Brizard: Chicago will open more selective enrollment high schools

April 5, 2012

Chicago schools CEO Jean Claude Brizard said Thursday evening the city will create more selective enrollment high schools.

"Short answer is yes. We have demand," Brizard said, when students from Jones College Prep High School asked whether the city would expand the number of selective enrollment high schools. Brizard made his comments on WBEZ's monthly Schools on the Line program.

"The city cannot only have selectives, but at the same time, when you look at 24,000, 25,000, 30,000 people applying for 5,000 seats across the city, clearly there is a need and there is a want and there is a demand for that kind of school," Brizard said.

This was the first time the schools chief has said publicly the city would create more of the coveted schools.

In late January, Brizard said at a school fair that Chicago was “a bit too obsessed with selective enrollment.” Both he and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have emphasized expansion of other types of schools, including charter schools, International Baccalaureate programs and STEM schools focusing on science, technology, engineering and math.

Brizard said the district was responding to demands from parents to open more selective schools. This year, competition to get into the city's selective high schools ramped up, with near-perfect scores required for admission to some.

Brizard reiterated his commitment to neighborhood schools as the city's primary education strategy, saying the city needs a “huge focus” on improving them.

Jones College Prep is one of nine selective enrollment high schools in Chicago. The students who asked Brizard the question said it seems unfair to have so few selective enrollment schools in a district with 400,000 students.