November 10, 2009
Chicago Public Schools officials today unveiled a policy proposal that would utilize socio-economic factors drawn from U.S. Census tract data for admissions to the District’s selective enrollment and magnet schools.
CPS officials will present the proposal to replace the race-based admissions policy that had been in effect as part of a longstanding desegregation consent decree to the Chicago Board of Education at its Dec. 16 meeting.
The goal of the policy is to maintain, and in some cases increase, socio-economic diversity in selective enrollment and magnet CPS schools, officials said. The policy will be reviewed and adjusted if needed after the 2010-11 school year.
“Diverse learning communities benefit all students by better preparing them to live in a diverse society and to compete in a global economy,” said Ron Huberman, Chicago Public Schools chief executive officer, during a press conference at the District’s headquarters.
Huberman was joined at the press conference by Chicago Board of Education and elected officials, and by community leaders from throughout Chicago.
“We are committed to a fair process for all families who seek admission to our selective enrollment and magnet programs, and we believe that economic diversity in our schools will promote equitable educational outcomes for applicants in all communities of our city.
“To address a potential burden on families with more than one child in CPS, these proposed policies also ease access into these schools for the siblings of students who are already enrolled.”
In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution does not permit school districts to classify and assign students on the basis of race or national origin. Since 1980, Chicago Public Schools had been operating under a consent decree which mandated that a race-based system be used for student admission to selective enrollment and magnet schools. The goal of the consent decree was to create desegregated schools, defined as 15-35 percent white and 65-85 percent minority.
On Sept. 24, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Kocoras vacated the decree. The court found that CPS had eliminated the last vestiges of past discrimination. In anticipation of such a ruling, CPS began to develop a new admissions process two years ago. However, although requested by the District, no transition time was granted by the court and a new policy must be in place for the next school year.
The shift to a policy that uses socio-economic criteria means:
- Student addresses will identify the census tract in which the applicant lives. The data will describe the characteristics of the applicant’s neighborhood, not the individual.
- Socio-economic data will be drawn from updated census data for each census tract.
- Each tract will be assigned a socio-economic score based on median family income, adult educational attainment, percentage of owner-occupied homes, percentage of single-parent homes and percentage of households where a language besides English is spoken in the home.
- The tracts will be arranged into four groups with a similar number of students in each group.
- Subject to the applicant pool, any subsequent group-based lottery or procedure will pull an equal number of students from each group.
“We believe that this policy change gives us the tools necessary to structure an appropriate student mix in CPS selective enrollment and magnet schools, and provide those students with the best possible educational opportunities,” Huberman said.
The Board will be further presented with new policies including:
- For magnet schools, all siblings of existing students will be admitted providing seats are available, with 50 percent of any remaining seats going into a proximity lottery. Proximity is defined as living within 1.5-miles of an elementary school or a 2.5-mile radius of a high school. Any additional remaining seats will be filled via a citywide socio-economic group-based lottery. Previously sibling admissions were capped at 45 percent and proximity preference was given only if the entire school had less than 30 percent proximity enrollment.
- For selective enrollments, half the students will be admitted on pure test score rank order and the other half by test score rank order within the socio-economic groups. Selective enrollment applicants will now receive one offer that best matches their qualifications and the preference they indicated on their application.
District officials have already begun substantial outreach on the proposal, explaining the proposed policy to various officials, organizations and community stakeholders. Those outreach efforts will continue in the coming weeks and include a series of town hall meetings in various parts of the city.
The initial public meetings include:
- Saturday, November 14, 10 a.m.-noon, at Andrew Jackson Elementary Language Academy, 1340 W. Harrison St.
- Monday, November 16, 6-8 p.m., Little Village High School, 3120 S. Kostner Ave.
- Tuesday, November 17, 6-8 p.m., King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd.
- Thursday, November 19, 6-8 p.m., Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Ave.
- Friday, November 20, 6-8 p.m., Simeon High School, 8147 S. Vincennes Ave.
- Saturday, November 21, 10 a.m.-noon, Westinghouse High School, 3223 W. Franklin Blvd.
CPS in the news
View Admissions policy news coverage about the Chicago Public Schools.
Chicago Public Schools serves 417,855 students in 675 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.