Gated communities for already advantaged students

SEHSchart

Today’s story by Chicago Sun-Times Watchdog reporters Tim Novak and Chris Fusco exposes the imbalance of white students in Chicago’s four north side selective enrollment high schools, and the fact that the disproportionate number of white students has become even more lopsided since the courts ended the Desegregation Consent Decree in 2009.

Sun-Times figures show that white students made up an average of 41 percent of freshmen admitted to Jones, Whitney Young, Northside Prep, and Walter Payton over the past four years, compared to 29 percent in 2009. The overall enrollment of white students in CPS is about 9%.

I met with Novak and Fusco as they were preparing the story. I made the point (which did not specifically end up in their story…) that test scores unfairly act to keep low-income students out of selective enrollment high schools, since test scores are most closely aligned to economic status.

But their analysis showed that the system is even more insanely unfair. For 80% of the applicants, test scores are factored in with census tract data in a 4-tier system that actually forces students from households with an average income of $42,000 near 95th and Halsted to compete with the test scores of Gold Coast students whose families make over $300,000 per year.

How do you suppose that match-up usually turns out?

Back in 2009, we recommended that the selective enrollment high school process factor in actual family income, not community income, and that it use income level to offset test score advantages of white and higher-income students. Even cynical PURE didn’t suspect the extent to which CPS seems to have actually rigged the system.

Pander Prep

Mayor Emanuel’s proposal to locate a new Obama College Prep on the north side rather than the south side where the President worked and lived — and where the most under-resourced and least popular selective enrollment high schools are – is just one more example of the utter cluelessness of Chicago’s white power elite. One point of mine that did make it into print in the Sun-Times story is that the explosion of the most attractive selective enrollment “seats” on the north side didn’t happen until after race was removed as an criteria for acceptance.

Whose schools???

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.
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