Posted on December 17, 2023

Mayor Brandon Johnson Announces Plans to Ax Windy City’s High-Achieving Selective-Enrollment High Schools

Claudia Aoraha, Daily Mail, December 14, 2023

Chicago’s progressive mayor has announced plans to axe the Windy City’s high-achieving selective-enrollment schools to boost ‘equity.’

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s Board of Education has proposed shifting back toward neighborhood schools – away from the system where kids compete for selective programs.

But when he was campaigning to become Mayor, Johnson put out a statement saying that he would not get rid of Chicago’s selective-enrollment schools.

According to the Chicago Tribune, woke Johnson specifically said: ‘A Johnson administration would not end selective enrollment at CPS schools.’

Now, he is seen to be back peddling – by allowing a vote to stop gifted children from lower income backgrounds from academically competing to get into high-performing schools.

Selective schools cause a ‘stratification and inequity in Chicago Public Schools,’ according to the board’s CEO.

Chicago has 11 selective-enrollment high schools — Northside College Prep, Gwendolyn Brooks College Preparatory Academy, John Hancock College Prep, Jones College Prep, Lane Tech, Lindblom Math and Science Academy, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. College Preparatory High School.

Walter Payton College Prep, South Shore International College Prep, Westinghouse College Prep and Whitney M. Young Magnet School are also on the list.

The schools are not just the best in Chicago – but rank among the top high schools in the entire country.

Walter Payton College Prep is ranked 10th best school in the US. Northside College Prep is 37th. Jones College Prep ranks 60th.

Now, a resolution is up for a vote by the school board on Thursday.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez has prepared a resolution for ‘a transition away from privatization and admissions/enrollment policies and approaches that further stratification and inequity in CPS and drive student enrollment away from neighborhood schools.’

It would lay out a five-year ‘transformation’ to effectively get rid of selective schools in Chicago – which have been heralded as the gems of the city’s education system.

Johnson’s initiative would see kids automatically join the high school in their neighborhood, rather than giving them a chance to join a better school further afield.

Six years ago, Chicago Public Schools set up a new application system where every eighth grader could to apply for high school – rather than enrolling to their neighborhood school.

As a result, 76 percent of Chicago high schools do not attend their neighborhood schools. Instead, high-achieving students have joined institutions where their peers are as academically driven as themselves.

Board President Jianan Shi told the Chicago Sun-Times: ‘This plan needs to be guided and informed by the community.

‘The goal is that we’re able to change (the) current competition model so that students are not pitted against one another, schools are not pitted against one another.’

School Board Vice President Elizabeth Todd-Breland wants every neighborhood to create a ‘strong, high quality pathway from pre-K to high school.’

Shi said: ‘It shouldn’t be a competition between schools, it should really be families, knowing that, ‘Hey, my child can walk to school and have a great option.”

In an opinion piece written by the editors of the Chicago Tribune, they said: ‘Johnson’s people can call this resolution a roadmap, or a transition plan, or a framework, or whatever they want.

‘They must have a very low opinion of Chicagoans’ intelligence. People will see what is going on here.

‘The selective-enrollment high schools are stars in the CPS firmament. All 11 of them. They are going to need defenders.

‘Chicago has struggled for decades to keep its vibrant middle class from fleeing to the suburbs when their kids reach school age.

‘The offering of more choices in education, a long-time city policy, hasn’t gone perfectly, but it’s inarguable in our view that without those choices Chicago would be in far worse shape.

‘The Chicago Board of Education should vote this resolution down Thursday.’