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Old 04-08-2013, 07:55 AM
Location: Englewood, Near Eastside Indy
8,977 posts, read 17,279,426 times
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Let me preface this by saying, I understand that schools in the suburbs are going to be easier to sift through and yes, I know about Schaumburg/Naperville/etc. If I wanted to move to one of those places, I would throw a dart at a map and go. Its all the same to me and I might as well stay put in Indianapolis if the 'burbs are the only option I have in Chicagoland. So, please, don't bother me with your "oh you have to move to the suburbs" shtick. I'm not interested.

Having said that, my wife and I, with infant in tow, are flirting with the idea of moving to Chicago. One very important facet of that, is the public schools. We live on the near east side of Indianapolis (46201 if anyone is familiar with that part of Indy) and are well versed in the magnet options in IPS and the charter school options in the city. We are interested in similar options in the city of Chicago. If this has been discussed ad nauseum in a recent thread somewhere, feel free to direct me to it, I did a quick search but didn't find exactly what I was looking for.

So, is there anyone in the forum who has kids in Chicago Public Schools now, and if so, where and what schools would you recommend? Does CPS have decent magnet options and if so, what are they? How about charter schools in the city?

We have been to Chicago enough times that we know what parts we are interested in living. Are there a lot of people with kids living in places like Uptown/Andersonville? What about Logan Square? I am open to suggestions in the city limits, one of my friends in Chicago suggested Irving Park which is not an area I've spent much time.
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:54 AM
28,455 posts, read 85,339,930 times
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Unlike some cities magnet school options the PRIMARY motivation for Chicago to go down this route was a court order from way back in the days when other cities were using "busing" to deal with racial segragation. That has serious implications for just how complicated the process is and who disruptive it can be to try to find a situation that works with one's living situation and even how a family addresses career options. It may work out that one's child get assigned through the lottery to a school that is not inconvenient but there are no guarantees...

In addition to the selective enrollment schools there are also some schools that have a "neighborhood enrollement area" and some of these schools have received attention for the efforts of involved parents in those areas to make this a more attractive option. Unfortunately the majority of the desirable schools in this category are classified by CPS as "over utilized" which is their buercratic way of say "filled to the gills" -- some of these schools literally use closet space for classrooms.

The budget situation in CPS can rightly be called a crisis -- billions in cost reductions are needed to make up for years of financial mismanagement. In crime ridden areas and those that have experienced population declines there are schools that are serving a fraction of the students they were designed to accomodate and the announcement that 54 schools will be closed and their students and staff re-assigned to other schools has caused much turmoil...

The charter schools in Chicago are exceedingly controversial -- the perfromance of them is nowhere near as impressive as the selective admissions schools that screen out all but the highest performing students. The charters that employ teachers who have been through alternative certifications and/or work unconventional schedules draw the ire of the Chicago Teachers Union. Many activiists are critical of the overhead costs of the charters as even those associated with poltical organizations or charities tend to have staffing that is controversial. Very difficult to separate "the smoke from the fire"...

The situation at the high schools is especially dire with only a handful of slots at the desirabke selective enrollment schools available to meet the demand the competition results in many families choosing to make the hard decision to spend tens of thousands on private schools or relocate to an area with a more acceptable school situation.

The relative distribuion of families with school age children varies widely with race -- even though the influx of young singles has changed the overall demographic profile of many parts of Chicago from receent immigrant roots, CPS as a whole is very much dominated by minority enrollment. While there are those who see this as some kind of poltical / social plus the overall rate of success in schools is strongly tied to the income of their parents and even "hot" neighborhoods are overwhelmingly filled with lower income children -- this was the purpose of Chicago's desegration plan that used the selective enrollment "Options for Knowledge" as an attempt to draw diverse mix of students ....
It also appears that the OP may be unaware of the FACT the region is NOT simply "all or nothing" when it comes to urban amenities. There are parts of Chicago that are less conveninet to the employment of the Loop than some area outside the city limites that are well served by public transit including both heavy commuter rail (Metra) and the city run Chicao Transit Authorities El service. It is not at all true that one must live in a suburb to have access to good schools and it definately is not true that throwing a dart at a suburb will result in the same quality of life. Schaumburg is an exceedingly personal-vehicle-centric place where many subdivisions lack any sort of sidewalks to connect to local schools, stores or eateries, in contrast places like Oak Park. Park Ridge, Oak Lawn or Evanston are indistquishable from some adjacent parts of Chicago where children do walk to neighborhood schools, shoppers can walk home with their groceries and commutes to work in the Loop can be accomplished via quick Metra service...
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Old 04-08-2013, 08:57 AM
Location: Englewood, Near Eastside Indy
8,977 posts, read 17,279,426 times
Reputation: 7377
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
It also appears that the OP may be unaware of the FACT the region is NOT simply "all or nothing" when it comes to urban amenities.
Thanks.............I am well aware of what areas outside the city offer. I did not ask about them, because I am already pretty well familiar with them. I asked about CPS and options in the city for a reason, and I know you are a suburban booster. This is my thread, please excuse yourself. Thanks.
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:01 AM
415 posts, read 764,244 times
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Yep, Everett pretty much Nailed it.... be a real crap shoot in Chicago Unless you are connected,wink,wink...
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:17 AM
Location: Chicago - Logan Square
3,396 posts, read 7,208,945 times
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For elementary schools there are loads of good CPS options on the North and Northwest sides. High school is more difficult, but there are some very good selective enrollment schools if your kid can get into them, and there are also a lot of good private schools that run from $9,000 to over $20,000 a year. The best source for parent opinions of CPS schools is probably npnparents.org, and the official CPS site lists the test scores, attendance areas, and basic information for all schools. CPSobsessed also has a lot of good info - this is a good primer on how CPS admissions work.

Chicago is actually very good in terms of school choice. There are loads of magnets, and you can attend any neighborhood school if room is available (which usually isn't the case at the best neighborhood schools). If you live in the attendance area of a school you're guaranteed a spot in that school. Since you haven't chosen a neighborhood yet your best bet would be to research schools and move into the attendance area of a good elementary school. You can then also enter the lottery for magnets and selective enrollment schools to increase your options. You'll hear a lot of horror stories about how hard it is to get into a school through the lottery, but I think that is mostly because there are parents who only consider one or two schools and don't get into their top choices. We applied to 20 magnet schools (the max allowed) and had 4 solid options we were very happy with. There were another 5 or 6 schools that probably would have worked for us, but we didn't bother researching them further. Out of 25 kids in our daughter's CPS Pre-K class every parent got their kid into a school they were happy with.

In terms of specific schools there are too many to really get into. Some of the schools you'll see commonly mentioned as good are Skinner, Edison, Decatur, Audubon, Ravenswood, Burr, Hawthorn, Pritzker, Nettlehorst, Hamilton, Bell, Blaine, Disney, Pulaski, Drummond, Goethe.....and others.

Last edited by Attrill; 04-08-2013 at 09:38 AM..
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Old 04-08-2013, 09:23 AM
14,798 posts, read 17,675,454 times
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Some good to great attendence area enrollment elementary schools are Blaine, Burley, Bell, Coonley, Waters, Audubon, Alcott, Nettlehorst, Pierce, Lincoln, Sauganash, Edgebrook, Wildwood, Oriole Park, Beaubien, etc.

All these schools are open to area residents who live within the school boundary. You can use this to determine the boundaries of schools.

Pages*- SchoolLocator

High School is much more difficult as Chet explained. There are only so many spots in the Selective Enrollment HSs and demand far outstrips supply.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:19 AM
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I attended CPS magnet high school. That of course was 10 years ago. It was a good experience overall. Also, there are a lot of good CPS elementary schools on the north side. Not all CPS are bad. We were considering Edison Park because you get both the city and the suburb feeling.
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Old 04-08-2013, 10:59 AM
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The CPS school locator has not been updated with the proposed re-alignments of the closings of the 53 elemmmentary schools and the one high school designated for closure. For now you have to use the map that the Trib has put together -- CPS School Building Closings & Utilization

You could also use the map that is overlaid with the relative violent crime data -- Maps Of Note: CPS' School Closures Map: Chicagoist

As a former CPS teacher I have many friends that have expressed concerned about the likely domino effect of schools closings -- even schools that are not the "designated" transition school are likely to be impacted as some parents will seek out better performing schools. The headlines mention the "new air conditioning" but of more concern to the more tuned in CPS watchers is the lack of details about how one will get to the remaining schools -- the mandated school bus distance may cause funds to be spent on unexpected costs -- School Closing Logistics

(btw I would hardly accept the moniker of "booster" -- the financial issues facing the entire state of Illinois are not going to leave even the most affluent area unscathed. Regardless of how charming / urban / diverse a town is there will be more money spent to address problems that have festered too long. The degree to which Chicago has a larger crisis may be directly related to the fact that its Board of Education in appointed by the Mayor unlike all other schools in the state where direct election makes for at least some accountability. )
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:28 AM
465 posts, read 872,099 times
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I would say probably no, it isn't a realistic option.

Yes, there are a few good schools, but you're talking like 5-10% of the system. Then there's the labor unrest, the funding shortfalls, and the long-term instability. Are you really going to take chances on your kid's education?

My brother, who used to live in Lincoln Park, was committed to public schools for his first kid, but by 3rd grade, he and his wife had enough, and they moved to the North Shore. He had a whole list of problems with CPS, and his child attended one of the "best" schools in the system.

IMO, it's just much easier to move to a suburb with good schools. No major worries, and you don't have to bet your kid's future on some hunch that there will be a turnaround with CPS. No sleepless nights wondering if they get into one of the magnet schools, and even then, no worries that the school will be closed and your kid will be bussed 10 miles away.

Oh, and those 53 schools closing? Where do you think the kids of those "failing" schools are soon going? That's right, to the "good" schools.
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Old 04-08-2013, 11:45 AM
28,455 posts, read 85,339,930 times
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OP has an infant, which in my mind generally means at least two or three years to learn the ropes /network with other parents. That is pretty much the ideal situation for someone looking to be a educated parent and wisely utilize / support public education.

The wild card is the massive shift of not just the finanical crisis but also the HUGE changes becuase of the "Common Core" requirements...
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