South Side forum examines CPS

By Daschell M. Phillips
Staff Writer
Parents on the South Side said the new socio-economic admissions process being used by Chicago Public Schools to replace race as a consideration with diversity to selective enrollment high schools is not effective. Parents suggest CPS instead create more quality schools.
The one-year policy, which uses socio-economic variables instead of race as a factor in admissions, was established after a federal court judge lifted a longstanding desegregation consent decree last fall.  Under the new socio-economic admissions process, approximately 40 percent of those admitted to selective enrollment high schools including King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd., are drawn from applicants based on their point ranking drawn from such criteria as test scores and grades; the remaining admissions are based on point ranking within four socio-economic groups drawn from updated census tract data.
While this year’s trial admissions process for selective enrollment and magnet schools remained at 77 percent minority status, the percentages within the minority table have shifted slightly with Hispanic student enrollment increasing and Asian and African American decreasing.
“These are preliminary numbers,” said Katie Ellis, project manager of the socio-economic admissions process. “We won’t have solid results until the kids are actually in their seats.”
At the Blue Ribbon Commission community forum on the 2010 Selective Enrollment and Magnet School Admissions Policy last Tuesday, parents expressed their concern with the drop in the number of African American students admitted to magnet schools and were not satisfied with Huberman’s response to the low numbers by reserving 25 seats at four selective schools for the best students from the worst schools.
“We need to be more honest about race,” said Vernon Ford. “ You tweaked the system and now it’s going in the wrong direction.”
Vanessa Ford said she recommends CPS go back to using the old policy to establish economic diversity. She said gentrification adds confusion to the process.
Joanne Brown, LSC member at Ariel Elementary School, is already touring selective enrollment high schools in hopes that her 4th grade son will be able to attend one in the next three to four years.
“Why can’t all schools have the best resources?” Brown asked the committee.
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