Who gets in? Feds probe Chicago schools

Chicago’s top public schools are supposed to admit students on the basis of a lottery (magnet schools) or aptitude (“gifted” and selective-enrollment schools).  However, some parents charge that money money and connections open the schoolhouse doors to less-qualified students. Now federal investigators are looking into enrollment practices in the district, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Competition to get into the city’s premier selective enrollment schools is fierce. Every year thousands of students apply for hundreds of openings at the schools considered the crown jewels of the city’s public school system.

. . . The district has long allowed magnet school principals to handpick up to 5 percent of their students. Last year, they extended that right to principals at the nine selective enrollment high schools, even though some principals acknowledged they were already doing it. The principals can consider only extenuating circumstances such as a special talent or family crisis, not the applicants’ political ties.

But whispers have long swirled that some students get spots in these top-flight schools not by chance or merit, but by whom their parents know or how much money they make.

Responding to the Tribs’ Clout Goes to College series, federal prosecutors also are seeking evidence that former Illinois “Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his power brokers” demanded and received special treatment for well-connected applicants to the University of Illinois and other state universities.

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  1. tim-10-ber says:

    Rumor has it and this is strictly rumor that stuff like or similar to this happens in my district, too. I hope the rumor is just that…a rumor!

  2. Richard Cook says:

    It is not possible that this could be suprising in Chicago. Clout being used!!?? Nah….must be some kind of mistake. I lived and worked in Chicago for 20 years. It’s suspicious when clout isn’t being used.

  3. superdestroyer says:

    Wasn’t this the same thing as happened in the South that gave tracking a bad name. The children of upper middle class whites were always put int he honors/accelerated track no matter how lacking they were but the smart black kids were somehow never qualified.

    I have always suspect that every G&T program, honors program, etc always have spots for the children of the school broad members, teachers, and community leader types.

    Add in the inherent corruption of Chicago along with a bad school system and of course, the children of the clouts are going to get in.

  4. 1) (Superdestroyer): “…every G&T program, honors program, etc always have spots for the children of the school broad members, teachers, and community leader types.”

    Right. People who argue that the wretched performance of the NEA/AFT/AFSCME cartel’s schools (the “public” schools) would improve if only legislators and “the wealthy” had to send their kids to the cartel’s schools overlook this obvious point.

    2) Chicago, huh. Now, lemmee see, wasn’t somebody by name of “Duncan” something or other in the Chicago schools?

  5. Margo/Mom says:

    We had a scandal locally some years back. One of our newer school board members (whose son had been enrolled in private schools prior to her election run) yanked her son overnight from the assigned neighborhood school and was able to get him into one of the very popular magnet elementaries. She played dumb–never knew there was a lottery, just did what she was told, etc. Add in some additional (genuine) stupidity in badmouthing the things going on in the neighborhood school that she was fleeing (and some might suggest had a responsibility for). The newspapers, typically not all the way up on how things in education work, reported this blatant line-jumping as a mere failure to fill out the proper forms.

    In the end, though, when it came to high school, there was no way this game was going to play again. When her son didn’t get into one of the prestige lottery schools through legitmate means, she resigned the (presidency of the) school board and he went to private school. And it doesn’t appear as though the practice has been available to anyone else of means since that time either.