A School Named Obama!?

A School Named Obama!?

Mayor Emanuel announced plans to build a new $60 million school named after the current President, using TIF funding.  But not everyone thinks it’s a good idea. What do you think?

For starters, there are already lots of schools named after Obama, and some of them aren’t particularly high-performing ones.  An informal and entirely unconfirmed list of other districts with Obama schools includes Milwaukee, St. Paul, Plainfield (NJ), Pittsburgh, Oakland, LAUSD (Barack Obama Global Preparation Academy).

See the full list (or nearly) here. Or the Wikipedia version here.

Apparently there are already more Obama schools than named after both Bushes, Clinton, Carter, and Ford.  Reagan has 13. At least one of them — in Broward County — has already been closed.

It’s going to be the 11th selective enrollment school — not a neighborhood one.

The use of TIF funding is controversial, of course.

Naming a school after a living individual is always risky business.

Then again, there’s a shortage of seats in existing SE schools, and a dearth of college-educated families who keep their kids in CPS through high school.  Obama is closely identified with Chicago. He’ll be done with his second term about the same time as the new school opens.

Lots of coverage:

New Chicago high school to be named for Obama Chicago Tribune

CPS to build selective-enrollment high school named for Obama Chicago Sun-Times

Obama Beats Bush in School Names ABC News

Chicago mayor Emanuel announces high school named for Obama MarketWatch


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  • Terrible timing on new school - Chicago Sun-Times http://ht.ly/wdLKh

  • In the Crains 4/28/14 Article titled "Demographics tell different story of Obama High School plan" states the following:

    "If the mayor truly wanted the president's high school to serve the city, he could have chosen the Near South Side or Bronzeville, where an elite school also would have promoted much-needed economic development."

    In the case of Bronzeville, a selective enrollment school also would have made up for its impending loss of Chicago High School for the Arts to, yes, the North Side."

    Did you know that CPS is replacing the ChiRts location with Urban Prep, an all boy segregated high school? For years my husband and I have advocated to CPS for a Selective Enrollment High School in Douglas by repurposing the Dunbar facility location and even a feeder classical school option to be added as an additional option in unused space Pershing Magnet and most recently to the closed Drake Elementary building as a relocation for Mcdade that lacks 7th & 8th grade due to lack of space.

    At our public hearings in January of this year we also submitted an additional proposal in writing for these options as a follow-up to previous proposals already submitted. In fact we’ve been submitting proposal’s on an annual basis to CPS. However, CPS continues to ignore the needs for these options and gives the Northside another selective school. This was in the face of our losing ChiArts, a school one of our children attends. Two of our sons attended Whitney Young, the oldest Jones College Prep and our youngest ChiArts. Our neighbors also have children in Skinner Classical and Whitney Young and Lincoln Elementary.

    Now CPS is moving ChiArts to the Ukranian Village and replacing it with Urban Prep!! During the Public Hearing process this year, we had a conference call with Alderman Burns who told my husband and I that our community could seek out Kenwood for a high school option in the future. This is if we don’t see Urban Prep as an option for our children. Never mind having options that meet the needs of all the children in our own community for a change.

    My husband and I fought to bring ChiArts to our neighborhood and they initially shared with Pershing Magnet and we pushed for a permanent home in our community as we also advocated for a Selective Enrollment High School like we also did earlier this year to CPS in Public Hearings regarding in January. We knew there were families in our community who traveled for these options and we wanted them to benefit by having these options within our own neighborhood, so we amended our alternate proposal to CPS regarding Urban Prepduring the Public Hearing Process to include our tireless annual request to relocate Dunbar CTE to the far south side where the students are traveling from and convert the Dunbar Facility location to a Selective Enrollment High School. ChiArts attracted diversity and so would the Dunbar location. However when the Independent Hearing Officer listened to the voice of community members who were on one accord by the way, he left out our voice from the final “Hearing Officer Report.” Yes, we submitted very detailed public documents and they were excluded from the report. Then CPS had a Board Meeting in March and we sent our documents to CPS ahead of this meeting date so that CPS Board members could read it before they cast a vote but for some reason the information was withheld. Then I got two phone calls the day after Board Meeting by CPS’s secretaries (David Vitale’s & BBB’s) who told me that my documents were excluded from CPS Board members. Both seem to be blaming each other and CPS Board members voted before they went into private chambers at the Board meeting. I wonder why?

    In a nutshell I’m saying that CPS does not care about the voices of Douglas families and we also have people outside of our community who suggest to CPS to not invest in our community. Our schools are barely repaired when many of our homeowners pay $9,000 in property taxes and we also have a TIF that CPS spends outside our community.

    Mrs. Paulette Lane

  • In reply to Original Grandma:

    I also want to mention that our community according to CPS is Tier 4 & 3 and it has diversity. So why not a Selective Enrollment in Douglas. This ne of the areas that is being investigated for the Barack Obama Library.

  • In reply to Original Grandma:

    Dear OG

    Dunbar is one of the original selective enrollment schools in Chicago.
    Why not move the school for the arts to the far south side where the talent is located?

  • correction: I said March 2014 CPS Board Meeting when I meant February.

  • What's the difference between an SE school and a charter who boots low performing kids?

    A couple million dollars in union-inflated contracts and some clout investigations.

  • typayne- Are you talking about the UNO investigations?

    If you really think the difference between Whitney Young and your fly-by-night charters is that simple, than you are either not paying attention or are a complete shill... or both.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Then what are the differences? Clearly it isn't (alleged) corruption. Clearly it isn't selecting certain students and discriminating against poor, minority students. Clearly it isn't classroom success (as charters consistently rank highest in the national US News rankings.)

    So what are these differences that make me a complete shill?

  • Tyler to be honest while on occasion you have raised some valid points you consistently overreach in your attacks on organized teachers. You would be wise to moderate the pointless attacks on what CPS teachers get paid relative to charter school teachers.

    I have taught numerous charter school teachers over the years at National Lewis lecturing to the introduction to exceptional students classes for TFAers. They are highly aware of salary differences once the teacher gets beyond the third year between charters and traditional unionized schools. There are many things these teachers say they like about the charter school environment, but pay unfortunately is not one of those things.

    Even a teacher making $70,000 plus a year in the context of our city is hardly receiving a salary that is excessive considering police officers, corrections officers, firefighters, and heavy machinery operators with lower levels of required formal education are making comparable salaries.

    Rod Estvan

  • No, we do not need an Obama high school. Why would we use $600 million in TIF funds for that! No high school and give the money to our struggling neighborhood schools on the south side. These schools are struggling because of huge cuts to their budgets. Students are not being provided services. Funds are being sucked out of these schools at the cost of a decent education of Chicago's children. I am sick and tired of having no library and no auditorium and meeting students in the hallway with no equipment or resources. I cannot help Chicago's children if l do not have even basic resources and material. This CPS money drain from neighborhood schools is becoming a brain drain. The cuts, quality of education, services we cannot provide, the slow and painful extinction of neighborhood schools. Wake up and see the reality.

  • Correction--$60 million or whatever the actual amount is

  • In reply to CPS Librarian:

    I don't disagree about the lack of need for the Obama HS. But I think it is a small gift to higher income families to compensate for the coming property tax increases which will have much greater impact on north side high property value areas than anywhere else.

    The truth is a million dollar home in Lake View is taxed at a significantly lower rate than a comparable home in Evanston. Eventually the rate for the City will have to be much closer to suburban communities in order for Chicago not to go broke and the pensions not to default. Even with TIF reform property taxes would have to increase and while the CTU and public sector unions advocate for revoking TIFs the construction trade unions do not.

    Moreover, even the Chicago Federation of Labor is not in full agreement with revoking TIFs. While the new selective high school proposal is not rational as is the expansion of Payton and several other capital projects they play well to Chicago's higher income demographic.

    Rod Estvan

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