Chicago students may soon lose their access to a high-quality high school because teachers’ unions and social justice activists would rather promote “equity” than excellence.
The Chicago Board of Education is considering eliminating the ability of middle and high school students to test into “selective enrollment” schools, NBC 5 reported.
The board, which is made up of race and equity-obsessed social justice warriors, couch their agenda in the rhetoric of “strengthening all neighborhood schools.”
According to the press statement, the district’s five-year plan calls for “a model that centers neighborhood schools by investing in and acknowledging them as institutional anchors in our communities, and by prioritizing communities most impacted by past and ongoing racial and economic inequity and structural disinvestment.”
And the Chicago Teachers Union is cheering on the elimination of selective enrollment, claiming it has contributed to segregation and achievement gaps.
But local parents are furious that their children may lose the opportunity to attend a stellar school.
“The selective enrollment schools are one of the shining stars of CPS. They are actually something that CPS has done right,” said mother Katie Milewski. “Why [can’t] neighborhood schools be built up, at the same time [as] supporting selective enrollment and magnet schools?”
“This news has just made me feel very, not only afraid for my child and her potential, but also ashamed,” said another parent, Natasha Haque. “If there are adjustments that need to be made in terms of equity, I am all for that, but reducing quality is not the way to go, it’s the opposite way to do.”
Proficiency rates in CPS overall are dismal, with just 20% of students reading at grade level and 16% proficient in math.
However, the selective enrollment high schools (SEHSs) fare much better.
Brooks College Prep Academy averages 60% in reading and 42% in math; Hancock College Preparatory scores 40% and 38%, respectively; and Lindblom Math and Science Academy averages 46% in reading and 42% in math.
But teachers’ unions and public school activists seem to care little about what actually produces the best academic results.
Instead, such groups have long opposed private school choice, claiming it defunds public education.
And now, districts like Chicago’s don’t even want students to exercise choice within the public system.
CPS has a variety of specialized programs, but seats in its 11 SEHSs are highly sought after.
A 2015-16 report revealed that over 13,000 students applied to an SEHS, though only 3,600 were admitted.
For context, CPS had over 100,000 high schoolers.
The same report also said 75% of CPS ninth graders were opting out of their assigned high school and pursuing other choice programs, such as International Baccalaureate. And a 2021 article said that the vast majority (89%) of students who applied to choice programs or SEHSs were accepted by either their first, second, or third choice.
Without such opportunities, and without the state school choice program, more students will be stuck in failing public schools.