No Need For Clout Under Proposed Magnet Schools Plan


Despite repeated requests, CPS still won't let anyone talk to me about the proposed magnet schools plan.  But it did manage to let Catalyst snag some unsatisfyingly vague answers from Rick Kahlenberg, the DC-based Century Foundation scholar who helped CPS design the plan.  Argh. Gak.

Kahlenberg pretty much admits that the boost for neighborhood kids is a sop to affluent and politically active parents. (No wonder there's been no outcry from the North Side.) He ducks answering what the proposed plan will do to high-demand magnet schools in more affluent areas. (Make them whiter and richer, probably.) He claims that the plan will bring greater diversity to some of the wealthier SE schools (but doesn't explain how that could possibly happen). He claims that community census data is the best that's available (ignoring troves of easily verifiable individualized social services data).

Perhaps, underneath it all, the new plan is designed to eliminate clout.  Who needs clout when all the folks with it are already going to get in?


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  • As a north sider who attended a North Side magnet school, I have to say, I don't think you're familiar with the area I've grown up in. If you did, there's no way you could make the statement that parents on this part of the city are more affluent or politically active. Rogers Park/Edgewater is as working-class as it gets. This is the most diverse district in the state, and my high school--Lane Tech--is the most diverse school in the city. As far as clout, I graduated at the top of my class, and my brother still wasn't able to get into the school because he didn't have the grades or test scores. I get your point, I see your reasoning, but I don't think you're making very fair statements. Maybe if you weren't making broad generalizations that take comments out of context, someone would be willing to talk to you.

  • Mariam--what race are you? No need to answer-1 point here is that those of us who are minority AND poor, will NOT be able to get our children into the Lanes. How lucky you were to get in.

  • In reply to AlexanderRusso:

    I am both a minority and poor, if that's what you call having a single-mom, working 40-hours a week, putting yourself through school and still knowing how lucky you are that you're there. And nobody got me into Lane. I earned it with hard work. I know I didn't grow up in the hardest part of the city, but if you visit my neighborhood high school--Senn--you'll understand the level of education that we get in our grammar schools.

    Now I don't doubt for a moment all the gentrification and high-rises going on in Rogers Park/Edgewater. I've seen it as much as any resident that uses their eyes. But I still don't think it's a fair generalization. I don't have a problem with the point he's making. What I took objection to was: "Kahlenberg pretty much admits that the boost for neighborhood kids is a sop to affluent and politically active parents. (No wonder there's been no outcry from the North Side.)"

    Come see how much my family works to keep our head afloat and tell me we're affluent. That was my issue. When you say "North Side," remember there's more to it than Lincoln Park or Andersonville/Wrigleyville.

  • In reply to mpera:

    Also, if you make any connection with military targeting and school performance, Senn is also host to the only school on the north side to host a military academy. Also, just out of curiosity, where are most of these selective/magnet schools in the city? To my knowledge, Lane and Northside are the only selective enrollment schools on the north side, but I've been out of the CPS for quite some time. I may be out of the loop.

  • In reply to mpera:

    Typos, sorry. It's early.

  • In reply to mpera:

    Here is another example.

    According to the CPS website, LaSalle has a low-income student population of just 17.8 percent. This in a city with how high a low-income student population?? And this the result of a "lottery?" Nearby neighborhood school, Lincoln, has a 13.1 percent low-income population. Not too dissimilar. I think socio-economic diversity in magnets is never going to change. And that's the real change that is needed. I went to the LaSalle Open House, and they kept saying that they were reluctant to implement some costly programs ... out of concern for ALL their students having equal opportunities. Meanwhile, our tour guide spoke about a fundraising movement to raise $500,000 to be matched by CPS for an expansion of the school estimated to be completed in just a couple of years. They did not seem the least bit concerned that they might not reach those numbers, even in this economy. Meanwhile, Lincoln, which has to take in any student in its boundaries and is not limited as is a magnet, is bursting at the seams.

  • Have you seen all the multi-million dollar homes (or shall I say mansions) that are being built in Edgewater/Rogers Park? Yes, there may be working class families still residing in those neighborhoods, but it has changed drastically over the last decade. And I think Alexander does make a good point

  • Trust not Academic Enhancement nor the many consultants the use in/outside of their department.

  • I think it's reasonable to consider the neighborhoods surrounding Lane Tech as generally middle class.

    What we must remember is that about 85% of school age children in CPS live in poverty. Those students in the neighborhoods surrounding Lane are among the remaining 15% of families -not- in poverty. That 15% of students will receive 50% of the seats at Lane. Hmm. But, wait, there's more! 12.5% of the remaining seats are reserved for students in the top census tract which likely also contains families in the Lane neighborhood. So ultimately at least 62.5% of seats at Lane will be reserved for 15% of students who do not live in poverty.

    This pattern holds for a large percentage of the selective enrollment and magnet schools in the city, a disturbing trend in an already inequitable, intentionally three-tiered school system.

  • "Who needs clout when all the folks with it are already going to get in?"
    Oh snap. Well said.

  • But it's not just the 50% neighborhood and 12.5% top census tract. The siblings of neighborhood students already enrolled at Lane are guaranteed admission straight away before those other percentages even come into play. Hmm, indeed.

  • I think you people are confusing the new admissions policy for magnets and selective enrollment high schools. Lane is a selective enrollment high school not a magnet school. So, the top 50% will have the highest test scores and the remaining 50% will be the highest scores in 4 socio-economic groups. From what I understand, the principal discretion may involve considerations of siblings who attend the school--but that has already been the case.

    And yes, Rogers Park and Edgewater are extremely diverse communities.

  • In reply to chicagomom:

    Yes, a better example would be Hawthrone - a magnet school in Lakeview which is already 36% local. Under the new proposed policy that would for sure increase to close to 50%. For example: there are 64 slot total in the kindergarten class. Per the sibling acceptance report from last year there are 23 siblings so that leaves 41 slots. 50% of that now goes to the neighborhood, which leaves 20 slots to be split amongs the 4 groups which 1 of them includes Lakeview anyhow! How is that considered a diversified student population?

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