Parents protests plans to reform CPS schools

December 1, 2011 3:15:26 PM PST
Some Chicago public school parents are protesting over the school district's decision to close, consolidate or revamp some of the city's schools.

Twenty low-performing schools will be impacted by the changes next year.

Parents and even some students took part in rallies against the reforms that the CPS says are necessary.

In the past, school reforms have resulted in many vocal protests, so it is no surprise this week's announcements of school actions are making many people angry.

Parents of students at a proposed turnaround school say give the school a chance before making changes. Other parents say, before closing a school, put more resources in it so kids can stay in their neighborhood.

Now that Chicago Public Schools has released its lists of closures, consolidations, turnarounds and phase outs, parents are fighting back.

Pablo Casals Elementary on the West Side is on the hit list to be turned around, meaning the kids and building stay the same, but next year the entire staff will be replaced.

"We do not need a turnaround school here," said parent Rev. Stephen Keys. "We have now a brand new principal, new vision. Give her a chance."

Taking their frustrations and a letter to the mayor are parents and community leaders from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, a community group known as KOCO that has close ties to Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

The CTU is strongly against all proposed Chicago Public Schools reforms.

"Rahm Emanuel, we want our schools in our neighborhood," said Price Elementary parent Marie Hudson.

Several parents protesting are from Price, one of two schools slated to be closed next year.

On academic probation for the past four years, CPS says Price students performed 19 percentage points lower on the ISATs than the average composite of all other elementary schools in the area. Price kids will be bused four miles away to the National Teachers Academy, a higher performing school.

"As a taxpayer and parent, I expect to quality and high performing public schools in my neighborhood, not 20 blocks away," said Price parent Rev. Krista Alston.

But not all CPS parents and community groups object to the reforms. Sonia del Real of the South Chicago Community Network says give the new administration a chance.

"With a broken education system, with all these students in underperforming schools, something needs to happen. Some action is better than no action," said Del Real.

CPS is proposing to take action on 20 schools: 10 turnarounds, two closures, three consolidations and the rest phase-outs.

There is plenty of time for parents to make their voices heard. The school board does not take action on the reforms until February.


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