Elementary Schools

As the mother of a little girl who will be starting her elementary school experience this fall, I must say that I am surprised, delighted, disgusted, and horrified by the Chicago Public School system. I just can’t get my head around the fact that there are bushels of $900k and up single family homes going in just up the street from me and none of those people will be utilizing their local school, Smyth. So perhaps it’s the ethnic ratios. But those aren’t the ratios I see on the street when I’m walking around over there. Everyone complains about CPS, but the people who are in the districts who can add balance and diversity by participating in their schools instead of bypassing them for more expensive but not always better-equipped private institutions so often choose the latter.

7 Comments so far

  1. nikkos (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 3:39 pm

    What did you mean by:

    “So perhaps it’s the ethnic ratios. But those aren’t the ratios I see on the street when I’m walking around over there.”

  2. Stephen (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 4:14 pm

    I would love to see a single CPS school that has better equipment than a private school. Right. Have you ever been in a Chicago public school?! They are horrible. And then there is this whole idea of integrating “your” kids into poorly performing schools in order to bring the school up. For one, that immediately insinuates that the class of kids at the school needs changing. Maybe just gentrifying? I wouldn’t worry about it though, it’s not like the CPS has been publicly exposed as a bunch of thieves…plus, the CPS education agenda is straight up revisionist.

  3. Bill V (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 6:23 pm

    The two schools that generally serve the Roscoe Village are are quite good. I’ve rarely met a teacher that didn’t strike me as being bright and caring and the classrooms and school in general both seem to have what it takes, not the fanciest but plenty to give a good education. It all starts somewhere and on our block it started several years ago with a few families jumping in. Now there are quite a bit more and the bussing is only for those that already have a sibling in the school. So my advice is to get it started, get on the board if you wish, and don’t settle for anything less than great.

  4. Alana (unregistered) on June 5th, 2006 @ 6:35 pm

    Nikkos, I meant that the ratio at that school is 99.2% Black/Non-Hispanic. The ratios in UIC are much more diverse than that.

    Stephen, unfortunately I can attest to the very hit & miss dispersion of funds in CPS. I worked in educational technology for almost 4 years and we were acutely aware of which schools had what. It seemed odd to me that there are high schools with plasma monitors in front of the class and WiFi while others were sharing copies of way out of date textbooks. Just as unfortunate is my ex-husband’s idea that his 1/4 Mexican daughter shouldn’t live with his 1/2 Mexican ex-wife and go to their very good local school because it’s predominately Mexican and only because of that. So yeah, I get it. I’m involved in a big, hairy custody issue as a result.

    Bill, I’ve heard some very nice things about the schools over there. I’ll have to give it a closer look. Thank you!

  5. nikkos (unregistered) on June 6th, 2006 @ 9:35 am
  6. Alana (unregistered) on June 6th, 2006 @ 10:41 am

    Exactly my point. Those property taxes, what school are they going to? I doubt they’re going to Smyth because I doubt the buyers of those homes are going to send their kids there. My dismay comes from knowing that the community isn’t going to participate as a community. Move in and make your own little bubble instead of contributing to what is already there and making it even better.

    So what would you say to a woman who is half-Mexican, who lives in a mostly Mexican neighborhood and has for nearly 8 years, who could lose custody of her child because her white ex-husband doesn’t want the kid going to a school where she’s surrounded by Mexicans even though the curriculum is good? What then? How does one find a perfectly integrated public school to send their child to? Does it even exist in the city? And how can this actually be a point that you could lose your child over? And who is the judge who would say it out loud?

  7. nikkos (unregistered) on June 6th, 2006 @ 10:58 am

    Not being a property owner myself, I may be wrong, but I thought that the city dictates where the taxes go, not the taxpayers themselves. So in this case, you have a case in which people that live in a commuity are funding a school with their tax dollars yet they choose not to send their children there.

    It’s a tough thing. While on the one hand I would like for people in a community to support their schools by sending their children there and being involved in making the school a better place; on the other, I think people should be free to send their children to whatever school they choose. it’s hard to convince a parent to send their kid to a public school on the basis that if enough people did so the school would be better than it currently is. Most parents aren’t going to experiement with their child’s education like that.

    As for your situation, since you mention you are emroiled in a custody battle, I assume that a judge is involved. If so, then it seems to me that your ex doesn’t have much of a case.

    While he may not like the idea of your child attending a predominantly Mexican school, there is no basis in the law for his disagreement with you to become a custody issue, at least in my uneducated legal opinion. Is he trying to construe your choice of school as evidence of your being “unfit” for motherhood?

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