Where are some decent, non-magnet American urban public high schools?
August 21, 2014 11:46 AM   Subscribe

My definition of decent = half kids go to college or something post-secondary, relatively safe (low risk of gang violence, I hope I'm not being presumptuous), stable (admin and teachers not always leaving every year). Non Magnet means no competition to get in, just living within a school district. My definition of urban means walkable and fairly dense, but not college towns.
posted by sandmanwv to Education (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Do you care about admissions criteria (test scores, GPA) or just plain admissions?
posted by rr at 11:59 AM on August 21, 2014

The average direct-to-college enrollment rate for 2012 HS graduates in the US was 66%, and the average even for low-income, high-minority urban high schools was 53%. Setting that particular bar in that particular place may weed out a few terrible schools, but it is not going to eliminate high schools that are significantly below the national average in terms of sending kids on to higher education and/or whose graduates are not especially well-prepared for the demands of college.
posted by drlith at 12:29 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Meredith and Penn Alexander in Philly, though I think Penn Alexander is now lottery admission.
posted by sepviva at 12:30 PM on August 21, 2014

Best answer: Garfield HS in Seattle.
posted by rossination at 12:32 PM on August 21, 2014

Neither Meredith or Penn Alexander are high schools, so they don't fit the criteria.
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:38 PM on August 21, 2014

Most of the public high schools in the North Shore of Chicago are excellent.

For instance, Lake Forest High School. From that link: "In 2005, Lake Forest graduated 98.9% of its senior class...The average tenure of faculty members is 11.3 years with 96% of the faculty holding a master's degree or higher." From this link, it looks like 90% of the graduating class of 2013 enrolled in a four year university.

Not surprisingly, property taxes in this area are insane.

I'm counting this as urban, by the way, since it's within the greater Chicago metropolitan area. But perhaps you mean urban urban, like, "within the boundaries of the city?" If so, check out Minneapolis's public school system, I hear it's great.
posted by artemisia at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Cambridge Rindge and Latin in Cambridge, MA.
posted by ocherdraco at 12:41 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Due to the way the NYC public school system works, you can be zoned into a particularly good school, but put into the 'zoned' program instead of the specialized/magnet program. So a school like Midwood High School in Brooklyn would technically fit your requirements (as would at least a dozen other schools accepting zone students in NYC) but the zoned students are definitely not getting the same rigorous set of classes.
posted by griphus at 12:55 PM on August 21, 2014

Something to keep in mind is that many public high schools have a school-within-a-school that is magnet, but not the whole school. For example, Amundsen High School in Chicago proper has an IB program, but not the whole school is IB. It has a graduation rate of a little over 75%. Lake View High School, one school over, has no magnet programs, and about the same graduation rate.
posted by juniperesque at 12:58 PM on August 21, 2014

Best answer: Yeah, the best non-selective high school in Chicago is Lincoln Park HS, but selective (and truly competitive) *programs* make up a good chunk of the population, as juniperesque mentions. But if you live within the school district you go there, too.

Taft HS (also in Chicago) meets your criteria. I believe it does have some selective programs, but like at Amundsen, they're not super hard to get into. (In contrast to the city's selective high schools, which are straight-up the best in the state, but harder to get into than any Ivy League college.)

Lake Forest is not at all urban (assuming you want walkable places), but Oak Park-River Forest HS is in a very walkable inner suburb, and is *excellent*. At least in the Chicago metro, that's probably the best fit for your criteria.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 1:12 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

US News and World Report does an annual ranking of public high schools. I couldn't figure out how to sort on charter/magnet status, but it does have that information listed for each school. Some top schools that seem to fit your criteria:

Lynbrook San Jose, CA

Garden City High School Garden City, NY

Indian Hill High School Cincinnati, OH

Lowell High School San Francisco, CA

Manhasset Secondary School Manhasset, NY

I have no idea whether any of these schools are in walkable areas
posted by fermezporte at 1:18 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Manhasset and Garden City are both suburbs.
posted by griphus at 1:21 PM on August 21, 2014

Cambridge, MA is definitely a college town
posted by deanc at 1:25 PM on August 21, 2014

Best answer: Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.
posted by deanc at 1:28 PM on August 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Indian Hill is a suburb of Cincinnati...presumably some people walk to school but it is not very dense around it.
posted by mmascolino at 1:29 PM on August 21, 2014

Cambridge, MA is definitely a college town

I don't think I would consider Cambridge a "college town" in the typological sense. I mean, it obviously is a municipality that has colleges in it, but it is more like Boston, New Haven, Providence, or even New York City in that it is an actual urban area with its own identity/issues and that happens to house major educational institutions. Certainly most students at CRLS aren't professors' kids or anything.
posted by threeants at 1:59 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Lowell in SF does have a competitive application process.
posted by gingerbeer at 2:19 PM on August 21, 2014

Not sure if Madison, Wisconsin ranks as a college town; the University quit being the big employer several decades back (now it's hospitals).

West HS is on the highest-service bus line in town, two small food markets within walking distance. People here are lovely, taxes are better than coastal, winter can be savage, great food for a 250,000 pop city. Particularly strong in theater (Brad Whitford & Chris Farley are grads) as well as the typical prep courses.
posted by Jesse the K at 2:27 PM on August 21, 2014

Walnut Hills High School in the Cincinnati Public Schools district is open to all students in the CPS district, but they do have to pass the Terra Nova standardized test with at least a 70% to get in. Students can take the test multiple times, and it's actually quite rare for a student to be denied admission.

And yeah, Indian Hill is most definitely not in the city of Cincinnati. It's a good 15-20 minute drive to the city.
posted by cooker girl at 2:30 PM on August 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I live in Madison and my kids will eventually go to West. It fits your criteria, except for the fact that Madison is, in fact, about the college-towniest college town imaginable.

I grew up in the suburbs of DC, and Woodrow Wilson HS was always thought of as the top public school in the District. Looks like that's still true, with 89% of graduates going on to college per Wikipedia.
posted by escabeche at 3:30 PM on August 21, 2014

What about Evanston HS?
posted by persona au gratin at 11:55 PM on August 21, 2014

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