How Parents Learn CPS

In reading about the parent agonizing last week over whether or not to send her son to Frazier, I starting thinking about how parents begin to learn how CPS works.

There’s the Northside Parents Network (NPN), an organization of more
than 3,000 members, and their website seems to offer all kinds of
information about schools, including citywide school fairs. But
membership is $40 per year. On their online discussion groups (for members only), there looks to be
some discussion about specific schools, mostly on the North side.

But what about everyone else in the city?

A parent could find out about Chicago public schools online at the CPS website. The 2007-2008 CPS Elementary and Pre-K Scorecard Directory is available online (the print version doesn’t come out until Fall). On the Catalyst website a parent could view the Chicago Public School Guide (which links to sections of the CPS website).

All these sources assume parents have access to the Internet, and I’m not sure we can make that a citywide assumption.

When I enrolled my children in a CPS in 2000, I didn’t know about
the NPN. In my search for a playgroup, I hooked up with a mothers group
and attended their monthly meetings. Over the years, the collective
wisdom of this group of women, all of whom had children older than
mine, helped me to seek out the best schools this city has to offer,
and to pursue those options for my daughters. I would bet that word of
mouth is still how people are finding out about where to look within
CPS. And that may or may not be the best way to do things.

Filed under: Parents and Parenting

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