Update: Reconsidering Brooks High School


Four years ago a post about Gwendolyn Brooks on this site generated a heated discussion about the opportunities and challenges of the South Side selective enrollment high school, which was at the time in the process of picking a new principal.  Last week, the Chicago Defender published a piece about how the school is doing now (Students making the grade at Brooks high school) and a reader kindly sent it along suggesting an update.  From the article:  "Despite 87 percent of Brooks students coming from low-income households, 72 percent of students either met or exceeded state standards in reading, math and science, according to the 2009 School Report Card, while the average district school averaged 60 percent and the state 75 percent... Students at Brooks averaged a composite score of 21 out of 36 on the American College Test. The average district high school scored 17 and the state averaged 20." Is the success at Brooks for real, and what can other schools learn from it?  


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  • How about to have a great school, separate out the students who want to learn from the chuckleheads and gangbangers?

  • The knuckleheads and gangbangers do more than bring down test scores and scare away the "middle/average students" bringing the scores down even further - they put a big drain on a school's support staff - psychologists, counselors, deans, attendance office, etc. Just like special places for the top 5% (Selective Enrollment) the bottom 5% need places with special services that will hopefully help them and quite often their families do better. Peeling them out of the neighborhood schools would be the best for the system as a whole. These HS students that are at risk can get serviced better and the average kids in the middle can go in piece to their neighborhood school which would now be safer for them and there would be less of a perception of being a looser for the middle to go there!!!!! There would then be 5-10 poor performing schools and I bet a lot of $$$ the rest of the neighborhood schools would go up dramatically at least on the North side - Schurz would be a perfect place for establishing this type of school and let the Teach for America kids go make a difference!

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