Chance Of A Lifetime - Or An Unattractive Offer?

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They've sent letters out to the 336 high-achieving 8th graders at 87 low-performing schools that they've identified via test scores, hoping to come up with 100 families who're interested in sending their kids to one of the top schools in the city (Jones, Whitney Young, Walter Payton, and Northside Prep). But I wonder what kind of response their getting.  Check out this list of

Sending Schools

 (download) and think about where these kids
are, geographically and academically, compared to where the four SE
schools are located. To kids and families who didn't apply for or get into an SE school in the first place this may not be such an appealing offer.  They'll be leaving their friends, traveling to another part of the city, and enrolling at a school with challenging academics and little experience dealing with kids who may need extra help. They'll have the stigma, too.  This has been a big topic of discussion among commenters since the lucky 100 were announced last week, and it remains a big issue moving forward.


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  • Were'nt there enough kids that tested from under served neighborhoods? why did they go out and find kids that did not test for SE. Every parent by 7th grade should know about these options. The testing is free, testing location is pretty easy to get to by public trans. I just think it is so silly!

  • I think it's a great idea, just because these kids don't live a good neighborhood and are going to schools that don't give them what they need, does not mean they won't fit in a elite school! Come on, how could you say such things that you have said? Do you think smart people originate from rich families?? That is a stereotype. My daughter is going to this school and I am SO happy that there is diversity in this school! elite school are not just for White people, there are lot of people out there that are equally competitive and smart as anyone else and should not be held back because they are living in low income neighbourhoods. Some of the best I know come from poor countries like India. This is the beginning! I am so glad to see that the world is finally giving other kids a chance! This is America after all, if you work hard you can be who you want to be.

  • You are unbelievable being a teacher you talk like this! You should not be a teacher at all..why can't these kids be given a chance?

  • I am the parent of a minority child, who took the test, scored in the 88th percentile, and didn't get an offer to an SE school. Some of my daughter's friends scored in higher percentiles then she did, and they did not receive any offers either. Shouldn't these students be offered a seat before someone who didn't either bother to take the test? These students will offer the diversity CPS is looking for. Why does diversity have to only come from low income schools?

  • I would like to respond to Mel. The reason that minority children who took the selective enrollment test and did not make the cut off either on the open rank score or by the income tract system are not being admitted in simple. Unless they attend a formally failing school under NCLB standards if CPS were to move the minority student ahead based simply on their race and higher scores they would be violating federal law.

    Effectively every family of a white student who scored at the 88th percentile and did not get an offer to an SE school could litigate if CPS admited minority students in that manner. By using the NCLB provisions they avoid this issue.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Huberman & Co. may or may not find legal cover by invoking NCLB but it won't rinse the bitter taste out of Mel's mouth. Brand new $900,000.00+ procedure neutered, CPS integrity (what little there is) irrevocably damaged, same old racial politics. Surely there was a legal way to fine-tune the new process to yield a more diverse outcome.

  • I think it's a tough choice that must be looked at individually for each child. As was said above and is sometimes on display, the selective enrollment system is a main cause of many of the problems we face in Chicago education. High energy, well-resourced parents spend all of their time and resources Racing to the Top instead of working to improve schools.

    That being said, selective enrollment schools provide a relatively strong education and have a lot of great people working there to support students.

    Now, I've been lucky enough to teach students who had selective enrollment level academic skills, but chose the neighborhood high school because they felt the civic duty to improve things for other youth. They are very impressive and deserve all of the respect and admiration we can give them. In most cases, they end up with more rounded educations that they would have gotten at the selective enrollment options--it's quite a different experience to lead social movements in your community rather than to pursue a traditional elite education.

    But that's not for everyone. The goal is not for youth to martyr themselves and many people, especially those from more sheltered backgrounds are not ready to train to lead social movements at 14 years old (or 30 or 40 or any age).

    But many can, and I hope that those selective enrollment parents who preach the mantra that "neighborhood schools are not an option" recognize that it is a short-sighted and self-absorbed appraisal. They may not be an option for your individual child at this point in time, and that's nothing to be ashamed of, but to attack those who may be more heroic at this point in their lives is an unfortunate choice and poor modeling for your child.

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