Ron Huberman, C.E.O. of the Chicago Public Schools, came into office with a plan. Instead of admitting students to Chicago's elite magnet schools and "selective enrollment" schools based on racial considerations -- considerations that risked lawsuits -- the district would use socio-economic status and geographic distribution to ensure diversity.
But his announcement on Wednesday made it clear that race isn't entirely out of the picture.
Huberman will set aside an additional 100 seats, 25 at each of the four best high schools in the district, for students from some of the city's worst elementary schools, reports the schools blog Catalyst Notebook. These schools serve almost exclusively poor black and Latino students.
He refused to reveal the socio-economic and racial backgrounds of the students who were accepted to selective enrollment schools this year. But by choosing to open these additional seats, the implication is that he found too little racial diversity in the pool of accepted students.
As far back as December 2009, Huberman had been foreshadowing just such a move. "We will do a gut check before sending out admissions letters," he said at the time. "We will look to see how many white students got in, how many African American, how many Asian?" If the numbers were imbalanced, he said, adjustments would be made.
And indeed, adjust they have. 336 students will receive letters with a chance to apply for the 100 spots. In exchange for accepting the additional freshmen, the four high schools -- Jones, Whitney Young, Walter Payton, and Northside Prep -- will receive $250,000 each for tutoring, mentoring, and support for the students.
But, Catalyst Notebook points out, Huberman had also promised the process of adjusting for racial disparities would be open and transparent. So far, that transparency is lacking.