Teachers, parents rally against CPS turnaround schools

January 16, 2012 3:31:35 PM PST
With the help of community groups and parents, the Chicago Teachers Union continued its fight against the Chicago Public Schools plan for turnaround schools.

The union opposes the idea of using public money to allow non-profit organizations to manage neighborhood schools. CPS officials say with a only 57-percent of students graduating from high school, something must be done.

From the South Side to the West Side, Martin Luther King's memory was kept alive Monday in the form of a protest.

"Education justice -- it's the civil rights issue of our time," Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union president, said.

The Chicago Teachers Union was joined by parents and community groups to march against a Chicago Public Schools proposal to close and turnaround schools. Ten schools, including Marquette and Herzl, are slated for turnarounds, which means the entire staff is fired and replaced and millions of dollars worth of new programs are pumped into the schools in an effort to raise test scores.

Our school has gone without these resources for several years. Right now we have made a 7% gain without resources," Michelle Carver, who teaches third grade at Marquette Elementary, said. She and other teachers say if CPS would give all those resources to the current staff, scores will continue to improve.

"I believe in Marquette. I would never stay at a school if I truly didn't believe in the children, faculty and the changes that we can make and we're still trying. We have not given u," Carver said.

"We are not just here for the paycheck and get summers off we are here because we love the children," Courtney Rogers, Bickerstaff teacher, said.

CPS is proposing a record number of turnaround schools for the fall. In a written statement, CPS spokesperson Becky Carroll said, "for too long our students have been cheated out of the high quality education they deserve and we can no longer accept a status quo that has failed them year after year."

But these teachers and parents refuse to give up their fight.

"I'm a parent. I'm not an educator. My main goal is to make sure that the stability of my children and other children are not shaken," Kim Hemphill, parent, said.

The school board has yet to vote on the entire turnaround, closings and phase out proposal. More public hearings are scheduled this month. Meantime, a state lawmaker plans to introduce a bill calling for a ban on the closings and turnarounds until more time is given to study the situation.