How students feel about choosing a high school

Simone Tyler is 13, and she didn’t get into her first choice Chicago high school when acceptances posted two weeks ago. “I really put myself out there,” said Tyler, one of more than 26,000 incoming freshmen who applied through GoCPS. “When you apply to a high school, you’re allowing yourself to be vulnerable for that whole year. Sometimes being vulnerable hurts — but you do learn from it.”

With families facing a deadline this week to notify the district about their high school decisions, Chalkbeat took a deep dive into the competitive admissions process.


We’re Cassie Walker Burke, Adeshina Emmanuel, and Yana Kunichoff and we cover public education in Chicago. Have a story idea? Great. Write us at chicago.tips@chalkbeat.org. Find us on Twitter @ChalkbeatCHI, @cassiechicago, @public_ade, and @yanazure.

The week in review

Lori Lightfoot’s education cabinet: It’s too early to tell which education policy decisions the mayor-elect will tackle first when it comes to schools. But she has announced an initial round of advisers. Meet the mayor-elect’s education transition team.

A different kind of strike: Teachers at five small charter operators are threatening to band together to walkout of schools in early May, boosting their bargaining power. Chalkbeat spoke to teachers about the effort.

Internet interruptus: A widespread Internet fail caused by an AT&T accident paused administration of the “Zombie PARCC” at 125 Chicago schools this week. Chalkbeat had the story. 

Small schools impact: New research shows that students who entered one of New York City’s small high schools (about 100 students per grade) between 2006 and 2010 were more likely to stay in college. Chalkbeat national explained the new findings. 

Pushing back on the pipeline: After a Chicago activist learned her son had mistakenly landed on a gang database, her quest to find out what happened led her to his school, WBEZ reported. 

St. Louis taps Chicago admin: Elizabeth Keenan, the chief of Chicago Public Schools’ special education department, is leaving to take the top job running the Special School District of St. Louis County. The Sun-Times called her exit “abrupt.” 

Noble’s fees add up: The Sun-Times tallied how much the state’s largest charter network has spent so far on legal fees related to its former CEO, Michael Milkie, who “acted inappropriately” with recent female graduates. Here are the numbers. 

Looking ahead

Countdown to a new portal: On April 22, Chicago will officially debut a new portal for educators and families alike. Chalkbeat runs down three things to know about the new Aspen system, which many schools previewed to parents this week.

Next week is spring break for schools, so while some of you are beaching, we’ll be keeping our eyes on the education waterfront and summing up the week’s happenings in our Friday newsletter. So even if you check out all next week, you can check back in on Friday and see what you missed.

The Illinois State Board of Education will meet Wednesday, April 17.


The Ogden robotics team

At Ogden High School, a new Robotics Team is achieving a “first”: heading to a world championship robotics meet in Detroit, Michigan. The Owlenators will be the only team representing Chicago Public Schools while competing before an audience of over 70,000 people against teams from over 70 countries. To get to this point, students competed with teams from 5 states and 4 countries.

A second team from the school also won area competitions. “Both of Ogden’s teams exceeded all expectations,” said Clifton Muhammad, a team leader.

The team, which is coached by a group of volunteers, benefited from a partnership with mHUB, a -based innovation center for physical product development and manufacturing. Students met in the prototyping lab with an entrepreneurial community of product designers, developers, entrepreneurs, engineers and manufacturers. And it was a win-win, said the coach: Kids advise startup entrepreneurs on new products.