Stress in SE High Schools

January 4, 2016 at 9:41 pm 192 comments

Stock photo students always have their head in their hands

Stock photo students always have their head in their hands

I read this article that someone posted on Facebook last week, that has stuck with me and has been causing me some angst.  It’s on the Lane Tech school web site, written by the editor-in-chief.   One of my initial thoughts was how well written this was (I have to admit I thought it was a newspaper article, didn’t realize it was on the school site until I went back to post it.)   I read this just a couple weeks after I read about a suicide cluster of HS students in Palo Alto that was pretty disturbing.  The Palo Alto link is here if you haven’t read it.  To summarize, (as you can probably guess) there is so much pressure on these kids from high achieving families to excel, succeed, do more – that they can’t take the stress.

Which makes me wonder if this title of this Lane Tech article is fully accurate.  Does the CPS Selective Enrollment machine create perfectionist students?  Or is that a societal influence right now among school with high expectations?

My angst comes from worry about whether my kid is cut out for a school like this and raises these questions:

Are the majority of kids in SEHS experiencing this level of stress?

Is there a way to have a kid in a competitive/rigorous school and avoid this level of stress? (The article does talk about resources at Lane to help kids deal with stress, and the editor also encourages de-stressing among fellow students.)

Or are students who are high-achievers going to feel this level of pressure no matter where they attend school due to the general pressure on this generation to achieve academic success?
Curious about your thoughts based on experience, feedback on students you know in school, (or conjecture if that’s all ya got.)

Excerpts from the Lane Tech article are below:

CPS Selective Enrollment Machine’ creates anxious, perfectionist students

“Countless times I have heard my friends talk about how it feels wrong on the days that they do not have work to do for school. They cannot go to sleep because they feel like they should be doing something.”

“Recently, I went home and was so overwhelmed by exhaustion that I went to bed. As I lay in bed, I could not go to sleep because of the revolving thoughts in my head.

You are not going to have enough time for homework. You still haven’t started on that project. When are you going to schedule that meeting for club? Did everyone pay for those sweaters that you got for club? Are you being a good leader? Is everything on track? People depend on you now.”

“Jack Cox, Lane’s social worker of 24 years, said that the reported levels of anxiety and stress has had a spike over the past five years.  “More and more anxiety,” Cox said. “I’ve had many many kids being formally diagnosed out in the community by psychologists. They’re being diagnosed with generalized anxiety or social anxiety. It’s very noticeable.” “

The author speculates that the pressure to achieve good test scores (ACT/SAT) puts pressure on both the teachers and the students at SEHS.  In addition, many students at an SEHS school are striving to be the best.  But of course not everyone can be “the best” which creates additional stress.

Entry filed under: High school. Tags: , .

selectED – Movie about SEHS with focus on Whitney Young The CTU and Budget Thread

192 Comments Add your own

  • 1. P  |  January 4, 2016 at 9:59 pm

  • 2. EdgewaterMom  |  January 4, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I read another article recently on a similar topic. I do think that the SEHS schools place a great deal of stress on students. Every smart kid is not cut out for this kind of pressure.

  • 3. Lisa W.  |  January 4, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    It’s difficult when surrounded by parents and kids who think that the ONLY options are the SEHS. My 8th grader decided, and I back him on this, that he is not cut out for the kind of competition and stress that the selective type of environment has to offer. He did not take the SEHS test and only applied to several magnet and IB programs. I have heard that IB programs can be extremely rigorous and stressful also. Applying to a visual art program as offered by ChiArts and Senn HS, prospective students are required to show a portfolio and interview to gain admittance. There’s an awful lot of stress to be had regarding your future when you’re only a 7th or 8th grader in the city of Chicago. I truly understand why families flee to the suburbs now.

  • 4. Chicago School GPS  |  January 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Both articles are very insightful and candid, and the two viewpoints are eye-opening to read. Thanks for posting, CPSO.

    The main reason why I started our annual Hidden Gems High School Fair is to educate parents and students on the array of options beyond the “top five” selective enrollment schools that are available to every kind of student. School fit is crucial to success & anxiety levels and some selective enrollment schools (as well as some private or suburban school tracks) can be much more demanding than what these kids are used to. Finding a school that plays to a student’s strengths is far better than going to a school because of the name on the door. Colleges also notice the “big fish in a small pond” more than the “small fish in a big pond” student, too.

  • 5. cpsobsessed  |  January 4, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    Well put, Chicago GPS. it’s so hard to compete with the bells and whistles that were on the Lane tour, especially when talking to a pre-teen who doesn’t want to agree with anything their parent says 🙂

  • 6. Jay  |  January 5, 2016 at 1:32 am

    My daughter is a freshman at Payton and is always so stressed but she is a perfectionist and would probably act similar no matter what school she went to. It just wouldn’t be as intense maybe.

  • 7. pantherettie  |  January 5, 2016 at 7:15 am

    Thanks so much for this post CPSO. Unfortunately, I think that our system of over stressing students actually starts in elementary school when parents begin the search for the “perfect” school and have a “SEES or bust” attitude. My daughter is in 9th grader at an SEHS (and was an Ackie at the same SEHS) and to be totally honest displays some of the stress and perfectionism that both articles describe. How could she not? In order to start high school in 7th grade, you have to be a motivated, well-organized and pretty smart kid. To do those things really well, you’ve got to be very well organized, very motivated and very smart. If any part of that triad falls short (or is missing) the kid is stressed and anxious. Parents add to it by putting crazy focus – starting in 7th grade – on getting accepted into the ‘highest’ honors classes, the ‘most prestigious and competitive summer programs’ and the ‘extracurriculars that colleges like the most’. At the same time not letting a kid just be a kid in *middle* school, let alone high school. So, since my kid’s been at a SEHS since 7th grade, my attitude has been this – school is school. 1)Where a kid goes to school does not make him/her (or the parents) a good (or bad) person. 2) I have not engaged in any talk about college, what would best for college or what type of college my kid will get in with her or anyone else because it’s ridiculous to do that for kids in 7th, 8th and 9th grade. 3) I don’t participate in the narrative that getting a B or C is failure and that struggling through a tough learning experience is some how wrong or a reflection that a kid isn’t ‘smart’ or ‘good enough’. Many kids are anxious because they learn from their parents, peers and teachers that if something is a struggle, it’s a problem. I think that it’s ok to struggle and sometimes succeed and sometimes fail at things.

    So that’s my opinion. Would really love to hear what others have to say as well.

  • 8. Test Scores  |  January 5, 2016 at 10:39 am

    In my opinion what needs to end most is the mentality that it ends with a high ACT score and then a student is “in” to a good college and “set” for life.

    I’ve seen numerous examples of college kids who feel entitled because the school they were admitted to is “validating” of their brilliance and they’re ready to “coast”.

    Parents need to teach their kids an approach that is SUSTAINABLE for LIFE not just a 7th to 11th grade “cram” session. Focus on the means, not the end: the importance of taking pride in your work, hard work, organization, time management, AND other skills like knowing oneself and what your interests are, work-life balance, interpersonal skills (being nice, communicating well).

  • 9. K. Jackson, Director (@marinewifechi)  |  January 5, 2016 at 11:10 am

    My high achieving, high scoring, motivated daughter got into Lane’s AC and it was the worst year of our lives. The pressure and expectations were unrealistic and unhealthy–but that isn’t the worst of it. The kicker for us was the “shell game” of expectations on performance, deadlines, and agreements between teachers/students and parents/adminstrators. Her grades plummetted, her mental health suffered, and my eyes were opened wide. She finished the year but transferred to a different CPS school for 8th grade. Kids are existing on little sleep, stimulants, and a code of silence in SEHS culture. No thanks. I’m still smh.

  • 10. IB/IB mom (formally IB and AC mom)  |  January 5, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for this post. I think about this all the time as it has been some time but I now have another dog in this race (7th grader) and my older daughter is very stressed out as a junior in an IB program. I talk to her often about dropping the program. The amount of stress (for her at least) is too much. She has a lot of anxiety normally and kids with anxiety should not have the added pressure of a heavy course load of all advanced classes and in the case of IB no option to drop any of them to lighten it up and reduce the stress. Don’t get me wrong I think IB is a great option and I think the kids are well prepared for college which is what I wish I could say about every child graduating from a CPS high school, but IB and SEHS is really not for everyone.

    My thoughts on this is that it stems back to the main problem that we all have with CPS. The neighborhood high schools need to be better. I know some are coming along, but they really need to do something so everyone does not feel that SEHS (or fleeing to the suburbs) is the only option. SEHS should be for high preforming kids that can handle the amount of work, the competition, etc so the stress is not completely overwhelming. The pressure these kids are under is unbelievable.

  • 11. feeder schools  |  January 5, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I’d say, on the one hand, the stressful high school experience is inevitable, as globalization diminishes the chance to maintain or rise into secure middle class life that was formerly available to intellectually less competitive students. On the other hand, it seems many students, even in SEHSs, deserve the stress, as elite colleges keep finding out large numbers of underprepared graduates. In other words, in the case of Chicago, the SEHSs now probably have more than enough seats for the truly ready elementary graduates. Perhaps the stress is also a curse of the American college admissions philosophy, which places a comparatively huge emphasis on extracurricular activities and services. Therefore, our students perform badly in math compared to their international peers, like those in East Asia or French prep schools whose lives are just as stressful.

  • 12. Caryn Sanders-Marcus  |  January 5, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    I run a program at the University of Illinois at Chicago Medical School where we offer a guaranteed medical school admission for a select group of Illinois High School seniors. These students complete their undergraduate degrees at UIC and then have the option to attend our medical school. Our average ACT is a 34 and all have a minimum of a 3.7 GPA. Each year I interview nearly 100 of Illinois’s top achieving students who want to be doctors and our team reviews nearly 500 applications. I also counsel our students through their undergraduate years. I’ve been working with the program for over 6 years and each year I’m floored at the resumes of these students. It’s absolutely overwhelming to see how much the students are taking on to get into these select programs.

    I too have seen an increased amount of mental illness among my college students. Much of it went undiagnosed or untreated in high school. I applaud the work that Lane is doing for their students.

    From working with my college students (and families in my private college counseling work) it seems that high achieving students whether in the city or suburbs tend to be naturally competitive and have extremely high expectations for themselves. Students tell me all the time that in high school instead of taking an art history course (or another course that they have a great amount of interest in) they are passing and taking another math, or science class because of it’s weight with regard to their GPA. This factor I blame on the top tiered universities and colleges. Until the top tiered institutions in higher education change admission procedures students will continue this madness…ok, that was my soap box 🙂 I

    I’m also a CPS parent with two children in elementary school. My older daughter tested into a gifted program and we chose not to send her. Although she is happy,healthy and doing really well in school (we did choose a school that does a great job of differentiation) I sometimes feel the outside pressures of the academic race and wonder if we made the right decision. Then I smack myself into reality.

    Based on my observations of my students in higher ed, and reminders that I give myself, I believe we can help our students as parents by:
    – allowing them to make decisions – I see many of my college students incredibly fearful of making the “wrong decision”
    – back off and let our students just “be” – I see so many undue pressures placed on our students from their parents
    – set a good example and as adults fit in unscheduled down time
    – try and provide our kids with a sense of community – so much of that is lost due to students in the same neighborhood or street going to different schools. A sense of community provides support for families.
    – ask ourselves will this matter in 5, 10, 15, or 20 years for our child
    – encourage our children to learn for the “love of learning” and explore their academic interests. Wouldn’t it be great to get rid of letter grades?

    That is my two cents for what’s its worth. Thanks for creating a conversation.

  • 13. Jksaf  |  January 5, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    #12 I agree with you completely. I am a clinical social worker with a private practice (as well as a school social worker) who has worked in high schools in the ‘burbs with similar populations as SEHS. I have also seen an increase greatly in kids over the last several years. And the amount of elementary kids who are displaying symptoms of significant anxiety has exploded. Your suggestions are spot-on.

  • 14. Caryn Sanders-Marcus  |  January 5, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    Ironic that I just received this article through one of my professional associations.

  • 15. mom2  |  January 5, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    @10 – You said, “My thoughts on this is that it stems back to the main problem that we all have with CPS. The neighborhood high schools need to be better. I know some are coming along, but they really need to do something so everyone does not feel that SEHS (or fleeing to the suburbs) is the only option.”
    Well, the way we can make those neighborhood high schools better is by sending our kids there. Just do it and it will happen. The issue is with the parents that feel it is SEHS or fleeing to the suburbs. Stop that and the neighborhood schools will be just like the suburbs and kids can go to school with other kids that live nearby and have study groups that don’t require an hour commute to the far ends of the city. Think how great that would be! Just do it and do it now! I’m talking to you – 8th grade parents. Now is the time.

  • 16. IB/IB mom (formally IB and AC mom)  |  January 5, 2016 at 3:27 pm

    @15 mom2, I wish it were that easy, but I really can’t feel comfortable sending my kids to a neighborhood high school where there are gangs (yes they are likely in every school, but I am talking about a strong presence), it is rated a 1 out of 10 on the great schools website, and has an average ACT score under 16. Did your kids attend their neighborhood high school or will they? I have wanted to give it a chance, but every time I open up to the idea I read or see something else that confirms it is too big of a risk.

  • 17. mom2  |  January 5, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    @16 – I totally understand. The ACT score doesn’t bother me because that changes the minute people send their kids to the neighborhood school rather than subjecting them to the pressures at SEHS. That isn’t a big deal at all. It really is the students that control that.
    However, the gangs and the 1 rating are huge concerns and I wouldn’t want my kids to go where that is a large issue either.
    I had one kid that went to Lane and the pressure was pretty bad. The main issue I had was and is with the amount of homework given. With sports, there was and is no time to be a kid and hang with your friends or family. It was ridiculous.
    We are strongly considering sending the next one to Lake View. It is our neighborhood high school and we were very impressed with the last two open houses. The teachers were so nice, the students we met were enthusiastic about their school and kept talking about it feeling like home. They had a really great college and career center. Their art department was very impressive and they have programs tied to DePaul and Microsoft that seemed real and not just a passing fad. I’m hoping so anyway.
    I don’t know about the gang situation there but when I asked some of the students, all of them said they felt very safe there and that they had friends at places like Lincoln Park that felt more concerned about safety. That gave me even more hope.

  • 18. alice  |  January 5, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    My daughter is a Junior at Lane. We chose the school because, unlike other SE schools, the curriculum included Regular, Honors and AP classes. My daughter is not strong across the board, and I wanted her to have the choice to take Regular classes in some cases and Honors or AP where she excelled. Things have worked out well for her at Lane, but the school is now (according to my understanding) eliminating Regular classes, so the flexibility my daughter enjoyed appears to be a thing of the past. I can fully attest to the pressure on the kids to take many AP courses. Even when you try to dial down the pressure, they will feel it at school. I remember one teacher asking my daughter if she was “chicken” for not wanting to take AP American History as a sophomore. One of my daughter’s friends has had middling to poor grades in Regular and Honors classes, yet she is taking three AP courses as a Junior. Many kids do not get the sleep they need, and by that I mean they get by on 4-5 hours. There is no time for achieving any kind of balance. Like I said, Lane worked for us and I’m grateful to many good people there, but I don’t think we could make the same choice today. In all honesty, though, it’s hard to blame the schools – they are just doing what is demanded of them by parents, politicians, the College Board, elite colleges, etc. etc. If you want balance and your child is not brilliant, I’m afraid the only choice is to get off the SE train and trust in yourself and your child to find another route to success. I believe there are many!

  • 19. mom2  |  January 5, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    OMG I hope you are wrong about Lane getting rid of regular level classes. That is the one thing that makes it stand out from the others. At least they offer that option for the subjects where you need to scale it back a bit! They would be foolish to get rid of those.

  • 20. alice  |  January 5, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    It’s a shame, but there are fewer and fewer Regular classes each year, and less flexibility in the program. For example, the current course catalog includes only one Regular science class (Chemistry). All kids have to take Honors or AP Physics now. In some cases, it’s hard to say if AP is more work than Honors. In any case, a course load of all Honors and AP classes is very demanding. You can review the curriculum and course catalog on the Lane website – the information is pretty complete. Good luck!

  • 21. Chris  |  January 5, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    “the amount of homework given. With sports, there was and is no time to be a kid and hang with your friends or family.”

    “with sports”?? That’s a choice, too.

    And *hopefully* is time to “be a kid” and be with friends.

  • 22. mom2  |  January 5, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    It is true that sports is a choice and time to be with friends (assuming you like the kids on your team – lol). I guess I don’t think that 5 hours of homework a night (after being at school all day) makes sense for anyone – elementary, middle or high school. That is/was pretty typical. We’ve seen this in both middle and high school at CPS.

  • 23. mom2  |  January 5, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Regarding getting rid of honors classes at Lane…it reminds me of when my kid was at Lane and there was a huge discussion about changing the grading scale. At Lane, many classes required you to get a 95 in order to get an A. They said they did that to show how “rigorous” they were. Obviously, that only shows how hard it was to get an A, not how rigorous the classes were.
    They changed the grading scale but said they wanted to raise the level of rigor.
    So now they are removing regular level to show how rigorous they are.
    That isn’t the way to do that. You can make the honors classes harder with more content to learn or covering more topics. That would be the way.
    What this shows me is that they want less kids to have good grades. How does this help in showing how many kids got into good colleges? If you will now get a C in an honors class when you may have gotten an A or B in regular, your grades will not look at good for college admissions. Makes no sense to me.
    More stress, worse grades. I guess Lane is out.

  • 24. Chris  |  January 5, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    ” don’t think that 5 hours of homework a night (after being at school all day) makes sense for anyone”

    Yeah, that’s too much. Obviously, clearly, too much, except for the occasional ‘project’ sort of homework (like maybe a dozen times a year, in total, not per class). It’s the “correct” amount of homework only when you have maybe 3 hours a day of class, like in college–8 or 9 total hours of school work, not 12-13.

    Can also see that happening in a situation where a given kid is ‘behind’ and putting in extra time to ‘get’ the material. But that still shouldn’t be anything close to every day.

    What does the daily 5 hours consist of? That sounds like 100 pages of reading, with reflection responses, and 100 math/science/language problems/exercises *every day* (or, 200 pages and no problems, or vice versa). Do they really cover that much material every week? Or is it 70% busy work?

    re: Sports:

    Guess I just weary of “well, after practice…” complaints, as if sports practice is a *requirement*, too. Everybody makes choices, and if sports is that important, then something else waits until after the season is over.

  • 25. A. B.  |  January 5, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    I’m a junior at Whitney Young, so I hope/think that my opinion carries some weight on these grounds.

    Many of the top students are stressed simply because they are inefficient workers and planners and lack a real sense of what colleges are looking for in a student. They take as many APs as humanly possible and work in each of their classes as described by the syllabus. This approach destines one to either fail or be put through an immense amount of stress. They do not cut corners; they work hard on all their assignments and everything they turn in is composed in an exemplary fashion. This is what leads them to fail: only by cutting the corners or “gaming the system”, if you will, can students really succeed at the top level and not face immense stress.

    Those who do 5 hours of homework a day are bad at prioritizing. If an assignment is worth a negligible number of points, a student should obviously put hardly any effort into it whatsoever, given that teachers will simply “check it off”. Many students at WY don’t. This is their (as well as many other top students’) Achilles heel. By failing to efficiently allocate effort they have countless hours of homework a night.

    I do not fall into this category. I do hardly any work *outside of school* and get all As (five AP courses and one college Ancient Greek course). The key difference between classes that many students fail to recognize is that they are not all created equal. In fact, most top students could get As in these easy classes even if they rarely attended them. The trick, therefore, is to work hard on weak subjects in these classes and go to teachers for support: they generally provide the best assistance and one who comes for support frequently gains favor easily. This makes it a simple matter to discover weaknesses, resolve them, and also find out what will be assigned (something especially convenient for tests and quizzes).

    If your child is suffering from this immense stress, help them with prioritization. If he (your child) can discriminate his effort, he will be a much more efficient and much less stressed student. Also, have him learn to teach himself. Don’t always find a tutor, be it the school, yourself, a private hire, or online walk-throughs, have him struggle with the problem. Only through having to attain answers with his own mind and nothing by which he can be “spoon-fed”, he will lose the dependency for countless hours spent looking for help.

    In short, prioritization and the ability to teach oneself is virtually the panacea for these issues.

  • 26. Patricia  |  January 5, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    I go back and forth in my mind on the “stress” discussion. On one hand, kids do seem to be on a hamster wheel to get into whatever college they have in mind. I do agree that a push for weighted grades is a function of college admittance. On the other hand, helicopter parenting AND kids getting a shelf full of “trophies” by the time they are in 2nd grade……because society has deemed it important to build self esteem, has caused kids to think things come easy, little criticism constructive or otherwise is given, the “good effort” line is overused. I remember cracking up on the sidelines in AYSO as the kids were literally keeping score, but the parents were politely clapping and saying good effort. I am all for building self-esteem, but I think as a society we have taken it a bit too far. I also remember being so thankful when my boys started cub scouts. It was good old fashioned values. Everyone got a badge for completing a pre-defined set of tasks—-then there were contests, where all got a participation patch, but there was actually a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place medal. It was so refreshing and the kids learn they can excel if they work extra hard—and they also learn that luck has a lot to do with it sometimes. How great for the kids who actually got a medal because it was earned. Their effort wasn’t globed together with the fastest race car and slowest getting equal recognition. Great life lessons are missed at an early age. I think we as a society are trying to shelter our kids a bit too much. They can learn some good lessons when they are younger without damaging self esteem. Also, everyone needs to learn their strengths and weaknesses. By falsely telling kids they are all great is a disservice to those who can really put forth effort to excel at their strengths and understand that they are not so good at other things, but can improve with hard work. At an early age we kind of shelter kids from learning what it takes to be successful. Sooooo… some ways I am not really surprised there is a lot of stress with kids these days.

    My son who was at LTAC and is now a Freshman at Lane was saying he was “stressed”. I listened and we talked through his stress and talked about how he can manage a few things better and the sleep thing is an issue, mainly because he is a teenager who would love to sleep in until noon every day. Not homework related for him. YES, he did sleep until noon or even 2pm all during winter break. At the same time, I did point out to him—-and some may think I am a mean parent—but, I did point out to him that while he has hard classes and plays sports, for heavens sake he is a teenager and his ONLY job is to do well in school and he loves sports, so it is his choice to play them. I also pointed out that he has it pretty easy compared to others who have families struggling to put food on the table, suffering family illness, etc. I wasn’t unsympathetic, but I certainly made it clear that he needs to put things in perspective. It was a very rational discussion, not a yelling or angry conversation on either side. It did help him. I also think that peers create a frenzy taking about stress and it is a contagious feeling with teens. So, as parents it is important IMO to listen, offer ways to reduce stress, but also give perspective.

  • 27. Patricia  |  January 5, 2016 at 9:33 pm

    Regarding Lane and workload. I have two at Lane, one former LTAC and now Freshman, the other LTAC 7th grader. It is interesting because they are both very different learners. One seems to spend a ton of time on homework, while the other not-so-much. Both doing great grade wise. The one who spends more time, has learned he procrastinates and is not as efficient as he could be dragging the homework thing out all evening, it takes him forever to start writing a paper and he finds huge projects daunting. The other, focuses and gets it done so he can then relax, can pound out a 5 pager first draft quickly, and is not so great with big projects, but is learning. 7th grade LTAC was an adjustment to organization, but he commented often how much he was learning—-and he was at a top SEES (where he also learned, but HS level classes pack a lot more into a semester). As a freshman, he has tackled his tendency to procrastinate and it shows. He is taking AP physics, Algebra 2 trig, AP human geo and other honors classes. Not an overwhelming amount of homework and he still does the sports he loves. I think he would be far more stressed if he did not have the self-reflection that he procrastinated and made an effort to change. Of course, he does get stressed sometimes and I expect that because he is a teenager in a SEHS, but nothing that is freaking him or his parents out.

    The peers are a range of great kids. Some are over the top perfectionists and want even more rigor—some say it is way too easy at Lane. Others are solid A and B students. Yet others are content with whatever grade they earn. With a school so large, you are bound to get a wide range. I do think there is truth to a push for AP, but that is by no means unique to Lane, it is a nationwide thing. I would want to find out more about the regular, honors, AP mix. Lane administration is very smart and they are aware of what other schools consider “honors” and what colleges look for. For example, they adjusted the Physics and split it into two because honors content was almost AP level and they tweaked it for AP and then there is a more intense AP, like other schools across the country offer. Or something like that, I am not an expert on it, but it was a change that benefited the students for college and more accurately reflected what the class covered anyway. So, it may not be as dramatic as it may seem at first blush. Not saying it is good or bad, but I do not think there is enough information to make that determination yet.

  • 28. Patricia  |  January 5, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    @7. pantherettie

    Great post! Totally agree with your 1, 2, 3.

    We as a society have forgotten to teach our kids the art of failure…….OR maybe better wording is “learning the art of recovering after failure”. It is all about what you learn from it and what you do next.

  • 29. cpsobsessed  |  January 5, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    @7 Pantherettie – great advice. Surprisingly difficult to follow. Just yesterday I was about to tell my son that a benefit of a pre-high school test prep class is that it’s good practice for ACT/SAT. And then I realized at age 12 it’s just too early to start bringing that up. Didn’t say it outloud. THOUGHT it, But didn’t say it. Yet….

  • 30. cpsobsessed  |  January 5, 2016 at 10:13 pm

    @Patricia – thanks for the Lane info. Very helpful. I worry about the procrastination gene in my family…

  • 31. cpsobsessed  |  January 5, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    The Trib had a good article today about the surge in AP classes in lllinois which has resulted in a decline in the pass rate. Many admin felt that even taking AP even if you don’t pass is better, due to exposure to advanced curriculum. (I’d post it but the Trib makes it impossible to get to any links lately.)

    It did mention that Lane has a very high pass rate, but it too have dropped a bit as they had a big increase in the # of kids taking AP classes.

  • 32. Been there  |  January 5, 2016 at 11:39 pm

    The schools push kids into AP because the % of kids enrolled is a major criteria by which they are nationally ranked. No HS school admins. have the backbone to stand up to US News and World Report (that bastion of knowledge on education best practices ha) and do what’s perhaps better for their students.

  • 33. pantherettie  |  January 6, 2016 at 7:13 am

    Really glad that we’re having this discussion. I hope more folks contribute their thoughts and experiences. For many that have been CPS obsessed, the goal is to get the kid into the “right” SEES or SEHS. But the real goal (IMHO) is to raise a decent,hardworking, intelligent person. So, in the spirit of partial internet disclosure, I will say that my kid really struggled emotionally and socially during her 1st year as an Ackie. She rocked academically (and still does) – making one B since the 7th grade. But I would have pulled her out of the school and sent her somewhere else if it would not have made matters worse. *She* would have felt like a failure for leaving but the pressure and stress she felt (and we as a family felt) was, at times, completely overwhelming to the point we sought outside help. And, let me say this again, this is for a kid who is academically successful. So, that’s why I had to really take a look at what role I was playing in the whole thing, what role her peers played and what role the school played.

    High achieving kids tend to have high achieving friends. They feed on each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Some of the parents help fuel that behavior by encouraging and supporting the good and bad parts of that. So one thing I do, if I hear kids or parents start the excessive talk and competition about college is that I shut it down. I’ve had parents ask me why my kid hasn’t taken the practice ACT yet or ACT test prep(when she’s only in 9th grade) and I say because I know she’s going to get into at least one college she loves, that is affordable and that right now she’s got better things to do. Some parents (and kids) look at me like I’m crazy but others look relieved. When I found out that 9th graders at her school were expected to take an AP class. I was pissed. During the first parent night, I was “that parent” who pointedly asked the teacher why it was a good idea to put 9th graders through the stressors of a class that should be college level because either the class is not college level or it’s not appropriate for a 9th grader. The veteran teacher provided good answers and has been fantastic for my kid because, although I think the class is great, there isn’t pressure to make a 3 or better as the sole purpose of the class. So, that’s why I say the stuff I do now about SEHS. I think that many folks assume that kids are struggling and the result is that they are not academically successful. That’s always not true. Look at the top achievers at most of the SEHS and look deeper for balance within their school and personal lives. I think there would be a lot to learn there. SEHS is not for everyone. IB is not for everyone. Honors classes are not for everyone. There is absolutely no shame in that.

  • 34. Patricia  |  January 6, 2016 at 7:38 am

    @32 good point, the magazine rankings do drive a lot of craziness. I know for law schools, one of the “data points” is library—which is important in law—-but the square footage or proportion metric was used. As a result, it led to mass building of law libraries, to raise rankings. Wouldn’t it be great if US News & World Report used, “% decrease in tuition over prior year” as a metric? LOL–college costs would get normal again pretty quickly I imagine.

  • 35. Been There  |  January 6, 2016 at 11:11 am

    I’m afraid part of the problem is defining “rocking academically” exclusively as doing things like getting only 1 B since 7th grade. A student who tries a variety of courses to see where they fit and to who is sincerely engaged in expanding their mind, and as a result ends up with even, gasp, an occasional C, rocks academically, IMO. This is HS, not the last work on their intelligence, character, and achievement.

    Moving on, our state is backward. Our state is so backward. If we had expanded HS options described in this article, there would be no SEHS hunger games, and parents would keep their teenagers in South Holland.

    “This focus on the mainstream, rather than on people at either the high or low end in terms of academic performance or wealth, is important, said Ursula Renold, former director general of the Swiss system. “You have to start with the big middle,” Renold said during a recent Chicago-area visit.

  • 36. Chicagodad  |  January 6, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Maybe all this talk of stress is simply a question of time management and study/organizational skills.

    It would be interesting to see whether the students who attend accelerated programs in elementary school have lower levels of stress when attending Lane Tech or any of the other SE schools.

    My son started at Lane in 7th and is now in 10th. The AC and the high school do assign a lot of work, and he is sometimes stressed, but he handles it well and has plenty of time for outside activities. He did go to Edison until sixth, where the teachers assigned complex projects and reports. So perhaps he and his Edison classmates had to learn time management at an earlier age than the other students who join SE schools. Then of course the AC with its heavy workload further honed the time management skills.

    Students whose first exposure to accelerated school work is 9th grade may feel overwhelmed. But in subsequent years, once they have attained those skills, their stress levels should drop.

  • 37. edgewatermom  |  January 6, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    @35 I agree completely! I think that it is important to try a variety of courses and not expect to earn all As. We have to stop making our kids feel like their future is ruined if they get a B in 7th grade or do not graduate from high school with higher than a 4.0.

  • 38. pantherettie  |  January 6, 2016 at 12:40 pm

    I don’t think that I said or even implied because she’s doing well academically that I think that only A’s or B’s are worthwhile. In fact, in my first post I wrote about how I don’t feel that way. The thing is that my kid feels very strongly about making A’s. And she is encouraged by her peers and the school to be in that top pool of kids all of the time. Schools give kids mixed messages about learning for the sake of learning and then holding up the straight A student as the model they should all aspire to.

  • 39. Been There  |  January 6, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    @38 Those remarks were not really directed at your comments, but intended to highlight how we are all currently conditioned to assess the success of the HS experience in terms of grades and test scores, and not so much developing an intellectual passion and broadening one’s experiences. (Even though remarking, “rocked academically (and still does) – making one B since the 7th grade. “, does imply that it is by getting As that one’ rocks’. ) Your overall position is clear and refreshing.

  • 40. HSObsessed  |  January 6, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I don’t think the anxiety and depression that is discussed in the Lane article is unique to SEHS. It might be that the kids enrolled there may feel extra pressure to get good grades because they have been made to feel extraordinary because they gained admission to a selective high school. However, kids in many different public and private high schools, city and suburban, all feel pressure in high school due to the looming issue of college applications.

    I also believe the anxiety is more than partly due to social pressures that come up in high school, which is of course an age-old problem related to the stage of development that teenagers find themselves traversing.

    In any event, unfortunately, I also think that whether a kid develops anxiety issues has a lot to do with biology and personality, so even in a family and school environment in which there is little to no pressure to get stellar grades in order to get into a certain high school or a certain college, these problems can emerge. All we can do is provide support.

  • 41. cpsobsessed  |  January 6, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    I’m still fairly clueless about today’s college application standards. I thought state schools still went mainly on SAT/ACT and grades. I mean that is of course a lot of stress, but wouldn’t require a kid to join lots of clubs, hold leadership positions, do sports, etc.

    Do the upper tier state schools look beyond grades/scores? What about the schools between state and Ivies (whatever those may be.)

    To reiterate my college application process, I applied to IU and maybe Purdue, sent off my application with a big old food stain on it, and got in to IU and that was that. (in state. Tuition $1500 a year, FYI.)

  • 42. Mom of College Son  |  January 6, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    I have been reading this thread and I was debating if I should write in, but I do have insight into the college application process, and I have one child who is at Lane and one who just graduated from NCP.

    @44 – we found out that state schools do pretty much just look at test scores and grades. Amazing as it sounds, UIUC has students self report their grades and says right on their website that they will “shred” any recommendations submitted to them. Once, students decide to go there, official final transcripts are submitted. They ask for a short essay, but I doubt they ever look at it. Very selective schools, look at everything – test scores, grades, activities, essays and recommendations. It is very strange, but it is not unusual at all for students to get into some very highly selective schools and not others. Our child’s counselor said they are all looking for something different and it’s very difficult to determine what that is.

    As far as Lane goes, in my opinion, the school is a pressure cooker. The pressure at NCP is no where near the Lane situation. First of all, Lane has gotten rid of many, many regular level classes and truly pushes students to take AP classes. My child has told me that he feels very sorry for so many students that cannot do the AP level work. The other thing about Lane is that the homework is relentless – every single night they do have hours of homework. At NCP, with a block schedule, students are able to “manage” their homework. My child was able to get all of their homework due on Monday and Tuesday done over the weekend. Then they did a little homework on Monday, a little more on Tuesday and then a little more on Wednesday. He never did any homework on Thursdays. Also, they have a truly fun break in the middle of the week with colloquium.

    One Monday, a year or so ago, both my children had math homework they did not understand. The child at Lane was very upset because the homework would be graded the next day, plus he was concerned about getting more homework he did not understand the next day. The child at NCP simply put it away and told me he had until Thursday to complete the work. In the meantime, he could go to tutoring, ask a teacher, ask a friend, etc.

    In my opinion, Lane is trying to up their reputation as a rigorous school, but they are not looking at the big picture as to how to make this manageable for students.

  • 43. cpsobsessed  |  January 6, 2016 at 7:17 pm

    FYI, one more plug for the documentary about WhitneyYoung, SelectED playing at the Davis this weekend

  • 44. Monisha W  |  January 6, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Kids these days are weak. If they have problems with high school they will never make it in college (especially in a mismatch situation) and forget about a job in the real world. What a joke.

    And it’s not like everyone has 5 hours of homework. Some kids can get it done in 1 or 2 and others take 5 or 6. It’s not the amount of homework that is an issues. They should have more remedial classes for the slower kids.

  • 45. HS Mom  |  January 6, 2016 at 10:44 pm

    Many great insights here.

    To add

    stress – the heavy homework and push for excellence starts at the elementary level, so you may be living it now. High school adds the social pressure that comes with having a whole new group of peers, having to make new friends and establish oneself while dealing with emotional changes in life.

    homework stress – IMO the biggest mistake kids make is taking too many AP courses. There is huge peer pressure with students bragging about how many AP classes they take. This extra stress is unnecessary. Other factors such as block scheduling can make Homework more manageable. My son was getting much more done during school hours and had alternating days of heavier and lighter work loads allowing him to plan other activities.

    getting into college stress – this is as stressful as you make it and your flexibility in acceptable options. For us, the path occurred naturally….prepping and taking more than one ACT, researching and applying to schools based upon an academic resume that one builds over time with “normal” activies that were genuine to a typical student interested in going to college.

    As much as parents feel they have a very distinct direction and goal in mind for their kids, you may be surprised at the twists and turns. This article addresses some of the fear parents may have in allowing your kid to make their own decisions.

    In summary, I would certainly not avoid SEHS or IB or other college prep programs due to stress. Accept your challenge and make the most of it.

  • 46. HS Mom  |  January 6, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Sorry about the article – looks like a subscription. Well worth the read, basically discussing that arts majors are landing higher paying well regarded jobs and they are happier with their work.

  • 47. Patricia  |  January 7, 2016 at 9:43 am

    @cpso I think this is a link to the AP article you mentioned above.

    Good article. It pointed out something I did not immediately consider with the increase in students taking AP classes—-that part of the push is to make AP more available to “all” students because AP was viewed as exclusive for a select few. Maybe part of the effort to narrow/close the achievement gap?

  • 48. HSObsessed  |  January 7, 2016 at 9:52 am

    @41 – Yes, I understand that most state schools look exclusively at test scores and grades. It’s the private schools, especially the small ones with national reputations, that are looking for a diverse class of students, that pay close attention to other details like outside activities. So if for some reason your kid is dreaming of a spot at Amherst or Williams, they need some kind of hook. Otherwise, a solid 25+ ACT score and decent grades gets a kid access to 85% of all the college options out there, include very good state schools like Iowa, Indiana, UIC.

    You know, in the end, I think it’s important to let kids be who they are. If they love a sport, let them join it and manage their time accordingly. If they love joining after school clubs, great. If they want to take a crapload of hard courses and love the challenge of fighting really hard to get good grades, awesome. But if parents pressure them into any of those things, and then persuade them to apply to and attend colleges where other kids have the exact same backgrounds, then the kid ends up somewhere they won’t be happy. Hey, this applies to high schools, too, in Chicago. My kid turned down a spot at a SEHS because it was clear that the students there were way, way more interested in achieving top grades and taking the most challenging math and science classes than she was, and she would have been miserable there. It’s so much better to pursue a course in school and life that is truly natural to you.

  • 49. Lisa W.  |  January 7, 2016 at 10:26 am

    @48. I really applaud your 2nd paragraph and am right there with you. I see that many parents feel the same, yet still want for their students admittance to the SEHSs. The kids, themselves, feel like they’re not doing well enough if they’re not trying for or landing a seat in those schools, at least the 7th and 8th graders I know.
    If we had strong high schools in every neighborhood, I think this would be less of an issue and less stress.

    Additionally, gaining admission to and graduating from the “best” college is no guarantee of financial success or happiness. My brother has 1 year of university education, yet pulls down a 6 figure salary in the silicon valley. There’s no one sure route to a secure and happy future.

  • 50. karet  |  January 7, 2016 at 10:36 am

    @47, And then there’s this perspective on the increase in AP exams nationwide — According to this article, it’s just a money making scam for the College Board.

    “It’s clear the College Board has the mentality of a voracious corporation, charging $89 a shot for an exam to millions of students who have no business taking it.”

  • 51. Patricia  |  January 7, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    @50 Sure, there is a money component, although saying it is a “scam” seems more of an opinion to me. AND I personally do not have an opinion on scam or no scam regarding AP. I was simply highlighting that the article did point out a perspective that I had not considered—–making AP “accessible to all”, not exclusive for the select few.

  • 52. HSObsessed  |  January 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Thanks @49.

    This won’t help anyone decide that going with a non-SEHS is just fine, but honestly, if your kid doesn’t attend a SEHS, get ready to endure four years of this conversation, which I have regularly with new people I meet:

    “Oh, you have a teenager and live in the city? Where does she go to school, Latin?”
    “No, she goes to public high school.”
    “Oh, one of those college prep schools?”
    “No, just our neighborhood public high school.”
    (And then, if they’re at all familiar with the high school:)
    “Oh, is she in that IB program?”
    “Nope, just the regular program.”
    [Surprised, pitying look based on child’s obvious loser status, plus change of subject, usually to ask whether the teenager has her driver’s license yet: Nope. More sad looks.]

    Of course, I have even more years of experience going through the same conversation about the neighborhood public K-8 school before this, so I’m used to it.

  • 53. CPStressed  |  January 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm

    @42, thank you for saying this about Lane “the school is a pressure cooker”. I feel the same. I can only hope that the new Administration hears this and makes change. I’m bringing this up at next week’s FOL meeting. It’s an amazing school with so many class offerings. A variety no other hs can match. One simple solution that could go a far distance for those feeling stressed, and I’m talking students and teachers, is that breaks be BREAKS. No work over Winter/Spring/Summer. Start there. HS is the last time of ones life to be a “kid”. And stress lasts a life time one way or another.

  • 54. Patricia  |  January 7, 2016 at 1:40 pm

    @53 I do not consider Lane a pressure cooker, but in a school so large, there are a range of experiences and I see a range in my kids friends as I noted up thread. I find the administration thoughtful and very knowledgeable. They also take feedback seriously in my experience. That doesn’t mean that they do whatever parents want, rather they thoughtfully consider feedback and then make a rational decision based on research and input from teachers/educators perspective as well as parents and students. That said, I completely agree with NO work over breaks. I personally despise the “summer homework”, especially the English left brain and right brain assignments. I prefer to let my kids read what they want over the summer—-however I understand that there are homes where parents do not encourage reading and do not know how to guide their child through school which may be in need of summer assignments. I like letting my kids be kids over the summer and the summer assignments are like a cloud following us all summer long. I will fully support you on the no work over breaks 🙂

  • 55. mom2  |  January 7, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    @52 – I’m dreading this same type of conversation with parents but I am pretty sure we are still going to select our neighborhood high school and just deal with the ridiculous questions and looks from others. Ugh. It just proves everything we’ve been saying, that parents want to brag about something. So they add programs to the neighborhood schools just so their child can “get in”/”get selected” and then they have something to brag about. I’m fine with them doing this everywhere if it will finally allow parents to take a spot at these schools. It would be best for all of us – parents and kids and home values alike.

  • 56. Mom of College Son  |  January 7, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I think that Lane could do something so simple to minimize stress on their students. I think they should just assign homework on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. This would give students a way to “manage” their homework so that if they wanted to participate in a sport or participate in a concert or play or see the Star Wars premier, they could do so. If they did not want to do this, how about no homework on Thursdays. If they did this, my child and so many other students would breathe a huge sigh of relief. As I said above, the homework seems to never end.

  • 57. cpsobsessed  |  January 7, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    @HSObsessed, I’m cracking up about your repeated conversation about high schools.

    People’s opinions about CPS schools are not very reality-based. I have a friend who made a life change and is now teaching at a SEHS. When he tells people, they all say “ohhh, that is SUCH a good school!” To which he wants to reply, “oh yeah, how do you actually know it’s good?”

  • 58. AlsoObsessed  |  January 7, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    @ 57….so funny and true. A friend of mine got a job in one of the select SEES. She was amazed at the parent homework 🙂

  • 59. cpsobsessed  |  January 7, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    I have an interesting school story:

    I was out last night and the date of a friend of mine started talking about Lane Tech. He mentioned that his family was a 4-generation Lane family. His grandfather, father, himself, and his oldest son had gone there.

    Stories about Lane in the 70’s are interesting. They still had drafting classes and all the tech/auto stuff was still going on. Girls made up less than 10% of the student body (I think had only recently been admitted at all.) Swim class was done in the nude. (Girls didn’t swim.)

    This guy’s younger son (now age 19) got into Lane but didn’t feel it was a good fit due to the intensity he’d seen his older brother go through. He chose one of the Noble Charter High Schools. The dad really raved about the school (I can’t recall which one.) He felt it was challenging, staff was great, they worked with the kids’ indiv needs very well. Good school atmosphere.

    His son was a major high school slacker. The dad tried bribery and grounding to get the kid to do any homework. Apparently the kid was grounded a lot.

    I asked about diversity. The family is white. The Nobel campus is about 5% white. The dad said his son had friends all over the city and thrived on being familiar with a lot of neighborhoods.

    I asked about college attendance. Nearly everyone at the school goes to college and it was a major focus. (He acknowledged that test scores were also a major focus at Noble.)

    Given the kid’s slackerness, the dad just wanted him to get a 21 ACT score to get into a reasonable college. After the years of harassing this kid about schoolwork, the ACT letter arrives. In typical teenager fashion, the son took the letter in his bedroom with his friends to open it on his own. The dad hears silence in the room, assumes disappointment. Crossing fingers… 21, 21, please, just 21. The kid some out, slaps the letter on the table. Boom. 32 ACT.

  • 60. Been there  |  January 8, 2016 at 12:16 am

    @59 Triple like.

    Regarding AP courses. New Trier HS, which true or or not, does not view itself as having anything to prove or have a need to jockey for position as one of the top HSs, has kept other advanced option besides AP courses. The have 2 levels of honor courses, some of which are AP, and some are not. It’s very disappointing to see Lane succumb to the pressure. That was one of the great features of Lane; to take regular in some course, honors in others, AP in others. Is that really being eliminated? All honors or AP in everything? Lane, you don’t need to have an inferiority complex, be YOU.

  • 61. Lane  |  January 8, 2016 at 12:23 am

    And speaking of Lane…

  • 62. IBObsessed  |  January 8, 2016 at 12:29 am

    Ok, I’ve been lurking here and here’s the view from a suburb.. ETHS. 15 minute commute, 3 hours max of homework, extracurriculars and course options galore, no homework over break. Kids compete for some interesting summer school courses. Much more diverse students than expected. Downside: honors freshman courses were eliminated supposedly to avoid tracking kids for their HS career based solely on the their 8th grade ISATs. I completely supported this attempt to give lower achieving kids a leg up by giving them a chance. Now, not so much. I see it now as an attempt to eliminate honors so more kids can be herded into AP courses.. There is an appropriate level between regular av. high school course and AP, it’s called ‘honors’.

  • 63. HSObsessed  |  January 8, 2016 at 9:45 am

    The Trib has a deep dive story today about how many kids enrolled at a school are from the neighborhood boundary v. how many from outside, both elementary and high schools. Interesting stuff. To get around the Trib paywall, copy this exact phrase into your search engine:

    chicago’s neighborhood schools hurting as choice abounds

  • 64. Marketing Mom  |  January 8, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Some of the schools are to blame for creating added stress on our children. I really wish my son’s top-rated elementary school near Wrigley Field would stop adding to the stress of the 8th graders by constantly pressing the kids about where they want to go to high school. This helped add to the anxiety for my son throughout the Fall. One of our top choices for high school for is actually one of the Noble charter school’s near our home and not SEHS. We were very impressed with their focus on college and career preparation. When my son mentioned this during one of the numerous classroom discussions, the teacher ridiculed him and said you do not want to go to a charter school. When will folks wake-up and see what is really happening? More and more children are leaving CPS in droves for charters and private school. Those that are left will fight for meager resources while more neighborhood schools are deemed “underutilized”.

  • 65. Chris  |  January 8, 2016 at 11:43 am

    “the teacher ridiculed him and said you do not want to go to a charter school”

    That’s the CTU (among others) line.

    I’m not surprised that that happens sometimes. I’d honestly be surprised if t didn’t.

  • 66. mom2  |  January 8, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    @64 – We’ve experienced that, too. In every grade, the teachers tell the kids that they need to do well, pay attention, do their homework so they can “get into a good high school.” When a few kids mentioned they were considering going to their neighborhood school because they heard it is really good now, the teachers told them they would “have to” go there if they don’t do well on their test, on their paper, etc. That attitude will never help improve the neighborhood schools and adds a ton to the stress kids already feel. Not surprising that kids hide the fact that they are considering a school where you don’t have to test to get in. “Why would anyone do that?”

  • 67. Marketing Mom  |  January 8, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    As soon as my son told me that his teacher shamed him for wanting to go to a charter school, I knew it was the CTU talking. I had to explain to him that some teachers feel threatened by charter schools and feel they are taking away their resources. Kids that decide they do not want to go the SEHS route should not be made to feel like failures among their teachers, other parents and peers (especially after the letters come out). All this does is reinforce the amount of stress our children are under.

  • 68. Chris  |  January 8, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    “considering going to their neighborhood school because they heard it is really good now, the teachers told them they would “have to” go there if they don’t do well”

    This one is harder to explain and deal with–I’m not sure what purpose that approach serves for *most* kids.

  • 69. cpsobsessed  |  January 8, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    This is one thing Alderman Pawar has done really well is to understand that the interest in the neighborhood high schools starts (or is killed) in the feeder elementary schools. He’s worked to get the elems that feed into Lake View and Amundsen to start a new dialogue about those schools and to make sure they’re included on the list of options as kids discuss high school. As we know, this won’t tip things overnight, but it certainly helps.

  • 70. cpsobsessed  |  January 8, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    I think it’s the parents and kids who drive the SEHS focus to some extent. Back like 10 years ago I was doing tutoring work at our neighborhood elem that was just starting to attract the gentrifiers. At the time the school had what I would call a low bar of achievement. I asked the 8th graders what kind of dialogue the school had with them about high school options (this was when CPSObsessed was just a twinkle in my eye). They said SE was never brought up. Things were much more neighborhood focused at the time. All kids went locally and nobody helped kids explore options.

    I found this kind of depressing at the time, because many of these kids had parents who didn’t speak English and likely couldn’t help them explore and apply to SE schools if the kid had the potential for it. And the school didn’t help either. So some kids who could have used that rigor didn’t get the chance.

    Of course now the pendulum has swung to where these same (now gentrified) elem schools are putting huge focus on SEHS, but I think they’re just meeting the requests of the families.

  • 71. mom2  |  January 8, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I sort of don’t blame the elementary schools for their SE focus. The reason – parents are always asking how many 8th graders from their school “got into” the top selective enrollment high schools. So parents think that the school is only good if a high percentage of kids from that school “got into” the top schools. So the principals brag about the amount that got in and the teachers push the next grade to do even better. It is a vicious cycle but it really hurts the kids and the neighborhood schools. It all starts with the parents.

  • 72. Chris  |  January 8, 2016 at 2:07 pm

    “I sort of don’t blame the elementary schools for their SE focus”

    Neither do I, but how is “that’s the school you go to if you stink” at all helpful? Shouldn’t it be more like “School X is doing some good things, but you should still try for SEHS so you have choices.”

    It’s like if a kid said “I’m really interested in Subject X” and the response is “Only dummies care about dumb stuff like that”–what sort of adult says that at all, and why–especially–would a teacher say that?

    I *understand* (but disagree with) the negativity about charter options. But that sort of utter negativity about (say) Steinmetz or Senn or Lake View I find baffling.

  • 73. Vikingmom  |  January 8, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks, CPSO, for starting this thread. So many great comments. Pantherettie, with a senior in (non SE)HS now, I feel I too have achieved many of your points listed in #7.
    I have a few things to add to comments 52 and 55. Now, I have to say that the circles I run in have never mentioned Latin as an option 🙂 but previous questions went like this:
    Inquiring mind: “Where does your daughter go to school?”
    (daughter’s freshman year)
    Me: “She goes to Amundsen (following by one or more of the following) She really wanted to go to Lane but the point system got so crazy this year/She’s in the IB program so it’s different from the rest of the school/They have a new principal now who is making lots of changes,” etc. etc.
    Then things changed….
    Inquiring mind: “Where does your daughter go to school?”
    (daughter’s sophomore + years)
    Me, looking inquirer straight in the eye: “She goes to Amundsen.”
    And I found that many people were interested, and asked thoughtful questions about the school, giving me the chance to go on about how great it is and how my daughter has grown academically, socially, and as an athlete in her time there.
    Now, my 8th grade son is looking forward to attending Amundsen (non IB) along with some of his closest friends, and I am just so happy we did not have to go the SEHS route with him — which frankly, wouldn’t have happened, since he doesn’t have the grades for it (he’s like the slacker student mentioned above who tests really well).
    Back to the subject at hand, I feel in a somewhat unique position because my daughter’s friend who lives with us goes to Lane, so I can make comparisons just based on these two kids. I don’t see a lot of stress but as was mentioned, this is often brought on by kids themselves. Lane gal is not super competitive re: grades, and has taken AP classes only in art. Viking gal got stressed out last year around the time the IB art portfolio was due, but it was not crazy unmanageable. Both manage time well and don’t wait until the last minute with assignments. Again, this is their personality. One thing that I have noticed with the two and please note, Lane parents, this is nothing against the school, which is great, but my daughter was able to do any and all of the extracurricular programs she wanted at Amundsen, while her friend did not, because it is so much more competitive at Lane.
    RE: College — both girls got into their number one choices, which happened to be small to mid sized private midwestern schools. Ivy Leagues were never an option for my daughter — she was never interested nor did I see the point of pushing those. My daughter did apply to UIUC and, having graduated from there myself, I really see the smaller schools as a better fit for her. We are still waiting on the IL decision, along with other state universities, but we are so pleased with her acceptances so far, and with the generous scholarships offered, among the highest given. She, in fact, still receives mail on a daily basis from schools inviting her to apply — waiving the application fee and other requirements, promising a decision within 2-3 weeks — and I credit this to her hard work and the great education and experience she got at Amundsen.

  • 74. luveurope  |  January 8, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    73. “She, in fact, still receives mail on a daily basis from schools inviting her to apply — waiving the application fee and other requirements, promising a decision within 2-3 weeks — and I credit this to her hard work and the great education and experience she got at Amundsen.”
    This was the case for my child last year as a senior at a private Chicago HS. If a student has good grades + strong curriculars the options and scholarship money is there. He got lots of $$$ offers from many schools and the smaller colleges were giving money away it seemed. He chose UIUC and LOVES IT. Hang in there everyone it all works out in the end.

  • 75. Vikingmom  |  January 8, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    74. “This was the case for my child last year as a senior at a private Chicago HS. If a student has good grades + strong curriculars the options and scholarship money is there. He got lots of $$$ offers from many schools and the smaller colleges were giving money away it seemed. He chose UIUC and LOVES IT. Hang in there everyone it all works out in the end.”

    EXACTLY right!

  • 76. mom2  |  January 8, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    @Chris – “Neither do I, but how is “that’s the school you go to if you stink” at all helpful? Shouldn’t it be more like “School X is doing some good things, but you should still try for SEHS so you have choices.” –
    I totally agree that they shouldn’t talk down about any high school and teachers should just encourage doing well at school in general because a good education benefits them no matter where they want to go to school. They should talk about finding the right fit and not necessarily picking a top school (even if they can get in) if it doesn’t match what they need. I hate that they make it seem like SEHS is the only great option. I want them to stop talking like that. I was just trying to sort of explain how it happens when the parents only think a school is great because of the percent of kids that got into SEHS.

  • 77. Chris  |  January 8, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    mom2: “I was just trying to sort of explain how it happens when the parents only think a school is great because of the percent of kids that got into SEHS.”

    Oh, yeah, understood.

    I just don’t get why a teacher would phrase it in the negative way–*especially* in a full classroom. I can understand it one on one, and I certainly can understand it happening off-handedly (I totally say things I don’t really mean to say all the time), but it does seem like there is a serious pattern of it.

    And I don’t think that it actually helps the SEHS yield to bad mouth the attendance-area-HS–it just makes a bunch of kids feel bad. Leave the “no way you’re going there” to the parents–it’s *our* job to mess up our kids with unreasonable expectations.

  • 78. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 10, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Interesting thread! For SEHS,, my son who is now a freshman at university never felt that pressure at his high school. I think he’s wired that way. He took the hardest classes he could and they never seemed that he had that much homework for him. Since he was only considering one university, but I made him apply to many~he knew he would have to take the toughest classes, get the best grades, be on a sport, do community service and volunteer, and be in clubs. For him it paid off, he was accepted to his first choice at a university out east. My other child, also at SEHS, will be receiving his first B ever and it hit him pretty hard. Although, he doesn’t struggle with his studies either. He’s very involved in volunteering/community service, sports, and clubs.

    I think it’s imperative to learn time management no matter where the child attends. It’s one thing if a child has a hard time doing/learning the work at school and another if he is a slacker. To me that means that all through his academic career in elementary school, the child was allowed to slack…the parents allowed that and that’s a disservice to your children. However, I really do believe if a child is so stressed over hw ~ that the school might not be the right school for the child. No kid should feel that pressure.

    As for neighborhood hs, I think many are gaining more and more acceptance in their communities, bc they are doing more and exposing themselves up more to what’s available to students. I think that’s wonderful.

    As for universities~It all depends on what type of school the child is planning on attending. We looked at many schools~ivy, state schools, private universities, top tier, middle tier. They all look to for the student who’s going to compliment their school with the culture there created with their body of students. My advice after submitting a college application is to know your college admission counselor. Write an email to the counselor to introduce yourself and make an appointment to meet. Afterwards, write a thank you for the meeting. Call every few weeks to update and chat. Bc after everything has been submitted, the counselor is the only person who speaks on the students behalf~not so much for ivies, bc they have their own interview and process, but for other universities. It seems like many college admissions experiences are different, this was my child’s.

  • 79. klm  |  January 10, 2016 at 9:11 am

    RE: If only everybody would just send their kids to their local public school, they’d all be “good” and we’d not have to deal with all this “SE pressure” nonsense.

    There is often a theme on this site: If only middle-class people would do the “right thing” and send their own children to low-performing CPS schools, those same no-way-in-hell schools would eventually turn around and become “good” ( a la Nettelhorst, etc.). Also there’s a certain amount of “shame on you for putting your own children before other peoples'” -type commenting that occurs, too.

    Accordingly, I thought this question from today’s ‘NYT’ Ethicist column titled “Do I have to Send My Kid to a Bad Public School?” was on point.
    and I pasted it below.

    I’ll also give my 2 cents: I’ve been effectively praising many CPS K-8 schools on this for a while. Overall, many CPS K-8 schools (not just SE ones) have test scores that as good or better than even the ones in the wealthiest Chicago suburbs with “good schools” (Hinsdale, Winnetka, Lake Forest, Deerfield, et al.), so people feel good about sending their kids to one. When one does “apple to apples” comparisons, the white kids in many CPS K-8 schools do better than white kids in schools in places like Northbrook or Highland Park. Same for black kids, etc.

    However, when it comes to high schools…… Oh Boy! The stats and test score of so many non-SE CPS HS’s are really just too plain awful to seriously consider as a viable alternative. These aren’t “comparable” in any way to a school that one’s kid could have access to if one just paid the same (or lower) rent and lived in Naperville, Buffalo Grove or wherever. I was playing around on Zillow and I saw a 2,500 sf, 3 bd/3ba townhouse for rent in the New Trier enrollment district for $2,500/mo. To live in many decent Chicago neighborhoods, one would pay at least that or more (to send one’s kid to a neighborhood HS where hardly anybody ‘exceeds’ and too few are even ‘meeting’ standards). Not to mention too many of the kids’ M-F-ing loudly in the hallways, the gang issues (and they are real, even of one’s kid isn’t personally involved). In other words, people don’t want to send their kids to a school where the majority of kids are 2-3 grades below and/or don’t have the right attitudes about school or apparent abilities, given the God-awful test scores,

    People don’t want an “exclusive education” just the “same” or comparable ones kids get in middle-class suburbs.

    People who want to send their kids to a SE CPS HS (and let’s face it, many CPS SE HS’s aren’t ‘amazing’ in their achievement data, just ‘comparable’ to open-enrollment suburban ones) instead of their local quasi-failure factory where kids occasionally make news for beating up to death a defenseless old man collecting cans in an alley, more kids are on parole than are going to enroll at good 4-year colleges, there are “uniform” policies designed to keep gang affiliation on the DL, etc. Plus above all, almost pitiful levels of achievement as indicated by published data. If I don’t want that for my kids, it doesn’t make me “selfish” or “part of the ‘problem’ (what? of people looking out for their kids, so they don’t get a crap education and have a better chance of becoming middle-class –shame on me, I guess) it makes me a good parent that’s looking out for his/her kids and care about the educational environment of the school(s) they will be attending.

    What’s wrong with that?

    One last thing: I get all the “pressure talk” at Lane, etc. However, how much of it is school-specific-based and how much is just kids being worried about getting into a good college, like happens at every decent high school in America? I mean for every braniac-worry-wort at Lane, there’s a kid that’s coasting (I know some). Also (again, not to be a jerk, but just pointing out), it’s not like kids have to score into the stratosphere to get into Lane –some kids get into Lane b/c of the IEP quota, often combined with a lower Tier. Lane’s test scores are nowhere near as high a many suburban HS’s that are open-enrollment (Hinsdale Central, Naperville North, Naperville Centeral, Neuqua Valley, Libertyville, Hersey, …not to mention all the usual North Shore ones that have way more kids scoring ‘high’).

    Would people rather these kids go to HSs where only 0-4% are meeting college-readiness standards, so that they will feel less “pressure?” But, what will happen when they’re taking Organic Chemistry 101 freshman year at UI-UC with other “pre-Health Care” kids that went to NSCP, New Trier, Naperville Central, Loyola, SICP, etc.?

    I feel for kids that are under pressure at such an early age, but what’s the alternative, in many cases, if these kids really want to get into a good college? I understand that it’s not their “drive” that’s an issue, but way that kids are internalizing the pressure and making their lives difficult. However, that more of a personal issue than a school-wide pressure-cooker atmosphere, IMO. Most kids at Lane aren’t aiming for admission to the undergrad Computer Science programs at Carnegie-Mellon or Stanford. However, to get into these kids of programs, kids had better be academic rock stars in HS. I don’t want any kids to suffer mental health issues, but is “pressure” always a bad thing?

    Here’s the NYT column I mentioned:

    My wife and I are an interracial couple living in Oakland, Calif. We are both first-generation college graduates for whom solid public-school educations made all the difference. We are struggling with choosing a public school for our son, who will enter kindergarten this year. State test scores came out recently, and our neighborhood public school, which is filled with some of the city’s poorest kids, scored very low. I have to believe there is something seriously wrong with how the school is educating kids. (Otherwise, the school, which we know fairly well through volunteering, seems perfectly fine.) My wife and I both work full-time and also care for her mother and disabled sibling, so we know that we can’t put in the kind of time that would be required to turn the school around. We also fear that we cannot teach our son enough outside school hours to make up for a significant deficit in his education.

    This raises a serious ethical quandary for us: Do we let our neighborhood kids and our own values down by fleeing to a higher-testing public school in a richer part of the city? Or do we let our son down by sending him to the neighborhood school, which we fear will not put him on solid educational footing? My instinct is that our higher duty is to our son. But I am also painfully aware that this kind of my-kid-comes-first mentality is exactly what created poor urban schools to begin with. We will probably feel lousy no matter what we decide to do. But from a purely ethical standpoint, should our child’s education or our neighborhood and its kids come first? Name Withheld

    You don’t owe it to all the other children in your neighborhood to give their interests the same weight as their parents do. Your special obligations are to your own child. You suggest that a my-kids-come-first mentality is what creates problem schools. But doesn’t it also make for some of the best schools? (And keep in mind that educational excellence needn’t be a zero-sum game.) There’s no recognizably human world where parents treat their own children the same as everyone else’s. This doesn’t license lack of concern for those other kids, and you’re right to worry that your dysfunctional neighborhood school is failing those it serves. But you can do something about that — through involvement in local and state politics, for example — without sacrificing your son. And what you owe is not heroic commitment, ‘‘turning the school around’’ by your own efforts. You owe only your fair share of the duties of an engaged local citizen. Like everyone else, you should provide your son with a good education if you can; the school may be perfectly fine in every other respect, but that doesn’t make up for the appalling results.

  • 80. About Jones  |  January 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

    What are the impressions of Jones? Is it a pressure cooker too? I have a student interested in attending Jones for high school.

  • 81. Elmer  |  January 11, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Maybe this new CPS program will help ease the stress:

    January 11, 2016 11:16am
    CITY HALL — Moving to improve rising graduation rates, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced two new summer orientation programs Monday, to be paid for with $6 million in new tobacco taxes.

    According to the Mayor’s Press Office, the initiatives are intended to sustain the momentum in improving graduation rates, with a goal of attaining 85 percent by 2019.

    “Chicago’s students are already making unprecedented gains and outpacing their peers nationwide in academic achievement,” Emanuel said in a statement released Monday. “These programs will build on that progress by ensuring that students are prepared going into their high-school years.”

    Emanuel called it “a win-win, as it not only invests in the education of our youth, but works to prevent them from ever picking up smoking.”

    The weeklong freshman orientation grows out of a similar program at Payton College Prep and will be extended to all 20,000 incoming freshmen in Chicago Public Schools. It will instruct them in improving study habits, while encouraging relationships between students and teachers and just generally acclimating students to their new schools.

    Whitney Young and Jones high schools also have orientation programs, among other schools.

    Another summer program, however, will target incoming eighth-graders at risk of dropping out and provide them with additional study skills and lessons in “emotional readiness” to succeed in high school, according to the release. Designed with the input of the University of Chicago Urban Labs, it’s intended to put eighth-graders back on a path to graduation before they even enter high school.

    CPS Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson touted the programs as enabling students to “continue building on the success we have already seen,” adding, “As a former principal, I know that in-depth high-school orientation that focuses on both academics and social adjustments is critical in ensuring that all students who come through our doors are successful from day one, so that every student can graduate on time and prepared for post-secondary success.”

    The city will pay for the programs by expanding tobacco taxes, including a tax on smokeless tobacco long sought by Ald. Joe Moreno (1st). Taxes will be imposed on smokeless tobacco, loose tobacco and cigars to fill what the Mayor’s Press Office called a “tobacco gap.”

    New taxes proposed by Emanuel, in an ordinance co-sponsored by Moreno and Ald. Will Burns (4th), chairman of the Education Committee, include 15 cents per “little cigar,” raising the cost of a pack of 20 by $3, 90 cents per cigar, $6.60 per ounce of “roll-your-own” tobacco and $1.80 per ounce of smokeless tobacco.

  • 82. mom2  |  January 11, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    @KLM – I assume some of your post was directed at comments I’ve made so I’d like to reply. First of all, I totally agree that parents need to look out for their children above all else. I certainly don’t mean to shame anyone into thinking they should do what is best for the whole rather than best for their individual child. I want what is best for my children, too. In fact, my last child went to Lane so I’m right there with you.

    What I am saying is that parents that only look at test scores to determine what is a good school are part of the problem and aren’t seeing things the way they really are.

    Back when we started in this CPS process for kindergarten, most parents that only look at test scores would have said “no way” to Nettlehorst, Burley, Blaine, Prescott, Hamilton, etc. They were “failure factories”. Well, the teachers and the administration really weren’t to blame. It was just that families that focus on education and put the time into helping their kids from birth weren’t sending their kids there. If all the parents on the north side of the city had the thought process that they are only going to send their child where the test scores are already good, we would all be moving to the suburbs or paying for private schools starting in kindergarten.
    The same process really can work for a neighborhood high school. I know it seems riskier due to the teenage peer pressure. That’s why I’m hoping a large group of parents will do this together.

    What if Lane Tech suddenly had to close its doors just before the start of a new school year? If every child that is going to Lane suddenly had to go to their neighborhood school…guess what would happen to the test scores at the neighborhood school the next year? Wow, the school would be so much better. What happened? What did that school do to improve so quickly? Nothing. But that school would suddenly have to change by adding more honors and AP courses, more college tours, etc. to meet the needs of their new students. That would be great!

  • 83. cpsobsessed  |  January 11, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    Another interesting piece about an upscale school district in NJ where white parents are pushing to ease the pressure on students, while the Asian parents feel it is relaxing the school’s high standards and opportunities for their kids. (I’m not sure why these 2 things can’t exist in harmony, with kids choosing to participate in what they participate in for activities and advanced classes, but it’s interesting to see what both sides have to say…)

  • 84. cpsobsessed  |  January 11, 2016 at 1:29 pm

    @82 Mom2 – totally agree. The challenge is that it’ll take some critical mass (not sure how much, I think that tipping point is shifting) to attract those Blaine, Burley, Nettlehorst parents and see the grade shift.

    I keep trying to brainstorm what it might take for a whole group to do it, but even though people always complain about the lack of city HS options, there seem to be enough to keep people from the high schools. Whereas back when the kids were entering Kindergarten, the magnet odds were so slim and hauling kids and younger toddlers was such a pain, people seemed more motivated to attend locally.

  • 85. Chris  |  January 11, 2016 at 5:15 pm

    “Lane’s test scores are nowhere near as high a many suburban HS’s that are open-enrollment (Hinsdale Central, Naperville North, Naperville Centeral, Neuqua Valley, Libertyville, Hersey”

    Do those 6 schools have as many low income students *combined* as Lane does? (not *entirely* snark)

  • 86. klm  |  January 11, 2016 at 5:32 pm


    I wasn’t talking about you, specifically.

    The problem with turning a low-performing HS around vs.turning a low-performing elementary school are similar, but also fundamentally different.

    First the enrollment districts for K-8 schools are small and the demographics (i. e., enough middle-class people that want a suburbs-in-the-city public school and provide the kind of domestic stimulation that produces kids that do well on achievement measures) can change quickly. Also, there’s the precedent of of schools like Blaine, Nettelhorst, etc. Also, many CPS schools pre-“change” aren’t miles and miles away from being “good” the way so many HS’s are.

    However, by the time HS rolls around, the enrollment zones are often quite big and may include some real bad-a** ‘hoods where most people are fine, decent and kind but a large number of youths are anything but that. There is gang territory and affiliations. There are the urban public school kids that are grades behind, but still are promoted every year (and I’m not talking kids with IEP’s that are in need of SPED services). There are the proms that look like the Pimps-n-Hos Convention Ball, etc.

    Well, OK, there’s some of that stuff in many/most public schools, I know.There are lots of kids that make really, really bad decisions in Naperville and Western Springs, end up nowhere in life, etc. I get that and I know it’s very true –there are no guarantees no matter where one sends one’s kids to school.

    However, the actual data re: learning (isn’t that what school’s supposed to be about –actual learning),, the number of kids that end up going to 4-year colleges, the % meet ACT college readiness standards (which really aren’t that high), etc. is so, so awful at so many CPS HS’s.

    If, using your example, suddenly Lane shut its doors, yes some kids may be enrolling at a relative handful of CPS neighborhood schools, but many would be enrolling at schools in the suburbs, because that’s where the parents would frantically move if it’s too late to get into a parochial school (rent first, then maybe buy when the Chicago house sells –that’s what I’d do).

    People in Streeterville that can afford 3bd/3ba condos are not sending their kids to Wells. Ever. Ever. Ever. Right or wrong.

    Look, many people could buy a really spacious house if they’d just consider East Garfield Park or Engelwood. If only more middle-class people would move to these neighborhoods, they’d become “good.” In fact, isn’t it the racism, classicism, and overall selfishness and meanness of people that turned these neighborhoods negative?

    Well, another way of looking at it is this: I sure feel bad for people in East Garfield Park and Engelwood and think we should do something to help these places, but the fact that I’m not going to live there is NOT because I’m classist/racist or have something against certain people (as you all know my spouse and kids are black), it’s because these neighborhoods are (again, data) so dangerous and crime-filled that I think that they’re not appropriate for my kids, because I don’t want them to die (which is a real consideration in those places).

    I know I’m going off the deep end with a deeply flawed parallel (choosing Lake View High School is not the same as choosing to raise one’s kids in some of the most troubled, violent urban neighborhoods in the country, I know. But still….we make decisions for our kids not because we’re ‘bad’ people that don’t like ‘other’ people, but because we make calculated guesses about which environment[s] will optimize their chances in life because we love and care about them, not because we want to screw other people’s kids or don’t care about other parts of the city). .

    What needs to happen is for HS’s to get some positive data re: learning and then the interest will follow. And for whatever reason, it’s much, much more difficult to do with high schools.

    BTW, I know that many low-performing CPS HS’s have many wonderful, dedicated teachers, good administrators and great kids that I’d love to be friends with my own. What they don’t have are near enough kids reading and doing math at grade-level. That’s the problem.

    One last thing. When people say things like “If they’d just shut down all CPS SE schools, the neighborhoods ones would just get better.,” etc., I can’t help but wonder where they were during the 70s and 80s when Chicago was losing its middle-class like crazy and when practically nobody that could afford it sent their kids to a CPS school, given their reputation (and not totally undeserved, either). People either sent their kids to St. Whoever or they moved to Niles, Skokie, Lisle or wherever. I know of one recent family for whom CPS SE nixed a move to Wilmette, since their neighborhood option wasn’t a good one (they literally pulled their house off the market and stopped looking at the matchboxes they could afford in Wilmette –they were moving for the schools, the way most people with kids do –I kinda’ think I’m right on this one). There are so many more similar stories. For many families, it’s not SE-or-no-other-CPS-school, it’s SE or moving the heck outta’ Chicago so my kids can get the same level of learning as other middle-class peoples’ get. Not everybody is OK with parochial school (especially if they’re not religious or maybe Jewish) and paying $25k+ per kids is too much for many people.

  • 87. Central Planning  |  January 12, 2016 at 10:15 am

    It’s all good, Common Core to the rescue!!!!

    “EXCLUSIVE: Textbook sales leader says national Common Core education standards are ‘all about the money’ as teacher insists bureaucrats created a ‘new f**king system that f**king sucks to sell more books'”

  • 88. Chris  |  January 12, 2016 at 11:11 am

    “teacher insists bureaucrats created a ‘new f**king system that f**king sucks to sell more books’””

    Wow, they found a teacher that doesn’t like curriculum changes. That must have taken them all day!

    That said, the curriculum chosen for Common Core really does seem to be a POS. I still think that the *concept* is good, but the execution has been reprehensible.

  • 89. mom2  |  January 12, 2016 at 11:26 am

    @cpsobsessed, I think a thread on common core would be great. I agree with Chris completely. Execution has been reprehensible.

  • 90. karet  |  January 12, 2016 at 11:50 am

    @klm, “Lane’s test scores are nowhere near as high a many suburban HS’s that are open-enrollment (Hinsdale Central, Naperville North, Naperville Centeral, Neuqua Valley, Libertyville, Hersey”

    Not true.

    According to the Tribune’s 2014 Report Card, ACT scores are:

    Lane – 25.1

    John Hersey – 24.8
    Naperville Central – 25.2
    Naperville North – 25.0
    Neuqua Valley – 25.0
    Libertyville HS – 25.6
    Hinsdale South – 22.1
    Hinsdale Central – 27.0 (only 6.3% low income)

  • 91. CPSer  |  January 12, 2016 at 12:09 pm

    Lane’s scores should be higher, don’t you think? They take the top students in the city. The others listed above take everyone. No comparison.

  • 92. Patricia  |  January 12, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    @91 Really? You can’t compare the millions in Chicago and the high poverty with the bubble of the suburbs listed above. So the suburbs taking “everyone” really is not a valid point. While I do not have a stat to quote, Lane certainly has more socio-economic diversity than the schools listed.

  • 93. Chris  |  January 12, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    “While I do not have a stat to quote, Lane certainly has more socio-economic diversity than the schools listed.”

    Percent low income (from ISBE report cards) and number of such students:

    John Hersey – 16.7 (325)
    Naperville Central – 14.4 (422)
    Naperville North – 17.8 (525)
    Neuqua Valley – 10.6 (412)
    Libertyville HS – 5.3 (107)
    Hinsdale South – 32.2 (513)
    Hinsdale Central – 8.1 (228)

    Lane Tech – 59.4 (2,376)

    If you cut out Hinsdale South–with its defintely lower average–you have 6 schools with about 2,020 low income students total, out of over 16,000 students, where Lane has 15% more low income students, with about 4,000 total.

    So, yeah, *slightly* more economic diversity.

  • 94. Philipe  |  January 12, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Based on MAP and SEHS test score percentiles for Lane (around 85th percentile) you would expect the kids to score between a 26 and 27 on ACT. The 25 ACT average for Lane (approx 78th percentile) is in the ballpark and in line with the SEHS selectivity.

    On all of the selective enrollments, you can predict pretty closely the expected ACT scores based on MAP and SEHS scores. There is no significant transformation. In general ACT scores come in a little lower than expected.

    It will be interesting to see SAT scores in the future instead of ACT. ACT is more of an achievement test and is easier to prep for. The SAT was more of an attitude test to measure intelligence. But the new SAT has moved more to achievement test as well (and common core linkage…oh boy). There will be significantly more reading involved with the new SAT especially in the math sections. The other big difference is the SAT has two math sections, one that allows a calculator (like the ACT) and a separate no calculator allowed section.

    It will be interesting to see how percentiles compare between the ACT and SAT for Illinois students.

  • 95. HSObsessed  |  January 12, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    @91 – Those suburban schools don’t really “take everyone”: They only enroll the children of people who can afford to buy homes in those suburbs. That ranges from $860K for an average home in Hinsdale to $350K or $375K in Libertyville and Naperville.

  • 96. A G  |  January 12, 2016 at 5:21 pm

    IQ drives income, income does not drive IQ. Unfortunately most of it is genetic.

  • 97. Chris  |  January 12, 2016 at 6:05 pm

    “IQ drives income, income does not drive IQ.”

    And the ACT does not test IQ.

    And family income does have a fairly strong correlation with test scores.

  • 98. How academically rigorous are the SEHSs...  |  January 12, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    ..when they take the high achieving students for 4 years and at the end they score roughly at the percentile where they started? Some neighborhood HSs are more impressive in how they raise scores from Explore to ACT.

    It blows my mind how klm persists in being fooled by average ACTs as if ‘average’ means most the students at a neighborhood HS score a 17. Yes, it means more score lower than students at Lane, does that mean you can’t go there and achieve a 25. It’s too bad they don’t publish mean ACTs. How many 17s are there at Lane to drag down the average to 25???

  • 99. Snowman  |  January 12, 2016 at 8:25 pm

    Looking for input on Lincoln Park’s IB Program & Jones Pre-Law & Westinghouse College to Career Program. Any input???

  • 100. A Bell  |  January 13, 2016 at 6:22 am

    “And family income does have a fairly strong correlation with test scores.”

    Correlation does not equal causation, professor.

    What about race and test scores? Just pick the low income group and compare Asians vs the other races? Are New York selective public schools mostly Asian because they are all rich? As long as people keep believing school performance is based on income level, the education gaps will always exist. Parent involvement genetics play much more of a role.

    “And the ACT does not test IQ.”

    Who said it did?

    But since you brought up correlation, professor …
    “It appears that ACT scores can be used to accurately predict IQ in the general population.”
    Source: “ACT and general cognitive ability – Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University (2007)” – just one of many studies.

  • 101. Been There  |  January 13, 2016 at 11:50 am

    “It appears that ACT scores can be used to accurately predict IQ in the general population.”

    Hey A Bell genius, could it be that is because it’s also a standardized, multiple choice test, designed with the same set of cultural assumptions/bias as the ACT? Not too surprising people score roughly the same on each.

    Also, conceiving of IQ as primarily organic to the brain, and fixed is outmoded.

    Also, if genetics explains achievement, then why even have this discussion since that won’t change?

    Also, could parental involvement correlate with income because the working poor/poor simply don’t have time and are too worn down to be involved? Hmmm that could be changed, couldn’t it.?

  • 102. Been There  |  January 13, 2016 at 11:56 am


    “Correlation does not equal causation, professor”

    Yeah the scientific community kinds knows that, and is able to verify very few hard and fast ’causes’. (And the fact that correlation does not equal causation does not make correlation meaningless.) So, if you’re waiting for that you’re going to be waiting a long time. That’s why most advances are based upon data showing correlations. So your smarty pants comment does not debunk what Chris said.

  • 103. Beth  |  January 13, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    My daughter is in 7th grade at Lane. It has been a stressful transition for both her and us as parents. I feel that the expectations of the students, who are 12 when entering (and my daughter is an August bday, so she will be 12 the whole year), are fairly unrealistic. I also hear a lot of “well, in the real world” arguments for the hard-ass approach to some things. In the real world, no one gives you a demerit for being seconds late to anything. At least the white collar world that one assumes LTAC/Lane believes it is preparing these students for. In the real world, no one refuses to accept your work if you forgot to turn it in during class. Your boss comes and finds you and says “where is that report? I need it.” And you hand it over. I understand the desire to increase responsibility and accountability. I don’t think that much of what is framed as doing that with regard to homework deadlines is doing that; I think as it stands it functions primarily as a way assert authority and feed the obsession with studying/doing homework a ton and the need to “get ahead.”

    We have friends with kids at Northside who have noted that the culture feels “nurturing.” Lane Tech, so far, does not feel nurturing at all. I think that others have hit the nail on the head. In elem school, my daughter was used to getting homework on a weekly basis. She could map out her week and when we knew she had soccer practice (which, yes, she chooses to do–kids should be able to participate in sports and other activities without having to stress over getting homework done) one night she could spend extra time on hw a different night. It is ultimately our daughter’s decision to stay at Lane or not, but we are requiring that she look at other options and take the SEHS exam next year to honestly compare those options to Lane.

  • 104. ShockAndAwe  |  January 13, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    @91, Lane does not have the top students in the city. The Tier system disqualifies many of the top students.

  • 105. Chris  |  January 13, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    “As long as people keep believing school performance is based on income level”

    Well, professor, you said:

    “IQ drives income … most of it is genetic”

    It’s not *based on* income, true enough, but it is *correlated* with income, so a school full of poor kids will be expected to have lower test scores, and worse “school performance”.

  • 106. klm  |  January 13, 2016 at 5:35 pm


    I was kinda’ thinking of (since the theme was ‘high achievement -type pressure to do great’) the percentage of kids that “exceed” on the 3 sections of the PSAE (math, reading, science):

    At Lane, for example, it’s 17/12/17. At, for example, Naperville North, it’s 32/28/36.

    @93 OK, well let’s look at the scores only of “non-low-income,” then. Per ISBE:

    For Lane, it’s 23/16/25
    Napervile North – 36/32/42, Evanton Twp – 43/38/44 (a HS where 42.6% of kids are low-income),

    For some non-SE CPS HS’s (again, only the non-low-income kids):
    Amundsen – 5/0/0
    Lake View – 0/0/0
    Senn – 4/4/0

    (Gee, why would anybody think twice about those schools? Only mean people that are unrealistic expectation about what to expect for their kids’ schools, I guess).

    Please, everybody, understand –I’m not trying to dis’ or put down Lane (I’d be happy for my kids to go there!), just trying to bring come perspective re: achievement level and what’s “normal.” Yes, Lane’s a great school, but it’s not like its kids are rocking out 32+ ACT scores in great numbers (which is, of course, OK –it’s still a great school).

    But all this talk like Lane’s some sort of pressure-cooker, MIT of high schools just seemed a little outta tune with reality, I’m thinking. In terms of achievement, it’s more of a “regular” (by suburban standards) high school, not a place where every other kids is pining for admittance to Caltech. There are kids at every decent high school that feel pressure to succeed.

    Throw stones, but that’s how I see it. And I’m in no way a Tiger Mother.

    All I’m trying to say is this: Want parents to stay in CPS for HS? Then show them comparable levels of achievement to what they’d get in Naperville, Evanston, etc.(this already happens in many K-8 schools). Anybody that thinks that one has to rich to live in places like these is either somebody that has never been there (i.e. seen the many, many modest apartment buildings in Naperville –go on Zillow!) or (purposely?) mistaken.

    Why is it in Chicago we’re supposed to somehow “accept” lower levels of achievement as some kind of price to pay for living in the city, like the car tax or expensive hourly parking Downtown? And when somebody points it out, there are a million different reasons why people try to shut one up, negative labels some people begin hinting at (racism, selfishness, class-based prejudice) to temper data-based concerns by a sort of “shaming.” To simply dismiss anybody that points out achievement levels as somehow an unrealistic millionaire’s-education-wannabe that is comparing the children of a partner at Goldman Sachs living near the lake in Glencoe to a single mother raising three kids in Uptown is not the kind of thing that’s going to get people sending their kids to Lake View, Senn, etc.

    Good data that shows achievement is. Plain and simple.

    Again, I think people don’t want the public education people that live in mansions in Kenilworth or Lake Forest get, they just want the same ones that people they know that live in townhouse condos that cost less than those in any decent neighborhood of Chicago get (which is the case for places like Naperville, Lincolnshire, Libertyville, ….). Most people that live even in places like Naperville are not rich –just go there and drive around. I know people that live there and they are not rich by any means.

  • 107. karet  |  January 13, 2016 at 7:16 pm


    But Naperville North has far fewer students who “meet” the standards in the PSAE than Lane. So let’s compare the scores when we combine the percentage of students who “meet” and “exceed”, which I believe is a much more meaningful comparison.

    Reading – 92.9
    Math – 91.6
    Science – 85.9

    Naperville North:
    Reading – 81
    Math – 79.1
    Science – 80.4

    It’s simply not true that “Lane’s test scores are nowhere near as high” as suburban schools like Naperville North, as you stated.

  • 108. NWS parent  |  January 13, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    @82 mom 2
    “What if Lane Tech suddenly had to close its doors just before the start of a new school year? If every child that is going to Lane suddenly had to go to their neighborhood school…guess what would happen to the test scores at the neighborhood school the next year? Wow, the school would be so much better. ”

    I find this statement disturbing. It’s a simplistic solution to a much more complex problem. Just distributing a handful of “high achieving” students into the various neighborhood schools throughout the city doesn’t address the fundamental issue of a huge percentage of students in CPS living below the poverty line. Only 19 of the 46 neighborhood high schools are currently in good standing per the CPS website. Redistributing a handful of SEHS students is no real solution for the system as a whole.

  • 109. edgewatermom  |  January 13, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    @108 I don’t think that mom2 was suggesting that this would solve the problem. I think that she is pointing out the fact that many of the schools have poor test scores because they have so many students who are facing so many other challenges due to poverty and that if you put students who are now going to SEHS schools into these “failing” schools those students would probably still perform well.

  • 110. feeder schools  |  January 13, 2016 at 8:24 pm


    Like klm, I would rather use “exceed” expectations in comparing schools. Meeting expectations is too generous a criterion. In elementary schools, it’s those exceeders who have a reasonable shot at the top SEHSs. In high schools, it’s the exceeders who can reasonably expect going to decent colleges, absent affirmative action. You two’s numbers show it clearly that, compared to the better suburban schools, Lane has a small proportion of high-performance students.

  • 111. NWS parent  |  January 13, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    But would they perform as well? That’s the real question. A low performing school with a laundry list of the problems would more likely tend to drag good students down rather than the other way around, All I’m trying to say is plugging in a handful of better students just isn’t enough of a solution to provide improvement that is good enough.

  • 112. klm  |  January 13, 2016 at 9:11 pm


    Well, naturally, that’s the case (more students not meeting standards) , since every kid in its enrollment zone that goes to public school is a student at Naperville North (including those barely getting by, those with a severe lack of motivation, those with a 0.9 GPA in 7th grade, etc.). Lane is a “selective enrollment” school, is it not? Naperville North –anybody can go there, as long as their family rents or buys in its area. Everybody that gets into Lane has to do decent on tests to just get in –and even then fewer students than at open-enrollment Naperville North rock PSAE scores. Maybe it’s because many CPS students that would “exceed” end up going private or to Jones, NSCP, Payton or Young? I’m just guessing.

    Again, I’m not, not, not saying that that there’s anything in any way “less” about Lane than other high schools. It’s just that even with its “selective enrollment” -type of admission, fewer kids are “exceeding” than at a school like Naperville North, even when make comparable apple-to-apples socio-economic comparisons –so it’s not like it has some sort of crazy high-achieving student body, compared to many open-enrollment suburban schools.

    And much of the discussion here is about how competitive and pressure-filled it (Lane) is, compared to many schools, how it would be great if people could just go to their “less competitive” local non-SE high school, just like they do K-8 CPS schools like Oriole Park, Edgebrook, Bell, Blaine, Lincoln, Coonley, Audubon, Alcott…… People like these (K-8) schools since they have data that suggest their students are doing totally great vs. their peers in suburbs with “good schools.” It’s reassuring. By contrast, the CPS non-SE high schools I mentioned above have worrisome achievement data –I mean I’m not making this stuff up.

    Also, as a reminder: I’ve been a big CPS booster and a strong supporter of public schools. I still am. I’m not somebody out to put down or rip on any CPS school, just trying to bring context and answers when people wonder why so many middle-class people are reluctant to sent their kids to their local non-SE CPS high schools –the stats I posed above are 90-99% of the reason.

    When people wonder why so many middle-class (or ‘middle-class thinking’ –that was my mom and we were poor, money-wise) Chicagoans avoid their local or other non-SE CPS HS, I want to shout, “It’s the scores, stupid.”

  • 113. How academically rigorous are the SEHSs...  |  January 13, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    I don’t think anyone with half a brain wonders why…
    I think others are trying to argue that yes, the average scores at neighborhood schools are much lower, How do we expand our kids options beyond SEHS? For some of us, considering a neighborhood school is scary risky and intolerable. Fine. Others think if well prepared students supported by their parents attend these schools in high enough numbers, the scores, standards and expectations will rise, because so much of quality is the critical mass of the type of students attending,NOT something intrinsic about the school. There are many, many neighborhood school teachers capable of providing courses at the 25+ ACT level and many who already do.
    I would think those with with kids still in elementary would be cheering on those who are contemplating banding together to do this so their kids will have more options. Some are satisfied with the SEHS system, alot are beginning to want the option of a more traditional American HS with a range of student achievement levels, as long as the lower end does not drag down and define the whole school culture.

  • 114. jazzman  |  January 13, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    How many parents are willing to take a chance with their children? At poor performing schools. How many parents and students does it take to get that critical mass to turn over a poor performing school? And how long would this task take?? If you are talking about elementary you have a longer time and can make up the ground lost vs High school where your 4 and done.

  • 115. jen  |  January 13, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    I don’t think anyone is talking about “if only more people sent their kids there the schools would be good” when they think of schools like Sullivan or Fenger or Farragut. There are a number of lower performing high schools though that aren’t all that terrible like Mather, Senn, Von Steuben, Amudsen, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Kenwood, the Ag school. These are all schools that don’t have god awful gang issues or frequent shootings in the parking lots. A kid can get a good enough education at those schools.
    I suspect that once the average ACT hits 21, then the school becomes a more likely prospect. I say that because some families will consider the Noble charter high schools and those schools are only in the 19-20 range, which is comparable to a normal suburb. Schools in Naperville, Hinsdale and Winnetka and the SEHS’s of the north side and downtown are outliers.

  • 116. NWS parent  |  January 13, 2016 at 11:21 pm

    If a parent wants to talk specifically about the high school in their neighborhood and rally to support their local community that’s wonderful. In some areas of the city such an initiative would likely foster improvement. What I objected to was the example posed in post #82 about what if Lane closed? What would happen if the SEHS, IB and numerous other Magnet type programs just closed and the neighborhood schools were the only option? We would have the 1970’s again. The current system is flawed, but until the socio-economic issues effecting a huge portion of our children are improved public schools will be marginalized.

  • 117. pantherettie  |  January 14, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Can we please get this thread back on track? It’s the same cast of characters saying the same thing about the same subject. This is about stress on students in SEHS/AC. There have been some really great comments from parents and students about the topic. Could we just talk about that. Please. Pretty Please? BTW I *replied* to Jen’s comment because it was the last I read but this comment is not directed towards her.

  • 118. High Schools  |  January 14, 2016 at 8:32 am

    @117 – I believe we are still on topic. It’s difficult to discuss stress in SE high schools without discussing the alternatives. Without “the same cast of characters” as you call it……not many other people commenting in general, it’s been very quiet here. Just saying.

  • 119. klm  |  January 14, 2016 at 9:42 am


    I think people (at least me) are saying somethings like this: Yes, Lane may be a pressure-cooker for SOME students. However, it’s not like its students are achieving into the upper ranges –many do not, especially when compared to many other high schools in Chicagoland that aren’t even SE.

    Accordingly, I (and maybe other people) are wondering out loud why Lane’s “prssure” is more “intense” or maybe is it even really worse that at any “good” high school? There are enough examples of kids at Lane that aren’t rockings grades, tests, taking multiple AP’s, etc., also just like at every other high school. I’m wondering if Lane’s really that “special,” in terms of pressure, except when maybe compared to some other low-achieving high schools CPS or otherwise)?

    Lots of kids at Napervile Central are under tons of pressure. Same goes for Hersey, ETHS, Maine West, lots of parochial schools, on and on. Why would Lane be any different?

    All kids that want to get into competetive colleges and/or programs (e.g., the engineering school at UI-UC) are under pressure. I’m wondering out loud why Lane would be any different (or should be any different) than so many other high schools.

    Also, it’s not like most Lane kids are on the high-powered-Ivy track (although obviously some are –again just like at many other high schools). Not to ‘dis Lane, but (relatively, speaking) it’s true, compared with many other Chicagland high schools that regular, middle-class families have access.

    I feel bad for kids that are suffering emotionally at Lane, but would things be any different for them at Barrington or Neuqua Valley high schools? Part of me thinks: are expectations so low from CPS students that kids at Lane are presented like freakish braniacs on the verge on emotional break downs over all the work and pressure?

    Pressure is rampled up everywhere, with higher and high median ACT scores and lower and lower acceptance rates, especially for kids that “unhooked.” .

    If kids are miserable taking too many AP’s they should not be taking as many. I mean, why kill yourself if you know and your abilities indicate that it’s just too much? But that happens at every decent high school in America, now, does it not?

  • 120. karet  |  January 14, 2016 at 10:44 am

    Of course, it would be easy to make the argument that high school students are stressed no matter where they attend. But you also seem to be suggesting that stress levels are *higher* at schools like New Trier or Payton, where there are likely more students who hope to attend highly competitive private schools (Ivy, or Stanford, or whatever). Or maybe I misunderstand why you keep mentioning that most Lane students aren’t on that track.

    I don’t know how one would accurately compare stress levels of different kinds of students, but I can imagine that at Lane, with such a high percentage of low-income students – 57.6% – there is stress for a lot of reasons. Here we have a large group of academically advanced students who have tested in to this highly regarded school — and whose families have very high hopes for them. Many of their parents did not go to college, many of their parents were not born in the US, and can not be much help when it comes to applying to college or understanding that process. These kids understand that their performance in high school will have a profound affect on their futures — they may believe that if they don’t get scholarships, they will not be going to college at all. That’s a lot of pressure. Why would a kid take AP if these classes are too hard? — To save thousands of dollars by testing out of college courses, of course. The financial pressure on these kids must be enormous.

    What’s the worst thing that can happen to a New Trier kid who doesn’t get in to Stanford? He ends up at Wash U?

    Honestly, I don’t know why it’s useful to point out that many of the highest achieving students don’t end up at Lane. Northside and Payton and WY are harder to get into, so obviously that is where many – but not all! – of those students end up. Those suburbs you mention, as you point out, take everybody — and that includes ALL of the high achievers in the area.

    I tried to find a suburb with a similar demographics to Lane for comparison. The best I can find is Addison Trail HS in Addison — Low income, 59.3%. — ACT 19.5.

  • 121. Jaguar Bronco Mom  |  January 14, 2016 at 11:13 am

    It’s quiet because the “same cast of characters” continue to look down on SEHS on the south side & some of the neighborhood & magnet high schools. Pantheretti hasn’t posted in a while & I’m glad to see that she’s back. I wanted to post because I have an 8th grader in the AC at Kenwood & a junior at King but then I didn’t feel like reading the negative comments from posters on the blog about both schools. I cringe every time the the word “top” is placed before SEHS as if only 4 schools exist (some people count Lane as “top” others dont” and it seems like a great place to me). BTW–Jen Kenwood hasn’t had ANY shoot outs in the parking lot! Once people stop putting down schools just because of ACT scores maybe more people will blog about the school’s their children attend & what they & other parents do to help make the school better. Finally when looking at ACT scores remember it’s reported as an average. Some kids score lower, some score higher & I bet there are outliers on both ends of the spectrum. I would like to see the mode & the range of ACT scores at all of the schools. If one kid scores perfect or close then the school’s teachers are putting the work out there and it’s up to the student to grasp it. Schools are what you make of them. Either a student takes advantage of everything the school has to offer or they don’t. However, there are some schools that can’t offer much because the students came in unprepared for the rigors of HS work. Poverty can but not always affect a students outcome in school.

  • 122. Chris  |  January 14, 2016 at 11:23 am

    “What’s the worst thing that can happen to a New Trier kid who doesn’t get in to Stanford?”

    [little levity] She starts hanging out with Christian Slater and has to send her SATs to San Quentin? [/little levity]

  • 123. mom2  |  January 14, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    To make some people happy, I’ll simply discuss stress for this post…
    I attended a forum at a highly regarded north side school recently where parents with kids at various high schools talked about this very topic. In nearly every case where a parent had one child at Lane and another at either Payton or Northside, the parent said the stress level was greater at Payton or Northside. The reason, however, wasn’t the amount of work or homework. The reason was that the kids that go there do more comparing and say things like, “Oh, are you really only taking 2 AP courses?” or “Oh, did you really only get a 29 on your ACT?” They said the schools are smaller so it is much easier to get caught up in comparing. At Lane, it is/was easier to be a part of the crowd. Homework, however…that’s another story.

  • 124. karet  |  January 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    @122 — Chris wins the internet today!!! Hahahaha.

  • 125. jen  |  January 14, 2016 at 2:59 pm

    @121, yeah, I was exaggerating re: shootings in the parking lot.

  • 126. Chris  |  January 14, 2016 at 3:31 pm

    “say things like, “Oh, are you really only taking 2 AP courses?” or “Oh, did you really only get a 29 on your ACT?””

    Sheesh, it’s come to that? Ugh.

    I know I know. Teenager have always and always will say dumb, thoughtless, stuff. I’m not surprised, just sort of horrified.

  • 127. HillStreetBluesDays  |  January 14, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Lurker here. I just wanted to share my daughter’s experience with stress at Jones. She’s currently a senior at Jones, and a lot of her stress has stemmed from social issues and feelings of disconnect from other students. She’s always been a traditional high achiever, high test scores, well liked, etc., etc..
    Sophomore year saw faltering grades for the first time; we attributed this to an inability to adjust socially as she became depressed and dreaded school for the first time in her life. Daughter’s test scores (and ACT) however, remained through the roof. Since then, she became involved with lots of extracurriculars, arts, and volunteer work outside of school and her grades improved. She also has a peer group outside of school.
    I do not in any way fault the school, but wish I’d recognized her stresses earlier and gotten her some help and/ or been more supportive.
    I figured our experience might help others spot warning signs of social related stress in teens and how it can affect academic performance.
    A bit off topic, but to add to an earlier comment about Northside kids giving it glowing reviews:
    My daughter and her friends also have glowing things to say about Northside and its culture …they had not so nice things to say about Payton.

  • 128. HS Mom  |  January 14, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    KLM – I’m a little confused by your comments. You seem to differentiate between some special stress that a kid trying to get into the Ivies and the “normal” stress that every highschooler has and has had throughout time.

    What makes stress different at a SE school is that every kid is trying to get into a good school. It’s not even necessarily desired to get into an Ivy – for the majority of kids anyway. There are no laid back groups of kids just biding their time or kids looking to graduate (or not) and then going on to work (at least not by design).

    Another difference is that everyone is from different schools, new friends, new adjustments as described by the Jones mom. Plan on rough first years and support your kid outside of school as much as possible, things will fall into place.

    – agree with Karet – there’s plenty of stress for those who rely on scholarships or are trying to navigate the process with no help. This includes families with college educated parents.
    – I disagree with 121 that TSCC looks down on anything other than certain SE schools. Realistically, and yes this has been discussed many times here, location plays a major role as to where you send your child.
    -Do not fall into the AP stress pool, unless you have a kid that genuinely thrives on it. Don’t pressure your kids into overload. You don’t need to, there are plenty of colleges.
    – I am probably one of TSCC’s and my guy is now out of HS so I will stay out of it. Thought this might help.

  • 129. jen  |  January 14, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I view one of the stresses of SEHS’s as being the long commute that some kids have. When a kid has to commute 1-2 hours each way just to get to high school, that’s stressful. I understand that some students enjoy the ride home because they talk with their friends. However,adding 3-4 hours onto a school day that may include after school commitments was something my spouse and I felt would be detrimental to our particular children and to us as parents.
    I also view one of the other stresses as just being in CPS period. When one never knows if there’ll be more layoffs, more cuts, more bad whatever, that is not a calm environment.

  • 130. pantherettie  |  January 14, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Jaguar Bronco Mom, thanks for the welcome back. It’s nice to “see” you too! I’ve been busy with life and only occasionally reading CPSO. That said, I thought this was a good and timely post and had to chime in. I’m frustrated that the conversation from some regular posters always seems to
    drift back to the same themes regarding comparisons of SEHS to certain suburban schools and the consequences of the tier system. To me it’s just not the point of this post. So, even if it doesn’t matter to most of the parents on this blog, I will say this regarding kids I know at Lindblom, Kenwood, Jones, Brooks, WY and Lane. My experience is that the kids I know from Lindblom are far more mellow (but not less motivated) than other SEHS students. This , IMHO, is almost 100% because of the block scheduling and 1x week collloquim day. I think it gives kids an opportunity to have more academic and extracurricular balance. I think that’s why you hear more about a “better” environment from NSCP. They too have a block schedule. I think that Mr. Mather ( former Lindblom principal) modeled Lindblom’s schedule on. Maybe other SEHS also have block scheduled. I just don’t know . I’d be curious to know if other parents/teachers have noticed this.

  • 131. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 15, 2016 at 3:27 am

    130. pantherettie | January 14, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    There’s a lot of truth in what you wrote. Payton has block scheduling and it was based on The Latin School. I believe Mather based his blocking schedule on Payton’s after he saw how well it was working out. WY does not have block scheduling. They tried it years ago (may 10 years ago) and it didn’t work out. I don’t know why. I never really thought much about it, except when I was talking to parents of Payton kids and they really liked the blocked scheduling. However, since my child has started university, I see a real need for block scheduling to reduce stress. It just makes sense. I will say that my kids never seemed stress at WY ~ they retained very good marks and active in many things at school and home. I think WY really provides the students ways to achieve their goals while instilling time management skills to be part of their everyday life. I dont know much abt Lindbloom (save for your posts and am impressed) ~ they are suppose to have the best, state of the art science dept in CPS.

  • 132. edgewatermom  |  January 15, 2016 at 9:01 am

    I wonder why more high schools do not use block scheduling. What are the negatives or challenges to switching to block scheduling? I would like to learn more about this…

  • 133. klm  |  January 15, 2016 at 9:08 am


    I guess the comments I was making about Lane were to point out that what’s happening there, in terms of kids feeling like they need to go ball*-out with AP’s and work loads might seem like an atypical “pressure cooker” atmosphere, but the reality is that’s it’s actually typical at every decent high school in America, now.

    My friends and family and friends with kids in high school in other cities and states all say the same thing about their kids’ high schools. In the same way that many people tend to think that their kids’s school is “special” in that it’s especially “good,” many people seem to think that their kid’s school is more of a pressure cooker with higher expectations than most other schools.

    The point I was trying to make is that lots of high schools in America circa 2016 seem like pressure cookers, given the competition-driven-low-acceptance-rate nature of college admissions (and that goes for not just Ivies, but Big Ten public schools like Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio State –especially if one wants to get into certain programs like engineering).

    I feel for kids at Lane, but being at Lane isn’t what’s making their lives difficult any more than going to any high school with a decent number of high-achieving kids (and there are many of those all over the country).

    The middle 50% of ACT scores for enrolled freshman at UI-UC is now 26-32. At Michigan it’s 29-33. At Ohio State it’s 27-31. Plus, to get into the engineering programs at any of these schools one had better score in to upper part of distribution.

    So, why would a student that wants to get into ones of these schools, especially the engineering ot computer science programs feel more pressure at Lane than at Naperville Central, Evanston THS, East Lansing, Grosse Pointe South, Okemos, Ottawa Hills Midland Dow or whatever high school they attend?

  • 134. Patricia  |  January 15, 2016 at 10:04 am

    As an FYI to those up thread regarding Lane and the various ideas posed, the Lane administration is looking into eliminating homework during breaks, block scheduling, etc. As the administration does so well, they are getting input from all the stakeholders and I have no doubt there will be a thorough assessment. I am optimistic that work will be eliminated during breaks—just my personal opinion and hope. Block scheduling will be interesting. I look forward to hearing the assessment. There are pros and cons. I think a lot has to do with workload balancing and there may be ways to accomplish this without blocks.

  • 135. mom2  |  January 15, 2016 at 10:17 am

    @Patricia, do you know if Lane is really planning to get rid of all regular level classes or is that something that they may reconsider? It will make a huge difference to us.

  • 136. Lisa W.  |  January 15, 2016 at 10:50 am

    Am also interested to know which schools use block scheduling— where can I find that info? Thanks.

  • 137. Amy F Williamson  |  January 15, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    I have one child who graduated from Northside, one from Lane and one who is currently at Lane. They all had acceptable and intermittent academic stress levels. I found that the biggest contributors to school stress was actually other kids who liked to share their stress and anxiety and turn it into some sort of contest. Many seemed to have parents who were caught up in the same thing. The “bad influence” kids I had to steer my children away from were the kids who freaked out about everything (a time management issue for many, I’m sure.) And don’t get me started on the AP game. I believe you only take APS for classes you are truly very interested in because then you won’tt mind the extra work. Don’t let a counselor or a classmate convince them otherwise. My oldest took 3 APs and my second took 4. They got into excellent colleges and had time for things besides homework.

  • 138. Patricia  |  January 15, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    @mom2. I do not know, but have not heard that they are getting rid of regular level classes. I can’t imagine how that would be done given 4000 students. It has not been discussed at the LSC meetings that I have attended either. I can try to find out. As I see my kid selecting classes, I have to say that “regular” becomes unattractive if you are looking to maximize weighted GPA. 4.0 vs. 6.0 potential with AP and 5.0 for honors. There may be fewer regular classes over time simply from the increased interest from students in honors and AP. I have not looked at any class offerings or trends, just sharing how students may view class selection. If a kid is gunning for a high “weighted” GPA, regular classes actually will drag it down even if you get an A.

  • 139. Patricia  |  January 15, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    @137 So true!
    ” I found that the biggest contributors to school stress was actually other kids who liked to share their stress and anxiety and turn it into some sort of contest. ”

    I certainly agree and have seen this more with my daughter who is still in elementary. I literally almost start cracking up sometimes and we have a talk to try to add a little levity and reality back into her thought process. In High School, I can only imagine the hormones, social dynamics and stress mills students can get swept up into. Luckily my sons are pretty laid back and do not get swept up—-so far anyway.

    We tested our kids later to get into SEES and as they transitioned into some great programs, my husband and I would always reinforce that there are a ton of really smart kids in their class………….but the great thing about knowledge is there is not only ONE smart person in the world………the world (and the class they are joining) is full of smart people……..there will be some who are smarter than you AND you will be smarter than others……and it varies by subject, interests and social skills. That perspective seemed to help them or they just humored me—LOL!

    Now as they are getting older, I find myself saying, there is not just ONE college or ONE job in the world, there are many colleges, jobs and professions to choose from.

  • 140. also obsessed  |  January 15, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    If you go to any specific highschool website, you can view a Bell Schedule under Students or sometimes under About. You should be able to tell by looking at that.

    For instance, here are NSCP’s and Jones’ bell schedules:

    Click to access JCP%20Bell%20Schedule%2015-16.pdf

    Here is Lane’s:

    Students on non-block schedules do more moving around during the day, of course, and their classes are 50ish minutes. Those on block schedules are sitting through 90-100 minute classes (in my opinion some classes are great longer, some aren’t). Just another thing to think about.

  • 141. terriversace  |  January 15, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Whoops. Lane’s non-block schedule is here:

  • 142. Village Idiot  |  January 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Not everyone is emotionally cut out for a “pressure cooker” school. It’s no one’s fault necessarily, it just is what it is. This is nothing new. Some kids may have the scores/grades to get in, but don’t have the resilience to manage the demands. I attended an extreme pressure cooker school where we attended class six days a week. I met some of the brightest people I’ve ever met there….and some of these folks broke down and dropped out from the pressure. I was probably one of the dumbest…but I could handle the demands.

    Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a kid is to experience a certain amount of failure, disappointment, etc. early on. With SEES and SEHS, failure appears to be unacceptable. But you’ll find this mentality at just about any school with a high-achieving student body…city or suburbs.

    My kid does not have anywhere near the scores to get into SEHS. But my kid does have way more grit than her peers. She spends hours on her homework but doesn’t “stress” about it. Why? Who knows. Maybe it’s because she’s experienced far more horrible things in her young life than any of her friends have had to deal with. Not getting into SEHS? Not a tragedy.

  • 143. edgewatermom  |  January 15, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    @142 I agree – the fact many of the SEHS are “pressure-cookers” is not necessarily a bad thing. But it is very important to know your kid and understand their temperament. I think that the SEHSs are a fantastic option when they are the right fit for your kid. I do NOT think that they are the only option in CPS that will provide a decent education that leads to a decent college education.

  • 144. pantherettie  |  January 16, 2016 at 9:29 am

    A while ago a poster asked the advantages and disadvantages of block scheduling. Here’s my list (from a parent perspective. My siblings and friends who are educators and mental health providers would most likely have a different perspective)

    1. Homework is *never* do the very next day. This, of course, does not mean that a kid doesn’t wait until the day before its due to complete it😏.
    2. Kids who like to “dig in” to a subject really feel that they have time to. This is for the kid who would be so into the Legos that you had to pull him/her away or threaten to leave when they were younger.
    3. Teachers seem to have a better understanding of your kid. At Lindblom the block schedule is such that the kids don’t always have their first block class at the same time. For example, block A class meets at 8am on Monday but at 2pm on Thursday. The teacher may notice that a kid who always seems tired and disconnected in the morning is totally different in the afternoon. It can make a big difference in how they teach and how they share observations about the student.
    4. There is a 10 -12 min break between classes. Gives kids time to get where they need to go and handle personal stuff.

    5. Kids must take the initiative to get organized and think strategically about completing assignments.

    1. If your kid is a procrastinator, this is hell. Because they are in class longer, most assignments *can not* be completed well in one day. Period.
    2. It’s very easy to get behind on work but hard to catch up. ( see #1)
    3. Kids who have shorter attention spans are bored/frustrated/ect. in the longer classes IF teachers are not engaging in a way that recognizes this.
    4. Weaker teachers suck at this type of teaching ( see #3)
    5. With longer classes, there *may* be less variety (not sure about this one).
    6. Many parents did not have block scheduling in high school and may find it difficult to relate to a kid’s challenges with it.

    Would love to hear what other people think.

  • 145. jazzman  |  January 16, 2016 at 11:49 am

    @jaguarbronco mom and pantherettie the only way the great things happening on southside schools are not know because most people on this blog are northsiders or from suburban areas. Block schedule is fantastic. I hope the new principle can keep up the work at lindbloom that Mather help create with great teachers. So please post about lindbloom and kenwood so more people will know about it.

  • 146. HS Mom  |  January 16, 2016 at 2:25 pm


    To add about block scheduling with experience from Jones


    – Our experience was a little different. Having a procrastinator, it was easier to do homework the night before since one sitting is all that is needed over a period of 2 days. Although preferred to organize and get homework done right away, there was a greater margin of leeway. This also helped in scheduling outside activities.
    – The schedule (by chance) seemed to provide heavier and lighter workloads. Some days there were really 3 days of homework opportunities while others were a crunch. We preferred this.
    – More was accomplished in class. Not only is there less travel time in the halls, but momentum developed during a lesson was not broken. This also provided opportunity to work on practice problems and papers during class under the guidance of the teacher instead of trying to look up questions on line. In science, for example, kids can learn the lesson and then have the lab right afterwards.
    – Kids with shorter attention spans, like mine, learn to appreciate and get engrossed in the subject. The time, although longer, really flies by. Mentally, the idea of having 4 classes a day instead of 7 or 8 is a boost contributing to a healthier outlook of school.
    – Not sure if this is still done, but there was one day in the middle of the week that was either a late start or early release. Loved that.
    – True college prep experience as the block schedule more closely mimics a college schedule.

    Can’t think of any con’s other than to agree with number 4.


    “My oldest took 3 APs and my second took 4. They got into excellent colleges and had time for things besides homework.”

    Exactly perfectly said.

    Consider that for any student who is not naturally exceptional in every subject, taking multiple AP classes while finding the traditional math program (for example) a struggle could be disastrous for all subjects. Completely agree with all the parents who are saying that it’s the kids who put the pressure on each other. Many kids overload their own schedules against parent wishes.

  • 147. Christo Fur  |  January 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Suspended pending further review. CTU member?

  • 148. SoxSideIrish4  |  January 17, 2016 at 4:24 am

    Christo Fur on January 16, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Teacher arrested for grooming and being inappropriate with student. Charter Teacher, not CTU.

  • 149. CPStressed  |  January 17, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Bravo to Ms. Anderson, Principal at Lane, who listened to the mention at this week’s Friends of Lane meeting that kids at Lane rarely get a break in homework with possible solutions being no homework on breaks or block scheduling in the future. She said she would take this into account and discuss with her staff (block scheduling was already on her radar). For those students who feel academic pressure, no matter the source, knowing they could have ANY breaks from homework, I think would be hugely beneficial. CPS’ schedule of the first semester ending after Winter break and AP tests taking place close to a month and a half before the end of school is not helping. It was also brought up that at least 3 other SE schools do offer some sort of break in their 7.25 hour day with non core class time on the schedule. Lane gets 5 minutes between classes and some classes are far, far apart. It’s a large building. I did my kid’s schedule on curriculum night and was late to two classes. And I didn’t go to any locker. BUT all this being said, it’s a great school where a variety of kids and their abilities attend. It has a vast variety of classes ( and what we have experienced, very approachable staff and admin. Just needs some tweaking to alleviate some stresses which was well received.

  • 150. klm  |  January 17, 2016 at 3:14 pm


    I’m sure that he’s a CTU member, but……….so what? There are creepy people in every profession, as being creepy is a human condition. CTU not’s trying to help him and wouldn’t unless he were innocent, i’m sure (and this is coming from somebody that’s not a big fan of CTU)..

  • 151. cpsobsessed  |  January 18, 2016 at 1:20 am

    @CPStressed, That is great to hear! Keep is updated on the progress. I hope that sanity prevails.

  • 152. Newcomer  |  January 19, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    My kids went to school in Europe and Asia, and are now at CPS. I can tell you that there is stress everywhere. Read what kids in China and India do to get a good score on exams that will determine the rest of their lives; it’s harrowing. One thing that I believe would help, would be letting kids focus more on what they really like. In Singapore, my son’s 7th grade math teacher told us that while he could definitely be on an advanced math track, he wasn’t going to push him because he knew that my son has other passions and math wasn’t his favorite subject. Here, everyone is pushed into the most advanced class possible. Not everyone should end up in calculus as a senior! And not everyone should be expected to do brilliantly in every subject. High schoolers needs less pressure, more opportunities. And more space to develop personal interests.

  • 153. Newcomer  |  January 19, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    And I forgot to say that he is a freshman at NCP and loves the block scheduling and Wednesday “free” day. This week there’s no free day and he’s definitely feeling the heat!

  • 154. MomatLTAC  |  January 20, 2016 at 11:28 am


    Sorry your daughter is struggling with 7th grade at LTAC. A few of my kid’s classmates apparently had a rough transition, too. One wanted to go back to his school every day for the first two weeks, but it got much better for him after that.

    We have had a very different LTAC experience so far. Our kid’s good friends from the same elementary school are apparently not having issues, either. They went to an RGC housed in a large, diverse school and they had some pretty demanding teachers, so maybe that is part of their relatively easier transition. I think kids coming from small schools, with small classes, might find Lane’s size and rigor intimidating at first.

    We have friends with kids at NSCP and the word “nurturing” never seems to leaves their lips. Instead, they talk about the hours of homework and the “perfectionist” stress their children feel around academics and sports there. It’s so hard to know what to do!

    To all here considering LTAC, I can say:

    My child is in 7th grade LTAC and loves it! In fact, the night of the big Powerball drawing, the kid said “if we win, I want to stay in Chicago so I can keep going to Lane.” (I had said we would take a year off to travel the world and bring along a tutor.) Kid also wants to stay at Lane, and not apply to other SEHS when the time comes. We will reserve judgment on that for now.

    So far, my child does not feel that Lane is too much pressure. In fact, thanks to taking the LTAC Academy study hall option, homework is usually done before the end of the school day, so the child gets to hang out with friends after school, eat family dinner and watch TV, etc. Grades have been all As and one very high B so far. I sometimes worry that it is not rigorous enough and then I see the quality of the assignments–no busy work–and am reassured.

    At first, the kid forgot some homework assignments and did not put enough effort into projects and studying (kid went to SE elementary and apparently had coasted the last couple of years on last-minute hard work and charm. Back then, they got homework every night–no weekly packets). Kid saw the negative results immediately and self-corrected and created a reminder system that now apparently works at Lane.

    The teachers have been incredible and the deep things they talk about in class blow my mind. I love hearing what they talk about and hearing my kid’s opinions and having the opportunity to spin out some of my own in an actual conversation! My kid is getting a thoughtful education at the hands of wonderful teachers.They offer tutoring out the wazoo and some teachers offer fun and interesting extra credit opportunities. We have found the teachers to be very nurturing for our child. When we attended our P/T conference, they KNEW our kid way more than I would have thought possible in that short of a timeframe and really spent the time with us on specifics.

    Sure, the kid got one tardy to a class for being 10 seconds late last week. The kid was unfazed and told me, “that’s fair, we as a class all agreed on the rules ahead of time. We promised each other we’d be on time.” Seems fair.

    I adore my child, but we are not talking “genius” or “exceptional planner” here. Tier 4 and just made the entrance cut score. And you know what? Nobody cares about that number anymore. I say this to give you all some hope, for prospective LTACers, especially. So far, it has felt like the perfect training wheel system for the high school experience for our particular child.

    I expect that the road will get rougher as time goes on, more challenging classes, more traditional teen pressures to cope with, more everything. We will deal with that when it comes and hope for wisdom. But I also know Lane staff will be there to help us. They want the kids to have a good experience. My kid will not be the one taking 3 or 5 AP classes at a time, though. Moderation and happiness along the road is important.

    Our family’s ultimate goal for our child is NOT college choice. It’s far beyond that, to a good life well-lived. A well-rounded and kind, loving person who gets to have a career that they enjoy and has enough money for ALL of life’s needs and SOME of life’s wants. Fortunately, there are billions of paths to that goal.

    Now, that said, I think most students (and their parents) at Lane would LOVE block scheduling! 🙂

  • 155. psmom  |  January 21, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Not sure if this is the right place to share this but this could be interesting change regarding college admissions. The link to the report is in the post but a summary is at the end of this article.

  • 156. Larry B  |  January 21, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    “…the night of the big Powerball drawing, the kid said “if we win, I want to stay in Chicago so I can keep going to Lane.””

    That’s not a good sign.

  • 157. IB/IB mom (formerly IB and AC mom)  |  January 21, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    @156 Larry B, why not? I think that is great that they enjoy their school and would want to stay.

  • 158. Slow_Nerve_Action  |  January 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    RE: Stresses
    As an alumni of a gifted and talented high school with horror stories that would curl your toes, I can say that these stresses existed 25 years ago. High-achieving kids are usually big anxiety cases- and would be no matter what school they attend. Ulcers, sleeping pills, amphetamines, suicide attempts, “forced sabbaticals”. All par for the course.
    But, a lot has changed in 25 years, and one of those things being educational research into how to properly educate high-achieving students, and how to run these programs, It seems that a lot of these SEHS have teachers that get the necessary certifications, and have the right resources on hand,

    Re: Lane

    As for Lane, I find it funny that people are fighting over the perception of the school. No one seems to be considering that these perceptions should not be static, but always evolving,

    As someone with a kid at LTAC, I have watched the entry scores there trend higher each year. These kids will be the top of their Lane Tech high school class. I know some LTAC kids (and parents) see it as a stepping stone to the other SEHS, but I see this changing each year, sometimes to the parents’ chagrin.

    You can see the academic culture within the school changing. I am sure there are parents (and teachers) against this. We saw a little bit of the “What Lane should be” argument in the impasses over the LSC being deadlocked on principal choice in 2015. An administrator with LTAC experience versus a Lane Tech alum that was a principal at another school.

    My kid will continue through to Lane, Young and NorthSide aren’t convenient, and frankly, I don’t like the socioeconomic stratification going on at Payton or Jones. Of course, if they ever did a proper residency check at Payton, I am sure a whole lot would change there pretty quick,

    My kid will get a great education at Lane, and be part of a school with an awesome history. Most important of all, they will go to school with kids from all different parts of the city. Those lessons will be invaluable as they go off to college,

  • 159. mom2  |  February 1, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    Want to add to the stress? Well, I guess the CTU does. I’m so frustrated to hear that they rejected an offer from CPS that would have kept class sizes from getting larger and would have prevented teacher lay offs. I read some of the comments on ABC 7’s web site from the general public and CTU is not getting support on this one. People are very angry.

    Here are some examples of comments I just read:

    Just Axin • 8 hours ago
    The decent teachers have to be so embarrassed when they see the faces of who represents CTU.

    60660W Just Axin • 4 hours ago
    I couldn’t agree more. Believe it or not there are good, hard-working teachers there who have a true passion for teaching. Unlike their union which has a true passion for greed and power while using the children as pawns on their game-board.

    nom de plume • 8 hours ago
    I heard part of the plan was to *gasp* require employees actually contribute to their own retirement plans rather than expecting the taxpayers to foot the majority of the bill. Let’s see how this goes over with the entitlement class.

    Al Pan • 2 hours ago
    With an upcoming 875M shortfall that no lender is willing to risk, I’m wondering how this Democrat controlled city is going to foot the bill with no layoff and no school closing.

    Maybe another 20% property tax increase is on the way?

    Welcome to the Detroit.

  • 160. karet  |  February 1, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    I’m also frustrated, and tired of hearing CTU complain about the pension holidays … which they, of course, approved. This article explains the situation (and the math) very well:

    “It’s odd that the Chicago Teachers Union, or CTU, did not squash the pension holidays to protect its members’ retirement security. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the money diverted from pensions allowed CTU members to receive consistent pay increases averaging 4.2 percent per year from 1998 to 2012.

    Those raises, which outpaced inflation, contributed to Chicago teachers becoming the highest-paid educators among the nation’s 10 largest school districts.”

  • 161. Northwestsidemom  |  February 1, 2016 at 7:26 pm

    How is this related to a discussion about stress for teenagers? Can you take the CTU bashing somewhere else?

  • 162. CPS Mother  |  February 1, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I’m posting this here to share facts:
    -CPS offered the 7% pickup as a part of a salary negotiation years ago. This was in lieu of a raise. It is included as a teacher’s “yearly salary” on all things publicized as such. Teachers DO contribute to a pension plan. However, CPS has NOT contributed.

    -Teachers receive NO social security. This INCLUDES situations where they paid into it during years employed outside of CPS. For example…if a teacher worked for 20 years at another type of job and paid into the system, they are NOT eligible to receive those benefits if they get a pension.

    -Teachers get REDUCED social security benefits from their spouses. Example: my spouse worked for 30 years at XYZ. He is collecting ss and then dies. I do not get the remainder of his benefit due if I am collecting my “oh so huge” pension.

    Furthermore- CPS offered non-enforceable items under this contract. No new charters? Guess what? The State of Illinois Charter Board can overrule this and put a charter wherever they want. In order for this contract to be valid 1500 teachers must retire or it’s re-opened. Who can guarantee how many teachers retire. If you are a parent of a SpEd child, you should be thrilled teachers are standing up for your rights.

    There was nothing in the offer which discussed financial stability for CPS. There was nothing mentioned about sustainable revenue for the

  • 163. Patricia  |  February 2, 2016 at 9:25 am

    It really is a bummer that the offer was not seem to be seriously considered by the wider circle within CTU. It seems that bankruptcy is becoming more viable by the day. (I am not saying that I want bankruptcy, just that if nothing is going to budge, then bankruptcy is the only way to get some movement.) With bankruptcy, my understanding from the few details in the newspapers is that, “any existing contracts cannot be touched”. So the nice thing with the current offer, that was rejected, is it locks in 4 years which should take CTU through the tough next few budgetary years. As of now, no contract exists, so with bankruptcy there is really no protection. It is my guess that the CTU leadership was trying to protect its members and “weather the storm”. Now back to square one. Very unfortunate.

  • 164. Patricia  |  February 2, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I completely understand your perspective and may feel the same way in your shoes. I will get social security, but it by no means will cover retirement. I need to supplement heavily and manage 401k closely as employers really no longer match anything. I also have to pay into social security. While you will not get social security, you also do not have to pay into it. And, you only pay 2% into your pension with CPS paying the remaining 7%. CPS did pay the 7% into your pension (correct?), I think the shortfall is due to Daley, Madigan, former Governors and former CTU leadership allowing the pension raids—-IMO they were not “pension holidays”, they were “pension raids”.

    There is no doubt that paying into your own pension will impact your take home pay. That truly sucks! I just don’t know where the money comes from. I like going after TIF. I personally do not support raising taxes on homeowners or Chicagoan’s any higher in any way. Taxes are out of control in Chicago making it in many ways not worth living in Illinois anymore. Almost 11% tacked onto every purchase! The city services are awful. 3 years to get a tree trimmed. Permit fees so high it costs more in permits than to pay labor to do the project/repairs. Pot holes everywhere. Torn up streets everywhere. Going into any city department one sees so many workers doing nothing, pushing paper (why so much paper in this age of technology), sending people on a wild goose chase to various departments through the layers of bureaucracy. Not to mention the crime is out of control with mid-day shootings in any given neighborhood on any given day. All of this with Rahm cutting none of the bureaucracy in his union friendly, middle class crushing budget. What a mess!

  • 165. MomatLTAC  |  February 2, 2016 at 10:03 am

    @156 Larry B. You see? We are all different and have different measures of success. I took my child’s extreme happiness in his school and his social life as a good–no, GREAT–thing. I am so grateful that our family has made a choice that works for our kid. Let’s hope we are as fortunate for kid #2.

  • 166. Patricia  |  February 2, 2016 at 10:14 am

    @154 MomatLTAC
    Great post! We too have had a great LTAC experience. I have one who went through LTAC and chose to stay at Lane and a 7th grade LTACer. So many benefits. So many class options. And my favorite is the genuine diversity and school spirit!

  • 167. mom2  |  February 2, 2016 at 10:37 am

    @161 – I posted in this section because a strike threat or real does cause stress for my teenager. Maybe your teenager doesn’t care, but mine is worried about it.

  • 168. Chris  |  February 2, 2016 at 11:36 am

    “With bankruptcy, my understanding from the few details in the newspapers is that, “any existing contracts cannot be touched”.”

    ?? What article(s)?? Believe this is in accurate.

    “sending people on a wild goose chase to various departments through the layers of bureaucracy”

    This is to get you to use their buddy the ‘expediter’ who you pay several hundred dollars to, and gets the full answer in half an hour. It’s (generally) not incompetence, or difficult bureaucratic systems, but simple corruption.

  • 169. Patricia  |  February 2, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    I can’t recall the article, but it detailed the proposed “legislation”. I thought it proposed that current contracts would remain valid (but then again as I think about it, the whole idea of bankruptcy is to restructure things). When I read it I thought to myself, hmmmm that would certainly motivate Rahm and the CTU to ink a deal for a few years at least. I guess it doesn’t matter anyway since there is no progress in any direction.

    Agree, corruption at every turn dealing with the city or county services. However, there is also incompetence and bureaucracy. Having worked in government, there is huge push back regarding using technology to streamline or improve process. Unions fight RFPs because it may “eliminate jobs”. If technology is implemented, it ends up making the jobs easier and the same headcount usually remains. it is frustrating seeing how tax dollars are wasted.

  • 170. Chris  |  February 2, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    “there is huge push back regarding using technology to streamline or improve process”

    This, imo, is a form of corruption.

  • 171. Patricia  |  February 2, 2016 at 4:10 pm

    @170 Chris
    Agree, corruption!

  • 172. MikeJ  |  February 3, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    People should be happy with their kids and they can go local or private if they’re not up for Selective Enrollment schools. Sorry but it’s crazy parents who obsess about this stuff. Kids have to take ACT’s/SAT’s, apply for jobs and take many other tests during their school career. It’s not the end of the world people, it’s high school. Be happy for your kids and whatever they can accomplish.

  • 173. FrustratedCPSparent  |  February 4, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I’m feeling very stressed as a parent of a child in an SEHS. I wish I had had the foresight to think differently. For me, I had more to consider than just academics. For my son, it had to be a SEHS because they generally safer environments. Choosing to enroll in a SEHS for safety being my first priority just limited my choices and didn’t allow for a perfect fit.

    I graduated from Whitney Young myself and there was pressure but with my son being in LPHS – the academics are VERY DEMANDING! While there are a hand full of hoodlums you can pretty much avoid them if you stay in double honors classes and higher which brings more pressure. The work load is over the top at LPHS.

  • 174. mom2  |  February 4, 2016 at 11:01 am

    @FrustratedCPSparent – This is exactly how I feel. I’m certain there are many parents out there that are picking and praying for and stressing out about SEHS or LPHS IB/double honors just to make sure their kids are safe and making friends with other college-bound kids. This is the thing that has to change. Why can’t there be a high school without the crazy pressure/tons of homework and still be safe? Makes me nuts.

  • 175. Tone  |  February 4, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Shit is hitting the fan at CPS. Rauner’s bankruptcy plan will be the likely outcome.

    Very sad it had to come to this.

  • 176. harry potter  |  February 4, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    @174. There are many high schools like this in the suburbs.

  • 177. North Center Mom  |  February 6, 2016 at 9:26 am

    @FrustratedCPSparent – I’m sorry that your son is having trouble at his school. You are a good parent for paying attention to the signals he is giving out. I think that as Chicago parents, we have to realize that the process of finding the right fit doesn’t end with our kids being accepted into a school. Even after attending open houses, we really don’t know the school until our child is a student there. Please start with his school’s counselors before you give up. Beyond that, I personally know a few parents who sought transfers for their child after freshmen year. Other commenters on this blog have spoken highly of Lakeview, Amundsen, and Senn (all on the North side, I know). You may have to keep looking to find the right fit. Good luck to you and your son.

  • 178. cpsobsessed  |  February 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    @Frustrated Parent – which LPHS program are you talking about? (I’m not super familiar with them just yet.) You mention SEHS, so is this the LPHS IB program your child is in?

  • 179. cpsobsessed  |  February 6, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    HS anecdote, I have an acquaintance who’s daughter started at Senn Fine Arts (dance) this year and is LOVING it. Really thriving and apparently the dance teacher there is fantastic, for those who have that area of interest. It sounds like a very positive HS experience for her which is great to hear about.

  • 180. cpsobsessed  |  February 6, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    I’ll start a post about the financial and contract situation this weekend. I tend to stay high-level of aware of what’s going on because it truly depresses me as I see no good outcome. If anyone has a good article etc as a starting point for discussion, let me know…

  • 181. Madonna  |  February 6, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    no personal attacks please. even from Madonna.

  • 182. FrustratedCPSparent  |  February 7, 2016 at 12:34 am

    To answer your question cpsobsessed
    LPHS double honors and IB programs are very rigorous programs. My son started out taking double honors classes Freshman and sophomore year and is now taking an AP course and 2 IB courses as well.

    I have seen those National reports of top schools and while the favorites are on there near the top, LPHS also ranks
    On those lists. Although those polls are questionable here is one:

    And academic rigor was something I wanted…..but not like this.

  • 183. Mom of a former LTACer  |  February 8, 2016 at 12:04 am

    My kid is a 9th grader at Lane and went through the LTAC program. I’m sorry that people are not currently feeling like the LTAC program is nurturing. While the program was rigorous, I felt like all the teachers and administration worked hard to continually adapt to the needs of the students and are still doing so. It still is a young program, with the 1st class in their JR year (some will graduate early).

    One problem I do have with the “pressure cooker” of it all is that when the LTAC program shows what the 6 year *could* look like, it always includes lots of AP’s. I agree with whomever said that kids should only take the AP’s THEY are interested in. But kids and parents feel like it is expected for them to take the AP’s.

    My kid is in 2 this year and actually LOVES them and is doing well in them. But when it comes to Physics, AP may not be the way to go, we shall see.

    I spoke with some counselors this past week and they said t AP’s are not for everyone and they are saddened by the pressure the kids put on themselves, each other and by their parents and teachers. They advise to only take the AP’s that interest them and, especially with the LTACers who have a lot of electives, to take a bunch of different types of classes. That is one of Lanes greatest strengths – the amount of classes available.

    I do know that Lane is NOT getting rid of regular level classes. There was a big push for freshies to take AP human geo, but that went on City and even state wide. The counselors said they will not be pushing so much next year. (I do think it boils down to $$ with the AP’s and also with how the school, staff and administration is evaluated. which is crap, but that’s a whole different post)

    Lane looked at block scheduling a few years ago and the teachers did not want it. They counselors do like it and the new principal said she would look into it again this year, as well as real breaks from homework.

    IMO I don’t care about the rankings of the schools. There are all sorts of factors such as tier systems- so even though its’ SEHS, not all of the “top kids in the city” get into it (like all the SEHS). If you compare Lane to other SEHS in the city and only took the top 300 or however many the other schools have, the test scores and grades would beat out the others. You get what I’m saying, there are lots of different ways to spin numbers.

    I think Lane is very real world as far as diversity goes and my kids is lucky to be there.

  • 184. cpsobsessed  |  February 8, 2016 at 10:05 am

    @mom of LTAC – thank you for all the great insight!

  • 185. Kevin Greavey  |  February 10, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Hey, does anyone know what a “callback” means for auditions at Chi-Arts? My son got a callback . . . and I have no idea if this is good, bad, or what. They did not mention any callbacks before. Any idea? Thanks.

  • 186. PossibleAnswerWoman  |  February 10, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    @185, the Chi Arts web site says this: February 2016: Callback auditions: some arts areas may require a second audition. Applicants will be notified at leat one week before callbacks, which will also be on Saturdays and last 1-2 hours.

  • 187. NWS Mom  |  February 12, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    #48 – HSO, I agree with you. I really do.

    Reading all the other comments has been interesting. My freshman loves Lane (she has been there since academic center in 7th grade), does not stress about homework, does not feel there is loads of pressure there. She read the article and couldn’t identify with the loads of homework/feeling of pressure, because while she has homework every night, it is not an overwhelming amount. If she doesn’t understand a concept, she has a good support network of friends or seeks teacher help after school or the next morning. That might be her personality and our no-stress household coming through…Different households, different expectations, different focus on what is important. We don’t live through her or pressure her about school. She does have friends who are afraid to bring home anything but an “A” for a grade because their parents get upset.

  • 188. Parent  |  February 15, 2016 at 9:26 pm

    Two sehs do not offer regular classes only honors, double honors and AP. A staffer at one top sehs said anxiety and depression are an epidemic. Another staffer told me kids regularly are hospitalized for anxiety and depression. The admin doesn’t provide parents with speakers on this and related issue so that parents can learn to keep an eye out for a deteriorating situation. Many high schools do, though. Here’s one.

    There is a main mission and that is to fasttrack kids into Ivies. There is great income inequality and if you are not well fixed your kids will be at a disadvantage.

  • 189. eager to hear  |  February 16, 2016 at 10:15 am

    @188 One of the things that we really liked at Payton this year was Principal Devine’s hiring of a Director of Community Engagement instead of another AP. We spent a good bit of time talking to this woman (Erica Bauer) and among other things, her job is to promote a sense of community among the student population and monitor trends in grades, etc so that counselors can provide catchment if students seem to be slipping emotionally or academically.I thought this was very forward thinking and timely in relation to the pressures and rigors that our children are faced with. It seems prudent that all schools (especially the SEHS) have someone in this role. I’d be curious to see if students attending Payton feel that this addition has made a difference in their academic lives, although it may be too early to tell.

  • 190. walker  |  February 16, 2016 at 10:33 am

    It’s a bit wrong thread but maybe somebody can help me out. I’m trying to compare IMSA and Chicago SEHS for my older son’s STEM path. What are pros/cons? Thank you.

  • 191. cpsobsessed  |  February 16, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    @189 – interesting about the Engagement director. Sounds like a positive move, for sure.

  • 192. ChiTake2  |  February 18, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    IMSA is a totally different experience (far west suburban boarding school funded by the state) with very smart kids but not as much diversity. it only starts in 10th grade so you have to complete 9th grade somewhere else, although they have an early admission process. They have excellent results, very small classes, and focus on STEM. One friend’s daughter declined because she wanted more english literature and writing in her studies and felt STEM was too limiting. SEHS is in Chicago, no boarding option, very diverse background of kids both culturally and economically, large class sizes, more class options and access to the benefits of Chicago culture. my kids had to attend various concerts around the city from the symphony, to Depaul to NU or NEIU as well as had projects requiring visits to the Art Institute, Museum of contemporary Art, Cultural center, etc.
    The choice depends on what experience you want from HS.

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