A word on north side neighborhood high schools (guest post from Hawthorne principal)

March 7, 2017 at 12:04 pm 7 comments

High SchoolPrincipal Pietrini from Hawthorne Elementary contacted me about posting his thoughts on the neighborhood schools that are part of the Grow 47 initiate (lead by Alderman Pawar (also with support from Alderman O’Conner.)

Hawthorne will be hosting a get-together tonight where families can learn more about these 2 high schools.

Please pass on to families of 6, 7, and 8th graders who might be interested.   It was MOMENTUM that helps get the elementary schools going and that’s what it’ll take to have neighborhood schools that are embraced by local middle schools as a good choice.

Over the next two weeks, many 8th grade students in CPS will choose not to attend their neighborhood school. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this being the case in any district. We don’t see that happening in as big of a way in our elementary schools. Parents, teachers, and leaders have over the years successfully branded their elementary school as being an essential part of the community, and they have committed to making that belief stay through community partnerships, fundraising, and building a positive picture in the community about what happens once those doors open for kids. But it hasn’t happened at CPS high schools for a variety of reasons, and for better or worse, we now have the great high school diaspora.

To be clear, I would never denigrate the wonderful opportunities at selective high schools. I used to work at a selective IB high school, and I have great confidence in many of the inspiring principals and teachers I know in those buildings. But if we never envisioned this challenge arising, and we believe that a school should be an anchor in the community, why have we come to believe that we can’t attend our neighborhood high schools? As a parent of two boys, my wish for my sons is that while they are at school they are engaged, they are taught to believe in themselves, they are given opportunities to explore, and that they have great teachers. We are wrong when we assume that neighborhood high schools don’t (or can’t) offer that experience.

The University of Chicago Consortium for School Research just did a very interesting study into the effects of selective enrollment schools vs. varying tiers of neighborhood schools. This was a fascinating report that I recommend you read, or at least read the coverage of this report in The Atlantic. Here is a brief selection:

“Attending a selective-enrollment school led to only a statistically insignificant bump in the ACT of half a point. The selective schools also seemed to have little or no effect on the likelihood of taking Advanced Placement classes, graduating from high school, or enrolling and staying in college….As long as the popular conception of a good school is based on a flawed measure, excellent schools that don’t screen students by test scores or real-estate prices won’t get the credit they deserve—and schools with such careful selection will get far too much credit.”

Great teachers, collaborative communities, and visionary leaders make the difference. Not enrollment criteria. We know it, and we should trust it. I hope that you will join me at the GROWCommunity event at Hawthorne tonight at 6:00 p.m. to learn more about my two favorite neighborhood high schools, Lake View and Amundsen. This event is open to the public, and will be a great first step in the grassroots idea of a community school.

Nathan Pietrini

Hawthorne Scholastic Academy | Principal



Entry filed under: High school, Uncategorized.

High School “Letters” Thread 2017 RGC and Classical school Elementary “Letters” – Spring 2017

7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. mom2  |  March 7, 2017 at 1:23 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I hope people will see it and come. I think they will be quite impressed.

  • 2. Chicago School GPS  |  March 7, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for posting, CPSO, and for your words of wisdom, Principal Pietrini. We always find that when parents physically go into their neighborhood schools without preconceptions and speak with students, teachers and parents, thoughts are swayed and much progress is made.

    We are delighted to have Amundsen High School be our host site for the 2017 Hidden Gems High School Fair on Sept. 24, 2017. Lake View HS was a wonderful host site a few years ago as well. http://www.chischoolgps.com/CSG_HS_Fair.html

    I saw the push 5-8 years ago from the preschool set making neighborhood elementary schools what they are today, and it is wonderful to see that same zeal push into the high schools. Thanks to the Aldermen for their unwavering support as well.

  • 3. mom2  |  March 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I wasn’t there but heard they had over 300 people attend. That’s great!

  • 4. LincolnParkHSSupporter  |  March 9, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Thank you. I am so excited you got such a great turnout. We held a similar event (a Middle School Mixer, actually) for 7-8 graders in the LPHS boundaries and it also exceeded expectations. More power to, and hopefully participation in, our neighborhood high schools! Congratulations and thank you for your insights.

  • 5. Bob Foster  |  March 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Hawthorne isn’t a neighborhood school, so much of this rings hollow.

  • 6. mom2  |  March 9, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    Hawthorne isn’t a selective school. There is no testing to get in. I’m not sure I understand Bob Foster’s concern here.

  • 7. Burley Resident  |  March 9, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    I was wondering why Hawthorne and Inter American are included in the Grow Community Initiative. Perhaps because many of the proximity students are zoned for Amundsen and Lakeview? Anyway, does anyone want to provide a recap of the event? I would be interested to hear what parents were asking about.

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