The leadership team chosen by Mayor Daley to re-invent Chicago City Colleges got a new lease on life from Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel on Monday, but their plan to end open enrollment may bite the dust.
Emanuel declared his preference for retaining the open-door admissions policy after announcing his decision to keep City Colleges Chancellor Cheryl Hyman and Board Chairman Martin Cabrera Jr. and “double-down” on their reform agenda — by appointing five new board members.
“I’m not gonna nit-pick different decisions. I expect them to offer and present the leadership that’s necessary. But, I want that type of open enrollment. That’s my preference,” Emanuel told reporters at Olive Harvey College, 100001 S. Woodlawn.
Last year, Hyman and then-Board Chairman Gery Chico raised the revolutionary idea of ending the open door admissions policy.
They argued that the financially-strapped system could no longer afford the $30 million-a-year cost of providing remedial classes for students who can’t cut it. They maintained that those students might be better and more inexpensively served throughout programs run by alternative high schools.
Daley was all for the idea.
“How can you take someone who has an eighth-grade reading level into a college. ... If they have to put ‘em all in remediation, they’re really not in a college system,” Daley told reporters last spring.
“There’s a huge remedial program of $30 million they’re running now. If you want to make it a quality City College [system]. You need quality.”
Hyman is the former Orr High School drop-out who left home to escape drug-addicted parents, attended Olive-Harvey College and rose to become a Commonwealth Edison executive, then chancellor.
“Her life path is a testament to the enormous potential of City Colleges,” Emanuel said.
Hyman, Cabrera and board member Everett Rand will be joined by five new members: Joyce Foundation President Ellen Alberding; former Governors State University President Paula Wolff; attorney Larry Rogers Sr.; management consultant Marisela Lawson and Charles Jenkins, pastor of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church.
Their mission is to speed the “re-invention” of a City Colleges system that, Emanuel claims, is still not serving inner-city kids.
“This is their ticket to the middle-class. It may be their ticket to a four-year institution and it may be their ticket to a job. But when they graduate, that diploma has to mean something,” Emanuel said.
“You cannot have a school system with a seven percent graduation rate when others are competing at 22 or 25 percent. You cannot have a system that has declining enrollment when other city colleges around the country are seeing enrollment expand. That says something.”