selectED – Movie about SEHS with focus on Whitney Young

October 17, 2015 at 2:33 pm 86 comments


You may recall I mentioned a documentary movie that was being made last year about the Selective Enrollment high school process and experience, focused on Whitney Young.  The movie has been shown/accepted at several film festivals and is finally ready for viewing and will be shown at Young this upcoming week on Oct 19, 20, 21, and 22 (Mon – Thurs.)

The movie is very engaging and gives some great insight about the selective enrollment high school experience for a range of students.  It is, of course, a unique way to learn more about Whitney Young and the administration and students as well as the competitive (and sometimes stressful) experience in being in a school full of very intelligent kids.  There is true drama in the film and best of all, a rare chance to see one of the SEHS up close and personal.

FYI I am interviewed in the movie (and as a pointer, if you are ever going to be interviewed for a movie, brush your hair well and put on lipstick — this will be abundantly clear if you see me.)

Get movie tickets here

Film synopsis:

Through the not-for-profit documentary selectED which combines unscripted programming and original music, we will tell the magical story of Whitney M. Young Magnet High School and its leaders, students, teachers and parents. SelectED will illustrate to the world the great things that are going on at Whitney Young. It takes the audience through a school that is a true melting pot, a unique environment that broadens and enhances students’ education, tolerance levels and world views. It shows what is possible when every student is on a level playing field where they can realize the school’s tradition of excellence.

We will reach people interested in education, diversity, excellence, community and more specifically, the magic which is Whitney M. Young Magnet High School.

Entry filed under: High school. Tags: , , , .

Fall 2015: Applying to Academic Centers and Intl Gifted Programs Stress in SE High Schools

86 Comments Add your own

  • 1. sloose  |  October 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Your post prompted me to finally go and get my ticket! I did not know you would make an appearance–very exciting! I am very curious to see if this comports with our reality. With one year behind us, my own perspective has changed quite a bit.

  • 2. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 17, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    1. sloose | October 17, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Is your student an ackie or HS? What has changed after the first year of being your child being at WY to change your perspective?

  • 3. Robin in WRP  |  October 17, 2015 at 5:57 pm

    My daughter was an Ackie, and stayed for high school (despite a 1.5-2.5 hour commute, each way)

  • 4. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 17, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    So did my child and the ones that are there now.

  • 5. Neil J  |  October 17, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Is there a place to see the movie if not at Young this week?

  • 6. DK  |  October 17, 2015 at 8:37 pm

    WY is the only place to see the movie this week.

  • 7. I've been at this a long time and still can't figure it out  |  October 17, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    “… every student is on a level playing field?” I’m not sure what that means in CPS? The resources pumped into selective enrollment high schools (and, on the flipside, sucked out of our neighborhood schools), make it difficult for me to image a “level playing field.”

  • 8. Monriesqa  |  October 18, 2015 at 8:54 am

    Sounds good! Do they address why Jones has moved ahead of Young in SEHS desirability and rankings? I don’t get it.

  • 9. Parent of a 6 grader (CPR Charter school)  |  October 19, 2015 at 8:43 am

    I visited WY on Saturday for the Open House event. I am impressed and want my child to be admitted. I’m stressing just as much, even more I can say, then my child is. I’m thinking of the financial piece, if my child can attend a high quality high school then I don’t have to pay 4 yrs at a private h.s.

  • 10. JonesParent16  |  October 19, 2015 at 9:15 am

    @ 8. Hi, Jones parent here. I haven’t seen the selectEd yet , but I do want to point out (though Jones and Young were neck and neck before) Jones jumped ahead over three years ago and have held steady since. In fact, Newsweek’s highly regarded “Top 500 High Schools” ranks Jones at number 43 NATIONWIDE; Payton and Northside rank 10 and 12 respectively, I think. Young didn’t even make the list.
    Not gloating at all, just providing info.

  • 11. Jen K  |  October 19, 2015 at 9:35 am

    @10 WY wasn’t ranked because data was submitted incorrectly per an email from the Principal shortly after this list was published. And nothing wrong with being proud of your your own school choice and promoting it.

    I’d like also say: look for the best fit for your child. Doesn’t matter if a school is ranked #1 or 100 or 1000 as long as it’s the best fit.

    Will also comment for those of you looking at 7th grade at WY…it’s pretty much boot camp. So. Much. Homework. Multiple hours every night, and on weekends. If your kid doesn’t love to spend time on school work, don’t even bother. My kid loved the extra math packets and optional projects in elementary, so the homework, to her, isn’t an issue. I’m the one with the issue 🙂

  • 12. Anonymous  |  October 19, 2015 at 10:34 am

    @10–Ditto to Jen K, Whitney wasn’t ranked because their data was submitted incorrectly. Also, if we are fact checking, Jones hasn’t surpassed Whitney in any Newsweek rankings where they have both submitted scores. 2013–Jones was ranked 138 and Whitney ranked 55, and in 2014–Jones was ranked 214 and Whitney ranked 138

  • 13. CPS parent  |  October 19, 2015 at 11:11 am

    To JonesParent- Whitney Young did not make the list this year for Newsweek’s highly regarded “Top 500 High Schools” because of an ERROR in the submission and then Newsweek could not re add them. That is the only reason. Whitney Young is still in in the top 3-4 schools in Chicago. WY has 9 Semifinalists in the 2015 National
    Merit Scholarship Program and Payton has 11. Jones has 0. In 2013 WY had 15, Payton & NS had 10, Jones had 0.
    Jones has pulled ahead because grade school students are attracted by the new facility and therefore higher scoring kids are putting Jones above WY in their entrance ranking. It has nothing to do with the scores that WY has.

    State and National Rankings take into account ALL student grades and WY has 2200 student BUT if you take the top 1100 students at WY and compare their scores to the 1100 students that are enrolled at Jones and Payton… I am sure WY’s scores would be right at the top.

    Please compare apples to apples and provide CORRECT INFO if you are going to provide info.

    To Jen K- I have had 2 freshman at WY (one currently) and if your child has been prepared by their grade school then the homework is not bad. We did not find it to be boot camp at all. All teachers are different though at all schools. There are always the hard ones and the easy ones.

  • 14. Ogden International HS parent  |  October 19, 2015 at 11:27 am

    I am looking forward to seeing this movie with my daughter. As an alum of Whitney Young I cant think of a better place for High School. We are currently at Ogden- 7th grade. I love Ogden too! We could very well stay at Ogden for High School , the IB Diploma program is fantastic. Feeling fortunate!

  • 15. SoxSideIrish4  |  October 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    I don’t know if I’d compare ackies to boot camp, but if your child doesn’t come from a strong elementary school, it may be. My kids never had/and do not have a problem with it.

    No matter where I was at in my venture of getting my kids into one of the four elite SEHS, I would always check the math curriculum. WY is the IL State Math Champions. WY and Payton have the strongest math program. Jones and NCP do not.

    14. Ogden International HS parent | October 19, 2015 at 11:27 am

    The IB Diploma progamme is a fantastic curriculum. If your child can attain the diploma, which is very hard to do, many start but drop the programme, I would stay at Ogden. If you feel the diploma is just too much for your child with homework and other ancillaries, I would go to WY or Payton.

  • 16. RFR  |  October 19, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    I’m unsure if I want to see it- from previous trailers it does not seem to e as much about the process as an advertisement for WY.
    As for leveling of the playing field- no way. The only thing that will do this is to triple the number of SEHS and significantly improve the neighborhood HS..

  • 17. Centered  |  October 19, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    @ive been at this a long time.

    I couldn’t agree more. I increasingly see the selective enrollment process as something that only the most extreme students and parents participate in or care about. To say that Whitney Young is available to a range of students is so far from reality, but unfortunately there is also a larger percentage of parents and students who believe that they or their student will go to Whitney Young, or Lane, and end up getting crushed by a B in seventh grade, or their zip code, or “only” an 89th percentile score. The resources at these schools are beyond real and the majority of high school children can’t even sniff the opportunities that the highly intelltigent, or obsessive, or lucky, few receive at schools like Whitney Young. I’d much rather find a blog that concentrated on the real issues faced by the vast majority of “average” CPS students and parents. To me selective enrollment process is so backwards and hurts neighborhood schools to such an extent that I’d love to see it completely reworked.

  • 18. klm  |  October 19, 2015 at 8:38 pm


    I agree with you on some level, but……

    With the Tiers and all, it really is much easier for students in certain neighborhoods to gain admissions than others and it’s all because of a matric centered on “diversity.” I get what you’re saying, but in its own way, a school like WY provides a New Trier-like education for many kids who otherwise would be stuck in crappy inner-city schools that I’d never send my own kids to, ever. In the sense that low-income and working-class kids are provided a good education surrounded by other peers that are also high-performing and interested in learning, strive to get into top colleges, etc., schools like WY can and do really change lives.

    I grew up poor in a poor area with crap public schools that were famously dysfunctional with corruption, bad teachers that couldn’t be fired, etc. (but somehow, many people ‘loved’ the HS, what with its great basketball team and all –never mind the high drop-out rate, huge number of teen mothers, low ACT ave. [14.5], etc). I was lucky enough to “get out” to attend an academically excellent HS. I also was, for the first time, around lots of middle- and even upper-middle-class people for the first time, which was enormously beneficial in terms of opening my eyes as to how many other people live (not only on television), what the world outside my little poor people “bubble” was like, etc. My HS really did transform my life. I suspect WY and Jones can and really do the same for many kids from Lawndale, Engelwood, East Garfield Park, etc.

    The sun doesn’t rise and set in the ‘hood. It’s a good thing for many kids to leave in order to go to good schools and meet people from different neighborhoods.

    One could double or triple the per-student spending at certain schools. It may help some a little, but not much, in terms of making them “high performing.” There are just too many issues outside of school that keeps things in school less than ideal for a prime learning environment.

  • 19. Centered  |  October 19, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Does anyone have the budgets for say Lane Tech versus Lakeview or WY and Walter Payton versus their local schools. I’m not saying the mission isn’t admirable but I think the system has become obsessed with a few vanity schools while leaving the vast majority of schools to struggle to be a desirable place to be, and from my perspective that’s not fair to average people with real kids paying property taxes. I could be wrong, maybe the budgets are the same but it doesn’t seem like they are based on the campuses or the programs. Seems to me like we should be building strong schools that belong to everyone.

  • 20. @15 Soxside Irish  |  October 19, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    I find it annoying that you say “the 4 elite SE HS” who cares about which ones are elite! Any kid that gets into ANY of the SE HS will get an excellent education! I feel bad for the kids stuck in a HS where they are not receiving an adequate education as #17 hints toward. You guys fighting about whether WY or Jones is better is so insulting! They are both great schools! How prepared do you think the valedictorians or top 10% of students are at schools where the average ACT is 15! There are also many neighborhood HSs with programs (IB, DH, etc.) that prepare their students well. I can tell you this…the CPS student who broke a CPS record for getting the most scholarship money ever in CPS history DID NOT come from SE HS. This student was admitted to 26 schools including the Ivies! The school is a neighborhood school, with a magnet program that retains the vast majority of their AC students. I would mention the name of the school, but don’t want the school to bashed because it is on the south side. I stopped posting to this site a while ago because I am on the south side with kids in south side schools. I generally lurk, but sometimes I just have to say something.

    CPS has bigger issues than which SE school is more elite than the other! Did you know ALL schools even the elite 4 will be in trouble if CPS doesn’t get the 480 million from the state?!?! The state isn’t even paying their own bills, so its a long shot as to whether CPS will even get state assistance financially. Did you know that perhaps CPS won’t even be giving the ACT to all Juniors because ISBE isn’t sure they have the budget to fund the districts to take the tests. Pink slips will go out to many teachers in every school prior to Thanksgiving and chaos will ensue AT EVERY CPS SCHOOL after Xmas break followed by more than likely a teacher’s strike!

  • 21. JonesParent  |  October 19, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    Seems some panties and/ or boxers are in a bunch?
    Suffice to say that if Young were what a couple of you have claimed…there has to be written evidence of this, no? A 2013 or 2014 Newsweek article even, to suppor the claims?
    I’ll wait.
    Actually I won’t, as this is going nowhere. You’re happy at Young, so let that be enough. There’s no need to stymie the truth though: Jones charted on a nationwide basis, Young didn’t. Jones has consistently outperformed Young. The minimum entrance exam threshold is higher at Jones, etc.
    I could go on but I’m leaving this alone.
    Res Ipsa… 😉

  • 22. cpsobsessed  |  October 19, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    @16 RFR, regarding the film “being an advertisement for WY” – that is in some respects true, but mainly in that the movie is just about that one school (based on funding and also the school was willing to be an open book.) But it really does look at the pros and cons of a kid being in a competitive high school like an SEHS. So if you take it for what it is (focus on WY) it’s still insightful about this type of school. Obviously other SEHS have their own personality and nuances.

    For someone like me who has NO idea about SEHS it was interesting to get an inside glimpse of the school and the students.

    I had read a lot online about the principal and this was a good chance to see her in action.

  • 23. cpsobsessed  |  October 19, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    If we’re going to get into the nitty gritty, here are the key #s on

    PSAE 94%
    ACT 27
    5 year Grad rate 94%
    College enrollment 89%

    PSAE 97%
    ACT 27
    5 year Grad rate 88%
    Collect enrollment 89%

    I’d call that a little too close to call, personally.

  • 24. HSObsessed  |  October 20, 2015 at 8:57 am

    @19 – You can find the budgets for individual schools on the CPS web page. Search for a school, then Downloads, then School Segment Report. They haven’t been updated since 2010 but still give you an idea, and you can calculate the per-student by dividing by the population.

  • 25. Patricia  |  October 20, 2015 at 10:39 am

    @klm – great post!
    The SEHS is a life changing opportunity for tier 1 and 2 kids. The SEHS are some of the only places in CPS that have genuine diversity in our highly segregated city.

    My son’s best friend is from a very poor and rough area and the charter elementary he attended combined with now getting into a SEHS is going to change his (and his mom, aunt, grandmother) destiny. He is an amazing human being and I am so glad that he has become a part of our lives. While many hate the SEHS system—and I fully agree it is insane and stressful—it is one of the very few, if not only, successful ways for students in Chicago to break the cycle of poverty as klm illustrated in her post.

    I fully support making neighborhood schools better and I am happy to see this issue getting more attention. I think we are in a transition time where the suburban flight from the 70’s is reversing and reaching a critical mass of families choosing the city through and after high school. Along with this wave of students, CPS will be pressured to ensure neighborhood HS are well resourced. As things transition, neighborhood HS will get better and better and already have in the 13 years I have been in CPS It has been wonderful to see the elementary options expand from a handful to so many I can’t name them all. Same momentum is happening with HS and I hope it continues!

    However, the budget disaster in Illinois/Chicago/CPS is frightening as @20 above noted. CPSO—-you will need to start a “cpsdepressed” blog.

  • 26. southside mom  |  October 20, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Wow. Are we really arguing over which school is better? I’m pretty sure with an average ACT score of 27, both schools are doing fantastic. I’d also imagine that there are non-test score differences that are arguably more important when choosing a school. This “my school is better than your school” is making both schools appear less attractive.

  • 27. Patricia  |  October 20, 2015 at 11:25 am

    ANY of the SEHS, many of the IB and more and more neighborhood schools are wonderful opportunities for all students who attend. IMO, at some point, a kid needs to OWN IT. It is up to the individual student to capitalize on what is offered at their particular school, get good grades, and build the “credentials” that are important to colleges. A kid at Northside can excel or flop. Same thing at Senn, Admundsen, WY, Payton, Brooks, Lindbloom, Chicago Ag, Lane, Lincoln Park HS, Kenwood, etc.

    In some ways it is splitting hairs and more about parent bragging rights. Adolescence is hard enough, it is most important to make sure it is a good fit for the student’s personality and logistical fit for the particular family. IMO, rank schools based on fit rather than cut-off scores. That said, in this crazy system you kind of get what you get, but as CPSO has probably experienced from the beginning, it usually ends up ok for the vast majority.

  • 28. Patricia  |  October 20, 2015 at 11:43 am

    “The minimum entrance exam threshold is higher at Jones, etc”

    I have posted this before and it may be worth keeping in mind on this thread. Cut off scores only tell you so much and does not tell you “which school is better”—whatever that means except the old marketing ploy of price quality relationship where people think just because it costs more, it must be better. So higher cut off scores must mean a better school—nonsense IMO.

    With cut-off scores, schools that are larger and schools with Academic Centers are not accurately portrayed. Larger schools accept more students so it is more likely they will accept a wider range of scores. With Academic Centers, many kids stay and do not bother testing, so their likely very high scores are not in a cut off. Also, some AC kids do test and get into Payton, Northside, Jones, etc, but the kids stay at their AC school. Well……their scores are counted in the school they got into, not the school they are staying at. Case-in-point is the cut offs for Lane last year Freshman looks like no one had a 900 score. In reality, there are many LTAC kids who scored perfect, but decided to stay at Lane. Their scores are counted at Payton and Northside instead. I know of at least 20 kids at Lane (and I am sure there are many more) who turned down Northside, Payton or Jones—-my son included.

    Really it is splitting hairs. However, there certainly is truth to each school having different personalities, strengths, extracurricular, clubs, that are valid and worth taking into account when you rank schools. There are many great high schools in CPS.

  • 29. thinkpositive1  |  October 20, 2015 at 11:58 am

    This was a nice article about bringing to light the good things that one (of many) schools are trying to do for the kids. This initiative was not created to start an argument about who is better but rather to start the conversation about what can we ALL DO and LEARN from each other to help our kids. We need to work together and not against each other like what is starting to happen in these comments. Why judge and negatively comment before you have even seen what the movie is about? Instead, go see the movie and then see how you can help… and not tear down and divide? Be part of the solution and not part of the problem.

  • 30. Mr Rankings  |  October 20, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    OK, so consensus rankings for public schools in Chicago are:

    1) Northside
    2) Payton

    big drop off

    3) Jones
    4) Young

    big drop off

    5+) everywhere else

    Now back to the movie, folks!

  • 31. luveurope  |  October 20, 2015 at 1:57 pm

    28 There are many great high schools outside CPS.

  • 32. venchy  |  October 20, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    There are no “big drop offs” among the top 7 or so SEHS. I know students in all of them and the quality and rigor appear to be the same.

  • 33. Kelly  |  October 20, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    Thank you thinkpositive1. I could not agree more. I think we are lucky to have these great schools with obviously spirited and passionate parents who can make good things happen. We just need these opportunities for more kids. I hope we can keep the movie and these conversations going.

  • 34. cpsobsessed  |  October 20, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    @30 – what is a “consensus ranking” ?

  • 35. WY AC parent  |  October 20, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    My son is a 7th grader in WY. He was miserable in his previous school, which by the way is funded much better then WY. He is very happy in the Academic Center: he is challenged, the teachers don’t talk down to them, he loves his new classmates. My point is that there should be a place for kids who can process information at a faster pace and who are eager to learn. While the funding makes a huge difference, it is not the only factor of the success of SEHS. I think the kids who are enrolled make it happened as much as the teachers.

  • 36. jen  |  October 20, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    @23, I was surprised to see graduation rates less than 98-100% those two SEHS. I do understand that kids of all abilities have issues and problems, so I’m guessing that’s what it is, ie, those 12% have mental health, physical health issues, life catastrophes, general growing pains where they flip out and don’t finish school, too much pressure to achieve so they push back in the form of “I’m not going to graduate”. I am assuming CPS published the 5 year grad rates instead of 4 years, because those are higher? Do you know if many students take more than 4 years to graduate high school or is that just how school across the state publish their rates?

  • 37. CPSer  |  October 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Some SE schools have special needs programs in which children do not graduate in 5 years and these situations are calculated into the overall grad rate.

  • 38. CPSer  |  October 20, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Rankings? I don’t get the basis. Where are the sports? I don’t remember hearing about NSCP soccer team, but I certainly did Lane’s and Amundsen’s. I haven’t seen a Young wrestling team, but do see that at New Trier and Westinghouse. Diversity lacking at the top. Even the Ivy’s have sports for everyone.

  • 39. partofthesolution  |  October 21, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Dr. Kenner on WCIU regarding the movie

  • 40. Crystal Brown  |  October 21, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    @@15 Soxside Irish I’ll say the name of the school…. Kenwood Academy High School and I am a proud teacher! I’ll tell you what this South Side Gem has that the “Elite” SE schools do not – BALANCE. We have excellent academics and a social environment. For those of you who don’t know we are a NEIGHBORHOOD school. So no need to be afraid of someone bashing while they are saving up for college tuition, our students are welcoming in the scholarships:)

  • 41. feeder schools  |  October 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Unfortunately, many south side high schools’ scholarship success can’t be easily replicated at their northern peers. Different racial groups are in very different college application games.

  • 42. @feeder schools  |  October 21, 2015 at 11:24 pm

    Well ummm…you sound so insulting! I think you are mad because your kid isn’t as they say on this site an “URM.” Look at the term URM! It means under represented! Unfortunately, many URMs are as qualified as other racial groups, but just simply don’t have the money or may not have received enough grants to sustain themselves by going away to school. Many (but not all) other north side schools have resources that the south side just doesn’t have!

    I guess the colleges level the playing field! I think many schools can learn from the Kenwood model Wow! Ms. Brown, I plan to seek you out to say hi! I am the proud parent of a Kenwood AC 8th grade Bronco & a King Jaguar Junior. People may look at the average ACT score of both schools and scoff! I am so pleased with my son’s progress at Kenwood that I’m not even applying to a SE HS! King also does a wonderful job of educating the students! Kenwood’s students earn their scholarship money by working their buts off and to denigrate the south side schools is yet another reason why many south side parents just lurk & rarely post! Also, please remember Bill Gates was a C student! look at him now! Don’t count out the south side students!

    Getting into one of the elite 4 SE HSs as many have posted on this thread DOES NOT guarantee success, just as going to a south side school doesn’t mean a guarantee for failure! Let’s just please stop being elistists and celebrate ALL CPS schools that give a child a chance to be successful in life. Also, let’s pray for the schools that struggle to educate students and hope they succeed in preparing the students for college. Let’s all unite because CPS is in a crisis with regard to the budget! The real issue is funding equity across the state. Instead of putting down each other, let’s support ALL public schools!

  • 43. Kenwood Parent  |  October 22, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    @42 Good point. Many of the more affluent areas of Chicago have resources that many working and middle class schools do not. I agree that some colleges attempt to even things out; although, you have to make to college in order to reap any of those benefits. Quite difficult coming from a system with a 6% college graduation rate.

    As an aside, I recently viewed the list of colleges that kids from Payton & Northside were admitted to. I was quite surprised at the quality of some of the schools. My son is only 4, but I had envisioned that WP and NCP were entry ways into top tier schools, especially the Ivy League. This not the case (which was quite disappointing).

    I am an alumnus of Kenwood’s AC (graduated a loooonnng time ago), and I still believe that my 7th and 8th grade classes were more challenging than most of my high school classes. I would not be an U of C alumnus, nor would I have ever sought out a career in science without the Kenwood AC program.

  • 44. Annon  |  October 23, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    It’s funny to read the comments on this thread in light of the fate of Byrd-Bennet and lack of complete funding for this school year. How silly to split hairs on Se dominance when actually the reality is that the system is being looted to the point of insolvency.
    The outcry from most of the parents wh imagine they are sheltered for the effects above when these issues reach all students ( including their own selective enrollment students) this year will be all too late.
    How can any blog on CPS lack a post on the budget and/ or Byrd Bennet?

  • 45. cpsobsessed  |  October 23, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    @Anon, thanks for bringing that up. I’ve been mulling over posts on those topics (well, mostly BBB because I have a lot of rage on the subject whereas I frankly hate talking about the budget.) Charter is another big topic I’d like to discuss.

    As you may have read, when I’m not working I am now care-giving to my live-in elderly mother and dealing with my son’s 7th grade year so unfortunately I have significantly less time to devote to the blog. So my post focus for the foreseeable future will be the admissions process and discussion of the school choices rather than policy, politics, or budget.

    IF anyone is interested in writing a guest post, or would like a very brief intro to a post on CPS topics without much commentary from me, just give a shout and I can make one. That’s how readers have requested posts in the past.

    Alternatively, WordPress allows you to make a free blog at any time, and if you have an interest in discussing those topics, have at it! Several of the other CPS blogs have folded in the past couple years and there is plenty to write about.

    The Raise Your Hand facebook page is a good place to discuss those topics as well.

    Maybe I will make a Charter School post this weekend (while sewing a Halloween costume).

  • 46. Dear "Kenwood Parent"  |  October 23, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Dear Kenwood Parent,
    I’m sorry you feel disappointed with the college choices of current Northside graduates. Guess what? NOT EVERYONE WANTS TO GO TO AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL.
    Northside Parent

  • 47. Holl  |  October 24, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Uh oh, someone’s kid got rejected from the ivies. 😉

    Payton and Northside get some of the top kids in Chicago and maybe 5% of their graduates go to ivies. That is good. Most big city public schools are.much lower than that.

  • 48. Marketing Mom  |  October 24, 2015 at 7:11 pm

    It’s a shame that the system pits students against students; and now parents against parents over what is the “best” school. It is really sad to see so many parents actually believe that if their child doesn’t attend one of the four elite SEHS that they will not be prepared for college and never amount to anything.

  • 49. Dear Holl  |  October 25, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Dear Holl,
    You are correct! My son has not been admitted into an Ivy League university, because he is a freshman in high school. I will let you know which college he chooses, though!

    As for the 5% statistic: This is only a good number if 5% of kids WANTED to go to the Ivies. If 20% or 1 % wanted to, then 5% is not a great number.


    Northside Parent

  • 50. cpsobsessed  |  October 25, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I think we went through this discussion last year. I believe even if you look at schools like New Trier, where the parents have the means and connections, the numbers who get into the top elite Ivies are small. The schools won’t select kids from all the same schools AND it’s still incredibly difficult to get in. Good grades and being president of something and excelling at a sport/instrument isn’t enough to get in. You have to be truly remarkable.

    I listened to a podcast last week by the dean of Yale admission talking about what they look for. They want the next future leaders who show potential to do truly great, noteworthy things. Not just smart kids who study a lot. If I can find the link I’ll post it. It was very eye-opening.

  • 51. klm  |  October 26, 2015 at 8:49 pm


    Bill Gates was not a “C” student. He got a perfect score on the math section of the SAT and was talented enough to get into Harvard. Plus, he grew up in a very affluent family (which means he had an economic life raft) and went to the Seattle equivalent of The Latin school. Yes, he “dropped out of college.” However, he dropped out of HARVARD and was smart enough to go back and get into med school or whatever, if things didn’t work out —plus he had family money. If the whole software thing didn’t work out, he’d still have been successful in another way, most likely, and not delivering pizzas when he was 30 and still living in his parents’ basement.

    Re: getting into Harvard, Yale, Stanford, etc. Yeah, we talked about for a long time last year on this site. Just as an anecdote, there was a story I read abut a student at New Trier that had great grades, a 35 ACT (!) and an alum for a parent (dad), but still didn’t get into the University of Pennsylvania –not Harvard, Yale or Princeton. Now think about all the people applying for the relative handful of freshman spots at a school like Yale, Stanford, Princeton, et al. Then consider how many millions of kids graduate from HS each year and how even the “top 1%” among them still means tens of thousands. There are 1,600 freshman places at Harvard. Do the math.

    When it comes to college admission “it’s crazy out there.” Accordingly, when looking at where kids from a HS go for college, it’s important to take all that into consideration. Many people (including myself) do just that. Most kids who get perfect/near-perfect scores are never going to get into Harvard, or Yale or Columbia or ……..whichever “Name” school many people find most prestigious. But that fact doesn’t mean that their HSs didn’t do a good/excellent job educating them or that their HS isn’t all that “good” because only 5% get into Ivies.

  • 52. Amy F Williamson  |  October 26, 2015 at 9:20 pm

    Yep, Whitney is a great school. But clearly the SEHS system doesn’t work for many families. That’s why it’s such a thrill to see how things are shaking out at this neighborhood high school now that there is a wise principal in place who is being supported by the community and local politicians.

  • 53. @51  |  October 27, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Sorry I meant George Bush was the C student who became president! All I am saying is college doesn’t make everyone into what we all strive to be! Neither does a HS, whether it is neighborhood, magnet, IB, SE, DH or CTE!!!! Character makes a kid at any HS become successful!

  • 54. jazzman  |  October 27, 2015 at 7:57 am

    @53 George Bush came from a rich political connected family and Gates also came from money and had access to computers so not quite the same as most people.

  • 55. Quando  |  October 27, 2015 at 10:46 am

    “Sorry I meant George Bush was the C student who became president!”

    John Kerry had worse grades at Yale than Bush and Kerry was able to run for Pres and become Secretary of State. Obama probably had around a D average and he became President.

    You have a better chance of getting into the Ivies with mediocre grades/test scores and being an URM than being white or asian with perfect scores. Similar to CPS tier system. Unfortunately, succeeding outside of school is another story. That’s life.

  • 56. jazzman  |  October 27, 2015 at 11:02 am

    @53 lol You’re not worthy of conversion or debate.

  • 57. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2015 at 11:36 am

    I saw an episode of Suze Orman once (that financial advice lady.) Parents were wanting to basically drain all their savings and retirement to send their daughter to an expensive school that she realllly realllly wanted to attend.

    Suze made a huge case against it, stating that with an adequate college degree and a lot of moxie, one can still succeed. She herself went to U of I.

    I still believe in sending your kid to the school with the best reputation possible as it opens more doors, but so much has changed in terms of the job opportunities, so I agree with her – not worth blowing your retirement to make it happen.

    Curious, for people on here who have friends/relatives who went to Ivies or top privates, what is their employment or financial/life success now?

  • 58. cpsobsessed  |  October 27, 2015 at 11:40 am

    There will be another screening of SelectEd at the Davis Theater on Sat Nov 15th. I’m finding out how to get tickets.

  • 59. Ogden International HS parent  |  October 27, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    I am a 1982 Alum of Whitney Young. I went to see Select(ed) with my 7th grade daughter. We both loved this documentary so much. We laughed and cried through the whole movie. Dr. Kenner is spot on with the Whitney Young Special Sauce! My daughter felt it just entering the building.
    The Arts building was a huge part of my experience at Whitney Young. Many Alumni are in New York and California successfully working in the Art that they love. The experience that many of my friends felt was similar to going to Julliard! WY was the Fame of Chicago in the early 80’s.
    The students from my era went on to become Architects, Doctors, First Ladies, Music producers, Soap opera stars and “Star Wars” stars, celebrity chefs, cps school teachers, writers, producers, directors, lawyers but mostly we came out of Whitney Young as well rounded individuals prepared to take on the world.

  • 60. Pal M  |  October 27, 2015 at 6:56 pm


  • 61. karet  |  October 28, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    @57, Re: your question about the success of graduates of Ivies and other top universities … I think that most of us know people with such varied experiences that it’s hard to answer this. It’s my own feeling that the Ivies aren’t particularly important for a person’s success or fulfillment in life, but this is the perspective of a person who has always lived in the Midwest. It was never a goal for me, and it’s not something I’m really thinking about for my kids. I think it may be different on the East Coast

    A few examples: My cousin is married to a guy who went to Harvard Law, and they live in the Boston area- he’s a highly paid, successful attorney, and their kids go to private school, and so on. But, a close friend of mine in Chicago went to law school at University of Illinois and is a partner in a big firm here, and is just as happy and successful. I also know a guy who went to Northwestern and then graduate school at Standford — but he basically works in a coffee shop and teaches jazz piano. He’s happy, but doesn’t make a lot of money. My sister-in-law has an incredibly lucrative corporate job, and she went to University of Minnesota. It just totally varies.

    In any case, the idea that the Ivies are necessarily better across the board is simply not true. Engineering at U of I is ranked higher than ANY ivy league school. You need to look at specific programs to make an informed decision, IMO.

  • 62. DK  |  October 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    You can see selectED at the Davis Theater on Sunday, November 15 at noon. Purchase tickets in advance at

  • 63. CLB  |  October 30, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    All this will be academic unless CPS gets its $480 million.
    Principals were told yesterday that they will be getting revised budgets in Dec. if CPS doesn’t get the $ by the end of Nov.

  • 64. Newcomer  |  October 30, 2015 at 1:17 pm

    Yes. If everyone in this group wrote to the Governor’s office we may be able to exert some pressure.

  • 65. Following  |  October 30, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    I just emailed them all.

  • 66. Patricia  |  October 30, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    It is just as important, IF NOT MORE, to make sure to email Cullerton and Madigan. Madigan is the one with all the puppets and a super majority. I am not looking to debate Madigan vs. Rauner……that won’t help CPS. I am simply pointing out that Madigan needs to be pressured too!

  • 67. S Trec  |  October 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union definitely deserve more money after results like this……

    “Most Illinois high schools leave grads unprepared for college

    At 482 of 666 Illinois high schools with ACT scores, more than half of graduates were unable to score at least 21, the national average. That score is one method the state uses to determine if students are ready for college classes.

    Only 24.9 percent of 2015 public school graduates statewide scored high enough on all four ACT subjects to be considered college-ready.

    Just 26 high schools in the state had 50 percent or more of their graduates reach those four college-ready scores”

    I guess throwing more money at the problem will help!?!?!?

  • 68. S Trec  |  October 30, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Yikes, even the two “good” schools in Chicago are getting worse!!!

    “Chicago Public School’s Northside College Prep scored the highest in the state, with an ACT average of 29.6, and CPS’ Walter Payton College Prep came in second with 29.4. The scores at both schools dropped modestly compared with the year before, 2014 data show.”

    Wow, the public schools and teachers unions only need more money to turn this disaster around!!!!

  • 69. H Krapper  |  October 30, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    I just emailed everyone in the government and told them to flush more money down the toilet!!!!

  • 70. thinkpositive1  |  November 4, 2015 at 6:14 am

    Over 1100 people attended the showings of selectED last week! If you were not able to attend, here is your chance! You can see selectED on Sunday, November 15 at noon at the Davis Theater, 4614 N. Lincoln Ave in Chicago. You can buy tickets in advance by clicking here:

  • 71. Test Scores  |  November 4, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    “More than half of graduates were unable to score at least 21, the national average”.

    That is a very hyperbolic way to say Illinois clocked in somewhat below average nationally.

  • 72. klm  |  November 4, 2015 at 6:59 pm


    Thing to remember: Some states have ALL students take the ACT as part of “state testing.” Most states do not. What’s not surprising is that states that require all students to take the ACT have a lower average one, since all their students are taking the ACT, even struggling learners (who would normally not even take the ACT).

    When one compares Illinois the states that have required the ACT of all 11th graders (e.g., Michigan), it does OK, comparatively.

  • 73. Stats  |  November 5, 2015 at 12:32 pm

    Additionally, if you look at a bell curve, approximately 50 percent of students will always fall under the average score. That’s how statistics work.

  • 74. KGMom  |  November 17, 2015 at 10:09 pm

    somewhat related to this, but more about the critical need for your voice when in comes to the state of CPS. For all CPS parents on the north side, please consider attending this 12/3 important event with Rep. Ann Williams:

    What does the budget gap mean to your CPS school?
    As a community, we should be increasingly concerned that if the financial crisis is not addressed, our schools could face:

    – elimination of school programs in February
    – reduction of staff in February
    – increased class size in February

    This could be disruptive and devastating to our schools and most of all our children.

    What can I do?
    Let your voice be heard! Attend a meeting hosted by State Representative Ann M. Williams to get the budget facts and provide constructive feedback on this process.

    When: Thursday, December 3, 2015
    Time 7:00 PM
    Where: Audubon Gym

    We need to fill the gym to have the most impact! Please RSVP today ( If you only have time to attend one meeting, please make this the meeting. It is that critical.

    As a community, we have so much to be proud of. The accomplishments of our students, teachers and parent organizations continue to provide an excellent education and supportive environment for our students. Today our greatest concern is the ability to continue this good work in light of the financial crisis facing the district and its possible impact to our school.

    With your help we can stand as one and create a voice that can be heard effectively throughout by all our legislators!

  • 75. H Meier  |  November 18, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    SelectED to be released on DVD and Digital Download Dec 15,2015. Look for the film at Amazon, Best Buy and other retailers as well as Itunes, Amazon Instant, Vudu and other Digital outlets.

  • 76. feeder schools  |  November 29, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Today may be a sad day for Whitney Young. According to a NY Times article, titled “With Diversity Comes Intensity in Amherst Free Speech Debate”, a graduate of the high school “said she had felt unprepared academically and socially for Amherst”, despite the fact she is on full financial aid. A search of her name – “Imani Marshall, a senior pre-med student from Chicago, who is black” – led to a Facebook page ( that says “Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Class of 2012”.

  • 77. Rfr6231  |  December 1, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Feeder schools- wow. Knowing both students at Whitney as well as the Amherst scene I doubt Whitney underprepared the student- it is more likely just not a good fit for the student. It is unfortunate that she opted to speak to national media about her opinion.

  • 78. Momof3  |  December 4, 2015 at 9:22 pm

    Scores are delivered today, so disappointed I don’t know how to tell my daughter

  • 79. Quanta  |  December 10, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    Chicago Teachers Union coming through once again!!!!

    “New PARCC scores: Only 1 in 5 CPS students can do enough math for college”

    Those results definitely deserve some pay and benefit increases!!! Thanks!!!!

  • 80. Edgewater  |  December 11, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    SelectED is playing at the Davis Theater January 8,9 & 10, for 6 showings.
    Friday Jan. 8 @ 7:30 pm
    Saturday Jan. 9 @ noon, 3 pm & 7:30 pm
    Sunday Jan. 10 @ noon & 3 pm

  • 81. ThinkPositive  |  December 12, 2015 at 11:01 am

    SelectED showings ADDED at Davis Theater, Chicago
    January 8, 9 and 10

    Previous showing sold out

    SelectED is a touching documentary about the challenges of public urban education. It follows a year in the life of current and prospective high school students and lays out the challenges of the selective enrollment process in Chicago.

    Through unprecedented access at Whitney Young High School, selectED explores the leadership, triumphs and losses in one of the most culturally and economically diverse schools in the country.

    Watch the stories of students’ lives unfold. See the selective enrollment process from many angles. Learn the history and feel what it is to be a high school student today.

    Seating is limited. The 90-minute film will be shown as follows:

    Friday, January 8 at 7:30PM
    Saturday, January 9 at noon, 3:00PM and 7:30PM
    Sunday, January 10 at noon and 3:00PM

    Tickets are $10 in adv or $12 at the door. You can purchase tickets online at or call 312.952.0219.

    This movie is not meant to be an advertisement for WY.
    This movie was made to inform others (hopefully those with the power to make a change) of what 6-12th graders are enduring.

  • 82. Duron J  |  December 20, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you Teacher’s Unions!!!!….

    “Half of Illinois grads entering community college need help

    New data show about half of Illinois high school graduates going on to the state’s community colleges need remediation in at least one subject.

    That data was released this past week by the Illinois State Board of Education. It shows 48.7 percent of graduates who enrolled in the community college system needed remedial instruction to prepare them for entry-level college coursework.

    The highest remediation rate was in math, with about 41 percent needing additional preparation in the subject.

    For the first time, that information is being reported with Illinois Report Card data.”

  • 83. Was that taught there?  |  December 23, 2015 at 5:00 pm

    To 76: Awesome catch. I really liked the radical black racial aspect of the facebook post. Was that fostered at WY. Imagine if you could find out that the racial and class warfare was encouraged at WY. That would make another documentary.

  • 84. NCP_SE  |  January 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    What a wonderful documentary! Given that the first lady was a graduate of Whitney Young, this documentary is timely in creating awareness of the Selective Enrollment system. There are 10 SE schools — not just “top four”. I feel so lucky to live in a city that offers such a terrific resource for driven students from all walks of life. Selective Enrollment is not for everyone, but for kids that are academically driven, it offers a haven that can help break the cycle of poverty, offering hope and goals. It does not matter which school “tests better” or “ranks better”, what is important is that there are about 10,000 seats available in the system where kids can find a safe place of like minded students to explore their interests and shine.

  • 85. CPS Mother  |  January 3, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    @76 She may have felt overwhelmed and under-prepared, but I can guarantee you, MANY students feel that way at those types of schools. My son attended an Ivy and felt from the get go that he didn’t belong there academically. Through various parents groups, I Iearned that this was not an uncommon though among students coming from all types of schools. What I did find interesting was the read that all incoming freshmen were required to complete before the beginning of the year “Whistling Vivaldi.” Written by Claude Steele, the book focuses on stereotypes and how universities word to overcome them. I was particularly interested in how different races/cultures have different ways of facing challenges academically. Culturally, students may be more comfortable asking for help directly, working with peers/groups or not getting help at all.

  • 86. DK  |  January 26, 2016 at 12:06 pm

    The documentary selectED is showing at the Beverly Arts Center on Saturday, February 6 at 4PM. For more information go to

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