by Fran Spielman
City Hall Reporter/
December 13, 2012
Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Two North Side High Schools — Taft and Lincoln Park —will become the last of six promised Chicago Public high schools devoted exclusively to International Baccalaureate diploma programs.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and newly-appointed Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett portrayed the move as pivotal to their push to provide high school choices to stop middle-class families from fleeing to the suburbs.
“IB was always a back-up to selective enrollment. Now, it’s a competitive choice [along with] selective enrollment. That’s a new chapter,” Emanuel told a news conference at Taft, 6530 N. Bryn Mawr.
“We will have more choice, high-quality choices for our families. They will not have to go to the suburbs….They will be able not only be able to stay in the city…Oak Park, has now said [they] want to copy what Chicago has done. Name me the last time a [suburb] wanted to copy what Chicago is doing on education. That’s a reverse flow.”
Byrd-Bennett pointed to a University of Chicago study that showed IB students are 40 percent more prepared to attend a four-year college, 50 percent more likely to get into a selective college and significantly more likely to stay in college for at least two years. Most are also the first members of their families to go to college.
“As someone who represents the first generation of a child to graduate from high school and from college, I personally understand the powerful impact that programs like IB have on students and their families,” she said.
“By making Lincoln Park and Taft wall-to-wall IB schools and expanding our IB school programs and courses, we’re opening up pockets of excellence across our city. The expansion…represents a critical, critical component of our overall strategy of increasing access to high-quality schools.”
Earlier this year, Emanuel announced plans to double the size of the IB program and devote five neighborhood high schools “wall-to-wall” to that curriculum to prepare as many as 3,500 more students for college admission and college success.
At the time, the rigorous college readiness curriculum designed for the children of diplomats was confined to 13 high schools and 3,500 students.
Since then, Senn, Clemente, Hyde Park and Back of the Yards were chosen to offer wall-to-wall IB programs, beginning next fall.
Now, they will be joined by Taft and Lincoln Park, 2001 N. Orchard. Emanuel said he agreed to six wall-to-wall IB programs under heavy pressure from aldermen.
The Chicago IB program that’s been stuck in place since 1995 selects students based on several factors and weeds out those unlikely to succeed.
That will not be the case for six new exclusive IB schools. They will maintain “open enrollment” and accept any student in the neighborhood who wants to make a commitment to the rigorous program. Nobody will be filtered out based on interviews, ISAT scores, grades or teacher recommendations.
Earlier this year, the beloved coordinator of IB programs at Curie High School questioned the decision to take all comers.
Sharyl Barnes said a program that requires juniors and seniors to take seven university classes needs to weed out those who can’t cut it or risk setting up kids for failure and losing them when they do.
On Thursday, Taft senior Patrice Pirpiris, an International Baccalaureate diploma candidate, strongly disagreed.
“It’s really hard. But, I don’t think it needs to take a specific type of student. It takes the drive — and we have really great teachers who are pushing us,” said Pirpiris, 17.
“It doesn’t matter if that student isn’t motivated when they come into the program. They’ll definitely be motivated by the time they get out.”
International Baccalaureate Diploma Program
The global search for high-quality education, embedded in high-performing education systems, has taken on mythical proportions, almost resembling the alchemists’ quest to turn common metals into gold.
It is my hope that the present day search for global education, equitable and providing equality of opportunity for all, shall not cease until the “gold” we seek, has been found.
I therefore dedicate this book to all the educators, researchers, parents and students the world over, who strive to achieve this elusive goal,high-quality education for all the citizens of the world.
In this endeavour, it is my belief that the International Baccalaureate merits a closer look, based on their more than 40 year history of delivering consistently excellent results.
I add that all of the reflections and views in this book are mine alone, unless otherwise noted, and can not be attributed to my employer or any other organization I am affiliated with, past or present. For any errors or oversights, I bear the complete responsibility.
Thomas Baker is the Past-President of TESOL Chile (2010-2011). He is the Head of the English Department at Colegio Internacional SEK in Santiago, Chile.
He is the Co-Founder and Co-Organiser of EdCamp Santiago, free, participant-driven, democratic, conversation based professional development for teachers, by teachers. EdCamp Santiago 2012 was held at Universidad Mayor in Santiago.
Thomas is also a member of the Advisory Board for the International Higher Education Teaching and Learning Association (HETL), where he also serves as a reviewer and as the HETL Ambassador for Chile.
Thomas enjoys writing about a wide variety of topics. Thus far, he has written the following genres: romance, historical fiction, autobiographical, sports history/biography, and English Language Teaching. He has published a total of forty six (46) books overall.
The source and inspiration for his writing comes from his family, his wife Gabriela, and his son, Thomas Jerome Baker, Jr.