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SSWN Book Club: Is Chicago Making Urban School Choice Work, Or Is It Creating A Version Of An Academic Hunger Games for 8th Graders?

SSWN Book Club: Is Chicago Making Urban School Choice Work, Or Is It Creating A Version Of An Academic Hunger Games for 8th Graders?

It’s not every day you get to feature work by one of your favorite people in the world. Here at SSWN in 2019-20, we are going to be sharing books, articles, and other research items from leading school social work and school mental health researchers. This time for our SSWN Book Club, it’s some crucial research by longtime school social worker, education researcher (and full disclosure, my all-around BFF) Dr. Kate Phillippo, drawing from her recent book, A Contest Without Winners: How Students Experience Competitive School Choice (University of Minnesota Press, 2019). One of our 5 themes this year on SSWN will involve SSW engaging in Race & Equity work throughout their school practice, and this book offers a clear-eyed look at how Chicago Public School middle school students (7th & 8th graders) are forced to navigate a complicated system to try to get “in” to the competitive high school of their choice, all along the way demonstrating how race, class, and geography continue to impact their choices. We are proud to offer this excerpt of Kate’s book (Chapter 1, “Unequal Opportunities, Unevenly Distributed: The Puzzle of Admission Results,”) and we encourage you to read further by picking up a paperback copy of her book here.

Dr. Kate Phillippo, Associate Professor, Loyola Chicago School of Education

From the University of Minnesota Press’ site: “Kate Phillippo follows a diverse group of Chicago students through the processes of researching, applying to, and enrolling in public high school, finding that the students are powerful policy actors who carry out and redefine competitive choice. Phillippo challenges meritocratic and market-driven notions of opportunity creation for young people and raises critical questions about the goals we have for public schooling.”


“Was the process students fol­lowed school choice or not?

By design, it was.

In reality, it was not. “

Dr. Kate Phillippo will be at McNally Jackson Books (New York City) on Thursday, October 17 at Bank Street Bookstore (NYC) on Friday, October 18 and at the Penn Book Center (Philadelphia) on Monday, October 21 for a discussion and signing of her new book, A CONTEST WITHOUT WINNERS.

About The Author

Michael Kelly

Michael S. Kelly PhD, LCSW is the Lucian and Carol Welch Matusak Professor and Director of the School Mental Health Advanced Practice certificate and Family and School Partnerships Program at Loyola University Chicago’s School of Social Work. Prior to coming to Loyola in Fall 2006, he was a school social worker, family therapist, and youth minister in the Chicago area for 14 years. He has authored over 80 journal articles, books, and book chapters on school social work, evidence-based practice (EBP), and positive youth development. He is a fellow of the Oxford Symposium for School-Based Family Counseling, co-Chair of the Society for Social Work & Research SSW Special Interest Group, Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of School Social Work, and Associate Editor of School Mental Health. He has recently brought his work on school mental health and EBP to researchers and practitioners in England, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Canada, Chile, and Japan.

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