Obama Prep on the North Side: Mayor Emanuel, I want my vote back

Mayor Emanuel has just dictated that there will be another CPS (SEHS) selective enrollment high school.  It will be built on the North Side of Chicago, less than a mile away from another selective enrollment high school.  Hooray for another selective enrollment high school! Hooray for a high school named after President Barack Obama!  What the "F", it's on the North Side in a predominantly white neighborhood and it will fill 30% of seats from the neighborhood.

I want my vote back.  I thought that Mayor Emmanuel cared about fixing the education system in Chicago.  There were nearly 50 school closures.  I get it.  These schools were sucking money out of CPS.  There should have been a plan to gradually get to this number of school closures over time.  I'm sure there are still schools that should be closed.  Poor planning continues to be the downfall of CPS.

Does the Mayor not know how bad this looks?  You close 50 schools in poor black neighborhoods and then you give $35-$37  million dollars to two predominantly white schools.  You then, plan to build a selective enrollment high school in a predominantly white neighborhood to the tune of at least $60 million dollars.  He thinks that everyone should be fine because he will call it Obama Prep.  He could call it God or Jesus Prep and it would still be wrong.

White students make up 9.2% of CPS schools but they make up approximately 30% of each of the top four selective enrollment high schools.  Take a minute and absorb that bit of information.

I've got to hand it to the mayor, because he choose an interesting location.  Obama Prep will be built near the old Cabrini Green Housing Projects site.  The school will benefit some of the families that were moved from Cabrini Green that live nearby. This benefit will be short lived.

Eventually, they will redraw the neighborhood boundaries just like they did with South Loop Elementary and these former public housing kids will not be allowed to attend this school.

If you look at the demographics for that area, you will see that the largest black population in the area is where the displaced public housing residents live.  This represents a very small area surrounding the new Obama Prep.  The majority of the area consists of white residents.

White North Side families have been complaining for years about there not being enough selective enrollment seats.  In fact South Side families have been complaining too, but CPS and Rahm are not listening to us.  I have ten high schools within six blocks of my home.  South Side residents get more military academies, charter schools, alternative and other CPS specialty schools.  The officials from CPS keep saying that it's about providing choices.  Nine bad choices and one decent choice doesn't seem fair to me.  The Southwest and the Northwest sides of the city don't have any selective enrollment schools nearby and many of those communities are tier 3 and tier 4 as well.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel values the white vote, only in certain neighborhoods. This quote from Crain's says it all, "Today's announcement is one of three school projects that Mr. Emanuel has announced in an area of the city that is considered key to his political support when he mounts his re-election bid next year."  Lincoln Elementary is getting $18-$20 million dollars for a new addition, and Walter Payton College Prep is getting a $17 million dollar addition as well.  These schools serve a majority white population.

This quote is from the Tribune:

“There's a great sense of need on the North Side because it tends be a tier of parents who have high scoring kids whose kids don't get a North Side seat,” Labowitz said. “For many tier 3 or tier 4 parents, the only acceptable option is a selective enrollment high school. For many, neighborhood high schools still haven't earned the reputation of being academically challenging or safe.”

I would just like to say that there are tier 3s and tier 4s in parts of the city that are not on the North Side so why is there a great sense of need  just on the North Side?  There is a great sense of need all over the city.  There are high scoring students all over the city who are not getting into a SEHS.  I assure you that the neighborhood high schools on the North Side are probably much better than the ones on the South Side.

Many of the white North Side families that are complaining about not getting into a CPS selective enrollment high school are from non public schools and see no value in a CPS education until high school.  They are unwilling to invest their time, energy and money into their neighborhood elementary schools to make them better.

This $95-$97  million dollars could have been spent improving current schools. There are many schools (including SEHSs) that need major capital improvements as well as upgrades.  The money being spent on three schools could have benefited many schools in a really big way!

I really resent CPS and Mayor Rahm Emmanuel using President Obama's name to soften the blow when he adds a new selective enrollment high school that is meant to benefit wealthy white families.  Mayor Rahm Emanuel, you have disappointed me for the last time, I want my vote back!


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