Organizers prepare to save under-resourced neighborhood schools
CHICAGO – Labor leaders, educators and activists will conduct a free, teach-in on Chicago Public School (CPS) closings and work to train parents and community groups on how to save endangered neighborhood schools from closure or privatization. A Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Teach-In, to be held at King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel, on Saturday, December 3rd at 10 a.m., will also present a history of CPS school closings, consolidations and turnarounds and illustrate its impact on impoverished communities.
The workshop is co-sponsored by Teachers For Social Justice, Action Now, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Grassroots Collaborative and Albany Park Neighborhood Council, members of CTU’s Community Board.
The teach-in will provide training in various areas including non-violent direct action; developing community models for school improvement; creating action plans to protect neighborhood schools; utilizing Board of Education action research and power analysis; and, strengthening and creating community-based school governance in under-resourced schools. Hundreds of people are expected to attend.
CPS must announce its list of “school actions” by December 1st, having earlier said that 42 percent of its schools are on academic probation. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen GJ Lewis said that fact sets the stage for an unprecedented number of school actions. CTU has criticized the Board’s School Action Guidelines for school closings and consolidations finding that the new policy does not help improve student achievement and will not help the District reach its goal of providing “quality” schools in every community. Lewis said it will only widen the achievement gap among poor students of color.
Despite more 20 years of autonomous mayoral control, little has been done to improve the structural inequality in Chicago schools, which disproportionately harm children of color and the poor. CTU and its Community Board proposes a better, District-wide reform model that makes all schools function more, not less, like the best schools in our nation and world.
Since 2004 and with no basis in research, CPS has closed nearly 100 schools, most of them in African American and Latino communities. The destruction of so many neighborhood schools was a result of Renaissance 2010, a plan that sought to close public schools with elected local school councils and unionized staff and replace them with 100 new schools, two-thirds of which are non-union and without independent, community governance.