#50. UC Lab gets a $5 million donation from an alum to build a new arts wing. Yes, Lab is an amazing school, I’m sure, and yes, they do offer some scholarships, but, but, but. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Shoesmith received a $5 million donation? Or heck, even $500,000? I wonder what the arts program at the average CPS school is like in Hyde Park? The rich get richer…
The comment on the above-linked CPS post gets at this. It's part of the broader dynamic city-wide, in which people who have the resources or wherewithal can opt-out of a public system, thereby exacerbating many of the problems that keep public schools in a cycle of under performance.
Painful truths. As with retail, safety, sustainability, and so much else, it all comes down to head count. Are there enough middle class families and children in the district to turn Shoesmith around? In raw numbers, perhaps, but how many of them will inevitably be drawn to Lab? How much larger would the local population therefore have to be for Shoesmith to reliably enroll a racially and socioeconomically diverse student body within its own district boundaries?#58 .There is a huge money gap in the Shoesmith area. there is a significant number of people who are very wealty, a significant number who live on the edges of the Shoesmith area that are low income/in subsidized housing, and a small number of middle/upper middle class families.
In my opinion, the vast majority very rich probably wouldn’t consider Shoesmith, even if it was a great CPS school b/c they are Lab/Ancona/Latin/Parker families.
The low income families have no other choice by Shoesmith and don’t have the connections/political weight/etc.. to make Nettlehorst happen.
The middle/upper middle class families (of which I’m one) could be the difference makers in turning Shoesmith but the questons for them, is seems to me, are (1) are there enough of them to make a difference at the school, (2) is the school going to be responsive, (3) is it worth the risk for their kids, (4) do any of them have the Nettlehorst-type connections, (5) and is it worth the effort knowing you’ll have to do it all over again for middle school b/c Canter MS is not a good option?
Not long ago, I had to think through these issues about Shoesmith, and decided it was better for my family to do the CPS magnet/RGC/classical lottery, or pay for Catholic school because Shoesmith seemed too much of a risk.
I still wonder what it would be like to try & make it appealing to the neighborhood, wonder if I made the wrong deicision and should have fought for Shoesmith instead of finding another school outside our neighborhood, and can’t tell you how many of my neighors who made the same decision I did say how they wish we could have our kids all the same school, right down the street.
As one of our neighborhood's preeminent educational institutions lands a multi-million dollar windfall, while another struggles to fill its classrooms with local kids, these are questions worth pondering.