Monday, January 18, 2016

Accept Failure

It's the only way we'll ever succeed at some things. We have to accept failure.

If a toddler attempts to take steps and falls on his tush, the only reason he gets up again is because he failed to walk. If he sits on his padded little bottom and congratulates himself on his fine walking skills he's rather missed the point. If mommy and daddy clap and reward him for the fine walking he's done, then all the more damage is done.

The selective enrollment plan for Chicago public schools may have had some good intentions behind it, but the plan is a failure, plain and simple. Read this: Crain's How to Fix CPS

A few things to think about -

A full 15% of students who apply to selective enrollment high schools and do not get admitted leave the district for private or suburban schools. That's nearly 2000 students a year, assuming applications run consistent with about 13000 per year. That's nearly the entire student population at Whitney Young. I consider that a loss, not a win, especially since - let's be honest - it's not the poor families from Hermosa and Englewood who are packing up and taking children to private and middle schools. This distillation of students and parents from our city is disgusting and immoral.

Overall, Chicago Public Schools have not fared better since the advent of the SEHS system. Among the top 10 school districts by size, CPS ranks dead last in graduation rates. Worse, the graduation rate numbers are commonly understood by those who study these numbers as being inflated by the numbers from SEHSs alone. That means that among non-SEHS students, the graduation rate is even lower than bottom. Good for us? A win? No, friends. A failure.

CPS allows over $14000 per student per year as 'tuition', let's say. Are you getting $14000 worth of education for your child? Loyola Academy charges $15260 per year in tuition. So would you say your child's academic experience is within that variance in terms of resources, quality, rigor? It's interesting to hear what private schools have to say about this:
“Selective enrollment schools are free, and obviously we’re not. That’s what kills us,” she says. “Students increase their ACT scores by an average of four to six points during the four years they’re with us. If our schools were free, we’d be competing right alongside [CPS selective enrollment schools].” Jo Marie Yonkus, assistant superintendent for high schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago 2014 Guide to Chicago Private Schools, Chicago Magazine
Used to be you'd measure the parish school against the neighborhood public school. Now, the neighborhood school is not even on the radar. Good for us? A win? No. We are losing taxpaying families, our children are not graduating, and we're spending crazy money and not getting what others are getting for the same dollars. What says 'success' to you about that system?

We need to get honest here about what we're doing. And we also need to stop fooling ourselves about what will happen if we don't get honest. There's a 20/20 episode in this mess about how we all know this is a problem and we all keep talking about it in social media and blogs (erk) but we're not voting it down, we're not marching it down, and we are not fighting hard enough to bring it down. Societal suicide, in my opinion, really, and my kids and your kids will be left to it. Feel like a winner?

Whoever it was that convinced us that putting the 'smart' kids in one place and the 'less smart' kids in another was going to be good for either group was a real dumbass. Our entire city was built by people who did not go to selective enrollment high schools. The pyramids were built by people who did not go to selective enrollment high schools. The airplane you get on, the train you ride to work, the stoplight that keeps you from crashing into on-coming traffic, the food you eat, the laptop you're reading this on - friends, by and large not one graduate of a selective enrollment high school made any of those things. There are a ton of smart people in the world who have no idea selective enrollment high schools even exist.

We don't need them. They're a failure. Let's get off our tushes and do something about that, shall we?

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