Local Enrollment for Neighborhood High Schools

July 19, 2014 at 11:27 pm 389 comments

Thanks to HSObsessed for passing on WBEZ’s Tweet with this interesting data on the % of students at each neighborhood high school who live within the school’s boundaries.

I’ve included those with 1000 students or more and highlighted those with high and low local enrollment.  As HSO points out, on the north side, LVHS and Amundsen have a very low share of local students, while Senn seems to be attracting the neighborhood families (despite having selective programs (IB and arts.))

I think this is also interesting given the “sorting” article we just discussed.  that even aside from the SEHS, there is sorting going on.  Lots of kids are travelling out of their own neighborhoods to other high schools, meaning a neighborhood HS is not a neighborhood HS in the eyes of many Chicago families.  There is some kind of motivation to seek out a different (better) option.


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Entry filed under: High school.

Alderman Pawar’s Note on Neighborhood High Schools (Lake View and Amundsen) Back to School Sept 2014

389 Comments Add your own

  • 1. revuluri  |  July 19, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    This is really interesting. However, I do have a question. Perhaps I’m not understanding this, but it seems like these are percentages of a different whole.

    To understand if a high school has the confidence of the families and students in a neighborhood it seems we would need the percentage of high school students living in the neighborhood who select that high school, but this is the same numerator (neighborhood students in the school) out of a different denominator (total students in the school, not total high school students in the neighborhood).

    Could the variation be explained by shifting demographics and capacities, or are all the neighborhoods’ populations of high school students proportional to the number of students in the neighborhood’s school?

  • 2. HSObsessed  |  July 20, 2014 at 12:08 am

    I’ve uploaded the full chart to a PDF on Google Drive (thank you Martin R!). It contains data on the # of students who attend other CPS high schools who live in the attendance area as well. However, it doesn’t include total number of HS students who live in the area. So for example, Lake View HS has 1426 students, 310 of whom live within boundaries. An additional 757 high school students who live within the LVHS boundaries attend other CPS high schools.


  • 3. Chicago School GPS  |  July 20, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Thanks for passing along, HSO! And to throw another wrench, it would be interesting to find out what % of Alcott and Ogden ES kids go to the HS. I know it is increasing yearly for both, which is a great sign. It will also be interesting to learn how many will stay or leave Disney II’s HS as they are having their first 8th grade class this fall.

  • 4. CPS Teacher  |  July 20, 2014 at 7:07 am

    I’m very surprised that Taft % is so high. I’ve seen the CTA bus loads of kids who get off at Narragansett right by the school. I would have put that neighborhood school % much lower. Then again the boundaries for HS must capture a large area.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  July 20, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Taft is surprisingly high. Maybe the location makes it more difficult for local students to travel elsewhere?
    My initial theory was that schools with IB programs would have lower neighborhood enrollment as they have a program to draw from elsewhere but Taft and Senn to some extent don’t hold up with that theory.

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  • 6. pantherettie  |  July 20, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Interesting post. Could Kenwood’s number be somewhat attributed to the fact that it has an academic center that automatically feeds into the high school that retains a high % of its students. That said, it really highlights the point of the article that some neigborhood schools truly are not the destination point for many students – for whatever reason.

  • 7. cpsobsessed  |  July 20, 2014 at 8:30 am

    I still am caught up on lvhs and amundsen drawing so many kids from other neighborhoods. There is something that makes these schools worth the trip for like…700 or more kids each, every day.
    But local parents still need convincing.

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  • 8. HS Mom  |  July 20, 2014 at 10:12 am

    @7 – It’s interesting to note from the link in 2 that even if all the local kids went to those schools, they still would not fill it up (assuming that the total numbers are close to capacity). Additionally, I would assume that many of the locals going to other schools are attending SEHS or private and are not likely to consider the neighborhood school. Something more has to be done other than trying to convince the local parents.

    I’m kind of taken aback by the apparent under utilization at some of these schools.

  • 9. cpsobsessed  |  July 20, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Interesting — Senn supposedly have 1700 who don’t attend vs LVHS who don’t attend. I’ll have to look at the maps again. Is the Senn zone a lot bigger? More populated with teens?

    I think it’s fine if LVHS and Amundsen still pull from outside the neighborhood. There clearly remains a need for kids in other neighborhoods to seek out something better.

    LVHS has 1400 kids. That is roughly 350 per class. How many do you think need to be attracted from the neighborhood to swing the tide? Is 50 enough? 100? — for local parents to feel like “yeah, people are sending their kids there.” Or is it more a matter of the academics? (Although let’s not pretend that there seems to be a big “people like me” factor involved in where Tier 3/4 parents decide to send their kids.)

  • 10. HS Mom  |  July 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

    @9 – yes – according to the table in 3@ – only 30% of the local students attend the school. Senn shows 2,475 students in their boundary. Either the school is way under enrolled or they don’t have the capacity for all of their students.

  • 11. HS Mom  |  July 20, 2014 at 11:21 am

    using the same calculation – number of locals attending to total number of local children in the attendance area – Lincoln Park is 57% local and Taft is 60% local – which makes sense.

  • 12. cpsobsessed  |  July 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

    I blv Senn is currently under-enrolled. The school bldg is large but the principal has really made a point to remove out-of-area students who don’t meet the schools expectations for school culture. I think that’s impressive given per-pupil funding. It’s foregoing the short term $ for a longer strategic vision.

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  • 13. klm  |  July 20, 2014 at 11:36 am


    OK, I know that I’m too often the Debbie the Downer of this site, but I’m guessing that the outside students that come to LVHS or Amundsen, do so not because they’re so “great,” but because they’re the least worst option. Otherwise, they’d have to attend schools with even lower academics and more issues related to gangs, public safety, peers that don’t care about school, etc.

    And these are real issues, although it’s hard for some people to imagine that any school can be “that bad.” I know that my experience growing up is unique (obviously), but some schools really are.

    Using a real-life CPS K-8 school as an example, Oscar Meyer had a super low neighborhood stdent population (I think less than 10%). despite its location smack in the middle of a snazzy residential ‘hood with lots of families with kids (Nettelhorst was almost 100% non-neighborhood kids back when it was a no-way-in-hell school). Lots of people could be heard saying, once their kids were getting close to kindergarten and the rejection/sorry-there’s-just-no-space letters started coming in from private schools and good CPS magnets,”If only we’d bought a few blocks further east our kids could have gove to a ‘good’ school like Lincoln, but now we have to move to Glenview (it happened exactly that that for a family I used to hang with).

    Before its change to Montessori, virtually nobody in the neighborhood sent their kids there because of the low scores and the scarry-looking/acting middle-school kids there that frightened even lots of adults. It wasn’t that Meyer was such a great school, but for some it may have been better than other options (e.g., Jenner, Manierre, ….). For many, I’m assuming CPS just assigned it to them to fill space. I toured Meyer aprrox. 10 years ago and its was, for me, immediately a no-way-in-hell-ever school, given what I saw/heard (yelling teachers, thugs acting thuggish, etc. –my oldest son would have been eaten alive by these kids). I knew a Hippy-ish family that didn’t have a prejudiced or judgmental bone in their body. They tried Mayer for their kids, but even they got the heck out after one year. The dad told ma “That school’s just crazy.” This from a guy that wore recycled clothes and worked at Whole Foods.

    Now that Mayer is effectively a “new” school, neighborhood families will now often send their kids there. People are delighted that it’s a viable option, given its reputation before. Maybe that’s what LVHS and Amundsen need to do (that’s what they’re trying to do now, I think), but I’m not sure if that model can be replicated so easily for HS.

    The problem is, when students are small, they’re “little kids”. Everybody wants to give them a chance, sees how cute they are, is delighted to see kids from different backgrounds going to the same school (as happens at all the best CPS magnets). However, when kids get older (things really change after 3rd or 4th grade), they become more frightening. Some join gangs. Some sell drugs (and while that happens everywhere, in Glencoe or Libertyville it usually doesn’t mean guns). The little tough ones turn to big thugs and gangbangers, etc. The little potty-mouths turn into anti-social young adults with dysfunctional, anti-social behaviors, complete with threats of sever physical violence for any perceived slight (real or imaginary). People see/feel that and get more concerned, right or wrong, paranoid or not.

    It’s easy to send one’s kid to a “turn around” school with other little cute kindergarteners. But with young adults already acting like gangbangers –not so much.

  • 14. HS Mom  |  July 20, 2014 at 11:54 am

    @12 – Interesting strategy, I think it will make a positive difference. I wonder how long they would be able to continue this model. Seems to me that at some point a neighborhood school needs to bring in quality out of area students (like LP does) to make enough of a difference to encourage local families to attend.

    From the data, looks like 60% of local kids would be about what you’re going to get after the school gets to a point where it has a qualified group of non-attendance area kids. Are there even enough kids in the system to be able to do this?

  • 15. CPS alum  |  July 20, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Re Taft. Taft has a utilization rate of 145%. Its ideal enrollment is 2184. Even if you remove all of the out of boundary students from Taft, it is still overcrowded since 2594 of the students live in boundary. Add in the 1680 in boundary students who attend other cps schools and the hundreds who go to private schools there is a major problem at Taft.

    Taft’s boundaries are HUGE!

  • 16. michele  |  July 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Am I just missing Wells and Clemente on the chart? Just wondering about these neighborhood high schools because they are close by to lots of Charter options (some good some bad but options). Would like to see effect of location to Charter HS on neighborhood HS. Imagine there might be a correlation,. Thanks!

  • 17. HSObsessed  |  July 20, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    @16 – CPSO only included schools with more than 1000 on the post but I linked to the full data set at my comment @2 above, and Wells and Clemente are on there.

    So I’ve looked at all these numbers again and can’t really come up with any theories. Some of the high schools might have high percentages of local kids because they’re seen as a good solid local option, or it might be full of students who didn’t get accepted elsewhere and/or didn’t have the knowledge or resources to apply and are therefore “stuck” there.

    I do see is that there are 66 charter high schools that enroll a total of more than 27,000 students. Those are students that used to attend neighborhood high schools. Maybe the charters have higher standards, are safer, and provide better outcomes, I don’t really know. If they give people the perception that they’re getting a better quality education, maybe that’s half the battle, or maybe the whole battle. Come to think of it, same could be said of selective enrollment high schools.

    So yes, basically we have a HS system in which kids are encouraged to apply to many different programs at many different schools, and those who do, are then often faced with a choice between an acceptance at a different school, or their neighborhood HS, and often the grass looks greener, so they end up traveling to a different neighborhood for high school.

  • […] Local Enrollment for Neighborhood High Schools CPS Obsessed: As HSO points out, on the north side, LVHS and Amundsen have a very low share of local students, while Senn seems to be attracting the neighborhood families (despite having selective programs (IB and arts.) […]

  • 19. Rachel  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:07 am

    It’s a little shady that 58% of Taft’s students are from low income families, yet, 81% of them come from Taft’s neighborhood of Norwood Park. The average cost of a home in Norwood Park is $250,000. How does that equate to low income families? It seems a lot of Taft students are coming from outside their boundaries

    Taft is a school in for some HUGE changes, especially with their staff. Many of their teachers never interviewed for their positions, they got them handed to them through connections with the old principal Arthur Tarvardian, who didn’t even know his teachers. My sister worked at Taft and she said Tarvardian once asked who she was. She said she was working there for 4 years and he hired her.

    It will not be long before a charter school opens near Taft as the average teacher salary at Taft is $84K, almost $9 more than the average CPS teacher salary. Right now, Taft’s staff can’t handle the 3200-3300 kids the Taft staff is notorious for being easy graders and lazy. The new principal Paul Grishaber was amazed Taft’s test scores were in the lower 1/3 of the state, but, many students had high GPAs.

    Taft has become the new school to go to on the northwest side for white middle women, collecting $85K+ salaries, especially in the Special Education Department where some inclusion teachers have only one student in their case files and they’re only with that student for only 4 period/day

    Taft is a basically surburban CPS school and attended by many city workers’ (Police, Firemen, etc.) kids If you go a couple miles one way, you’re in either in Norridge, Niles, or Park Ridge. 49% White kids, 39% Hispanic kids, 7% Asian kids, 2.3 % Black kids, 3% other, including Middle eastern kids go to Taft. Taft staff has only 3-4 Black teachers, most of their 10 Black staffers are made up of Black teacher assts.

  • 20. Rachel  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:09 am

    the average teacher salary at Taft is $84K, almost $9K more than the average CPS teacher salary

  • 21. RL Julia  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:10 am

    Both Admunsen and LVHS are relatively easy to get to on CTA. Both are within a mile of a brown line stop and on major streets with bus lines. Easier to get to then Senn or Taft or Mather (or NCP for that matter) for sure. Both are located in what are considered to be safe neighborhoods so no worries if kids want to stay at school late for something. Never underestimate the importance of proximity – especially when talking high school. On the other hand, the neighborhoods where Admunsen and LVHS are chock full of the kinds of households that typically are willing to play the SEHS lottery and/or have the type of kids who will be able to test into an SEHS or pay for private or parochial HS. Not all households, obviously, but apparently lots.

  • 22. RL Julia  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Amundsen not admunsen. Always put the D in the wrong spot!

  • 23. Counterpoint for Discussion  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:40 am

    To 10:
    Taft would be a giant contender again if the school was 100% neighborhood. 2.5 miles every direction. Taft rocks if you get rid of the outside neighborhood trash.

  • 24. toni  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Wait a minute, Senn is 2 blocks from the Red Line!

    And has at least two buses stop right in front.

    “Both Admunsen and LVHS are relatively easy to get to on CTA. Both are within a mile of a brown line stop and on major streets with bus lines. Easier to get to then Senn or Taft or Mather (or NCP for that matter) for sure.”

  • 25. HSObsessed  |  July 21, 2014 at 11:57 am

    @19 – Taft’s enrollment boundary is huge, stretching for more than 3 miles to the north and nearly 4 miles to the southeast, so there are many more neighborhoods than just Norwood Park served by Taft.

    It’s interesting to hear the details you provided about Taft. Maybe the new principal will kick the standards up a little bit.

  • 26. Chris  |  July 21, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    “It’s a little shady that 58% of Taft’s students are from low income families, … How does that equate to low income families?”

    “Low Income”, in CPS parlance, is having claimed for free-/reduced-lunch on a form that requires no verification. It’s 100% self-reported.

  • 27. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Taft just $17M in building renovations. New lockers in the halls or locker rooms, windows that actually open up and you can see out of them, expanded auditorium, new labs, etc. But, the biggest problem is when the renovations were going on, CPS visitors found some things not kosher at Taft. They found:

    – students smoking freely in the bathrooms

    – abundance of Taft students tardy to school and their classes (One comment was, “These ‘Taft” halls are loose!)

    – Taft teaches, staffers, and security guards not visible in the hallways between classes, in/around the lunchroom, and in the hallways during classes.

    – ‘free for all’ gym classes starting 15-20 minutes after the bell with students being forced to be late to their next classes because PE teachers wouldn’t let them out on time.

    – Taft students were bringing in vodka in their water bottles

    – A freshman Taft student was rushed to the hospital for an overdose after eating to many pot brownies,

    – Nepotism in the Taft Counseling, PE, and Athletic Departments

    – Taft ranked #1 throughout CPS in expulsions in 2013, mostly minority students

  • 28. RL Julia  |  July 21, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    @24 – I stand corrected! Didn’t realize that the red line was really that close. Thought it was more like eight blocks.

    @27 – things at Taft must have really changed in the three years since my son went there. When he was there for the AC the place was all about the discipline. He was reprimanded once for wearing his coat inside and numerous times on uniform infractions. They loved their rules then.

  • 29. Viking mom  |  July 21, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    This chart was really interesting. We are among the group out of boundary for Amundsen but my daughter has an easy commute. For a variety of reasons our neighborhood school was not an option, and Amundsen gave us great vibes and continues to do so. I would say probably over half of my daughter’s friends live within the boundary but a fair percentage do not. What is interesting is that at least two of them live within Taft’s boundary. I wonder why Amundsen IB and not Taft IB? The size of the school could maybe be a factor but I am just guessing.

  • 30. mom2boys  |  July 21, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    I’d also be interested in the impact of charters on neighborhood high school enrollment.

  • 31. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Didn’t a charter already open by Taft?


  • 32. cpsobsessed  |  July 21, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    @in case not pointed out in this thread, Taft has a new principal who just came on board – prev AP at whitney young.
    It’ll be interesting to see if some of the hallway isses are addressed (or they may have been by the interim principal.). On my lvhs and amundsen tours, hallway “sweeps” and overseeing was a big topic in making a change in tone at the school.
    As you can imagine though, the ongoing staffing cuts results in fewer and fewer adults to manage the hallways.

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  • 33. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Cigarettes, tardies, and a low percentage of students meeting expectations at Taft:


  • 34. to @19  |  July 21, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Wow….first there’s too many white kids at northside schools now there’s too many white teachers? What’s next, too many whites in Wilmette?

  • 35. cpsobsessed  |  July 21, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I know this will never change at high schools despite what research says about teens” sleep patterns – but why don’t they try starting school later than 7:40am and see if the first period attendance improves?! That is so insanely easly IMO.

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  • 36. Teacher and Mom  |  July 21, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Off topic, but the ACT will not longer be a required state exam, making way for PARCC. Chicago still plans to administer, however, they are giving it a full two months early- March 2


  • 37. SoLoMaMa  |  July 21, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    @35: I hear ya, CPSO! Disney 1 changed its start time to 7:45 a.m. for this fall. That was a deal breaker for us.

  • 38. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    #35: I wish 7:45a.m., Taft is supposed to be starting at 7:30 a.m this year because the teachers said 3:15 was too late of an end time and the school wants to save money on school buses

  • 39. anonymouse teacher  |  July 21, 2014 at 9:24 pm

    @35, I agree with you, but I have a feeling it has to do with sport schedules. If one high school went to a 10-4 schedule, which they probably should, their athletes would miss afternoon games/meets/etc. The entire state would have to do it to make it work.

  • 40. cpsobsessed  |  July 21, 2014 at 9:28 pm

    I wish they had a nerd/non-sport HS that started at 9am.
    Charter idea!!!

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  • 41. Rita  |  July 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Lake View starts at 8:30 a.m. and their tardies have gone down

  • 42. anonymouse teacher  |  July 21, 2014 at 9:43 pm

    @19, I do not believe that there are sped teachers at Taft with only one child on their caseload. I can only imagine this is an urban legend going around the school. There is no way CPS would ever allow this. Never. No principal would allow it. Especially not within the very dire budget CPS is working under. If you said the sped teachers at Taft had caseloads triple or quadruple what best practice indicates, that I would believe. That is the norm for CPS.
    It is important to note that there has been a huge shift in the number of minority to non-minority teachers in the system as well. CPS used to have “quotas” where they tried to balance their teachers. They don’t do this anymore, plus many schools which had large numbers of minority teachers were closed and some of those teachers did not get rehired, and fewer minority teachers have been able to pass the slightly harder basic skills test. To have a mostly white staff is not so unusual. I would prefer to see more of a mix myself, but reality is, all these factors mean fewer minority teachers will be in Chicago.

  • 43. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    @42: I thought the same thing. But, I asked around in the Taft community because I found it odd too and Taft has these inclusion teachers who have ONE student per class for FOUR periods per day. The reason it’s only FOUR periods is because these inclusion teachers don’t report to guy with the students. My daughter was in one of those gym classes and she told me about it. She says the inclusion teachers tell the gym teacher they have a errand to run and never come back. There’s something like 27 spec ed teachers at Taft and 23 of them are white, four of them being men.

  • 44. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 10:06 pm

    report to gym not guy

  • 45. anonymouse teacher  |  July 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    If that’s for real, then either the case manager isn’t doing her job when scheduling teachers and students OR more likely, something about those students’ schedules, the needs of the school as a whole and CPS insanity in general prevents the CM from being able to schedule several students with special needs into one classroom at one time to better use the staff available. Teachers don’t create their own schedules. Also your daughter may not be aware of all the students those teachers are servicing and may not be hearing what she thinks she is hearing. As for errands, perhaps that is true, perhaps not. Sped teachers are called to a ridiculous amount of meetings during class time with little to no notice and little control over it.
    Don’t get me wrong, there is always the rare teacher who doesn’t do squat, but my guess is there is some kind of a systematic issue or issues preventing a better use of time. Sped scheduling in a small elementary are crazy making. I can’t imagine what it is like at the HS level.

  • 46. cpsobsessed  |  July 21, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I just started looking at the data from the WBEZ “Big Sort” chart and interestingly, Taft has the highest incoming Explore scores of all the neighborhood schools (not counting Lincoln Park, which is biased by it’s high-scoring-requirement IB program.)

  • 47. Katherine  |  July 21, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    @45: I just e-mailed a friend who works at Taft and she says it was worst last year. But, one of the new asst. principals took over for the spec. ed, depart. chair (Christine) and straightened things out last year. The chair was put back in a classroom. My friend says there’s teachers in their spec ed dept who are only inclusion teachers and they aren’t very helpful. She didn’t say who because the teachers doing it are ‘in the know’ at Taft and she’s only a 3rd year teacher.

  • 48. Counterpoint for discussion  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:39 am

    To 27 Katherine: Re”Taft ranked #1 throughout CPS in expulsions in 2013, mostly minority students”

    Thank God, that’s a good thing. Get rid of the rif raf so that the rest of the student body at Taft can have a chance at an education.

    Katherine your race baiting is offensive. The race of the expelled means nothing. It’s their conduct or lack there of that gets them expelled.


  • 49. Katherine  |  July 22, 2014 at 5:45 am

    #48: So you’re saying it’s okay to get rid of minority students at any cost, so, a school like Taft can be an ‘all-white’ school and that’ll help in the learning process?. Do you advocate giving spec. ed students like Anthony W. an illegal strip search to find a way to get rid of him?

    That’s what happen when Taft’s asst. principal (Susan Gross) acted on an anonymous tip given to Taft security guard (Hugo Feria) and made a freshman Hispanic, male student pull down his pants and underwear in a boy’s bathroom in front of Gross, Feria, and two police officers (one who was off-duty and working as a Taft security guard). They didn’t find any drugs or weapons and student’s parents sued everyone.


    None of the people who took l part in the search lost their jobs. In fact, Gross is still collecting her $135,000/year salary. How was she able to get out of trouble? Her husband is retired Chicago Police Commander (Frank Gross) with major ties to former Mayor Richard Daley.

  • 50. pantherettie  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:06 am

    Many high schools considered the idea of a later start for the school day for the 2014-2015 school year. At Lindblom, the principal provided some pretty strong research on the
    advantages of having a 9am start time AND CPS was willing to provide a hefty chunk of money to schools for making the transition. Overall the students, teachers and parents voted against it. It wasn’t primarily about sports at Lindblom it was also about the debate team, robotics club, theater group ect that would need to meet late into
    the evening. Before you say it, let me tell you that the issue was *not* safety in leaving the school in the evening, it was kids arriving home so late from school and various activities. Many teachers with kids that it would be impossible to find child care with a 8am( teachers typically arrive an hour before students at Lindblom for extra tutoring, ect) – 6pm schedule. So I think that it’s probably going to be an issue that come up again for many schools but I’m not sure that it will change anytime soon.

  • 51. pantherettie  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:13 am

    Let me say one more thing about a later school time as a parent of a teen. If your kid has a heavy homework load you probably do not want them getting home after 6pm on a regular basis. After dinner and decompression time, they won’t even begin it until around 7:30 or 8pm anyway. If they typically get 2-3hrs per night, your already getting into late night studying. In most cases there is *no way* that teens get up early the next morning to homework before the school day starts. So I’m saying as a parent of a nerdling to many parents of future ( or current) nerdling/SEHS/IB students be careful of what you wish for.

  • 52. HS Mom  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:53 am

    Katherine, you may not be aware that some students with IEP’s have an aid. That’s a one on one teacher who usually winds up serving as a teacher’s aid in the classroom helping other kids around them. There would be no need for the aid to attend PE (usually) This is by law and certainly something that schools try to get around.

    Pantherettie – yes, good point. Plus now with the new PE requirement, there are students looking to take classes at the zero hour. Sounds like part of the problem here is students sitting in cars before school. Not a great dynamic. If they get to school and go in early, so much more productive. That’s certainly an advantage of going to a school where kids don’t drive.

  • 53. klm  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:53 am


    There’s an entire website “startschoollater.net” devoted to this. In one section, it devotes examples of schools in many states that made the change.

    My sister’s kids go to a HS with a 9 a.m. start time (as of a few years ago –it had been 7:45) and it’s been a huge success –people that were against it mostly changed their mind when tardies and absenteeism dropped. Teachers noted improvements, etc. A few extracurricular clubs and teams even meet before school from time to time, so kids are more free after school and don’t have to start homework at 8 or 9.

    My neighborhood elementary used to start at 9 a.m.(now it’s 8:45) vs. one of my kid’s school which start a bit before 8 a.m, plus it requires a long ride before/to school. No matter how we tried to get that kid to bed early, s/he still usually didn’t get enough sleep and sometimes had to almost be dragged out of bed by Friday morning. Not so for our neighborhood school kids.

    Plus, there’s been less panic-driven Hurry! Hurry! You’ll be late! -type drama with everybody acting upset (Brush your teeth NOW, we’ve got to GO!) before school with the kids that start later. With the kids that start later, things are more relaxed and we can even enjoy a little family time over breakfast, go over some words for a spelling quizz more easily, etc, since everybody’s in a better mood.

    There’s such a big difference.

    Teens virtually never get enough sleep. Add on the late nights up doing homework, texting friends in bed, etc. Plus, so many kids in Chicago have really long commute times. We all remember HS.

    It there are any any places that seem like they could use a later start time, it seems like it’s CPS HSs, especially ones that pile on the homework.

  • 54. Katherine  |  July 22, 2014 at 7:10 am

    @HS Mom: I understand. But, from what I was told by my daughter an my firend, there was one regular teacher and one inclusion teacher in the room. There wasn’t an aid in the room.

  • 55. HS Mom  |  July 22, 2014 at 7:53 am

    @54 – OK, if we have regular and SPED teachers, student teachers, substitute teachers and IEP aids and you are not calling an aid an inclusion teacher – what is an “inclusion teacher”?

    KLM – I can see where the later start model would be beneficial in many situations. For Chicago style college prep education there just isn’t enough time in the day to start late, have a full roster of classes and PE, do something else (hopefully constructive) of personal interest, commute back and forth and get the homework done. Many students also overextend themselves with the number of AP classes they take. Our household is up early anyway for work and we make a nice breakfast. No way the kid is really going to sleep through that anyway. May as well get going with the day. I guess this is something that we chose when we went the SE route.

    RE Taft and other schools that aren’t college prep only – Is it fair to hold all students to a rigorous schedule or should there be 2 tracks, college prep vs regular or walkers vs riders with different start times? It would certainly give kids time to finish their cigarettes in the morning instead of rushing to school. This is actually something that they had at my old suburban HS – an option for an early period or a late period. What happened was that most kids want to start early and leave early. Kids looking to just get by with enough credits to graduate could start late and end early.

  • 56. Katherine  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

    @55Ok, maybe this helps:

    In an inclusion classroom, students with disabilities and other special needs are taught alongside non-disabled students, instead of being segregated in a special education classroom. To help meet students’ needs, a special education teacher may work alongside a general education teacher in an inclusion classroom. The role of a special education teacher in such a arrangement varies according to the needs of individual students and how well the two teachers work together.


  • 57. HS Mom  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:44 am

    @56 – yes, we call that an IEP sometimes with an aid. A SPED teacher works in a resource room or separate classroom with multiple students. The IEP student can be pulled out or have a resource period with the SPED teacher but does not have a SPED teacher in their regular classroom – sometimes an aid and probably not even that anymore with budget cuts. I’m guessing your article is calling the student aid a SPED teacher or inclusion teacher because they have SPED teacher qualifications. So we are talking the same thing. I don’t think you have to worry about there being too many aids/special ed teachers, because there aren’t enough.

  • 58. Counterpoint for Discussion  |  July 22, 2014 at 10:59 am

    To 49 Katherine:
    #1 I hate the Democratic machine and the people it protects.
    Your point appears to be that the Democratic machine protected a connected member. Execute any Socialist/Democratic party member that enriches themself to the detriment of society.

    #2 Yes, expell bad kids. (period)

    #3 If a school is successful on the southside and has 99.9% black student body, good for them. I’m not going to blast them. I’m actually going to elevate them. That being said, if a northside school has 50%+ white stdent body I’m not going to blast them.

    #4 Real talk. Take the top 250 performing SEHS scores and put them into 1 school. My guess is that it would be over 60% white. Who has the certified stats?

  • 59. averagemom  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    @57 It depends on the IEP. My kid’s SPED teacher co-taught in the regular classroom with the regular teacher, in elementary and in high school. There was also an aid in some classes. They don’t teach, but help with the problems that are preventing the kid from getting an education. The SPED teacher also worked separately with my kid in pull out sessions.

  • 60. Pantherettie  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Wow “Counterpoint for Discussion” – “Real Talk” really? These are the times I wish that people would have to share their real identities online. I wonder if you would make a comment like that when people would know who you actually are.

  • 61. Katherine  |  July 22, 2014 at 12:17 pm

    @60: It sounds like a great job. No lesson plans, 4/8 periods per day, and a $85,000 salary and benefits. These must be real hard to get positions at a school like Taft.

  • 62. Chris  |  July 22, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Pantherettie — Being the third billy goat doesn’t work on the internet.

  • 63. cpsobsessed  |  July 22, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    @counterpoint: well the top sehs in nyc is around 2/3 asian so you just might be overestimating those white kids.

    (They use only entry test score there, no grades, no tiers)

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 64. anonymouse teacher  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    @61, Each year in CPS there are quite literally hundreds of special education openings. CPS is moving towards more and more of an inclusion model. It is super easy to get an education M.A.T, in what, 2 years? If you go get your sped degree, you, too, can experience the joy that is called CPS special education. There are many, ahem, interesting experiences to be had in this “great job” be it at Taft or elsewhere.
    You can attempt to write an IEP for several hours, only to have the entire system shut down on you and of course, not being able to save, you lose all your work. Or your case load can be switched up each and ever 5 weeks or so meaning your students change that frequently, guaranteeing that you cannot help them meet their goals. Or the teachers you work with for inclusion may perhaps want nothing to do with you. Or you could be called to meeting after meeting where the psychologist appears to have been paid off to refuse services to kids who beyond any reasonable doubt need it and when you call the SSA, she supports the psych, even though you have 50+ pages of documentation proving the need.
    But please, do avail yourself of one of the copious MAT programs. 2 years at night is really quite easy. No biggie. Now, of course you’d have to last at least 15 years to make that 85K, which more than half of all teachers don’t. But, surely, this plum job wouldn’t be hard for you.

  • 65. HS Mom  |  July 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    @59 – Interesting, I guess I just assumed they are student aids who would more than likely, by nature of being there, wind up helping out the teacher and other kids. Thanks for the info.

  • 66. Katherine  |  July 22, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    @64 Your sarcasm is why CPS teachers are disliked so much and why you guys are hated in the media. I know not all teachers are like you, so, I’ll withhold judgement. Maybe. it’s time for you to get a another job if you’re so miserable..just sayin’

    My friend says after three years in spec ed. she pull-in close to $65,000 this year without a Masters and she says she’ll be at $85K in 3-4 years with her Masters. So, maybe you took the long way to $85,000 in 15 years time…She showed me her pay online and explained how she’ll get to $85K in 7 years time

  • 67. anonymouse teacher  |  July 22, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Click to access 208-day-positions-Final-Showing-Pension-Pick-up-092412.pdf

    In 2014,a teacher without a master’s degree (lane 1) and 15 years experience is making 85K (not including pension which is likely to go away before anyone younger than 50 retires so no one with a brain counts that as part of their compensation package anymore) . Not a teacher with 7 years. Her master’s degree is likely to cost her more than she’ll ever earn back, but even with a grad degree, it’ll take her 14 years.

    Not sure where you got the idea I was miserable. I’m perfectly happy. And yeah, I did get another job. Teaching. Outside of CPS in a terrific situation. Its parents like you that think they know something about teachers, their jobs and their work, that teachers gossip about behind your back.

  • 68. anonymouse teacher  |  July 22, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    And if, even if, a teacher earns 85K some possible way after 7 years? If she’s in CPS? She deserves every penny.

  • 69. mom2boys  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I seriously doubt that folks go into teaching and/or Special Ed because of the money! Personally, I don’t know how educators cope with CPS day in and day out. I believe that teaching is one of the most important and honorable professions. I worry that fewer and fewer folks will enter the profession because of the constant vilification of teachers in the media. Then they have to deal with doing more with less in our financially strapped system, politics, behavior issues, poverty, conflicting priorities, standardized testing with its potential consequences on livelihood, etc. I want my kids’ teachers to feel respected for their work, and content with their choice to help shape hearts and minds! And no, I’m not a teacher, nor do I work in a school system. -I’m just an educated parent of two kids in CPS.

  • 70. Katherine  |  July 22, 2014 at 8:24 pm

    Here’s where my friend showed me she’ll be making $85K in 7 yrs time, which included salary, Masters degree, and health/pension benefits:

    Click to access EmployeePositionRoster_12312013.pdf

  • 71. Lake View HS Volunteer  |  July 22, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Read about the exciting things happening at Lake View High School and join the e-mail list to receive the latest updates.


  • 72. Counterpoint for discussion  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:57 am

    To 60: Chill. The idea of a blog is for free exchange of mindsets. The progressive socialist democratic mindset is loud and clear and likes to silence others through ostrization. Start listening to others, I’ve also had to read your positions that I find revolting.

    To 63: If you or a nerd could get the stats, that would be great. Attention all nerds, please get that stat. I know the results will be offensive to 60 and the ilk.

  • 73. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 23, 2014 at 1:04 am

    Taft HS students are lucky to have Mr. Grishaber as their new principal. Things will be turned around for the good with his leadership.

  • 74. pantherettie  |  July 23, 2014 at 6:15 am

    @Chris – never hurts to try. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    @klm – interesting website about later school starts. Some very strong arguments for a later start that I truly agree with. That said, let me tell you about our experiences with a later start. My dd’s elementary school started at 9am for 5 of the 6 years she was there. For our family it worked very well in the morning but it also made it very difficult for her to attend after school extracurricular activities when she was in 1st -3rd grade because many organizations expect that kids in primary grades get out of school at or before 3pm. – which can not happen if school starts at 9am.It was also a logistical nightmare for many working parents – including those who were teachers at other schools. What happened for many kids was that they would end up arriving at the school by 8:15 (so parents could get to work by 9) and remain unsupervised until the teacher aides came out at 8:45. This led to problems. The school did not provide a before school program. Some parents made the the decision not to consider the school because of the late start time. I don’t think that CPS should be providing child care to parents and students instead of education, but until there is a real systemic change in how work schedules, school schedules and available child care changes, there’s going to be serious challenges in having a later start time. I also think that it’s really a huge burden on teachers who are working parents. Finding and maintaining quality and affordable child care is very difficult but I think that it’s close to impossible to find childcare that allows you place a kid there M – F 7am until 7pm. I would hate to lose quality teachers because of an issue like this.

    @Counterpoint – why don’t you chill and do the work yourself. Take some time, dig up the stats, do the math and make the presentation to all of us on this free blog that supports your ‘positions’ if the numbers are there and you make a well reasoned argument, then you’ve proved me wrong. I may not agree with you but I’ll know that you have something to add to the conversation other just purposefully nasty blanket statements about AA students.

  • 75. Michael's Mom  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:07 am

    @73 I hope so. IMO in the 2-3 years the women were in charge they let things run amok at Taft. there seemed to be internal battles between teachers, the teachers and security, security and administration, administrators and teachers, teachers and staffers, staffers and security guards.

    While, I advocate the best person in charge, I’m happy a male is now in the principal position. It seems to me and other parents the Taft teachers and staff walked all over principals Mary Kay Cappitelli and Carolyn Rownd. Mr. Tarvardian wouldn’t have allowed this to happen. I hope Paul Grishaber tightens the Taft ship and makes their teachers more accountable, be ‘all in’, and feel fortunate to work at Taft and be less of complainers, union grievance filers, and work dodgers. Taft is a great school and could get better by getting rid of the dead weight.

  • 76. Counterpoint for Discussion  |  July 23, 2014 at 11:08 am

    T0 74: I’ve read my posts (48,58,and 72). I have written nothing about AA students. You have twisted my words. I’ve written about Rif Raf which includes ALL races.

    The progressive positions is not holy. So stop acting holier than thou. As far as the stat goes. CPS has the stat’s of SE scores based upon race. It’s painful (sad) to read per my sources. It confirms stereotypes. The FOIA request is pending.

    The truth takes time to get in a Socialist Democrat City unless it helps the position of the corporatist progressive.

  • 77. mom2boys  |  July 23, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    @76. “The truth takes time to get in a Socialist Democrat City unless it helps the position of the corporatist progressive.”

    “Real Talk”: Yawn… Your frequent repetition of Fox talking points on every thread is beyond tiresome. Regular attacks on Democrats adds nothing of value to discussions, and seems designed to offend. Just my 2 cents.

  • 78. karet  |  July 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    @31: Katherine, Ombudsman is a special charter school that caters to high-school drop-outs (up to age 20). There is no traditional charter school in the Taft district for mainstream high-school students.

  • 79. Chris  |  July 23, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Katherine: “she’ll be making $85K”

    Oh, so her salary will be $63k, and there will be $22k in benefits. That’s way different from what the (imo) common understanding of “she’ll be making $X” is–which indicates just the gross salary.

    Do you and your family members talk about your ‘salary’ including the employer’s cost of benefits? I would consider someone doing that odd–I find the “your true value to the company” things odd, too, but at least understandable.

  • 80. Chris  |  July 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    pantherettie–“never hurts to try. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t”

    Mostly they just get the meal that they want. Usually better to just try another bridge, to avoid the spectacle.

  • 81. luveurope  |  July 23, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I live in Taft attendance area. Thank God for private high school.

  • 82. Counterpoint for discussion  |  July 23, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    To 79: That oddity of including salary + benefits is typical literature sent to City of Chicago employees by the City in order to show the employee their total package. I also find it odd, but it is typical for the city to present total compensation packages that way.

    To 80: I’m here to stay. CPS is a top issue for me, to Include reverse discrimination and the creation of white guilt by progressives. I do my best to hold the line.

  • 83. Micheal's Mom  |  July 23, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I was sent this link to a video to show people Taft’s bathrooms aren’t being watched and how security isn’t doing their jobs. Wild stuff.

  • 84. 7th  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:33 pm

    @83 – that video was uploaded in 2007. Are things really the same seven years later?

  • 86. anonymouse teacher  |  July 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I am not sure if its just me, but something about the video struck me as incredibly funny. Did they drag the table in the bathroom or is Taft using the bathroom as a classroom? (hey, isn’t unusual in CPS, though they typically remove the actual toilets or urinals before stuffing teachers and kids in them) It looks like some kind of prank.

  • 87. Micheal's Mom  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    The boys dragged the table in from the lunchroom where security guards are supposed to be standing by the doors watching who goes in and out.

  • 88. cpsobsessed  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Well one change from 2007 is that there’s probably less staff in the bldg overall due to cuts…

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 89. Micheal's Mom  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    So, in 2007 the staff was bigger. Where were they when this was going on then?

  • 90. cpsobsessed  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Teaching? Manning the safety posts where we usually see the security guards at schools?
    Are / should cps schools be staffed to man the bathrooms?
    I ask this hypothetically. As a parent it astounds me the culture of the hs hallways. What was it that bred fear in us in high school? The school? Parents’ wrath?
    I know kids smoked and got high behind my school, but there was still an orderliness and fear of suspension/expulsion among 99 percent of the student body.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 91. Micheal's Mom  |  July 23, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I mean, where was the security staff at? But, drugs and smoking at Taft seems to be a HUGE problem there


  • 92. pantherettie  |  July 24, 2014 at 6:11 am

    Yesterday it was reported on DNA Chicago that Kenwood AC will moving to the Canter Middle Shool building (across the street from the high school) AND adding 250 more seats in there program. I think that’s interesting as part of this discussion of neighborhood high schools that have a low percentage of neighborhood students who attend the school. If Kenwood’s AC increases by that many students and they retain most of them into high school, that might effectively increase the number of neighborhood kids that attend Kenwood high school. Interestingly, I think that it will eventually change the school’s student population when a higher percentage of the high school students are directly feeding into the school from an accelerated program. I also think that this is an interestingly quiet way to expand SE without much fan fair. 250 more AC seats is not a small thing. Anyway, if you’re interested check out the story in yesterday’s DNA Hyde Park edition.

  • 93. Lulu  |  July 24, 2014 at 6:53 am

    No wonder Lincoln Park is still a crappy HS. Too many undesirables from outside the neighborhood. And probably a few from inside as well (not sure of school boundaries).

  • 94. HS Mom  |  July 24, 2014 at 6:53 am

    That video is pretty funny. This is your wild scene? One shared cigarette? My old suburban HS had smoke billowing out the door. There isn’t enough time between classes to stage a sit down pow wow so I’m also wondering if this isn’t some kind of off time. I agree, not the teachers responsibility to monitor bathrooms.

    I’m also wondering if there is written permission from the minors being filmed (especially since there is a student urinating) or is this illegally produced? If I were the parent of any of these students I would certainly take action. I don’t think it should be shown.

    Yes, these could be your kids in a few years – believe it or not.

  • 95. WRP Mom  |  July 24, 2014 at 7:24 am

    @92 pantherettie, This is very interesting to hear about Kenwood AC expanding. But since this is a SEES program which is open to kids citywide, wouldn’t this decrease the percentage of neighborhood kids instead?

  • 96. pantherettie  |  July 24, 2014 at 7:47 am

    @WRP Mom – good question – may increase may not. Maybe more HP kids would consider Kenwood AC a stronger choice if they knew the high school had more SE kids attending in the long run. On the other hand, it could just attract more outside of the neighborhood kids. Will be interesting to see what happens.

  • 97. Michael's Mom  |  July 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Taft has a 75% graduation rate, while Simeon has an 82% Graduation rate, What’s going on here?

    Here’s what Taft’s new principal Paul Grishaber has in store for the school:


  • 98. klm  |  July 25, 2014 at 8:05 am


    I’m not singing the praises of LPHS as some kind of “Harvard of HSs.” However, mainly through the IB program, many kids there really DO get a top-notch education and are well prepared for the rigors of even the most rigorous, University of Chicago/Swarthmore/Harvard -type colleges. In fact, many kids from LPHS (again, mostly in the IB program) in fact do exactly that. I could mention so many examples from my neighborhood of true stories of kids from LPIB (and these are kids from upper-middle class families with ‘options,’ parents with fancy degrees, etc.) that end up doing really well, just as well as if they went to Payton, Exeter, New Trier or Lab.

    I just Googled the most recent stories about LPHS and there’s one about twin brothers (University of Chicago -bound) that each got a 35 on the ACT, one about a LPIB grad from a tough part of town that’s going to Harvard in the fall, etc.

    Yes, LPHS does have some kids from the gang-infested, low-income pocket around Cabrini Green and some formerly rough parts of town with gang issues, but now more gentrified, etc. However, not all kids from these neighborhoods are gangbangers –most obviously are not. Just because somebody’s style and friends are more “urban” than “Brooks Brother preppy” doesn’t mean s/he going to dropu out of HS and have a criminal record. I’ve definitely seen some upsetting behavior from LPHS kids at Oz Park, but this is less common than even several years ago.

    I’m the first person the be critical when people sing the praises of a CPS HS where virtually nobody’s achieveing well on the PSAE, the average student is a few grades behind his counterpart in Northbrook, etc., –how is a HS like that a “good” school?! Where are your standards? Why is the bar held so low for schools by some people, just because they’re public ones in Chicago, etc.?

    Given all that, I can assure you that LPHS is not a “crappy” HS. It may not be for everybody, it does have its share of kids (mainly from Jenner and Manierre and it upsets me to say so) that are doing remedial work and too often get sucked into a go-nowhere-in-life pattern of failure (then again, what school, even in the North Shore doesn’t?), but it has so many kids rocking standardized tests, getting into top-notch colleges, etc., that it’s anything but “crappy” for many, many kids, believe me.

    Bottom line, LPHS does have its sub-culture of urban youth culture that troubles many people (me too at times) . However, it also has its sub-culture of crazy smart, ambitious kids that can be seen and heard in Oz park discussing the merits and futility of applying to Harvard (I’ve seen/heard it) and that spends hours everyday keeping up with the rigorous IB classes and AP classes.

    Which sub-group one chooses to attach to LPHS will often define one’s perception about the school. I used to attach LPHS with f-word, n-word screaming kids I saw coming out of the school several years ago (I was genuinely horrorfied). Now, however, I tend to to attach LPHS with the kids of friends and neighbors that are smart, amitious and are working hard to get into good colleges. Many of them had the opportunity to go to Latin or Payton, but they chose LPHS, believe it or not.

  • 99. Stumped on Hurlburt  |  July 25, 2014 at 8:31 am

    I wish Taft would copy LPHS’ success. Taft has a 75% graduation rate after hitting a low of 70% in 2012 and only 32% of our kids are ready for high school. Our student population for the high school is around 3000. So, we’re not graduating 750 students and of the 2250 we’re graduating, only 750 are ready for college. Let’s hope Grishaber turns things around in a hurry. His biggest problem is his teachers and staff don’t think there’s a problem. (shaking my head in disgust)

  • 100. cpsobsessed  |  July 25, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I’d say this about any school and principal — I don’t know if a cps high school can be changed “in a hurry.”. Yes, changes can be made quickly at some level. The amundsen and senn principals have both made changes that shifted school culture to start setting the groundwork for bigger changes.
    The ultimate shift in test scores is likely a longer process.
    I say this just because I’d like to see each of these leaders given a fair shake in the revolution/evolution of the school.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 101. Stumped on Hurlburt  |  July 25, 2014 at 9:44 am

    I mean “only 32% of our kids are ready for college”…….this stat backs up the fact Taft is known as a lazy, easy grade-giving school

  • 102. IBobsessed  |  July 25, 2014 at 10:16 am

    CPO @88- the $ cuts and lay offs which are having this kind of impact, less staff overall, less security, affecting the whole culture of the school… are making me really think twice about committing to CPS for 4 years of HS. A few building additions and 1 new SEHS are not enough to make me ‘look the other way’ and ignore the serious and increasing instability in the system, financial and otherwise.

    Is anyone else concerned about the future?

  • 103. CPS mom too  |  July 25, 2014 at 10:26 am

    @102 With a 1st grader in the system and another coming into K in another year I ask myself the same question. But…as a CPS grad myself, there have been many times in the past 30+ years that the whole thing seemed about to implode. (We had a month long strike in the fall of my 8th grade year, a particularly grim time.) Lots of people have been educated (and some of them quite well); if you can find a place in the system that works for you and your family–and that you can contribute time and energy too– I’m still hopeful that it can work.

    Still, I won’t say that this whole budget mess doesn’t have me worried…

  • 104. neighborhoodschoolsrule  |  July 25, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    KLM. Thank you. My kids will MOST likely be attending LPHS, and NOT in the IB program. I am thrilled for them and all the wonderful experiences they will have in our neighborhood high school.

    I have two very good friends who graduated from LPHS over 15 years ago, btw, and loved it, too. I doubt too many people were considering LPHS at that time.

    I also would appreciate it if people would stop making comments like people making “better” choices for their kids or neighborhood schools being “fall backs.”

    I think this whole SE system where you create schools of ONLY the highest-performing students is ridiculous. Acting as though those schools are truly better than others is equally ridiculous. It’s like only taking Olympic-level athletes into a soccer team and then saying you have the best team in AYSO. Really?

    CPS should spread the wealth and offer more neighborhood schools SE programs or IB-type programs so that neighborhood schools can grow stronger.

  • 105. HS Mom  |  July 25, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    @104 – “CPS should spread the wealth and offer more neighborhood schools SE programs or IB-type programs so that neighborhood schools can grow stronger.”

    I agree with you completely. It’s all about the programming. the teachers/leadership and the school culture. A school like Lakeview, would be an ideal candidate.

    If my son had all the same grades/tests/higher level classes/full schedule etc that he experienced in SE at another school I believe he would have done just as well, if not possibly better.

    I think Lincoln Park has finally broken through some of the negative perceptions of even 2 or 3 years ago. IMO this can be achieved by broadening the SE program to include other existing schools.

  • 106. aparent  |  July 26, 2014 at 9:25 am

    42 says “and fewer minority teachers have been able to pass the slightly harder basic skills test. To have a mostly white staff is not so unusual”

    Isn’t this the same argument used to explain the number of white children within certain SEHS’s? The same argument that is said to be unacceptable?

  • 107. klm  |  July 26, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I should have also mention true examples of LPHS kids that rocked on tests, got into “good” colleges (Carnegie-Mellon, Oberlin, USC, Michigan, Vassar [and these are just ones I know of]) that went to LPHS and didn’t go the IB route.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I measure success only by which Name College a kid gets into, but it’s reassuring when one sees kids doing the same things as kids at New Trier, Latin, etc. and other HS knows for high-achievement (i.e., going to colleges all over the country, expanding their horizons, doing cool things in life, etc., just like kids from other ‘good’ HSs all over the US).

    I know people that moved into the city from Glencoe and Lake Bluff –their kids could have gone to New Trier and LFHS if they stayed. These are educated, upper-middle-class people that are well informed and have options due to their finances, etc.

    AND they still are happy with the education their kids are getting at LPHS, even if it’s not IB (although to be honest, the non-HH, non-IB program still is kinda’ a no-way-in-hell option for middle-class families in the area near LPHS).
    In this vain, LVHS needs to get an IB and HH -type school-within-a-school thing going, as so many people have mentioned. This would assure a certain level of suburban-type standard that parents (of all income and backgrounds that are informed and follow school report cards, test scores, etc.) want for their kids.

    By the time HS comes, people are not willing to send their kids to a HS with an average ACT of 16, high drop-out rate, few if any kids meeting ACT college-ready standards, etc. People can fool themselves into thinking that a school like that can be just as educationally beneficial as one where the ACT score is 26+ (LFHS, Hinsdale Central, Deerfield, Stevenson, Libertyville, …) or 27+ (New Trier), but middle-class families in large numbers will not go for that. Ever.

    Some people will always chide me for measuring a school by what its students are achieving, but as a parent isn’t that kinda’ the most important thing? Test scores matter, Drop-out rates matter. It’s airy-fairy to think that they don’t, IMO.

    Now, if the school offered a LPHS-type SE program for IB or HH with average ACT scores of mid 20s+, …..maybe things will seem more “viable.” People will be reassured that their kids are surrounding by other relatively high-performing students that are positive peer role models.

    Even if/when that does happen, it will take time. I’d say only very recently did LPHS reach the Tipping Point where its neighborhood families considered it a real option. It takes time to change perceptions, but it can happen.

  • 108. IBobsessed  |  July 26, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    klm-there are IB programs in schools where the overall school ACT is dismal, but the average ACT for IB diploma track students is indeed 26+. You don’t earn an IB diploma, or even get close to scoring high enough on the exams for the diploma, without having what it takes to score in the college ready range on the ACT. Even students who do not earn the diploma have learned how to write, think critically, and evaluate evidence according to internationally recognized standards. These exams are criterion based and sent to be graded outside CPS and maybe even outside the country.

    Please don’t be so dogmatic about what middle class parents will/should do in large numbers. Some of us can, and perhaps have good reason to, look beyond overall school ACT scores.

  • 109. klm  |  July 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm


    Sure, in a perfect world, anybody that takes IB classes will score high on the ACT,b/c of all the stimulation they’ve received, but that’s clearly not the case. I remember reading about low-performing CPS school that offered the IB. Yes, the IB kids did do better on the ACT than their non-IB counterparts at these schools, but the difference was something like 16 (non-IB) vs 19 (IB). Don’t get me wrong –IB’s great for these kids, they’re getting more skills, are able to think critically, etc., ……but they’re still way behind the average kid in not just “rich” suburbs, but regular middle-class ones with HSs where the average ACT is 25 (e.g., Hersey –I saw a modest 3bd/2ba townhouse condo for sale in its enrollment zone for $125k –less than what one would pay in any non-War Zone neighborhood of Chicago)

    Now, I understand that many of these students’ deficits were K-8, so it’s not the school’s fault if virtually nobody’s scoring at the “college readiness” level on the ACT in a few years.

    Unless there’s some kind of genuine SE aspect, there won’t necessarily be lots of high-achieving IB kids, just slightly higher scoring but still below-average achieving kids.

    Also, I wasn’t speaking for ALL middle-class parents, but for MOST of them. I think my feelings are fairly representative for the majority of people that look at stats, etc.

  • 110. HSObsessed  |  July 26, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    Just want to also disagree with KLM and say there are PLENTY of middle-class families who live in Lincoln Park for whom LPHS is a very, very solid option, even “just” the regular double honors program. My kid and many others in her 8th grade class could have gone to various SEHS, anything from Payton to Lane, but chose LPHS, and not the IB route because 1/ the insane amount of homework required is real in IB and didn’t seem worth it 2/ many, many kids begin in IB at LPHS and drop out by sophomore year or junior year due to workload and grades and 3/ easy 10 minute commute.

    I know there are many people who can’t square with the thought of their kids being at a neighborhood high school, but it’s working OK for us. Again, not to scare anyone, but the admissions counselor at LPHS mentioned to me that the quantity of applicants to the LPHS double honors program was so high last year that they turned down kids from Bell and Blaine who would have been admitted to the IB diploma program a few years ago. So the LPHS double honors program is hardly full of ne’er-do-wells. Anyway, the current crop of rising freshmen and sophomores will benefit from taking individual IB classes if they wish starting next year due to the wall-to-wall IB that’s coming.

  • 111. HS Mom  |  July 26, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    KLM – I think many/most people look at school stats for K through college. IMO those who are hung up on ranking and scores are in the minority. Most people (or at least the ones I talk to) use ranking/scores as a gauge to determine what school will be the best fit. The thought process for college might be along the lines of with X for grades/scores etc the best fit would be in schools 50-100, we’ll apply to this dream school #26 and to this sure thing #110. Same applies to HS only it looks more like this with X for grades/scores I will apply to these 4 or 5 SE schools with maybe a solid chance at 1 or 2 and a whole host of other options outside SE that have more of a guarantee. The rule of thumb amongst parents 4 years or so ago was the “no way in hell” school was anything under 20 ACT. A school may have a classroom or 2 of higher scoring kids but if there are not enough students to raise the bar to even 20, that’s just not an option for many people.

    You are right, you need the full range of upper level classes (DH etc) to challenge the average kid. Isn’t that why, regardless of ability people want to send their kids to SE. And yes, you need classes for neighborhood students who have no intentions of going to college but need to finish HS, learn something while they are there and go on to find a real job.

    I think it’s a combination of what you say “scores matter” (because they do) and what IBO suggests – many families by both desire and circumstance need to look beyond scores.

    The challenge before many people is how to make the neighborhood school attractive with enough features that an average child looking to attend college will grow and benefit from and will just be plain excited about school.

    KLM – I think you’ve pretty much hit the nail on the head with your assessment and have put words to what others have suggested.

    So, how does it happen?

  • 112. klm  |  July 26, 2014 at 2:49 pm


    Did you see my posts (107, 98) above. I kinda’ was singing the praises of LPHS. Sorry that I didn’t mention DH along with HH and IB. That said, how many parents from Lincoln are fine with their kids being in the non-honors-of-any-kind core academic classes (the kinds of classes very few kids from Lincoln would even enroll in)? I don’t know any –that aspect of the school still scares people, right or wrong. I’m assuming that you think it’s wrong. However, I’ve been able to observe at LPHS and it’s kinda’ (wait I mean REALLY) segregated –not on purpose, of course, but by class more than anything. Sadly, the low-income kids are mosty black and the middle-class+ ones are mostly white. Classes are represented accordingly, depending on the level of achievement required to enroll in them. the remedial classes are virtually 100% black, the IB classes mostly white and Asian, etc.

    I was trying to say that just adding an IB progran (w/o an SE aspect) does not suddenly a “good” school make, in terms of creating higher test results, etc.

    I know LPHS DH is a good option, along with HH and IB. Yes, LPHS is more of a “good” option for kids in the neighborhood than years ago, for sure, perception-wise.

  • 113. LPHS  |  July 26, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    “I used to attach LPHS with f-word, n-word screaming kids I saw coming out of the school several years ago (I was genuinely horrorfied).”

    To be fair many others in the neighborhood still view LPHS as a no way in hell school.

    Back to the original post, 33% neighborhood at LP isn’t surprising, and it’s not just because of smart kids from around the city attending IB. It’s also because neighborhood parents have walked by the building when school lets out. Of course IB is top notch, but gen pop is equally rough. And as the administration says repeatedly during open house (quotes printed on banners around the school): LPHS is not 4 schools under one roof, it’s “One School.”

    And that 33% includes the manniere and Jenner kids. Factor them out and the % of students from the actual Lincoln Park neighborhood is much lower.

    “Many of them had the opportunity to go to Latin or Payton, but they chose LPHS, believe it or not.”

    That is rare enough an event in the neigborhood to be newsworthy. Maybe once a year you’ll hear “Suzy got into Payton but chose LP” Or “wow, wealthy family Z is attending LP over Latin.” It’s not “many”, it’s rare.

  • 114. IBobsessed  |  July 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    @109 klm, my post did not claim that anyone who takes IB will score high on the ACT or just having “wall to wall” IB is sufficient to attract middle class families. What I am claiming is that there are neighborhood schools with established IB DIPLOMA programs wherein the average ACT is in the college ready range. These are “selective” programs. The admissions requirements might not be as rigorous as LPHS IB, but they are solid programs that produce IB diploma grads. Look, a kid with one ‘B’ and a MAP score below 89th percentile in just 1 subject did not have the necessary points for admission to LPHS IB. Tier 4 with that profile and you can probably forget alll SEHS except maybe, only maybe, Lane. Where are these kids supposed to go to HS? Some middle class parents of college bound kids are not deterred by the average ACT of the entire school. In an IB diploma program they will be in classes with other serious students.

  • 115. HS Mom  |  July 26, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    @113 if you look at the data in post #2, the 33% of LPHS neighborhood students actually represents 60% of total neighborhood students. This means that the total student population is actually bigger than the neighborhood population so they have a very large out of neighborhood test in population.

    As far as Manierre/Jenner kids are concerned. How many of those kids go to charters or to Ogden? There are a couple right in the area. Of course this will no longer be an issue for LP once Obama HS opens up.

  • 116. HSObsessed  |  July 26, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    OK I looked up some numbers to put some perspective on this. In September 2014 there were 24 8th graders enrolled at Jenner and 26 at Manierre. Let’s assume those numbers were similar in September 2013. Let’s assume that 50% to 75% of those Jenner and Manierre kids went on to their neighborhood high school, LPHS. (Others likely chose other options, including charter high schools. There are twice as many seats at charter high schools than there are in charter elementaries in CPS.) That’s 25 to 35 kids, or about 5% from a total enrollment of 600+ LPHS freshmen enrolled in fall 2014. And I’m pretty sure that most of those Jenner/Manierre kids were not the thugs some of you may be envisioning. I asked my freshman LPHS kid once whether there were any kids that she saw at school who were at all scary, acted tough, wild or rude, made her nervous in any way, and she said no.

  • 117. HS Mom  |  July 26, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    @116 – thank you. I also think that the physical location of Jenner is right on the boarder of LPHS and Wells HS so you are probably overestimating

  • 118. HSObsessed  |  July 26, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    @117 – I think you’re right the actual numbers are likely lower. I see from this 2010 data that only 14 eighth graders from Manierre and 6 from Jenner went on to enroll as freshmen at LPHS in fall 2010.


  • 119. klm  |  July 27, 2014 at 9:37 am


    I know that many people in the neighborhood still have mixed feeling about LPHS. On the one hand, they know kids in IB are smart, doing great things, etc., On the other, they see the kids whose behavior is kinda’ frightening, given their language (at least once I wondered if certain girls could possible put more f-words, and n-words in a loud conversation whre my kids could hear and I was upset, but too afraid to say anyting).

    Looking at Lincoln Elementary’s Principal Notes from a few months back, he listed the schools last year’s graduates attended — a full 56 went to LPHS (22-IB, 22-DH, 11-H, 1-PA). 3 went to Latin, 3 to Lab, 3-SICP, 6-Payton, 6-NSCP, 5-JCP, 3-WY, a couple to prep schools out East ……

    That’s quite a few going to LPHS.

    Even for middle and people that some may call “upper-middle-class,”
    over $30k/year (probably closer to $35w w/ fees,expenses,etc…) in after-tax income for a kids is a lot, especially if one has 3,4,5.. kids. I know for a fact that a family that could have probably afforded Latin (and their kid was accepted) was relieved that he chose LPIB, as the mother talked about it with me. They’ve been touring colleges (Bowdoin, Middlebury, Amherst, ……) this summer. He’s a smart kid, so he’ll like get into one of these schools.

    The biggest factor in changing my mind about LPHS, after seeing the upsetting behavior of some LPHS students when we first moved into the neighborhood (and these images were strong) was the kinds of kids that I later saw attending the school, especially ones from my neighborhood from families with options, etc. That kinda’ impressed me into thinking twice and putting the images of the kids that were screaming n-bombs and f-bombs on the top of their lungs in from of my children and who had pants hanging down to their knees on the back burner. Yes, there are kids like that –ones that I imagine already have or soon will have criminal records and babies that they are in no way prepared to take care of, etc. –it creeps me out.

    But, that’s not representative of LPHS in 2014.

  • 120. North Center Mom  |  July 27, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    On another high school topic, this week the state of Illinois announced that the ACT test would no longer be required by high school juniors.

    Does anyone have any insight to why this decision was made? I see some problems. Right now the test is free for high school juniors. If the state uses another test, CPS students will have to pay for the test themselves. That will be a burden for many families. Also, the ACT results are a very good way to measure and compare a high school’s performance.

  • 121. HSObsessed  |  July 27, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    I just re-read my post @116 and realized my years were off — oops. The 24 and 26 kids were from the 20th day of enrollment in September 2013, not 2014, obviously. Then subtract one year after that in the rest of the post. Sorry – I’m brain dead by 10:00 pm.

  • 122. anonymouse teacher  |  July 27, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    @120, I could be wrong, but I thought I had read that even though the state was not requiring it anymore that CPS still is. I did look up the cost and its only about $50. Personally, I don’t think school systems should pay for this. I feel this is a cost families should pay for.

  • 123. CLB  |  July 28, 2014 at 8:37 am

    @120 The state wants to switch everything over to the PARCC exams. The ACT is expensive but I’m not sure how much more than the PARCC. PARCC aims to offer K-12 exams (and even exams for college years). Of course, from what we now know, PARCC will be “secure” meaning that, unlike the ACT or SAT, the past tests and answers will not be available to the public. So, there will be no accountability for PARCC.

  • 124. Teacher and Mom  |  July 28, 2014 at 9:07 am

    @120. Illinois is still on track to give the PARCC exam to students. Many states have opted out, as this test is new. Very little information has been released to teachers, parents and districts. Although not the best judge of students’ academic ability, at least the ACT is normed and comparisons can be made. Furthermore, ACT is still used for most (def not all) college entrance as well as for $$ in tuition aid.

    As a parent, I am not happy that ANOTHER test will be given to my child…one that will not be used for college entrance. I know how he is performing, I do not need standardized data to tell me more. He will still need to take the ACT. This is just less classroom time and more testing time.

  • 125. Chris  |  July 28, 2014 at 10:58 am

    @104: ” It’s like only taking Olympic-level athletes into a soccer team and then saying you have the best team in AYSO. ”

    That’s called “travel soccer” (hockey, baseball, AAU basketball). It’s about the only way for the ‘elite’ teenage athlete to compete regularly against players of similar skill.

    It’s a reasonable thing to believe that it is ruining sports for kids, but it ain’t going away easily. And the parallel to selective enrollment schools is notable.

  • 126. IBobsessed  |  July 28, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Chris, “Club” or “Travel” leagues are ruining even elementary school sports starting at middle school age. Kids whose parents can pay 1k for a year round volleyball raise the bar so high other kids playing for recreation at school cannot begin to compete and sometimes don’t even make the team. And we’re talking about 6th graders.

  • 127. Chris  |  July 28, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    ““Club” or “Travel” leagues are ruining even elementary school sports starting at middle school age.”

    We are not involved, mainly due to lack of interest (and possibly lack of talent, too), so was attempting a neutral-ish comment. But felt compelled to mention that the ‘selective enrollment’ thing *absolutely* happens in kids’ sports, too.

    And that 1k/year can be just barely a start–there’s travel for the tourneys, camps during school breaks and over the summer, etc etc.

  • 128. IBobsessed  |  July 28, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    Yep, Regarding the state of kids’ sports, did you see this? (Off the thread topic, but a worthwhile read)


  • 129. Chris  |  July 29, 2014 at 10:31 am

    IBo: Yeah, there you go, showing that my “And that 1k/year can be just barely a start” was right on point–the article cites a family spending $15,000 per year for two kids on travel softball–presumably on the same team, and thus *slightly* reducing the per kid cost for travel at least.

    $600/month/kid is a lot of green.

  • 130. Sports  |  July 29, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    #129. Yeah. I was listening to NPR last week. They were interviewing the “Birdie Sisters” and their father. These are CPS SEHS students competing in golf tournaments. The father talked about there being an 11 year old girl in the tournaments. He estimated that her parents spend $200k / year on her golf needs. He was actually asking for financial support for his own girls and other players. Plus overall support – cheering at an event held yesterday – as well.

    The pressure is on with sports. A friend of a friend recently pulled her child out of a (non-cps) H.S. because the school didn’t offer sports. Child wants to go to Air Force. Air Force supposedly instituted a new pollcy of not accepting anyone who has not played team sports.

  • 131. klm  |  July 30, 2014 at 7:13 am


    I’ve never understood the way some/many parents spend so much money, time, emotional energy, etc., over sports. If only they’d be 20% as involved in their kids’ academics as with their kids’ sports activities.

    I’ve known so many people (mainly extended family members) that would never shut up about their kids’ sports activities, paid money they didn’t really have for specialized coaching, training, travel, etc., convinced that their kid’s going to be some great pro or at least get a “full-ride” scholarship to a Big Name College. However, I’ve never seen it happen. The best-case scenario I’ve seen is the kid gets a very, very partial scholarship to No Name College that they didn’t want to attend in the first place.. Worst-case scenario I’ve seen: broken dreams, money untimately wasted that could have paid for college or tutoring to help a child overcome academic deficiencies, people that won’t shut about about how they were all set to be a world-class athlete until an injury happened and now they live in their parents’ basement and work part-time at Target (real story) –where was the “backup plan”?

    Don’t get me wrong. If a kid’s really talented in a sport, go with it and get them the best coach, team, etc., if that’s what the kid wants (not just what the parent wants). But do NOT forget about school –learinging’s the most important thing, right? Being really good in a sport can help some kids get into a good college and can be helpful in terms of building social skills, friends, etc. But it’s NOT everything.

    On of my kid’s actually quite talented in a particular sport. However, that activity is so, so secondary to doing well in school and learning, for me and my spouse. If this athletic talent helps getting into a competetive college or (dare to dream) a scholarship, cool. However, I’m not holding my breath and I know that although I’m 100% supportive, my biggest role as a parent is to create a competent scholar who is capable of doing well in life, not merely helping create an athlete.

    I don’t mean any disrespect towards “sports parents,” but sometimes I want to ask them: “Where are your priorities as a parent?”

  • 132. cpsobsessed  |  July 30, 2014 at 8:36 am

    I may have told this story before, but an old boss of mine (one of the original babyboomer helicopter parents) did a bunch of research to determine which sports would most likely help a kid get into an ivy league school. At the time, she determined that swimming was key (can recall why, something about team and indiv competition maybe.)
    She pushed her kids academically AND in swimming and they both did make it into ivies (probably pushing the odds.). Not sure if they got $, but just pointing out how sports can help the cause.

    Followup; one kid never made it out of the Ivy. Couldn’t do what was needed to graduate, despite excessive helicoptering.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 133. CLB  |  July 30, 2014 at 10:36 am

    @128 links to the NYT op-ed by a pediatrician dealing with many severe sports injuries in youth:

    I treated two teenage sisters who had career-ending knee injuries in the same year. Fifteen thousand dollars of their father’s annual income had been going to three different elite traveling softball teams. His goal was a college scholarship. Now their knees and chances at athletic scholarships were ruined. But $15,000 a year would have been a great D.I.Y. college fund.

  • 134. mommy  |  July 30, 2014 at 10:50 am

    I think of sports for children as a great component of character development. Setting goals, working to achieve them, being a team player, teaching sportsmanship, working through adversity, and learning how to deal with different coaching styles. In addition, kids in the city cannot just go outside and play (unsupervised) after school the way I did when I was young. Sometimes, enrolling a child in an organized sport is the best way to ensure they are getting some exercise in a safe, fun environment. Lastly, having an ADHD child, I can atest to the fact that sports has really helped. She has to focus to learn new skills, and we have employed some routines/rituals into her athletics that she uses to help focus at school also. Don’t know if she is scholarship material, though she is certain she’s going to the Olympics 🙂 I do know that if she continues to play sports and do well in school, she will have excellent time management skills when we send her off to college along with an appreciation for exercise….hopefully this will be something she’ll incorporate into her life long after her education is complete.

  • 135. Salutations on Hurlburt  |  July 30, 2014 at 11:52 am

    I’m happy to report our new Taft Principal Paul Grishaber is cleaning house as he has gotten rid of two asst. principals from last year (Susan Gross and Carol Garai) and replaced them with three of us his own people and keeping one asst. principal. Both Gross and Garai are 20-yr. CPS veterans and were each making over $135,000 per year. Here’s the details:


  • 136. Sports  |  July 30, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    The power of sports:

    From DNAINFO on the new Taft Principal at Taft:
    Too many students who live on the Northwest Side choose to attend high school out of the area, Grishaber said at the forum. To reverse that trend, Taft should host more sports tournaments and summer programs, in order to allow grammar school students and their families to get comfortable at Taft, he said.

    This is something Resurrection H.S. does and it is pretty cool recruiting tool if they can convince parents and kids to sign up. Have to like what is seen.

    Most of my neighbors on the far northwest side are already planning on Catholic H.S. in city and suburbs, but are hoping that Taft can turn around. Hoping Taft can turn it around within 5 years.

    They really do need to narrow the boundaries. It is greatly overcrowded.

    I recall getting a flyer on a charter school within the Taft attendance area last fall. Can’t recall the name or exact location, but that would help with overcrowding if the other H.S. on the north side are too crowded to handle a decrease in Taft’s boundaries.

  • 137. HSObsessed  |  July 30, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    The new principal at Taft seems great and the school will likely benefit. It’s an interesting contradiction, though, between the apparent widespread “no one sends their kids to Taft” mentality and the fact that it’s the most overcrowded HS in the city. They really need to tackle the boundary issue, but that’s a huge hot button issue. Also, each improvement that the principal makes will make the task of changing the boundaries even harder (“Oh, now the school is finally an option, so you want to cut MY neighborhood out of the boundary?”).

  • 138. anonymouse teacher  |  July 30, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    re: sports. On one hand, spending thousands upon thousands of dollars on a sport that very well may work a child too hard, causing injury, etc, seems kinda stupid to me. On the other hand, its pretty impossible to access any sport for free. 1K per year on a sport is not a lot of money in the scheme of things. (think about what we all spend on coffee each month or on cable or whatever) Most park district programs cost a good $200 for a 6-8 week session once you get beyond the baby programs. I think when it gets obsessive, that is when its kind of gross.

    At the same time, when I was 7, I fell in love with horses, started taking lessons, my parents ended up purchasing one horse for pleasure riding, I began competitions and eventually, we bought another horse for showing. I took copious amounts of lessons and spent most of my waking hours riding, grooming, learning, throwing hay bales, cleaning tack, going to competitions and watching horses with all the love a girl has. My parents easily spent 15-20K a year and this was back in the day. There was some talk, as I recall, of riding professionally or working with an olympic team. I was really, really good at the sport. But I never started doing it to get an “edge” or to get scholarships. I simply loved doing it. And like many, many other 16-17 year old girls, I lost interest in horses when I realized there were boys out there and other things in life. Was it worth it? For me, yes. I enjoyed every minute. For my parents? I don’t know. That was a lot of cash to spend. I don’t think I’d do it (I won’t allow my daughter near a horse for fear I’ll never get her off of it) purely for financial reasons. Still I think its important to remember, that some families spend a lot of time and money on sports and other activities (have you looked at what an Art class costs at Lil Street—an arm and a leg!) because they really enjoy it. We only live once and school, while important, is just school. It isn’t life. My family values school but not above all else. I think balance is key.

  • 139. anonymouse teacher  |  July 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Sorry to comment again, but I think its all about priorities. Some people think its okay to spend 500K on a house. That would not be okay with me. Some people think its okay to buy a mini van for their 2 kids. I would never do that. I know I spend far more than most people would on going out to eat because I hate cooking. That’d be not okay with a lot of other people. Who cares what anyone else does? We all get priced out of things, tested out of things, screwed out of things. That’s life. If a kid can’t make the team in high school because everyone else has been doing it since they were 3, its not so impossible to go to the park with some friends and play soccer. Or advocate for a rec team and pay the high school teacher willing to coach it $30 an hour to supervise. Split that ten ways and that’s an awfully cheap fun way to enjoy the sport.

  • 140. luveurope  |  July 30, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    136 And that is the reason Resurrection, St. Patrick and Notre Dame are thriving. They have summer programs, clubs, activities, etc. all year. Yes, the Taft boundaries need to be closed in, but in all fairness, what other nearby CPS schools would you send your kids to????

  • 141. Sports  |  July 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    140. Boundary change wouldn’t impact our specific neighborhood. Taft would still be our school. We will do SEHS or private HS if Taft remains overcrowded and doesn’t truly turnaround in 5 years.

  • 142. Sports  |  July 30, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Or even better, build an annex or best of all – a new school on the far northwest side.

  • 143. mom2  |  July 30, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Do CPS schools report crime statistics anywhere? I’m sure many people would like to know truthfully if there are incidents of crime, gang activity, threats or other safety issues at a particular school (rather than just going by rumors or how it appears when you look around, etc.).

    I now know several kids that graduated from Lake View HIgh School and they are all going to 4 year universities and loved the school, the teachers and most of their classes and they had no issues with gangs or crime. That is a great sign but I have no idea if they just had a good experience or the common experience. How can we all find this out?

  • 144. IBobsessed  |  July 30, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    @139 It’s not about caring what other people do and it’s a bigger issue than the private financial priorities of each family.
    Pricey club sports are turning into a pricey money maker for adults what used to be regular exercise, team work experience, recreation, and the ability to play a range of sports as a child. This might be the case more at private/parochial schools than CPS. However, alot of families can’t pay for even park district teams, and many park districts don’t offer them. When a child cannot play on an elementary school team because all the other teammates are so highly skilled after playing year round in club, something has gone awry. Maybe your ‘form your own recreation team and pitch in to pay a teacher to coach” is a solution, but isn’t that why we have school sports teams? So that’s taken care of?

  • 145. Chris  |  July 30, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    mom2: “I now know several kids that graduated from Lake View HIgh School and they are all going to 4 year universities and loved the school, the teachers and most of their classes and they had no issues with gangs or crime.”

    There is a *perception* in the immediate neighborhood that the amount of tagging (which is, off and on, noticeably more than in the less immediate area) is related to/done by the out of neighborhood kids at LVHS. The connection may be true, or it may be a completely unfair assumption, but that single thing is part of changing the perception of LVHS.

  • 146. anonymouse teacher  |  July 30, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    At the elementary level, its reasonable for schools to have a “everyone plays” rule. Parents can make this happen through advocacy.

  • 147. HS Mom  |  July 30, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    RE: Taft boundaries

    Taft (18.8 ACT) is surrounded by Mather (17), Steinmetz (16.2), Roosevelt (15…..6) and Schurz (15.4). I know at least 2 of these schools are considered under utilized. I agree with 137, redrawing boundaries and/or building a new school in the same area adjacent to old schools is fraught with peril.

    @146 – there are 2 soccer leagues, SAY and AYSO that are “for fun”. Everyone plays – if you’re good enough. I guess it isn’t fun to be in last place.

  • 148. Hockey Mom  |  July 30, 2014 at 8:11 pm

    We’re a sports family and darn proud of it! Both on the competitive and recreational level, sports teach many valuable life lessons that you don’t necessarily get at school. In addition, they are a great outlet for expelling extra energy and stress after a long day sitting at a desk. The goal is for our kids to enjoy full, productive lives through everything they choose to do. If they get into great colleges, all the better. And for what it’s worth, I know several adults who have gone the distance to establish successful sports careers. My husband is one of them.

  • 149. anonymouse teacher  |  July 30, 2014 at 8:37 pm

    Oy vey. All right you all, I gotta take a break from all this. I’ve finally escaped CPS as a parent and an employee and not sure why I subject myself to anxiety ridden discussions about it. (or maybe I’m the only one who gets anxious and unhappy whenever I talk about CPS….maybe some leftover ptsd from my former CPS job, haha, I’m mostly kidding) I’m happy with my suburban school district in which I now work and happy with the one my kids attend. It doesn’t make sense for me to keep participating in drama when it doesn’t affect my life anymore.
    Best of luck to everyone on their journey through CPS. Your kids are lucky to have each of you as its obvious you care about them tremendously and they really will do fine no matter what’s happening in the system.

  • 150. Way Outta There  |  July 31, 2014 at 5:12 am

    @ 131: “I’ve never understood the way some/many parents spend so much money, time, emotional energy, etc., over sports. If only they’d be 20% as involved in their kids’ academics as with their kids’ sports activities…One of my kid’s actually quite talented in a particular sport. However, that activity is so, so secondary to doing well in school and learning, for me and my spouse. I don’t mean any disrespect towards “sports parents,” but sometimes I want to ask them: “Where are your priorities as a parent?”

    Hey, klm, some of us have kids who struggle academically (in our house due to learning disabilities) but shine in athletics. What’s wrong with supporting that? After enduring years of bullying at CPS (from students and faculty at a very high-regarded ES) due to learning disabilities, my high school student still hates school but looks forward to practice every afternoon. I thank God he’s got something in his life that he’s really good at. How wonderful for you that your student is good at everything. Try not to judge the rest of us.

  • 151. HS Mom  |  July 31, 2014 at 6:45 am

    anonymouse teacher – Drama? Just a comment on fun sports – not a serious debate.

    In any case, I do appreciate your input (whether we agree or not) and hope that your new move brings your family much happiness.

    148 and 150 – I don’t think the conversation here is an indictment of sports. The original issue, one that I think is valid, is that kids wanting to participate in varsity sports at the HS level and possibly into college need to pay for expensive training in order to make the cut. So, just like the thousands that can be spent for test tutoring, “GPA” protection, private college counseling services, college essay specialist, exotic volunteer experiences……sports training can now join the list of things that you need to do if you want to develop that well rounded resume to the selective level.

  • 152. cpsobsessed  |  July 31, 2014 at 7:03 am

    @135: from what I’ve gathered over the past7 years in CPS, a new principal always selects their own APs. It just seems to be how it’s done. I don’t think those APs will face any shame in trying to get new jobs within the system. It just seems to a part of the “changing of the guards” – for better or worse.

  • 153. klm  |  July 31, 2014 at 7:30 am


    Nothing wrong with suporting sports. As I mentioned, if kids are good at something and they like/want to do it, then go for it. I was simply pointing out that putting all of one’s eggs in a single basket is not a good idea (and this would include academics –obsessing totally over standardized test %iles, chances of getting into Northwestern, parents having an emotional breakdown over a ‘B’, stressing kids out about all that… What about social skills, community involvement, team dynamics that teach about life, etc.?).

    What happens after “sports”, is something some parents (not you) sometimes seem to ignore at the expense of their kids’ long-term best interests.

  • 154. 7th  |  August 1, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Since someone mentioned NW schools – whatever happened to building a new school or schools on the Reed-Dunning parcel? The city gave CPS the land and there was a big meeting last year. Then…nothing. Anyone know what’s going on?

  • 155. Rod Estvan  |  August 2, 2014 at 5:12 am

    Kim as always is forthright and unrestrained in commentary, now in relation to sport obsession on the part of parents. I will admit from the time my youngest daughter was in fifth grade at Newberry through her four years at Payton she spent a significant amount of time in competitive fencing. It wasn’t cheap either, including junior tournaments in Europe, private coaching, etc.

    She also fenced at U of I Champaign and was highly competitive at the national level. She did not make the US Olympic team which was devastating for her and for me. Her academics continued to be superb and she had an ACT score of 30. She is now doing her PhD at the University of California at Davis in agricultural economics. Similarly George Schmidt’s son, the editor of Substance news, who was a stand out baseball player at W Young went on to do post graduate work at U Cal.

    In my case I believed deeply that sports taken seriously by children at relatively young ages creates self discipline that lasts a life time. I myself was a competitive wrestler at Lake View, the University of North Dakota, the US Army team (at the time the only commissioned officer on the team by the way), and ultimately the US Olympic team as the back up to a silver medalist.

    Each of us raise our children within a different cultural framework and for many middle class college educated families that does include serious training for sports. For a historic military family like my own sports were a preparation for service, in fact my daughter was also accepted at West Point and had a Congressional sponsor, but chose U of I. Like myself she was in college ROTC and was commissioned upon college graduation. She will be in a reserve unit while studying in California.

    Rod Estvan

  • 156. Wendy  |  August 2, 2014 at 5:49 pm

    @klm- here are some other average ACT scores for suburban high schools:

    Maine East: 20.6
    Maine West: 20.7
    Niles West: 21.9
    Niles North: 21.7
    Evanston: 23.2
    Oak Lawn: 19.8
    Oak Park: 23.6
    Oak Forest: 20.1
    Wheeling: 21.1
    Mt. Carmel: 18.9
    Schaumburg: 20.9

    Most high schools in IL don’t have average ACT scores that match New Trier, Deerfield and Libertyville. The sorting taking place in Chicago creates lots of challenges, but from the feedback I am hearing from many parents, there are many ready to give neighborhood high schools a chance because they are so tired of the pressure around the SEHS process. Now to convince their kids who have been hearing from their peers (via parents) that all neighborhood high schools are “bad”.

  • 157. Proud mom  |  August 2, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    My daughter swims on an amazing city club swim team. Amazing results? Not so much at least for her. But, she loves it. She is middle of the pack and probably doesn’t have even a college scholarship coming. Here’s why we endure the grind. I love that she is committed to something. She doesn’t put her grades second at all. I love that she has friendships outside of school based on something achievement oriented. I love that she feels like she’s part of something bigger than herself. Here’s what the research shows she will gain: better grades, more positive body image, less depression, more self confidence, higher self esteem, less likely to smoke or do drugs or get pregnant, less chronic illness, stronger bones, lowered lifetime chance of obesity…the list really does go on and on. Will she always want to swim? I don’t know, but I’ll support it given the above as long as she keeps her grades high. And it definitely isn’t because I’m dreaming about college scholarships.

  • 158. klm  |  August 3, 2014 at 9:10 am


    I’m looking at an old Chicago Magazine with one of thos “Best Schools” stories. I’m not sure if these are still the most accurate #’s, but here’s what they published for some local HSs and ave. ACT scores:

    Glenbroon North 26.3
    Glenbrook South 24.7
    New trier 27.5
    Prospect 25.2
    Hersey 25.2
    Maine South 25
    Fremd 24.8
    Hinsdale Central 26.4
    Naperville Central 25.2
    Naperville North 25.6
    Neuqua Valley 25.2
    Wheaton North 24.4
    Wheaton South 24.1
    North HS 24.3
    Vernon Hills 24.3
    Barrington 25
    Lake Zurich 24.3
    Libertyville 25.2
    LFHS 26.8
    NTHS 27.5
    Deerfield 27.1
    Stevenson 26.2
    Geneva 24.1
    Lyon Twp 24.1
    Fremd 24.8
    HPHS 26

    If anybody has issues with these #s, they should contact ‘Chicago Magazine’

    I mean, we’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people having access to quality schools, where automatic admission to a decent, high-performing HS is automatic.

    And people don’t have to be rich to live in Naperville, Wheaton, Lake Zurich, …etc. if anybody thinks that, they’ve never been to these places.

    Given all that, is it any wonder lots of people would rather move to Vernon Hills rather than send their kid to a HS with an ave. ACT of 16 nd barely anybody is scoring college-ready?

    I know that I’m not alone in looking at #s like those above and feeling like many CPS HSs are not a good option. People can act like I’m being ridiculous for wanting my kids to have the kind of HS environment that other people do (including just regular people that live in regular houses in regular suburbs), but I’ve seen what a disadvantage a mediocre HS is.

    Every HS will have its Superman or Wonder Woman student that does great, despite being the only person in their classes that scores over 25 on the ACT, but it seems like common sense to me that it’s not such a great idea.

    Again, I hate to get too personal, but I grew up in the ‘hood and trailer parks –lots of mediocre public schools, even for the “bright” and motivated kids around me. I also saw how difficult it was when they went to college and realized that being a rock star at a HS with a really low ACT doesn’t mean a lot when the kids sitting next to you are much better prepared in every way for college-level work –and they were just regular students at their HSs. I won’t go into details and give stories (I have plenty).

    So, fine, anybody that wants to can call me petty, too test-score-obsessed, unrealistic, snooty, unrealistic, etc., feel free –it doesn’t bother me a bit. But a quality public HS education where just average student sit surrounded by very capable students is not some distant dream or unrealistic desire –so many people already have this for their kids. What’s wrong with me wanting something similar for my kids? Why shouldn’t I want something else for my kids?

  • 159. Wendy  |  August 3, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    @klm- I don’t think you’re being ridiculous at all and you have every right to want to send your kids to a high school based on whatever ACT score you think is important. You just happen to be listing schools in suburbs where the median income is well above the median income in IL – all on your list are above $90k and most are over $100k. My point was just that there are other high schools out there with lower average ACT scores where kids are getting a good education (I went to one of them).

    Some people may value academic diversity within a school, and some may not. Many of your posts read as if all parents think the same way, and I don’t think that’s the case. I am not insinuating that there’s anything wrong with you for wanting your children in a place with mainly high-achieving students. The problem in Chicago, imo, is that there’s so little academic diversity because of all of the sorting happening. I don’t see how this benefits the majority.

  • 160. klm  |  August 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm


    You have good points.

    Sorry –I’ve obviously got a chip on my shoulder the size of a minivan about all this.

  • 161. claire  |  August 3, 2014 at 11:28 pm

    Off topic…but does anyone when/if CPS is going to release the ISAT scores from this year? Usually they are out by mid July. Will they release NWEA data too?

  • 162. Chris  |  August 4, 2014 at 5:05 am

    “all on your list are above $90k ”

    Where do you find the data that Fremd, in Palatine, has a over $90k median HHI, when Palatine, generally, is at $63k?

    Anyway, the real commonality of all those districts isn’t so much that they are “rich”, it’s that they have a much lower percentage of poor kids. Which is much the same as the sorting in CPS–almost every school that is perceived as ‘good’ has a ‘low income’ percentage below 50.

  • 163. HS Mom  |  August 4, 2014 at 6:28 am

    “The problem in Chicago, imo, is that there’s so little academic diversity because of all of the sorting happening”

    Suburban families move from one suburb to another because of school. One family of 5 at my work just moved once the oldest got to HS. From one suburb that was “no way am I sending him to that school” to the New Trier district. They found a place in Northfield that was affordable. Plenty of sorting going on…..look at your list. There’s Maine East, Maine West, and then there’s Maine South. In many cases, the academic sorting is just as sever as Chicago given the lower performing schools that are not listed.

  • 164. klm  |  August 4, 2014 at 8:07 am


    What you say is so true.

    The thing is –it seems like there are 2 schools:

    1. Find an OK HS for your child, and they’ll be fine. Obsessing over average ACT scores is petty –worry about what your own kid’s doing, not what the “average” kid at a particular HS is doing.

    2. I want my kid surrounded by high-performing peers. Most studies show that being in a school like that is an advantage on every level. The kinds of achievement, goals and overall environment of a school is obviously important —peers play the biggest role in many kids’ lives. Not to mention the horror stories we all know about mediocracy in so many HSs and consequent broken dreams.

    Obviously, I’m with school #2 above. My experience with lousy public schools has left me kinda’ gun shy, especially when I compare all the people I’ve known in life that went to “good” HSs vs. ones that went to “bad” HSs. Going to a “good” one is a huge advantage on every level (expectations, norms, role models, confidence, ability to handle college-level work, especially in STEM subjects…) from what I’ve seen –and it’s not all because of family income.

    Thing is, as you suggested, people obsess about this stuff all the time. Yes, some parents don’t care all that much if their kid goes to Niles North vs. New Trier vs. Lake View vs.Whatever High School ….. However, most everybody I know who is an educated person that has a decent job does. They reasearch, look into test scores, see where kids go to college, etc. —and they should be doing that, shouldn’t they? I mean, people are in grades 9-12 only once, so the kind of education they’re getting in the 4 years before college is hugely important. Most people I know aren’t willing to take a chance, even if they’re more open-minded about primary grades. In K, 1,2,… people can read to their kids, work with them, they can see what’s going on, make sure they’re doing their school work. By HS, that’s not the case. If kids are sitting in a class with kids that are 2 years behind grade level, do you really think they’re getting the same preparation for Organic Chemistry 101 at UIUC as a kid that goes to a HS where most kids are at grade-level or are exceeding? Yes, in perfect world, kids could just go to any HS and get the same “quality” education, but that’s simply not true –far from it.

    As you suggested, not all “good” HSs are in wealthy communities. Many have a decent % of kids that are low-income.

    My issue is that when CPS parents show the same attitiudes and concerns as other parents in Naperville, Northbrook, Barrington, or whatever, suddenly some people tell them to just “trust” a HS, despite the fact that between 98-100% of its students aren’t meeting college-readiness standards –it’s getting ‘better’, to stop having such high-fallutin’ ideas that their kids need to go to a HS with achievement levels like people get in Naperville. Huh?

    I mean, it’s EDUCATION! If there’s one area where parents can obsess, it’s that.

  • 165. Norwood  |  August 4, 2014 at 10:26 am

    There’s a lot more going on at Senn. 10 years ago the school took any student, and the impact on the neighborhood and the school was negative. Then half the school was converted into a ROTC type program. Lots of controversy, but it was a big improvement. The IB program is the next step in the evolution, but it is now just starting to pick up steam.

    Edgewater is very low profile, and so is Senn. I’m not surprised by the low enrollment from outside the neighborhood.

    Senn is 2 blocks away from our house. If I have a choice of sending my kid to NSCP/WY and then Harvard, or sending him to Senn and then Harvard, I’m picking Senn. I hope the IB program works.

  • 166. HSObsessed  |  August 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    @161 Claire – IIRC the ISAT scores are usually released at the very end of October.

  • 167. Wendy  |  August 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    @Chris- I got the median incomes from the US Census Bureau website. Sorry, I missed that Palatine was at $73k for median income and not above $90k. I checked most of the towns listed and missed that one.

    My point was just that you don’t need every single student in your high school to be a super-high achiever in order to get a good education. I think for many kids having some academic diversity is beneficial on the social-emotional front.

    But that’s just me. And I went to a hs where there was a lot of academic diversity. And I went to a public university and a private graduate school where I saw how prestige/rankings doesn’t always= great teaching/classes. I got a lot more out of my lower-ranked public undergrad experience than the higher-ranked grad school I attended.

  • 168. CPS Alum  |  August 4, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Palatine is a large suburb with more than one high school. The parts of Palatine that go to Fremd are a lot more affluent than the parts that go to Palatine High School (namely Inveness with 1million + homes) Plus Fremd takes from affluent parts of Hoffman Estates and South Barrington.

  • 169. CPS Alum  |  August 4, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Per ISBE:
    Fremd: low income 11.9%
    Palatine High school low income 44%

  • 170. Stevenson Grad  |  August 4, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    I attended what was at the time and continues to be one of the state’s top high schools. While I got a quality education and ultimately went on to a highly ranked university, I take credit for 99% of my success as I’ve always been a driven, studious individual (even when I lived out-of-state and went to mediocre schools). Point is, I probably would’ve done well anywhere. For me, H.S. was a means to an end. Several of my fellow schoolmates now have amazingly wonderful careers; many do not. Despite the school’s great reputation, it still had decent sized pockets of burnouts and druggies. Diversity was zilch (eg, 3 AAs and handful of Asians). I’m Facebook friends with a good portion of my class and lots of them have surprisingly poor grammar. It occurs to me often that just because you’re handed an award-worthy education doesn’t guarantee you the golden ticket that’s posted about here often. It’s got to come from within.

  • 171. luveurope  |  August 4, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    170 you are abolutely right. I’m sure all the suburban schools that CPS parents dream about have their share of nonsense, drugs, uninterested students and parents. High School students have to learn self motivation which will get them successfully through high school, college, career, life… Don’t know how to teach it, just know what it is.

  • 172. klm  |  August 4, 2014 at 6:40 pm


    You went to Stevenson –by anybody’s reckoning, a great school, academically.

    Do you think you’d have been as well prepared for college if you went to a HS with much lower scores?

    Looking at ISBE stats, the % of kids at Stvenson the exceed PSAE standards (which is actually not easy to do, most kids at even the best HSs don’t) in reading/math.science – 34/38/36

    For example, at Lake View HS, it’s 1/0/1.

    Sorry if I can’t help but imagine that science classes are not taught or experienced at the same level at both schools.

    The stats at many other non-SE CPS HSs (Senn, etc.) are also kinda’ lamentable.

    Some of us (especially those of us that actually have attended low-performing K-12 schools, but also have experienced high-performing K-12 schools at another point —what a difference, in my case. Night and Day) have a hard time believing our kids will get the same education at LVHS as at a school like Stevenson. Plus, ad the higher drop-out rate, ….. And I’m talking about just regular kids (which is what most of our kids are, including mine) that will be happy to go to UIC, Illinois State, NIU, etc., not Ivy-obsessed ones that want to be on the Supreme Court or become neurosurgeons.

    Many people (like me) are thrilled for their kids to be getting a fantastic CPS education and are confident that our kids are learning as much (or more, even) as kids in Naperville, Deerfield or Lincolnshire, because our kids’ K-12 schools have great ISATs to prove it. Naturally, when it come to 9-12 education, people like me want the same thing, in terms of objectively “good” learning as measured by cold hard facts.

    I’m all for supporting CPS, but sometimes people are just going to say, “But, gosh, those low scores –I can’t do it.”

    I’m one of those people that love pointing to stats showing how great many CPS schools are, even better than ones in the more expensive suburbs, etc. This includes many non-SE neighborhood CPS elementaries. Doing the same comparison with HSs, however, the differences (apart from the SE schools and ones with a SE element, like LPHS) b/t CPS HSs and those in many, many suburbs is kinda’ huge, –not just large, but disturbingly huge..

    And I understand that it’s effectively because smart kids in Chicago go CPS SE or private for HS, so that neighborhood HSs don’t get the local braniacs, like they would in a place like Buffalo Grove. –but still. Until schools like LVHS and Amundsen get genuine SE programs, and increase their scores, many parents will be scared of by fears of mediocrity and expectations and curriculums constructed accordingly (real or not).

    And I also understand that people like me create the problematic cycle –we won’t send our kids to LVHS, so it doesn’t get to enroll more higher-scoring students because their parents (like me) won’t allow then to go there, etc.

    I’m double trouble –the biggest complainer, but also the parent whose attitudes are causing much of the problem. I know that.

    When it come to schools for my kids, show me the money!

  • 173. Taft Parent  |  August 4, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I’m more worried about some figures, besides standardized teats scores, I found out today

    Taft Graduation rates

    2013 – 75% (CPS = 70%)
    2012 – 70% (CPS = 69%)
    2011 – 82% (CPS = 74%)


    Taft Chronically Truant Rates:

    2013 – 42% (CPS = 32%)
    2012 – 46% (CPS = 30%)


  • 174. HS Mom  |  August 4, 2014 at 10:00 pm

    170 – For us, attending SEHS was beneficial because my teen was NOT driven. . Of the clear take-aways for a kid not so driven as yourself are the influence of all peers being college bound, the opportunity to experience upper level learning discovering potential, attending and participating in things like poetry competitions (and still be cool), and getting guidance from teachers who care and want to help you build up your strengths because the students are interested in them and the class…..to name a few.

    I agree, you don’t necessarily need a whole school full of exceeding kids but there is a threshold before that dynamic doesn’t work as well – particularly for those who are less driven or enthusiastic about school but have great possibilities. Things can so easily go the other way.

    In the real life example that I gave of people moving between suburbs, their original home was in Westchester, school Proviso West (btw catholic elementary). I think their scores are pretty low. Seriously, how could any family that cares at all about education send their kids here given a choice.

    I look at the schools listed in 156 and I think BLAH!. IMO, It’s good to be able to attend a non-neighborhood school without moving.

  • 175. HS Mom  |  August 4, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    20 – Good luck with that Harvard thing – from any school. I’m sure your kids are excellent candidates.

  • 176. michele  |  August 5, 2014 at 7:55 am

    Everyone posting please remember even if you are not sending your child to what you’re believing is a lower performing CPS neighborhood HS like Lakeview, you and your family can still make a difference there. You can choose to give a little of your time and intellectual energy to those kids and teachers as well. Part of the challenge is neighborhood families abandon their their neighborhood schools and try to shift the social responsibility to some one else. If it’s in your neighborhood own it and work to make it better. Collective positive action is what makes our city schools work best. Remember if you’re not part of the solution your actions can become part of the problem.

  • 177. HS mom  |  August 5, 2014 at 9:29 am

    176 – Lakeview is not my neighborhood school (quite frankly, I would choose LV over those mediocre suburban schools) but I don’t think that making the best possible choice for your children is part of the problem. I think it’s overly optimistic to rely on time from working families who have their own kids to invest in plus their own schools who need their time.

    I suggested, and some agreed, that reformatting the school could bring both “academic diversity” and higher performance levels. While helpful, the school needs something more than parent volunteers and testimonials.

    So, sorry, I don’t feel like part of the problem at all. Just a mom trying to do what’s best for my kid.

  • 178. mom2  |  August 5, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Yes, please. Reformat Lake View High School and add some selective elements. Give preference to neighborhood kids to try to entice them to come. Invest in things that sound impressive to neighborhood parents (STEM labs, partnering with DePaul and UIC, high tech stuff, etc.) It will increase the overall school ranking and scores and will make everyone consider it a choice in the future. It is the only way.

  • 179. HSObsessed  |  August 5, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    @178 – Lake View has had exactly that for about 2-3 years now: selective enrollment STEM program; partnership with DePaul and Microsoft; dual enrollment at City Colleges courses for college credit. It’s all on their website.

  • 180. luveurope  |  August 5, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    179 Dual enrollment at city colleges is for any student who has decent grades and resides in Chicago.

  • 181. karet  |  August 5, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    klm, One thing that is mostly absent from discussions that compare suburban to Chicago schools is diversity. For me, attending a diverse school is an extremely important part of my children’s education. We are all, of course, profoundly affected by our own high school experiences and want to “correct” what we felt was missing from our schools. I went to a suburban high school (different city) that was large but almost entirely white. I just checked their stats — currently they are 2% black and 2% Hispanic. Pretty similar to Hinsdale Central (currently 2% black, 4% Hispanic) or New Trier (currently less than 1% black, 4% Hispanic). Then I went to a private university. When I gradated from college, I had never known well any black or Hispanic people. At all. I was aware that this was ridiculous, strange. I have now worked in a diverse environment for many years, live in a more diverse neighborhood, etc, but I still remember the oddness of that. It’s really important to me that my kids do not have that experience. For that reason, schools like New Trier and Hinsdale have no appeal for our family.

  • 182. HS mom  |  August 5, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    178 etc – I agree with what I believe your concept is. Taking a stab at refining the idea, LVHS would be an ideal candidate for selective enrollment – period, not STEM solo or IB. STEM by itself is not a big enough draw for 14 year olds plus these classes/programs are available in SE schools. IB is unique but programs at other schools will draw those interested in IB. If you figure seats for say 400 in boundary kids who would attend that would give you around 1,000 selective enrollment seats. LV is a nice size school with a lot going for it and located NE where there are currently no SE schools.

    Just a thought,

  • 183. klm  |  August 6, 2014 at 7:00 am


    I agree that in a perfect world, every “good” school would be pefectly “diverse.” However, we don’t live in a perfect world. I know lots of people will roll their eyes when I mention this for like, what, the millionth time, but I have black children. Of course I’d like diversity –but actual learning is about 100 times more important to me. I’d rather my kids go to a HS with an average ACT of 26 that’s 4% black than one with an average ACT of 17 that’s 40% black.

    We looked into suburban schools that were “integrated” –Evanston and Oak Park. However, these HSs were kinda’ like (similar to the current Tale of Two Cities divide in thee city of Chicago) 2 schools in 1, when I looked at achievement stats. For white and Asian kids, they’re top academic HSs. The white kids have New Trier-like scores. However, for black kids, there’s, if anything a greater achievement gap than in other schools. A school where remedial classes are virtually 100% black and the AP/advaned classes are virtually 100% white/some Asian is not really the right kind of diversity that I’d want for my kids. I’ve talked to people that went to these schools and some people that teach/have taught at these schools and they tell that there is “technical” integration, but in practice (and I don’t believe that it’s the schools’ fault, but nonetheless true) segregation through tacking, given that most black kids at these schools are way behind and most white kids are way ahead, academically. Given that, I’m not sure it’s such a positive envirnnment in which to be black. Yes, there are lots of black faces, but too many are doing remedial work and are in resource rooms. The achievement gap is huge even at these otherwise high-spending, high-performing schools Sure these schools are “diverse,” but it’s not really the kind of diversity that seems attractive to me or my (black) spouse.

    Many CPS schools like WY and Jones have lots of really high-achieving black kids, along with high-achieving kids of all other races, as well as (and I think this is also very important) lots of “class” diversity. However, these are SE schools, so good luck in terms of all my kids getting into one, unless we change Tiers.

    I will also make this point when people (not you) point to certain urban schools vs. suburban ones and will something to the effect of “Well, the average ACT at my school wasn’t as high, but I learned a lot about different people.” Having grown up in the ‘hood, I always wondered who are these “different” people? If an school’s mostly low-income non-Asian minority, it’s no more diverse than a school’s that mostly white/some Asian and non-low income –plus it’s academically inferior to boot. So, where’s the benefit? There’s no “diversity” in a school like that, plus one’s about 1,000% less likely to be prepared for a rigorous academic work load at a decent college.

  • 184. klm  |  August 6, 2014 at 8:54 am


    Thank-you for mentioning this fact.

    I hope people don’t take this the wrong way, since I’m all about saving money, getting ahead in college credits, etc. Kor some kids it can be great.

    But, …..How many middle/upper-middle class people are really excited about their kids taking classes at a Chicago City College? I don’t mean to lessen or demean these schools, but sadly, I think it’s part of the more bifurcated economy/society/culture where the top 10-20% lives ,more and more differently than the bottom half. No educated person with a decent job will want their kids to enroll at ones of these schools, unless maybe it’s for a special interest, non-credit -type class for fun, etc. –but not for “real” college credit. Again, some people will think it’s horrible that I’m pointing this out, but no person in Lakeview with middle-class aspirations for their kids will think “Oh, cool, my kids can take a class at Truman College!” It’s more like, “Oh, boy, why would anybody ever go to school there, if they have options?”

    I know some people will think it’s wrong than I’m pointing this out, but it’s obvious.

    Now, if kids could get credit at UIC, Loyola, DePaul, etc. –that would be a selling point.

    Again, how many people with kids at New Trier would be thrilled with their kids getting college credit from a Chicago City College? Why should it be any different foe a Chicago parent? Are our kids simply less desering of higher standards? As Chicago parents, are we supposed to lower out expectations to the point where opportunities at an open-enrollement, to-some-people-a-joke junior college is a “selling point?”

    I guess my gripe is that sometimes since we live in Chicago, some people think that we need to have lower expectations and be excited about an “opprtunity” that no person in a middle-class suburb would ever in a million years consider as a “good” one. Same when I discuss learning environments/standards, etc. –why does living in Chicago mean that one should accept a certain level of mediocrity that nobody in other places would?

    And that, in essence, is why “turning around” certain CPS HSs for many people will be a very tough sell.

  • 185. Parent  |  August 6, 2014 at 9:42 am

    I will second @183. I would not choose to send my kids to a school that was diverse over one that was higher quality because diverse does not always pan out in practice the way it is idealized in theory, so it is not worth sacrificing quality for this perceived benefit. I went to a high school like KLM describes in Evanston and Oak Park. In fact everyone from town went there, which meant the kind of balanced percentages of every race that folks on this board would drool over. But exactly what KLM describes was the reality — kids from different groups never really interacted more than we would have out walking the streets. Why? We went to classes with kids of our own abilities. Those classes did not shake out with the beautifully balanced racial percentages of the school. Unfortunately, since no one learns tolerance by osmosis, walking the halls with people of different colors does no better than walking the streets or a neighborhood with people of different colors. The result? — surprise, surprise — people learned their tolerance levels (or lack thereof) from what was taught at home. Some turned out very tolerant/understanding/welcoming/etc. Others, not so much.

  • 186. Chris  |  August 6, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    “No educated person with a decent job will want their kids to enroll at ones of these schools, unless maybe it’s for a special interest, non-credit -type class for fun”

    I knew *many* people at [Fancypants University] who would take certain pre-med ‘requirement’ classes at the local community college instead of at F.U., to avoid the unwanted A-/B+ on their transcript, in a class that was merely a requirement, rather than ‘core’ knowledge (like calculus, or organic chemistry).

    To the extent that City College course provide either transferable credit OR satisfaction of pre-requisites at some range of possible colleges of attendance for a given kid, then it’s great. I have *zero* idea how realistic that is, but have to believe it’s viable at least for the IL state schools. If it’s not viable, I have to question the whole point of the system.

  • 187. karet  |  August 6, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    @klm, I agree that WY and Jones seems to be an ideal mix. I hope Obama High is able to attract a similar population. You and 185 are right about Evanston and Oak Park; those schools tend to self-segregate. I do think that the environment at a HS is much more than test scores though — students learn so much about their values, priorities, and so on, at that age. Who wants their kid to go to New Trier and Harvard, and then turn into that guy in the Cadillac commercial? Not me. I’d rather have my kids go to a CPS school (whether it’s WY or LVHS or Taft, which is our neighborhood school), go on to a state university, and develop into generous, compassionate people who value diversity. For me, success is not defined by wealth — and it’s very important to me that my kids don’t define it that way, either.

  • 188. Wright College - City College  |  August 6, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Stanford, Berkeley, Smith, Mount Holyoke, all of the big Tens – these are some of the schools my spouse’s students have attended after attending Wright College (a city college on the Northwest side). Plus 100% of the Pre-Pharmacy students who graduated this Spring from Wright were accepted into PharmD programs.in Illinois and other states.

    Northside College Prep H.S. graduates attend Wright along with students from lots of other schools. Students choose Wright to save money and then transfer to a 4 year school. As long as they work with the counselors from Day 1, they should be successful in taking courses that transfer.

    It is a great option for folks who are committed but don’t want to go into debt. Science program is especially strong at Wright. Plus they have an awesome Great Books Program.

  • 189. CPS alum  |  August 6, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    @klm–“No educated person with a decent job will want their kids to enroll at ones of these schools, unless maybe it’s for a special interest, non-credit -type class for fun, etc. –but not for “real” college credit.”

    That is a very presumptuous statement, and highly insulting to the HIGHLY educated people with MORE than decent jobs who would disagree. I can think of a few who have actually encouraged their kids to attend a city college because it is a financially prudent thing to do.

    That post exemplifies what Wendy pointed out in 159, “Many of your posts read as if all parents think the same way, and I don’t think that’s the case.”

    While I understand the spirit of your point, your arguments would be much stronger if you avoided absolutist and universal claims.

  • 190. Anon on Community College  |  August 7, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Many people choose to start with community college to save money, transfer to a 4 year and go on to highly successful careers. My spouse did this and is now top in his field, a top position at his company doing very well in his career by anyone’s standards.

  • 191. klm  |  August 7, 2014 at 8:01 am

    I hope that everybody understands that I’m trying to discuss things from the point of view of the target group that Alderman Pawar was thinking of –middle-class families that move to the suburbs in search of “good” schools, since they feel their CPS options are limited, especially if their kid doesn’t test well, etc.

    I’m not saying that’s how ALL parents think, but I’m fairly certain that the sentiments I describe represent the feelings of many/most middle-class(+) people that are the target demographic, which is, again, those that want high-performing schools for their kids, like the ones their friends and co-workers have that live in Libertyville and Naperville. These are also the people than can and do move to suburbs with excellent schools once their kids reach school age or sometimes HS age (I see it happen all the time), if SE admissions, etc. doesn’t work out.

    I’m not at all oblivious as to the points people are making, believe me. However, if the goal is to get people that can (and do) spend real money on a home (given that real estate in the city is just as expensive, if not more expensive than similar demographic [middle/upper-middle class] neighborhoods in the suburbs with excellent public schools), then I’m letting you know –this is how people think. It may not be how you think or how you think people should go about making decisions about their kids’ education, but it is what it is.

    Accordingly, “opportiunities” at an open-enrollment community college for their kids is NOT a selling point for educated professionals that can easily move to Northbrook or Barrington –it’s just not. Schools with low test scores and high drop-out rates, no matter how nice the teachers and how valiant efforts are to provide more rigorous classes, etc., aren’t going to attract many people unless they see results vis a vis test scores and drop-out rates, etc. If there’s a school-within-a-school with suburban-like test scores that can be shown to potential families, then great. However, it’s a huge leap of faith to expect people to just enroll their kids into a HS that’s not considered very good academically (ave. ACT 16), has a large % of kids dropping out and many grades behind, etc., just because some people want them there. Especially if people can easily move to Lincolnshire and automatically enroll their kids in a HS with an ave. ACT of 26.

    I’m not making this up –it’s how people think believe me, right or wrong. Many people here seem to think test scores, ststs, etc., are not as important, but that’s not how the people I’m discussing think.

    My own niece was rejected at her Name state uniersity (a highly competetive UVA, Michigan, UNC -type state school) for undergrad. She went to community college for 2 years (mainly to save money), transferred to the same school, did well and now she’s in pharmacy school at the same school. I’m NOT against community colleges. However, for educated professional types, they are not something that they want for their kids, all things being equal. Should I lie and say, “Wow! City College for credit! Every upper-middle-class family in Lakeview’s totally going to want their kids going to LVHS now!”?

    or should I tell the truth and discuss what people like that want from a HS and give some ideas of how a HS can realistically attract them?

  • 192. HS Mom  |  August 7, 2014 at 8:17 am

    “While I understand the spirit of your point, your arguments would be much stronger if you avoided absolutist and universal claims.”

    While I agree with this, and as a general rule…..good idea, everything that everyone says here is not always going to be in the perfect context. As you mention, spirit of the point needs to be considered with everyone here.

    With that said, I completely disagree with “Many of your posts read as if all parents think the same way, and I don’t think that’s the case.” KLM has her own unique and very forthright way of considering issues. She tends to tell it like it is – from her POV – and that’s why SOME people seem to be disturbed (or insulted, as you say). A KLM post is bound to bring up thoughtful discussion and I like it. Or should we just let the spam take over?

    Regarding the city college program – KLM, I certainly understand what you are saying but this program is for high school students, not necessarily grads. For example, I know of one student at Jones whose parents moved to the suburbs for senior year and since she could no longer attend, finished out her HS degree at city college. Also good for smart kids who attend Chicago HS’s that do not offer upper level classes. So, the program has a real function. I completely agree that the first line of attack for MANY families is to pursue more traditional college/university options that will provide scholarships and need based help. There seems to be many good options in Chicago now and there are a lot of kids who just want to stick close to home. For some families, wealthy or not, it’s a victory to get the kid to attend any college at all.

  • 193. HS Mom  |  August 7, 2014 at 8:27 am

    KLM – thanks for the post which happened while I was writing. Agreed about LV.

  • 194. mom2  |  August 7, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Is the STEM program at Lakeview really selective? In other words, do you have to test and have certain grades to get admitted? Is their priority for neighborhood kids? What is the criteria and score requirements? Is that a school within a school like Lincoln Park’s IB program or the gifted programs at the elementary school level? Are the kids in STEM separated from the rest of the school or just some of the classes? Is STEM considered really amazing and special by the community? I heard they had a STEM program and had some sort of program with Microsoft, and it sounded promising when it was announced. But I haven’t heard much more about it and it seemed like it was fading or not really anything to brag about lately. Am I wrong? Is this just poor marketing or more? I know there is something called “STEM” at SE schools, too. Is this something more special than that or the same or less? What are the ACT scores of these STEM selected students?

  • 195. HSObsessed  |  August 7, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    @194 – Those are all great questions that should be asked when looking into the STEM program and LVHS when on a visit to the school. With the new principal and neighborhood parents starting to rally around the school, I’m sure they’ll have all the answers. They’ll likely have school tours in fall when application season begins.

    @184 KLM -I have to take issue with your describing that “no educated person with a decent job would want their kids to enroll at one of these schools”. Maybe I’m not educated enough and my job’s not decent enough, so I’m not who you’re referring to with your statement, but I’d personally be thrilled if my HS kid were up for taking classes for FREE at Truman or Wright or Harold Washington while she was still in high school, which is what the program allows. These would be 100-level classes in basic subjects that kids can take during fall, spring or summer, and I think many/most colleges and universities would happily give college credit, as well as recognize the determination of a kid who would take that route, even if they were “just” attending a city college.

  • 196. Wright College - City College  |  August 7, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Plus with so many colleges not accepting AP courses for credit, I think the cheaper route would be to skip AP and take college courses that you know will transfer over.

  • 197. Educated Person with Decent Job  |  August 7, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    College credit for free . . . sign me up!!

  • 198. HS Mom  |  August 7, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    @194 Exactly!

    HSO – The school needs to have a reputation – like LPHS does – not only within the neighborhood but within the city before many parents will even explore the program as anything other than a fall back plan B – second to SE, other programs, private or moving. Plan A options, including moving, will be a tough competition given their current image. Lincoln Park also has something more than IB to offer. I don’t want to speak for all parents but I’m guessing that a large number are not interested and have no intention of pursuing STEM. Lakeview has a negative image supported by lower scores, people are not going to go to them. They need to get out there with something more than STEM. These things may even be in place,,,,,doesn’t appear that many know about it.

  • 199. ganchca  |  August 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Hi all – wanted to share the latest that came out of LVHS here: http://tinyurl.com/mz99oea . Also, you can sign up for their email list here: http://eepurl.com/YSGLf . Looks like they are beginning to address many of the issues being discussed here.

  • 200. Senn community  |  August 7, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    @165 – “half the school was converted into a ROTC type program. Lots of controversy, but it was a big improvement. The IB program is the next step”
    The Naval Academy (Rickover) brought onto the Senn campus with much controversy had nothing to do with the positive shift at Senn. The contrary is true. Rickover is a separate school and its introduction in 2004-5 led to rumors at the time that Senn was being taken over/closed. Enrollment at the school dropped markedly following the move and the climate actually declined as well. It was about 4 years later when CPS approved the first expansion of Senn’s IB Programme in response to a concerted effort by the Senn community and its strategic planning committee. The magnet Arts program also grew out of that effort and finally came to fruition once Principal Lofton joined the school and pressed the matter.

  • 201. klm  |  August 7, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    Geez, everybody. As I said, I’m all for community college for some people if it works well for them and their academic plans/goals. During discussions people have had on this site re: college, etc., I’ve even suggested Oakton CC to some people. It worked out great for my niece and other kids I know of, too.

    The point that I was trying to make is that Dual Enrollment with a Chicago City College isn’t going to excite many of the families in the “target market” –those neighborhood middle/upper-middle-class families that move outta’ the city instead of consider a local CPS HS.

    BTW, just about every HS student in Illinois can take classes at a community college (it depends which school district if it’s ‘free’ or not), so it’s not like it’s something extraordinary for a CPS HS to offer this. Any student 16 and older can enroll, pretty much. Minnesota started allowing HS student to take comm. college classes 2 decades ago and it’s been a big success. The state where my sister lives does the same. My niece took some comm. college-HS Dual Enrollment science classes and got some college credit for 1 or 2 of them, from what I recall my sister telling me.

    So, yes, great for kids that it’s helping out in the long run, really. Less debt = smart move. But I still stand by my statement that not many middle-class people that care enough about their kids’ educations enough to move to Northbrook or Wilmette will be “sold” on a low-scores neighborhood CPS HS b/c it offers dual enrollment at a Chicago City College.

  • 202. AVille Mom  |  August 8, 2014 at 12:02 am

    @199 Thank you Senn Community for your strategic efforts to improve Senn. I can honestly say for us, and many of our neighbors as well, we’ve watched Senn go from “no way in ^#&#^” to an actual option for high school. We are still a few years away, and not sure what the right fit will be for our children when the time comes, but we now view both Senn and Amundsen as true possibilities. We are a family that values education, and certainly wants the best for our children. One will likely thrive on the selective enrollment path, the other two, though both strong test takers, just don’t seem cut out for it. Size is a big factor for us as well, and that is what makes Amundsen attractive.

    What our children have to deal with at 12 and 13 is crazy, IMHO. I also worry that some of these kids are under such pressure to get into the right high school, excel, then get into the right college that by the time they get to college they are burned out and very susceptible to all the wrong turns a young adult can make living away from home for the first time.

  • 203. Taft Parent  |  August 8, 2014 at 7:09 am

    I hope our new principal, Mr. Grishaber, can turn Taft around in the same amount of time as Senn High School was under the leadership of their principal Susan Lofton. She’s done an unbelievable job in a short period of time.

    One of the things Taft has a huge (I mean HUGE!!!) problem with is tardies, both to school and to classes. In fact, in one week alone last year, Taft had close to 500 tardies per day and the weather wasn’t bad outside. The biggest problem in the past was there weren’t any real consequences for racking up tardies and the students knew this was the case. Taft is known as a ‘tardy’ school and a school with ‘loose’ halls. (a school with ‘loose’ halls is one where students walk freely through the halls without permission.)

    A ‘tardy’ school is one without any real procedures to follow, especially keeping track of tardies in the school computer attendance system. Some Taft teachers keep track of tardies and mark them diligently, while other teachers have a ‘Laissez-faire’, let it be, or let do attitude about tardies and allow students to come to class as they please without regard to class structure of interruptions. .

    What do our ‘lazy’ Taft teaches do to help? Nothing. We have a skeleton security team and they don’t even want to give up one prep period per week. Instead, they cite the union book of how they’re not supposed to be forced to do any duties on their two prep or one lunch periods per day. And, they have plenty of unworkable suggestions to fix the problem and none of those suggestions has them being a hall monitor once a week for one period.

  • 204. Busing  |  August 8, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    With one Principal and 3 Assistant Principals, the Principal should be able to figure this out.

    Teachers are not to blame for everything.

    Why isn’t anyone else stepping up?

    Principals have discretion on how they allocate their $ now. So they should be accountable for figuring out how to maintain order in the classroom.

    Figure it out.

    I’ve seen much better behavior in some of the much lower ranked inner-city schools on the South side where gangs permeate the neighborhood – order in spite of this.

    Sounds like a failure in leadership to me.

  • 205. Taft Parent  |  August 8, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Hopefully, the new principal at Taft will figure it out. He’s already hired a 4th asst. principal and said he’ll personally spend 50% of his time in classrooms. Our last administration wouldn’t leave their offices and stayed on their computers all day and acted like they would be eaten by a monster if they left their offices. They had horrible people skills.

    Our new principal Mr. Grishaber said that he also is planning to have the school’s new security director to also serve as “head of student culture.” He said that security officers will be asked to find ways to interact with students in a positive manner, such as having lunch with them in the cafeteria.

    I don’t see how giving up one prep period per week would hurt the teachers. It seems every time something is said about teachers, they get up and start saying they’re getting bashed. What’s one period per week if you’re a part of team?

  • 206. Taft Impressions  |  August 8, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    204. Taft Parent

    Based on what I have read about Taft in the above posts, I don’t think there is a sense of team. Team comes with trust.

    With the last principal (the one that retired), looks like things were very dysfunctional. I only met him once and found him disrespectful, dismissive, and non-collaborative – his way was the way and too bad parents. I don’t have children there and was just there as a prospective parent.

    The new principal and team will have to build trust and respect within the entire school and community. It starts at the top. He and his team will have to walk the talk and lead by example.

    If I were a teacher at Taft, I would find it hard to sacrifice anything for the previous team – based on what was shared above – a team that wouldn’t even leave their offices. Put things in perspective and the teacher’s response is understandable. Plus I know of one teen who just graduated who shared that there was a fight in the hallways every day. I wouldn’t be too eager to sign up for that either, especially if the administration were sitting comfy in their safe offices.That’s just common sense.

    The community is rooting for the new principal and the school. He seems to be up for the challenge.

  • 207. Taft Parent  |  August 8, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    I was told there were SEVEN fights in one day at Taft last year. No security, no teachers, no administrators around anywhere. The kids said they broke up five of the fights up themselves. It seems the students walk the halls and everyone else hides until the coast is clear.

  • 208. klm  |  August 9, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Re: Taft

    These stories are kinda’ dispiriting.

    I know that Taft has some good programs, some “Look here –see what can happen!” outcomes (I’m thinking of a story I read about a Taft grad that’s now studying a STEM subject at Northwestern), but what people are describing is exactly what people are afraid of and why they move to the suburbs or go private, rather than send their kids to a neighborhood CPS HS. Not to mention, Taft is one of the “better” neighborhood CPS HSs –what are the “bad” ones like?!

    This goes to the greater point that “turning around” a neighborhood HS is much, much more difficult than an elementary school. By HS, most kids are already set in their ways: ones that love learning continue to love learning, ones that are naturally bright, but lazy stay that way, ones that hate school often still hate school, kids that care more about hanging out with the “cool posse” than learning do that, etc. Of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but it’s also kinda’ true in a very generalized way. We all know kids from middle school and how they were in HS –we can look at ourselves. How often do people radically change between 8th and 9th grade?

    That’s why when somebody says “I went to Stevenson and not everybody was a good student or cared much about school, so don’t think a high ave. ACT means everybody’s on board, etc. ..”,
    I have a resonse of something like, “Well, of course not everybody at Stevenson or New Trier cares about school.” These schools effectively enroll practically EVERY kid from their enrollment communities –the druggies, the braniacs, the jocks, the anti-jocks, the weirdos, the lazies, the nerds, the drama queens, the anti-everything-their-parents-like crowd, etc. However, the AVERAGE student at these schools is actually doing pretty well, in terms of learning and preparation for college and eventually the current skills-based job market. Sure there are those that get high before school and go to the city to score drugs –that’s everywhere in every kind of school.

    The problem with HSs in Chicago is that by 9th grade, the brainiacs go to one kind of school, the kids from families with middle-class+ money that can’t get into a “good” CPS HS (or don’t want to go to a CPS HS) go to another (Loyola, Roycemore, Gordon Tech, British School, SICP, De LaSalle, etc.) and “everybody else” goes to another CPS HS. Some HSs get “reputations” or people talk about all the crap they’ve seen or heard (like above when people discuss Taft), etc., PLUS the achievement stats are not good, either.–often, they’re truly horrible. Sure, bad stuff happens in Lincolnshire and Buffalo grove, but at least the average kid’s scoring 26.5 on the ACT and the bad stuff usually never involves guns and/or gangs.

    At an elementary school, if a group of “the right kind” of parents (apparently the ones before aprrox. 2006 at Nettelhorst were the ‘wrong’ kind) decide “we all go in together,” they know that, on some level, “It’s only Kindergarten.” People know that they can work with their kids to get them reading, learning math, etc., plus if the school doesn’t realy work out, well, there’s still some time to move or find another school before “the damage is done.”

    By time kids are in HS, “that’s it” –this is the last stop before (hopefully) college and eventually the “right” or “wrong” path for life. People aren’t going to take as many chances, given how important this “last journey before adulthood” so often is. Of course, in life there are no guarantees. Some kids go to New Trier or NSCP and go nowhere in life. Some people go to “crap” HSs and do great things. We all know that, but I don’t think it’s a good argument when parents express concerns and want a high-achievement, less-likely-to-party-with-a-gangbanger environment for their kids

    Doing a common-sense mental computation, taking in the role peers play, the importance of critical thinking in preparation for higher education, the vulnerabilty people feel towards their kids’ safety (both emotional and physical), etc. is it any wonder many people are reluctant to happily enroll their kids in a low-scoring, high drop-out rate HS with some gang issues (which likely it or not sends shivers up the spines of people that imagine their kids at a party where somebody gets pi**ed-off and comes back with a gun and starts shooting up the place –my spouse’s cousin [a ‘good kid’] was killed exactly in that same way).

    For all these reasons and more, it’s gonna’ be a hard sell to get people that can just move to a good suburban HS district, (even if their kid is a lazy slacker that likes experimenting with ‘bad’ stuff –they’ll be surrounded by lots of kids that are learning and doing great, relativley speaking) to enroll their kids at Mediocre Achievement and Bad Reputation High School.

    I really don’t understand why when people (like me) point this stuff out some people are so upset or at very least quick to criticise. If people want a HS’s enrollment population to change to be more middle-class (or really, given how expensive it is to own a home in Lakeview, upper-middle-class), etc., they need to give middle-class people more reason to like the school, rather than simply dismissing their concerns as “petty” or their desire for the kind of school kids have in Glenview as “unrealistic” or somehow “elitist” while praising low-scoring HSs as somehow more virtuous because their student populations are more “genuine.” That kind of response won’t change things or produce results. Giving middle-class families what they want (high-achievement, a culture of high expectation rather than one of it’s-good-enough-don’t-act-snooty, safety, lots of right-path-in-life peer role models, etc.) will.

    It’s kinda’ Marketing 101: Give people what they want, NOT what you think they should want and “screw ’em” if they don’t like it.

  • 209. HSObsessed  |  August 9, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    @194 and anyone interesting in making Lake View HS or Amundsen HS great HS options, I advise you to sign up to get Alderman Ameya Pawar’s newsletter, even if you’re not in his ward. He’s really leading the effort, and you can get lots of info from his mailings. The following is from one of his July 2014 newsletters:

    #GROW47 and Neighborhood High Schools

    Last night, my office hosted the rollout of the new ‘Lake View Partners’ with Principal Scott Grens, Lake View High School STEM partners (Northwestern University, DePaul University, Microsoft), Ald. Tunney, Ald. Cappleman, and over 70 of our neighbors. The event was a tremendous success! People had an opportunity to meet Principal Grens and learn more about the university and technology partnerships. Most importantly, everyone had a chance to hear about Principal Grens’ vision to make LVHS a solid choice for everyone in our community. In sum, complete #GROW47’s vision to build a neighborhood K-12 system in our community.

    Neighborhood schools have been my ‘all-in’ since taking office – but I still hear some skepticism about neighborhood high schools. But here is what I know: People move to our community for elementary schools, but move to the suburbs for high schools when their children reach the sixth or seventh grade (sometimes much earlier). Why? Families and students are living in a pressure-cooker. If you live in Tier 3 or 4 of the CPS Tier system, your child has to get straight A’s, never miss a day of school, and test in the 95-99% percentile to test into a selective enrollment high school. For many families, the stress is just too much and they move to the suburbs. What do they get in the suburbs? Suburbs make schools the starting point for everything they do. Property values, economic development, and community sustainability is tied to the school districts. So one tax bill nets a family an entire K-12 system. This means there is no stress about getting into the right high school to get into the right college as everyone goes to the same high school. There is more stability and equity for all kids. And this allows kids to be kids and families to live with some peace.

    To combat the suburban outflow, I launched GROW47. The goal: give families in the City what they seek out in the suburbs — a neighborhood K-12 system.

    The completion of a neighborhood K-12 system in our community begins with you and me. And it begins with shaping our perception of neighborhood high schools. Everyone has to get involved-parents, homeowners, renters, business owners, etc. It doesn’t matter if you have children. You can do your part by running for Local School Council. Or join your school’s parent organization. Volunteer at an event or put a sign in your window. At a minimum, spread a positive message about your neighborhood school. How does this help? Because performance follows perception.

    If you and your family are tired of living in a constant state of stress, I urge you to take a second look at Lake View High School and Amundsen High School. Both schools have transformative principals, vision for excellence, and great programs. What’s missing? Buy in.
    Shaping school perception begins with you. And again, performance follows perception. So what can you do? Get involved. Here’s how:

    Join the new Lake View Partners – email Scott Grens

    Join the Friends of Amundsen

    Work with both principals to set up school tours

    Begin a dialogue on your block about neighborhood schools – and name the time and place and I will do my best to be there to give your neighbors my pitch on building a neighborhood K-12 system. Email schedule@chicago47.org to make arrangements.

  • 210. pantherparent  |  August 11, 2014 at 8:57 am

    I know I’m being picky but Alderman Pawar needs to drop the line about “never miss a day of school”. That used to be a factor for SEHS but was dropped about 5 years ago.

  • 211. Chris  |  August 11, 2014 at 11:47 am

    “I know I’m being picky but Alderman Pawar needs to drop the line about “never miss a day of school”.”

    That’s not ‘being picky’; it’s a commonly held misconception, that stays alive bc of repetition like that.

    I think I’ll email him about it.

  • 212. HS Mom  |  August 11, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    I hate to be picky too but the LVHS website offers no help in answering questions or explaining the role of sponsorship. No mention of Northwestern. Attractive, however. Most people learn about schools by studying the website…..no?

  • 213. mom2  |  August 12, 2014 at 11:34 am

    I certainly think that they need to improve their marketing at LVHS and that includes their web site, brochures, high school fairs, etc. Not only do they need to make it more selective and share scores in a way that highlights the success of students in these programs, they need to scream their opportunities and accomplishments from the rooftops. We will embrace it and I know other families that would, too. We just need the school to put all focus into showing off.

  • 214. RFR  |  August 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Re: LVHS- it takes a few brave parents to take the step and try the school. They like it, tell folks, and few more go. The biggest deterrant is other parents and worse, non-parents, that see things like graffiti and assume the kids are doing it, and judge- likely incorrectly. It scares parents and kids, and they choose elsewhere. The scores will very slowly rise if more neighborhood parents do not try the school, because of course kids from other neighborhoods will go instead. The scores will rise more quickly if the neighborhood kids opt to go, simply due to access and economics (sadly). It is a good school, has a lot to offer, and pretty safe. I look forward to my elementary aged child attending in a few more years!

  • 215. LV Parent  |  August 13, 2014 at 7:30 am

    I have a friend who’s involved with LV’s LSC in some role and she tells me Lake View new principal Scott Grens has already made a positive difference in the time he’s been I charge of the school. Though, he’s having a hard time with getting some veteran teachers to be ‘all-in’ and support the school, instead of telling him what they’ve done 10-15 years ago and citing the union book to tell him what he can’t make them do. Right now, he’s trying to find enough teachers to be club sponsors, coaches, etc. for after-school programs. One teacher my friend mentioned was a veteran teacher who makes close to $100,000 to be a gym teacher and has been there for almost 24 years or so, hasn’t coached at LV in 10-12 years, is head of the PE Dept., and coaches football at a catholic school making only $2500 or so to coach there and not at LV. How is this allowed to happen? When was it okay for LV’s last principals (Scott Feamon and Dr. Lilith Werner) to allow this to go on when this teacher is showing no interest in LV students and thumbing his nose at them by coaching elsewhere? Where’s the loyalty to CPS and LV where this teacher is making a GREAT living? CPS has to stop this. If a teacher is around students all day and can’t be ‘all-in’, they shouldn’t be there. If the teacher wants so badly to coach at another school and bond with their students, let them go make half of what they’re making for CPS to do it. Why is CPS paying people like this? RIDICULOUS!!!!!!

  • 216. mom2  |  August 13, 2014 at 9:32 am

    That’s something I hadn’t thought about…trouble with older teachers. Hopefully Scott Grens will find a way to get those teachers to either get with the new and wonderful program or decide to leave for other schools that fit their outdated philosophy. That is critical.

    RFR – what grade is your child currently? We are hoping to be attending LVHS in 2017.

  • 217. LV Parent  |  August 13, 2014 at 10:46 am

    She just graduated. She loved it and said LV isn’t as bad as what people think.

  • 218. mom2  |  August 13, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Thank you, LV Parent. I was actually asking RFR, but I appreciate the information. I know some people that graduated from there, too, and they really liked it, felt safe and are going to 4 year universities now. But, I want people to say the school is amazing and incredible and challenging and the best kept secret and things like that. Not, “it isn’t as bad as what people think.”

  • 219. LV Parent  |  August 13, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    What do expect high school kids to say? Maybe, your expectations are too high, huh? Lake View is among the best neighborhood schools in Chicago. It’s 4th behind Lincoln Park, Von Steuben, and Morgan Park as far as non-selective enrollment, neighborhood schools go.. And, Lake View is ahead of Taft, which is underperforming and overrated with extremely high teacher salaries. The other alternatives to Lake View in that area for a neighborhood school are: Alcott, Amundsen, Sullivan, Senn, and Uplift. And, several Lake View students who live by Kelvyn Park, Schurz, Foreman, Steinmetz, Wells, and Clemente would rather travel an 1-1.5 hours each way on the bus to come to Lake View.

  • 220. mom2  |  August 13, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    Please don’t be offended. I know Lake View is a great option. I don’t think you realize the pride that kids from SEHS’s feel about their school. They do say their school is amazing, wear their shirts proudly, and tell everyone they know how much they love it. I know because I had a kid at Lane. I want the same feelings and pride at Lake View. I know it can happen! I want the neighborhood kids to WANT to go there, not have it next after all these other choices.

  • 221. IBobsessed  |  August 13, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    LV please be careful not to promote your neighborhood school at the expense of other neighborhood schools. Students travel in order to attend Alcott, Senn, Amundsen, etc.

  • 222. momof3fish  |  August 13, 2014 at 7:12 pm

    my ds is going to that LVHS experience camp. He likes it a lot. LVHS is not our neighborhood school but I am liking the team I just met. he went to that stem camp and found it interesting. the teachers were engaging. if we had LV as an alternative i guess I would really be checking it out. after all, it is a numbers game…

  • 223. HS Mom  |  August 13, 2014 at 9:15 pm

    @213 – “The scores will very slowly rise if more neighborhood parents do not try the school, because of course kids from other neighborhoods will go instead.”

    Yes, this is the problem in getting people from the neighborhood to attend LV – scores rising too slowly. Enrollment figures and total number of area students suggest that you need kids from outside school boundaries. The “hope people try it” method has not been successful to date. Your focus should be on Northside families who really don’t want to travel to Jones, WY or other programs. There are families who attend Lane who may desire a smaller school….etc. Radical, quick change is needed for success.

    I would like LV to succeed and I think they have great potential. There are many parents here on this board and otherwise with young children who talk about establishing a solid neighborhood school so that they don’t have to worry about options. These are the same parents, myself included (to a certain extent), who “train” their kids for gifted programs, apply to 20 or more Kindergarten options and prep and tutor kids K-12. Once those parents with young kids who are bound and determined to spit in the face of the system and charge into the neighborhood high school hit about 6 or 7th grade, the freaking out begins. Once those same kids hit 8th grade, the 7-10 high schools they applied to will yield 4 or 5 admissions with neighborhood school X being the last fall back option of the pack.

    The point I’m trying to make – unless school X can emulate Lincoln Park High School, Selective Enrollment Schools, Von, Disney, Nobel, etc…there will always be another choice.

    @220 – That’s an interesting comment. Are you suggesting that LVHS close its doors and combine efforts with Senn or Amundsen? That kind of eliminates the whole neighborhood option for Lakeview. If anything, the smaller school size of LV makes it easier to elevate.

  • 224. IBobsessed  |  August 13, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    @222 I was referring to the remark which says that the other schools mentioned are commonly passed up for LVHS even if it requires a hellish commute to do so, which suggests that they are widely viewed as significantly inferior to LVHS. That’s all.

    “The other alternatives to Lake View in that area for a neighborhood school are: Alcott, Amundsen, Sullivan, Senn, and Uplift. And, several Lake View students who live by Kelvyn Park, Schurz, Foreman, Steinmetz, Wells, and Clemente would rather travel an 1-1.5 hours each way on the bus to come to Lake View.”

    Students choose to commute to many of the schools listed, not only LVHS.

  • 225. ganchca  |  August 13, 2014 at 10:36 pm

    Hi – wanted to highlight both the most recent newsletter out of LVHS, which addresses some of the issues raised here, as well as the signup for their mailing list. I have to put spaces in the links, or my post will be disallowed. So just copy and paste the link into your browser, and then delete the space before the “com”. The newsletter is at teenyweenyurl. com/dulW , and the email list signup is at: eepurl. com/YSGLf .

  • 226. Fire Fighter exam  |  August 14, 2014 at 10:28 am

    Trib has story on requirement that 20 percent of new firefighters be hired from cps grads.

    I am all for diversity – which is the ultimate goal if this initiative, but lots of people of color attend catholic private schools too.

    Plus since parents are not willing to send kids to cps failure factories if it can be avoided, why should grads be punished?

    One alderman was quoted as saying that the city is trying to give value to public education.

    I think the student who needs this initiative in order to decide to stay in school and graduate is not likely to be the student who does well on the firefighters exam.

  • 227. klm  |  August 14, 2014 at 12:49 pm


    You seem to be pointing out the obvious –you just can’t do that with some people.. Get ready to meet the heat from the airy-fairy brigade of people that aren’t “petty” or that are more “realistic” in their HS expectations.

    Again, I hate to bring this up, but just like nobody who’s ever grown up on welfare and food stamps will ever understand or appreciate being told “money doesn’t matter” (especially by somebody that grew up non-poor in Libertyville, Edina or Bloomfield Hills [I’ve been there]) some people seem fine to tell other people that “scores don’t matter.” Sure, virtually nobody from HS X scores well enough to indicate preparedness for a challenging higher education, but just ignore all that and enroll your kids at HS X like all of us “good” people that support public education and want things to work out. –it’s the “haters” out there that make it so hard to turn HS X into the next Great HS.

    Oh, yeah, and Detroit’s coming back –it would be a world-class city in a few years if only there weren’t so many haters that cling to things like blight, crime stats and failing public schools as supposedly “good” reasons to not get with the program. Enough people just need to ignore all that and “have faith.”

    I know I’m being a jerk, ugly and snarky on so many levels here (I understand how unfair it is to people that are honestly, genuinely trying to turn things around to read honest-but-kinda’-mean comments like this), but there’s some truth to what I’m saying, apart from all that. Why won’t people address low-scores and (granted relatively low-level but nonetheless real) in-school gang members? Are people supposed to just ignore this and blindly pretend that it doesn’t matter?

    The idea is to shape a HS into one that people with options will be happy to enroll their kids, not have it as a bottom-of-the-barrel option for people that are “stuck” financially or otherwise, so maybe there will enough of these kinds of middle-class-thinking-but-stuck people to turn things around.

    There’s a good model with LPHS (a former no-way-in-hell-Ever HS for middle-class people), so I’m not sure why it’s not being used. Where’s the SE IB for LVHS? Where’s the quasi-SE HH? Waller HS circa 1979 would never have turned into LPHS in 2014 without these SE programs that made assured people of a certain level of achievement.

    Then again, it’s taken more than a generation to convince some people that LPHS’s a good option, but even now there are lots of doubters.

  • 228. IBobsessed  |  August 14, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    HS Mom, @223, Is getting offers from 4 or 5 HSs common? Really? You promise?? 🙂 I thought many kids ended up with the neighborhood HS as the ONLY choice.

  • 229. HS Mom  |  August 14, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    IBO – I’m sure that other parents will vouch for this. If you have a kid who gets decent grades/scores, works hard and possibly even excels in one area, there will be more than one option as long as you apply to the programs. Likely those who claim to have nothing were holding out for only a few select schools or go private/leave. I’m sure there are more possibilities other than the few I mentioned above. I highly recommend visiting and talking to all schools that you research and apply to – you never know what will strike your fancy. That school may even be the neighborhood school. I’m looking forward to hearing your success story.

    @226 – look at it this way – you still have that 80%. Yes, the glass is half full.

    KLM – “There’s a good model with LPHS (a former no-way-in-hell-Ever HS for middle-class people), so I’m not sure why it’s not being used. Where’s the SE IB for LVHS? Where’s the quasi-SE HH?”

    Exactly! Let’s hope some of this thinking is in the works because LV could easily become the next LP.

  • 230. Arnold Davis  |  August 14, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    I recently joined the LSC at Lake View High School, after serving three years as the chair of the Nettelhorst LSC. There is a whole new energy and vibe at Lake View under Principal Grens’ leadership. I believe that LVHS will quickly become a much talked about success story in CPS. But don’t take my word for it. Check out these sources and form your own option:

    – Read LVHS’ newsletter and sign up for the e-mail list via the links in #223 above.
    – Check out Principal Grens’ tweets at @ScottGrens
    – Read the DNA Info articles on his leadership

    Thank you to everyone for your comments on LVHS above. Great thoughts and feedback.

    – Arnold Davis

  • 231. IBobsessed  |  August 14, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    @230 It is wonderful to see another neighborhood HS on the upswing! Best wishes,.In a few years we may see more 16 year olds walking to their neighborhood HS in Chicago.

  • 233. luveurope  |  August 15, 2014 at 9:09 am

    226 If my house is on fire, i hope the firemen who show up are the highest test scorers regardless of their hs. C’mon Rahm.

  • 234. Taft Impressions  |  August 15, 2014 at 10:16 am

    #232. Good move overall . Teachers may not support it, but I am sure parents do. Many look down on Taft because of the uniform. Students hate it. But I would think he would start with the discipline issues and get control of the halls first. The rules he has set forth are still pretty restrictive compared to SEHS dress rules, but an improvement. I hope he has the staff to enforce the rules as they will be more subject to interpretation. Hopefully it won’t take awake teacher’s time from teaching and kid’s time away from learning.

  • 235. luveurope  |  August 15, 2014 at 10:32 am

    234 – “Many look down on Taft because of the uniform” What does this mean?

  • 236. CPS alum  |  August 15, 2014 at 10:46 am

    @235-this is just my impression, but I would say that if you were to rank cps schools by their dress code– least restrictive to most restrictive, the rankings would, for the most part, mirror rankings based on test scores and % low income in the school.

  • 237. Taft Impressions  |  August 15, 2014 at 11:23 am

    235. Students hate it and find it demeaning – students actually cite it as one reason not to attend. Parents assume it is required due to gangs or discipline issues. People make assumptions when a public high school has a uniform. Especially when there are already concerns about discipline at the school. See above for information on that aspect. It contributes to painting an unflattering picture of the school. Having said that, focusing on discipline and also re-drawing boundaries so that the school is not so overcrowded would seem to be much better issues to focus energy on.

  • 238. Good Move  |  August 15, 2014 at 11:41 am

    One thing for sure. No dress code will speed up the process of students entering the building in the morning as students were getting sent home if they were out of uniform. Now, what students wear will not be an issue in the morning, just getting there in the morning. I dropped my two kids off one morning and watched an older security guard slowly search and monitor students clothing.

  • 239. Taft Impressions  |  August 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    #238. Actually, I think it will slow down the process. So instead of just checking for a uniform, now will have to read the tshirt to ensure it meets rules. And if it gets past guard, then teachers will have to deal with it.

    Plus there will be some kids who get past security by wearing clothes that meet the code and then change when they get to their locker.

    If a good discipline and consequences system is in place and enforced, this should help. But overall, there will be some bumps in the road.

  • 240. klm  |  August 15, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    RE: HS Dress Codes at Taft HS

    If Taft wants to change its image, it needs to lighten up on the micro-managing dress-code thing. Sure, some kids need to be told to pull their pants up or not let their chest hang out, etc., but usually 95-99% of kids know how to dress properly. In fact, a public school with a “uniform required” dress code sends up a message (to me, as somebody who grew up in the hood’ –note that kids at New Trier and Maine South don’t have to wear uniforms) that parents’ need to worry about the atmosphere and social norms of a school like that. Not to generalize, but uniforms are most common in schools that have a reason for it: to prevent (subtle, often understood only among kids, –by the time grown-ups figure it out, its changed) gang affiliation marking, prison-based fashion statements, the right-label-fixation thing (kids got shot and mugged for their Name jackets and shoes where I grew up as a child –that’s when/why schools started with uniforms and dress codes in that area, hence the negative connotations for me and lots of other people) that happens so often in the inner-city, and crime-plagued low-income neighborhoods, etc.

    Accordingly, as a parent, when I hear that a public HS has a uniform-wearing requirement, my first thought is, “Oh boy, there must be lots of bad-a** kids going there if they’re requiring uniforms, maybe I’ll think twice about considering that school for my kids.”

    I know it’s an unintended consequence, but it’s real for some people, believe it or not.

    I remember watching BET years ago and one of the semi-regular segments was “You know you live in the ‘Ghetto’ when _____”. Comedians and commentators filled in the blank. One comedian said, “You know you live in the ‘Ghetto’ when: you have to wear a uniform to your neighborhood public school.” It was funny at the time, but there’s some truth in this statement.

  • 241. pantherparent  |  August 15, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I think the most important aspect of the dress code reversal at Taft is the new principal giving the student’s more responsibility and then holding them accountable for their actions. There will be an town hall meeting on September 11th where students will lay out the reasons to discard the dress code and a decision will be rendered by a panel of judges.

    He also tied this into the wall-to-wall IB program in his letter shown below. I like where he’s headed.

    “I feel it’s very important that our school community understands that this administration wants to empower our students and give them a voice in how they are educated. If we are going to claim we are a “Wall to Wall” IB school then we need to lead by example. If our aim is to develop internationally minded students then we should take this opportunity to teach our students to be “Risk-Takers”, “Communicators” and “Thinkers”. At the same time we can all learn and be “Reflective””

  • 242. cpsNOPE  |  August 15, 2014 at 1:12 pm

    240 Wearing a uniform will get the students ready for their careers with the Fire Department and Target.

  • 243. Taft Impressions  |  August 15, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Thanks for sharing his comments. Please keep posting and keeping us up to date on Taft. Hoping it is an option in a few years.

  • 244. OTdad  |  August 15, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    @240. klm:
    Uniforms in schools is not at all a bad idea. I went to a school with uniforms when I was a kid. Students paid no attention to each other’s clothes (all the same) and focused on more important things. I also went to a school with no uniforms later, I did notice boys and girls compare their clothes: brands, price, style…. that did make some kids from poor families feel inadequate to join the daily fashion contest.

    Uniforms also show kids’ being students on the street. I still remember driving by IIT neighborhood about a year ago. There were about 20 students cross the street right in front my car. They were all in nice, clean school uniforms, even though all the boys have a hand in the middle holding their pants from dropping down. If they were in all sorts of street clothes, I would be quite nervous.

  • 245. School Uniforms  |  August 15, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    @240: My kids attend our highly rated neighborhood elementary school and are required to wear uniforms. The dress code, at least in our case, isn’t a reflection of having “lots of bad a** kids.” Quite the contrary; I rarely hear of disciplinary problems. I’m frequently impressed with how respectful the older students are to the younger ones. There’s been some talk of doing away with the uniforms over the years, but the majority of the parents (many middle and upper-middle class) like the simplicity it brings to the getting ready routine. Gang affiliations??? C’mon. As usual, you’re being judgmental and narrow minded.

  • 246. Good Move  |  August 15, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    The dress code issue is one thing at Taft. But, I’m glad Mr. Grishaber has told the staff if they don’t want to be an Eagle and they want to complain, they can go work elsewhere. I was told by a Taft teacher that Grishaber said he’ll sign the transfer forms right there and let them go. Apparently, within the first few weeks, he’s gotten nothing but complaints from the staff and about them. He told them all in a meeting that he lives seven blocks from Taft and he doesn’t want them complaining about his school. And, he doesn’t want to hear their complaints either as a principal or as a resident of the area.

  • 247. luveurope  |  August 15, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    246 That’s refreshing. Go Mr. Grishaber. Hopefully he can enjoy Edison Park Fest without the complaining…

  • 248. pantherparent  |  August 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    @245 The reason the uniform dress code at Taft was implemented in the first place was because of gang issues, so @240 is right on.

    The bigger issue the principal is trying to address, besides not getting hassled wherever he goes, is seeing how the student body handles this change. If they can’t handle dressing properly for school, how will they handle tougher courses? How will the handle greater expectations? How will they handle responsibility?

    It’s their first test of the year and most don’t even realize it.

  • 249. HSObsessed  |  August 15, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    @230 – Was the LVHS website recently updated? It looks great. I like the Recent News section as an easy way to keep up to date on the latest.


    I’m a LPHS parent and big supporter of neighborhood high schools, so I’m rooting for LVHS, Amundsen, Senn, Taft and any others that are continuing to improve quickly; great options for all our neighborhoods’ kids make the whole city healthier.

  • 250. Chris  |  August 16, 2014 at 5:31 am

    “I went to a school with uniforms when I was a kid. Students paid no attention to each other’s clothes (all the same) ”

    So, you were one of the kids with the more expensive brands of uniform clothes, and nice, new, shoes? Or you went to a school where everyone had to buy exactly the same thing from exactly the same store–down to and including the socks and shoes?

    Because I went to two schools with uniforms, too, and I can say (30 years later) with 100% confidence that the clothes were *not* the same, and that *many* kids paid attention to the difference. And that’s even before getting into the difference bt having two pairs of uniform pants, and having 5, even if exactly the same, bc the more frequent washing becomes evident by November.

    (ps: test scores matter. they are not the only, or best, indication, but are easy to find and easy to compare)

  • 251. klm  |  August 16, 2014 at 8:26 am


    I don’t know where you grew up, but where I grew up uniforms were implemented to overcome gang affiliations and other negative things (e.g., the almost manic fixation with the ‘right’ garment brand, shoes etc. [to the point where it’s part of the ‘look’ to keep the tags on to let people know what one paid and it’s not a cheap knock-off, etc.]). This stuff starts really, really early –kids are shaped by their older siblings, cousins, “cool” older boys in the neighborhood, etc., plus (and this is the saddest part) sometimes the parent(s) is/are involved. It happens. I’m not lying when I say kids were shot and mugged at gun point where I grew up for their clothes and shoes and that gang affiliations started around 3rd grade.

    Hence, uniforms were brought in to avoid or lesson all that bad stuff within schools –and that’s what people were expressly told at the time.

    Don’t get me wrong. In theory, I’m all for uniforms –it sends a message that school’s all about learning not fixating on which brand one wears (although as somebody pointing out, kids have a way of differentiating through wearing more expensive shoes, etc), having to worry about the queen bees dictating what to wear and not wear, etc. —Yes, yes, yes to all that.

    However, in terms of PUBLIC schools (private schools are different, obviously), I’ve never heard of any outside of urban or and/or low-income areas requiring uniforms. Kids in Northbrook, Oakbrook and Western Springs don’t have to wear unifroms in public school. If you know of a middle-class/upper-middle-class public school district with “good” schools that has a uniform requirement, tell me (I’m not trying to be snarky here, it’s just that I’ve honestly never heard of one).

    Again, unintended consequences. A uniform requirement designed to make a school less chaotic can actually backfire and make some parents (like me and I know I can’t be alone) a little nervous and wonder what gives to warrant unifroms…..gangs?

    I’m not at all trying to be narrow-minded or quick to judge, just give my perspective, which was shaped by living in low-income, usually high-crime neighborhoods. Yes, I’m a little gun-shy and maybe a little too paranoid (well, OK, a lot too paranoid) on some level about all this stuff, but it’s for a reason.

    Schools don’t start a uniform-wearing policy outta’ nowhere for no good reason. The reason for it is what worries me on some level, as a parent.

  • 252. In the Know  |  August 16, 2014 at 9:12 am

    The ‘powers that be’ at Taft have gotten rid of nearly all of the gang element at Taft and having a uniform policy is moot for structuring, preserving order, and disciplinary reasons.

    Are there some pseudo gang members walking the halls at Taft?

    Sure, but they end up getting expelled or dropping out because they were getting profiled by the off-duty and retired Chicago cops working at Taft (many of the guards were Copland residents themselves and living in Norwood or Jeff Park) under the direction of previous Taft administrators.

    FYI: Of the 100 expulsion hearings at Taft in 2012, which was the highest throughout CPS, 86% involved Hispanic/black students.

  • 253. IBobsessed  |  August 16, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    klm, I do understand where you are coming from about how schools with uniforms are perceived by parents (with limited recent CPS experience), but their perception is not always accurate. To broaden your horizons, my child attends a northside magnet school that parents who post on this blog are pleased to get into. Uniforms are required. The students are 58% free or reduced price lunch. There is no gang problem at this school. None at all. It is not populated by bad asses or perceived as such. Another poster has cited their school as an example of mostly middle to upper middle class students and it has uniforms. Middle-upper class parents send their kids to these schools. Perhaps in your social circle, parents are wary of schools with uniforms, but there are middle- class parents who have gotten over this, and maybe view it as a preventative policy against gangs and as something that says “Anything does NOT go in this community”. I hated wearing uniforms during my parochial school education. As a parent, I LOVE uniforms. They are easier for ME. They morning conflict about what is appropriate to wear, make shopping very simple, and they reduce the teenage clothes focus and send the message that when they’re worn it is study time. (Like my kindergarten teacher used to say in the morning, “Children it is now time to put on your THINKING caps. Hoky, but true.) Uniforms to me are one way of communicating to your kid that you expect them to be serious about school and you have high expectations. Maybe these other middle class parents who send their kids to uniforms schools have similar views. I am not put off by CPS schools that don’t look like suburban schools. I don’t expect them to. I choose to live in the city.

  • 254. School Uniforms  |  August 17, 2014 at 7:50 am

    @253: Yes, exactly!!! Just because KLM thinks uniforms set off alarms doesn’t mean the rest of us middle to upper-middle class parents do. Again, there are plenty who prefer it for a variety of reasons. (I could do without the frequent bleaching of the white shirts, though. They get so dirty so fast.) Maybe uniforms are a bigger indicator of problems with the student population on the H.S. level than elementary. Maybe.

  • 255. AVille Mom  |  August 17, 2014 at 10:09 am

    To provide a little broader perspective, many public and charter schools in the South which are in middle class neighborhoods require uniforms. I have spent a great deal of time in Florida recently, the Vero Beach area which can in no way be considered low income or high crime, and uniforms are the standard for many of the elementary schools. A teacher friend in Georgia, Atlanta city limits but very upscale neighborhood, has confirmed that uniforms are required by the school where she teaches. The school system I attended many, many years ago in southeastern Pennsylvania adopted a uniform policy about 15 years ago……much to the chagrin of my mother who would have loved it! The area is upper middle class with a very low crime rate.

    Could not say it better than poster 253 for all the reasons I think uniforms are a good thing. My social circle in a gentrified area of the City wishes all their kids had to wear uniforms too.

  • 256. michele  |  August 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Sure many of you know the British School has uniforms. I’m sure folks at Latin or Parker are not saying that the British school has uniforms to control gang problems or because the kids there are low income. Uniforms often attach and reinforce collective identity at a school. Uniforms can also make security easier to implement at high income schools as well as lower income schools.. PS we’ve been to both types of CPS schools. Some with uniforms and some without. My observation the kids look more polished and better presented in uniforms. I saw much less consistency on kid and parental discretion in picking out student clothing.

  • 257. Taft Impressions  |  August 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    All are entitled to their opinions, but when you look at the nearest feeder schools to Taft, most do not have uniforms. Folks here understand and appreciate uniforms for private schools and recognize benefits, but overall requiring uniforms in public high school sends a negative impression. Kids also dismiss Taft due to uniforms.

  • 258. HS Mom  |  August 17, 2014 at 5:32 pm

    I think there is a big difference in requiring uniforms for public high schools vs any private school, charter school or elementary schools. IMO (and personal experience) one of the reasons to go to public HS is to NOT have uniforms. I think there are a lot of pro’s with uniforms (as mentioned above) and the kids at Urban prep look awesome. As a parent, I assume that the school has an agenda with uniforms. With Urban Prep and some of the other charters, I assume that agenda would be to further promote and instill college bound intentions. Quite frankly, with a school like Taft and other CPS public HS’s, I have to question why the white polo and the khaki pants? First thing that comes to mind is…..guess what? So, if a Chicago public high school is looking to elevate their image and encourage academically oriented kids to attend…..it’s an issue.

    I don’t know of one SEHS that finds it necessary to go the uniform route. Quite frankly the kids are old enough to decide for themselves what to wear (even if it is a little too short, tight, baggy or whatever). Many academically oriented kids love their skinny jeans, blue hair and the opportunity to express themselves. My son stopped wearing polo shirts by 6th grade and there is no way in hell that he would have chosen the uniform route – and we had choices. Just saying….

  • 259. portagemom  |  August 17, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    @257, At least 3 feeder schools to Taft require uniforms: Hitch, Garvy and Prussing. There may be others.

  • 260. klm  |  August 17, 2014 at 9:51 pm

    OK, yet again, I’ll mention that I’m NOT against uniforms, per se. I was a poor kid at a Loyola/Fenwick/SICP -type Catholic HS with lots of kids with some family money. I was thrilled to wear a uniform, believe me, if for no other reason than I didn’t have to worry about people judging me negatively for my trailer park outfits when many other kids at the school had cute, preppy,People Like Us outfits back home in their bedrooms that were the size of my family’s trailer. Plus, I could wash it out in the bathtub and hang it to dry for the next day when money was tight and/or we couldn’t make it to the laundry mat (polyester’s great that way). Accordingly, I secretly LOVED my uniform in HS, believe me (even if I complained about it like everybody else to ‘fit in’).

    I “get” uniforms, I do –I kinda’ like uniforms. The kids in my neighborhood that go to the British School, Sacred Heart, FXW, St. Clement, etc., look nice and I know parents of kids from these schools tell me they love not having to not worry about what their kids are going to wear –it’s always “the uniform.” Sounds cool to me, especially with a daughter that likes to dress herself for school wearing the same few, raged, mismatched clothes that she loves for some darn reason.

    However, we’re not talking about a private school or even a magnet school. We’re talking about a neighborhood public HS.

    Accordingly, I’m not coming from outta’ nowhere or being too “judgmental” when I wonder why the principal felt it was necessary or, at the very least, a good idea. I mean, come on –there’s a difference between the British School and Taft HS.

    I don’t think I’m outta’ line for getting my Uh-Oh Concerned Parent Radar up about something like that.

  • 261. HS Mom  |  August 18, 2014 at 7:52 am

    KLM – even a catholic school girls dress/skirt uniform is different from what is required at some of these public high schools. It would be one thing if the uniform were about being prim and proper. But a white or bland colored polo?? for boys and girls??

    There is no money saved, you still have to have regular clothes or risk meeting up with your friends looking like you just got off work at Target. The dress code eliminates shopping at thrift stores or “hand me downs” so why if not for control purposes?

    IBO – assuming that your school is the one NS magnet that has a uniform – consider the history of this school and the possible reason for instituting a dress code. If parents/students still enjoy and embrace it then great, it’s a good thing. Again, don’t expect 16 year olds to feel the same way about polo shirts as 8 year olds nor expect them to wear what their parents think is best.

  • 262. c'monu  |  August 18, 2014 at 8:32 am

    261 Taft can forgo the uniform as long as it enforces a dress code.

  • 263. In the Know  |  August 18, 2014 at 9:02 am

    The biggest problem at Taft wasn’t necessarily the boys or gangbangers (trying to show their gang colors) out of dress code at Taft, it was the girls who were wearing skin-tight leggings and yoga pants, especially those without underwear. The female teachers and administrators would get into huge ‘catty’ arguments with the girls about their pants and belly shirts which were showing off their piercings. Many girls were made to go home and change, borrow clothes from others, wear stinky gym clothes all day, or forced to wear shirts tied around their waists.

  • 264. SoxSideIrish4  |  August 18, 2014 at 9:07 am

    257. Taft Impressions | August 17, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    ITA~uniforms in public schools do send negative impressions! It send~you are low income and a high crime area. If I wanted my kids to wear a uniform, I’d send them to a private school.

    261. HS Mom | August 18, 2014 at 7:52 am

    True, there is no money saved.

  • 265. luveurope  |  August 18, 2014 at 9:38 am

    263 Taft is a high school not a night club. I feel sorry for the teachers enforcing this, but without a dress code you would probabaly see bathing suits and lots of tatoos.

  • 266. IBobsessed  |  August 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

    @261 Well, how can a person give an informed response to that kind of oblique innuendo about some unnamed NS magnet (not ours) ? I don’t understand what the point is of trying to prove that some NS magnet really does have some kind of scary thing going on that caused uniforms to be adopted. Are you saying uniforms really are a reliable indicator of the roughness factor at a school? I thought the discussion here was about parents initial PERCEPTIONS/ASSUMPTIONS about uniform schools. Some middle/upper class parents infer that it means some kinda trouble and avoid the school, some don’t. I was only trying to explain WHY some middle class parents get over uniforms. The 40+ % of full lunch payers (which include doctors, Ph.Ds, other professionals…) at our school have.

    I’m not concerned about arguing the pros/cons of uniforms. However, to your claim that they don’t save money. That’s only true if you actually buy that complete 2nd set of hip clothes.

  • 267. klm  |  August 18, 2014 at 1:22 pm


    Magnet schools typically HAVE uniforms –I get that. I never, ever said “ONLY bad-a** inner-city low-performing public schools that no middle-class person would ever consider have uniforms.” I don’t have a problem with that (uniforms in magnet schools) on any level, since they are typically trying to set a tone, use the best practices of any school (public or private), want to send a serious tone, etc. That’s great.

    Again, I don’t have a problem with uniforms!!!!

    What does make me think twice is when a neighborhood public HS suddenly wants to adopt a uniform policy. There’s obviously a reason for that. It’s “the reason for that” that made me wonder.

    And when a HS already has a reputation for a certain level of gang members attending and more than usual malfeasance among the student body, well add two plus two.

    Again, if the idea is to make CPS neighborhood HSs more of a “viable” option for people that might otherwise move to suburbs, then maybe it’s not a good idea to suddenly adopt a uniform policy when there was none, since it makes people wonder what’s going on as to some students’ behavior that makes uniforms suddenly appealing to the principal?

    It’s the “message” that it sends about a school which can be negative (obviously it got me wondering and I’m not alone).

    That’s all.

    Yes, I’m a parent. I care about what kinds of/level of (misbehavior is everywhere, in every school, I know that) misbehavior is going on at a school to suddenly warrant a uniform-wearing policy when there wasn’t one before. Why shouldn’t any parent (or student, for that matter) be thinking about this stuff? I did it out loud in a quasi-public way.

  • 268. Danaidh  |  August 18, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Re: multiple comments on uniform/dress code, particularly at Taft HS

    First, there is a difference between uniforms and dress code. Taft has never had a school uniform (well, except for teams and music ensembles). And before there was a formal dress code, there was an unwritten one–and so it will be if the formal dress code is revoked.

    Second, Taft did not adopt its dress code policy because of gang activity, although such activity was present in the school at the time the dress code was adopted. Mr. Grishaber is mistaken on this count–perhaps he wasn’t working in CPS at the time. In the late 1990s, when Paul Vallas was the first CEO, he/The Board decreed that ALL high school LSCs must consider and take a vote on a school dress code. Schools didn’t have to institute the codes, but they had to formally address the topic. (Northside CP hadn’t even been built yet.) It was this board mandate that led to Taft’s LSC adopting a school dress code.

    Third, while Principal Grishaber has “suspended” (to use the term from the DNAInfo story) the LSC’s adopted policy, he has nevertheless retained a dress code, albeit a simpler one. It remains to be seen how many parent complaints and level of non-compliance will be generated by these changes. (I am hopeful, but not quite optimistic.)

    Fourth, getting rid of the formal dress code does not mean there is no dress code in place. It means that each teacher (and security officers) will set their own rules for appropriate classroom attire. The problem with this is that it is more problematic for the student who may find herself in line with some of her teachers’ expectations, but not with others.

    Fifth, there is no evidence the dress code is unpopular with parents. Students do complain, but in light of the fact that the school’s enrollment more than doubled since the code was instituted and is currently at 146% of its “ideal” capacity, it is simply untenable that large numbers of students are foregoing their neighborhood high school on this issue. It has always been the case that a good number of parents wish for their children to attend private or selective enrollment schools, and that is still the primary reason students pass over Taft.

  • 269. Taft Parant Too  |  August 18, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    @269: Your’e 100% right about “The problem with this is that it is more problematic for the student who may find herself in line with some of her teachers’ expectations, but not with others.”

    My daughter says Taft has some “bully”, “nothing else to do”-type teachers. She says it seems like these teachers have nothing better to do than check on what students are wearing and that some of them aren’t even their teachers. She and her friends avoid going anywhere near [teacher names redacted.]

  • 270. momof3fish  |  August 18, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    @224. i wasnt commenting on anything. i was just pleasantly surprised by the lakeview experience thing.

  • 271. HS Mom  |  August 18, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    @266 IBO – My statement stems from commentators stating that well liked school X with uniforms has a perfectly good reputation. I mentioned that the history of the school may have been different. But you’re right, it’s history and not pertinent to the discussion at all.

    I too am not debating school uniforms as an issue – some like it and some don’t. I am asserting however that uniforms in a public high school will cause parents from the outside to wonder and draw their own conclusions so we shouldn’t be surprised that people think there’s a gang problem or that the school/teachers are too strict, or that given their scores, more attention is paid to policing things like clothes than academics. I’m NOT saying these things are true, just saying that I understand why people would think this way.

    @268 – Students are required to wear a white shirt and dark pants so they must dress “uniformly”. I think it’s a grey area calling this a “dress code”. I can only guess that refraining from calling the “uniform dress” an actual uniform releases CPS from having to pay for it. This way the families are forced to pay for clothes they may not otherwise want or buy.

    So, let’s call it a dress code. I do find this statement astonishing and quite honestly an obstacle.

    “It means that each teacher (and security officers) will set their own rules for appropriate classroom attire”

    How do you expect to enforce the dress code? How do you do it now and why would that need to change if the dress code is relaxed?

    All schools have dress codes that are broken or pushed to the limit. Our school likes to take the route of keeping kids in class by not sending them home and keeping a supply of t-shirts on hand that they can put over their clothes etc. We have one uniform dress code for the whole school. Bottom line, they trust the kids, and dress becomes not a big deal at all. What’s going on at Taft that the kids can’t be entrusted to wear their own clothes? Is there a bullying problem?

    Lastly, the main reason for my comments here and above are so that students have a perspective of issues to use as a basis for their case against the strict dress code. Best of luck to you!

  • 272. CPS Free Lunch?  |  August 20, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Is there free Lunch for elementary and high school students this year? I thought I read so, but then the parent portal has the method for paying for lunch.

    It is free lunch and breakfast for ALL now, correct?

  • 273. cpsobsessed  |  August 20, 2014 at 8:30 am

    That was my understanding – free for everyone who wants it.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 274. Taft Parant Too  |  August 20, 2014 at 8:32 am

    I just hope Mr. Grishaber at Taft fixes their huge tardy problem to school and to class. Here’s a link to the Taft Today school newspaper article about the tardies to school:

    Click to access Taft%20Today%202013-14%20Issue%2004.pdf

  • 275. cpsobsessed  |  August 20, 2014 at 8:44 am

    @taft parent too — you’re a current parent there? If so, as a parent of a teen, what do you think would be effective to improve tardies?

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 276. Taft Parant Too  |  August 20, 2014 at 8:53 am

    To school:
    #1: Allow students to enter in other entrances instead of the one
    #2: More people checking bags in the AM through the metal detector, instead of the one older, slow, crusty security guard…another metal detector
    #3: Let students in 15 minutes earlier into the building
    #4: Have more zero period club meetings and sports practices
    #5: More efficient way to issue temp IDs
    #6: Crossing guards outside directing traffic and crosswalks
    #7: Clearly marked dropoff area
    #8: More of staffer presence outside Taft, especially with students doing whatever in their cars.
    #9: Stiffer penalties for tardies with no amnesty
    #10: More involvement from the WHOLE staff to correct the tardy problem

    How was that?

  • 277. cpsobsessed  |  August 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Seems like a lot of good ideas – you should def share with the school/lsc/admin if you haven’t yet.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 278. Taft Parant Too  |  August 20, 2014 at 9:04 am

    I have, but, who knows???

    I don’t know how one man (Grishaber) can change the overall staff aloofness and laziness in one year which has been going on for years. And, I was told by an LSC member that many Taft teachers and staffers never interviewed for positions there, they just used their connections and were hired.

  • 279. CPSscary  |  August 20, 2014 at 9:26 am

    278 hearsay?

  • 280. Taft Parent Too  |  August 20, 2014 at 9:27 am

    I would think the LSC member (a Taft teacher) would know, no?

  • 281. luveurope  |  August 20, 2014 at 9:33 am

    not necessarily…

  • 282. cpsobsessed  |  August 20, 2014 at 9:51 am

    True, changing staff/staff attitudes is likely something that takes some time.

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 283. mom2  |  August 20, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Does Lake View have uniforms? Are they considering dropping that policy? I ask because I would think if they are trying to attract kids from their local elementary schools, they would want to have similar policies to those schools and I don’t think most of the neighborhood schools around Lake View have uniforms. If you want it to feel similar to the kids and parents, it needs to be similar in attitude and approach.

  • 284. Taft Parent Too  |  August 20, 2014 at 10:24 am

    @282: I hope it happens fast as I had two other children at Taft when Arthur Tarvardian was principal and the guy never left his office and was the definition of aloofness and laziness, It’s probably why the teachers and staffers are that way too! And, I was told his wife was just as bad as Amundsen’s principal.

    Let’s hope everyone at Taft is now held accountable with Mr. Grishaber after they weren’t under Tarvardian. Tarvardian’s successor (Mary Kay Cappitelli) starting stirring the pot, but, all the little groups at Taft started making things tough on her and she gave up and retired after 1 1/2 years as principal

    A friend told me his wife was teaching at Taft for three years under Tarvardian and one day he asked her who she was…..she said you hired me three years ago….lol

  • 285. enough9  |  August 20, 2014 at 11:23 am

    284 the hearsay continues…

  • 286. Taft Parent Too  |  August 20, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Just because you weren’t paying attention (aloofness), it doesn’t mean these things weren’t going on….

  • 287. RFR  |  August 20, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Mom2- sorry, stepped away for a day- DS is at Hamilton- 1 yr younger than your kiddo. As soon as I get this doctorate done LVHS is my next activity. We took a chance on Hamilton and are thrilled we did. I am a believer in LVHS..now to convince DH! Again..

  • 288. mom2  |  August 21, 2014 at 9:38 am

    Thank you, RFR. I hope many of us jump on the LVHS bandwagon! Life would be so much easier, especially in 7th grade! Let’s do this, neighbors.
    Maybe we can give our wishes and thoughts to people like Arnold Davis on the LVHS LSC (above). Tell your friends. What do they need to do in order for you to give it a chance? Let them know.

  • 289. Rod Estvan  |  August 21, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I thought Kim’s comment made the other day about the adoption of school uniforms and I also think tighter dress codes was fundamentally correct. In urban schools it was done largely to attempt to contain ever changing forms of gang/street crew identification.

    I was teaching in the late 1980s at the now closed Calumet High School which was controlled by one prime gang – the Stones. We would ban one team hat/jackets/shirts/ etc that were associated with the Stones and yet a new one would be adopted that included the colors red and black.

    Fundamentally it was impossible, so the principal and LSC decided to go with either a simple white t-shirt and dark pants or white polo and dark pants. Many other inner city CPS high schools did the same, it was a wave let us say. What happened?

    White oversized T-shirt creased in the middle white athletic type undershirt Polo type knit shirts (oversized) and usually worn buttoned to the top and not tucked in and oversized Dickie, Ben Davis or Solos pants, pants worn low, or “sagging” and cuffed inside at the bottom or dragging on the ground became the uniform of the gang banger on much of the south side. Primary reason this happened was the gang bangers simply aren’t total fools, visually from a distance they blended in and were less identifiable. An urban digital cameo combat uniform effectively.

    I have also heard of gang members adopting the color of polo shirts from their closest local high school to blend in, including the colors of Noble Charter Rowe-Clark Math & Science Academy on Chicago Ave by street crews dealing crack amazingly within three blocks of the school.

    Rod Estvan

  • 290. cpsobsessed  |  August 21, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Interesting insight, Ron!

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 291. cpsobsessed  |  August 21, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Sorry, “Rod”. 🙂

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 292. CLB  |  August 21, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    Most of the research on school uniforms finds mixed effects, no effects, or trivial ones (in one recent study attendance was marginally higher at middle & high schools in a southwest urban school district for girls, equal to 1/2 day more of school out of 180 day year). In terms of improved discipline, safety, or academic achievement, uniforms have no effect.

  • 293. HS Mom  |  August 21, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    OK – for all those looking at high school. Interesting article on evaluating and considering private.


    Consider this guide a starting point, then, as you begin to navigate your way through the options. You’ll find lots of positives (such as the expansion of several excellent private schools) and a few negatives (how much money a year?). But first, a word about the much-maligned Chicago neighborhood high school—you know, the non-select-enrollment kind. With more prosperous families staying in the city, aren’t many of them getting better?

    Well, yes and no. While CPS has started robust academic enrichment plans at many schools—for example, at Lake View High School, which recently implemented a rigorous STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) program—many parents feel that meaningful results are still years off. “Give Lake View High School 10 years, and then I’d consider sending my kid there,” says one mother, who has an eighth grader at Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, a private Jewish elementary school in Lake View. (She didn’t want her name used for fear of harming her child’s chances of admission at another school.)”

  • 294. HS Mom  |  August 21, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    Also from the article, this list of 33 private schools that were willing to provide data


  • 295. Curious Parent and Teacher  |  August 21, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    @293 I am curious what this means: “many parents feel that meaningful results are still years off.” I understand safety issues and parents’ concerns over sending their children to schools with known violence.

    However, what specifically will make that school desirable academically?

  • 296. HS Mom  |  August 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    That’s a quote from the article. Good question.

    I don’t share the view of this parent or the British School family that thought Jones was not rigorous enough after only a few months. I think families that can afford to do so have a very different threshold of acceptance. This particular parent goes on to say that public education in Chicago is desirable as long as it’s selective enrollment. To each his own I guess. You’ll have a tough time winning this crowd over to Lakeview.

  • 297. mom2  |  August 22, 2014 at 9:38 am

    I also don’t share the view of that parent. However, after having many conversations with parents like that, I think they need some statistics that show things like high ACT scores, selective 4-year university placements for Lake View graduates, and things like that in order to feel the school is worth a second look. That is why I mentioned the need for a selective sub-group/program at Lake View. Then, you show the high ACT scores and other amazing stats from that group. It helps with marketing. (My child would never get into this selective sub-group, but just having that program and those kids within the school will make it more acceptable (and perceived safer) for people like us and other neighborhood parents.)

  • 298. pantherparent  |  August 22, 2014 at 11:27 am

    @294 Interesting that two of the most popular private schools on the Northwest side, St. Pat’s and Notre Dame, didn’t provide data. Is it because their numbers would be similar to Resurrection where the average ACT score is a mediocre 22?

    Easier for them to stick with the “we’re better than public schools because we say we are” argument than actually proving it.

  • 299. notCPS  |  August 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

    298. 22 is an average. Where is Loyola and St. Ignatius, Guerin Prep, etc.

  • 300. Curious Parent and Teacher  |  August 22, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Interesting research on student growth and ACT scores:

    Click to access ACT_RR2009-1.pdf

  • 301. IBobsessed  |  August 22, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    @300 Curious. Thanks for posting that. It is that kind of info on growth, rather than only average ACT scores, that seems to provide some of the most important info on HS quality. This presents more infor on actual school/teacher/curriculum/culture quality than average ACT. Average ACT is an indicator of student acheivement before they even enter the HS. I want to know what they do with the students they get. This is why I am not hysterical that my child might not go to one of the official SEHSs. We all know NCPs ACT has a whole lot to do with who they accept. Wish we had growth Explore, PLAN, ACT data on CPS HS. That’s data I would feel more comfortable basing a HS decision on. I haven’t had a chance to read all the report, what points did you find interesting?

  • 302. HS mom  |  August 22, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    @288 Well said and agreed. Lakeview could be a viable option for a range of students – just like LP is.

    I agree that tests as a measure of growth is important and valuable info. If a SE or any student already scores 24/25 on EXPLORE, where is there to go from there? In this respect, avg ACT scores will provide one indicator of what to expect of the academic environment at a school.

    Test scores are a useful tool for families to compare school options and IMO a good indication when the school is forthcoming with this type of info. In the British School/Jones example from the article, the family claims that private school is well advanced over this SE school yet their average ACT score is the same. The claim does not jive with the scores…….if anything else, a number of questions arise from that.

  • 303. mom2  |  August 22, 2014 at 1:53 pm

    I’d love that data, too. I’d be happy with a HS where kids improved 3 or 4 points from their 1st year tests to the ACT. I know my first child did not improve from those tests to ACT at Lane. That might be really telling.

    I think there are many parents, including me, that would be happy with a school with a proven safety record, excellent facilities and extra curricular options and enthusiastic and involved teachers. Scores are not the only thing and may be somewhat meaningless.

  • 304. pantherparent  |  August 22, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    @303 It’s not telling at all. The reason your child did not improve from the 8th grade Explore tests to junior year ACT tests is because they don’t. The 8th grade test correlation to ACT test is lock step.

    Give me test results of 30 incoming freshman and I’ll tell you that group’s eventual average ACT score within a point.

  • 305. luveurope  |  August 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    303 yes, and that the reason for private schools.

  • 306. mom2  |  August 22, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    304 – If scores are locked in before you go to high school, then what is the purpose of high school for the college bound student? Are they just there to pass required classes but not really expected to learn and retain anything?

    305 – I want a public high school with my description. I cannot afford private. Seems like that should be achievable even in CPS (at least in the better/less crime ridden neighborhoods.)

  • 307. IBobsessed  |  August 22, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    @303, I’m not getting you on how the average ACT score of a school ,in itself, tells about what you can expect from the academic environment of the school, unless you make some assumptions. ACT HS scores tell about students,not about if/whether/how the academic environment at the HS improved their scores. You can’t assume students are being taught at a particular level because the school has a particular average ACT score. Schools don’t magically adjust to the instructional level of the average ACT score. Is a school with an average ACT score of 18 more likely to be teaching students at a lower instructional level than one that has average ACT of 28? Seems probable, but not definite. It is within the realm of possiblity that the school with 18 is teaching at a high instructional level but the students cannot achieve at that level due to poor elementary school prep/scores and teaching that does not effectively reach students where they are and get them to grow.

  • 308. Edgewater CPS parent - Go Bulldogs!  |  August 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    Parents – here’s the story that makes this thread come full circle.
    Well done and a hearty “thank you” to the the staff & admin at Senn! As a parent at a feeder elementary school, Peirce, I will continue to support the elementary efforts because we are all in this together.


    And to the related conversation from @300 re: growth – see Principal Lofton’s comment…. I’ve heard her say it before, now it’s starting to gel for me.

  • 309. HS Mom  |  August 22, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    IBO – that’s why I said the scores say something about the environment as opposed to solely about the academics. IMO the private and public schools listed with high scores reflect a positive academic agenda.

    This does not in any way indicate that a kid could not thrive in a different possibly better suited environment. Really, the bottom line is that the scores are just one way for families to compare and evaluate schools. The degree of importance that one places on them is very personal. For us, it was not a matter of ranking schools by ACT, as it is for some people. We had a minimum level that needed to be in place before we considered the school. Curriculum should be an important consideration.

  • 310. klm  |  August 23, 2014 at 8:11 am

    OK, I know I’ll be slammed for saying this, but…

    Are people honest to God saying/believe/thinking that kids at Senn (ave. ACT 16) are being taught, more or less, at the same level academically as kids at a school like Payton, or WY or even a good suburban public open-enrollment school (Deerfield, Hinsdale Central, Stevenson, et. al.)?

    Teachers differentiate according to the needs/levels of their students, especially in a general education class like freshman English, Civics, World History, etc. Accordingly, kids at a school where the average kid is scoring significantly below on achievement tests won’t have to most challenging, critical-thinking based general education curriculum.

    I know some people will pounce, but I’m honestly a little stunned that some people are so cavalier in accepting that the education kids receive at a low-scoring, low-performing school won’t be much different than at a high-scoring, high-achieveing school.

    I mean, if that were the case, nobody ever care where their kids go to school, since they’d be getting, more or less, the “same” education. Technically that may be true, but the reality is what scares people.

    There’s a part of the Trib’s school ranking where they show stats re: performance of kids from different public HSs at Illinois state colleges (freshman GPA, drop-out rate, etc.). Sadly, the kids from low-performing HSs have the lowest ACT scores, the lowest freshman GPAs, highest drop-out rates, etc.

    There’s a reason some people don’t want their kids to go to certain HSs, and it’s not simply over prestige, fear of the “wrong kinds” of people, desire for their kids to be surrounded by the “right kinds” of people, etc. —it’s because people want their kids to go to a school with an academically rogorous curriculum on every level, not just in a few optional, token A.P. classes. That way, they’ll be more like to do well at UIUC or Michigan State, graduate with a decent GPS, get a good job, etc.

  • 311. klm  |  August 23, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Here are some stats from the state’s interactive report card for % of students that are “ready for college.”

    Senn- 14%
    Hinsdale Central – 87%
    Stevenson – 87%
    Deerfield – 93%
    Payton – 98%
    WY – 96%

    I know that I can’t be alone here when I look at this and feel that there’s just too much of a disparity to believe it doesn’t have real implications re: level of instruction, expectations, critical thinking aspects of learning as a base vs. rote memory and busy work, assessments, etc.

    Sorry, but it boggles my mind that anybody thinks it’s really not so important, because “scores don’t really matter.” Tell that to a student that’s sitting in Organic Chemistry 111 or Macroeconomics 201 next to kids that went to Hinsdale Central, Stevenson, Loyola, Payton, etc. their first semester at UIUC. I bet they might feel differently.

    I’m not trying to be mean-spirited, just more concerned that people are fooling themselves.

  • 312. IBobsessed  |  August 23, 2014 at 9:15 am

    klm, I don’t have time to respond in detail at the moment, but what you are attacking is a caricature of my post and not what I said. Please re-read it.

  • 313. Just Commenting  |  August 23, 2014 at 9:17 am

    KLM…I agree with you. However, there are MANY kids coming out of neighborhood schools with wonderful educations. As a teacher at an SEHS, I know that most of my students will be ready for college. However, what has made them ready is not necessarily content, but the support they get from home. I would bet my job that these students would have done just as well at some neighborhood school because of the parental support and enriched supplemental educations their family’s provide. Not all neighborhood schools are the same. I think many on this site are working very hard to help build their schools.

    I also taught at a school at the far other end of the spectrum. It was not a safe place and not a place I would send my own children. However, I had students who went to college, grad school and have become incredibly successful. Were they learning the same content as their peers? NO, but they had differentiated instruction in the classroom and had support at home.

    On a side note to someone who poster earlier that scores would not rise…I don’t get it. Of course they should rise. The article posted from ACT discussed growth at various schools. If your child is not growing, I would definitely question what is going on. Don’t forget, a score of 30 is the golden number. This is where $$$ become more available from colleges. If you child went into HS with a score above 22 on EXPLORE, I would EXPECT at least a 30 on the ACT.

  • 314. Edgewater CPS parent - Go Bulldogs!  |  August 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

    klm – you are right. when Senn starts to “look” like Hinsdale then I’ll be expecting those scores. in the meantime, this thread started with the premise that local neighborhood HS’s were being under-enrolled and were experiencing the effects of not having neighborhood support (parents were seeking better options).
    Turning that tide includes solving the enrollment problem….
    Yes, Senn has to show educational achievements, improved scores, etc. to keep this going …. but as other schools have experienced; transformation to become a locally desirable option is not without risk.

    As test scores are a lagging indicator… I expect that Senn will post gains on their scores as their enrollment grows. Those gains will not likely meet your (& others) expectations.
    But I think we have a “growth” story here… and with nurturing & support a Neighborhood HS maybe able to change its reputation.

  • 315. klm  |  August 23, 2014 at 10:36 am


    I really didn’t mean it as a ‘dis’ to something that you wrote, but more a comment on the “scores don’t matter” ethos, in general.

    I’m not scores-fixated (I’ve often mentioned here that it’s important to do an apples-to-apples comparison b/t schools), but I do believe that they indicate a general level of intellectual engagement and all that goes along with it: curriculum, pedagogy, peer-to-peer influence, expectations, social atmosphere, etc.

    Also, I totally understand that kids that grow up in middle-class or upper-middle-class homes with parents that have undergraduate and graduate professioanl degrees are at an advantage. However, why should any parent be expected to accept less from a school simply because more of its kids come from families that are more working-class than middle-class?

    I understand the reality-based sentiment behind it, but most parents aren’t going to be like: We were going to move to Oakbrook, but we decided on out local CPS HS now. Sure its ave. ACT score is 12 points lower (which indicated that kids are 3 or 4+ years behind the suburban school, on average), but since so many of the kids come from low-income homes, it would be almost cruel to expect them to be achieving at Oakbrook levels, since they’re, you know,….mostly non-white and non-Asian and have parents without professional jobs, so, ….it’a all good. We just have to be realistic and accept a 10 or 12 point gap in collective average ACT score as an OK, normal thing, since it’s not as important as individual success.

    Again, some people will say it’s unfair to expect kids at Senn to be high-achieving, then there are those (like me) who feel like its unfair NOT to expect them to be high-achieving. Meanwhile, I don’t care what reasons or explanations one gives, I don’t want my kids going to a HS where the average ACT is 16, sorry. Lots of working-class Hispanic and black kids go to WY, Jones and Lane, too, but thes eschools somehow manage good scores (and, yes, it’s glaringly obvious it’s b/c they’re SE).

    Plenty or kids from middle-class homes have parents that do hardly anything in terms of pushing education. Plenty of kids from working-class families have parents that read to their kids when they’re young, make sure homework’s done, have high expectations in tems of grades and make sure that their kids know it, etc.

    Just because somebody lives in a 3 bd/2ba 1,600 s.f. ranch home in Buffalo Grove doesn’t mean they have it made in life. Same goes for a kid that lives in a 3bd/2ba 1,600 2-flat apartment in Albany Park –it’s not like their expectations should be lowered, so as to be “realsitic” given their working-class, minority households.

    Sorry about the wordy quasi-essay/editorial.

    Again, if the idea is to keep people in the city that would otherwise move to the suburbs, then all this matters.

    If the idea is to make the best out of CPS for people that staying in Chicago, no matter what, aren’t going private no matter what, etc., then this doesn’t matter.

    I’m discussing things from the point of view of the former, which is what I think needs to be done in order genuinely change things so that some CPS neighborhood HSs can become viable options.

  • 316. Susan Lofton  |  August 23, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I don’t post much, but at this point, the Senn team can provide some data and facts that will help discussion. You do probably want to get a cup of coffee and settle back for this lengthy response. Klm, you don’t need to be slammed. Your insights are based on data from ISBE, and given the lack of break out data, it is a limited tool for your purpose. Senn was, 5 years ago, a very troubled school. This is fact. Real and substantive change takes time, and it is happening. The juniors who just sat the ACT entered Senn with an Explore score averaging around 14. And that’s another fact. Some students came in higher, some lower. However, this junior class overall averaged a 4 – 5 point gain from Explore to ACT. The gain includes students with IEPs. Senn has made increasing gain each year on the ACT, attendance, and other key metrics, not all of which are on the report you are viewing.

    However, if I am reading correctly, the concern is how well a student performing at a higher level would do. Would there be enough rigor and challenge such that the student walking in with an 18 or a 20 would make commensurate growth as a student at a full SEHS? This is where we can compare apples to apples. Senn’s data team has looked at the spreadsheets, and the average gain for an IB diploma prep student was 6.3 from Explore to ACT. Students who took advantage of supports scored in the upper 20s. And that brings us back to the concern that a high performing student cannot make great gain on the ACT at Senn because of overall metrics for all students. Not accurate. An average gain of 6 points is pretty good. I think it would be a disservice to a student if we took them in at 21 and they tested at a 23. Thankfully, that is not the case.

    I do caution about equating the worth of a child with a test scores. We are trying to develop thinkers and creators, who also test well for the purpose of having university choices and scholarship money.

    While we would like for all students to be at a 21 and higher, the real point is that the student makes growth. Unfortunately, the ISBE metric for college readiness isn’t able to show the work ethic and perseverance of students who made a 4 point gain to get to a 20. The ISBE report only indicates 21 or above. But work ethic and perseverance contribute to the climate and culture of a school, which would seem important.

    This summer, Senn students did mini-residencies at Loyola and DePaul for the sciences. A rising senior was offered a free class at Northwestern. He took astronomy and earned an A. Students also interned with Lookingglass, Steppenwolf, and CSO to name a few. Over 150 students engaged in summer enrichment classes. 180 incoming freshmen took part of a four week long Freshman Connection Program.

    Senn teachers are IB trained or will be trained by end of year. We had an enrollment increase and hired more teachers, so they need to be trained. We have an intense rubric for hiring and a very strong leadership team. Teachers coach each other, and we set growth goals for all children. As the MYP Framework continues to expand and students are able to take advantage of the neighborhood IB certificate strands, we expect to see even more growth.

    Add to the mix the fine arts options, all of the clubs and sports, and the general sense of feeling that we are building something great together. The result is students who feel positive about what they want to accomplish. They believe they can do well and are willing to work for a higher goal. This creates a very different school environment than the 14% metric indicates. The students know that we are trying out different strategies, and they have supported us as we revise and push. They know that the curriculum is challenging. They accept the challenge.

    It is vital to communities and to the city to have neighborhood schools where students want to grow, work for the growth, no matter where they start, and that their growth is something we will all be proud of. I know I am.

    Susan A. Lofton
    Senn High School

  • 317. klm  |  August 23, 2014 at 11:36 am


    That was wonderful.

    I only wish every educator were as obviously dedicated and willing to discuss, explain and make a case. You’ve got me rerthinking things given what you discussed.

    Thank-you, so much and keep up the good work!

  • 318. Neighborhood Mom  |  August 23, 2014 at 11:48 am

    I wish there was a “love” button. Kudos, Principal Lofton! I see fantastic things happening to Senn under your leadership and guidance. The transparency is truly appreciated.

  • 319. klm  |  August 23, 2014 at 12:14 pm


    There are many, many CPS K-8 neighborhood and open-enrollment schools that have test scores as good or better than Hinsdale’s (Hinsdale CCSD 181). In fact, talking apples-to-apples, the white kids at these CPS schools knock the socks off white kids in Hinsdale (there’s not enough diversity in Hinsdale to compare other groups, but I’d bet they’d come out well, too, comparatively). These CPS schools also have lots of diversity, a fair number of low-income kids (way more than schools in Hinsdale), etc. Namely, I looked at schools like Burley, Blaine, Bell, LaSalle, Edgebrook, Jackson Language, Lincoln, Hawthorne, …. Never mind the SEs, which obviously rock (of course they would).

    However (I’m not saying this pointing to you but to those that attack when I bring this stuff up), when it comes to HS and somebody like me wants to discuss scores that they’d like to see that aren’t even necessarily comparable to Hinsdale, but at least not grade-levels apart… Suddenly, it’s like I’m being pegged as a totally anti-Chicago, New Trier-worshiping, scores-fixated Tiger Mother removed from reality.

    How is it OK for me to want AND GET Hinsdale-like+ scores for my kids K-8 CPS schools (all my kids’ CPS K-8 schools [both SE AND non-SE] have results superior to those in Hinsdale, …or Lake Forest or Deerfield for that matter) –that’s why we stayed in the city and went CPS. Same for thousands of other families, I’m sure. But, when it comes to 9-12 CPS neighborhood schools, suddenly I need to not only lower my expectatoins, but have much, much lower expectations, so as to be “realistic” and not even dare discuss the level of learning at a place like Hinsdale Central because it’s, like, on another planet, relatively speaking.

    What gives?

    I’m not trying to start a flare-up, but it’s that kind of thinking that makes people give up on CPS or go private. Yes, I live in Chicago, but why does it mean I need to avoid any comparisons to what other people have, in terms of public schools? Why shouldn’t we want that? In many instances, we already have it for our K-8 CPS non-SE schools (and it seems like every year the number of these CPS K-8 test score Rock Star schools grows –it’s wonderful!).

    Why not for HS?

  • 320. klm  |  August 23, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    How things changed for CPS K-8 schools was a Rack Star principal that was willing to talk with parents, be open and not afraid of test scores (and dismiss then as unimportant nonsense), etc. People need to take this stuff (i.e., concerns over achievement levels, test scores, etc.) head-on and discuss it in a positive way, not just dismiss it with a sniff as some kind of fluffy “Stuff White People Like.”

    That’s how things change.

    We nee more people like Susan Lofton being transparent and saying, “I understand you concerns. They’re legitimate. However, let me tell you what my school can and will do for you child…… Let’s get together so that we can talk more.”

    Rather than, “Oh, you’re just so silly to expect things in Chicago to be in any way like in Hinsdale –what are you thinking?!”

  • 321. parent  |  August 23, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    klm, Who is asking you to lower your expectations for 9-12? You live in Lincoln Park. Your kids can go to LPHS if they don’t get into an SEHS.

  • 322. Todd Pytel  |  August 23, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    @319: “How is it OK for me to want AND GET Hinsdale-like+ scores for my kids K-8 CPS schools… But, when it comes to 9-12 CPS neighborhood schools, suddenly I need to not only lower my expectatoins, but have much, much lower expectations.”

    I’d suggest that what you’re seeing is the effect of neighborhood boundaries more than a reflection of school quality. The elementary schools you mention draw from small geographic areas densely populated with middle class families. Neighborhood high schools draw from much larger areas – typically, there are 3-5 main elementary feeders into a neighborhood HS and not all of them are achieving at the level you would like.

    Many of the students from high-performing elementaries *do* go on to neighborhood HS’s, often in special programs (IB, Honors, Arts, etc.) and do very well, with fine test scores and college admission offers. But those students’ test scores are being averaged out with students from the struggling elementaries you’re *not* mentioning. In aggregate, this makes a CPS neighborhood school compare poorly to Hinsdale, etc. even if that school does in fact serve every student well.

    As a parent, you want to be talking to faculty at those neighborhood schools to see what kind of opportunities are being offered to their better prepared students, and what their results are. A good neighborhood HS should have specific strategies for engaging *all* levels of students with appropriate instruction and be able to demonstrate their results.

    Todd Pytel
    Mathematics Department Chair
    Senn High School

  • 323. AVille Mom  |  August 23, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    The percentage of college readiness KLM posted looks appalling at first glance. Until you remember that Senn is a neighborhood high school in an urban area with significant low income populations and a high degree of students who come from ESL homes, many of which have not even been in this country themselves for that long themselves. Of course Payton and Jones will have a higher percentage of college readiness, they are selective enrollment college prep program.

    Senn is making great strides with a rock star principal who goes above an beyond, to the point of meeting her students at the Thorndale El stop to make sure they have safe passage to school (before safe passage was even a phrase we all recognized). Alderman Harry Osterman has also been hugely supportive and now the neighborhood is stepping up. I’ve said it here before, when my daughter was two there was no way in $@$#, but now, with just a few years left to go, we are not discounting Senn.

    As for college readiness, personally I don’t think neighborhood high schools should be compared to selective enrollment college prep programs when it comes to college readiness. There are so many kids who do not and probably should not go to college, and those students are captured by neighborhood high schools not selective enrollment. And these are open enrollment schools. It would be great if Senn or some of the other high schools could beef up their trade and techinical programs. It would interesting to compare apples to apples. Start to compare the college readiness of Senn or Lakeview or other neighborhood high schools, but only those kids who are on the college prep track or who self identify as college prep with the selective enrollment percentages.

    I am excited to see the gains Seen, Lakeview and Amundsen are making and, hopefully, more families like my own will begin to take a serious look at these schools.

  • 324. Todd Pytel  |  August 23, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    @323 (AVille Mom): “It would be great if Senn or some of the other high schools could beef up their trade and techinical programs.”

    I agree, but this is very much a district-level funding issue. At the moment there is no support from CPS for such programs, which are more costly to staff and run than traditional academic courses for a variety of reasons. It is financially impossible for any individual school to offer such programs solely with its own resources.

  • 325. Parents need to step up  |  August 23, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    Parents need to step up and do their job.

    There are many parents who are failures: lazy, spend more time watching tv, gossiping, drinking, getting high or on social media than with their kids.

    Many parents use teachers as scapegoats.

  • 326. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2014 at 9:16 am

    @323 “As for college readiness, personally I don’t think neighborhood high schools should be compared to selective enrollment college prep programs when it comes to college readiness.”

    Scores are not about comparing SE schools to neighborhood schools. One point made here is that even though all students within this or any neighborhood are not college bound, the group as a whole should should be scoring higher than what they are now. No student should be in school just to take up space and not learn anything – college bound or not. It’s a very powerful feeling when a school recognizes the issue and steps in to meaningfully change it.

    I also take exception with your assertion that students from foreign speaking households are less capable/lower scoring based solely upon the ESL issue alone. There may be other factors involved but not language.

    @325 – parents need to step up.

    I don’t have numbers on this but based upon what I see in the community and read here and in other places, most parents do want their children to be educated and successful. One common plight that many families seem to have is the lack of resources or knowledge to help their children creating a dependency upon teachers and the school system. So, maybe teachers need to take some ownership – as many do – and step up. We can continue to point the finger in every direction – kids, parents, teachers, administration, funding – or we can ALL take ownership of our part and put forth our best effort for our kids.

  • 327. CPS alum  |  August 24, 2014 at 10:05 am

    @klm–to only look at averages and disregard other statistical measures such as of spread, leads one to make incorrect conclusions on the academic attainment of students at the top of their class. I graduated from a CPS high school over 20 years ago. While it was a magnet school, it was not selective enrollment. There were plenty of kids at that school that had very low ACT scores and just as many with very high ACT scores. The range wide and the average ACT at the school was slightly below the state average. That said, you cannot assume based on the average ACT that the school didn’t provide rigor. Nor can you surmise how those students will feel in their college courses.

    Let me tell you, the average ACT at my high school had no impact on the college readiness of motivated kids at my high school. The kids in my class that were prepared out of elementary top took honors classes in high school and the teachers taught rigorous courses. I can tell you that the courses were rigorous, because I know what rigourous high school courses look like. I currently teach at a suburban high school that you often mention ; I can compare.

    I went to UIUC along with 30+ of my high school classmates. I can also tell you that my high school with that below average ACT prepared us well for college sitting right next to kids from the suburbs. 10 page term paper, no problem; we did those all 4 years of high school. Organic Chemistry, the typical weed-out course in college, wasn’t easy but certainly wasn’t a struggle to get the A. High school classmates of mine made the Brass Tablet honors at UIUC- top honors for liberal arts beating out kids who went to suburban high schools with high ACT scores.

    My point is an average is NOT the whole story.

  • 328. Mona  |  August 24, 2014 at 10:55 am

    “top honors for liberal arts beating out kids who went to suburban high schools with high ACT scores.”

    That’s all achievement, not ability. It’s memorization and answering test problems based on the material from the textbook and class. As long as a student works hard, it doesn’t matter where you go to school, they will do well.

    However, it does not measure ability and critical thinking that is where school quality does make a difference and where you can improve. You’re not going to get that at a public school (high school or low- mid tier colleges – i.e. not in Top 50 National).

    Then there is IQ which is based on innate abilities. No school or income level can help with that. That is mainly genetic. All of this is based on years of research, not some insignificant anecdotal stories based on chit chatting with some dope in the desk next to you.

    Those who can’t do

  • 329. klm  |  August 24, 2014 at 11:15 am


    I was looking at things from the point of view of Alderman Pawar’s target group: people who live in the city, but move when it’s time for their oldest to go to HS. Being a Chicagoan, a strong supporter of public education, a big proponent of raising kids in the the city, etc., I’m interested in CPS neighborhood HSs becoming more “viable.”

    I think some people (and I understand –I come off hard when I read back stuff) think I’m slamming schools, when I’m actually pointing out concerns that need to be addressed, not simply dismissed as a bunch of huey, etc. The Mr. Pytel and Mr. Loften (how impressive are their responses? I’m totally impressed, it’s kind of attitude that DOES lead to change) responses were on point. The fact is, though, whatever I’m thinking, I know I’m not alone.


    I totally get that. I the past, I’ve praised LPHS, despite the fact that its ACT average isn’t as high as many suburban HSs. LPIB is a genuine golden opportunity for any kid that qualifies and is willing to do the work –and it rubs off on other non-IB kids, many of whom do HH or DH. ALso, LPHS does have lots of low-scoring kids –this fact doesn’t ruin thing for everybody, I get that. A HS one of my sister’s kids attended didn’t have a super high ave., ACT, but it offered all kinds of great opportunities for kids that wanted them and some kids at that school could and did go to study at Prestige colleges (not that super smart kids don’t go to Big State U’s, too, and are just as successful). ,

    I know that an AVERAGE ACT isn’t indicative of where many students are. However, when I’ve looked at scores, etc., at some schools in question, somewhere b/t 0 and 1% of kids were “exceeding” on PSAE scores. This tells me that there’s virtually nobody doing future UIUC Engineering -type scores on tests. Now, I KNOW most kids won’t score that high, even at a school like Jones or Deerfield, but usually I’d expect to see SOME kids rocking tests (like at your HS). But when I researched, that lack of high-scoring kids was kinda’ a red flag, as to the “what CAN happen, forget the ‘average'” concept I just discussed and that you explained.

    So, yeah, that’s all concerning and why shouldn’t it be? Again, I’m not trying to be hyper cynical or critical (I know I come off that way, so my bad –it’s totally my fault). I kinda’ feel like I’m pointing out some things that need to be addressed before a schools like Senn or LVHS are viable choices for people that have options.

    The quick, professional, convincing responses from the Senn team sure impressed me. They DID address concerns, not ignore them.

    I feel it’s better to bring this stuff up and have it addressed, because I KNOW other parents are thinking the same thing. If concerns are addressed, rather than ignored or dismissed automatically because they are “negative”, well then it will only confirm peoples’ suspicions that some of these schools really are “that bad”, so they’ll remain no-way-in-hell schools for most middle-class people.

    Transparency and communication are the best anecdotes to a school that’s trying to overcome a negative perception. So, in terms of people like Senn’s principal and math teacher that responded professionally and convincingly, kudos! With that kind of communication, addressing concerns, etc., things CAN change.

    And I hope they do!

  • 330. Teacher and Parent  |  August 24, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    @327…great post!

    Interesting how this thread relates to a previous discussion about how those kids at Hinsdale, New Trier, etc. have to get higher act scores to get into the same schools than city kids.

  • 331. CPS alum  |  August 24, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    @330- Thanks, but I don’t know what you mean about kids at New Trier and Hinsdale having to get high scores than city kids. I don’t think that is always true.

  • 332. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    @327 – I went to UIUC too along with many from a suburban HS.

    Having just gone through the college admin process, I can tell you for a fact that there is no way that you compare what was going on at Illinois state schools 20+ years ago, in particular UIUC, to what is happening today. It would be interesting to know what percentage of kids from your same CPS magnet school go to UIUC today.

  • 333. klm  |  August 24, 2014 at 3:38 pm


    Having worked in college admissions for a while (I know I’ve mentioned this and I’m not an expert, just somebody with a little knowledge), the only way going to a CPS school helps in getting into college is if one’s in an “underrepresented” category. Some colleges give extra, extra points (figuratively speaking) for being an underrepresented minority AND attending a low-performing, low-income, inner-city -type HS. Kind of like being twice exceptional –an URM and from a socioeconomically disadvantage neighborhood (often as indicated by zip code and know by recruiters) and corresponding HS. Often, these kids get letters from something like the Office of Multicultural Affairs (which may be allowed its own admissions requests, almost independent of the regular admissions office) for admissions/financial aid decisions, rather than directly from the Admissions Office.

    A non-low-income white or Asian kid that goes to Senn or Lake View is going to have to do as well as kids from New Trier and Hinsdale Central to get into UIUC, Ohio Wesleyan or Purdue, I’m pretty sure.

    In a state like Michigan, where the use of race has been proscribed (by referendum, later upheld by the Supreme Court), for admissions to state-supported colleges, they try to increase enrollment of underrepresented students by doing things like looking at low-income numbers at the HS one attends and giving extra points that way. Accordingly, if one wanted to go to Michigan State or U-M, attending Senn or Lake View would likely be an advantage, as long as those schools remain mostly low-income, especially if they’re Title I schools (the idea being that these schools have mostly underrepresented minority students, so an applicant from one is likely to be one).

    Otherwise, I’m not sure how it helps to attend a CPS school.

    Also, HS Mom is right on when she mentions that getting into college is nothing like it was a generation ago. So many old “safety schools” are now tough to get into, etc. The “top” schools are darn near impossible.

  • 334. cps alum  |  August 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    @332, I’m speaking to the college readiness of a student, not their admission. While getting UIUC may be more competive now than it was 20+ years ago, I’m pretty sure those same studnets from my high school would be prepared for course work at UIUC as they were then.

    I guess I need to be more explicit in my point. I’m talking about average ACT of a school vs. spread of scores. My high school had an average ACT of 19/20. While I don’t know what everyones’ ACT score was I know how my close friends scored; we are talking about scores in the 28+ range and mostly 30+. These are kids who gained admittance to the Ivys, MIT, U of C, Northwestern, and other highly selective schools but chose to go to UIUC for one reason or another.

    Truth be told, back in the late 80’s the SEHS options were few and geographically undesiarable for and many of the kids I’m talking about. They probably would have gone to Northside had it existed then. But also the number of students in the CPS system who are working at this level is far greater now than it was then.

    The point is an AVERAGE ACT score is simply a mean. It does not tell you anyting about he distribution or spread of scores. You don’t know if any kids getting high scores. You don’t know if there are some strong outliers. You can’t tell if the distribution is normal or not. You don’t know if it skews higher or lower than the mean. And you cannot tell if the school meets or does not meet the needs of all its students.

  • 335. cps alum  |  August 24, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    @332- I’m pretty sure quite a few still attend top colleges and Universities since this school does have a selective component now and they mention top schools on their website.

  • 336. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    @335 – that’s great. Key fact – selective component. This jives with what I mention above – if LV can emulate schools like LP and Von then it will be attractive to families. You’re right. In schools that have selective components, the average ACT does not do it justice although I wonder if knowing the regular program scores separately would be detrimental.

    We applied to Von after attending the open house and being told at the time that the average ACT of the scholars program was 27. The fact that the balance of the school was magnet admission was also attractive. Little more complex with a neighborhood school. With LV’s size and number of potential neighborhood admissions, they could do one better and have a majority selective component…..wouldn’t that be interesting.

  • 337. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2014 at 6:06 pm

    Also, curious if there are any non-selective schools today with 30+ admissions to UIUC. Anything?

  • 338. CPS alum  |  August 24, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    But you miss the point– 20 years ago there was no selective component.

  • 339. HS Mom  |  August 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Got it. Things were much different back then weren’t they?

  • 340. CPS Waste: Technical and ETC Progams  |  August 25, 2014 at 6:32 am

    @324. Todd Pytel

    A recent article on the Simeon Electric Shop shows you how poorly run the CPS Technical and ETC programs are and how they’re a huge waste of taxpayer money. Read the article here and then read my comments:


    So, 6 out of 111 students (5%) in Electric and Auto Shop earned their qualifying certifications while 95% didn’t? What a waste of taxpayer money!!! And, this isn’t just happening at Simeon, the ETC programs are a money-drain system wide with little results.

    Shouldn’t the qualifying certificates be a requirement to pass the classes? Or, are these classes a dumping ground for students who didn’t get into other ‘more sought after’ classes? Are these classes basically schedule fillers or holding patterns for many students?

    The whole CPS ETC program is so underperforming it’s sickening and each ETC class needs to be upgraded for better results or dropped from the curriculum. The only ETC classes which are drawing CPS students these days are Culinary Arts, HVAC, Graphic Arts, Architecture, and Barber/Cosmetology.

    The days of Wood Shop, Cabinet Making, Auto Shop, Machine Shop, and Construction Technology are over, especially when companies are paying employees to get trained or let them work up the ladder. Plus, there’s plenty of technical colleges to teach these students the skills they’ve been learning in 8 weeks in what they should have been learning in a full year of high school shop. Or in two or three years of shop classes.

    How many CPS students taking these courses go into the field while in school or after they graduate? 3%-5%? What happens to the other 95%-97% of the students? What did they learn or were they just going through the motions while their $85K+ teacher hands out passing grades like candy?

    It’s time for CPS to trim the fat in unneeded ETC classes and replace them with subject areas which will help the students learn something.

  • 341. Chris  |  August 25, 2014 at 9:33 am

    ” the education kids receive at a low-scoring, low-performing school won’t be much different than at a high-scoring, high-achieveing school.”

    I went to a HS that had “great” test scores–you looked at the scores alone, and you would think it was a really good school. The intro-level, required classes were *terrible*.

    For a larger, general-enrollment, high school, the issue isn’t as much the typical level of instruction in ‘general’ classes, but the early and broad availability of advanced classes, for all those who are interested and possibly capable.

    “Tell that to a student that’s sitting in Organic Chemistry … their first semester at UIUC.”

    So, you presume that this kid did well enough on the placement test to skip thru Gen Chem I AND II, and then is going to feel behind the others? Someone taking O.Chem as a frosh is on the fast track to a degree in chemistry–I wouldn’t be worried about that kid.

    The kid to be worried about is the one with an interest in chemistry, but who did not get enough science education in HS to test out of even Chem I–that kid has to be laser-focused to pull it off.

  • 342. Chris  |  August 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

    KLM: “A non-low-income white or Asian kid that goes to Senn or Lake View is going to have to do as well as kids from New Trier and Hinsdale Central to get into UIUC, Ohio Wesleyan or Purdue, I’m pretty sure.”

    Sure, for large(r) public schools. Private schools can be different. There are private schools (big and small) that like more variety, for the sake of variety–if the school is choosing between otherwise equal applications of a kid from NT/HC and kid from CPS non-PaNJY school, the CPS kid is *likely* to get the nod.

    HS Mom: “This jives with what I mention above”

    Only bc I’ve been seeing/hearing it a lot, and bc I’m pretty sure you’ll take it the right way–I think that you mean “jibes with” (notwithstanding the mis-usage being common enough to be “internet acceptable”).

  • 343. klm  |  August 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm


    Truth be told, 99% of my m.o. in this discussion is about my own sibling (my sister). She went to a low-scoring-low-performing public HS (the one I’d have gone to had I not got a partial scholarship to a Catholicc school). She was a good student at this HS –a HS many insisted was our neighborhood (a trailer park) was “good”, despite its repuatation. My mom saw what she was doing in English and knew something was seriously wrong –I remember my mom saying how could you have received a B+ for writing THAT?!

    She went to college and was blown away –totally unprepared. She dropped out during her freshman year. She, in fact did well in chemistry in HS, then struggled mightily her freshman year at Regular State College (not UIUC, U-M, UVA -type state school, more NIU, SIU -type). She also had a hard time writing college-level papers (because she never was made to learn how). She was pretty dispirited.

    She stayed home, eventuallty took some remedial classes at community college, then regular ones, then transferred to a good college, graduated with a marketable degree and got a good job.

    Her “low ave. ACT HS” was not one that helped her out. She compared the eduation her kids get in HS and feels robbed. Does she look at ave. ACT and other scores? He** yeah!

    I know her story may not be typical, but stories like hers are not science fiction –it happens.

    There’s a reason some people (like me and my sister) are gun-shy about low-scores HSs, and it’s not for nothing.

  • 344. Chris  |  August 25, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    “She went to a low-scoring-low-performing public HS”

    Did it have accelerated math? Did it make it so whoever wanted could take AP history/chem/physics without qualifying in? Did *anyone* there prod those who were capable but lazy to take the harder classes?

    That’s a *necessary* difference for a ‘lower (but not *low*) scoring’ HS to be okay. The options that a school like OPRF has, but [fillintheblank] in CPS does not.

    And yes, even then, with ‘challenging’ courses, the instruction can be lacking, as I know from experience.

  • 345. HSObsessed  |  August 25, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Anyone who wants to check which high schools currently offer which AP courses can do so very conveniently here:


  • 346. IBobsessed  |  August 25, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    klm, you mentioned learning to write, something which really concerns me in CPS. Has anyone seen substantial time and attention given to writing improvement by either their elementary or HS? I am not talking about writing just being assigned, but essays returned with real teacher input on syntax, word choice, content clarity, tone, etc. I have not seen this. Who knows of a HS where the teachers actually do the tedious work of commenting on drafts and on every student paper instead of just assigning a final grade?? Tell me and that’s where my kid is going. My kid had a national board certified teacher for reading, and even they did not make any comments. I want to see some papers marked up with red. Classes are just too large to have time for this?

    Do the average CPS ACTs include the optional writing section of the ACT?

  • 347. HS Mom  |  August 25, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    LOL Chris – Thank you! Absolutely…helpful,constructive criticism welcome.

  • 348. HS Mom  |  August 25, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    “Do the average CPS ACTs include the optional writing section of the ACT?”

    This year the CPS ACT included writing. May not be true in the future if they are cutting back on state supplied tests. FWIW – out of the 8 colleges we applied to only one required the writing portion (seems like Michigan universities like it). In our research, we did not stumble upon many colleges that required it although some of the highly selective schools (not all) may ask for it along with subject tests in your area of interest.

  • 349. HS Mom  |  August 25, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    sorry – hit enter too soon. The writing is a separate score not included in the average.

  • 350. Todd Pytel  |  August 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    @348 (HS Mom): “This year the CPS ACT included writing.”

    Are you sure that was administered on the standard testing day when every junior takes the ACT? We did not administer the writing portion of the ACT at Senn on the big ACT day – I was a testing room supervisor, so I’m quite certain of that. It may be that this is a local school decision. It may also be that the writing section is given in the out-of-school testing sessions (held on Saturday mornings, etc.) but not given to everyone in the mandatory ACT testing. I’m not central to testing at our school, so I don’t know all the details here.

    As for writing more generally (@IBobsessed), I think every good teacher recognizes the importance and difficulty of teaching students to write well. Large class sizes do make this extremely difficult. Consider also that most HS teachers teach several sections of one course. So if a teacher assigns a paper to three sections of English III, he’s probably going to collect about 100 student papers. That’s an awful lot of papers to turn around, and if it takes too long then students will forget much of their thinking in the meantime. Given the choice between detailed commentary on students’ mathematics and getting papers back into students’ hands before they forget what they were doing, I often lean towards the latter myself. I’m sure writing teachers face the same conflict.

    Apart from the time pressures involved, many teachers are discouraged from more extensive commentary by the fact (documented by research) that most students don’t read it. They look at their grades and put the papers in their bags. In my opinion, it would not be out of line to contact your child’s English teacher to let them know that you’re really concerned about your child’s writing skill development, and that any additional commentary would be read, appreciated, and followed up on. Personally, I would be happy to spend some extra time commenting on a few students’ papers knowing that someone was going to hold those kids to processing those comments outside of class. I often structure activities to *require* students to respond to my comments on important exams, but there isn’t enough class time to do this for every single piece of written work students produce.

  • 351. Curious Parent and Teacher  |  August 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Our school did not administer the writing portion.

    @352…Todd, one of the continual topics of our MATH Dept. pd’s is how to get kids to look at our comments and use them to improve upon learning. You hit it on the nail. they look at the grade and toss it in their backpacks.

  • 352. Todd Pytel  |  August 27, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    Correction: We apparently *did* administer the Writing Test. I have scores for it in our data. I just don’t remember actually giving it to kids. I suspect it was done via computer and was administered on a separate day from the rest of the exam. Sorry for any confusion.

  • 353. IBobsessed  |  August 27, 2014 at 10:55 pm

    Todd Pytel-Thank you for addressing the writing issue.

    I find it interesting that we get a lively debate and alot of participation and comments on this blog whenever the topic of standardized test scores is raised, whether it be ACT or MAP, but raise the issue of curriculum and content, like writing, and hear hardly anything but the sound of crickets chirping here…. And this from parents and teachers who claim to realize that scores are “not everything” even though they are all that appear to upset alot of parents and inspire them to post here.
    I guess learning to be a competent writer is one of those “aery fairy” things that is useless because it can’t be quantified.

  • 354. IBobsessed  |  August 27, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    And regarding the issue of commenting on writing; any student who cares about their final grade will not just look at the grade on an essay and throw it into their backpack, IF it is a grade for a DRAFT of the final writing assignment. The final writing assignment is weighted more heavily, so there is an incentive to make revisions based on the draft teacher comments.

    Some here scoffed at parents who pulled their teens from Jones and sent them back to British school which has a lower av. ACT than Jones. I know why and its not a nutty reason. At British school they were learning to write, and think, not just memorize, because the staff have the small class size luxury of putting the time into doing those things differentiated for each student, without wrecking their own personal lives.

    Now I know from first hand experience that making detailed comments on 100 essays, even 2 times a term, is tedious, grueling, time consuming work. (Double espresso all nighters required! And these become impossible when you have kids of your own!) College professors (at small liberal arts schools) grade this many essays a couple of times a term, but they typically teach only 3 sections of about 32 students. So that’s 3 hours of in-class time per week.

    A caring, diligent HS CPS teacher would think they had died and gone to heaven if they could spend all their work hours, except 3 in class hours per week, grading, prepping, and meeting one on one with students (minus attending meetings and being on committees).

    Why does the system think you, who teach HS students at a lower instructional level than college professor have to, can manage with less time?

    Class sizes are too large, and we work you too hard.

    Is anyone else out there willing to share their experience on writing, their kids, and cps? I really am curious what other parents see.

  • 355. Questioner  |  August 28, 2014 at 5:34 am

    Seems like my kids’ teachers (upper elementary school grades) use rubrics to replace detailed comments/feedback on writing assignments. Do the rubrics go away in high school?

  • 356. Susan A. Lofton  |  August 28, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Rubrics are a great tool to provide students at the start of an assignment or unit, so that they can see clear benchmarks and descriptors. But they absolutely should not replace constructive written feedback that is personal and specific. Interestingly, personal vs. general feedback to students is a consideration in the teacher evaluation tool, which by the way, uses rubrics. However, principals are required to give additional written feedback in addition to using the rubric. My best discussions after an observation surround the comments I provided. The teachers know this is true of students as well.

    Rubrics won’t go away as they are CCSS and PARCC required. It is all about how you use them. At Senn, we use them to ensure consistency in grading practice and as an instructional tool. Teachers should still provide written comments on the essay.

    As a former English teacher, it took me a full weekend to properly grade 100+ essays. Student writing deserves serious deliberation. There needs to be some consideration for Humanities teachers and grading time. Now you have me thinking.

    Susan A. Lofton
    Senn High School

  • 357. HSObsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 8:34 am

    @354 IBO – I didn’t respond because someone had asked that same question in the past few months, and I had answered, and thought perhaps it was you, so I didn’t respond again for fear of repeating myself. ANYWAY, in case that wasn’t you asking: I’ve been very impressed with the feedback my daughter got on her writing both at Lincoln elementary and now as a freshman at Lincoln Park HS (double honors classes). I remember that they had to turn in first drafts, which were marked up by the teacher and then returned, and then they had to turn in their final draft (this was in elementary). In HS I don’t remember first drafts, but any essay they had to write (and there were many!) had numerous comments written in the margins by the teacher, both positive and critical (“Nice word choice here!” or “This idea seems to arise suddenly: Needs a little more introduction.”) In grad school, I taught Writing English as a Second Language to undergraduates, and I know very well how tedious it is to read, evaluate and give helpful feedback on the written work of dozens of students, so I appreciate the amount of effort by the teachers my daughter has had.

  • 358. HS Mom  |  August 28, 2014 at 8:34 am

    IBO – I agreed with you then and still do now about writing issues – especially at elementary level. If anything, there’s a lack of consistency with teachers in the way writing is taught possibly because it is more abstract.

    “Some here scoffed at parents who pulled their teens from Jones and sent them back to British school which has a lower av. ACT than Jones. I know why and its not a nutty reason. At British school they were learning to write, and think, not just memorize, because the staff have the small class size luxury of putting the time into doing those things differentiated for each student, without wrecking their own personal lives.”

    The scoffer would be me. This comment kinda floors me. I doubt that you have any experience with Jones because writing and critical thinking is their strong suit. They are not getting these kids into top colleges because they can afford college planners and essay specialist. The teachers are amazing, one especially who helped and encouraged my child to pursue writing. Just brought my kid to college. He’s in poetry competitions and was admitted to an international program based upon his writing portfolio. This is not just my brag – lots of kids doing exceptional work in writing and other areas at Jones. If you feel you need to slam a school on writing, you need to look in another direction.

    I will be the first to admit that I know nothing about British school – I’m sure it’s a great program and the 80 kids there are doing great things. But since you bring it up, I’ll ask again. Why, if the school is operating at a level above Jones, or any other CPS school that you may want to poke a stick at, are the ACT scores the same?

    @350 – “Apart from the time pressures involved, many teachers are discouraged from more extensive commentary by the fact (documented by research) that most students don’t read it….I would be happy to spend some extra time commenting on a few students’ papers knowing that someone was going to hold those kids to processing those comments outside of class”

    I find these comments to be concerning. I am really on the band wagon with making neighborhood schools into real viable options but now I need to start looking back and forth at scores and what’s happening with various school programs. Getting dizzy. At an IB school, really?

    @356 – Ms. Lofton – great imput. It’s principals like you that will make a difference. Thanks for listening.

  • 359. HSObsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Looking at the average ACT scores posted by privates in the link @293, I’m also pretty surprised by the 26 at British School. I mean, as I recall, they don’t give out any scholarships since it’s a for-profit institution, so these are small classes of kids whose parents have the socioeconomic means to pay $27K tuition per year. Between the demographics, the personal attention and self-described academic rigor of the school, I would expect a higher average than 26. The Chicago Academy of the Arts is the private arts high school that was the only game in town for a Fame-type school before ChiArts opened. CAA does not have a reputation of attracting academic-focused kids (understandable, given that many of the kids are highly dedicated to their arts field), nor having particularly strong academic instruction for the kids enrolled; yet, their average ACT score is also 26.

  • 360. HSObsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:17 am

    Oh, I see now on the chart that British does give out scholarships to 10% of its kids, with a reduction of about $12K, so in each high school class, 2-3 have kids whose parents only paying $15K tuition per year. Still pretty pricey.

  • 361. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

    What is the british hs class size? With a small class, a low scoring kid or 2 can bring down the average, potentially….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 362. British School  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:22 am

    FYI, British doesn’t currently go through H.S. They’re building a new campus for PK-12 in the South Loop, which will open in September 2015.

  • 363. HSObsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:28 am

    @361 – According to the Chicago Mag article, there are 85 kids enrolled in British School high school, so I assume there are 20-25 each freshmen, sophomore, etc?

    @362 – I think that will expand the existing high school from the small current size.

  • 364. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:30 am

    So many more private options for HS coming up. I’m still impressed that people can afford this….

    Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile

  • 365. OTdad  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:36 am

    @359. HSObsessed:
    I think in high school, the impact of parents is far less significant than as in elementary school. The scores reflects more about the student’s ability. Smartness cannot be taught.

  • 366. IBobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 11:29 am

    Omy gosh HS mom, I was not slamming Jones on writing. You’ve misunderstood me.

    You wondered how could someone think British school is so great when they have what you take to be a mediocre av. standardized test score.

    My point was that this indicates that you think test scores really are the ultimate arbitrator of school quality since you think a school can’t be superior if its test scores are not.

    I then intended to made a general point about the standard private school approach to teaching and writing and why a parent would pull a kid back in a private school thas mediocre test scores. I was not speaking not Jones in particular, and included it in my comment only becasue it was the school you mentioned.

    I know nothing about Jones and writing and believe what you say. Your description of your son’s experience is the kind of input I was looking for.

    What I do know is that a kid receiving teaching for solid writing development is IFFY in CPS. That is generally not true in private schools, and that is one reason parents despair of public education and just send their kids to private. It’s easier.

  • 367. IBobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    And HS Mom- I don’t understand why Mr. Pytel’s comment on writing is concerning to you. He says he would be more motivated to spend EXTRA time putting MORE comments on student papers if he knew they would be held accountable for the comments. He says he often structures activities to REQUIRE students respond to comment on exams, but doesn’t have time do this with EVERY assignment. This does not sound like substantial time and attention are not already given to written comments. He is only explaining why he does devote MORE time to it.

    Most teachers on here post anonymously, so one puts their *** on the line by signing, they deserve to get the most generous interpretation of what they say.

  • 368. Vikingmom  |  August 28, 2014 at 1:05 pm

    I do a fair amount of research and writing for publications as part of my job, but my love of reading and writing did not pass onto my children. I understand the need for rubrics but personally found them not helpful to my kids. Fast forward to high school where my daughter is enrolled at Amundsen in the IB program, which places a premium on critical thinking and writing. At last spring’s report card pickup (she was a sophomore then) I was a bit floored when her English teacher told me how she thought my daughter’s writing was greatly improved, as well as her attitude towards writing (which she hated in the past). Again, I feel the IB program’s emphasis on writing as well as long term projects is what forced her out of her comfort zone, but her teacher also kindled her new enthusiasm for it. Add to that the fact that the kids choose what they want to research and write for their personal project and it is a win-win situation. I was definitely amazed at the improvement I saw over her earlier (7-8th, early 9th grade) attempts — the grammar mistakes! vocabulary, punctuation—oh the horror. Now, she can put together a very cohesive paper.

  • 369. Chicago School GPS  |  August 28, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Since it was mentioned that there are increasingly more choices for HS, including more viable “hidden gem” neighborhood schools like Senn, Lake View & Amundsen, I wanted to let parents of 6th-8th graders know to register by 8/31/14 for reduced entry to the 3rd Annual Hidden Gems High School Fair at St. Ben’s High School on 9/28/14 from 2-5pm. http://www.chischoolgps.com/CSG_HS_Fair.html (Regular online pre-registration is open through 9/27/14)

    There will be over 30 public and private “hidden gem” schools that are worth considering to widen one’s net when applying to high schools. PLUS, we have informative seminars for parents (admissions, scholarships, entrance testing) and kids (peer to peer forum, executive functioning and essay writing workshops).

    The stress and anxiety surrounding high school admissions is greatly reduced when you look beyond 4 or 5 “well known” high schools and realize Chicago has a wealth of choices! We definitely like what is going on at Senn, Lake View, Amundsen, Alcott, Disney II, ChiArts, and Westinghouse (who will all be in attendance), among many others- see our list online!

  • 370. HS Mom  |  August 28, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    @366 – Thank you for your clarification.

    To be clear, my original comment about the article was addressing the blatant dismissal of Jones by a parent who felt that the academic standard was subordinate to that of British School. I never said that 26 was mediocre on any school’s part. I think a 26 average or single score for that matter, is very good. I simply commented that if BS has a superior program – as this parent claims – then why are the scores the same?

    @361 – CPSO – smaller class size with the 26 average would indicate one of 2 scenarios 1) kids scoring less than 20 offset by kids scoring more than 30 or 2) Scores in the 20’s centralized around 26. If at a school like British you assume that there really aren’t kids scoring below 20, you really have to assume that they are not scoring in the 30’s either otherwise you’d see a higher average. If anything, the larger school will have a few really high and a few really low.

    As a general comment about private ACT scores, keep in mind that they are not required to take or report using the one state test in April. Private scores likely reflect “best of” results after multiple tries. In public school, the one state test given in April is often also the first test. If they mess up, there are still retakes but that score is the school score.

  • 371. Taft Impressions  |  August 28, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    A friend has a child at Northside. In 3 years there, still waiting for one comment on writing.

    For all the complaints though, a motivated student can just go to the teacher and ask for help and input.

  • 372. Community Member  |  August 28, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    @371: I think you’re going to happy with your new principal. I heard from a few women who work at Taft and live in the neighborhood that he laid down the law to any Taft teachers and staffers who don’t want to be an Eagle. He told them they can get their transfers from him right there and now and he’ll send them on their way.

  • 373. Jonah  |  August 28, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    ” I simply commented that if BS has a superior program – as this parent claims – then why are the scores the same?”

    Because British school does not select from the top scoring 5% of kids in the city. They are not a top tier private and only have about 25 kids in a senior class. They take kids outside of top 5% and have them score as well as SEHS who do take top 5% (or better). I doubt the parents pulled kids out to get the same education for $25k+ a year.

    Plus the ACT is an achievement only test. That is basically memorization and regurgitation. Any kid who works hard can do well no matter what school or race or economic status. It is in application of learning and critical thinking where the private schools (especially catholic schools per education studies) shine.

    So it is not surprising that SEHS school are 2-3 years behind in material. It would also explain why there is such a significant drop off in average GPA of SEHS students (from top SEHS schools) when compared to their college GPAs.

  • 374. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    At 26, that puts BS above the suburban schools, right? Well above I think. “Tier 5” affect, no doubt.

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  • 375. HS Mom  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    @373 – But SEHS students are not necessarily the top 5%. The tier system allows for a range of students plus principal discretion plus no child left behind. So while your argument is that the kids at Jones are a large group of gifted children that will perform well regardless of how they are taught, is flattering, I don’t believe this is the case.

    If the ACT is a matter of memorization, I know our scores would likely be lower.

    “So it is not surprising that SEHS school are 2-3 years behind in material. It would also explain why there is such a significant drop off in average GPA of SEHS students (from top SEHS schools) when compared to their college GPAs.”

    Please site your source for this. I don’t follow your logic.

  • 376. cpsobsessed  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    @hs mom, are you saying the SEHS represent (overall) “average” or maybe “just above average” kids rather than a high test scoring population?

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  • 377. Chicago School GPS  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    @CPSO, speaking of “Tier 5”, did anyone else hear that instead of Levels 1-3 for school ratings, the Board of Ed is going to a 5-level system of Tier 1-5, with Tier 1 the best and Tier 5 the worst? Coupled with the Socio-economic tier rating of Tier 4 the highest and Tier 1 the lowest, it’s ripe for more confusion.

  • 378. HS Mom  |  August 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I guess you would need to look at the overall average admission score and then compare that to how one would define the “top students in Chicago”. The average entry score for this 2010 admission year (the year that results in 26 ACT) was 853 – PLUS 25 NCLB students and 5% PD plus scores of 2nd and 3rd round students they had that year that would not figure into the average entrance score. Even looking at the average score alone, we are not talking about a school full of the top 5% of students in the city of Chicago.

    Tuition is probably a better qualifier of a student than SE admission scores.

  • 379. HS Mom  |  August 29, 2014 at 8:24 am

    CPSO – “just above average” kids rather than a high test scoring population?”

    Quite typically, a high test scoring population correlates with higher academic achievement. In general, since the process also involves grades, there also seems to be an element of grade inflation to consider. If anything, you will get waves of parents complaining to the school/teachers when Susie doesn’t get an A. These kids are not by any means coasting through school based upon their innate intelligence. Lots of learning and reaching going on.

  • 380. pantherparent  |  August 29, 2014 at 11:11 am

    It appears @373 Jonah’s logic is based on some private school marketing material.

    Random thoughts are presented as facts. Apparently British School must offer Advanced Advanced Placement courses (AAP?) since they are 3 years ahead. Maybe even AAAP.

    And when ACT test scores lack, just attack the test. Critical thinking is where it’s at, and catholic schools have apparently cornered the market on that.

    Listen, there are plenty of reasons to send your child to private school, but let’s not indiscriminately bash SEHS. By any measure they are some of the best high schools in the state.

  • 381. More important than ACT prep?  |  August 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Could this be more crucial for our kids success (or at least for their happiness)than high a ACT score?

    “In their 2007 book, “Intellectual Virtues,” Robert C. Roberts of Baylor University and W. Jay Wood of Wheaton College list some of the cerebral virtues. We can all grade ourselves on how good we are at each of them.

    First, there is love of learning. Some people are just more ardently curious than others, either by cultivation or by nature.

    Second, there is courage. The obvious form of intellectual courage is the willingness to hold unpopular views. But the subtler form is knowing how much risk to take in jumping to conclusions. The reckless thinker takes a few pieces of information and leaps to some faraway conspiracy theory. The perfectionist, on the other hand, is unwilling to put anything out there except under ideal conditions for fear that she could be wrong. Intellectual courage is self-regulation, Roberts and Wood argue, knowing when to be daring and when to be cautious. The philosopher Thomas Kuhn pointed out that scientists often simply ignore facts that don’t fit with their existing paradigms, but an intellectually courageous person is willing to look at things that are surprisingly hard to look at.

    Third, there is firmness. You don’t want to be a person who surrenders his beliefs at the slightest whiff of opposition. On the other hand, you don’t want to hold dogmatically to a belief against all evidence. The median point between flaccidity and rigidity is the virtue of firmness. The firm believer can build a steady worldview on solid timbers but still delight in new information. She can gracefully adjust the strength of her conviction to the strength of the evidence. Firmness is a quality of mental agility.

    Fourth, there is humility, which is not letting your own desire for status get in the way of accuracy. The humble person fights against vanity and self-importance. He’s not writing those sentences people write to make themselves seem smart; he’s not thinking of himself much at all. The humble researcher doesn’t become arrogant toward his subject, assuming he has mastered it. Such a person is open to learning from anyone at any stage in life.

    Fifth, there is autonomy. You don’t want to be a person who slavishly adopts whatever opinion your teacher or some author gives you. On the other hand, you don’t want to reject all guidance from people who know what they are talking about. Autonomy is the median of knowing when to bow to authority and when not to, when to follow a role model and when not to, when to adhere to tradition and when not to.

    Finally, there is generosity. This virtue starts with the willingness to share knowledge and give others credit. But it also means hearing others as they would like to be heard, looking for what each person has to teach and not looking to triumphantly pounce upon their errors.”


  • 382. Allied College  |  August 31, 2014 at 3:57 am

    always i used to read smaller articles or reviews that also clear
    their motive, and that is also happening with this
    paragraph which I am reading at this time.

  • 383. falconergrad  |  September 1, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    @377 I also think it is so stupid to use the term “tier” for their new leveling system. It’s like they think it is newer if they use a new word for “level”. Crazy. They really need some sort of gatekeeper there for this kind of stuff.

  • 384. HSObsessed  |  September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am

    So Dyett high school has begun the school year with only 12 students total, all seniors. The school was supposed to be closed due to low performance but was “rescued” and phased out instead, accepting no new kids. Most of the kids transferred elsewhere since then, except these 12. Operating budget over $1 million. SMH.


  • 385. 3rd grade parent  |  September 4, 2014 at 9:55 am

    383/377 – agree about the confusion.
    couldn’t they just copy NYC and issue ‘grades’ – A,B,C,D, F….?

  • 386. Knatchbull  |  September 24, 2014 at 1:36 am


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