CPS To Move Forward With School Closures and Turnarounds

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 23, 2012 4:20PM

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Chicagoist/Aaroncynic

The Chicago Board of Education approved “turnarounds” for ten schools and the closure of another seven last night, despite opposition from parents, students, teachers and community activists across the city and a study calling into question the results. Dozens of people packed the conference room where the meeting was held and more than 100 filled an overflow area to plead with board members to find alternatives to the turnarounds and closures, but ultimately, the board moved forward with its plan.

In a press release, Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard lauded the action, saying “We can no longer defend a status quo where nearly half of students drop out of high school and the achievement gap among African American and Latino students has climbed to high double digits. It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to help students get on a path to academic success and with the Board’s support today we will do exactly that.”

While CPS officials might trumpet their decision, members of the community are not pleased. Earlier this week, hundreds in opposition marched on Mayor Emanuel's house, and some staged a sit in at Piccolo Elementary, one of the schools slated for turnaround. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and Rev. Jessee Jackson have separately called the plan “education apartheid.” “You have 160 schools (on the South Side) without a library. You have (selective enrollment high schools) Payton and Whitney Young and you have Marshall. It is apartheid,” Jackson told the Tribune.

NBC 5 reports Ald. Walter Burnett Jr. (27th) said the outpouring of opposition over the plan indicates the Board of Education and CPS should place a moratorium on any decision. Burnett told reporters “They didn't say that they didn't want the school to change. They accepted the change because they knew that the school needed to do better because they wanted better for their children. We want the school to change, but we want you to work with us on the change.”