Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » End of session stuff: Budget framework agreement reached; Johnson pledges no action against selective enrollment schools (Updated x4)
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End of session stuff: Budget framework agreement reached; Johnson pledges no action against selective enrollment schools (Updated x4)

Friday, May 24, 2024 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Subscribers were given a rundown of the budget framework agreement’s highlights early this morning…

* Subscribers were also told about this

Mayor Brandon Johnson says he will not close high-performing CPS Selective Enrollment Schools, at least not until a fully elected Chicago Public School Board takes over the system in 2027.

The mayor made his promise in a letter sent on Friday to Illinois Senate President Don Harmon, asking for Harmon to kill statewide legislation that would protect those schools.

“The district will not close selective enrollment schools, nor will the District make disproportionate budget cuts to selective enrollment schools,” the letter states. “The district will maintain admissions standards at those schools. Any narrative to the contrary is patently false.”

Johnson and his Chicago Teachers Union allies have lobbied hard against legislation passed by the house that would explicitly protect those schools, along with magnets and charter schools. The legislation was filed due to concerns those schools could be on the chopping block, after Johnson’s handpicked school board released a five year strategic plan that alluded to redirecting resources away from them and toward neighborhood schools. The bill’s house sponsor, State Rep Margaret Croke, says she is disappointed that Harmon has apparently agreed to sit on the bill in the senate.

“While his letter agreement with the Mayor contains some concessions,” Croke said. “It does not protect magnet or charter schools and still allows for changes in admissions criteria for selective enrollment schools.”

The full letter is here. Meanwhile…

…Adding… Somebody just pointed out the fine print on Mayor Johnson’s tweet: “Note: Selective high school data includes Jones, Lane Tech, Whitney Young, Payton and North Side.” The city has eleven selective enrollment schools, and the ones not mentioned above have significantly higher Black and Brown enrollment.

…Adding… IML…

“We are pleased with the overall framework of the issues affecting municipalities,” said Brad Cole, Chief Executive Officer, Illinois Municipal League. “Local leaders have long advocated for greater authority to provide for the programs and services their residents rely on every day, which they will be granted under this budget agreement.”

As subscribers know, the municipals did pretty well, considering.

…Adding… Tribune

After a last-minute plea from Mayor Brandon Johnson, Illinois Senate President Don Harmon is expected to put the brakes on legislation that would extend a moratorium on public school closings in Chicago. […]

Sen. Robert Martwick, an ally of Johnson and the CTU, said he was glad to see the issue resolved without the city’s hands being tied by legislation, because “the mayor has made it very clear that his intention is to wait for the fully elected school board to take place before major changes are made.”

“As the mayor has publicly provided assurances that there will be no dramatic changes to the role of selective enrollment and magnet schools in the school district, the need for the legislation is obviated,” Martwick, a Chicago Democrat said. “We don’t need it anymore.”

…Adding… He’s not helping his legislative cause…

Jessica Handy, Illinois Executive Director of Stand for Children…

“HB 303 would extend the moratorium on school closures for ALL Chicago Public Schools until the fully elected school board is seated. ALL of them. Magnet, charter, neighborhood, selective enrollment. ALL of them.

This isn’t a bill about protecting a small group of selective enrollment schools from closure. A commitment to not close a narrow segment of selective enrollment schools is not an alternative to HB 303.

Opponents have called selective enrollment schools racist, while promising they have no intention of closing them. The same assurances have not been given to charter, magnet, and neighborhood schools from closures. CPS’s charter schools serve a student body that is 98% Black and Latino/a. Sixty-five percent of CPS’s Black students attend a school of choice rather than their zoned school, including 84% of Black high school students in CPS. Half of CPS’s Latino/a students attend a school of choice rather than their zoned school, including 71% of high school students.

In December, the CPS school board passed a resolution imposing its vision to “transition away from” selective enrollment, charter, and magnet schools. We polled Chicago families to ask how they felt about that vision, and 82% of respondents believe CPS families should be able to choose the public school that best meets their student’s needs, whether that’s their neighborhood school, a school in another neighborhood, or a magnet, selective enrollment, or charter school. Sixty-four percent of voters believe eliminating school choice would limit opportunities and increase segregation.

A student’s zip code should never determine the quality of public education they receive. Public school choice will always be available to families who can afford to move and live in areas with better quality schools. The students who will be hurt by “transitioning away from” schools of choice are not the ones with resources – they are those who are already the most disadvantaged and marginalized. If ‘HB 303 seeks to solve problems that do not exist’ and CPS truly does not intend to close or disproportionately cut options schools, then it makes very little sense to fight HB 303.”


  1. - DS - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:30 am:

    If Harmon goes through with this after agreeing to support the phased in elected board of education it would be a betrayal. We don’t trust the mayor’s unelected school board to keep by these promises.

  2. - Big Mistake - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:31 am:

    The mayor cannot and should not be trusted. He is going to go rogue as a lame duck mayor. CTU and SDG are vindictive. Harmon is making a huge mistake in trusting CTU at their word.

  3. - CornAl DoGooder - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:37 am:

    It would be quite a reversal to go from putting the bill on agreed bills list in Exec while MBJ was in the building to holding the bill at MBJ’s word a few weeks later. What has the Mayor done in the past few weeks to rebuild that much good will? I don’t see it.

  4. - low level - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:39 am:

    So if the mayor isnt going to close them, he should have no opposition to the bill. No?

    This doesnt feel right. On the other hand, Don Harmon is one of the smartest people I’ve ever met so I trust he knows what he is doing.

  5. - Back to the Future - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:40 am:

    A lot of this concern about schools in Chicago and the rest of the state would be unnecessary if Pritzker invested in schools according to the current standards laid out in the SunTimes the other day. 6 years of underfunding is going to have a negative effect.
    Start building the budget around our children and grand children.
    The best investment we can make is in our Children and their frontline teachers.

  6. - Say What - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:40 am:

    Looks like the Senate is throwing charter schools and magnet schools under the bus. What a joke. When Johnson slashes teachers and programs President Harmon wears the jacket.

  7. - low level - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:47 am:

    ==would be unnecessary if Pritzker invested in schools according to the current standards laid out in the SunTimes the other day. ==

    OK. How would you like him to accomplish this?

  8. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:55 am:

    ===if Pritzker invested in schools===


  9. - supplied_demand - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:57 am:

    ==Looks like the Senate is throwing charter schools and magnet schools under the bus. ==

    A local magnet school pulls 40% from surrounding area and 60% from the rest of the city. Where did those percentages come from? Could a 50/50 split lead to better performing schools? We should be allowed to discuss potential improvements to today’s system. Shutting down all discussion seems like the wrong move.

  10. - Larry Bowa Jr. - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 11:59 am:

    That’s a really disgustingly misleading tweet from a guy who positions himself as the kind of politician who is in some meaningful way different from all the liars who came before.

    So it’s clearly not selective enrollment schools in general that they’re mad about, it’s these 4 schools specifically, which apparently need to be brought to heel by CTU for reasons that are going to remain opaque to anyone unfamiliar with CTU’s myriad grievances.

  11. - Back to the Future - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:05 pm:

    Fewer press releases and more competent governing.
    He could start by getting the 5.3 Billion that was stolen by criminals and fraudsters under his irresponsible watch. Then moving on to corporate welfare- just stop it.
    How about cutting out the spin folks and their unnecessary “communications Management” schemes.
    Start the process with educational funding. We have nothing but a very tough future ahead without educated children and grandchildren.
    Piling on long term debt (among the highest long debt burdens in the nation) and not educating our kids is really a bad way to run government.
    Of course, we are going to hear about how much Pritzker spends on education and not the Billon dollars he owes Chicago kids this year.
    Make education the priority it should be. Really in what world does giving a Chinese Party controlled firm a half a billion dollars when 70% of our children can’t read or write at grade level make sense.

  12. - ZC - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:15 pm:

    The other six selective schools listed on the CPS website are: Brooks, Hancock, Lindblom, King, South Shore, and Westinghouse.

    Yes, someone really should be asking Johnson / CPS if the goal is also to close these schools in the long term. And I do wonder how Chicagoans who currently attend these schools, would think about that.

  13. - 44 - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:18 pm:

    I haven’t seen a lot of coverage on who is running for the school board. What is to stop BJ and CTU from stacking the board. Concerned parents arn’t in a position to organize against the CTU. It’s pretty clear their intent is to kill these gems of schools. Today trust me and produce that tweet is just amazing.

  14. - Rich Miller - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:27 pm:

    ===What is to stop BJ and CTU from stacking the board===

    What’s to stop any mayor and any teachers union from any town in Illinois from trying to do this via a bona fide election?

    Right now, he can stack the board unilaterally.

  15. - Donnie Elgin - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:40 pm:

    =Selective enrollment schools were created to foster integration in CPS, not to codify segregation=

    Seems like they were created for the best and brightest students…

    “Selective Enrollment High Schools provide academically advanced high school students with a challenging and enriched college preparatory experience. Each of the Selective Enrollment High Schools offers a rigorous curriculum with mainly honors and Advanced Placement (AP) courses. The schools strive to develop students’ critical and analytical thinking skills, and promote diverse academic inquiry by bringing together students from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences. Testing is required in order for students to be considered for these programs”

  16. - Jocko - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:51 pm:

    “CPS’s top five (of eleven) selective schools enroll disproportionally high percentages…”

    Nice cherry-picking of data on the part of AXIOS Chicago (exclamation point). Are they the same firm Kevin Warren hired to tell us the domed stadium would ‘ONLY’ cost taxpayers $1.5 billion?

  17. - low level - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 12:57 pm:

    ==He could start by getting the 5.3 Billion that was stolen by criminals and fraudsters under his irresponsible watch. ==

    I’m sorry but I am at a complete loss for what you are referring to. Could you educate me, please? Thx.

  18. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 1:21 pm:

    This Mayor is well known for following through on his promises.

  19. - Phineas - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 1:34 pm:

    Can I just say how much I love that JB is carrying his own bag around the capitol?

  20. - Shytown - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 1:46 pm:

    It’s one thing to be bamboozled, but it’s another to pretend you’re not being bamboozled and that’s exactly what’s happening with the Senate right now. Does anyone there, including President Harmon, think Johnson can actually be trusted to live up to the promises in this letter? It’s also loosely written, so let’s count the days until it’s revealed CPS has indeed messed with their budgets and changed admission requirements. It’s not a matter of if but when this will happen and anything that the Senate president and members of his team might say otherwise will not age well.

    Will Monica Eng and Axios update their “analysis” to reflect the full data on selective enrollment schools? I’m guessing no but hope to be proven wrong.

  21. - Back to the Future - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 1:47 pm:

    Low level
    Look up the State Audit.
    Traveling now.

  22. - Proud Sucker - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 2:04 pm:

    So the Mayor’s tweet singles out the five schools which appear in US News’ top 100 public high schools list: Payton - 5th, North Side - 35th, Whitney Young - 52nd, Jones - 53rd, and Lane Tech - 60th.

    That truly is an odd flex. CPS has 5 of the top 100 high schools and 8 of the top 1,000 (sorry Von Steuben, you missed it by 4 places). Why is this not a huge positive story. New York public schools (three times as large as CPS) also have 5 in the top 50, LA has two.

    Reading the description of the schools in the top 100, one notes that they all have selective enrollment. Collapsing into a neighborhood only school model will put all CPS students at a competitive disadvantage when applying to competitive universities.

    This guy was a teacher, right?

  23. - Annonin' - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 2:40 pm:

    Perhaps the Senate should pasd the bill on the last day and hold til they see what the new school year offers

  24. - Sue - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 3:25 pm:

    Harmon trusting Johnson seems kind of ill advised. As only 4 schools out of 11fall within the pledge- Harmon just gave more Black families reason to join the Black exodus away from Chicago and Illinois. I guess Latinand Parker along with the Lab and British schools should plan on
    expanding their enrollments

  25. - 44 - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 3:31 pm:

    Promise is a letter…. Wow. Five schools in the top 100 in the nation. With four tier admissions to ensure bright kids from all over the city have a chance. And they are circling them like sharks ready to feed. Just a matter of time. Ugh.

  26. - low level - Friday, May 24, 24 @ 4:53 pm:

    ==“and CPS truly does not intend to close or disproportionately cut options schools, then it makes very little sense to fight HB 303.”==

    Exactly. If there are no plans to close them, then they should withdraw their opposition and the bill should pass unanimously. The fact they are opposing it so strongly is highly suspicious.

  27. - PublicServant - Saturday, May 25, 24 @ 6:27 am:

    Wow. Adjectives are doing some heavy lifting from the mayor and Martwick here.

    === no disproportionate cuts === === no dramatic changes ===

    Not worth the paper they’re printed on.

    Run the bill, Don.

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