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South Shore High School to Become Selective Enrollment

citizen | 6/6/2012, 5:18 p.m.
They faced an uphill battle to bring a new high school to the South Shore...
Ald. Michelle Harris

They faced an uphill battle to bring a new high school to the South Shore community that would be attractive to neighborhood students. But last fall the South Shore International High School Planning Committee reveled in the opening of the school, starting only with a freshman class in a brand new $94 million state-of-the-art building.

However, the committee, supported by Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) and community residents like Henry English, would not rest on its laurels. It wanted more for the school and the surrounding community. The committee wanted SSIHS to be a selective enrollment school, the only one on the Southeast Side of town.

Our goal is to help our new school build the capacity it needs to launch a robust, world class sustainable international program for our children, said English, who is president of the planning committee.

The Chicago Board of Education approved to have SSIHS become a selective enrollment school during its May 23 meeting. The chief executive officer of the citys public schools said the board was helping to fill a demand on the Southeast Side.

This is a push to have in South Shore a great institutional icon, Ald. Harris told the Chicago Citizen regarding the move to have the school become Selective Enrollment. We need to have our own selective enrollment program so that that the top tier of kids dont have to leave our community, go to the Far South Side to Gwendolyn Brooks (or) downtown. Well have that jewel right here on the Southeast Side.

For Harris, who grew up in the South Shore area and attended then-Chicago Vocational High School, feels students shouldnt have to travel across town to get a quality education. She explained that the current academic standing of South Shore high school including the programs being phased out is sub-par but having an opportunity to pick students for the school who are already academically on the ball would be a boost for the community.

The alderman added that pushing for selective enrollment was not about shutting the neighborhood kids out and making a quality education inaccessible to them. She said the South Shore area needed to have an alternative for students to not have to travel so far from home to attend other selective enrollment schools.

Our children arent staying in the community (to go to high school), theyre leaving, she said. Theyre travelling almost two hours away from (their) community. Why, when they could have this great institutional model in their own back door?

The board also approved a boundary change for SSIHS which will make Chicago Vocational Career Academy the new neighborhood school for students who live in the SSIHS attendance area. CPS said it is pushing to increase the academic standings at CVCA, including forging partnerships with the City Colleges of Chicago to have some of the high schools course work be worth CCC credit. Further, the school was currently awarded a $75 million grant for capital improvements.

Were committed to working with communities in every corner of the city to ensure all students and families have access to high quality educational options in their neighborhood, said Jean-Claude Brizard, head of CPS.

by Rhonda Gillespie