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CPS policies create severe enrollment decline at Steinmetz

By Aly Fontanilla

Like most Chicago neighborhood high schools, Steinmetz has taken a big hit in enrollment over the past 14 years.

Steinmetz has 1,200 fewer students now than it did in 2003, resulting in dozens of lost teaching and coaching positions.

The reason: CPS has increased high school options. Students can apply to go to charter, selective enrollment, magnet, military and speciality schools, as well as other neighborhood  schools, in addition to enrolling in Steinmetz.

graph (11)

Steinmetz High School fall enrollment, 2003 – 2017

In 2003, Steinmetz had 2,445 students.In 2017, Steinmetz has 1,258 students.

“When you look at Steinmetz, there’s nothing unique,” Principal Stephen Ngo said. “It’s happening to every neighborhood school in the city, except for Taft.”

Since the year 2003, Schurz has 847 fewer students and Foreman has 1,002 fewer students, but Taft’s enrollment increased 1,344.

Steinmetz needs to attract more students, Mr. Ngo said. The SQRP (school quality rating policy) moved up this year from a level 2 to a 2+, which might help, he said.

“Most schools either stayed the same or dropped,” he said. “Steinmetz is one of the schools that actually moved up a level.”

Mr. Ngo said that to bring up the enrollment “we need to market, promote, and brand our school at a much better level than we’re currently doing.”

“We’ve implemented a lot to improve the school,” he added. “So let’s focus on us. Focus on the quality of teaching and learning in the building. Let’s focus on our metrics. Let’s focus on our targeted instructional area and our professional learning cycle.”

The Star surveyed more than 300 freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors in October. Only 30 percent said Steinmetz was their first choice for high school.

“I assumed Steinmetz was not a good school,” freshman Aleksandra Waledziak said.

But after becoming students here, more than 70 percent of the students surveyed said they’d recommend it.

“Although it wasn’t my first choice, I’m proud of my school and wouldn’t leave until I graduate,” junior Millie Martinez wrote.

For those who said Steinmetz was their first choice, they said it was because it is close to home, their family members attended or because they liked its diversity and programs.

Many students commented on the Star survey about their success at Steinmetz, once they became students here.

“The teachers in this school are amazing,” senior Amy Carmona said. “The amount of support they have given to me is amazing. They have helped me with academics, extracurriculars and personal issues. I can’t thank them enough.”

Many students wrote about the uniform requirement as a drawback to Steinmetz.

“The school uniform deters a lot of students and with our already low enrollment, we can’t afford to miss out on students for a policy that does not help us,” junior Sammie Chafai said.

Most of the comments praised the people.

“Steinmetz isn’t any different from any other school,” senior Antonio Sanchez said. “I would recommend it, since you can meet a lot of great people and it’s worth it.”

Screen Shot 2017-12-20 at 10.26.12 AM

CPS demographics director Jim Dispensa distributed the above information at the February 2017 LSC meeting. Graphic by DNAinfo from “‘School Choice’ Run Amok To Blame For Steinmetz’s Struggles, Alderman Says.”

4 comments on “CPS policies create severe enrollment decline at Steinmetz

  1. Patryk Rafacz on said:

    In the article it states that there are less students because there are more options and it’s looked at as if it’s a bad thing. We students prefer better options that help us with what we want to do and Steinmetz is the place we went because we had no other place to go. Then later, the article quotes Mr. Ngo saying this school is not unique and it’s happening all over the neighborhood except Taft. What is that supposed to mean? “Except Taft”? Why are we not unique? No, we are, but Mr. Ngo would rather spend the school’s money on painting the walls instead of essential programs.

  2. Juan Cordona on said:

    Steinmetz is not only seen as a last choice school by some, but the small things that happen in the school spread out and make our school look bad and later students see really good news from other schools. Competition is good. It improves students, but students want only the best school even if it’s out of their reach. We should do events in other elementary schools to show how heart warming Steinmetz is.

  3. Joseph Alonso on said:

    As a sophomore at Steinmetz College Prep, the data seems convincing. I read the whole article. I have a few complaints about this article, specifically about this school. Back when I was a freshman, I always thought how the gym uniform should be considered uniform. Even now, I still complain about it. I have also thought that, in my opinion, Mr. Ngo is more concerned about the uniform than more than what’s revolving around him, for example, fights.

    I feel like the money we got from Mayor Emanuel could be used on new tables, pants, etc. I’m still confused about the new campus going to be made. I heard it’s going to start in the spring. To be fair, the enrollment should interfere if only we, as students, had the choice of wearing anything.

    My recommendation is that the gym uniform must be accepted as a uniform, along with the removal of khakis. The students should have the option of wearing any bottoms, like jeans, joggers, etc. If Mr. Ngo wants to “market, promote, and brand our school,” make the uniform less strict.

  4. Carlos Gonzalez on said:

    Personally, I don’t think that CPS policies are the reason for Steinmetz’ enrollment decline. People do not want to come to Steinmetz because of how bad the school is. Steinmetz has a bunch of unnecessary rules. This article saying it’s CPS policies just seems as an excuse as to why the enrollment is going down.

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