College Thread – Tuition and Essays

June 2, 2015 at 10:24 pm 224 comments

Cat writing college essay

Cat writing college essay

I travelled this past weekend, to a wonderful music festival in Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University.  The festival was great – smallish, laid back, no drunken Lollapolloza-style idiots, lots of different music.

The town is a great college town: picturesque scenery, small downtownish college town (like a small scale Madison) and modern educational facilities.  Apparently the school has bee

n known for a long time as a top party school, with maybe a mid-tier academic reputation (certain majors are more respected, as with every school.)   I’ve read that the acceptance rate is 73% so I figured it could make a good backup school for my son someday as I really liked the vibe of the town.

Out of state tuition with room an board:  $32K

In-state: $23K

Ouch!  I honestly don’t understand the pricing structure of

colleges these days.  It feels so out of control.  U of I isn’t much more than this school but it’s much more difficult to get into and the reputation is fairly better I believe.   Of course it’s also depressing to think about how much we have to save for this, assuming we pay for my son’s entire undergrad efforts.

On another college topic, I saw this NYT article last week about top essays for college, a topic we’ve discussed before.  I haven’t read them yet, but this article publishes some essays that really caught the eye of the admissions folks.

If you don’t read the article, here is an insightful excerpt:

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

What’s New – Me and BBB CPS Bussing. C’mon get happy.

224 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Robin in WRP  |  June 3, 2015 at 4:59 am

    I have a couple of thoughts on this, as we have a rising junior at U of I. While I don’t know what will happen with Gov Ruiner and his 30% funding cuts to State universities, My daughter received just over $18,000 in grants and scholarships for this past school year. Start applying for scholarships early (7th grade), and set out a day a month for searching. Don’t rule out a year or two at a community college, before transferring to a university; it is a great way to save money, and some kids need extra time to mature before being on their own.

    Fill out the FAFSA on January 1; you can edit it after you file your taxes. Awards are handed out in order of filing. Be sure that the schools on your list are in order of preference, as universities take this into consideration.

    Regarding essays, I can only speak to what went on at Whitney. There were lots of practice essays in class; a writing center for support. We have a family friend who spent a few years reading essays for DePaul (and is now tutoring high school and college writing), and she critiqued my daughter’s essays. A Couple of my daughter’s friends had writing support classes (I have no idea what they are called) at Kumon, and others had private tutors.

  • 2. HSObsessed  |  June 3, 2015 at 10:25 am

    I love the fact that there is so much info now online where you can check what the average financial aid is to kids at each college, given their family’s household income. This reveals tons of interesting information about how much the “real cost” of the college is instead of just the “rack rate” that’s advertised. In many cases, going to a private school works out cheaper for kids from low-income households. But yeah, in general, college is $$, and the price has gone up way higher than any other life expenses over the last two decades. I remember when my kid was 2 years old, and I used a formula for calculating how much U of Illinois would cost when she was 18, to see how much we should try to save. The answer was $25K a year, which I thought was outrageous. Now, the total U of I cost is already $30K and will only go up in the years before she graduates high school.

  • 3. Tier4Mom  |  June 3, 2015 at 11:39 am

    following… thank you for the posts!

  • 4. michele  |  June 3, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Quick question, is the option to go to Chicago City Colleges free for 2 years if you have a C average in CPS available this year? The program the Mayor introduced recently seemed like a great way to make college more affordable. Just wondering if this program has been part of the conversations at CPS high schools this spring?

  • 5. HSObsessed  |  June 3, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    @4 – Yes, the program begins in fall 2015 for spring 2015 high school graduates, link below. They need to have a 3.0/B average in order to get the free ride.

  • 6. Fam  |  June 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    So, the advice is to fill out the FAFSA January 1 of senior year?

  • 7. Looking at colleges  |  June 3, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    Regarding the FAFSA, I have read several articles (see link below) that say that you should list colleges in alphabetical order, not in order of preference. Amazing, but true.

  • 8. Europe88  |  June 3, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    You can’t fill out the FAFSA until your IRS taxes are filled out. You need all your income info for the FAFSA. If you have a decent job, you will not get anything from FAFSA.

  • 9. College Parent  |  June 3, 2015 at 5:35 pm

    You don’t *get* anything from FAFSA it is only a uniform way for schools to evaluate need. If any of the aid involves Federal funding the FAFSA is required. Any student, regardless of need or credit worthiness, can obtain the Federal Stafford loans but, again, the FAFSA is required. Some schools offer significant aid even if family income is up to 150-200k – those are typically some of the Ivy’s, Stanford, and similar peer schools.

  • 10. FaLaLaLa  |  June 3, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Even if you pay for one of the city colleges, it is extremely reasonable. One semester taking four or five classes, including books, costs about $2000, give or take. Community college for the first two years is an excellent option.

  • 11. HS Mom  |  June 3, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    @6 – You should fill it out Jan 1 if you think you might attend an Illinois school and may get some need based money. Illinois money is first come first serve and they are likely to run out fast.

    Technically you can fill the FAFSA out once taxes are filed but most schools ask to get it as early as possible so that they can figure out how they are going to spread their money awards. They also want you to file taxes early (like February) if possible – which is a pain – so that you can use the IRS download tool to verify your income.

  • 12. Robin in WRP  |  June 4, 2015 at 5:10 am

    Fam – absolutely

    Looking at College – Some schools look for preference ranking (I believe U of I is one of them)

    Europe88 – You absolutely can fill out the FAFSA without having your taxes completed. After you complete your taxes, you can correct the form (we are on year 3 of FAFSA)

    HS Mom – According to the U of I financial aid office, and many experts, aid is awarded based on the date of the initial FAFSA, not the date the last bit of information is completed. You can use the IRS download tool about 2-3 weeks after filing taxes online (longer if you mail in your taxes).

  • 13. HS Mom  |  June 4, 2015 at 7:22 am

    12 – Yes the state issues money on a first come first serve basis that’s why I said you need to apply Jan 1.

    Colleges will want you to substantiate your financial information early which is why they ask you to file taxes early.

  • 14. Robin in WRP  |  June 4, 2015 at 8:42 am

    HS Mom – We were never asked to file taxes early. For Freshman year, there were six schools in contention; two of the six

    HSObsessed – that money from small private schools may be there for freshman year, but often disappears for Sophomore year. My daughter was on the Dean’s list at American, and they still cut her financial aid. Fortunately, she had reapplied to U of I; surprisingly, she is much happier in Champaign (and doing just as well academically) than she was in DC

  • 15. Looking at colleges  |  June 4, 2015 at 10:48 am

    The person whose blog I referenced above has lots of information on financial aid. I can’t find her exact post, but she said to go on the College Data website (see below) to find colleges that will give financial freshman year and then reduce it in subsequent years. This is common. The link below has American University. You can see that 34% of freshman had their need fully met, but only 18% of total undergrads had their need fully met. Compare that to Northwestern which meets need 100% for freshmen and all undergrads or St. Olaf College which meets need at 78% for both groups.

  • 16. Helen  |  June 4, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Tuition at Ohio State (non-resident) is more than 32k. It is at least 38k not including any $ for books, fees etc…

  • 17. pantherparent  |  June 4, 2015 at 11:50 am

    With a SEHS senior this year, we were fully immersed for the first time in the college process.

    What you have to understand, first and foremost, is that college is a business. The pricing structure is based on what people will pay. Look at any “top tier” school. Total costs (tuition, housing, books, fees,etc.) will be between $60,000-$65,000 a year. It’s remarkable how close they are. Almost like price fixing.

    Then you have the schools that decide to price themselves high so parents will think, “Hmmm, If this school has tuition of $35,000 and this school has $25,000, then the $35,000 one must be better.” Sort of like pricing is done for perfume or vodka. They play on peoples belief that more expensive must be better.

    Every college has seats to fill and over time they have determined the highest price they can charge and still fill the seats.

    My suggestion is to look at college as a commodity and not as an education. Try to get the best deal you can. After all, is Harvard that different than Stanford? Is Michigan that different than Illinois?

    As I kept telling my son (and my other two kids), the best undergraduate school you can attend is the one that is free.

  • 18. Test Scores  |  June 4, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Oh man there’s a ton of ground one could potentially cover here, but I’ll keep it brief.

    1. Colleges generally have not “competed on price” with each other for students. Only within the last 5 or 10 years did the numbers really get out of control and with the great recession I think people started to wake up a little bit about “Value” in higher education. Now the wheels of change turn slowly, but over a 10 to 20 year period you’re going to see some changes. Mitch Daniels is an example of someone who “gets it”, doing admirable things over at Purdue.

    2. Minnesota is a great value (~20k / yr tuition, out of state), and the “common knowledge” I’ve heard is that schools like Iowa and Wisconsin knowingly take advantage of Illinois’ relatively high in-state tuition and the relatively vast pool of high performing high schoolers in the Chicagoland area by offering a lot of scholarship “tuition matching”.

    3. I think the most important thing is to help your child understand how much it costs (what else it could buy, what a sacrifice you’re making by helping them, how long it would take them to work it off if they have to pay for it all with loans on their own). That should (hopefully) go a long way toward helping them think maturely about taking advantage of their time in school. No one says you can’t party, but the thought of throwing ~$100k+ away on a kid who drinks 5-6 nights a week and never goes to class makes me shudder (it happens a LOT).

  • 19. Chris  |  June 4, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    “is Harvard that different than Stanford?”

    Yes. It’s much warmer in Palo Alto in February.

  • 20. europe989  |  June 4, 2015 at 2:33 pm

    18. Wisconsin (UW Madison) no “tuition matching”. They are happy to accept IL students willing to pay full out of state tuition.

  • 21. reallyluveurope  |  June 4, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    17 “As I kept telling my son (and my other two kids), the best undergraduate school you can attend is the one that is free.”

    That is horrifying.

  • 22. HS Mom  |  June 4, 2015 at 6:53 pm

    14 – We are having different experiences. I can only assume that there are many factors that go into college funding.

    Of the 3 schools that we narrowed down to by March (2) were private schools that provided scholarship awards early on in writing for (4) years with that total spelled out in writing. Eg $20,000 for 4 years for a scholarship valued at $80,000. The third was an out of state public university that did not reveal the final cost until offer letters were sent in April. One private college required filing by 2/15 if you wanted to apply for financial aid. The other 2 e-mailed in Feb that they needed info ASAP to process financial aid package. We promptly complied and received additional financial aid from all 3. Going into year 2 – we still have our full scholarship as promised and less additional funds since our income went up. Make sure you read and understand your offer letters. Another example is that we received a scholarship that was for dorm boarding only to find that only 1st two years are in a dorm and then it goes away. Maybe this info helps someone…..just like I’m now finding out about this ranking thing….wow.

    I am a complete proponent of private colleges….there are many that offer an outstanding education at a cost potentially lower than a public university. For us, the study abroad options were more do-able both expense wise (same cost as tuition) and scheduling wise. As to the partying concern in #18 – less going on because students are obligated to be in class, have many ongoing assignments (no large lecture halls with just a mid term and final) yet they still have friends and a social life in a more scaled down version of a college campus. As a mom who white knuckled every weekend night out in Chicago wondering if my HS kid was safe, I’m ecstatic that he chose this type of environment and that he loves it.

  • 23. HS Mom  |  June 4, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    @21 – I don’t understand your comment. Isn’t a low or no cost education a good thing?

  • 24. pantherparent  |  June 4, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    @21 I think my kids got the point that maybe you missed. I would consider the colleges ranked 11-100 in this country to be relatively equal for an undergraduate education. So why not attend the one that makes the most financial sense?

  • 25. Robin in WRP  |  June 5, 2015 at 5:07 am

    Looking at colleges – I wish we had this three years ago! It is a very useful list!!

  • 26. whaaaa  |  June 5, 2015 at 8:57 am

    @21, it’s definitely not horrifying if you can’t afford college.

  • 27. Anna  |  June 5, 2015 at 11:58 am

    17 “As I kept telling my son (and my other two kids), the best undergraduate school you can attend is the one that is free.”
    That is horrifying.

    Not horrifying at all. My child had options due to athletics. We decided that he would take the best offer and get himself into the best program the school had to offer. In the initial stages of planning, we looked at dozens of schools. We categorized based on what scholarships/financial aid was available and what academic programs were at those schools. Another column was for “where will you go if you get no scholarship/aid.” Everything had categories and we looked at the academic offerings for each. There were some schools where we were not impressed with the honors college options, but there were others which were really interesting.

    For what it’s worth…the Ivy Leagues and private schools offered the strongest financial aid packages and this was all based on need alone.

  • 28. momof3fish  |  June 5, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    we’re paying $14900 (t,r,&b)at uwsp with the lane tech waiver. for the cost of loyola’s dorms the boys are getting the entire college experience. im not too worried about job afterwards, its all about who you know and they are getting their connections right now thru work.

  • 29. Mom2Boys  |  June 6, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    @28 Can you explain what the Lane Tech waiver is? Also, where should the commas be in your figure (sorry, I’m unclear about the cost). Finally, what is uwsp?

    Thanks for clarifying! 🙂

  • 30. CLB  |  June 6, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    @17 I’m not sure I would treat college as a commodity. It really depends on why your child is going to college. If the primary purpose is to be credentialed for a good post-BA career path, then the commodity view is appropriate. Go for the best aid-package for the same tier of schools.

    If you are going to prepare for graduate work, I would be more careful. You might want to study something fun before you head off to law or medical school. And if you are going to college to figure out what you want to do with your life, you need to be even more careful. A small liberal-arts college might be more conducive to your goals than a large university.

    @18 Colleges have no primarily competed on price, but they have always been sensitive to tuition comparison v. other schools. (Initially, because room and board options vary so much between schools, many comparisons only looked at tuition). No school wanted to be the most expensive school in any year. This was true in the late 1980s and continues.

  • 31. momof3fish  |  June 6, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    uwsp- u of wis -stevens point- American Suzuki Institute is there if you’re into that.
    lt waiver: we pretty much pay in-state tuition. Lane Tech has a tuition program with them- you have to qualify tho
    T,r,b- Tuition, Room, & Board

  • 32. College prof  |  June 7, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Another thing for parents to think about when considering the cost of a school is the percentage of undergraduate classes that are taught by credentialed professors (those with a PhD or possibly an MA or an MFA depending on the field) versus the percentage of undergrad classes that are taught by grad students.

    The vast majority of state schools have systems in place where 100 and 200-level classes (or higher) are taught by grad students who are teaching as they work on their own degrees. I went through a program like this, and it was awesome for me because I had tons of teaching experience under my belt and zero grad school debt by the time I graduated. This was decidedly less awesome for my poor students who, at least in the beginning of my career, were stuck with a 22 year old “teacher” who had just graduated from college a few months before and had zero idea what she was doing.

    So when visiting colleges, ask about who is teaching the undergrad classes and what level are they teaching. You might feel comfortable with grad students handling the 100 and 200-level gen ed/ courses but raise an eyebrow at them teaching the 300/400-level major classes, particularly if the school comes with a heavy price tag. In general, undergrad education is where the small liberal arts colleges shine. The schools have few to no grad programs, and the professors have a dedication to teaching their undergrads.

  • 33. CLB  |  June 7, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    I would add to @32 you want to see not only if grad students are teaching the classes but if experienced profs are teaching the introductory classes. Some schools pride themselves on having a senior prof in each dept. teaching at least one of the intro classes, if not all of them. I know U.Penn had a period when only the senior faculty taught the core intro poli sci class. Columbia had one of its top profs doing intro IR. And at Tufts the econ. dept. had its chair teaching intro macro.

  • 34. Looking at colleges  |  June 8, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I do not believe Lane Tech has a specific program with University of Wisconsin-Steven’s Point. There is a Midwest Tuition Exchange Program (see link) that is available to all residents in the state. It includes all the University of Wisconsin schools (except Madison). It also includes many other surrounding states.

  • 35. uiucmom  |  June 11, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    The problem we ran into is meeting the requirements to keep the scholarships past year 1. Ours required a GPA of 3.4, which even with a lot of hard work was not meet. We now have a $1,000 scholarship for UIUC’s $34000/year engineering program for next school year. They recommend taking out loans for the rest.

  • 36. lk  |  June 12, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    Thread seems to be going in different directions but from my recent experience with my daughter private schools really do give alot more depending on what you are after. She got accepted to 10/11 programs and the avg. scholarship was like $20,000/year. So depending on your situation getting $30,000 and up for school is not unreasonable. So if the Private school start at $50,000 but giving you $30,000 then it becomes cheaper then alot of good instate schools. Some schools this was with financial aid and some without. You can negotiate the rest. Most of these small private schools are looking for seats to fill. They also have the largest endowments to use for your child. For some that don’t want to pay U of I fee’s now you can do 3/2 programs at most smaller schools . These are made with school like U of I but at a lesser cost since a school like Illinois Wesleyan University or Knox College will actually be less. After a few years you transfer into the program let’s say engineering that you want. Also much easier to get in once started at these smaller school and much easier to get/do research with pain internships also.

    At both Illinois Wesleyan and Knox College kids were deciding between U of I, Harvard, Northwestern etc etc. The avg gpa is 3.7………..

    Which brings me to my favorite recent topic…these are highly rated school with good reputation’s . You kid does not have to be a 3.7 kid. They both accept much less gpa but don’t advertise it per se. They are both looking for kids that are well rounded and they will get their unique talent out of them…

    Having a strong essay can help but more important to grades or essay’s is a strong in person interview. Trust me on this topic. JUST BE YOURSELF!!! Don’t try to be someone you think they want. Being yourself is just fine and that is who they are looking for. I am just mentioning the two schools but this was true with many out of state schools also (private). My kid wants a small school with small classes being taught by professors and not grad students. She wants to be able to have dinner over a teacher’s house or go for coffee etc.

    If you don’t get what you expect to get financially then challenge the school. We had 4 school making us offers after we sent the others scholarships offers to the schools. Sometimes they are out of money for school but have money to decrease the room costs. All you have to do is ask and be “VERY” PERSISTENT. I did not say unreasonable or unrealistic since the school’s really are trying to help as many kids as possible with limited funds.

    I can go on and on but this was really an eye opener for us. I have a rising Junior at Northside to get ready for now.

    Let the games begin):

  • 37. J F  |  June 14, 2015 at 6:45 am

    Speaking of prepping for college, congrats to the #1 public high school in Chicago (and Illinois) and #15 in the country! Wow!

    Great job, Northside College Prep!!!

    Payton was a distant second and not in Top 50 in the country. But still an ok showing.

  • 38. Kareem  |  June 14, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Has CPS released any stats on 2015 SEHS acceptances for public vs private school 8th graders? With everyone now using the same test I wonder if the mix changed? Especially at the top SEHS schools (Payton & Northside). Any data from CPS or is it being hidden?

  • 39. HS Mom  |  June 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    @36 – Great info…..totally with you. I think with students now applying to 7+ schools, it is in your best interest to check out and apply to the privates,”40 colleges that change lives” etc. Yes, we are having the same experience plus the school is very lenient about GPA (as long as you aren’t on academic probation) as opposed to a large university that has a distinct cut-off for scholarships.

  • 40. alice  |  June 26, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    We just went through this process, and came to a few general conclusions that might be worth sharing. Absent an academic scholarship, and assuming you are applying to schools for which your child is a good academic fit, the bottom line always seems to be the Estimated Family Contribution. For us, this was true for big and small, famous and not, public and private, in-state and out. It’s almost seems like price-fixing… Caveat – prestigious public institutions will often charge more than your EFC, e.g. if you are an IL resident and go to Michigan or Wisconsin, you may pay a lot more than your EFC.

    Aside from the community college route, the only way we found to get below the EFC is to get scholarship money (as opposed to need-based financial aid), and the private institutions (big or small, famous or not) can be very generous. To get scholarship money, we focused on schools where our child would be in the upper quartile.

    We found that Lake Forest College provides a very high-quality experience, and our price tag will be way lower than for IL- Champaign, and lower even than UIC (for tuition, room and board). We saw many other similar schools that would have provided a better value than our IL state schools.

    For people like us in the middle income range, EFC is too high to afford, so the private schools were definitely the way to go for us.

  • 41. alice  |  June 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    One more point – it’s disappointing to discover that many of the prestigious schools offer extremely generous need-based financial aid, but very little (if any) merit scholarship aid (e.g. Boston College, Northwestern). So, for many in the middle-income range, they are unaffordable. On the other hand, if you are in the low-income range, they might work.

  • 42. Fam  |  June 26, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    Catalyst Chicago is reporting that negotiations between CTU and the Mayor have broken down. Impasse.

  • 43. Robin in WRP  |  June 26, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    I’ve heard from friends in the rank and file that the teachers are preparing for a long strike

  • 44. jen  |  June 26, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    #43, Interesting. Everyone I’ve talked to is worried about the system completely falling apart and not talking strike at all.

  • 45. SoxSideIrish4  |  June 26, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    We just went through this process of applying, visiting, waiting for acceptances and being accepted to 9 of his 11 choices! CPSO, I think if your son gets good grades, he’ll probably get a great scholarship from U of I if that is his school of choice. My child received a substantial scholarship from the school. It would have been very affordable~and we did not fill out any financial forms. At his school, I don’t know how many kids got into the ivies but I know that 23 are going to ivy schools. Most schools on websites, school newspapers, etc~tell how many were ACCEPTED to ivies, but his school tells how many are actually going. My child has several friends who turned down ivies to go to U of I and Northwestern and other schools in the midwest. I think 2 turned down ivies for U of Chicago. Not all kids want to venture that far from home. That being said, mine is venturing out east in the fall.

    41. alice | June 26, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    Lake Forest College is a great institution; however, it did not have my son’s major. We will be looking at that school for our other kids. It has so much to offer and many don’t take advantage of it.

  • 46. momof3fish  |  June 26, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    @34. lane tech does because both my kids received it.

  • 47. momof3fish  |  June 26, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    @#4 also the msep is not equivalent to instate tuition. It is just a discount. my kids rec’d the LT waiver.

  • 48. clusterED  |  June 27, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    I work with low-income kids in my youth program to get them into college. These kids with no (ZERO) family financial support for college, and it is extremely difficult to find them places where they don’t have to borrow a lot to go to college. So I feel I know something about this process.

    The first thing is that there are a LOT of really great schools out there. Not just 10 or 50. Much more than 100 schools where your child could have a good experience and be prepared for adult life.And I am very picky about colleges.

    I believe one place to start looking for those where cost is an issue (which is most of us) are small private colleges. They have the most ability to offer attractive financial aid packages and good (don’t have to be great) students will be competitive. In the Midwest, those could range from Knox College in Illinois to Beloit and Lawrence in Wisconsin to Oberlin in Ohio, etc, etc. There are probably over a hundred, maybe a couple of hundred schools that will fall into this category across the country.

    If your child wants to be an engineer, then these small private colleges may not be the answer because you need a larger school for that. But you there are a lot of great “smaller” tech schools, like Michigan Technological University, which are more price friendly.

    The downside to some of these colleges is that they are not the big DI schools that many kids are looking for, but that’s the price to pay for being relatively debt-free.

    I recommend the web site for info on your admission chances and estimate of your child might have to pay for college given their financial status. (You have to enter an estimated family contribution.) You can also look at the percentage of finl need met as a guide to how generous the school is.

    Colleges That Change Lives is a good book that will get you started on looking for smaller private schools that may provide good value.

    You can also look up the Midwest Student Exchange Program online to see what schools in the Midwest will give your in-state tuition or a tuition break. For example, with a 3.4 gpa and ACT score of 24 or better, you can go to Univ of Kansas for about $9,000 less than the out-of-state tuition rate. (There are some of other requirements such as specific majors, but not too selective.)

    Most of all, get out there and look. Don’t just go with the Ivies, Big 10 schools, Stanford, etc. Look beyond all of that prestige stuff–put them in a school that will get them where they need to go. There are a ton of those schools out there.

  • 49. @ Jen  |  June 27, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    All my teacher friends are preparing for a strike. It will be in October or November to give the teachers a few paychecks before they strike. That’s what I’ve been told!

  • 50. Phil R  |  June 28, 2015 at 6:02 am

    “All my teacher friends are preparing for a strike. ”

    The kids will be better off.,

    Also, any kid that goes to college in Illinois when they have a chance to head out of this corrupt bankrupt state, is not very bright, no matter what their test scores or grades say. Same goes for the parents.

  • 51. Robin in WRP  |  June 28, 2015 at 6:13 am

    Jen – This is similar to what I have heard

    Phil – Stop watching Fox news

  • 52. Really99  |  June 29, 2015 at 8:06 am

    50 Phil – some of us like Illinois schools, have money saved for college and receive scholarship money. Grow up.

  • 53. CarolA  |  June 29, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    I do not believe there will be a strike. Nobody at my school is interested in going down that road again. I think there will be a one year contract. No raise. I’m OK with that. I hope for more resources and less testing, but Chicago/Illinois is a big mess. Time is what we need now so this mess can be sorted out. We’ll see.

  • 54. HS Mom  |  June 29, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    Phil, Jay, whoever… need to question peoples intelligence.

    I will add that one consideration is moving out of state for some. Attending college out of state is a good way to explore other regions while getting exposure to people and opportunities that are away from Chicago or Illinois. In particular, smaller schools that feed students into internships or Alum sponsored businesses and programs often turn into a new life elsewhere. We found that while just about all schools have students from 50 states and abroad and boast about their diversity, some of the smaller schools tend to have clusters of students from particular areas. This was an attraction and a consideration for us.

    Another one of those list ranking things

    Of the only 50 most underrated colleges, Illinois has 3 – DePaul, UIC and NIU that are great schools deserving of better ranking. There’s something for everyone.

  • 55. lk  |  June 29, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    HS Mom,

    Illinois Institute of Technology was on this list also so make that 4):

    So getting back to the original topic of tuition and Essay’s……I took my rising Junior who attends Northside to Northwestern University Engineering school to learn about their program. The room was full with Junior and Seniors and a few much younger. I don’t think “Essays” have much to do with getting in here…..ha…17% overall acceptance with only 11% for engineering..yikes.

    Southside Irish 4: do you care to elaborate on your childs grades, test scores,etc to get high scholarships without financial aid to University of Illinois? Really just like to know what to expect and what “good grades” really mean……..

    An alumni of Northside came to my son’s chemistry class and said University of Illinois-engineering is approx. 25% international kids. He told them they want to increase that to about 40%.

    So I used to think that when my son gets out in the real world, he would be competing with kids from around the globe. The reality is he is competing with them just to get into college in the states!.

    ( I don’t mean to offend anyone with these comments)

  • 56. klm  |  June 30, 2015 at 7:56 am

    RE: CPS Teacher Strike

    My CPS teacher friends (no matter their own personal feelings about it) have all assured that there will be a strike, pretty much guaranteed. Like somebody mentioned above, CPS teachers are now (per the latest contract) paid only during the actual school year, now (as opposed to the 12 mo./year-round pay period many used to be able to choose). Accordingly, many teachers will need some pay in the bank THEN there will a strike. There have been posted reminders for people to save for a strike in the Teachers’ Lounges, etc., at CPS schools where my friends teach (so they’ve told me).

    It’s going to happen, unless (by some miracle) a strike is averted through negotiations in a month or two, but how likely is that? Pigs will be flying over Chicago at that point, I’m afraid.

    Yes, plan for it in October.

  • 57. College Parent  |  June 30, 2015 at 8:07 am

    55. lk – Regarding UIUC scholarships. Two years ago my kid was offered a total of 3k to attend as a math major. His stats: 4.0 gpa, 35 ACT 3 x 800 SAT2’s and loads of EC’s & leadership. Granted that Math at UIUC is a tiny major but still…. He ended up at a top ranked Ivy where we get full tuition (we pay R&B) since we earn less than 150k.

  • 58. lk  |  June 30, 2015 at 8:24 am

    56. Looks like college visits in October….
    57. Those are not good grades those are top 1% grades…4.0 and 35 act….congrats to your child……

  • 59. Anna  |  June 30, 2015 at 8:25 am

    @56. Having “money in the bank” is not the reason that the strike would occur in October. There must be some official notification given that a strike will occur and that has not been done at this point, thus eliminating the beginning of year opportunity to do so.

    I know that we left our school on the last day feeling very optimistic that there would not be a strike. I believe the strike may be averted if Rahm wants it to be averted. When negotiations collapsed because of ridiculous reasons, one has to wonder what is really going on behind the scenes at CPS.

    Furthermore, it’s laughable to read that CPS approved expenditures for new buildings,etc., when current bills cannot be paid.

  • 60. College Parent  |  June 30, 2015 at 8:34 am

    Current bills cannot be paid with money meant for capital improvements – new buildings etc. That’s the law and for good reason.

    I predict no strike; there is no public support for raises. One of the ways to improve CPS is better accountability. My own experience is that good teachers are making productive use of NWEA testing.
    CPS will not back off on testing and teacher performance nor do they have to negotiate this since it is not allowed under the Illinois state law parameters for the collective bargaining agreement negotiations.

  • 61. robin in wrp  |  June 30, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Among parents, there is LOTS of support for a pay increase. CPS needs to keep good teachers, or they will be lost to the corporate world

  • 62. NotTrue9  |  June 30, 2015 at 11:57 am

    61 you’re kidding, right? Do we really have to start this up again?

  • 63. feeder schools  |  June 30, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Would a strike in Oct. or Nov. disrupt the gifted & classical elementary tests or their scheduling for later?

  • 64. klm  |  June 30, 2015 at 1:55 pm


    Thanks for pointing that out. It’s like when there was all the controversy about Lincoln’s annex. The state money spent on it (from gambling) was there/avail. only (by law) for school building/upgrades. Period. People kept talking about how the money should have been spent on “other” CPS expenditures, etc. However, that was not even possible or legally an option.

    CPS “money” isn’t one big checking account like the one I have for running my household. Actually, I DO have to put some money towards SS, but I can’t just use that any way I want, obviously —I pay the taxes and the gov’t uses it in a certain way. The money in a 401k or IRA can’t just be used to pay for dinner at Gibson’s right now (without an enormous penalty). Same with public funds meant to educate our children. Some is explicitly for school “buildings” or “infrastructure.” Some is only for “instruction.” Some is meant explicitly (and is avail. only) to pay for pensions. Etc.


    No big surprise, there, sadly. UIUC just doesn’t have the money to give scholarships. A friend of mine (CPS K-12, Bell RGC, then LPIB, former consultant at Boston Consulting, but now a CPS teacher, for what it’s worth) went to U-C for less money that it would have cost her parents to go to UIUC. In California, it’s often the case that Stanford or Pomona are cheaper than Berkeley or UCLA for smarty pants in-state kids, from what I’ve read and heard. A HS friend of mine (a nurse, the spouse is an insurance agent) told me a few years ago (at a class reunion) that her expected family contribution for her son was actually smaller at Bowdoin than as an in-state student at the University of Michigan (??…!!..??..!), so obviously he goes to Bowdoin.

    State schools just don’t have the huge endowment money per student that some (relative very few) private colleges have, so they just can’t give it away, as much. I don’t think that they’re being stingy as much as they just don’t have the money to award, given all the layers of administration, the nice dorms and hot tub-filled rec centers that school are expected to have now to run/compete in the “higher education industrial complex.”

    Thing is, there was a time when state colleges were an affordable means for regular people to climb up the socio-economic ladder. sad how things have turned out.

  • 65. HS Mom  |  June 30, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    @55 – Yes thanks – there’s IIT. Over 32 ACT and a B average with all honors and AP received about $900 last year. Anecdotally, A friend whose kid was debating until the last minute received a letter rescinding their $900 offer. Could be something to do with the FAFSA rating thing discussed upthread….???? A 99% or 30 plus ACT with B’s in a challenging curriculum will translate well into scholarships at many other schools. As mentioned upthread, apply to schools that put your scholar in the top quartile. Another thing to consider, it seems that the large universities tend to put their scholarship money into the more established upperclassman and highly successful transfer students as opposed to freshman recruiting – which can be a good option if your kid has a stellar 1st year and decides that the chosen school is not the right fit.

  • 66. lk  |  June 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    HSMom. Thanks for the information. This really helps. He will take ACT’s this year and is doing great work in his classes so this is encouraging. $900 is not going to change his situation. He is going to U of California Berkeley this August for Engineering leadership camp. Hope this type of thing looks good. He did two other university programs in Robotics and other area’s last year just to see what his interest’s are. All I know he is great is math and likes to problem solve….He was at Michigan State University last year for a Robotics High school camp and they give large scholarships for out of state kids like with 3.5 gpa and higher. This gets them into their honors college. Their program is really top notch but not rated as high as others but seems to be climbing yearly. I know several engineers that have graduated from there in recent years and they are getting jobs very quickly and with other people from top 10 colleges.

  • 67. Robin in WRP  |  June 30, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    HS Mom – that was essentially my daughter’s situation; American for freshman year, but (as we expected) they reduced her financial aid for sophomore year (despite being on the Dean’s list); U of I gave her a very generous aid package as a transferring sophomore, and she is suprisingly happy in Chambana

  • 68. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 1, 2015 at 1:23 am

    55. lk | June 29, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    First, from what I’ve been told regarding ACT: 32-36 is top 1%, 31 is 2% and a 30 is 5%. Most schools that dole out money are going to give it to the top 5% and higher. Actually most schools that handout money are giving it to the top tier of the top 1%. I don’t think having a B average will realistically get a student any money from universities, may be very minimal. Also, I can see how UIUC would want their engineering program to have more international students, but I doubt that will happen. I was told how they are trying to get more kids from IL to attend but other schools are making it more attractive. That’s why UIUC just started having the program where you pay the same amount for four years~it won’t go up. As for Essays to NU~maybe the Common App essay didn’t matter, but I think the ones from the school that must be submitted are carefully read. If your child is NOT going into engineering, I would suggest Lake Forest College. It’s a wonderful institution. They do not have an engineering program. If it is for engineering, UIC and IIT give very generous scholarships. Also, Western IL gives full tuition to any one with a 30 or better on the ACT and probably with a B average. I don’t know if it has an engineering program. Also, Tulane gives very generous scholarships.

    67. Robin in WRP | June 30, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    The same thing happened to someone I know at a private school in downstate Indiana. That person decided to take the full tuition scholarship to UIC. I would have as well.

  • 69. HS Mom  |  July 1, 2015 at 8:19 am

    ” I don’t think having a B average will realistically get a student any money from universities, may be very minimal.”

    The key is the ACT – not to put the pressure on – with decent grades and a high ACT score there are plenty of colleges offering scholarships. There’s the out of state options – like Colorado Mines or Rose Hulman for Engineering or private schools with larger endowments. Find a school that specializes in your students strength writing, math, art etc for better offers Grades can always be explained by the level of difficulty in classes etc to those schools that will listen but the test scores are what they are. It goes without saying that with A averages and 1% ACTs you’ll have your pick of schools/scholarships but as noted above, even at that level the offers vary widely.

    “32-36 is top 1%” – 33-36 top 1%, 32 top 2% and 31 top 3%

    “That’s why UIUC just started having the program where you pay the same amount for four years~it won’t go up.”

    This is and has been the case for all Illinois public schools by law. How did they get around it? As far as UIUC being the “low cost” option for smart kids in Illinois, those days are gone.

    “The slow death of in-state tuition is a case where declining public investment and selfish institutional interests tend to coincide. National public universities are cutting in-state enrollment in part to make up for state budget cuts. But they also have a strong desire to become more like elite private universities — Stanford, Duke, the Ivy League — that have the freedom to enroll the best and the brightest from around the world and charge whatever prices the market will bear. Budget cuts give them an excuse to become what they wanted to be all along.”

  • 70. Loo  |  July 1, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    “Ohio dumps the PARCC Common Core tests”

  • 71. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 2, 2015 at 2:13 am

    69. HS Mom | July 1, 2015 at 8:19 am

    “As far as UIUC being the “low cost” option for smart kids in Illinois, those days are gone.”

    I’m not sure I agree with that. My child was given a substantial scholarship that would have made UIUC very affordable. I think it may have to do with UIUC scrambling to have more IL freshman attend their school. They said their percentage of freshman would never drop under 15% and now it is at 13%. I thought 15% was low, but it’s lower bc of the the money Minnesota and Missouri is giving IL kids. In Fall 2015 UIUC was suppose to have a substantial rise in numbers of IL freshman. I don’t know if they will, but many of my child’s friends are attending there.

    Up thread, you asked me what I consider ‘good grades’~I consider As with a one or two Bs during the high school academic years good grades. The more As a child receives the more scholarship $$. It’s not all about the ACT scores. Good schools want to know how they are doing day to day in the class. If one is getting a B and the other an A~the A student will get the offer and the scholarship.

    My next child to go to university isn’t for a few years, but we are looking at schools this summer. But I wouldn’t even consider UIUC for this one~that school (in my opinion) is just too big. However, I feel we will look at a lot of schools but will settle on one in either in FL or IL.

  • 72. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 2, 2015 at 2:16 am

    69. HS Mom | July 1, 2015 at 8:19 am

    32-36 is top 1%
    31 is top 2%
    30 is top 5%

    I was given those numbers by the College Board in the spring of 2014. If you have other numbers or something I could read, please share.

  • 73. Robin in WRP  |  July 2, 2015 at 6:30 am

    #69 HS Mom – the last stats I saw, had the percentage of Illinois freshman at 75% (and falling).

    #71 Sox – ISU (Bloomington-Normal) seems to have taken the “lower priced” mantel from U of I

  • 74. 台北婚攝推薦  |  July 2, 2015 at 6:37 am


    College Thread – Tuition and Essays | CPS Obsessed

  • 75. HS Mom  |  July 2, 2015 at 7:51 am

    72 – Here’s the scoring off the Act website – it’s been the same for years

    Score English Mathematics Reading Science Composite
    36 99 99 99 99 99
    35 99 99 99 99 99
    34 98 99 99 99 99
    33 97 98 97 98 99
    32 95 97 95 98 98
    31 94 96 93 97 97
    30 92 95 90 95 95
    29 90 93 87 94 93
    28 88 91 84 93 90
    27 85 88 81 90 87
    26 82 84 78 87 83

    While I agree that the opposite can be true – high grades with lower scores will bring in scholarship money, the options are more limited. The larger universities particularly will not award based upon grades without the test to support. We had several options – large and small colleges – but you have to apply to the right ones.

    I wasn’t the one who asked about good grades but it seems clear that your UIUC scholarship offer is based on having top qualifications all the way around (congratulations) and that this is new and has not been the case in the past as another parent points out. So, to answer the question that upcoming college parents have….UIUC, our state school, will offer $? (generous) to students that have 99/99 percentile grades/scores and offer very little if anything to 90/99 grade/score kids with scholarships larger and more available in later years. Would that be the consensus?

    Is Illinois freshman 13% or 75% – kind of a big difference.

    Iowa also has an edge on lower cost to Illinois kids.

    We can certainly agree that for some kids, a state university is too big. A friend has offered her 3 kids to pay for their UIUC education because she assumed that this is just where they would go. Two have chosen Valpo and Rose Hulman for engineering, third undecided – for exactly that reason ……just too big. Point being, you never know till you get there.

  • 76. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 2, 2015 at 9:10 am

    75. HS Mom | July 2, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Thank you for the ACT scores~I was told in something else in Spring 2014 on the phone. Glad to have this in writing.

    “UIUC, our state school, will offer $? (generous) to students that have 99/99 percentile grades/scores and offer very little if anything to 90/99 grade/score kids with scholarships larger and more available in later years. Would that be the consensus?”

    Yes, that’s what I believe. And as a our flag school, that is depressing.

    On January 15th of this year UIUC approved the tuition freeze This article also says that 70% of freshman are from IL.

    I know I have some papers somewhere where I read 13%. I’m sorry I gave out the wrong information. I hate being careless, but I really thought that was accurate. I will also look for those papers.

  • 77. College Parent  |  July 2, 2015 at 9:25 am

    It comes to mind that UIUC might be better off as a private institution. It has a decent to good reputation and should be able to build a good endowment. If admin jobs were on the line it might do a better job incentivising more students to attend by going deeper with scholarships. My kid who was a 3.7gpa, 33 ACT student got 20k per year at USC in California (private) but was offered 0 at UIUC. This was six years ago.

  • 78. HSObsessed  |  July 2, 2015 at 9:35 am

    I just want to say thanks to everyone who is posting their experiences with college applications, admissions, etc. We’re just starting the process so I don’t have much to add but am reading all of it with interest.

    Re: UIUC’s IL enrollment, according to data posted on College Navigator (which is run by the National Center for Education Statistics), 75% of UIUC’s undergraduates are from Illinois as of 2013.

  • 79. HSObsessed  |  July 2, 2015 at 9:41 am

    @77 But total cost of UIUC for an IL resident is $30K a year, whereas USC is $65K, so $20K off that still leaves you with a $45K/year price tag, so is that really a better deal financially?

  • 80. HSObsessed  |  July 2, 2015 at 9:45 am

    @77 – Oh, sorry, maybe you mean that they offered a package where total cost at USC was only $20K, That would be a better deal. From what I’m understanding so far, for people whose family circumstances make them eligible for substantial financial aid, private colleges and universities are often lower price than state schools.

  • 81. College Parent  |  July 2, 2015 at 9:59 am

    It was 20k per year but USC was 48k (tuition and R&B) back then so it was a bit less than UIUC and a much better school for his major.

    It is the eligibility threshold that makes the difference. At UIUC we did not qualify based on need. At USC we got 20k/year. At Yale we are getting 45k/year

  • 82. robin in wrp  |  July 2, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    If household income is < $125,000, Stanford is free (of course, your kid has to be accepted at Stanford)

  • 83. mom2  |  July 2, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Just for those of you lurking that may have a kid that doesn’t score very well on the ACT…even if you have over a 4.0 GPA and NHS and varsity sports and leadership positions, don’t plan on admission any of the schools currently being discussed. I totally agree that the first step is admission. If you get into the private schools, you have a great chance of incredible financial assistance. If you just barely get into a state school, unless you have an income below $50,000 per year, or your are a minority, you won’t get scholarships or financial aid. Smaller privates or “lesser” state schools, yes. They may even offer great scholarships. Others, no. Not our experience anyway.

  • 84. HS Mom  |  July 2, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    From UIUC website

    Click on links to demographic and major info

    2014 Freshman = 71% from IL and 15% foreign

  • 85. HS Mom  |  July 2, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Regarding UIUC tuition freeze – there is an Illinois “Truth in Tuition” law enacted in 2003 that freezes tuition for public university students at the level they pay when they enter as freshmen. We were told last year that tuition was a 4 year guarantee. Is this PR hype by the university or another retracted state benefit?

    I don’t know about tuition freezes but it looks like UIUC has a hiring freeze until the budget is settled. More info on how the budget can effect Illinois public universities. Something to think about.

  • 86. klm  |  July 3, 2015 at 9:50 am

    RE: College and Paying

    Over the years, I’ve always read and heard that it’s best to apply to just several school that are “good fits” in terms of academics, finances, etc., to lessen stress and make things less laborious.

    I used to think that, also. But now?

    If one’s kid is not “hooked” (an underrepresented minority, a national-caliber athlete in sport that a school’s actively trying to keep strong or strengthen, etc.), I’m not so sure that it isn’t advisable to just apply to a whole bunch of schools and see what happens. So much, in terms of admission and financial aid awarding, is seemingly “random,” in terms of which admissions officer may read an application, etc. There are enough stories that I’ve heard from friends (e.g., a daughter got into Wellesley and Georgetown [where she mariculated], but not Michigan, UNC or UCLA) and read in the ‘NYT’ (e.g., the girl who didn’t get into U-Chicago or Grinnell, but got into Princeton and Brown, the guy who didn’y get into his first choice (Wash. U. in St. Louis) , but got into Yale, etc.

    If one’s tired of the “Ivy” talk (and I know it’s hard when one has ‘regular’ kids, like I do, so it’s like, never mind all the Northwestern vs. Dartmouth talk and let’s consider UIUC as a ‘reach’ ‘dream’ school…and seriously think about UIC, Illinois State, Ball State, etc., for our kids that will be nurses, teachers, social workers, police officers, school counselors, etc. –am I right?) , just extrapolate this to a tier or two “lower” (e.g., the kid who doesn’t get into Purdue for engineering, but gets into Wisconsin with a decent award package, or the kids who doesn’t get into UIC, but gets into Lake Forest College with a good amount of aid, etc.).

    Most of our kids are “regular” students who will go to “regular” colleges and graduate to get “regular” jobs, so many times we need to spend more time time with these kids’ needs for higher education and related expenses, IMO. If kids can get into Ivy colleges, they likely don’t have to worry too much

    It’s time-consuming to apply to and write good, college-specific essays to so many school, but if one stars early (e.g., the summer before 12th grade), it’s not so daunting.

    More schools, more possibilities, more options to start out without huge amounts of debt,….

  • 87. lk  |  July 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Thanks to all that answered my questions. I got a little lost at whom you all are since yesterday this thread sorta exploded):. The information is really helpful and appreciated.

    KLM….Where the kids go becomes a mystery of why a school chooses one over another with identical scores etc…Honestly…this is where the personal interview comes in and making a connection with the admissions counselor. Trust me , we just went through this. My daughter’s grades are not the best but her talent portfolio and her interview are her very strong points. This is why we started her in visiting school the summer prior to senior year. When she went back to the schools we narrowed down to plus she had to do a personal interview with the heads of the departments they all remembered her. She got into like 10 or 11 schools and got a very large scholarships at most of them. She is a strong advanced writer but her grades and essay alone would not of done it. She is a very deep analytical person and her passion and intelligence comes out in the interview……..She set up the interview with a letter from herself asking a few questions to make a connection with them……with in a week of the interview she sent a hand written letter of thank you for her meeting back to the head of the department and admission counselor….

    I know kids that got refused to certain schools but persisted and called the school up for a personal interview and got accepted AFTER the interview…Don’t you think school appreciates someone putting themselves on the line and persistence and maturity to do this. Very few do but again I have heard of kids getting accepted this way.

    Also….I don’t know If I agree with your assertion that going to a non Ivy not first tier college/university is going to mean that kids will just get normal jobs etc. All the lesser Tier schools that we visited pushed research, creativity, major and minoring and all had intense programs that looked great in just about every fields., study abroad etc…think Emerson College, Knox College, Illinois Wesleyan, Illinois State,Goucher, Ithaca,Ursinus,Juanita, Pace, American, Michigan State…. I can go on but you get the point…We were looking at small schools with small class sizes for the most part. Most are private that gave large scholarships except Emerson. They give very few academic one’s .

    Now my son will be the complete opposite but if he gets into U of I engineering we will be very pleased but we are still looking at higher tiered schools for him since that is just who he is but still going to take him to some small private’s so he can decide what his fit is.

    The smaller private schools really want these academic kids and will give large scholarships to get them…so keep that in mind. Again many have programs with U of I and Wash U and other very well known university with like 100% acceptance rate after something like 2 years at the smaller schools into programs like engineering, pre-med,Law, Sciences etc. The advantage of the smaller schools is the kids can do research as a freshman and get paid internships that summer and build their resumes. At a larger university it is rare a freshman gets to do any research, internships etc etc.

  • 88. Robin in WRP  |  July 3, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    lk – American (my daughter was there freshman year) is much less generous after freshman year

  • 89. lk  |  July 3, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    Robin in WRP…..was her scholarship not guaranteed for 4 years? From my understanding from all the schools we were more serious about that the scholarship is guaranteed besides having to have a certain gpa…but those were all very reasonable. After that it comes down to your financial situation, correct? If that changes, then less aid. I heard this about Pace also to some extent.

    My daughter was considering a gap year and we talked to the head of admissions just to fact find. He said her scholarship was set for 4 years but all the financial information would have to be looked at again. But he also reassured us that if we were in the “same” ball park financially then nothing would change and we should expect the same as now. From my understanding this is a yearly event anyway……

    This is all a learning process so if you have more information that would be great.

  • 90. Robin in WRP  |  July 3, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    Nope, no guarantees. And she had a 3.5+ GPA

  • 91. lk  |  July 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Robin in WRP…


    Maybe another vote for smaller private schools. They all had 4 year guaranteed scholarships….honestly there is no other way we could send her.

    Thanks for sharing

  • 92. klm  |  July 4, 2015 at 9:08 am


    I totally agree, re: colleges and jobs. Kids can get “good” ones having gone to “regular” colleges, for sure.

    I was just thinking in terms of what some may consider “jewel” jobs in investment banking, consulting, etc., at “name” firms (Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting, etc.). For these kinds of jobs, if one wants to get a foot in the door after undergrad (of course, if one gets one’s MBA from from U-Chicago, it doesn’t much matter whether one went to Yale or Central Michigan), post-MBA. Right or wrong, somebody that is a senior at SIU isn’t going to get an interview at certain financial or consulting firms, like somebody who’s a senior at Northwestern, Amherst, Princeton or Columbia.

    I’ve always been a strong advocate of the idea that most successful people (even ones with impressive professional degrees) don’t go to Ivies for undergrad and do just great in life and professionally.

    Also, obviously, nobody gets a check in the mail every month just for having graduated from certain colleges.

    I have several kids. 1 or 2 are Ivy material, but I don’t believe that this means the ones that rock standardized tests will end up driving nicer cars, living in more upscale neighborhoods or have more in their 401k’s in 30 years —-not at all. However, if one of my kids wants to work for McKinsey in Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Singaopre, etc., it’s going to totally matter where s/he goes to college. If s/he wants to be a pharmacist or pediatrician, it won’t matter much, since PCAT/MCAT scores and UGPA will determine how things turn out not WHERE one went to college. Obviously, some people go to Princeton and can’t get into an accredited American M.D. program (I read about one such person in a NYT article about Americans going to the Caribbean for med school, when they can’t get into an American one), but some that go to Western Illinois do (my own physician being a prime example). However, if somebody wants to live/work in NYC, DC, SF, etc. and work at a Name Company with a good paycheck after college, it kinda’ matters.

  • 93. HS Mom  |  July 5, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    lk – Great list of schools. Add to that Kalamazoo, Cornell College, Clark, Villa Nova, Drake, Stonehill

    KLM – Lots of kids looking to go to med school or pharmacy via UIC (for example). Not to mention that kids going to any school in Chicago or a larger metro city have more access to part time and intern programs getting their foot in the door for higher level professions after school.

  • 94. lk  |  July 5, 2015 at 10:13 pm


    Just remembered…..Bard and Muhlenburg also…Ok I am done

  • 95. SoxSideIrish4  |  July 6, 2015 at 3:22 am

    92. klm | July 4, 2015 at 9:08 am

    I don’t think you have to go to the most well known college to work at some ‘jewel’ places. I know someone who graduated from IU recently who did his intern in DC for a very well known person. His parents told him, do the internship, but come back here to finish school and work/live. He came back to finish up at IU, but Washington made him an offer he couldn’t refuse and he loved it there so he went. It’s not always the school companies care about. He interviewed well, did well in his major and was offered a job. He’s doing fabulous now.

    I still believe that a student should go to the best school for him/her regarding their major and also fit wise~that offers the most money, so there is the least amount of debt for the student to be indebted, even if the parents are paying a substantial amount. This is hard for a lot of parents to understand. So many that I’ve talked with think if the school costs more (whether it’s public or private) it must be better. RIDICULOUS! I feel as if I have to keep re-educating my husband on this matter as well.

  • 96. Fam  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Sorry to change the subject, but does anyone has information on the school hours for high school for the 2015-2016 school year? Will the high school day begin at 8:45? 8:55?

  • 97. Fam  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Meant to type does anyone HAVE information……

  • 98. HSObsessed  |  July 8, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    @96 – I don’t know if it’s the same at all high schools, but at my kid’s, the start and end of the day depended on how many classes the student took as well as which section they were slotted into, so there were two possible start and stop times for students, with 7:45 and 8:45 for the start times.

    On a related note, I’ve heard that one of CPS teachers’ many issues that they are threatening to strike about is that they want the high school day shortened again, so we’ll see what happens with that.

  • 99. Fam  |  July 8, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    This is what I was asking about in re: high school start and end times for next school year: “The district also says it can save $9.2 million by shifting the start of high school to 45 minutes later in the day, which officials say would reduce transportation costs. The schools then would end their day 45 minutes later, officials said.”

  • 100. @fam  |  July 8, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    I saw that too! I asked the principal at my son’s HS & he said the only information he has is what is in the paper and CPS had not directed him to change the bell schedule yet. He said when he knows something for sure he will let me know!

    At HSO–now that students take 7 classes everyone starts at 8am & ends at about 3:15pm. The papers also said the HS will let out 45 mins later so students in HS won’t lose instructional time. Some HS don’t have a 7th class and have incorporated a study hall into the school day.

    The elementary school students are in shool for 7 hours and the HS students are there for about 7 hours and 15 minutes and in HS time is lost for passing periods. I don’t believe I have head about the HS teachers asking for a shorter day. That wouldn’t be fair to the elementary school teachers. A shorter day would have to be negotiated for all teachers if that were the case–I believe.

  • 101. Newcomer  |  July 8, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    I would LOVE it if HS started at 8:45. There’s tons of research on the teenage brain which supports a later start time for optimum learning.

  • 102. Fam  |  July 8, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    I saw a mention of Pace University up thread. Does anyone know anything about Pace’s reputation?

  • 103. Anna  |  July 8, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    “On a related note, I’ve heard that one of CPS teachers’ many issues that they are threatening to strike about is that they want the high school day shortened again, so we’ll see what happens with that.”

    I am a high school teacher and HAVE NOT heard this. I hope that people are careful when sharing things “they have heard” from friends. I did not see this as one of the bargaining issues currently on the table.

  • 104. jen  |  July 8, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    I wonder what will happen to buses for the gifted/magnets? It stated in the same article that referenced a later high school start time that they were going to consolidate stops and that students would have to travel up to 2 miles to a bus stop. I think it also indicated that there might not be any more bus monitors waiting at stops to supervise kids before and after school.

  • 105. Where you go, what you make  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:39 pm

    “However, if one of my kids wants to work for McKinsey in Manhattan, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Singaopre, etc., it’s going to totally matter where s/he goes to college…..However, if somebody wants to live/work in NYC, DC, SF, etc. and work at a Name Company with a good paycheck after college, it kinda’ matters.”-klm

    From :

    A 1999 study by Stacy Berg Dale and Alan Krueger suggests that graduates of a hundred or so “moderately selective” schools “had on average the same income 20 years later as graduates of the elite colleges.” While schools may be more competitive than they were 36 years ago, when the subjects of the study were in college, this statistic (which applied to graduates of “moderately selective” schools who had also gained admission to elite schools) should at least cast a shadow of doubt on parents’ extreme fixation on top-tier colleges. There are also several alternatives to the U.S. News and World Report rankings that could shift common thinking about what constitutes an “elite” education. The “Fiske Guide to Colleges” evaluates schools based on “the quality of the experience and their price tag,” while The Alumni Factor ranks schools based on intellectual development, average income of graduates and whether alumni would choose the college again, among other factors.

  • 106. HSObsessed  |  July 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    I’m not clear on how CPS would save transportation money by starting high schools 45 minutes later per day. I thought high schools students were not provided school buses, except maybe for special needs?

  • 107. lk  |  July 8, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    102. Fam..

    My wife and daughter went there last year after seeing Emerson, Bard and Mulhenburg….The types of students at Pace we not the same…whether good or bad. We also went to the acceptance day in the suburbs. My daughter has a friend there that loves it and heard other kids have good experience’s there also.
    Supposed to be great for internships and decent business school and schools in various Art fields. They gave like 50% scholarships with financial aid but when comparing to other schools we decided it was not a good fit and expensive. Room/Board is what made it over the top for us but yes, we know it’s in New York…..

    If this is a school on your list please really don’t trust my opinion or most other advice. If you are able to, go out and visit schools that you are interested in. It could be the best school for your child….

  • 108. JenFG  |  July 9, 2015 at 8:31 am

    @106 I have the same question about HS start times–not sure how it saves transportation costs.

  • 109. Later start time  |  July 9, 2015 at 9:16 am

    I think CPS wants to hire fewer bus companies so that’s why the later start time. Consolidating the magnet slots and staggering more of the schools start times will help them hire fewer bus companies and those buses could make more stops and I think get paid the same. Yes, the HS only transport special needs kids but nevertheless still have to transport those students as well. I wonder as someone said above–it said only magnet school stops it didn’t say classical/gifted/AC buses…

  • 110. klm  |  July 9, 2015 at 9:23 am


    I get it.

    I’ve always been and still am the kind of person who thinks it’s wrong to get into the whole “rankism” mentality about colleges. I know and genuinely believe that one’s talents and determination will ultimately determine one’s place in life and happiness.

    I’ve always said that I’d rather have a happy, well-adjusted nurse or social worker for a son or daughter than a partner at Goldman Sachs, divorced twice, disconnected from from his/her children, etc. Sure they may have a big house in Scarsdale or a 8,000 s.f. one in Lincoln Park close to the lake, but at what cost, etc. Obviously, I’m generalizing and being “judgey” –there are plenty of partners at Baker McKenzie that have good relationships with their kids and what seem like “good marriages,” etc. (I know one).

    That said, if one wants an entree (note i didn’t say a chance later down the road) into the fields of investment banking, consulting, certain “literatti” jobs on the East Coast, etc., it still totally matters where one goes to college, right or wrong. I was talking with one of my “playground/play date” friends a couple of years ago —used to work in advertising in the Loop. Advertising is a “creative” -type of industry where if people think they’re more qualified because of where they went to college, they had better get ready to be ridiculed and mocked. Many people in advertising, where talent, combined with work ethic are the prime mechanism of success, almost are proud of the fact that they were mediocre students, went to “regular” colleges, etc. They made it “on their own,” without the benefit of growing up in Winnetka or the Gold Coast and getting into an Ivy as a legacy, so “nah” to all that. It’s my talent and hard work that got to where I am, not pedigree -type way of thinking.

    Many of us have read the articles about Silicon Valley tech companies finding that grads from certain schools (Stanford, MIT, …) that seem “entitled.” These are kids that were academic rock stars in HS, got into “good colleges” because they were “the whole package,” learned in a milieu surrounded by other people convinced that they will all be successful because they are so “special” (i.e., smart with the leadership qualities to get into a college that admits only single-digit percentages of applicants). The college they went to may have helped them get their foot in the door, but in the sink-or-swim world of IT people don’t care if one has a computer science degree from Carnegie-Mellon, Cal/Berkeley, MIT, etc., if one is not as talented as the community college drop-out that rocks at his/her geeky, innate-ability development job.

    By contrast, if somebody wants to work in certain milieus relating to certain industries (namely finance and consulting), and get a start right outta’ undergrad, then it totally makes a difference where one went/goes to college. For example, the same friend (above) mentioned that at her spouse’s financial firm, the only area colleges where they interviewed and hired for summer interns (the traditional route for eventual hire after college) were Northwestern and U-C. She went to a party and met the summer interns –they were from colleges like Penn (Wharton), Yale, Amherst.

    My spouse works at what some may consider a “prestige” firm and hiring out of college is similarly top-heavy with Name College recruits. Not that there aren’t “regular college” grads there –it’s just that STARTING OUT it matters.

    People need to go the certain firms and look at the bios of employees.

    Again, I know that this is an anecdotal example, but it’s indicative.

    Also, I’ve made this point before, but many of us us “Midwestern nice, non-condescending, lack-of-pretense-is-a-good-thing” people in Illinois (even here in Chicago) aren’t as judgmental or narrow-minded about where people went to college. Spend some time in NYC or Boston and tell me it doesn’t matter where one went to college in those cities –people judge much more about these things. There’s always an assumption (a wrong one, I believe, but real) that if one didn’t go to the “right kind” of school, one’s not as smart, sophisticated or at least “privy” to the people-like-us world of certain milieus that certain moneyed people in those places seem to appreciate more than us “rednecks” out here in fly-over country. It’s the same in tippy-top Name firms, in certain industries, too -even here in meaty, easy-going Chicago.

    I’m not making this up.

    Again, I’m talking only about a narrow segment of the labor market (I mean, how many of our kids really will want to go into investment banking or consulting –and if they do, in NYC, London, Singapore or Boston?).

    I have friends with kids in rehab for the third time in as many years and/or with criminal records. Given this context, I’m not concerned about the “right” college that will get one a internship on Wall Street at a prestige firm. I’ll be happy if my kids just graduate from somewhere, get decent jobs and are able to live a life free of financial concerns born of a low-income and lack of health insurance, etc. I’m being real.

  • 111. where you go  |  July 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    I think what you are saying about grads from elite schools getting interviews and STARTING OUT with better jobs is valid. I guess it just sometimes sounds like you are suggesting that it is either elite schools and jobs or mediocrity, and that is not valid, but I see now that is not what you mean.

  • 112. Socialist Hypocrite  |  July 10, 2015 at 2:31 pm

    Looks like someone in a high ranking U.S. government position thinks all Chicago Public Schools suck…

    “Education secretary, top public school advocate — sending his kids to private school”

    Obama’s buddy, Arne Duncan, is moving back to Chicago and sending kids to Chicago Lab Schools. LOL!

  • 113. robin in WRP  |  July 10, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Defends Common Core. Sends his children to a school that abhors Common Core.

  • 114. Fam  |  July 12, 2015 at 7:53 am

    Article about “shopping” for college.

  • 115. klm  |  July 12, 2015 at 10:52 am


    I think it’s easy to pounce, but, if somebody were moving back to Chicago and wanted to live again in Hyde Park, do you really blame him? Plus, it’s the school he (Duncan) himself actually graduated from, back in the day. Lots of alumni send their own kids to St. Whoever —although I get that, given his role, it’s not exactly the same. But still.

    Also, unlike some (namely Democrats beholden to teacher unions) politicians that kowtowed to teacher union threats re: school choice, charters, reforms to failing urban school districts that coddled bad teachers and larded up central offices with people-that-knew-people and didn’t really do anything remotely productive or necessary, but still collected large paychecks and accrued gold-plated pension benefits, (think of DC, or even CPS a generation ago), etc., Duncan was a strong supporter of changing all that (and he was demonized for it by lots of people, especially by ‘edu-crats’ in central offices and people advocating for keeping the same broken model for urban schools, but just spending [even more] money). He was painted as somebody who was “out to destroy public education” by all the usual suspects (teacher unions, etc.).

    OK, sure, it would have been nice if he chose CPS for his own kids, but for all we know maybe he tried the lottery for some of the “good” magnets, applied to SE’s. etc., but it didn’t work out. He didn’t back down when he advocated reforms to public education (especially as it concerned poor minority kids), even when the AFT, etc., was threatening to destroy him, reputation-wise.. He didn’t give in (like Hillary Clinton, when she backed down on her advocacy of reforms designed to benefit poor urban kids’ educational options) when threatened by teacher unions, so at least give him that.

    In this case, Duncan was not a pro-typical too-afraid-of-teacher unions to advocate change to the public schools in areas that needed change.

    “Hypocrite” seems a little strong, IMO.

    For Hillary Clinton (daughter at Sidwell Friends), Jesse Jackson (Jr. at St. Alban’s) and others that go along with whatever teacher unions want, even when they (Hillary) first advocated “choice” and other reforms, and keeps poor minority kids in failing public schools (Jesse protesting to keep failure factories for poor minority kids open) with a failed model (“those schools are fine for YOUR kids, but not mine”), it’s maybe more apropos, to me.

  • 116. Robin in WRP  |  July 12, 2015 at 10:58 am

    My issue is the utter hypocrisy of talking about how great Common Core is for children and sending your children to a school that denounces Common Core

  • 117. Robin in WRP  |  July 12, 2015 at 10:59 am

    “The fallacy of the Common Core approach is that one size does not fit every community.”

  • 118. klm  |  July 12, 2015 at 11:49 am


    Re: Lab and the Common Core

    One issue I have when people (and, for whatever reason, it’s done a lot re: testing, CC, etc.) compare CPS, or public schools in general, to Lab —one of the best private schools in the country by anybody’s reckoning—is lack of context.

    Does anybody not understand that kids at Lab are getting a great education? No. Does Lab NEED any kind of reform to increase learning and advance critical thinking levels? No.

    In the U.S., public schools, especially ones that serve poor and minority kids, do people have issues with the education kids are receiving? Is there concern about level of critical thinking, math and writing skills? Yes, absolutely!

    Also, wasn’t Arne Duncan an advocate of Common Core?

    Public schools in Deerfield, Scarsdale NY, Winnetka MN, Wellesley MA, Ladue MO, Wayzata MN, Mountain Brook AL, Hinsdale (all high-income places where people often move to get their kids a great education in public schools), etc. aren’t advocating Common Core, either. Kids that go to public school in these places largely already get the learning skills and meet the goals that Common Core is designed to enhance or produce.

    Is the same true for kids that go to public school in Hammond IN, Harvey, the Southside, etc.? Too often, the answer is no –not even close. In fact, kids in these places are often years behind their non-poor white ans Asian peers and don’t have the basic cultural knowledge relating to history, geography, social studies, literature, etc.., that they need to enter the mainstream of middle-class society, in terms of a skilled-education-required jobs. Given this fact, maybe discussion of Common Core is a little more relevant in these places than at an expensive private school with some of the most intelligent, best educated and financially successful parents (U-C faculty and the offspring of Chicago’s elite –Pritzkers, Obamas, Jarrets, Emanuels, etc.) to educate and role-model at home.

    THAT is why Lab doesn’t advocate the Common Core —it doesn’t
    NEED it.

    I’m sure MIT doesn’t find it necessary or advocate or to provide remedial classes for freshman, but does it mean it’s also then not necessary or a good idea for freshman at Chicago State or Northeastern Illinois? Since they don’t have remedial classes at MIT, I guess it’s not good idea at these other schools, either.

    We’re kinda’ talking about apples and oranges when we’re discussing kids in Cabrini Green going to Jenner, then Wells, K-12, for example, and kids going to Lab N-12, IMO. Same when discussing the need for Common Core.

    Kids at Lab don’t need CC, but maybe kids at Jenner and Wells could benefit from it. This is an extreme example, but on point.

  • 119. jen  |  July 12, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I disagree. I don’t feel the education at Lab is necessarily immune to needing reform. But, honestly the only way I could even begin to fully understand the education at Lab would be to spend at least a full year observing all the classrooms there. I am not sure the education at lab or the standards are really any higher than many public schools. I am sure the students they receive come to them far more prepared and advantaged than many other public schools, which makes the job of Lab easy. Like shove those kids in a closet with books and no teacher and they’d still come out with an average ACT of near 30. Test scores are great at telling people about the average income and education investment at home, and that is about it.
    And I’m not sure CCSS are creating the change needed for most public school students either. Maybe a tiny bit? Maybe? I do think our students need a lot of things though that Lab students get via the families they come from. I don’t think CCSS are inherently bad though. They are merely one teeny tiny fraction of what needs to happen nationwide and unfortunately, I don’t see that raising the requirements do much without raising the support level. In Chicago, we have only lowered the support level. This fall, it will be lowered even more with continued and serious budget cuts.

  • 120. klm  |  July 13, 2015 at 7:45 am


    I don’t believe that Lab is “perfect ” (I guess maybe in Nirvana there is such a place), but does anybody doubt that it does provide an excellent foundation for learning? I know that many kids at Lab have socio-economic advantages, but effective teaching, curriculum, pedagogy, are also part of it.

    However, when discussing learning there (or at similar schools), the word “broken” or “failing” are not ones that typically come to minds. For many public schools, these kinds of words seem appropriate and these are the kinds of schools for which CC are designed.

    Also, one big “good idea” about CC is that kids (and low-income, high-risk ones do this much more often) who move and start school mid-year will “start where they left off,” rather than being thrown in to a class where thing were taught in (often radically different) order, with different emphases, etc.

    CC is no panacea, for sure, but the idea is to give low-income kids (its main target group) a better education that will help them compete in the modern high-skills economy, rather than be stuck in low-paying service jobs taking care of and providing services for people with money. I know it’s not perfect, but at least people are trying to do something, for which I give some props, rather than just shrugging things off and blaming everything on mean people that won’t pay more for public education (despite the fact that we spend twice as much per student, adjusted for inflation than we did in 1970 in K-12 public education and more than countries like Canada, Japan and Germany, not just in read terms, but as a % of GDP).

  • 121. jen  |  July 13, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Discussing learning at any high income school and there won’t be words like failing or broken. Look at every high income school in CPS. All of them have great test scores.
    Let’s take the entire student population of Gale Academy and swap it with Lab, changing nothing but the staff. Guarantee you that the Lab kids will still perform in a stellar manner and the Gale kids will still fail. Though I think its likely the Lab school staff might all quit.
    CCSS does not mean kids will start where they left off. Have you seen it being implemented in multiple schools (as in dozens, at minimum)? Things are still being taught in radically different order, with different emphases.
    Don’t get me wrong. I like much of what CCSS intends. The idea of going deeper instead of broader is a good one. Not sure that’s actually happening, but the intention is good. Asking kids to find text evidence is good. Course, CPS has gone stupid about close reading to the elimination of all else like is always does.
    Again, if we implemented more support in addition to higher standards, as Lab might if that’s the model we’re trying to imitate, then yes, I’m behind it. Let’s have beautiful libraries, small class sizes, tons of extra support, safe campuses. You can’t in one breath say we need the same standards as Lab and then in the next say we can’t have the same support as Lab merely because its financially difficult.

  • 122. Whatshesaid  |  July 13, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Amen, jen.

  • 123. Anna  |  July 13, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    The idea that CCSS are ok for some but not for others is at the heart of what is wrong with them! Of course we want all children to learn basic facts, but the CCSS are not pedagogically correct. CCSS do not dictate that moving students from one school to another will keep them at the same place. This doesn’t make sense for classrooms which are differentiating and working at the level the students need…not the need of some standardized test at the end of the year. To compare CCSS to remedial classes also show lack of understanding of these standards.

    The concept of : it’s fine for THESE children to have this type of education, but THOSE children will get a different type … is part of what’s wrong with reforms today.

  • 124. B Ram  |  July 13, 2015 at 10:54 pm

    “Kids that go to public school in these places largely already get the learning skills and meet the goals that Common Core is designed to enhance or produce.”

    Someone doesn’t really understand what Common Core is doing.

  • 125. klm  |  July 14, 2015 at 8:18 am


    From what I understand, the origins of CC come the experience of teachers/professors that had experience with smart kids, but ones from disadvantaged backgrounds. These “smart” kids didn’t have the context, knowledge, academic background, etc., to compete with their peers, despite the fact that they were innately “smart.” For example, if kids don’t know what the Mayflower was/what it represents, who Queen Victoria or King Edward were, never heard of Freud before going to college, they won’t understand related terms and phrases (e.g., Victorian, Edwardian, descended from the Mayflower, Freudian slip, etc)., that they’ll hear in college lectures and discussions, then feel lost, “behind,” drop out… Same with “core” skills like writing an effective essay and being able to figure out the volume of a cylinder, knowing what a standard deviation is, understand the figurative meaning in literature, have context to understand meaning when reading essays related to history, economics, sociology, etc.

    Like virtually all reforms, CC is born largely out of a concern for the achievement gap. We’ve all read the depressing stats: black kids, on average, start kindergarten 2 years behind their white peers, are 3 years behind by 8th grade, 4 years behind by 12th, the average black 8th grade black male reads only as well as the average white girl in 4th grade, etc. These stats are magnified in low-income ares of systemic poverty and social dysfunction (think of schools like Manierre where no student in any subject in any grade ‘exceeds’ in the ISAT, but cross North Avenue and most kids at Lincoln are ‘exceeding’ in most subjects in most grades). Blah, blah, blah….. Bottom line: too many American kids were heading into college or the labor force without the skills they need to succeed, so people started to figure out what’s missing, then do something about in school, etc.

    This is a prime reason why so minority kids, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds do poorly with standardized tests. It’s not that they’re not smart, it’s just that they don’t have the skills to understand the context and/or figurative language in a reading passage, can’t understand complex mathematical problems that involve contextual understanding of advanced mathematical thinking, etc.

    I mean, go to ISBE and look at the test score of white/Asian kids vs. black kids at HS’s like Evanston Twp. HS (white kids there do better than white kids at New Trier, the black kids not much better than their peers in CPS) and OPRF –it’s truly shocking. Go to these HS’s and look who are in the remedial classes and who are in the AP classes –again, it’s truly shocking, in terms of what it means for the makeup of high-skills employment and future success in demanding STEM classes in college (especially at schools like Northwestern, Michigan, Cornell, etc.).

    So, yes, despite having their own issues re: learning skills, the main focus of CC was not middle/upper-middle class white and Asian kids -these kids already, by and large are doing fine (I didn’t say ‘great’). I mean, how often do we hear about New Trier or Deerfield HS’s not providing an “inadequate” education or preparation for college? Can the same be said for many non-SE CPS HS’s?

    Can kids go to HSs like New Trier and still not come out “educated” (these are schools for EVERYBODY), but, by and large, kids usually come out prepared to compete well in out modern economy, understand conversations about current affairs, etc., and it’s not all just because they’re often from middle-class homes. Middle-class kids need to be “taught” to succeed in school, too. Very few kids have a love of learning and the innate drive to to achieve academically, without some direction and effective teaching, even rich white ones with parents that have professional degrees.

  • 126. jen  |  July 14, 2015 at 10:57 am

    We believe 2 different things. I don’t believe it is the actual high schools of New Trier or Deerfield that is working wonders, prepping kids for college and life. I do believe those high schools (and others like them) play a small part. A very small part. I believe it is the lifestyle those kids come from that provide the bulk of the iceberg of preparation and the schools are just the tip.
    Kids from poverty don’t have the bulk of the iceberg below and CCSS only addresses what is seen at the top. Meanwhile, the underside is empty and will eventually collapse.
    I see you believe CCSS and excellent schools can provide the 90% of the iceberg no one initially sees underwater. I respectfully disagree.

    My opinion is that we don’t hear about those high schools not providing an adequate education because they don’t often serve kids living in crime ridden, poverty full, second language, just trying to survive environments and that we do hear about it from non SEHS’s because they do serve those kids.

    I do think we need to keep trying though in our poverty schools. Maybe CPS being on the precipice of bankruptcy and complete and total collapse will allow for some true change in our city and we can finally deal with our poverty/gang/two-tier system.

  • 127. Anna  |  July 14, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    @125 “Very few kids have a love of learning and the innate drive to to achieve academically, without some direction and effective teaching,” In no way does CC provide for this “love”.

    “From what I understand, the origins of CC come the experience of teachers/professors that had experience with smart kids, but ones from disadvantaged backgrounds.” I am curious where you learned this information.

  • 128. klm  |  July 14, 2015 at 3:56 pm


    I remember reading some essays by E.D. Hirsch commenting on how his students from disadvantaged (i.e., minority and/or poor) backgrounds too often struggled and were not prepared to do the higher-level school work that other students were. Too often, they did not have the knowledge that they needed in terms of cultural references, context, historical knowledge, etc. Hirsch is famous for his books in the 80’s re: cultural knowledge (and lack thereof) that students need to be “educated” and how many schools were failing students, in this sense. Many education watchers credit him as having provided much of the intellectual foundation of CC.


    Thing is, being white and upper-middle class doesn’t mean one’s automatically hard-wired to get a minimum of 27 on the ACT or a 4 on the AP English Lit exam. Sure, having role models, peers that often are into learning, hearing an educated vocabulary, etc., help (a lot), but nobody becomes genuinely educated without a decent amount of hard work, diligence, etc., —I don’t care who their parents are or where they go to school. Plenty of kids in the North Shore go nowhere in school (or life), without the requisite effort needed for successful learning. It’s not like kids at New Trier don’t study or work as hard hard as kids from HS’s with mainly low-income or working-class students. Anybody that knows anything about New Trier will tell you that many kids there often study really, really hard –good grades, test results, etc., and all the benefits that go with these things (more choices in terms of college, career paths, etc.) aren’t “given” to anybody. I’m not so sure about the 90% socioeconomic/10% schooling ratio for success. Screw-ups at New Trier don’t rock (or even pass) AP exams without hardly cracking a book –that would be impossible.

    I live around lots of upper-middle-class kids in Lincoln Park. Many have parents with good jobs that went to Name colleges, etc. Some go to Latin, some Parker, some parochial, some CPS –but they all study and work hard if they want good grades and to do well on standardized tests. I can’t imagine that it’s much different in Wilmette or Lake Forest.

  • 129. Anna  |  July 14, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Behind the Common Core:

    A good read: Whistling Vivaldi. It was a fascinating book looking into stereotypes and why some education gaps exist.

    Common Core is not what’s going to “fix” education. The problems are deeply rooted into our culture as a whole.

  • 130. lk  |  July 14, 2015 at 7:34 pm

    I am sorry but someone here was alluding to ….would kids in a disadvantaged school do better at let’s say any selective enrollment school?

    Yes…this is Sociology 101. Take any kid willing to learn and put them with their peers that are at a much higher place academically then them and at the end of the year (maybe with teacher help/tutor/parent and or peer help) they will catch up.

    Opposite is true also…taking away personal drive etc.

    You adapt to your environment to a point. This has been studied and proven over and over.

    I just see different cultures push academics harder then other cultures. It was never a question if I or my kids would go to college.

    I came from mother with 4 kids raising by herself working 6 days a week, food stamps, welfare etc.

    My kids are upper middle class living in the city went to private elementary and one private high school while the other is at NSCP with working very hard. Both had some learning disabilities but they got identified (took my son to take a sat test on Mich ave a year prior to when his school did it and noticed a major reading comprehension issue). Fixed that and a year later amazing score.

    Blaine and other schools in my area were not great 16 years ago. Now everyone, it seems, in my neighborhood goes to the local schools and wish they were ready for my kids. But the school had MAJOR investment from the Mercury theater and Culligans with a deal to use the Blaine parking lot etc etc. This poured major funds for teachers and improvements to Blaine.

    I would like to see more of this, Business supporting education. Problem with this model is some area’s don’t have this type of Business opportunities or partnerships.

  • 131. jen  |  July 14, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    @130, I agree, if you mean 1 child moving from low performing school X to high performing school Y, if that child is motivated. However, I don’t believe if you took an entire low achieving student body and placed them in, say, Jackson, and removed all the high achieving students and only left the staff that there’d be much of a difference. In general, and of course there are always exceptions, the culture of home and family determines success or failure. I view school as 10-20% of success or failure and home+community 80-90%. Again, there are remarkable exceptions, of which I’ve been fortunate and honored to witness. Its the majority that makes me depressed.

  • 132. feeder schools  |  July 14, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    “I view school as 10-20% of success or failure and home+community 80-90%.”

    I think this is a quite plausible scenario, though schools’ weight might be higher than 20% if quantification can be done. Another factor is whether a critical mass of those willing to learn exists at a school or in a classroom. Peer pressure, for better or worse, sometimes works wonders. This helps explain why some elementary gifted or magnet programs have turned to be rather mediocre.

  • 133. lk  |  July 14, 2015 at 10:16 pm


    Take Jones high school as an example. Yes selective enrollment school but not a great school just like 7 -10 years ago. Most people in Lakeview and surrounding area’s would of never sent their kids there. NOW it is the “it” school in these area’s.

    What changed?

    The principal Dr. Powers used the same system he used in Ohio I believe it was. He also adapted to “copying” some or most of the Northside College prep model especially the Math and Physics first etc. He said their model must be working so why not adapt it.

    When kids walk down the hall they all say hi to him and he knows each kid by first name and talks to them. Utmost respect going both ways.

    He changed the school in a very short period of time on a very limited budget prior to making his deal with the mayor….but serving his surrounding community and making maybe the “old” school as a feeder to the high school as a feeder was discussed.

    This school is extremely diverse with large pockets of kids from “all” over Chicago BUT if kids want to learn and you give them the environment to learn….guess what….they will learn.):

    As a note neither of my kids went there but had discussions about it when we met him one year at the school. I really admire what he has accomplished.

  • 134. Robin in WRP  |  July 15, 2015 at 5:11 am

    I absolutely agree with the power of peer pressure! With my daughter’s class at Decatur and Whitney, there was an amazing dynamic of competition and encouragement that I know pushed her to work a little bit harder.

  • 135. Robin in WRP  |  July 15, 2015 at 5:13 am

    The older/experienced teachers at Jones are miserable, and leaving as quickly as they can. It will be interesting to see if the quality of teaching remains high

  • 136. klm  |  July 15, 2015 at 7:53 am

    RE: Effect of Peers on learning

    I agree completely about how important it is. I went to some low-performing inner-city schools. I remember well how much pressure there was to not act or seem “smart.” What was even more sad was how the black boys that did well and seemed to like learning were bullied by their peers, even as the girls and (relative few) white and Asian immigrant kids were not targeted as much for this. I recall an Honor Roll list and some students finding a name on it for a boy I knew –Kendrick. They ran up to him and started mocking him “KEN-drick! KEN-drick! You think you so smart!” It was really that bad. He got beat up once or twice by kids that thought he was acting “so smart” and the whole “So, you think you’re better than me” thing went on. I recall one of my neighborhood friends that loved to read –we went to the library together often. Once, when we were walking to the library, we passed by a bunch of his friends that wanted to play, asked where he was going and he GLARED at me, as if to sat, “Don’t you DARE tell them that I was on the way to the library!” I got it –I kept his shameful “secret.” It was sad and when I got older, these kinds of memories (plus some of the the teachers that clung to their tenure so as to do next to nothing and got away with it for years) that made me vow that I’d never, ever send my own kids to “urban public schools.”

    But here I am often advocating for CPS schools, now.

    Now that I have kids (including black sons), I am gun-shy about sending them to just any ‘ol school and assuming thinks will work out just fine. I know that’s not the case. People who like to imagine all kids can get a good education at any school if they have the right kind of parents almost certainly have not had to deal with the kinds deep anti-intellectualism that I saw growing up.

    Kids really do need a school where it’s OK to be smart and get good grades. CPS has schools like that, but it also has ones where levels of achievement are so, so low, that I can’t help but wonder what kind of “culture” there is surrounding learning.

    I have a brother-in-law that grew up in Lawndale. He has similar experiences growing up (having to hide the fact that he loved reading, keeping his straight-A report cards a hushed secret, in order to keep his street cred intact, etc). However, going to WY for HS was completely different. WY was a school where being smart was celebrated and considered something really positive by everybody, no matter their gender, ethnicity or neighborhood. This kind of thing is something many middle/upper-middle class people take for granted in a school and often wrongly (IMO) assume exist most everywhere. Plus, all the classes at were/are nicely integrated, even the STEM AP ones, unlike some “good” HS’s where the AP classes are mostly white and Asian and the remedial classes are mostly black (a la ETHS or OPRF), which is also an issue when one has black kids, in terms of learning culture, expectations, peers, role models, etc.

  • 137. DJ  |  July 17, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    “He also adapted to “copying” some or most of the Northside College prep model especially the Math and Physics first etc”

    Some say Integrated Math is a joke and physics first is not “real” physics. It has to be dumbed down because in 9th grade kids (anywhere) don’t have the advanced math required for a standard physics class. Kids probably like the classes the because they are easier. Northside can get away with it because the kids they accept are 99th percentiles anyway. Jones doesn’t have that luxury. However, it is better than alternatives, with limited choices.

    From Chicago mag (2014):
    “Something to consider: Selective enrollment high schools aren’t always the best fit, even for the high-achieving kids who get in. Irving Park resident Nathan Neff pulled his son Anderson out of ninth grade at Jones College Prep in 2012 after less than a month. “I was hopeful that Jones would provide a competitive education without me having to pay the $20,000,” says Neff, referring to what he had spent to send Anderson to the British School.

    But almost immediately, he says, he and his wife realized that moving their son to Jones had been the wrong decision—mainly because Anderson reported not feeling challenged by the schoolwork. “Anderson said he was going over things he had learned three years earlier [at British],” says Neff.

    The Neffs found out that another ninth grader who had also previously attended the British School was having a similar experience at Jones; both kids ended up back at British. “We’re not high-pressure parents, but we are concerned about college admissions. We looked at where our son was and said, ‘If he can go 80 miles per hour, what good is an education that has him only going 60?’ ” Given Anderson’s experience, Neff says he and his wife probably won’t roll the dice on publics for their two younger children, currently in private schools. “There’s no inherent dislike of CPS,” he says. “It’s all about what works best for each individual child.”

  • 138. lk  |  July 18, 2015 at 11:35 am


    Tell us how you really feel):.

    I was just trying to make a point of a success story and after actually meeting and talking to Dr. Powers from Jones. Neither of my kids went there but many kids in my area of Chicago do and love it there. For every article you can find that is negative, I can have you talk to a family with great experiences. I also work in Naperville and can tell you the good and bad of their schools in comparison.

    About the math curriculum at North-side College Prep…Yes kids like my son just want to give you the answers and don’t like all the reading and writing BUT once they get used to it, it is very powerful. They really do dig in deeper without realizing it and can talk and write math, not just solve problems per se. This helps tremendously when taking ACT and SAT and with college. Their ACT math scores or just in general are really off the charts so something must be working.

    Yes, they have the higher end kids BUT we know alot of kids that choose Jones etc instead so I think the tide is changing a bit. Yes, Jones does have a different population of kids but if anyone can make this change Dr. Powers can. He did it in Ohio. He has the experience and the drive.

    About the Physics first….well at least at North side, this is not a blow off course and is extremely challenging. This is more like a first year college course to be honest. I am in medicine so I have a different opinion on this. He took Chemistry as a sophomore and I can tell you it is a very intense course…

    About your article……not every school is the correct fit for their child. I am sure every school has kids making changes due to their abilities. I just know at Northside the teachers honestly go out of their way to help these kids. I am sure it is similar at other schools also.

    Just hope we don’t have a strike (:…….

    I am going to contact the principal to see if there is a plan for the kids. All of their coursework is online and I would assume there would be some direction to what the kids can do so they don’t get behind or have the parent groups offer study sessions etc.

  • 139. HS Mom  |  July 18, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    @138 – great comment.

    – Regarding Physics first – Jones and NS are not the only ones doing this. Reasoning is that physics theories carry into chemistry/biology and not necessarily the other way around so it makes sense and creates a better understanding of these other courses to have exposure to the laws of physics first. Physics is a stand alone different from all other science classes so there is no “dumbed down” version (at least not at Jones). They do have AP Physics, like all the SE HS’s, which is an option for those aspiring Newton’s or down the road to complement freshman honors physics.

    – Kids “don’t like all the reading and writing”…they “can talk and write math, not just solve problems per se”. This helps tremendously when taking ACT and SAT and with college

    Yes! In both reading and math. Analytical thinking skills are amazing.

    – “many kids in my area of Chicago (go to Jones) and love it there”

    Absolutely, count us as happy Alum. Loved it, got the proper guidance through 4 years and exposure to many great colleges where we found a fit. Count us as happy.


    Unnecessary and not to the point.

  • 140. Todd Pytel  |  July 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    (Cross-posted from the Neighborhood/Magnet HS thread, since this is the current topic with active conversations.)

    Senn’s LSC published the following letter to the community this afternoon – I am posting it here at their request…

    Dear Senn community,

    On July 17, Susan Lofton was removed from her position as Principal of Senn High School. CPS has appointed Mr. Carter Carey as the acting administrator for Senn. Mr. Carey has been a long time member of the Senn community, first as a teacher then an administrator. He has the strong support of the Local School Council and the faculty during this time. CPS is currently searching for an interim principal who will fit the needs of our remarkable school.

    We Bulldogs can use this as an opportunity to celebrate and build upon many of the improvements made over the past five years. It is critical to note that the entire Senn community, including a very talented faculty, valuable community partners, our close university partner, Loyola University Chicago, dedicated parents and our Friends of Senn group, collectively contributed to the revitalization of Senn High School, and remains committed to continued progress.

    Senn is poised to make the next upward turn toward its future as a model neighborhood high school in Chicago. As our IB and Magnet Arts, as well as our community programs, continue to improve, Senn will remain a place that teachers, parents, community, and most importantly, students, will be proud to claim as their own.

    The Senn Local School Council

    The above letter will surely prompt many more questions than it answers, but this is the most complete statement we can make at this time. We value the support for Senn – and for neighborhood schools in general – that we’ve seen from so many people here. We look forward to continuing our progress in the upcoming school year.

    Todd Pytel
    Mathematics Department Chair
    Senn High School

  • 141. Fam  |  July 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    On another note, Forest Claypool is head of CPS? Really?

  • 142. Gonzalo  |  July 20, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    kinda late to this thread, but I wanted to chime in. I’m a bit disappointed to see such a focus on the cost of the very top universities. I definitely disagree with the statement made and repeated that the best college degree is a free one. As an SEHS graduate who did instate public school for undergrad and then masters degrees at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, I would highly recommend to try to get into the best college that you can. The system is really designed to facilitate this. Yes I have student loans, but they are beyond manageable and every single year legislation seems to make them more manageable.

    If you can get into a top university go for it!

  • 143. jen  |  July 20, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    This article makes it sound like Lofton is being accused of keeping special education students out of Senn’s magnet program by artificially lowering their scores so they don’t qualify. I find it hard to believe this is true and wonder if this is a set up by CPS because she fought against a charter.

  • 144. R D  |  July 20, 2015 at 10:02 pm

    “As an SEHS graduate who did instate public school for undergrad and then masters degrees at Harvard and Johns Hopkins”

    Just curious, are you an URM?

  • 145. Julio  |  July 20, 2015 at 10:06 pm

    “Lofton is being accused of keeping special education students out of Senn’s magnet program by artificially lowering their scores so they don’t qualify.”

    If that’s true it just shows the mentality of the people trying to keep kids stuck in traditional public schools. Maybe for the $ and power and not the kids. Sad.

  • 146. mom2  |  July 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

    “I find it hard to believe this is true and wonder if this is a set up by CPS because she fought against a charter.” – I hope that’s not the case because then they will go after the principal at Amundsen, too and she has been fantastic from what I can tell.

    It is only in CPS/Rahm’s best interest for schools like Senn, Amundsend and Lake View to become schools that people choose and want and are proud of. It makes them look great that they have added extra choices and improved things (even though the people that are really improving them are the parents, students, LSC, prinicpals and all the marketing).

    However, as I said in another thread, I heard such good things about Ms. Lofton cleaning up the school, but if she is trying to keep out special education students by cheating, she must go.

  • 147. jen  |  July 21, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    @146, this is what CPS does. They remove one person for speaking out and it sends a message to everyone else to shut up. This is why so many principals cannot and do not directly speak out or up for their students and have to do things through the back door.
    It is in CPS and Rahm’s best interest to have schools that perform, but it is also in their best interest to have principals who maintain the status quo. And god forbid a principal do anything to fight against a charter.
    But, who knows? Maybe she did falsify info or scores. This is common in CPS and in my experience, all over. I’ve seen it firsthand (yes, with my actual eyes) in every single one of the two private and 4 public schools I have been a part of. Whether she did or didn’t, the process will drag out long enough and destroy her reputation enough, she’ll never teach or be a principal again.

  • 149. otdad  |  July 22, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    @142. Gonzalo:
    Totally agree. I would send my kids to the best universities they can get into. Financial concern is only among schools of the same level. There are many benefits in getting a degree from a top university.

  • 150. neighborhood parent  |  July 22, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    I agree with jen@147. “Maybe she did falsify info or scores. This is common in CPS and in my experience, all over. I’ve seen it firsthand…”

    My guess is that it was the her faculty that threw her under the bus…. seriously, the IG’s office got involved in investigating a *neighborhood*/quasi-selective admissions issue…. not saying it’s not important/right….. but there are long standing claims/urban legends of admission tampering … and this is the principal/school that gets spotlighted or exemplified? just sayin’…

  • 151. HS Mom  |  July 22, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    @142, 147 – I think you’re missing the point that was made and clarified above. No one is suggesting giving up Harvard for a free school.

    The discussion above touches on the following: 1 – free does not necessarily mean community college. Upper tier schools offer aid and scholarships too – sometimes more than state schools. At some ranking range, depending on the individual, (an eg of 25-100 was given), many expand their search and criteria beyond sheer rank with finances being a large part of that. 2 – the majority of families here and everywhere are middle class (where money and 6 figure debt is a consideration) and are not getting into Harvard (or Yale or Princeton or Stanford……etc etc)

    147/150 – “The Sun-Times reports Lofton lowered admission tests scores of some special education students. She was reportedly trying to weed them out of the school”

    IMO If she actually lowered certain kids scores for admissions, she shouldn’t “teach or be a principal again”. Clear misuse of power and damaging to those families. Couching this abuse of power by claiming that “this is what CPS does” or that someone “threw her under the bus” doesn’t lessen the seriousness of her actions.

    Very sad, but sounds like the community is poised to continue without her.

  • 152. haga clic en el documento hasta que viene  |  July 23, 2015 at 4:17 am

    haga clic en el documento hasta que viene

    College Thread – Tuition and Essays | CPS Obsessed

  • 153. jen  |  July 23, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    @151, I think you may have misunderstood. Maybe Lofton did alter scores. In that case, she should be fired. I agree completely. But maybe she didn’t. That’s why I said “this is what CPS does”. I believe that even if she did NOT change scores, CPS might say she did in order to ruin her career and get her to quit because she spoke out against charters. They now no longer have to discipline or remove anyone else, because every other principal in the city knows if they didn’t before, to not get in the way of what CPS and Emanuel wants to do.

  • 154. HS Mom  |  July 24, 2015 at 7:23 am

    There was an investigation, a dismissal, confirmation from the alderman, announcement of dismissal and to date no statement or refuting of charges from Ms Loftian. Let’s stick to the facts.

  • 155. W Hoo  |  July 27, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    “CPS might say she did in order to ruin her career and get her to quit because she spoke out against charters. ”

    Two pieces of advice:
    1) Put the tin foil away
    2) Back away from the crack pipe

  • 156. klm  |  July 28, 2015 at 8:12 am


    Thank-you. There’s no “plot” to kick out an otherwise, widely perceived “rock star” principal.

    I don’t know the details 100%, obviously, but if an otherwise mostly well-liked and much respected principal did nothing to warrant a termination, there would be a whole line of teachers, administrators and parents lining up to keep/support her, I’m thinking.

    Yes, CPS can be a bureaucratic mess, sometimes, but nobody’s going to get fired for “no good reason,” as part of some “conspiracy” or vendetta.

    Every time I read about a principal who did something that qualifies as a “fire-able” offense (living outside of Chicago and fudging about it, messing with scores and admissions, getting a low-scoring friend’s kid into a popular SE school, and taking away an opportunity from another legally entitled student, etc.), I can’t help but wonder “What were they thinking?!”

    Why SHOULDN’T they get fired? In the private sector, people would be let go for similarly serious, willful disregard for clear rules.

    If anything, letting an otherwise “good” principal go because of the (alleged, but likely ‘real’ since she left so quickly/willingly) things the Senn principal is reported as having done gives me more faith in CPS. Why? There are “rules” and those that knowingly break them for serious offenses (e.g., denying students educational opportunities that they should have been given, as is alleged here) seem like good reasons to get them out. .

  • 157. jen  |  July 28, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Right. Because in this country, we don’t arrest people because they are black or plant evidence. In this country we don’t torture suspects. Higher ups don’t pressure principals and teachers to change athletes grades. Doesn’t happen. And CPS always follows the rules too. I gotta bridge to sell you somewhere.

  • 158. Learning CPS  |  July 28, 2015 at 9:23 am

    I live in Edgewater so Senn is our local school and this was big community news. I agree with #156 that if there wasn’t at least some truth to the accusations, there would have been a fight – from Lofton with a statement or appeal (vs quietly and quickly resigning), from teachers and administrators at Senn, from the Senn LSC or from our very active Alderman who commented on it quickly after the news broke. The school has improved leaps and bounds in her tenure and certainly owes her much thanks, but there wasn’t a fight from anyone to claim her innocence in this matter or insist she be kept on as principal. There is no way CPS has enough pull to silence all of those voices; they stayed silent because at least some of them probably knew or suspected this accusation had some legs.

    With the BOE already under fire for the no-bid contract deal, I would also be surprised to see CPS trying to manufacture a situation like this if it wouldn’t stand under legal scrutiny.

    It might be easier to believe that big, bad CPS is behind this than to believe a hard working, otherwise apparently successful and effective principal made a mistake…but sometimes people just do dumb and bad things. Hopefully the progress Senn made while she was there doesn’t suffer as result.

  • 159. Suburban refugee from CPS  |  July 28, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    There are some naive people on here.
    I happen to believe both that Lofton accepted who she thought would make the school (and her) look good AND that CPS was only too happy to find some dirt on her. I also do not believe for one second that she is the 1st principal brought to their attention about having cooked some scores/books Just like Rahm cooked the books with his brag that the graduation rate increased last year. Then he was caught counting drop outs as homeschooled. It is always possible to just look the other way if an accused principal is towing the BOE/area administrator line otherwise.

  • 160. HS Mom  |  July 29, 2015 at 7:15 am

    @159 – There’s an important distinction here. What you are calling “cooked scores” and comparing her act to situations where scores were allegedly ignored, removed or raised to get certain kids into schools or put a spin on data, is not the same here. Lotfian purportedly LOWERED the scores of some kids who are already struggling with learning disabilities. These kids made the grade and were not only kept out, but lied to about their performance. As many parents can attest to on this site, part of the pressure and angst that families go through about testing is (whether or not we want to admit it) that scores define us. Especially kids with learning issues. Kids that made the grade were shot down. This may have been the only chance for some kids. Yes, there’s a lot of crap that goes on but this in particular sickens me.

    As far as CPS being happy to dig up dirt on a Principal that was making them look good……really. I don’t think you’ll be able to peddle that here

  • 161. klm  |  July 29, 2015 at 7:58 am



    What reason would there be for manufacturing or puffing up malfeasance on the part of a CPS principal that helped turn a no-way-in-hell CPS HS into a well-maybe-things-have-changed CPS HS?

    Fact is, some kids were allegedly denied an educational opportunity, scores were changed and “accommodations” were made to artificially produce a student body that would be more likely to give Senn better scores and improve its standing.


    If every time somebody is considering the facts in a particular case and somebody comes back with examples from The Big Black Book of Past History, then I guess anything’s possible, given this context (Maybe CPS had CPD plant drugs –it could have happened, given the past). However, in 2015, in the context of a CPS principal allegedly doing something as serious as illegally changing particular students’ test scores and denying them an educational opportunity in clear violation of current Special Education law, maybe it’s not a product of a historically imperfect, sometimes dysfunctional justice system –she wan’t arrested and CPD wasn’t involved, she simply resigned from a CPS job without any kind of protest, denial or fight. The police didn’t arrest her, the FBI wasn’t involved. She appears to have been “caught” (and it’s sad, because she WAS a great principal and likely she felt pressure to make Senn’s scores higher in order to make it appear ‘better’ and more marketable for the purposes of attracting more kids from the neighborhood —I understand WHY she may have done, but it still was wrong) manipulating test score –that’s kinda’ a very big deal.

    OK, I’m turning comments into long-winded, jumbled paragraphs, so I guess it’s time for me to leave this subject alone, now.

    Bottom line: A CPS principal quickly resigned after she was caught doing something that is a clear violation of CPS rules and likely even broke the law. Period. It’s a sad story, considering who it was and how much she did to turn around a previously flailing CPS school. It is what it is –likely no need to construct scenarios based on seemingly unrelated, negative past events (no matter how upsetting these documented past events are and how much they may affect one’s world view).

  • 162. mom2  |  July 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

    The subject is so interesting to me. I greatly appreciate any principal that has found a way to make the school more appealing to neighborhood parents. On the other hand, if the only way to make a school more appealing is to cheat and violate rules in order to kick out or not allow in the kids that make a school less appealing to neighborhood parents, that is wrong. What’s so frustrating is that if all the neighborhood parents of upcoming 9th graders just signed up, that first year of 9th grade students would take care of most issues, the school would show huge improvements in test scores and there would be no need to cheat and violate rules. Such a catch 22. Why can’t these neighborhood schools and principals find a way to get those neighborhood parents to send their kids there without first having to change the entire student body in other ways? Some new “amazing and exclusive” program that starts with the new 9th grade class or something?

  • 163. suburban refugee  |  July 29, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    What you’re missing is that Lofton took a leadership role in pushing back against a proposed charter HS within Senn’s boundaries. Not appreciated by powers that be, I’m sure.

    Accepting clouted applicants is effectively the same thing as LOWERING the scores of other applicants and there are principals known to have done this who still hold their jobs. No tin foil hat or conspiracy theory involved to acknowledge that fact. Lofton should have been removed but there was some selectivity in the fact that CPS actually did that.

  • 164. CPS Mom  |  July 29, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    @162 I don’t think most parents want to be the ones who take the leap and send their kids off to schools which don’t have the reputation they are seeking. It is really sad. Let’s face it…there are certain kids who will raise the test scores at schools. There are kids who will also lower the scores. Parents DON”T want to be in schools with lower test scores.

  • 165. HS Mom  |  July 29, 2015 at 8:32 pm

    “Accepting clouted applicants is effectively the same thing as LOWERING the scores of other applicants and there are principals known to have done this who still hold their jobs.”

    Nope, not the same at all. I don’t agree with either but completely different. “Clouting”, as the term suggests, typically involves allowing admissions based upon connections or criteria other than the requirements and would only be necessary if the student does not perform well enough on tests. It is used to get kids in not keep them out. They call this “principals discretion” now. As KLM suggests, there is legal precedent on altering test score as some teachers in Atlanta found out.

    LOWERING scores of kids with disabilities who would otherwise qualify for admissions is same as….well….LOWERING scores of kids with disabilities.

    Let’s say the principal of NSP or Payton or Jones or Young decided that for whatever reason your kid would not be a “good fit” (without knowing anything about them at all) and literally falsified testing documents to keep him/her out. How would you feel about that? How would your child feel when they get the rejection letter with scores stating that they are not good enough?

    @164 – “It is really sad. Let’s face it…there are certain kids who will raise the test scores at schools. There are kids who will also lower the scores”

    And you know who those kids are at age 12/13??? If you are referring to the Senn situation, these kids with disabilities had the smarts to test in – which is the same you could say about any kid that passed the requirements. This is exactly the type of thinking that might have driven this breech of ethics.

  • 166. mom2  |  July 30, 2015 at 10:48 am

    @CPS Mom – “Parents DON”T want to be in schools with lower test scores.” And that is exactly the problem we have. Parents think that you can tell how well your son or daughter will do in high school and what college they could potentially get in by looking at the test scores of other students at a potential high school. It is totally ridiculous to see things this way. Test scores don’t tell you how good a school is. They tell you how good the students were and are. If your child tests poorly in 8th grade, they will most likely have issues with testing for the ACT. If your child tends to score 99%’s all the time in 8th grade, they will get scores in the 30’s on their ACT regardless of their high school. I’m sure the teachers at Senn or any of the neighborhood schools in the safer areas of the city would be able to fully educate your children and they would do very well on their ACT’s, and get into amazing universities, etc. The only reason I look at test scores at schools is to gauge the amount of students that are college bound and that care about education. Looking at crime statistics and drop out rates would be something else to look at. I don’t want my child going to school with a bunch of “gang bangers” or kids that feel it is cool to not do their homework and ignore or hassle the teacher. For that, I guess looking at scores tells you something but add 30% more kids from the neighborhood and everything is different for that graduating class. Everything.

  • 167. CPS Mom  |  July 30, 2015 at 11:16 am

    @165…Thank you for pointing out what my post came off sounding like. Obviously, those children testing in belonged there. I didn’t mean to sound like I was referring to the Senn situation specifically, just test scores in general.

    Would her motivation have been driven by financing? More Spec Ed teachers? I don’t get it. Why would she exclude students who tested in?

  • 168. CPS Dad  |  July 30, 2015 at 11:33 am

    @167… I think you’re on the right track with financing. People keep talking about test scores, but a student that tested into Senn’s Arts Program probably would have scored OK as a junior. Why take a risk to exclude them? But if enrolling that student meant staffing new inclusion classrooms, Senn’s principal might have seen that as a drain on limited resources.

  • 169. mom2  |  July 30, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    CPS Dad, I thought that the more special ed students a school has, the more funding they get. So, in essence, there could actually be a financial advantage to having more special ed kids because they get more money for more teachers or whatever they need. Is that not the case?

  • 170. CPS Dad  |  July 30, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    @169… I don’t know the details, but CPS probably allocates special ed funding more by numbers than by the IEP. We have a child in CPS who needed specific specialized services for a short time. Nobody at our school disputed what was in the IEP, but there were constant obstacles over scheduling access to the people our child needed and we never really got all of what the IEP specified. It’s not like every special ed student comes with money for their very own personal teacher. Probably high schools are even more complicated with students taking so many classes. Maybe Senn’s principal felt like there was no way to provide the services requested?

    I don’t know… I’m just guessing like everyone else.

  • 171. mom2  |  July 30, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    Thank you. I don’t know either.

  • 172. klm  |  July 30, 2015 at 5:07 pm


    Thing is…..anybody that’s attended low-scoring schools, then attended a high-scoring school (like me) knows that there’s a difference in the totality of experience that their child will receive in terms of norms, expectations, what is considered “excellent,” social behavior, knowledge of how to behave, talk and dress in certain social settings, etc.

    That’s what people are concerned about.

    I really, really wish in my heart of hearts that it wouldn’t much matter whether one’s kid that scores well in 8th grade attends New Trier, Amundsen, Taft, Northside, Wells, Morgan Park, Payton, Robeson or Wherever HS, in terms of where their expectations, life knowledge, world view and awareness of what it takes to succeed in today’s economy. However, my own life’s experience (I know I’m repeating myself and being narcissistic) and what I’ve read, heard, experienced , seen, etc., in terms of how “norms” and “expectations” affect learning, outcomes, etc., makes me think that maybe somebody that thinks twice before sending their kids to a HS with a low average ACT and high drop-out rate isn’t just being kinda’ silly or paranoid. There’s so much that goes into being “educated,” “prepared” and “on the right track” for college, entree into the middle-class, etc.

    I don’t for a second doubt that a student that goes IB at Senn, for example, can receive a “good” education and preparation for higher education success. I know it’s true. But, there’s more to it than that –there’s “peer influences” and overall “norms” in terms of where classmates seem to be going in life, what they seem to know about the economy, higher education, etc.. Knowing what I know about what an advantage it is to go to a HS where the average level of achievement is relatively high, as opposed to one where it’s low —it really makes me think twice (and I’m a strong CPS supporter who’s all pro-socioeconomic diversity). I don’t care where other kids at my kids’ schools live, what kind of family income they have, their parents’ education, etc., IF the schools a “good” one in terms of achievement and outcome (and there are CPS schools like that), but sending them to low-performing schools likely will lead to lower expectations and smaller area for examining and considering all that the world has to offer, in terms of careers, college, places to live, explore, etc. I LOVE the fact that my kids (real examples, here) sit in class (at their high-performing CPS schools) with kids whose parents are lawyers that went to Princeton AND with kids with working-class parents from Mexico that speak heavily-accented English. Yes, yes, to that!

    I think what people fear the most is a school that stifles their kids’ chances through a narrow world view (for whatever reason) and lowered expectations.

    Don’t judge too much –where kids go to school often really does affect their life’s trajectory, right or wrong. People just want what’s best for their kids, in this sense, –they’re not necessarily acting out solely on their “inner snob.”

  • 173. Olly L  |  July 30, 2015 at 7:07 pm

    “Parents DON”T want to be in schools with lower test scores.”

    That would include every CPS school except for 1 or 2 (depending how much time they spend on test prep).

  • 174. Social capital  |  July 30, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    “there’s “peer influences” and overall “norms” in terms of where classmates seem to be going in life, what they seem to know about the economy, higher education, etc.. ” Yes all that can make or break the future life success of a kid who comes from a home where no one ever left the ghetto. But it is not going to make or break a kid with a mom like klm. or a kid from a family with multi-generations in the upper middle class who has been steeped in this social capital since birth.

  • 175. klm  |  July 31, 2015 at 9:22 am


    The problem is, frankly, that “a kid with multi-generations in the upper-middle class” is not going to be attending a low-scoring CPS HS. And it the same for white families or the Black Bourgeoisie (Valerie Jarrett went to a prep school in New England [the same on my black spouse from an upper-middle class family attended] and her kids went to Lab).


    So kids at that HS will not meet upper-middle class kids at school, only ones from working-class and low-income households. And please don’t get me wrong –I grew up poor, I’m all happy about my own kids having classmates that are from working-class and low-income households, really. I know that good parenting is not necessarily connected to family income. I’m 100% all for socio-economic mixing. Problem is, at most low-scoring non-SE CPS HS’s there is virtually no socio-economic mixing going on.

    In the same way that sometimes it’s not always best (in terms of diversity awareness) for kids to grow in an almost 100% white upper-middle class “bubble” and go to school with only kids like themselves, removed from different people., etc., the same can be said for kids in mostly non-white, low-income neighborhoods –they create their own “bubbles.” The sun doesn’t rise and set over Lake Forest, but it doesn’t rise and set over Uptown or the Westside, either. As much as nobody growing up in a mostly white upper-middle class area should expect everybody else to talk, dress and act just like them to be “acceptable,” kids that grow up in working-class urban areas should not expect everybody else to talk, dress and act just like them, either, but it happens, believe me. As somebody who grew up in such an environment (low-income, urban), I know that this kind of everybody-should-be-like-me thing goes down as much with people in low-income urban areas as it does with Junior League social events in Winnetka or the Gold Coast –maybe even more so, since people in those areas often have a chip on their shoulder because of the ‘stigma’ of where they live).

    And that’s the issue. Now, I know and I believe that many CPS HSs have great counselors, teachers and mentors to get kids interested in college and aware of all the opportunities that exist out in the Big Wide World. However, many CPS HSs seem to have kids doing the typical “urban” low-income route: local college/community college lower-tier or state school, which may or may not work out (i.e., not really expanding life experiences, since these kids are still in the same ‘hood, colleges with low graduation rates, etc.).

    There are plenty of upper-middle class kids in the high-scoring CPS schools. However, the disparities in achievement between the “good/acceptable” and “bad/unacceptable” CPS schools is often so, so, so enormous (as in truly shocking) that it gives many educated, professional types cause to raise their hands up and say “no way.”

    And I don’t entirely blame them, really.

    What needs to happen at schools like Senn (let’s cross our fingers that its IB will do it), Amundsen, etc., is for there to be a SE component, like at LPHS. 30+ years ago, LPHS (the old Waller HS) was widely perceived as one of the (if not THE) most dysfunctional, scary schools in CPS (which is really saying something). It was “transformed” first, by changing its name (the old one had such a stigma –it may have well been named the Cabrini Green Gangs High School For Low Achievement and Violence). Gradually, things changed. Even now, there are still some middle/upper-middle parents that aren’t sure/convinced, even with the the excellent IB program that has produced a generations of smart, well-prepared alumni that have gone on and done well (because they were well prepared for the best colleges, not just naturally ‘smart’) at U-C, Ivies, etc.

    Taft IB is going the direction of LPIB. Taft is no longer a no-way-in-hell school, so there’s one good example.

    Only then will lots of people feel more comfortable.

    When there’s a 10+ point difference in average ACT scores and things like 0-2% of students “exceeding” standards and most not meeting, vs. 90%+ meeting and 40% “exceeding” at certain suburban open-enrollment HS’s, then people are not outta’ nowhere wondering about what kind of experience their kids will have at, say, Amundsen or Shurz, vs. Stevenson, Hinsdale Central, Payton, etc.

    And not just “upper” middle-class, people, either.

    It’s not just about the fact that upper-middle class kids won’t meet as many kids wearing Brooks Brothers button-downs and Sperry top-siders or look like a future Chi Omega at UVA. It’s about the measured level of learning (as measured by achievement) that people see online.

    People move in droves to CPS schools when their scores are high, no matter the makeup of the student body. That’s why you had Rauner’s daughter wanting to go to Payton (before Dartmouth), the children of partners at Baker McKenzie at Jones, etc. There are upper-middle class white kids galore at LaSalle, Lincoln, Bell, …..etc. If the average levels of achievement are high, educated middle/upper-middle class people will send their kids to a CPS school, happily –and they’ll be all happy (almost to the point that they’re obnoxious) about their love of “diversity.”

    But there has to be some kind of proven/measured levels of achievement for that to happen.

  • 176. Maria G  |  August 1, 2015 at 8:50 am

    “That’s why you had Rauner’s daughter wanting to go to Payton (before Dartmouth), the children of partners at Baker McKenzie at Jones, etc. There are upper-middle class white kids galore at LaSalle, Lincoln, Bell, …..etc.”

    The top private school options are very limited so of course many have no choice but CPS. There are thousands of upper middle class families and kids at any given grade level but maybe 100 or so spots in total at the top privates. The public schools in the burbs aren’t great either. Those CPS schools aren’t horrible, and the kids are bright to begin with, but they just will not be able to reach their full potential. When you have limited choices you do the best you can (i.e cream of the crap). Some day the public school system in the US may get better, but things only appear to be getting worse. And common core will help accelerate that decline. Maybe that is why Arne Duncan is sending his kids to UofC Lab.

  • 177. klm  |  August 1, 2015 at 10:41 am


    It’s certainly true that lots of families end up using CPS when their kids don’t get into, not only the Big Three N-12 privates, (Latin, Lab, Parker), but also the N-8 “good” privates: City Day, FXW, Catherine Cook, Sacred Heart, etc. Anybody that been through the admissions process at these schools without a “hook” (alumni connection, sibling, offspring of faculty, big donor parents, good friend of a Board Member, etc.) understands the supply and demand, seemingly arbitrary nature (talk about a crap shoot if one’s just another white, upper-middle class family from Lincoln Park or the Gold Coast with no connections or ‘hooks’).

    That said, if Rauner really wanted to get his daughter to get into Latin, Lab or Parker, I’m 99.9% he could have made it happens, considering his enormous wealth and financial connections, especially considering that his daughter is academically talented enough to be “admissible” to Dartmouth (even with the help of a super rich alumnus for a parent, she couldn’t have been a lazy, half-wit).

    Thing is, about “the public school system in the US”: I know that there’s room for improvement, but it seems to serve most/many kids fairly well. In all the international tests (PISA, TIMMS, etc.) the US often is middling, but when one compares, for example white kids in the US to white kids in Western Europe, US kids do pretty well. Same when comparing American Asian kids to Asian kids in Asia. it’s the enormous achievement gap with black and Latino kids that brings down the average, which is so upsetting on many levels. However, other rich countries like France, Germany, Sweden, etc., have achievement gaps just as large with “immigrant” kids, it’s just that the relative %, compared to the US is lower.

    Also, I know that we have lots of “lousy” American public schools, but we have some good ones, too, that foreign families from places like France (there’s a whole group of educated, professional French families at Lincoln taking advantage of EFAC and they seem happy about the levels of learning, when I talk to them), Germany, China, Sweden, …etc., also think are good (I talk to them about it). We’re not alone in this. People in the UK go private or move for “good” state-supported school for their kids, like, all the time. People in France pay more to live in neighborhoods with high-performing schools, many French people are upset by the current state of learning in their schools (kids that can’t write effectively, don’t know grammar, etc.) –I’ve heard them talk about it, etc. Apparently, a big debate in Sweden (per Swedish parents that I’ve talked to) is about why public schools seem to be so much worse at getting kids learning than in neighboring Finland, despite that Swedes spend as much, if not more (sound familiar?), etc. . And on and on.

    There’s room for improvement and we need to do something about the achievement gap, but the idea that American public schools are, over all, a joke compared to those in other rich countries is, I would argue, simply not true. And this is coming from a parent that obsesses over average levels of achievement, is often critical of math instruction, etc. Friends of ours from the UK found their kids’ American public schools more effective than the ones they attended back in England, for example. I know it’s just one example, but there are many others, too.

  • 178. Kate  |  August 1, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Is it possible Senn princ. is taking the Fall for others’ actions? My Spec Ed kid was told he would be unlikely to be Accepted to Senn’s magnet program we appplied to because they “couldnt” accommodate him [I was told this by a teacher/director, not the Principal). He wasnt accepted to that program. Of course I was fuming because that is not legal. I have a complaint written up and have to file it.

  • 179. CPSer  |  August 3, 2015 at 7:45 am

    “There’s room for improvement and we need to do something about the achievement gap, but the idea that American public schools are, over all, a joke compared to those in other rich countries is, I would argue, simply not true”

    I urge you to read Whistling Vivaldi. It talks about the achievement gap and how and possibly why it exists at even the best universities. Very eye opening.

  • 180. Vikingmom  |  August 3, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    @klm 175
    klm, I mostly enjoy your thoughtful posts but am puzzled over this: “What needs to happen at schools like Senn (let’s cross our fingers that its IB will do it), Amundsen, etc., is for there to be a SE component, like at LPHS.”
    This IS what is and has been happening, over the past several years, at Amundsen. My daughter is entering her senior year there, and has been enrolled in the IB program since freshman year. Her fellow IB classmates all work rigorously on their grades, completed ACT test prep, and are currently looking at colleges. But I also don’t want this to indicate that the rest of the students are hopeless bozos. Sure, there are undoubtedly a few who don’t care about school; those are not the kind of kids my daughter would choose to hang out with. She has fellow volleyball/softball teammates who chose the AP route, in some cases because they could not make it through the IB program. They are not any less focused on their education.
    I am going to add here as well that the success of Amundsen is bringing parents to see this is absolutely not a “no-way-in-hell” school that it may have been years ago. My son is going into 8th grade; he and his buddies all WANT to go to Amundsen. These are kids from a couple of well-regarded magnet schools. I do not see IB as a good choice for my son and I am more than comfortable having him enroll in the “regular” program. Talking to other parents at Amundsen related events, parents whose children are getting close to high school age, also shows the opening of minds concerning this school, for which I couldn’t be happier.
    Your point about upper middle class and exposure to a diverse group is valid and well-taken. Are there students at Amundsen whose parent are partners at whatever law firm du jour? I don’t know; I suppose it is possible. Are more such parents to be found at NPY? Undoubtedly. Does this bother me? No, not really. It is not as if she isn’t exposed to greater wealth, having family who are truly upper middle class, so she can see the accoutrements that come with that lifestyle (I, with a masters in a humanities field and a comfortable, certainly not sterling, salary that goes along with my position in the same field, and a husband in sales, don’t really fall in the UMC definition, at least salary wise). But let’s not forget these are high school kids. They don’t know or really care what the other’s parents do for a living.

  • 181. mom2  |  August 3, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Vikingmom – don’t you think that having the selective IB program at Amundsen is one of the biggest reasons why parents started being willing to come in and look at the school and why some parents feel comfortable sending their kids there now? Being able to say “my daughter got into the IB program at Amundsen” or “my son was selected for the IB program” allows a parent to brag a little and initially (when the school still had a so-so reputation) not feel shame that their child wasn’t going to the top 5 SE schools or Lincoln Park IB. I think KLM is right that schools need this, at least to get them started. Then, once the study body has changed, more kids will go into the regular program at the school willingly and with enthusiasm.

    I’ve heard such great things about Amundsen that we will consider it for our next kid – even the regular program. I’d really like to see the same thing happen with Lake View but their STEM program isn’t selective the way I think it needs to be to attract these families. I’ve heard great things about Lake View (really incredible things), but they don’t seem to have the same amount of marketing going into it and not the same selective type options. Amundsen seems to have more in terms of facilities, and certainly the school grounds, too. Do you agree?

  • 182. mom2  |  August 3, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Found a new video on Lake View’s STEM program. Sounds great but again, not hearing about it without searching it out myself. Pretty cool.

  • 183. @Mom2  |  August 3, 2015 at 3:46 pm

    I take offense to you saying that parents can “brag” about getting into Amundsen IB program since you didn’t get into the top 5 SE enrollment HSs. Let’s examine the average ACT scores of 4 out of the as you put it bottom 5 SE HSs. Amundsen IB ACT 17…hmmm now surely the parents of Brooks & Lindblom avg ACT 23 AND King & Westinghouse average ACT 20 can also “brag.” But then again is it to brag or say that you can be be confident that your child is being well educated. You wonder why Southsiders mostly lurk but never post…

  • 184. mom2  |  August 3, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    @183 – I’m sorry you took offense. I assume you are a Westinghouse, Brooks or Lindbloom parent or live near one or more of those schools. I wasn’t trying to say anything negative about those schools by talking about “the top 5 SE high schools.” I’ve been on this site a long time and so many people here live north and would only consider schools near downtown (Jones or WY), near north (Payton) or schools that are on the north side of the city (Lane or NSCP). They don’t think of the other SEHS’s because they are either much too far a commute or they would have to either pass through some dangerous neighborhoods to get there. That doesn’t mean they aren’t wonderful schools, filled with very smart kids, where a child could get an amazing education.

    By not mentioning them, that plays no role in what I was saying which is that many parents won’t consider a neighborhood high school (anywhere in the city) if they feel it has ONLY kids that aren’t college bound or don’t care about education, etc. By going to a school where at least some kids have that path in life and that ability, you can hope anyway that your child will become friendly with that crowd and won’t let peer pressure guide them in the wrong direction. Having a selective element in a neighborhood high school worked very well with Lincoln Park (where parents gave it a chance). I was trying to show that doing that at other neighborhood high schools would help and was trying to think of the psychology behind why it worked at Lincoln Park. Sorry you somehow thought my comments had something to do with other SE high schools. It wasn’t my intention to slight anyone or any other school.

  • 185. @Mom2  |  August 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    Ok–you missed a school (King) that I listed above & I can think of one more Kenwood Academy (avg ACT 19). Although King is in Bronzeville it on the outskirts and might as well be in Hyde Park like Kenwood. You can take the Metra & one other bus and viola you are there from the northside. It’s not dangerous from the Northside to all schools on the southside…just sayin’. Nice apology & I get what you saying.

  • 186. xyzzy2  |  August 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    @179. CPSer:
    “I urge you to read Whistling Vivaldi. It talks about the achievement gap and how and possibly why it exists at even the best universities. Very eye opening.”

    I haven’t read Whistling Vivaldi, but from the Amazon book reviews, I got some clue about the book. While stereotypes indeed can affect us in a subtle way, attributing academic achievement gaps to social factors (such as stereotypes) is rather a huge stretch.

    I grew up in a country where racial stereotype is a nonfactor, I still observed big achievement gaps of students from different kinds of families (not by income level at all). In my humble opinion, parental influence/expectations plays a much bigger rule in a child’s achievement later on. 18 years of trying to gain parental approval vs how some random people may think about you, it’s obvious.

    Back to the topic, I think
    ‘a good CPS school’ = the schools in which the number of students, whose parents have high expectations of them, reaches a critical mass.

  • 187. HS Mom  |  August 3, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    @185 – There are 11 selective enrollment schools

    Kenwood is not on the list and you missed South Shore and Hancock.

    The discussion centers on how to make neighborhood schools (any neighborhood school) more appealing so that kids don’t have to take the Metra and multiple buses to get to school.

    Kenwood seems to be doing something right. Is it because they have a selective component, as suggested?

  • 188. @HS Mom  |  August 3, 2015 at 10:41 pm

    Yes, Kenwood has a magnet program. You turn the applications into the school but OAE manages the lottery. Kenwood keeps most of the AC students, has magnet school students (with certain criteria) and is a neighborhood school. Parents who live in Hyde Park (the neighborhood students) have high expectations as well. Remember Kenwood had the student that had the most scholarship money EVER awarded to a student in CPS history!!!

  • 189. @HS Mom  |  August 3, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Including coverage of her breaking the record! had two articles but they are awaiting moderation!

  • 190. HS Mom  |  August 4, 2015 at 7:08 am

    Yes, I would agree that Kenwood is a successful neighborhood school. Just like Hancock that now has a selective component. They are not IB schools. So, what KLM and mom2 are suggesting is already being done successfully.

    I would think it would be a very attractive feature for a school to have both IB and a test in general college prep program.

  • 191. mom2  |  August 4, 2015 at 9:22 am

    HS Mom – thank you for helping clarify my point. I appreciate it. It does sound like Kenwood is doing exactly what I’m suggesting we do with other neighborhood high schools that want to improve their test scores/student body, reputation, etc. You must test to get into the AC program, that starts the ball rolling. It seems like that works and so I’d like to see it added in other places that currently don’t have it.

    Many of us would like to be able to send our kids to a school close to home. There are so many advantages to having friends that live nearby (I can’t tell you the hassle of trying to do a group project on the weekends with kids all across the city – been there/done that) and the feeling of community and the added time for sports and clubs and music or whatever rather than spending time on the bus or the train. The list goes on and on.

  • 192. klm  |  August 4, 2015 at 9:30 am


    I guess I did know that these schools had SE IB components, but was kinda’thinking that it may take a while to get things rollings, in terms of awareness, changes in perception, etc. But, as you point out, it’s already happening.

    I guess my talk of different classes, etc., has to do with the idea that if a CPS HS is perceived as a “good” one, it will have no problem attracting people who can easily move to Wilmette or Hinsdale (not necessarily to live in big mansions, but with just enough money to live in fairly basic, regular, 2,000 s.f. homes that don’t cost more [or even less than some neighborhoods of Chicago, in many instances] than they would in many parts of Chicago FOR THE SCHOOLS).

    I KNOW most people couldn’t afford even such a home, but there are plenty of town homes, modest ranches, rentals, etc., in places like Naperville, Buffalo Grove, even Deerfield and Libertyville, etc., that make suburban, high-achievement public schools (especially HSs) relatively do-able for “middle-class” people that live in Chicago and that aren’t “stuck” here because of being city employees.

    It’s surprising how many public school kids in places like Highland Park, Glenview and Barrington qualify for free/reduced lunch, for example. People don’y have to be rich to live in these places and if one has enough money to live in Roscoe Village, Edgebrook, etc., (never mind Lincoln Park withing walking distance of the zoo), they can do this.

    One does not have to be rich to live in school district with a HS where the average ACT score is in the 25-27 range and that’s where the challenge of keeping people in Chicago with a “good” HS carrot/option comes in. I’ve known so, so many people that were happy to stay in Chicago for K-8 because they knew their kids were getting an excellent education at LaSalle, Bell, etc., but HS was a different story, so they moved when the oldest was going into 9th. Even if the oldest was a “high scorer” one or more of the other kids were not (so SE or SICP aren’t options).

    Anybody that buys/rents in any decent neighborhood in Chicago is aware that city real estate is not cheap.

    And that’s the real “problem.” Genuinely upper-middle class (people that can easily live anywhere or pay private tuition at one of the ‘good’ private schools, if their kid gets into one [which is an issue, too, believe me]) aren’t going to ever really consider certain non-SE CPS HSs, since their scores –no matter the excellent certain parts of the school are– go way up.

    And that’s the sad reality.

    Now, I think the “target market” for many non-SE CPS HSs are middle-class families that COULD move, but want to stay and are willing to give schools a try, if they are informed, take tours, talk with the dedicated faculty, administration, see kids that they’d be happy for their own kids to be friends with, etc.

    I could see that happen –it seems to already be happening, in many instances.

    The issue is for people that live in Bell or Blaine school districts and that live in homes that cost $1-4m (and many such people happily send their kids to Bell and Blaine –expensive luxury homes in these areas tout the Bell or Blaine ‘enrollment district’ as selling points). Now, will these kinds of people send their kids to LVHS? As of now, no. These people will just move so that their kids can go to New Trier, Hinsdale Central, or Deerfield for HS, unless CPS SE works out, or they get into SICP, etc. However, most kids, even upper-middle class ones (especially Tier 4 where it tale 50 points more to get into Lane than a Tier 1 kid to get into Northside), aren’t going to get the scores, and if one has 2,3 4 or more kids, then it’s all a big nightmare, case-by-case basis (what about the one that struggle to do grade-level work?).

    If one moves to Wilmette, all the kids are guaranteed enrollment at a school where the average ACT is 27.7, no matter how lazy or what kind of difficulty they have learning.

    As of now, schools where the ave. scores are so low and very, very few kids are “exceeding” make people worry enough to move, rather than give them a try, when automatic enrollment at a nationally recognized open-enrollment public HS is such a relative cinch.

  • 193. mom2  |  August 4, 2015 at 9:46 am

    KLM – I agree with what you are saying, but I think there are many more families that really don’t want to move, even though they could. Moving is a huge undertaking and many families really love their neighborhood and their neighbors and their home and living in the city and walking places, etc. I’m thinking that the tide is turning where these families are willing to take tours of the local neighborhood schools and may be willing to give them a try. BUT only if many of their fellow families will do the same and NOT if they are the only ones. That is why I keep trying to find a way for that to happen. I can’t tell you the number of families I’ve talked to that feel this way. I have one kid done with high school. If my kid hadn’t gotten into Lane (or some other selective IB or SEHS), we were going to move and so would most of my kid’s classmates. But with the next one, that really doesn’t seem to be the case. Many more people are talking about Lake View and Amundsen and Senn – seems to be those three for our area. But they say, “only if other kids with the same high expectations go, too.” That is the key here.

  • 194. Vikingmom  |  August 4, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    @192 and 193 — I would be lying if I said that when my daughter was not accepted into SEHS we did not consider moving. But for us that was a flash in the pan, as mom2 pointed out, really too much work. And, to play devils advocate, being a city lover, we’d be moving to a nearby suburb, where the average ACT at places like Maine East, West, or Niles North ranges from 20.5-21.7. Yes, I know, many other schools place much higher, as has been pointed out. But my point is that Niles North would have been and is perfectly acceptable to myself, and, I bet, many other people on the board here, without the 27 ACT. Clearly, the average test score was not the absolute factor for us choosing Amundsen. Someone previously stated the average Amundsen IB ACT is 17. I am not sure where that information was gleaned but that is not correct—the school is in an upward trend for the ACT in general (I want to say the average is around 18.5 ?? need to confirm), and there is no distinction made between IB kids and non IB ACT scores. To your point, klm, if there was a breakdown, this might be a better “selling point.” I don’t know if that’s possible. Anecdotally, I can tell you that the ACT scores among my daughter and her closest classmates were several points above the afore mentioned suburban range; in fact, my daughter scored higher than her best friend who attends Lane. PLEASE everyone, note that I am NOT trying to pit any school against the other. We all know how great SEHS are. I am simply trying to reiterate that a neighborhood school (which is, by the way, undergoing construction updates this summer and will not be losing funding) is a viable option for those who want to avoid a very long commute, who want to feel a sense of community, and who want an excellent education and experience.
    And mom2 I totally agree that when my daughter first started HS I felt I “had” to preface her going to Amundsen with getting into the IB program. Knowing what I know about the school over three years later I honestly feel that I don’t have to. I am so glad to hear about LV and Senn too—I can’t speak to Lakeview’s grounds or facilities, though, not having been in the school. Amundsen’s proximity to Winnemac Park though, definitely a bonus.

  • 195. @Viking Mom  |  August 4, 2015 at 2:12 pm

    I was the one who said Amudsen’s avg ACT is 17. I did not make a distinction between the IB students vs the neighborhood students. If you check the school profile page on then you will see the avg ACT is 17. Maybe the principal got the new 2015 avg ACT scores and it’s an 18 now. Also, if you read my post it wasn’t to “down” Amudsen’s avg ACT score, I was merely making a point about someone saying if you child doesn’t get into the top 5 SE enrollments because the person above made it seem like the southside SE schools weren’t great options. She clarified to say that the long commutes were the deterrents.

  • 196. Vikingmom  |  August 4, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    @195 Your post said ” Amundsen IB ACT 17″ so I presumed you were inferring that Amundsen IB students ACT score = 17. I don’t believe I indicated anywhere that you were trying to “down” anything; we are all trying to get the best out of CPS that we can. Again, I am not trying to pit any school against the other. And it is a shame that scores cannot be updated more rapidly!

  • 197. Justify?  |  August 4, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    194 — act 17 or 18.5 — what’s the diff? Scores are equally appalling.

  • 198. @Viking Mom  |  August 4, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I am sorry I mistyped. I didn’t mean to say Amudsen’s IB avg act was 17. I thought I put the avg ACT for Admudsen was 17. I know that score includes both the neighborhood students and the IB students and there is no way to distinguish the avg ACT between the two programs.

  • 199. Test Scores  |  August 5, 2015 at 9:30 am

    This thread (Dated 2012) had some reported ACT scores for IB programs around the city.

    The rest of this is either ’14-’15 or ’15-’16 data.

    One more I’ll note is Lake View High School does not have an AP program but does report that it’s top quartile ACT was 23 (AP program 22) which compares to the total school average of 18. Note that Lane Tech is at 25.

    ACT scores will generally follow the CPS Cutoff Scores, surprisingly little variance (school average, not Tier 4 cutoff):

    Assuming your child gets all 4 A’s in 7th grade, these scores translate roughly to the following percentiles (average on MAP Reading, Math & SE Exam):

    900 – 99th Percentile
    800 – 83rd Percentile
    700 – 66th Percentile
    600 – 50th Percentile

    For each B, you lose 25pts from your total. So ex. – for a student w/ all 4 Bs, testing in the 66th percentile would yield a 600.

    CPS Cutoff Scores, SE vs IB (Tier 4 for SE):

    WP – 891
    NS – 886
    J – 873
    WY – 862
    LT – 808

    Lincoln Park IB – 840
    Taft IB – 800
    Odgen IB – 657
    Senn IB – 630
    Amundsen IB – 547

    South & Southwest Side – Tier 1/2/3/4 listed below given that Tier 4 is not always the highest, function of distance.

    Hancock – 648 / 682 / 718 / 635
    Brooks – 602 / 665 / 690 / 655
    Lindblom – 606 / 665 / 676 / 629
    Westinghouse – 637 / 666 / 665 / 617

    Other 600+ IB Cutoffs:
    Back of the Yards – 623
    Curie – 676
    Hubbard – 630
    Juarez – 600
    Morgan Park – 601
    Prosser – 682
    South Shore – 607
    Washington – 650

    IB cutoff scores generally can’t rise above the minimum set by the school until the principal decides the program is “at capacity”.

    I think the IB “brag” is less about “my kid is smart” than “my kid works hard and is engaged in his/her education”. It’s also reassuring to have some certainty about having an engaged peer group of classmates.

    Finally, North Side vs South Side comparisons can be either relevant or totally irrelevant depending on where one lives. Amundsen is 10 miles North of the loop and 20+ miles away from Brooks. Yes, some of these commutes are “do-able”, but the question is are they worth it?

  • 200. Test Scores  |  August 5, 2015 at 9:47 am

    Note a similar Percentile Equivalent Chart for the ACT:

    33 – 99th Percentile
    26 – 85th Percentile
    22.5 – 66th Percentile
    20.5 – 50th Percentile

    But the caveat being different testing populations. I’d guess that one can expect the highest percentile on the MAP (broadest testing population) and lowest on the SE Enrollment exam (narrowest/highest performing) with the ACT in the middle.

    Here’s your target ACT for selective college admissions (with the Big Ten as a proxy, lots of other options of course, but one link per post):

    But note that these have trended up significantly over the past 5 and 10 years so make a mental adjustment if your children are still K-8.

  • 201. lk  |  August 5, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I find all of this interesting and sad at the same time. The National avg ACT is like 21.0. I don’t think the idea is to try to beat this score so you can say, my kid has a higher score then the National avg. This is low to begin with. I would concentrate on your kids weakness and study that. Many prep books in local libraries.

    Shooting for ACT from 24-26 will put them where most good colleges want them to be with good course work. I am not talking about all “A’s” either. I am not talking about Ivies here but just about any other known good state or private school. Don’t get scared off by the numbers. Many schools that have an avg ACT of 27/28 but take kids with ACT of 22 or lower. They have to get to the higher AVG. somehow and I just went through this.

    Funny how we are not talking about SAT’s at all here.

    IB vs AP classes. For alot of colleges they don’t take either to a degree. When a kid has 10 AP course most college will just take a few. Some IB’s do not transfer etc. College Admission get it that some AP/IB schools are not all the same. The idea of taking the most rigorous courses and classes that “your” school offers, is more important. Hard to compare the 500th ranked school to the number 1 rated school and say that their classes and AP/IB courses are all the same. Reality is they are not and college get this.

    Leadership programs and Research and being part of sports and a few clubs (don’t get club heavy in Junior year since college see right through this). Volunteering, giving back AND being a good student is what the college are after right now. Well rounded.

    Many leadership opportunities in local Churches and Synagogues and other places of worship. Food banks always need some help and so on.

    Being different is good. What makes your kid special??? Expand on that. Admission counselors are a little tired of every kid being the same carbon copy and every admission paper about saving the world/planet/’humankind….really?? Can you imagine when they read something original and passionate from your kid? It might sound quirky to you but if they are passionate about it, this is what comes through and their desire to learn.

    Also BTW- The paper comes from your kid, not from you!!!! Have them have their English teacher or somebody else besides you review their admission paper.

    I live in Wrigley area but work in Western Suburbs. Same issues we all have here. Many families moved out there and have great houses with no furniture, from what I am being told. Good school systems but on college ratings the City schools actually seem to fair better. Great parent support out there.

    I would look for a school that has a high admission rate to the colleges you are after and forget if it is AP or IB per se.

    My point is there are most likely schools non IB that have better chances of your kid getting into a decent college. A bad IB program is not a better program.

    On the topic of going to local schools……we moved to Lakeview/Wrigley in 92….no chance on local schools so we went private. But now going to Blaine, Hamilton or Hawthorne, Nettlehorse ,Lakeview etc is the norm and all because of parent and local community support. I am jealous. If parents support the local schools and stay active with the local schools, then they become good local schools.

  • 202. Test Scores  |  August 5, 2015 at 11:26 am

    RE: lk

    Yes I would note that only ~65% of high school students ever enroll in college and only ~60-70% of those graduate within 6 years (40% of total high school student population).

    So 50th-66th Percentile is basically the floor for “college ready” not the average.

    But keep in mind many of the scores I posted are “cutoffs” not averages.

  • 203. lk  |  August 5, 2015 at 11:57 am


    I was just speaking from real world experience since I just went through this and have another one to go through it with again. Both kids with totally different grade spectrum and sorta left vs right brain kids.

    I also called some very good local/ private schools and yes some higher end ones like Northwestern and just asked what they look for. Once you get passed the first one minute of “canned” college speak and ask some questions they tend to open up a lot. Alot of the admissions people are recent graduates also and tend to “spill” the beans per se and things you will never read about in the glossy college brochures with every ethnic type of the from cover…lol):

    By calling and your kids calling you are actually being tracked by that school. YOU want to be tracked! If it is between you and another person with identical grades/scores/ extra stuff and you showed interest and called and visited and they did not…….which one would you take….this came directly from Northwestern):

    If your kids “really” want a certain school outside of Ivies, start to make connections now. Like have your kids ask questions and email on their own and not through their parents. If local enough or day trip away go visit and make a personal connection and visit classes etc. If kids are just themselves this all comes through. It is not all about grades and scores. They want to see what kids they can actually teach.

    And for Pete’s sake make sure your kids are not doing stupid things on social media and have them make different accounts that are open vs closed. Yes…….colleges will look to a degree. One quick google of your kid will show alot.

    Gotta go google my own kid now….HA…

  • 204. HSObsessed  |  August 5, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    @lk – Just want to say thank you for posting both times, very interesting and useful. We’re about to embark on the college search process. My kid has a rigorous course load, pretty good grades and will likely have strong test scores, but is not at all a joiner and never has been. Not interested in sports, no school clubs. She does take classes outside school in her areas of interest during the summers and even in the school year, so I’m hoping that will suffice in making her not look like a loser on her application! We’re going to cast a wide net in terms of visiting a lot of schools near and far, big and small, selective v. less selective. We’ll see how it all goes…

  • 205. lk  |  August 5, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    HI HSobsessed,

    Thanks for the kind words. I have another post with video’s that was from a great article like “Your kids not getting into Harvard” but it says it is awaiting moderation……not sure if I did something wrong….but it is very powerful for us parents to read in 2014

    You said: She does take classes outside school in her areas of interest during the summers and even in the school year.

    This is what makes your kid different!!):. She actually has interests and passions… with it!!!

    Meet with heads of departments etc at the schools. Just don’t take the school tour and leave. If she is a good communicator, she will shine.

  • 206. HSObsessed  |  August 6, 2015 at 11:56 am

    @205 – Thanks for the tip on Rox and Roll; I read the blog entries from March 2015 — great stuff. For anyone who wants more on similar topics, Grown and Flown is another site aimed at parents of kids who are about 15 to 20, and much of it is about applying to college, leaving for college, etc. I’m reading it all voraciously and might have to update my moniker to CollegeObsessed.

  • 207. Chicago School GPS  |  August 7, 2015 at 11:04 am

    The Common App was released earlier this month and you can find decision plans, deadlines, fees and requirements for schools accepting the Common App in this handy chart:

  • 208. Vikingmom  |  August 7, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    @lk Thanks very much — we are going through the college visiting process and your advice, esp about wanting to be tracked, is really helpful. Question I was just thinking about—Common app v. school app. (when a school has their own application but also accepts the common app) — is there any difference in terms of how they are received/reviewed?

  • 209. Mom of College Son  |  August 7, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Hi, we just went through this process and regarding the common app vs. the school app. My son just graduated from NCP and the high school counselors told the students that they wanted them to always use the common application, if that option was available. I am sure that it does not make a difference.

  • 210. lk  |  August 7, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    Vikingmom….according to every school we called and asked and visited…..NO….use the common app.

    remember some school do not use the common app.

    There is not like a pile for common apps and another one for “whatever” school apps

  • 211. Vikingmom  |  August 7, 2015 at 3:31 pm

    @209 and 210 — thanks very much, and please keep your college application advice coming! We have nine schools on our current list. It’s a different world world now — my sister and I were talking about how we each applied to exactly one college — thank goodness we were accepted. 😉

  • 212. HS Mom  |  September 9, 2015 at 9:02 pm

    The 2016 college rankings are out

    UIC and SIU both made large gains ranking wise. IIT, Loyola and DePaul ranked well.

    Is anyone else now getting ads on this site or is it just my computer?

    Thanks and happy researching!

  • 213. Robin in WRP  |  September 9, 2015 at 9:11 pm

    Are you using Chrome, and an adblocker or three? if not, that should eliminate the ads.

  • 214. hs mom  |  September 9, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Tried blocker and chrome – still getting ad at the bottom of the CPSO topic dialog when you enter the comments section…….ugh

  • 215. Robin in WRP  |  September 9, 2015 at 9:37 pm

    Weird. I don’t see any ads…

  • 216. HS Mom  |  September 9, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    Thanks – must be my computer

  • 217. lk  |  September 9, 2015 at 10:20 pm

    no ads on my computer either.

    Can’t really judge the colleges by these type of ranks.

    It is nice but if you search engineering you will see U of I, Wisconsin, Purdue,Georgia tech etc way up on the list like top 10 or so.

    So if your kid is going into communication or business, medicine/science I would search for schools accordingly.

    Plus there are so many fantastic smaller schools that are no where to be found on these lists but with very good post employment rates or getting into graduate schools at high rates.

    I actually like niche and college confidential (if it is updated) to read about student comments about the schools but be aware they are loaded with people that really didn’t like the schools but if you read between the lines I think you get a nice idea about the programs

  • 218. Hsmom  |  September 11, 2015 at 9:15 am

    This is the 3rd computer I’ve tried. If you are reading this and in the comments section (actually any of the comment sections), page up to the original post and you will see an ad. This is new. And annoying.

  • 219. robin in WRP  |  September 11, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t see an ad; never have. I have tried three different computers (that I set up with Chrome and multiple ad-blockers)

  • 220. feeder schools  |  September 11, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    I saw one and this explanation:

    “About These Ads

    The site you just visited is part of There are two reasons why you might see ads on a site:

    The site is part of the WordAds program and has elected to show ads to earn money from their site.

    The site is one of the sites hosted on that is on our free plan. We run ads on these sites to help cover costs but these types of ads are run sparingly in an attempt to interfere as little as possible with the experience of reading a site.”

  • 221. HS Mom  |  September 11, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    @220 – Yes, that’s it. Just wanted to let CPSO know.

  • 222. HSObsessed  |  September 13, 2015 at 9:53 pm

    On Saturday, a new Dept of Ed website was launched that allows many different ways to search for data on colleges. Very fresh data, easy to use.

  • 223. alexwhite921  |  November 19, 2015 at 9:32 am

    really cool

  • 224. Ronnell  |  February 29, 2016 at 9:14 am

    Those essays (in the New York Times) were incredibly insulting…

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