Equity or Injustice: Chicago’s Move Away from Selective Enrollment in High Schools

Equity or Injustice: Chicago Board of Education Move Away from Selective Enrollment in High Schools | Future Education Magazine


Earlier this month, the Chicago Board of Education, led by Democratic Mayor Brandon Johnson, made a crucial decision to phase out selective enrollment for public high schools catering to high-achieving students in the city. This move contradicted Johnson’s earlier promises, sparking debates on the impact of eliminating competitive requirements for admission to these schools.

The Resolution: Rethinking Admissions Policies

The resolution aims to transition away from admission policies that allegedly contribute to stratification and inequity in Chicago Public Schools (CPS). The objective is to ensure more equitable distribution of funding and resources across schools, particularly benefiting neighborhood schools.

Critics argue that the resolution, backed by the Chicago Board of Education and the Chicago Teachers Union, implies that policies differentiating students based on academic aptitude are inherently unfair. The shift is seen as a potential blow to predominantly minority, low-income students, limiting their access to quality education.

Implications on Urban Students: A Moral Conundrum

The move against selective admissions is viewed as a morally unconscionable attack on the lives and prospects of socio-economically disadvantaged urban students. Critics contend that this policy adversely affects high-achieving, primarily Black and Hispanic teens from impoverished backgrounds, without offering tangible benefits to their less high-achieving peers.

Selective admission to public high schools has historically played a vital role in fostering upward mobility for academically promising urban teens. In the absence of universal school choice, this approach has been a lifeline for many aspiring students, providing them with educational opportunities beyond their neighborhood schools.

Statistics on Selective High Schools: A Complex Landscape

In Chicago, more than half of the students in the 11 selective high schools are low-income, with almost 70 percent being Black or Hispanic. Proficiency rates in reading and math demonstrate the success of these institutions compared to neighborhood high schools, where proficiency levels are significantly lower.

The pursuit of equity, as demonstrated by the decision in Chicago, is criticized as counterproductive. The policy, under the guise of racial justice, is seen as perpetuating both racial and socioeconomic injustice. The erasure of individual merit in favor of collective mediocrity raises questions about the true motives behind the push for equity.

The Logic of “Equity”: Erasing Opportunities for Merit

The so-called logic of equity, in this context, is questioned. The argument that some students haven’t demonstrated academic promise should not hinder access to resources for those who have demonstrated capabilities. The article challenges the acceptance of erasing individual merit and opportunity in the pursuit of collective mediocrity for low-income minority students.

The article concludes by highlighting the potential consequences of this shift, predicting a continued decline in academic achievement among the most underserved populations. The critique extends beyond Chicago, symbolizing an era where progressive policies may victimize the most vulnerable while claiming to serve their interests.

The decision by the Chicago Board of Education to move away from selective enrollment in high schools prompts reflection on the balance between equity and individual achievement. The implications of this shift resonate not only in Chicago but across the country, sparking conversations about the true meaning of fairness in education.

Read more: Most of the Chicago Board of Education has been replaced by Mayor Brandon Johnson

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