Chicago's Middle Class Not Interested in 'Hidden Gem' High Schools

Judy Hartnett's picture
Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fifteen years after Chicago embedded International Baccalaureate programs in tough neighborhood schools, the programs have not attracted the middle class.

Middle- and upper-income Chicagoans scramble to get their kids into Chicago’s top high schools, turning to test prep, private tutors, and educational consultants.

If their kids don’t get in, for many it’s private school or the suburbs.

But Chicago has another set of high-quality high school programs—considered gems of the district—that middle-income parents have rejected. Hidden away inside a dozen Chicago public high schools—struggling high schools, really—is some of the best teaching in the city. That’s according to University of Chicago researcher Melissa Roderick.

RODERICK: It feels like a bunch of kids learning to be intellectuals. Critical thinkers, problem solvers, learning to think differently…

Roderick has been studying these International Baccalaureate programs, which the city embedded in tough high schools 15 years ago. She can’t stop talking about them.

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