Stick with CPS or go to burbs?

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    • #13120 Reply

      My 4th-grader is at Chicago World Language Academy (formerly Andrew Jackson Language Academy) and she’s doing great.  However, the way I see it is she’s just a big fish in a small pond right now because I don’t think her school is academically challenging.  Our concern is that once she’s at the age for testing into academic centers and/or high school, she may not be well prepared for it.   This is not a knock at my daughter’s abilities or intelligence, but rather a reality I’ve heard from other parents’ experiences.

      Bottom line, WHAT IF she doesn’t get into one of the good schools (Walter Payton, WYHS, Jones, etc.)?  The nagging question is if we should just move to the suburbs or stay put and supplement her with enrichment classes.  I don’t really have insight into how a suburban school is like at a 5th or 6th-grade level.  Is it truly so much better than a decent CPS school to warrant a move?  We have always wanted to raise our child in the city, but as a parent, I am constantly worried about the WHAT IFs.   I want to continue to support CPS, but the current quality seems to have suffered in the past 5 or 6 years.

      Any advice from anyone who’s ever thought of moving to the burbs but decided to stay?  What made you stay?  Or those who never even thought about it, why?

    • #13122 Reply

      Full disclosure, my daughter isn’t in school yet BUT I grew up in the suburbs, as well as worked in the Hinsdale middle school district at the start of my career, not as a teacher but I got a lot of insight, and my instinct is a pretty strong “it depends”.

      Your highest ranked suburban schools are going to be better than most CPS schools but your highest ranked CPS schools are going to be better than most suburban schools.

      Just like not all CPS schools are equal, neither are all the burbs.  Some districts are amazing and some are mediocre at best.

      I think your best bet would be to take a look at The Illinois Report Card website and compare your local neighborhood schools, as well as selective enrollment schools you think your child has a chance at getting into, and compare them to school districts in the burbs you would consider moving to.

    • #13123 Reply

      Top students at Jackson A should have no problem getting into those high schools. Academic centers are harder to predict. Anyway, you won’t gain much academic-wise by moving to a suburban public school, so it’s basically up to other considerations. Meanwhile, supplementing can make a big difference.

    • #13268 Reply

      I grew up in the west burbs and am weighing the same issues.  Agree with previous post that the top group of CPS schools – magnets, neighborhood schools and the SEES – are up there with, or better than the good surburban districts when comparing academics.

      In the burbs, at least when I was there, they had a lot of ‘tracking’ or ‘levels’ of classes going on, especially from grade 6 and up.  Typical middle school experience is very different from the city.   In the burbs, many elementaries [4-6 typically] feed into one “middle school” or “jr high” so they have the volume of kids necessary to not only offer more subjects, but to have different levels [ie pre algebra, algebra, etc].  In city, there are only 1-2 classes of 7-8th graders in most schools.  Therefore, it is a local school experience, not a ‘big school’ where you switch classes all day long, unless you go to an Academic Center.  Many of the suburban jr highs and high schools also have a large amount of resources, sports, extra curriculars, theater, music, etc. in comparison to the city K-8 schools, and they may be of higher quality again, using the ‘economy of scale’ that they feed several elemantary schools into one.  They also can be more competitive to ‘make the team’ in a certain sport as there are only so many spots.

      The whole the experience of CPS vs burbs is something each family has to weigh for themselves.  If you don’t like uncertainty, or have multiple kids to be concerned with, CPS is a difficult place to be.  One good bit of advice I got about CPS is to ‘take it a year at a time’.  Many magnet families don’t do the AC, stay til grade 8 and then go for high school admission.  For high school, the city has many choices beyond SEHS so families that are set on staying in the city will reasearch many options for high school [other public ones, charter, private] and that is the backup plan.  As far as ‘moving to the burbs’ with kids who were raised in CPS –  I think it’d be important for any parent to advocate for their kid during that transition to make sure the new school gets them placed where they should be.

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