Magnet Plan Doesn't Deliver On Diversity Rhetoric


Dueling editorials from the Sun Times and the Tribune about the proposed new magnet / SE assignment policy:  The Tribune (Beyond race) seems pretty optimistic about how this is all going to turn out (legal challenges aside) and positively giddy about the discontinued use of race in the assignment process. The Sun Times (CPS magnet plan must keep racial diversity) is a lot more concerned, calling magnet and SE schools an island of integration in the city and citing the failure of many other districts' plans to preserve integration. It urges CPS to consider using race as a factor among many, as some other cities have done. 

What do you think?  No surprise that I'm more pessimistic than optimistic about what CPS is proposing, though I'm not particularly enthusiastic or ideological about deseg plans.  I just want the rhetoric and the reality to match each other, and that doesn't seem to be the case here.    Click below for a list of resources related to the announcement. Sun Times broke the story first before it was even announced and followed with more.
List of sibling acceptance rates (PDF)even before the new plan goes into effect.
Proposed policy (PDF) via WBEZ
Kahlenberg and ACLU lawyer debate merits on Chicago Public Radio
Catalyst looks into the effect of the neighborhood priority.
Tribune isn't giving much acreage to this for some reason.
8th-graders' shot at elite high schools better Sun Times

Filed under: Daily News Roundup


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  • I agree with the new school ranking issue for selective enrooment. It makes it less of a game. Whitney Young and NSCP had their open houses on the same day this year--I am sure that was not an accident. Unfortunately, we already submitted our application based on the old ranking system but was told my academic enhancement that we can submit a letter requesting a change.

  • good point, chicagomom -- i agree about the ranking issue. that's a bright spot for sure.

    DSL isn't buying it, however. he thinks that clout will still be in there no matter what, and that huberman is too incompetent to get this done right.

    [WARNING -- linked comment includes language you may find offensive. click at your own risk]


  • over at the huffington post esther cepeda argues that people making $62K are at risk under the new plan because they're above the cutoff for the highest poverty group.

    she seems to want to get rid of race AND income and just let kids in by neighborhood lottery.

    i'm not sure that would work, but...

  • This is the best discussion the issue I've seen.

    Didn't appreciate long shaved cocks comments. I know kids who didn't get in because they weren't savvy enough to rank the schools to ensure getting in somewhere. All the gay bashing is ridiculous and discredits the opinion.

  • good point, keenobserver -- the homophobia is ridiculous. however, the convo over at the lanetech blog you linked to is pretty heated, too. a parent slamming a high school kid?

    anyway, there's a lot of pent up feeling around the magnet and SE programs because the demand is so high and the spots are so few. race and opportunity -- tough mix. thanks.

  • Why doesn't CPS make more SE high schools? That seems to be where the main crunch is, elementary doesn't seem to be as severe. The south and west sides could use a couple of SE high schools. That would take some pressure off Brooks, King, Lindblom, Westinghouse and Young.

    Ideally, I'd like to see any 90 percentile student able to attend a SE high school regardless of race, class, or any other consideration. These students, with that kind of dedication, are a real asset that we need to develop.

  • I took a look at the census maps. It appears that my neighborhood--which is very diverse--a real melting pot--is in the top tier. I don't really have a problem with that, but I hope the students living in the apartment building with grandma and who are not representative of the neighborhood--reap the benefits of the discretion.

  • keenerobserver,

    Because that neighborhood probably already has a decent set of neighborhood schools, I would imagine the students who live with grandma already get an advantage. Or are there neighborhoods in the top tier that do have schools with >50% low SES? If that's the case then one of the problems CPS has is massive higher SES flight from its public schools.

  • cermakrd

    You are correct--the neighborhood elementary school is very good. But the selective enrollment high schools are not in the neighborhood.

  • Based on my understanding of the CPS plan, Esther (Cepeda) is wrong about the middle class and wealthy being left out-or at least not for the reasons she proffers.

    She seems to think that the CPS plan leaves out kids whose parents make more than $62,000/ year. This is not the case. These kids actually will get to "double dip" in the SE admissions. Here's how I believe it will work:

    If you read the CPS plan, it is very obvious that EVERY school age child in the city is in one of the 4 census tracts. Those making more than $62,000 are placed in the top tract. (CPS didn't put only the "neediest" into the 4 census tracts- they put everyone into them)

    Those census tracts account for 600,000 students- but there are only 417,000 kids in all of CPS. This means the tract include ALL school age children - even those who are are not currently in CPS.

    Bottom line: many of the kids in the top census tract will get in to SE schools as part of the first 50% and then they will get to "double dip" and get in as 25% of the 2nd 50%. They actually have a better chance than the kids in the other 3 census tracts based on general socio-economic data.

  • great comment, cpsmomtimes2 -- and i like your icon, too.

    what jumps out at me from what you said is not only the double-dipping thing, which makes me wonder as others have why the four buckets are equal sized, but also the numbers.

    if there are 600K schoolage children in chicago, that means 200K of them -- a full third -- are going top private or parochial schools. wow. even if that number's high -- even if it's just 25 or event 20 percent. wow. not including folks who leave the city explicitly because of the schools.

    thanks again

  • I wonder if there is any difference proportionally between those children who are eligible to take the test vs. the population in the tracts? You need stanines of 5+ to test with exceptions for special ed.

  • Alexander, I don't know why you offered up the shavedlongcock blog. It had nothing to offer and was offensive. A man in his mid forties hosting an education blog aimed at teachers and parents in this market should have better sense. Why do you have to shock us? We're just trying to understand the new entry system so we can get our kids off to school right in the fall. Grow up.

  • Elaborating on my prior comment: every student in the city theoerticially has a 62.5% chance to get into a selective enrollment HS (top 50% plus 1/4 of the remaining 50% = 62.5%).

    However, it is doubtful that all 147,000 of the kids in the lowest tracts would even have the 5th stanines to qualify to take admission test. Presumably more kids in the top tracts would meet that bare bones requirement, but those are also the ones who send their kids to private schools, so that factor may decrease the numbers for those groups as well.

    CPS has this data available from prior years- it would be nice if they shared it. But I won't hold my breath

  • what up, district299reader? shavedlongcock blogspot was just Alexander's way of flirting with chicagomom.

  • "shavedlongcock blogspot was just Alexander's way of flirting with chicagomom."

    I would hope that Alexander is more sophisticated than that. It was a silly hateful blog. For the record, if he does want to impress, he would do well to look to the journalistic style that I have found appealing such as Vladimir Posner and Jack Germond . . . even David Brooks.

  • another comment -- can anyone vouch for this having happened?

    "CPS created its second magnet school (Robert A. Black) in 1971 in response to significant agitation by South Shore parents, white and black, to keep neighborhood schools integrated and provide needed resources. (We were parents at Bradwell on 77th Street then.) At best these schools were about 20% white, but we were keeping certain neighborhoods residentially integrated.) Robert A. Black was presented as a great opportunity - small classes, handpicked teachers, and integration - to be achieved by making sure that the entering class was 50% white, 50% black. I'm sad to say that this broke the back of the efforts to maintain desegregated schools in South Shore. Some of us were disgusted enough with the whole process that we established a small store-front co-op school, despite our commitment to public education... I haven't seen any significant change in CPS strategy with magnets, etc. since. PS The wife of Curtis Melnick, the Area Superintendent at the time, had her real estate license lifted for block busting activities the year that Robert A. Black opened...."

  • eric zorn says that the new priority process will put an end to the silly top choices scheme we now have. true that. if only the rest of the proposed plan was as helpful.

  • For SE, looks like your kids can get an edge (just add money): There's even a program for 6th graders.

  • That Zorn. This messed-up CPS school system seems to be "working" for him as he nods and smiles and thinks of the boost for his own kids (from his comments, he must have at least one kid who attempted - succeeded? - in getting into an SE school). (Unless he really doesn't know what he's talking about and is confusing magnet with SE.)

    "But Huberman wants it to stop. The plan he will offer to the Board of Education changes the system by centralizing the application and admission process and making it completely transparent for students and their fretful, whispering parents."

    Also, do you really think this is Huberman's idea/s? CPS said it wanted out from under the consent decree for year. One would think the administrators would have been fantasizing about what would replace the old system once that happened. One would think.

    Still, great. Bravo that CPS dumped the prioritizing choices things for SE. Too bad it's left little in the way of good choices for the extreme majority of its students.

  • I second the sentiments of those who found the whole shavedlongcock post gratuitous and vile. And I don't know what District299Reader means by seeming to accuse me of confusing magnet with SE schools.
    This process demands and now seems to be getting utter transparency and as much fairness and common sense as can be introduced into an admissions system. Next, supply must rise to meet demand.

  • In reply to EricZorn:

    Zorn seems to like and approve of the current CPS system and just wants more of it for those students who qualify.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    In case it's not obvious, by "current CPS system" I mean the two-tiered system of access to "good" schools.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    As they say in Hollywood, No press is bad press... Thank you for spreading the information of my blog to others. I may be "Vile" but I am a popular "Vile"...LOL

  • who made the new policies: when, where and how?

    if this were a real public school system everything would be debated, discussed and voted on in an open public format.

    when, where and by whom was the new policy concocted. the question answers the issue of transparency.

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