Urban Prep Sending Every Grad To College Again

CHICAGO (CBS) — More than six of every ten African-American boys will not graduate from public high school in Chicago, but at a high school in one of city’s poorest neighborhoods, every single black student is headed to college.

CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports it was cause for celebration Wednesday, as every single student at Urban Prep Academy in Englewood was about to graduate and go to college.

It was a pep rally and a great big public pat on the back as the school celebrated its amazing achievement on Wednesday.

“As of today, 100% of the students in the glass of 2011 have been admitted to four year colleges and universities,” Urban Prep founder Tim King announced Wednesday.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports

For the second in year in a row, every member of the Urban Prep Academy’s senior class is now college-bound.

How much of an achievement is that for the Englewood school? Ask senior Cedric Abdul Hakeem.

Asked what percentage of the young men in his neighborhood were going to college, Hakeem said, “Very, very, very small.”

City officials said that 60 percent of African American boys drop of high school in Chicago. The percentage is even higher in Englewood.

But Hakeem was planning to attend Grinnell College in Iowa.

“It means a lot. When I told my mom and my family, they said ‘Oh, my God, you got into Grinnell,” he said.

From the time they’re freshman at Urban Prep, students are told “you will prepare to go to college.”

“We worked hard at creating a culture and environment in which these young men really understand the importance of college and are willing to work hard to achieve that goal,” King said.

On Wednesday, Mayor Richard M. Daley addressed skeptics who, years ago, wondered if it could be done in Englewood.

“The facts are the facts. These young men are going to college here in Englewood,” Daley said.

Every day, every student at Urban Prep wears a red tie. On Wednesday, the college-bound seniors got red and gold ties, but they were told it’s just the beginning.

Of the 107 Urban Prep graduates who have gone on to college, 101 were still in college as of this year. The other six students were enlisted in the military or employed in full-time jobs.

  • jeff

    It was a pep rally and a great big public pat on the back as the school celebrated its amazing achievement on Wednesday.

    Amazing does not begin to describe this achievement.

    This story needs to be in every paper in the country, on every newscast and every parent should be aware that their children can achieve this goal.


    • Stephen Scheff

      It is wonderful that this school has 100%of it’s students going to a four year collage. But a bigger question is, what happens to students not accepted in this school. This institution has selective enrolment and the ability to dismiss students that don’t fit their mold. What this system of selective enrolment is creating is a institutionalized under class. Is this what we Want? I know this happy talk sounds good, but we are destroying our educational system.

      • Balance

        I take your point Stephen, I think that everyone should be happy and supportive of the achievements of these young men at Urban Prep. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the students who are left to attend the more challenging CPS schools. What about them? What about their feelings of exclusion? of hopelessness? The movement toward educational privatization is indeed creating an “underclass”. Schools like urban prep serve as a “band-aid” that only covers a portion of an opened wound. While I applaud Urban Prep for the positive work that it is doing, we need to find a way to promote results like Urban Prep on a district level…on a societal level for that matter! It is easy for Urban Prep to position itself as a beacon of hope, change, and positive outcomes, when it does everything it can to promote its own image and procure resources for the benefit of a few, while juxtaposed are the struggling majority who are in dire need of the same kind of attention and opportunity.

      • Falconnetti Kilraven

        So what are you saying, Stephen? These young men “want” to get an education. Their parents are providing support for them to prepare for college. Urban Prep is nurturing those that want to learn, that want to go to college. Selective enrollment? Name me an institution of learning of any merit that doesn’t. As for creating an institutional under class, well you’re barking up the wrong tree with that one. We need more institutions like Urban Prep, not less. This is what we want and need. If you want to attack social Darwinism and monopoly capitalism, you are in the wrong place. If these young men were left to Chicago Public Schools, most if not all would not be going to college. That is a fact.

      • rich

        It’s no different than my high school was in San Francisco. Plenty of schools are selective. Private Schools are selective and so was my public high school which sends a high percentage of students to university as well. Stop being negative and see the positivity that it brings. If you feel so strongly about it, get out there and rescue all the other kids who weren’t selected, build a school and teach them and quit complaining.

  • Sandy McGowan

    Who said that it won’t happen…great job young men

  • Vicky

    A reminder that anything is possible.

    • Gee-reg

      How about a news story about the rest of the Chicago public schools “success”. Like how a high school graduate can not read or write yet always gets promoted to the next grade.

  • Dubious Dan

    The school and its leaders should be applauded for breaking the mold with these young men. However, just because it “feels good” doesn’t make UP a resounding success. The media needs to peel back the onion a bit…

    Last year’s ACT for UP’s graduates was 16.5; this year it’s not even reported, likely because of the grief UP received last year when the number was published.. 16.5 despite four years of ‘enhanced college preparatory studies’, 40+% more classroom time, mentors, plenty of money donated, free laptops, etc. An AVERAGE of 16.5 likely means semi-illiteracy for a significant number of the graduates and yet ALL are going to college? How many young men started at UP four years ago or have transferred in since? Provide all the information, not just the rah-rah. Anyway, I hope all those graduates find success in life but I can’t support the lack of transparency surrounding UP.

    • Englewood Soccer Mom

      Don’t hate on UP and these young men. Celebrate their achievements and goals!

      • Balance

        I don’t think Dubious Dan is trying to hate on these young men, as he definitely opens his commentary by applauding the success of Urban Prep. Although it is true that after he does this, much of his response takes on a less enthusiastic celebration of UP’s achievements. I think that there is something to what Dubious Dan says. Urban Prep has the opportunity to teach less number of kids when compared to other CPS schools. It also has a greater number of resources per student. With this being said, shouldn’t scores be much higher? I don’t have the exact numbers to share (at the moment) but I would guess that having less students, longer school hours, and more resources per student should amount to MORE than just a mere point and a half above the CPS average. Perhaps UP, like anything, can always stand to improve.

  • Bridgett

    ACT? One test to determine potential greatness….. I darn to measure greatest by ACT standards. Great job UP. Keep those young brothers achieving beyond the ACT.

    • Dubious Dan

      Bridgett, please explain your comment that “….I darn to measure greatest by ACT standards.” You lost me with that response. I agree that no one individual’s ACT score will determine potential greatness, but you are kidding yourself if you think that, in a group of over 100 individuals averaging a 16.5 on the ACT, the bulk of them won’t struggle mightily in college. Standards must exist to some extent, to provide some level of differentiation for those prepared for college versus those who are not; the ACT provides a measuring stick that cannot be ignored. I’m not advocating total rigidity here (with regard to college admission), but we all should want these young men to have a good probability of success, yes?

  • http://www.blackreport.com/archives/2011/02/17/urban-prep-sending-every-grad-to-college-again-cbschicago-com/ Urban Prep sending every grad to college again – cbschicago.com | The Black Report Archives

    […] Click here to read more BR:Top Headlines | Submit Press Release Tweet […]

  • Jae

    Urban Prep is NOT a selective enrollment school. Students are selected by lottery, as with most of the schools in the Englewood community. The students cannot be arbitrarily dismissed. UP follows the CPS discipline code and expulsion rules — students cannot simply be removed because they fail to achieve academically.

    And while the ACT scores are low, the scores from the last two years STILL beat the city average by a point. The question was raised about the students making it into college with such low scores — the fact that of 107, 101 are still enrolled in college shows that they are at least keeping their heads above water. Naysay all you want, but Urban Prep is providing its graduates with tools to overcome their weaknesses, and the resilience to bounce back from small setbacks.

  • Falconnetti Kilraven

    Dan, many colleges are getting away from the standard testing model because it really doesn’t measure intelligence. Indeed, there are many studies that show these exams to be “culturally biased”. But even more compelling is the idea that an individual that believes in himself and has a desire to learn can compete in an institution of higher learning.

  • http://blackamericanmoney.com/blacknews/?p=2083 Urban Prep sending every grad to college again – cbschicago.com | Black News

    […] Click here to read more BR:Top Headlines | Submit Press Release […]

  • http://www.brandnewz.com/?p=8633 Chicago Urban Prep Sending Every Grad To College Again « Brand Newz

    […] “As of today, 100% of the students in the glass of 2011 have been admitted to four year colleges and universities,” Urban Prep founder Tim King announced Wednesday. Read complete story see video at Chicago.CBSlocal.com […]

  • Jose

    I also suggest that you all look up information about the Noble Network of Charter Schools. The students in these schools are predominantly Latino and African-American. The Noble Network of Charter Schools ranks first among all CPS high schools for the largest expected gains on the ACT. Last school year, one of its campuses, Rauner College Prep, had 6 students win the Posse Full-Tuition Leadership Scholarship, making it the school with the most Posse scholarships in Chicago that year.

  • http://www.blackreport.com/archives/2011/02/17/top-black-news-headlines-%e2%80%93-february-17-2011/ Top Black News Headlines – February 17, 2011 | The Black Report Archives

    […] Urban Prep sending every grad to college again […]

  • http://blackamericanmoney.com/blacknews/?p=2119 Top Black News Headlines – February 17, 2011 | Black News

    […] Urban Prep sending every grad to college again […]

  • BD

    Please keep in mind that more and more students are coming to high schools two or years behind in Reading and/or Math. I am a veteran high school educator and I have seen numerous students come into school with as low as a 3rd or 5th grade reading level. It is a dubious task for high schools to make up such a deficit in just four years. I applaud these schools and these young men for their accomplishments. Their hard work has opened doors for them that will change not only change their lives but generations to come.

  • Gee-reg

    How would the media place this news if it was an all white school in Chicago ? OOOHHH Wait, there can NOT be an all white school in Chicago because that would be racist. But we all know we can always have an all black school or an all hispanic scholl.

    • Gee-reg

      “school ” typo

    • Balance

      Gee-reg, this is an interesting question; although, I must admit it is seemingly misdirected OR rather I should say…your agenda is one that is not quite so clear to me. However, I will comment assuming that at the root of your inquiry/commentary is a thirst for an answer, for some truth of understanding or…er, enlightenment. Urban Prep is not an all black school by choice. In fact, in 2010 a student who could identify with being white did attend UP for some short time. I would know because I am a former employee. Urban Prep is a Public-Charter school…meaning any student who resides within the bounds of the collective CPS district (i.e.- anywhere in the city of Chicago) can opt to apply and attend. Students are selected by lottery, meaning anyone who submits an application has a likelihood to attend. Now, there are certain clauses that grant admission to some automatically, if they so choose (i.e.-having a younger sibling from the same family). I thought it’d be helpful for you to know that theoretically, anyone has a chance to attend Urban Prep. However, if you know the demographics of Chicago, you’d understand why UP happens to be 100% African-American. The original campus, Englewood, replaced the public high school in that community (i.e.- Englewood h.s.), this school was 100% black. When UP opened it doors, it had to agree that a good percentage of its students had to be from the Englewood community. It is no secret that Chicago is a highly segregated city….and I think that the sooner that white students, or students of any origin for that matter begin to apply…the sooner you will see an UP that serves more than just African-American students. Lastly, UP was built to build up the human capital from these communities, shouldn’t a school seek to educate and improve the inhabitants of its community?….be they black, white, hispanic…etc. I believe this, above all, is the mission of UP; furthermore, if a school happened to be all white in a poor urban neighborhood and is managing to get graduate h.s. and attend a 4-year college in a city where only 60% of students like them are graduating…that my friend is a happy story for any population. Be Blessed.

    • Dubious Dan

      Gee-reg: that’s a heck of a question. Is the all-black school justified by ‘affirmative action’ or some other philosophy? What if it was an all-white school that, like UP, excluded girls. That would be a firestorm, yes?

      Jeff, Falconnetti Kilraven, Sandy McGowan, Vicky, Englewood Soccer Mom, BD, etc., what would be your reaction to an all-white boys school under the CPS? Not hatin’, just an interesting hypothetical.

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