Protest continues after CPS board vote

February 25, 2009 9:05:36 PM PST
The Chicago School Board voted unanimously to close down, phase out or turn around 16 failed schools on Wednesday afternoon. Many parents, teachers and students addressed the board, pleading for their schools to remain open.

Click here to see the list of CPS schools slated for closure, consolidation or re-organization.

After Wednesday's vote, hundreds of frustrated parents, students and teachers marched from the CPS headquarters to the Thompson Center. They want state legislators to approve a one year moratorium on school closings - essentially stopping the CPS process.

"We're going to fight this to the end, because these are my children," said Jessica Contreras, Carpenter parent who supports the moratorium.

"I believe it would be fundamentally wrong to stop the process where it is today...put a moratorium on this process and make kids in the low performing schools continue to go to the those schools for years. Every year, they go to those schools, they are losing a year of academic attainment," said Ron Huberman, Chicago Public Schools CEO.

The re-organization of the schools is part of the controversial Renaissance 2010 plan to consolidate schools with low attendance and failing grades.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Chicago school board voted unanimously to close down, consolidate, phase out or turn around 16 failed schools.

The decision came after dozens of people protested on Wednesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning. They pitched tents on Clark Street in the Loop. The Grassroots Education Movement, made up of parents, faculty and community groups staged an all-night protest outside of Chicago Public Schools headquarters.

"You are throwing them out like they're yesterday's trash. You can't do that. Please have a conscience," one parent told the board.

Sixteen schools are on the list to be closed, consolidated, phased out or turned around. Low test scores or enrollment is why officials say Abbot Elementary is on the list. The South Side school's parents made one last pitch to keep their school open.

"The bottom line, it's not all about numbers. It's about children," said Carol Hardin, Abbott School principal.

"Give them more time. Don't close the school," said Lucille Floyd, parent.

Many are calling for a moratorium on school closings. Marilyn Stewart, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, says the process to decide which schools make the list is not a fair or transparent one.

"That's why they should have a moratorium - to have an outside organization assess what they're doing," said Stewart.

Stewart says her statistics show students that move from school to school lose four to six months in the closure process. But incoming CPS CEO Ron Huberman says, while he is open to improving the process, he is against the moratorium.

"It is unfair to make those kids in the low-performing schools wait while we debate the research," said Huberman.