their children don’t put their kids through that rat race. To me it is totally unacceptable for my AA daughter to attend a high school where there maybe 10 – 20 kids that look like her out of a class of 300. Given the demographics of most Ivys or many other schools not located in urban settings that will most likely be her college experience. That will also most likely be her graduate school experience. Why should a 14 year old kid experience that?How many
    parents on this board want their kids to be in that situation? If discussing ways to address what appears to be a decades long debate about the merits of a one test system is a way to provide a rigorous educational environment for more kids – why not?

    Before someone writes something along the
    lines of “All minorities feel isolated, different, ect.” Let me say something. As an AA woman who graduated from U of C undergrad after attending a public,
    segregated high school in Alabama (in the 1990’s). I know what it is like to walk into a
    science lab and not have a partner because
    people to make assumptions about my
    ability to do the work – despite the fact I
    earned my spot at the school just like my
    Groton, Francis Parker, Whitney Young and Bronx Science peers. That was tough in college – in high school it would have been worse.

    So I’m not saying “lower the standards” to achieve diversity. I’m saying NYC should look at the factors that might be barriers to diversity at the schools and try to address it. I know that it would be easier to say that AA or Hispanic students and their families just are not working as hard as Asian students and families but I think that there is more
    to the story.

  • 115. RL Julia  |  November 1, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I know it is like as a white women to attend a majority African American and Hispanic high school as well as be the only white person teaching at a completely African American alternative high school on the west side here. Let me assure you stereotypes, assumptions and fear of the unfamiliar runs both ways (I spent a lot of time talking about hair for one thing). I agree it was a stressful experience to be the only one like me in school and at work.
    It was from these experiences that I didn’t hesitate sending my kids to a neighborhood school where they were in the racial minority and just about the only practicing Jews in the school/neighborhood. Best to get these things over with early and learn how to get along with everyone no matter what color or culture they come from!
    The world iis only going to become more diverse.

  • 116. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Of course there are smart kids of all races. So how would NY emulate Chicago SE school system? You can’t use race as a factor. How would tiers work in NY? I’m guessing not to well if in fact these Asian immigrants talked about in the article are tier 1.

  • 117. Mayfair Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 11:07 am

    @ 105 James: Not very eye-popping if you consider the neighborhood Northside College Prep is located. There is a reason they call Devon Avenue “New Asia Town”; also Albany Park has a dense Asian population. Conversely, there are simply not many African American families in this area (as an overall percentage), compared to: Brooks College Prep, King College Prep, Westinghouse College Prep, Lindblom College Prep, etc. These selective enrollment high schools on the south side have been allowed to remain almost completely segregated, yet some people pop a blood vessel because Northside’s enrollment skews White/Asian. Double standard much?

  • 118. CPS Parent  |  November 1, 2012 at 11:27 am

    117. Mayfair Dad – Probably the best measure to see if the racial make-up of SEHS’s is “fair” is to add up all numbers for all these schools collectively and to compare that with the diversity percentages for the whole city. Probably a pretty close to a match with potentially the Hispanic community being underrepresented.

    James – want to give it a go?

  • 119. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

    @118- This would have to be done by number of seats. Lane tech 5000 vs Jones 800 % themselves do not tell the story. My guess would be that Hispanic would be over represented.

  • 120. Iheoma  |  November 1, 2012 at 11:32 am

    @115 “Best to get these things over with early and learn how to get along with everyone no matter what color or culture they come from!
    The world iis only going to become more diverse.”

    I completely disagree. Learning how to get along with everyone no matter their cultural background is not the question. Just because the world is becoming more diverse, it does not mean that it is becoming more tolerant. Every parent of an AA child knows that we need to teach our children how to live in a world in which they are the minority. But it does not mean that the pressures of having sometimes negative assumptions made about your abilities (as evidenced by multiple posts on this string) at a young age is beneficial or acceptable. Just as Asian students sometimes experience pressures of “positive” assumptions about their academic abilities. The flipside of “negative” assumptions about AA and Hispanic children have immense pressures as well.

    So, no I don’t want my 14 year child to experience that challenge every day at school in addition to the normal rigour of high school, the pressures of teen social life and the general challenges of growing up. There will be the rest of her life for that. I suspect that a lot of parents feel the same way – which is why they seek out schools that have diversity for their children to attend.

  • 121. cpsmama  |  November 1, 2012 at 11:47 am

    @ 115 & 120 Agree 100% that children should be exposed to people of all races- and the best way to do that is to have schools that are racially balanced so that one group is not 5% of the population of the school. So, I’m with lheoma on this one. It takes a really strong kid to deal with being the only student of a particular race at school day in and day out. Some handle it like a champ- but it is less than ideal.

    RL Julia- thanks for sharing your experience as an adult – I think that many of us can relate. As for your children’s experience– I think you’d agree that Jewish isn’t a racial category & isn’t really comparable to being AA or Asian. I can understand that your kids may have been “the onlies” in elementary school – but that wasn’t/isn’t the case at Taft or Northside was it?.

    @116- if the Asians are all Tier 1, then they’d get 1/4 of the seats. But its hard to imagine true Tier 1 families springing for the kind of tutoring and test prep mentioned in the article. Such a system would likely add diversity b/c I suspect that NYC’s true Tier 1 famlies are on welfare and live in the projects, not owning and operating their own businesses in Chinatown or Little Korea

  • 122. CPS Parent  |  November 1, 2012 at 11:50 am

    119. HS Mom Good point! – by seats. Go James, go!

  • 123. RL Julia  |  November 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm

    Ihoema – Fair enough. I didn’t much care for it when my son came home with a star of David inked on to the back of his neck or when I found out one of his nicknames was “Jew Boy” (for the record, the thought it was hiliarious – so perhaps I just am too old to get the joke).

    However, in a school system that currently is:
    41.6% African-American, 44.1 % Latino, 8.8% White, 3.4% Asian/Pacific Islander and .4% Native American (at least according to the CPS website) on top of being one of the most segregated city’s in the country (last time I checked), just how do you propose this diversity be achieved?

  • 124. Mayfair Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    @ 118. I might be misinterpreting your comment, but it sounds like you are talking about “representation” not diversity. So to follow your logic, it would be ideal if SE high school seats were apportioned to represent the percentages of various racial groups in the overall CPS population. So regardless of test scores, aptitude, study habits and God-given ability, white students should only occupy 9% of all SE high school seats aggregate across the city, creating more opportunities for students of color.

    If this is the case, shouldn’t CPS just stop using the word diversity and use the words affirmative action instead?

  • 125. CPS Parent  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    124. Mayfair Dad – I have no strong opinion on whether this would be “fair” (my word) or “ideal” (your word). Having the racial makeup of SEHS’s be representative of the Chicago population as a whole seems like a rational approach given that CPS chooses to interfere on this front. My suspicion is that this is what drives the selection of the boundaries of the Tiers.

    CPS could use the words “affirmative action” since affirmative action based on economic parameters is legal. Since the term, for most people, is misunderstood to be, by definition, about skin color CPS probably has chosen not to do so.

  • 126. Mayfair Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    @ 125. Fair enough, I share your suspicion that the (ahem) race-neutral socio economic tier system is carefully manipulated to achieve a pre-determined racial representative target, and not designed to achieve the more benign definition of diversity, i.e. varied, assorted. There is a social/political agenda being pursued. Some people are aware of this and OK with this. Some people have no idea or refuse to believe it is happening.

  • 127. anon  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    My daughter was one of two white girls at our neighborhood public school–albeit in tier 4. She was there for three years and is now in a class where everyone is white except for one biracial classmate. Her assessment, she much preferred being with the AA kids–she said they were more genuine and she knew where she stood with them. The white girls are much more two faced and manipulative. I had no input into these opinions at all–they draw their own conclusions. She is insisting on a diverse high school.

  • 128. 126  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    correction to 126. she was one of two white girls in her class-not the school

  • 129. Logan Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    Meritocracy! I Love It!

    Like any system that serves thousands of individuals, this placement test will not be perfect for everyone. BUT, how great is it that in New York, the city of connections, exceptions, special interests, excessive wealth, famial influence, political influence and just about every other stupid, disruptive, unfair system known in modern civilization there is one test for all kids that allows them to prove their dedication, intelligence, drive and will and grab the brass ring of a great and challenging education.

    Perfect? Nope. Awesome? Absolutely.

    I love this. It’s so quinessentially American.

    Logan Dad

  • 130. CPS Parent  |  November 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    126. Mayfair Dad I think CPS’s motivation is driven mostly by the pragmatic objective to keep these schools in existence without excessive social/political criticism. Matching attendance proportionally to ethnicity is a good defensive strategy to counter accusations of “un-fairness”. I’m OK with it. Public education is by definition political and this an example democracy at work.

  • 131. Esmom  |  November 1, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    @120, I hear you. Kids have so much to contend with as they grow up, especially as they hit middle and high school. Diversity among their peers isn’t as important as making sure their academic, social and emotional needs are being met, imo.

    It was my dad who finally helped me see the light. When I was applauding the relative diversity at my kids’ school, but lamenting the lack of attention to a couple other issues, he pretty much echoed your words: “Why do you care aboyt diversity? They have the rest of their lives for diversity.” Finally it hit me that it was true.

  • 132. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    CPS parent – You are saying citywide school age population, not CPS demographics. Meaning your diversity pool would include those in private school, making the break-out something different than in #123. I don’t remember what they were exactly from the census but they were much more equal than the CPS numbers.

    Sounds great, many would think it fair. Implementation – the best qualified kids of the correct racial proportion – considering locations of schools and the issue of racial based admissions which gets back to the heart of the problem.

  • 133. James  |  November 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    @117 Mayfair Dad —

    Not only don’t I not double standard “much,” I don’t double standard at all. My post said literally nothing about the overwhelmingly AA SE HSs on the west and south sides. Nothing.

    As I said at the top of my post, I was writing to correct the demographic numbers for Northside. I made the accurate observation that that particular SE HS is notably less diverse than the other north side SE HSs — which, in fact, it is. I also noted that the Asian and AA numbers for Northside are eye-popping compared to the “overall population of the city” — which, again, in fact, they are. It was you who decided to compare those percentages only to the perceived demographics of the immediate neighborhoods around Northside, which, I gather, leads you to conclude that the very high Asian percentage at Northside and the very low AA percentage at Northside are A-OK.

    But they remain “eye-popping” when, as I originally said, they are compared to the “overall population of the city.” To wit: According to the 2010 census, Asians are just 5.5% of the city’s population, but are 25% of the population at Northside. In contrast, AAs are 33% of the city’s population, but are only 6% of the population at Northside. If you looked up “eye-popping” in the dictionary, this might be there as an example of what the word means. 5% vs 25% and 33% vs 6%.

    For what it’s worth, I do think the overall population of the city is the right comparison, not the percentage of children currently in the Chicago public school system. As we all know, there are two huge parallel systems to CPS operating in the city — the Catholic system and the non-catholic private school system. Those two parallel systems tend to be significantly white for a variety of reasons. But Chicago families who send their children to those systems are still taxpayers and are residents of the city. Thus, when deciding whether a particular school’s demographics “match” some stated or unstated goal, the correct comparison should be to the city’s overall demographics, not simply to the skewed demographics of the current CPS system.

  • 134. Mayfair Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    @ 133. Not perceived demographics, actual demographics as determined by 2010 census data. And yes, I am A-OK with Northside’s student body skewing white and Asian, so long as segregated SE high schools are permitted to exist on the south side. The same set of rules should apply to both sides of Cermak Road. Not the popular, politically correct position to take, but there it is.

  • 135. local  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:04 pm

    From Dist 299 blog: Ending Sibling Preference (In New York)

    “They’re doing things in New York City to open up access to the city’s wildly oversubscribed gifted programs and popular schools that would, I imagine, make folks crazy in Chicago, too — even if everyone agreed that they were the right things to do. Yes, including an end to the sibling preference. What do you think? What would happen if they did that here, too?…”


  • 136. Mama  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    You are talking about a city that is 42% White, 36.8% Black, 26% Latino (of any race), and 4.4% Asian according to the 2010 census. Should the goal be matching the diversity of the schools or the city? I would say ideally the city. I would prefer all parents in the city be comfortable with the schools.

  • 137. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    @136 – what are the demographics of school age children not the total population (which I believe is the discussion). I believe there is a difference

    What do you think would make all parents in the city comfortable?

  • 138. cpsmama  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    @135- CPS doesn’t have an sibling preference in SE (gifted) admissions. There are many families in CPS with kids in mutiple SE schools, so the NYC parents will survive.

    The only sib preference is in the non-SE magnet schools. I don’t see CPS ending that policy & I don’t see a reason to end it.

    Do they have a Principal discretion component in NYC?

  • 139. yep9  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    i would be happy to see sibling preference removed everywhere!

  • 140. James  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    @137 HS Mom —

    Why do you believe that the demographic numbers for school age children would be different than the overall demographic numbers? I suppose there may be some groups (Hispanics, perhaps?) who tend to have larger familes than other groups, and thus more school age than others. But I find it hard to believe that, averaged out over 2.5 million people, the demographics for children would differ a material amount from the overall demographics for the city.

    And since we’re not trying to match things up exactly (which would REALLY throw Mayfair Dad into a tizzy!), using overall city numbers as a rough benchmark seems fine to me.

  • 141. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:28 pm

    James – my understanding is that retirees and young singles move to the city and tend to skew the white population.

  • 142. James  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:31 pm

    I guess my question is: by enough to matter? Maybe you’re right, but that would surprise me and I haven’t seen that documented anywhere — not that I’ve looked that hard, I admit.

  • 143. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    I believe it makes the breakdown more equal. I am assuming (maybe wrongfully) that @136 was not happy that white was still a majority.

    So, looking at it – isn’t this what we used to have that we were told we couldn’t do anymore?

  • 144. HS Mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    sorry – rereading 136 – you clearly state that you are good with city numbers as diversity

  • 145. Mayfair Dad  |  November 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    So if everybody is happy with SE high schools with a student body reflecting the racial composition of the entire city, then no one should be experiencing ocular expulsions while driving past the beautiful campus of Northside College Prep.

  • 146. Beth  |  November 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm

    Some data

    Total age 13-17 (2011) 172,040
    White 13.96%
    Black 32.72%
    Hisp 25.19%
    Asian 3.65%
    Other 1.44%

  • 147. James  |  November 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    @146 Beth —

    Where does that come from and what is it? I find it hard, if not impossible, to believe that non-Hispanic whites are 32% of the total population, but are less than 14% of the high school age population. (The 32% comes from the 2010 census: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1714000.html)

  • 148. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    How could you balance a school to the city’s (or school age kids’) white population when only 9 percent of cps is white? There wouldn’t be enough white kids to go around!
    Is it up to the city to compensate for a city population who seems to choose to live segregatedly? That’s a big undertaking.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 149. KMom  |  November 1, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    @146 Beth –

    The number you listed doesn’t even add up to 80%, where are the rest 20% people?

  • 150. skinner mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    @ Mayfair Day “These selective enrollment high schools on the south side have been allowed to remain almost completely segregated, yet some people pop a blood vessel because Northside’s enrollment skews White/Asian. Double standard much?”

    You have got to be FREAKING kidding me!! Remain segregated??? UM….maybe it’s because non-AA people don’t apply to attend? How about that? When was the last time anyone on this blog listed Brooks and their first choice or even as any choice? Boy you gave me a laugh.

  • 151. frank  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    @ 124-Mayfair
    “So to follow your logic, it would be ideal if SE high school seats were apportioned to represent the percentages of various racial groups in the overall CPS population. So regardless of test scores, aptitude, study habits and God-given ability, white students should only occupy 9% of all SE high school seats aggregate across the city, creating more opportunities for students of color. ”

    When people may these kinds of statements the underlying thought/implication is that “undeserving/dummies” are taking seats away from the non-AA students. This is has never been proven. Look at W. Young–a nice mix of kids, I don’t attach “dummy” to any of the minority kids or non- minority kids attending. Look at Skinner West as well, lots of diversity, no dummies there either….so the assumption that letting more brown kids in, or more anything else in and all of a sudden these are the dumb kids bring down the school is wrong, and ignores the fact that these kids are qualified. Not sure I get your point, is there one?

    Oh, and I would like anyone to tell me the difference between a kid scoring in the 98% percentile and a kid scoring in the 93%……just a number, effort and interest will tell me a whole lot more about these kids. So saying a AA kid at 93% is somehow not qualified is frankly silly. I would argue the same about a 95% percentile kid and a 87% kid, on any given day they can both be brilliant or slackers.

  • 152. cpsobsessed  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Yeah, I have to concur. What should cps do to stop the south side schools from being so racially skewed? Send letters to white families telling them that their child is required to attend a south side SEHS or the family is banished from the city?
    The spots are there for the taking.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 153. teacher  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    FYI- to piggyback Frank—ISAT 215 (meets) 216 and up (Exceeds)—go figure?

  • 154. Retiredteacher  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:19 pm

    Mayfair Dad quote—-So regardless of test scores, aptitude, study habits and God-given ability, white students should only occupy 9% of all SE high school seats aggregate across the city, creating more opportunities for students of color”

    “God-given ability”—-wow, flashback to any southern state in the 1920s,30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, etc…..This comment is very troubling and sad.

  • 155. sad mama  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    I agree retired teacher (154): I have to leave this website for a bit. It is really making me sad If educated people are many these comments in a “progressive” city, well I just don’t know. Thankfully my little one is only 4 and we have two years to start deciding. I do know that I want her to go to school with people from all differnt races, economic backgrounds, and abilities. I guess cps is not for us, I guess I always knew this. Some of the comments are downright troubling..when did public education become so cutthroat? When did diversity become a bad thing? It is like we take three steps foward in our society and four steps back. Pushing our kids to strive for perfection on a test and if they don’t, doomed to be labeled not “smart enough” or not worthy of entry into a high school.

  • 156. katy  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:29 pm

    @sad mama—Sick is what it is and we are playing into it. Me included.

  • 157. skinner mom  |  November 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    Skinner West is 38% black, 18% white, 17% Asian—Hispanic and other (bi-racial). ISATs in 97% across the board–There are smart kids of ALL races and ethnicities Mayfair Dad

  • 158. OutsideLookingIn  |  November 2, 2012 at 1:08 am

    Folks, let’s try a new strategy to address this idea of over or under-representation of various races in SEHS. My proposal is to reserve 100% of SEHS seats for multi-racial children. Full disclosure: this enormously Increases my kid’s chances of getting into an SEHS.

    Seriously though, Northside is located about 20 miles north of Brooks. Neighborhoods surrounding Northside are mostly White and Asian. Neighborhoods surrounding Brooks are predominately Black. Now look at the racial balance of schools that are more centrally located: Whitney Young and Jones. Looks a little more well-rounded. Why? Location.

  • 159. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2012 at 6:44 am

    I think some of you guys will be surprised over time to see how people you know fall out on this Rank vs Tier issue. Mayfair Dad is certainly not the only one. He and I agree on almost everything education-related except that one point. And via this blog and Facebook and random conversations you’ll see just how many people believe that scores alone should determine placement in the SE high schools. I guess this is why I thought the NYC story was interesting, as it “validates” in a way that even a giant school system in a progressive city where race is so diverse uses only the rank system, creating some of these top schools that are racially imbalanced. And for decades now, there have been seemingly few complaints in NYC (or those that have reached the national press at least.)

    This article was the first time I think I shifted a little bit to believing in test/score rank – reading about these immigrant families who push their kids to succeed. I know it’s a long shot for many poor chicago families, but I found it kind of inspiring… maybe just in terms of the influence a parent can have over their child’s success.

  • 160. cpsobsessed  |  November 2, 2012 at 6:45 am

    Speaking of the parent’s role, I saw this discussed on Facebook. What do you think of the plan to use $25 Walgreen’s gift cards as an incentive to get parents to show up for report card pick up and teacher conference? This will be tested at 70 CPS schools.

  • 161. seriously  |  November 2, 2012 at 8:06 am

    160 – disgusting

  • 162. HS Mom  |  November 2, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @159 CPSO – I think you’re right. As we, again, lay out the various senarios for integration (and ignoring law) there is no agreement on “fair” even if you could take the pie and cut it into equal pieces. As 158 Outside and MD point out, location plays a significant role in the racial make-up of a school

    My issue with tiers, even though it seems they are actually largely effective in categorizing socioeconomic’s, is that the small margin of error can be significant when it comes to the limited number of SE seats.

    We have been fortunate to attend excellent integrated schools. Top students are all races. The only child to attend Exeter from our school was Latino. Before anyone says he got in because of race, the kid was brilliant. In the same regard, I do think it’s fair for a discussion on the Asian dominated merit schools in NY to include a discussion on the “achievement gap”. Blacks, as a group, test lower than Asians as a group for multiple reasons. I’m sure one of those being shear numbers, the AA group being larger and containing many more poverty challenged kids. And, yes, the cut-off scores do not accurately determine who is “fit” for such a school. When there are more applicants than space, you do need to draw a line somewhere.

    I’m sorry if this discussion seems indifferent or mean spirited to some but when I think about a “kid being thrown into a hyper-competitive environment” and being “at the bottom on all counts”, I’m really thinking of my own kid. I would not want him to attend these NY schools, even if he could “squeak by”.

  • 163. LR  |  November 2, 2012 at 9:32 am

    I haven’t had time to go back and read all the comments, but there is a huge problem with trying to make sure SE schools are racially balanced. For instance, look at both my daughter’s and son’s options classes. Do you know how many kids in those classes have one parent that is either African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Indian, and one that is White? Several! And who is disadvantaged and who is not is not necessarily tied to ethnicity. I stand by some sort of system that tries to balance socioeconomic groups rather than ethnic groups (not saying the current one is perfect).

    What is perplexing to me is why CPS insists on keeping these SE seats sparse. It is a fact that way more kids qualify than there are seats. So what happens to these families when their children qualify, but do not get a seat? Either they do not become part of CPS or their kids end up in a neighborhood program where the curriculum does not match their ability (and don’t even get me started on differentiation…it isn’t the same thing as one class with all 28-30 kids moving ahead at the same pace). Shouldn’t these kids be given the most challenging curriculum they can handle – if the test indicates they are capable? Wouldn’t that make CPS better if more of their students are achieving the highest level of education they are capable of? It would not only be serving the students better to open more SE schools, it would be serving CPS, too.

    And $25 gift cards to show up at conferences makes me angry. Too many people have lost sight of the fact that education is a privilege. I don’t feel it is CPS’ job to make parents give a crap and we certainly shouldn’t be bribing them to do so.

  • 164. klm  |  November 2, 2012 at 9:40 am


    Sociologists, economists, educations experts, etc., have been studying the issue of why some groups TEND to be more successful than others, etc. Guess what? Some groups have more of a history of pushing education because it was the only foreseeable means of their kids improving their lot in life. One of the most famous, intensive studies about why there’s an achievement gap even in high-spending, higher-income. otherwise outstanding type schools (e.g., Shaker Heights, Princeton, etc.) DID find what many of us suspect: kids that achieved had parents that expected good grades, they studied more, etc. The lowest grade acceptable for higher-achieving groups’ parent was really high, but much lower for parents of kids’ in the lower achieving groups, etc. The high-achieving families made their kids work harder, the lower-achieving ones thought it was the school’s job to get their kids learning. The most popular kids in higher-achieving groups tended to have high grades, the most popular kids in lower-achieving groups had low grades, more behavior classroom problems, etc. Interesting and depressing, but not all that surprising, really.

    Also, I know that the issue of prep tests, etc., keeps coming up. Believe me, I have issues with this (never have done it, never intend to –but as HS admissions times come I wouldn’t be surprised if I change my tune), but I’m not so convinced that it’s simply a rich kid vs. poor kid issue. Look at the above article (the NYT has had several such ones over the years with the same gist). These are low-income people paying $2,000 –not small change, but doable even for low-income people, over the span of a year. Also, these are not fancy Ivy League-graduates-as-private-tutors type places, but flimsy classrooms in gritty strip malls that were created to meet the demand of low-income immigrant families. Some people think it’s “unfair”, but in the bigger sense, it’s inspiring. I mean, my own kids have it relatively easy in life, so I kind of feel like, “Wow, if these struggling, low-income families can get their kids achieving, what’s MY exuse?” Accordingly, I feel like some of the anguish over the over-representation of Asian immigrant kids at these schools is not entirely appropriate. Their high scores that enables them to get into Styvesant or Bronx Science were not given to them. They worked, very, very, very hard to get them. Now, some people want to change things, but it seems discriminatory to Asians in any legal, “disparate impact” civil rights analysis.

    I keep thinking about one of my 2nd cousins: she didn’t think she should have to buy a calculator from CVS for her son’s schooling (I swear –true story), but she had no problem spending thousands of dollars on sports and cheer-leading camps, competitions, equipment, etc. She never stepped into her kids’ schools, but she’d probably of rented a private jet to get her daughter to a cheer-leading competition on time (priorities are priorities, after all). Needless to say, none of her kids did well at school. The adult ones still live at home and have lousy jobs. The youngest now has to be “home schooled” because she flunked so many classes that she would have been held back in her regular school. Now, my cousin complains to my sister about how her kids aren’t amounting to much (Gee, I wonder how THAT happened?).

  • 165. SutherlandParent  |  November 2, 2012 at 9:44 am

    @160, on principle, the giftcard bothers me. I agree with @163 that parents shouldn’t have to be bribed. But if it serves its purpose to get more parents to attend parent/teacher conferences who wouldn’t otherwise, then it’s all to the benefit of the children who doubtless need that kind of involvement the most. I think it would be interesting if CPS could track whether the program is effective in serving that purpose, though.

  • 166. RL Julia  |  November 2, 2012 at 10:35 am

    So to conclude….
    Everyone wants their kids to go to a diverse school…. as long as their kid is part of the dominant culture represented in the school.
    For reasons having to do with culture and geography SEHS high schools that are not located downtown tend to be more racially segregated compared to those more centrally located.
    As suggested by the New York Times article, for reasons having to do with culture and economics, some culture’s children are better able to compete than others on standardized tests and gain admittance to test in schools on the basis of their test scores. This is both fair and unfair depending on how you think about it and on how much you are that access to these schools significantly betters a child’s opportunities in life.
    One of the reasons that I like the tier system is that it doesn’t specifically pit people of different races against one another in competing for a limited resource – which in a city as segregated as Chicago, doesn’t seem to be a good place for anyone to go – and also because it recognizes that the root problem of educational access isn’t race as much as it is poverty… and quite frankly it is easier to talk about poverty than about race. It also recognizes that there is an economic spectrum within every culture in Chicago. Not every African American family is poor, not every white family is rich.
    Overall, in Chicago the poverty rate as of December 2011 was 22.5% and for children between the ages of five and 17, it was 34%. That’s more concerning to me than anything quite frankly – because it’s a lot harder to be educationally successful if you are poor – although as both klm and the NYT suggest parental priorities play heavily into school success.

    However, willingness to consider school success as achievable and valuable goal are heavily influenced by cultural and individual experiences with a school system and that culture’s willingness to trust the school system to be fair and equitable in its assessments of that culture’s children. I would hedge a bet that within every low-testing culturally defined sub-group in the US, you will find in that culture’s history an experience of being profoundly misunderstood, marginalized and/or short changed by the (dominant culture’s) educational system (think not only African Americans but Native American, Appalachians, Cajuns, etc…) as well as an emphasis on jobs that do not require much formal education for success.

  • 167. southie  |  November 2, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Just 25 or 30 percent. I’m interesting in my children being in a school where they are included in roughly a quarter of a high school’s diverse population.

    It’s going to be difficult to find that diversity in a college, however. We were checking Middlebury College recently and completely turned off by the seemingly all-white community there. Perhaps the plan will be to attend colleges in big, diverse cities or metro areas.

  • 168. HS Mom  |  November 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

    @167 – I agree! Dominance not required.

  • 169. Beth  |  November 2, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    W14.50% B41.76% H38.73% A3.44% O1.57%–I might have copied incorrectly–this should add up. Data is currently being aggregated on a project I’m working on. I don’t think we should be surprised by the dip in W 13-17–historically many white families have left for the suburbs when their children become school-aged. It will be interesting to see if the number for W 6-12 increases. Like wise we know that the number of H 0-5 has outpaced all other R/E categories.0-6: W22.31% B30.10% H40.67% A4.11% O2.82%.

  • 170. Patricia  |  November 2, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    @158 Outside Looking In
    Agree. Location, location, location. I do think parents consider the commute for their child. At some point, moving to the burbs with a good HS and short commute, outweighs traveling 2-3 hours round trip per day. As you laid out so well, the geography and racial makeup of the SEHS certainly support the location point. Espeically that WY and Jones are more diverse.

    Also, isn’t NSCP a pain to get to with public transportation?

  • 171. noGoodanswer  |  November 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    170 –Also, isn’t NSCP a pain to get to with public transportation… try getting to / from Lincoln Park HS from caldwell + touhy on public transportation. ha

  • 172. cps alum  |  November 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    @Esmom–in 1996 Lane was SE, although a different model than now. When I applied to high schools in 1987, Lane was no guarantee and kids had to score st9s of 7+ to even apply.

  • 173. anon  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    “Everyone wants their kids to go to a diverse school…. as long as their kid is part of the dominant culture represented in the school.”

    Not necessarily. My (blonde and white) daughter spent three years in a very distinct minority at her grammar school. Her black teacher was a really good teacher but she was a bit racist and went on and on about white people. . . . I actually thought it was a good experience for my daughter . . .but I knew it was not permanent.

  • 174. Jill  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    A lot of people have been asking about cultural bias and testing. That might make a whole good thread and convo. I’m not an educator, but here’s an example someone once gave me — what if a reading passage had to do with a treehouse? how well do you think urban children born into poverty know what a treehouse is? In 5th or 6th grade, my child told me there was an ISAT reading passage on jousting. One of the questions was ‘What kind of horse is used in jousting?’ The answer was explicitly in the narrative.

  • 175. jillwohl  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    I mean WAS NOT explicitly in the narrative. Sorry for the typo.

  • 176. RL Julia  |  November 2, 2012 at 4:53 pm

    @173- Ditto my kids at a predominantly hispanic school – but given some of the comments on this board, you and I are in the minority in our opinion.

  • 177. liza  |  November 2, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    @174 You are correct that some of the selections on standardized tests present real problems for students. I don’t think it is cultural bias, but the fact that many of these kids come to school with little or no exposure to what kids from a higher socio-economic have experienced. Studies show that children who come from the middle and upper classes are exposed to a much richer vocabulary. I think the estimate was about three to five thousand more words when they begin school. Couple that with the fact that many students coming from poor homes were never read to at home, didn’t visit museums, zoos, etc. For ELL students, the biggest issue, again, is their lack of vocabulary. It is generally accepted that it takes a child learning a second language about six to seven years to master general and academic vocabulary. I have worked with students who were very bright, but did poorly on tests because of there deficiencies in vocabulary and general background experiences. Working with a group of 5th graders years ago, they were having probllems with a poem about an ocean I was using to teach figurative language. I was talking about Lake Michigan and over half of my class had never seen the lake! I was totally shocked, but it made me begin to look at why students were not getting concepts and work on filling in the gaps.

  • 178. Sunny  |  November 3, 2012 at 12:17 am

    #171 NoGood Answer – Is the commute worth it? Is LPHS worth it? Do you like it there? We are considering a similar commute. Do people not car pool or are you the only one from the area?

  • 179. SE Teacher  |  November 3, 2012 at 8:52 am

    @173…That is a frightening situation. I am a white teacher at a predominately hisp and black school. I have never had an issue with my students regarding race. They are my children and I work my butt off teaching them and would protect them with my life. I don’t think it’s good “experience” to have a racist anything, let alone a teacher.

  • 180. WRP Mom  |  November 3, 2012 at 8:56 am

    #171 How long is the commute? On paper it looks to be around 1 hour (Touhy bus to Howard & then the purple line down..) but is that the reality?

    At least LPHS, like the downtown SEHS’s, is near the el. So, it would be easier to attract people citywide. NSCP, on the other hand, is not near an el stop and the closest bus stops are still a 1/2 mile walk from the school. Much harder to sell that to families not living on the north side.

  • 181. Sped Mom  |  November 3, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I see the discussion above of academic performance of students coming from low-income neighborhoods. This Chicago Reader story mentions an interesting factor that might be at play: lead poisoning. http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/high-lead-toxicity-in-chicago-public-schools/Content?oid=7819530

  • 182. anonymouse teacher  |  November 3, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    Lead poisoning is definitely a factor in the low achievement of some kids. Not sure how widespread it is, but the science on it is extremely clear.

  • 183. anonymouse teacher  |  November 3, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    I’m of two minds about the report card pickup bribery. On the one hand, yes, education is a privilege (NOT a right by any means, imo) and parents need to do their job just as teachers do. At the same time, as a teacher I’d do just about anything to get parents to support the work I am doing for their child. Our school generally has high attendance at meetings, but getting parents to sit down for 5-10 minutes, three days a week and practice letter sounds or sight words with their child is next to impossible for at least 50% of our families. It doesn’t matter if I hand them a bag full of every single item they need to do that practice. It doesn’t matter if I sit down and teach them how to do it. It doesn’t matter if I make CD’s or tapes with the letter sounds on them (we have a high ESL population and parents often confuse the vowels). They don’t do it. If a gift card would make them do it, I’d personally go out and buy them.
    Honestly, I just kind of assume that I won’t have any support from parents and feel grateful when I get even a little. This is the reality of CPS and there is probably no changing it.

  • 184. local  |  November 4, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    I think a raffle would get parents in. Maybe now that Apple, Inc., will do philanthropy, each school could raffle off an iPad or other Apple product of your choice if you turn in your “I conferenced with a teacher” receipt. Or maybe Gates could do it. (Joshing.)

  • 185. local  |  November 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    How Do You Raise a Prodigy?


  • 186. junior  |  November 5, 2012 at 12:06 pm


    Here’s the Reader article on lead poisoning.


    I wonder how many people on this blog would support prioritizing spending on lead abatement over spending on things like the additional 500 teachers CPS hired (equal to a little more than 1 teacher per 1,000 students). We’ve talked in theory about addressing more root causes of the achievement gap, but how many people are really willing to put their money where their mouth is?

    Obviously, the cop-out answer is to say let’s do it all. But, let’s say you have a very strictly limited budget, which do you choose? Where is the lead issue on our priority list?

    I’d say lead, along with other things like pre-K and promoting breastfeeding, should all be higher on our priority list because of proven results and the high value for our public dollars.

  • 187. lawmom  |  November 5, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    @ 87 and @98 Really? No need to be snarky. I wasn’t implying that kids not in the top 10% would “be mopping floors or washing dishes”. I don’t know even where that comment comes from? The majority of the population are not in the 10% and doing fine financially.

  • 188. frank  |  November 6, 2012 at 11:26 am

    @187–way to stay on top of those comments…lol

  • 189. frank  |  November 6, 2012 at 11:27 am

    MYTH: Poor parents are uninvolved in their children’s learning, largely because they do not value education.
    The Reality: Low-income parents hold the same attitudes about education that wealthy parents do (Compton-Lilly, 2003; Lareau & Horvat, 1999; Leichter, 1978). Low-income parents are less likely to attend school functions or volunteer in their children’s classrooms (National Center for Education Statistics, 2005)—not because they care less about education, but because they have less access to school involvement than their wealthier peers. They are more likely to work multiple jobs, to work evenings, to have jobs without paid leave, and to be unable to afford child care and public transportation. It might be said more accurately that schools that fail to take these considerations into account do not value the involvement of poor families as much as they value the involvement of other families.

  • 190. poor concerned parent  |  November 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Frank – I wonder if teachers would be willing to make themselves available on Saturdays or Sundays for report card pick up and the other necessary things that involve parents so that us poor working stiffs can work our multiple jobs, evenings and have greater access to someone who will watch our children. Quite honestly, I don’t expect you to and wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. And so the MYTH continues. Sigh

  • 191. Paul  |  November 6, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    @189 frank. What do low-income parents in “underperforming” schools (according to CPS) think about school closings, turnarounds, and charters? Do they want change like that, or do they prefer other improvements to their existing school?

  • 192. RL Julia  |  November 6, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    I agree with you, Frank – but don’t forget to include that low income parents often don’t see themselves as having anything of value to offer or contribute to a school (which is a wrong assumption) and hence need greater outreach to engage in a school as a contributor/parent (rather than a recipient of services). Additionally, while parents with lower levels of education might hold the same attititudes about education, they may not have realistic expectations of how to: get their child to the next level, “work” the educational system. or be savvvy consumers of the education offered.

  • 193. Mayfair Dad  |  November 6, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    @ 150: Do you really believe the relatively diverse student population of Young, Payton, Jones and yes, Northside happened organically? Or were there policies (i.e. quotas) in place to prevent any one race from becoming too prevalent? Were these same policies in place for SE high schools on the South side? (pre Tier system)

    @ 154: Children of all races have God-given abilities and I’ve never written or implied otherwise. Your comparing me to a Southern segregationist is troubling and sad, and insulting to fair-minded people who live in the South. Wait…is there some racial connotation to the expression fair-minded I should know about?

    @ Yes, there are smart kids of ALL races and ethnicities. I have never written or implied otherwise. My problem is with race-based politics, double standards, Robin Hood liberalism and hypocrisy.

  • 194. RL Julia  |  November 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    @193 Mayfair Dad /@150 – to be fair, I would have to believe that these same policies were in effect system-wide – however if only one racial/ethnic group applies to attend the school, they don’t mean much. As has been mentioned on this board in previous posts, three of the Southside high schools (King, Brooks and Southshore) are located in almost exclusively African American neighborhoods. Lindblom is located near to hispanic neighborhood which is reflected in the demographics of the school. I used Bill Rankins, radical cartography dot maps to determine this. Pretty interesting. Oddly enough – South Shore is the least diverse – but is also the newest SEHS. It’s location is close enough to the Hispanic neighborhoods in the far, far South side and to Hedgewisch that it would seem a possibility that one day it will be more diverse.

  • 195. Mayfair Dad  |  November 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    @ RL Julia: I thankfully accept your exit strategy and will refrain from beating a dead horse. It is better to be kind than right.

  • 196. concernedparent  |  November 9, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    In response to the article I agree that less-privileged people should have an easier time with admissions to schools. My sympathy only goes so far though, if a child gets into a top school in Tier 1 or 2 with a low test score, they should at least be putting in a lot of effort once they actually start school. I recently graduated from a CPS school and I knew a lot of kids that got in because of their race (from before they changed the system) and they would just sit in class, never do their homework and hold the class back from learning because they just didn’t care. They had opportunities to do their homework at school but they didn’t take them (computer access etc.). I have no sympathy for these types of kids. At this point they are in high school and they should know how much of a priority their homework is and make at least the slightest effort to get it done.

  • 197. HS Mom  |  November 9, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I don’t think you need to be concerned about this. Admission is much more competitive now than it ever has been – presumably in NY too. Everyone has to work hard or they will not make it. All the kids understand the opportunity and do work hard. Classes are not geared toward the pace of the students, students need to pick up the pace if they want to be successful.

  • 198. Suzy Wong  |  November 11, 2012 at 7:35 am

    You whine like a typical north side yuppie mom whose sense of entitlement knows no bounds.

    I believe in quality public education for no other reason than the fact that a democratic society needs a strong equitable public education system. You only believe in one if it benefits your kid directly. I have no children and I’ve never attended public schools.

  • 199. exchicagoteacher  |  November 23, 2012 at 10:17 am

    There are growing evidences for “mismatch theory” that explains why under prepared students fail in academically challenging schools. According to the theory, these students will benefit more by attending less rigorous institutions where they don’t experience so much failure from the start.


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