Chicago's top nine high schools use a strict score system to admit students based on their grades, attendance, state standardized test scores and school admissions tests. The system is brutal - parents regularly complain about the circus-style hoops their kids have to jump through just to get into a good school.
But the system has a back door - principal discretion picks. They're supposed to be used for kids who can argue why they didn't get a higher score - maybe they're not so good on standardized tests - but deserve to go to their school anyway. What is it being used for instead? Clout-ridden favors.
The Chicago Public Schools' Inspector General just released his 2010 report, and it's riddled with eyebrow-raising admissions. Some kids who never even took the school admissions test magically got in. Other kids didn't appear on the first round of admissions, or even get picked with principal discretion, started school in the fall with all the other kids who had gone through the strict admissions process.
In one example, the IG found that a student was admitted because the kid's parent, a local elected official, was good friends with the principal, even though the student never took the selective enrollment test. Then, that student's siblings were also admitted, despite the fact that their scores were way below those of their classmates.
When principals pick their favorites, it means hard-working regular kids with no fancy political connections get left out. For every clout-connected admission, it means one deserving student who doesn't get the education they'd hoped for. If Chicago Public Schools wants to serve its students, it will make sure those who get in to selective enrollment high schools are those who deserve it - not those whose parents are powerful.
Help us end this clout-ridden system. Sign our petition to end principal picks in Chicago's public high schools.