Superintendent responds to CPS preference in hiring for city jobs

By Catholic New World
Sunday, September 21, 2014

Editor’s note: The following letter appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Aug. 19.

At the present time, there are over 11,500 students attending Catholic high schools throughout the city of Chicago. I have experienced first-hand their intelligence, work ethic, optimism, and solid moral foundation. Unfortunately, due to the City of Chicago’s “CPS preference policy,” these young men and women are now at a disadvantage when applying for city jobs.

The City of Chicago job application states, “The City of Chicago offers a CPS Graduate Preference to high school graduates from the Chicago Public School system.” Because of this policy, an interested Catholic high school graduate with the same credentials as a CPS graduate would be viewed as less preferable. The current intent to apply this preference to firefighters places our schools in the firestorm.

When Mayor Emanuel noted his desire to give talented and diverse individuals who graduate from CPS “a shot at working for the city,” we can only agree. However, while there is diversity and talent in the Chicago Public Schools, the same can be said about Catholic schools. There are 20 Catholic high schools in the City of Chicago. Thirteen of those 20 Catholic high schools have a student population that is over 50 percent minority. Half of the students attending Chicago Catholic high schools are minorities.

These diverse families who choose to send their children to a Catholic school make a significant financial investment while still paying city taxes that fund public schools. Based on per-pupil cost, families who enroll their children in a Catholic high school in Chicago are saving the city approximately $157.5 million annually. It is unfair that these tax-paying residents will now face an additional hurdle when applying for city employment.

Representing the Office of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Chicago, I ask that this policy be reconsidered to ensure that the graduates of Catholic high schools are provided the same access to employment opportunities as any CPS graduate. The city needs well-qualified, intelligent, hardworking and honest employees. Our students possess all of these qualities and demand equal consideration when applying for city employment. Don’t all young men and women who graduate from any school in our City deserve the opportunity to serve with integrity?

— Sister M. Paul McCaughey, superintendent of schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago.