I think that Chicago school board CEO Paul Vallas should be commended and given high marks in his effort to reconstruct the current enrollment requirements at the city's magnet schools [Neighborhood News, October 17]. If a child fulfills the requirements for entrance to a magnet school and one is located down the street, why should he or she be forced to take a six-mile bus ride to another school? By letting a child stay in his or her neighborhood school, it allows the child to strengthen friendships with other kids from the area. Parents would be more involved in dropping off and/or picking up their children, thus having more contact with both the school and the teaching staff. The CPS would save big money in busing costs. I fail to see how this could be considered "a controversial proposal."
When my wife and I moved into our current home, many factors went into the selection process. Good schools were at the top of that list, and we were happy to find a home near a magnet school. We wanted to have our children walk to school, to have them know the neighbors they would pass each day, and in turn help build a sense of community a neighborhood needs. If a child qualifies for the magnet program, what's wrong with letting him or her attend the closest one to home?
I know people who have moved out to the suburbs for the sole reason of giving their children the best educational opportunities. They left so they would not have to wrangle with the system the CPS has set up. For them, it wasn't worth the fight. Paul Vallas wants to change things. He should be praised, not ridiculed. For if things stagnate and stay the way they are, the city will witness the steady stream of the middle class flowing out towards the suburbs.