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Getting a chance

Smart students from poor neighborhoods are less likely to test into gifted and classical elementary schools. Later, they are more likely to become disengaged and eventually drop out. A special initiative is giving some students a last-minute shot at elite programs.
From the Winter 2013 issue of Catalyst-Chicago The Achievement Gap

Why It Matters

  • CPS has a limited number of gifted and classical schools, most of them on the North Side. Smaller programs exist inside some low-income neighborhood schools.

  • Only 1 percent of children in lower-income census tracts took the CPS entrance test for gifted and classical schools, compared to 4 percent of high-income students.

  • More students take the admissions test for selective high schools, but the disparity in admission is stark: 34 percent of children from wealthy areas are admitted, compared to 19 percent of students from poorer communities.

  • Many neighborhood high schools are losing enrollment and lack the type of challenging courses that would attract good students.

In 2008, a federal judge freed CPS from the dictates of a long-standing desegregation decree that had kept at least some racial balance in the district’s elite selective schools.

To try and maintain that balance in four selective high schools—Walter Payton, Jones, Northside College Prep and Whitney Young, bar-none the best high schools in the city—CPS officials started a program that offers seats to promising black students from the district’s worst elementary schools, who otherwise would not have qualified for admission.

The district has quietly kept the initiative going and expanded it to Lane and Lindblom. At the same time, the diversity at the top selective high schools has shifted. Since 2005, the number of Latino students in CPS has increased by 7 percent, but the number at these selective schools has only risen by 2 percent.

And in 2005, black students made up about 24 percent of students in the North Side selective high schools. Now, black students comprise about 17 percent, a figure that would fall to 15 percent without the diversity initiative.

The first cohort of students in this special program are now juniors and though some of them floundered academically, many have adjusted to the demands of a top high school.

Anthony Wiggins, a tall young man now given to wearing argyle sweaters and other preppy clothing, says he feels he is better off for attending Whitney Young instead of his neighborhood school on the far Southeast Side. But nearly every semester at Whitney Young has been difficult for him, and Anthony longed to be better-prepared.

“I was totally freaked out,” he recalls, talking about the geometry class he took during a summer freshman orientation. “I had never seen this before in my life.”

When classes began, everyone else seemed to be at least a year ahead of him.

For students like Anthony, the disparity in preparation starts even before elementary school, when parents take their 4-year-olds to be tested for gifted and classical elementary schools. These schools, as well as some North Side magnet schools, serve as major feeders into the North Side selective high schools, a report by WBEZ revealed last year. More than half of CPS elementary schools do not send any graduating 8th-graders to these selective schools.

In fact, a Catalyst Chicago analysis found that children living in high-income census tracts were four times more likely to take the test for gifted and classical schools than children in low-income areas—even though research has found that intellectually gifted children are no more likely to be rich than poor. By the time students go to high school, more lower-income students apply for selective schools—and there are more seats available—but the disparity continues: 31 of 77 community areas with low application and acceptance rates for selective enrollment elementary schools continued to have low rates for high schools. (See charts.)

While diversity is a goal, some of the selective enrollments were opened with the intent of trying to keep the middle class in Chicago, says Timothy Devine, principal of Walter Payton College Prep.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his then-schools CEO Paul Vallas “were trying to combat the brain drain that occurred at 7th or 8th grade,” Devine says. “We are meeting the needs of highly discerning students and parents.”

Devine points out that these schools also attract teachers from better schools of education, teachers who otherwise might not consider teaching in CPS.

But Donna Ford, education professor at Vanderbilt-Peabody College, says that under-representation is a pervasive problem, not just for poor black and Latino children but also for children from middle-class families. Tests used for admissions can be biased, and some black and Latino parents and students shy away from gifted schools that are not diverse.

“The question is: ‘Who are the gatekeepers for parents to know about these programs?’” she says. “Black and Hispanic parents are rarely told about them. There is a lack of access to information.”

Katie Ellis, CPS’ executive director of access and enrollment, says that her staff has in recent years stepped up efforts to reach out to parents. Before, the staff would wait to be invited to schools and other venues; now they invite themselves, making sure to hit a variety of places.

This year, for the first time, Ellis’ office has “trained the trainers,” reaching out to social workers, day care workers and others in the community who interact with parents, giving these workers information to pass along to parents.

The consequences can be devastating for advanced students who, for whatever reason, fail to get into a gifted program, Ford says. She equates it to children with learning disabilities who do not get the right support.

A 2010 report called “The Achievement Trap” found that high-achieving, low-income 1st-graders were significantly more likely to lose that status by 5th grade than their wealthier peers who had more educational opportunities.

Later, they were twice as likely to drop out.

“They become bored, disengaged, unmotivated,” Ford says. “They also might act out because they don’t have work to fill the time.”

Jakori Lesure was on the verge of becoming one of those children.

Jakori says he never took a test to get into elementary school. He does not think his mother even knew about gifted or classical programs. She sent him to Catalyst-Howland Charter School, not because it was necessarily better than his neighborhood school, but because it was closer. Jakori was part of the first class to graduate from Catalyst-Howland in Austin, a Level 3 school, the lowest rating CPS gives.

Jakori says Catalyst-Howland emphasized discipline. He got detentions nearly every day, mostly for not wearing his uniform or not tucking in his shirt or not having a belt on. “I feel like uniforms are a way to exercise control,” he says.

Catalyst-Howland tried to have an accelerated track, Jakori says. But by the time he was in 6th grade, it was discontinued. “Only six students were in it, and they decided it wasn’t worth wasting a teacher,” says Jakori, who is now 16.

In 8th grade, he took the test to get into a selective high school. He remembers thinking that the math was beyond hard. “It was stuff I had never seen before,” he says.

The news of his results was not good. Jakori wasn’t accepted at any of the selective schools. He and his mom started looking for alternatives. Later that spring, he got the surprise letter offering him a spot at Whitney Young under the special diversity program.

Austin, where Jakori lives, has no gifted or classical elementary schools with the type of curriculum needed to prepare students for top high schools. Seven of the 16 schools are on the South or Southwest side and the rest are on the North Side.

But even when schools are relatively close, some parents are reluctant to have their children tested.

Mercedes Hunter, a social worker at Bunnyland Day Care Development Center in Roseland, says she and other staff will sometimes suggest to parents that they apply for magnet schools or take their children for testing. But often, parents don’t pursue it.

Parents are usually looking forward to having their children go to the school nearby, where brothers and sisters might already be, Hunter says. They also don’t like the idea of their young children traveling outside the neighborhood, even though busing is provided.

“Transportation is the big issue,” Hunter says. “It is up to the parent to follow up and many don’t.”

Uriel Montoya, education organizer for Enlace Chicago, a community group in Little Village, says many parents on the Southwest Side have no idea that such accelerated programs exist. “CPS needs to do a better job [of promotion],” he says.

By the time students are ready for high school, many have already lost any chance to go to a top selective school. To qualify for the test, students must have 7th-grade scores that are above the 50th percentile on the ISAT in both reading and math.

Though some 14,000 students apply for about 2,000 seats in the North Side selective high schools, admissions officers spend much of October and November going to a range of elementary schools to sell their programs.

Location is also a barrier even for older students. At Northside College Prep in North Park, the top-scoring high school in CPS, only about 9 percent of the students are black and just 20 percent are Latino.

Northside Principal Barry Rodgers says his admissions director actively recruits from underrepresented neighborhoods. “It is primarily a function of the demographic distribution of groups throughout the city,” he says. (Von Steuben, a nearby magnet high school, is 16 percent black and half Latino.)

At Shoop Academy in Morgan Park, Principal Lisa Moreno has several perspectives: She was an assistant principal at Northside, one of her daughters attends Walter Payton and now she is trying to get her bright students to open up to the idea of going to a selective high school that may be across town.

Moreno says most of her parents won’t even go to open house events at the schools or to high school fairs, because they aren’t accustomed to traveling so far. “They don’t realize how much they are limiting their children,” she says.

But some of their concerns are practical. Parents don’t want students traveling in the dark—early morning or early evening—and they wonder how their child will participate in afterschool activities.

Moreno knows those concerns well: Every school night, she picks her daughter up from the Metra station.

The initiative that landed Jakori and Anthony at Whitney Young was created, in part, to help CPS officials save face and keep selective and magnet schools from becoming too white once the desegregation decree was lifted.

Then-CEO Ron Huberman hired Richard Kahlenberg from The Century Foundation to devise a new admissions process that was based partly on grades and test scores and partly on socio-economic conditions.

The bet was that socio-economic factors could be used as a proxy for race—but that bet didn’t quite work out. After the first group of students was admitted under the new system, it was apparent to Huberman that the racial balance was going to be thrown off in the elite North Side selective schools.

So Huberman and his team came up with the idea of using provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act to allow students from schools that didn’t make Adequate Yearly Progress—the federal performance benchmark—to transfer to schools that did. At the time, only four high schools met this benchmark, and they happened to be Whitney Young, Jones, Northside and Payton. One hundred seats would be offered.

Of the 100 students offered seats the first year, 25 turned them down. In that first year, students struggled. In the next cycle, Ellis says, the cut-off score was raised and fewer students made the cut-off. But for the current school year, more than 100 seats were offered and about 85 students accepted.

Since then, the program has flown quietly under the radar. The Office of Academic Enhancement makes no mention of it on its website. After the first year, students didn’t know that they got into the schools through the program. Some of the high schools did not want the students’ identities revealed, fearing that their classmates would then view them differently.

Donna Ford considers programs like these good strategies to provide opportunity for low-income minority students to get a top-flight education. Middle-class children who end up in neighborhood schools still get more opportunities, she says, since their parents are more likely than low-income parents to be able to provide extras to keep them engaged in school and learning.

“I would rather err on the side of inclusion,” Ford says. “We are neglecting a huge portion of our children.”

But getting a black child to go to a mostly white school, even if the school is high-performing, can be a tough sell.

“They are like, ‘Hell no, I am not going there,’” Ford says. “They worry that they will be isolated. We can play games with criteria, but if the reputation of the school is that there are no black kids, then we aren’t going to get them in there.”

As admissions director at Whitney Young, Nicole Neal was painstakingly aware of the privilege associated with the school. She often had parents and students begging and crying for spots. “It is tough, because there are so many limited options for people who want public education at that level,” she says. “My heart went out to the students and parents.”

But Neal, who is now an assistant principal at Shoesmith Elementary School in Kenwood, says she is not so sure removing bright students from neighborhood high schools is the best thing. “Why take the talent out of the community?”

“If they had gone to neighborhood schools, what would their experience have been?” she asks, referring to students who took advantage of the diversity transfers. “Socially they might have fared better. They may have had more opportunity to be involved. Because it took them so long to get home, many of them went straight home.”

Meanwhile, principals at the selective schools were initially concerned about the impact of the initiative.

The first set of students sent to Whitney Young had scored 200 points lower on admissions criteria than the lowest-scoring students admitted through the standard process. Because Whitney Young is centrally located and well-known in the black community, most students who were offered a seat jumped at it.

Principal Joyce Kenner says this put her school at a disadvantage compared to Payton and Northside, which got fewer of these students. “Whitney Young should not be punished for doing a good job,” she says.

Kenner, too, suspects black students shy away from Northside and Payton because they don’t see other students like them in the school and there are not extracurricular activities that interest them.

A lot of the students also accepted spots at Jones. Even before the initiative, Jones administrators were concerned that the school was losing diversity and had developed a program to target 8th-grade students from under-represented schools.

Jones Principal Paul Powers says the school’s location, on the south end of downtown near several train and bus lines, makes it ideal to draw a mix of students.

Among students interviewed by Catalyst who were admitted through this initiative, many say they were intimidated at first. Most had been in all-black elementary schools. But the initial trepidation didn’t last, and they quickly made friends and found their niche at their new schools.

The academic adjustment proved far more difficult. The principals at Jones, Young and Payton say they initially had money—$10,000 per student the first year, but none after that—to buy equipment like computers and graphing calculators. Some still provide bus cards for the students, out of their discretionary budgets.

They also continue mentoring and tutoring programs, which in some cases include students who weren’t admitted through the transfer program.

Devine says there are noticeable differences among the transfer students—and some have adjusted surprisingly well.

“One student might struggle because he doesn’t have strong reading skills, another because of math and another because they might not have a nurturing home environment,” Devine says. “Some kids do very, very well and you would never know they came through the program. There is a spectrum.”

At Jones, administrators expanded the Response to Intervention program. The basic idea behind RtI is that schools should intervene when students are having problems and should document how or whether the interventions are working.

Through this process, Jones Assistant Principal Carolyn Rownd says she realized that a lot of students were missing specific skills. Now, one freshman class each in English and math incorporates lessons in missing skills—for instance, vocabulary in American Literature. Many students also needed to improve their grammar.

“All kids need it,” Rownd says, noting that students admitted through the regular process also have academic deficits. “The best thing that came out of this cohort of kids was that it opened the door to the need for everyone to polish their skills. They made us do that. They gave us the kick.”

Some students say they were acutely aware that they were coming in at a lower academic level. Among the first group, 20 percent later transferred to other schools.

Lyric, a student at Jones, remembers crying a lot the first semester, frustrated that she was behind her classmates.
“Mrs. Rownd would tell me to push that frustration away and try it again,” says Lyric (her real name is not being used for privacy reasons). “She would ask me if I needed to go talk to the teacher. This motivated me to try harder and not to quit. It mattered to them if I did well.”

Lyric points to a desk in the main office with a computer on it, saying “I lived there.” At Jones, she quickly realized that it was better to stay at school and do her homework—her focus was better at school and she had access to the Internet.

When Lyric’s classmate, Ethan, was handed the letter offering him a spot a Jones, he was so excited he could barely read it. Then, Ethan says, reality set in. “I was intimated,” says Ethan (who also asked that his real name not be used). “I wondered if I was good enough. I felt like I was behind and I worried that I would feel really stupid.”

Ethan was salutatorian of his elementary school class and a straight-A student, but didn’t get offered a spot at any of the city’s elite schools. Until he got the letter, he planned to go to Julian, where his brother was a student.

In his first weeks at Jones, Ethan says he psyched himself out because he was so worried about keeping up. The amount of homework was much more intense than in elementary school. “I wasn’t used to bringing all my books home and studying,” he says.

His first progress report was no pretty sight. His grades fell from straight As to one D and a lot of Cs and Bs.
“I freaked out more than my mom,” he says.

Eventually Ethan calmed down and convinced himself that this was his chance to learn a lot. For many of the other students, the first few weeks were review. But Ethan says he studied everything he was given because much of it was new to him.

“I just thought to myself, if I try hard I can do it,” he says. “I just tried to reassure myself.”

He also took advantage of the outstretched hand from his teachers. Almost every day, he went to his math teacher and asked him to walk him through a task. Ethan also realized he had to give up some things, such as basketball.

He made it on the basketball team both freshman and sophomore year, but each time couldn’t play through the season because he had too much homework.

Ethan is a loner, and Rownd says when he first came to Jones he was very quiet. But he has changed since being there. “He is who he wants to be,” she says.

A recurring theme among the transfer students is one of educational opportunity and, perhaps more importantly, the freedom to be someone different than they feel they could have been at their neighborhood school. Lyric says she always imagined herself as worldly and sophisticated and that going to Jones has made her into the young woman she dreamed of being.

Anthony complains about the travel to Whitney Young, which includes depending on erratic buses. But he admits that his horizons have been expanded and he is now thinking about going to college in a different state, somewhere far away for sure. “When you come from Whitney Young, you can go anywhere,” he says. If he had gone to his neighborhood school, he believes, that wouldn’t have been the case.

Jakori, however, says that sometimes he thinks it would have been better to go to his neighborhood school. Many semesters, he nearly fails his classes before finishing up all the work and pulling his grade up to a barely C. “My mother is always on me about grades,” he says.

But at a neighborhood school, or a charter school where discipline is paramount, he acknowledges he might have had problems.

At Whitney Young and other selective schools, discipline is expected but the school climate is more relaxed and has space for creativity. Jakori describes himself as an artist.

When asked what he does that might get him into trouble in a stricter environment, Jakori smiles sheepishly.
“I am not a bad kid,” he says. “I just don’t appreciate restrictions.”

Tell us what you think. Leave a comment below, or email


Anonymous wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

It would be helpful if

It would be helpful if selective high schools could work with elementary schools to develop a common middle school curriculum that is consistent with what will be taught at Jones, WY, etc.

It would appear that the elementary schools may need more emphasis on advanced math and on writing. (The WY AC, obviously, already does have that kind of continuity.)

Anonymous wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Getting the word out

There are not enough seats now for elementary school children in the stand-alone IB, classical and gifted schools on the south and west sides.
If there were more seats, then an aggressive outreach to increase diversity would be wonderful. But absent more seats, would CPS only be setting up more parents and children for disappointment?

CPS must use a projection of future enrollment to decide upon school capacity issues. Does it make sense for CPS to increase the number of elementary in-house gifted programs? And should it increase the elementary stand-alone gifted, IB, and classical schools? Given that 14,000 students are qualified to take the entrance exam, is there a huge unmet demand here?

The gifted elementary schools' curriculum is accelerated by about two years, and that is why those graduates are better prepared to do well on the entrance and ISAT tests and to do well once they are in a selective high school.

Can that model scale?

Michelle wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Definition of south, north?

Very interesting and informative article. However, can you specify which schools you're considering north, west and south? On the graph called "Striving for Diversity" -- I can't believe that there are only 2% white students in the south and west SE high schools in 2012, given the large percentage of white kids at Jones and Whitney Young. You're not considering those two schools to be "north" area schools, are you?

Sarah Karp wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

definition of south, north

I am considering Whitney Young and Jones to be North. I guess my standard definition of North has always been "North of Roosevelt." I probably should have specified North and Central as I lumped the two together.

Michelle wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

North - south

So Jones, at 600 S. State Street, and Young and Westinghouse, are all considered to be "north side high schools"? That seems a little inaccurate. I think people living in the immediate vicinity of Whitney Young and Westinghouse would consider themselves west siders.

Sarah Karp wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

You are right

In the story I mostly tried to identify the high schools I was speaking about. In the graphics, when I say north, I am referring to Young, Jones, Lane, Payton and Northside. I should have said north and center city. Westinghouse is West Side.

Grandma wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

What Constitutes north and south.

On the map of the City of Chicago, I believe Madison is "Zero" so anything south of Madison is south. Conversely, State Street divides east and west.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

It would be nice if CPS developed a program for gifted students

in the neighborhood school-especially elementary schools. Parents do not want to send their kids out from their neighborhood--can you blame them? Support the neighborhood school with an excellerated program for these students--even just an afterschool program---.

Bob Simpson wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

We need more resources in the neighborhood schools

There is no GOOD reason why neighborhood schools cannot offer enriching and compelling curricula even in the face of the social class discrimination and institutional racism that is so much a part of Chicago. That alone will not equalize the disparity in educational opportunity, but it would help.

Celina wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Improve neighborhood schools

Excellent article, Sarah. And how refreshing to hear such provocative insights from the students' voices as well.

I think your analysis lends support to the argument that greater investments need to be made in improving our neighborhood schools at all levels, from public preschools to secondary school. Every child should have access to a high-quality education that will prepare them with the skills they need to master rigorous academic content. It simply is not possible to provide enough spots in selective enrollment schools for all of the city's academically talented and motivated students--that should not stop them from getting the support they need to nurture their skills.

I think students and their families--particularly those with lower incomes, less formal education, and immigrant families--need dedicated personal advocates to help them navigate the CPS system and its various options and opportunities. My own child will graduate from Jones this year (and we have loved our time there), but even with college-educated and advanced-degreed parents, she had some hurdles to overcome in getting there. Her applications for both selective enrollment middle (academic centers) and high schools were erroneously scored, and had we (her parents) not been vigilant in knowing, understanding, and monitoring the application process, she would not have been accepted into any of these programs. Moreover, once she matriculated (at Kenwood AC for middle school and then Jones), she required a great deal of guidance in negotiating relationships with both her peers and her teachers and adjusting to a context where there were high academic expectations for ALL students in the school--i.e., she was no longer "the smart kid," which if not dealt with can lead students to have less motivation and interest in school.

Many students--and their parents--who come into a selective enrollment school from a less academically rigorous school are even less prepared than my daughter was for the shift in expectations. Most do not realize, for example, that students sometimes "self-track" into more or less rigorous curricular programs--Regular, Honors, and AP--and this can affect their preparation and competitiveness for college admissions. Nor are most aware that Honors and AP classes have higher benchmarks for grades--92% for an A and 65% for a D, for examples. At Jones, all classes are Honors and AP, so a student who earns a 91% in all classes will have straight Bs on his or her transcript.

What good are any of the options CPS provides for less-resourced students and their families if these families still don't have the resources they need to take advantage of these options?

Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Selective Enrollment Schools are for the Children of CPS STAFF

Selective Enrollment Schools are For the Children of CPS Staff and administrators. Maybe Catalyst can do some research on this. From what I have observed, as CPS officials and City of Chicago administrators make money off poor children, they also take many of the selective enrollment slots that our children need. After making huge salaries, they refuse to send their children to private schools and enjoy the best that CPS has to offer. Even BOE officials are taking slots that poor children could have. Even our brightest children who have triumphed over gangs and violent communities are shunned from these schools. I know from personal experience of having two gifted children who were stanine 9 in reading and math. It was very difficult to get them into schools. Issues of color-ism, sorority affiliations and associations with the "Right" people were the criteria of selection.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Ms. Celine, Could you please

Ms. Celine, Could you please explain how realized that your child's applications to the ACs and to the s.e.h.s. had been scored incorrectly, and how you were able to get that rectified?

Celina wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

In reply to Anonymous's question about application errors

Dear Anonymous :)
I'm crazy when it comes to this stuff. So, I went to the CPS website and found the formula for calculating S.E.H.S. admissions scores. I had copies of everything her counselor had sent in and I used the formula to calculate her scores myself. When we got the score report from CPS, it didn't match what I had calculated. I called and called and called until I reached someone, and sure enough, they had entered her ISAT scores incorrectly. Her counselor had to resend the scores, and CPS said they would correct it in the system. They never did; but fortunately, the incorrect score was still high enough to gain her a spot. If it hadn't been, I'm not sure what we would have done. She did not get into her second choice school, and I called both CPS and the school principal about the errors--but they were not sympathetic since she got into her first choice; I would hope that they spent more effort correcting errors that actually cost someone a spot in any of the schools. In fifth grade, my daughter's friend did not get into any of the schools she'd selected, despite having straight As, perfect attendance, and ISAT scores well about the 90th percentile. As it turned out, CPS had not entered her grades into her score, costing her 400 points. Since all the schools had already made their admissions offers, none of them would offer her a spot--even though they were made aware of the administrative error.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

And BBB asks why no one

And BBB asks why no one trusts CPS?

Not even this elemental process has a double-check built into it to prevent stupid mistakes from depriving students from getting a seat.

If the system is so loose that it can tolerate this level of inadvertent mistakes, then think how easy it is to purposely corrupt it!

Oh my gosh.

Grandma wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Selective Enrollments are for children of CPS Staff

I know of two CPS Principal's whose son's were accepted into selective enrollment high school's. One told me that her son had all C's and the close friend of the other said her son did not get accepted at any selective enrollment high school's, even though he attended a classical school. However I did notice that her son was mysteriously an accepted freshmen at the selective enrollmnet high school she was a Principal of. Must be nice to use your status to help your kids who fall short, while the rest of us have to walk on water.

To be perfectly honest, I am speaking out of jealously. If I was a CPS staff member, I would also try to help my child as well. Fortunately, my three son's were accepted into Jones and Whitney Young. My daughter got accepted into a selective enrollment, but chose ChiArts which was an excellent choice for her. Sometimes all goes well for non-CPS Staff.

Northside wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


You Said
"Selective Enrollment Schools are For the Children of CPS Staff and administrators. After making huge salaries, they refuse to send their children to private schools "

Some teachers aids at cps make about 30k per year. Is this a huge salary? And just because some corrupt, connceted, teachers send their kids to Slective Schools, most of us have about as much clout as a church mouse. You NEED TO STOP MAKING UNPROVEN generalities. Also, I make about 60k and supprt a wife, child, and mother in law? How does this qualify as a HUGE SALARY. When I have 300 dollars in student loans per month and FORCED to live in Chicago? Are you forced to live in Chicago Rosita for your job? Your choice of words are classic examples of racism and exaggeration. . I probably will send my kid to a private school because I don’t want to mix my job with my children. You need to stop equating skin color with privilege.

I have seen every color of skin in my school in some very dire situations. If you think being of a certain skin color is a guarantee to shangrala ...come down to my neighborhood, you will quickly change your mind.

Please stop perpetuating racial division and fight against poverty. It makes me sad to think you would have more compassion for a certain color of child over another, simply because of race. That is VERY sad and cruel. Poverty is an equal opportunity life destroyer in our country. THAT IS A FACT

Celina wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

children of cps staff

While I agree that Rosita's comment seems to generalize and exaggerate privileges for children of CPS staff, I didn't see where it was racist our racially divisive. I do think it's important for staff to send their children to public school and at least pay taxes in the municipality where they work. What's the message about the quality of the work you and your colleagues are doing if you don't deem the schools good enough for your own children? That's one good thing I'll say about Arne Duncan...he does put his money where his mouth is by sending his kids to public schools.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

You may not realize that Arne

You may not realize that Arne Duncan's kids used to go to Lab.

Now they go to one of the top suburban public school districts in the US.

Your compliment is a lot like applauding a CPS political appointee for sending his daughter to public school in Winnetka.

Celina wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

giving credit where it's due

I do know that at least one of Arne's kids went to a CPS school in Hyde Park, for whatever it's worth.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

That's true, one (at least)

That's true, one (at least) went to Ray Elementary in Hyde Park for maybe a little pre-k, then Lab it was.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

You don't tell me Waht My Agenda

As a child growing up in public housing, living in Englewood. I don't need a crash course in poverty or the people that perpetuate poverty> Maybe you do. I understand the sacrifices that parents make to provide quality education for poor at-risk children. I was one of those children. So before you get on your high horse "NorthSide" teacher, there is nothing you can read about in the newspaper that I have not had personal experiences. I speak from my experience and not yours.

I have taught children of all colors, economic backgrounds and went to a high school where I was the only AA in every class I had. I don't want to hear this nonsense about diversity. You are ones who don't have any.

If you are trying to make me feel ashamed for focusing on the needs of the community, I got news for you, I'm doing my PHD in African American studies. Don't get too mad now. I'm not forgetting you. We just need all hands on in our communities.

As far as selective enrollment,I know the process for enrollment and in many cases its' who you know. I also know about magnet, private, Catholic and U of Chicago Lab schools. I know first hand because my children went to U of C Lab, Mount Carmel, Three graduated from Kenwood, 2 out of CPS's gifted program, One went to Ancona , Montessori, and went to Catholic school 11 years.

Now on the issue of racism, I CHOSE to speak on that issue because I live with the consequences of racism, Willie LYNCHISM .and feel that it's an issue for MY community. If you don't care about it, I DO! I make no excuses for my advocacy and no apologies. I don't need your permission or stamp of approval to talk about what ails My community. If you middle class poverty makers (THOSE who are stealing the jobs in communities where 92% of the students are minority and less than 50% of the teachers are) You want the jobs in your neighborhoods and ours.Thus creating poverty for people who live and need to working their prospective communities. I don't want to hear about poverty from someone who has sold-out minority teachers. Making once middle-class educated teachers poor. The union needs to get out of our communities and protect their workers jobs.

In addition, The CTU's inability to protect their members jibs, THIS IS CREATING POVERTY! When hundreds of teachers are losing their jobs, these idiots are running around, what ? talking about how "poverty did it" ,
Now , as far as YOU telling me what to think , how to think it and what to do, OK, I won't tell you where you can really go!

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Rosita speaks from decades of

Rosita speaks from decades of experience, and it would be ridiculously naive to think that the s.e. admission process was a fair and level playing field for all. This is Chicago.

John wrote 44 weeks 4 days ago

Why you Hating

you're kids prolly weren't gifted. That's your fault

Rosita Chatonda wrote 43 weeks 4 days ago

John , you are such a sick racist

To John , my children attended University of Chicago Lab, Mount Carmel and all graduated from Kenwood academy. Several were in the gifted regional center as aprt of the academic talent search. We don't need o prove anything to you because they are all grown now and are finished with college. As for North- side, you always seem to get it wrong. I think it's a cultural difference and I gave up on trying to convince White people that I know what I am talking about years ago. Many just the have the understanding and appreciation for cultural diversity. In other words I don't care what you think.

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