More protests Friday from angry parents and students over the list of Chicago Public Schools destined for closing at the end of this academic year. At the same time, some schools that will stay open are being told to prepare to accept students from those that will be shuttered.
Late Friday afternoon at Marcus Garvey Elementary on Chicago’s Far South Side, parents and students gathered, rallying the neighborhood to fight to keep the school open and their kids safe.
Student safety, job security and strong community are key issues many parents and teachers say will crumble under CPS’s plan to close 61 schools.
A painful but critical move, the school board says, is needed to reverse a financial deficit nearing $1 billion.
“Change is different but it’s not bad,” said Oscar DePriest Elmentary’s Principal Minnie Watson. Her West Side will now absorb up to 300 students from neighboring Duke Ellington Elementary.
DePriest is a 10-year-old underutilized level 2 school, which will need few additions with a larger student body.
Principal Watson says parents need to give the schools accepting students a fair chance.
“A lot of times parents don’t even go into a building. They walk by it or send their kids in. You need to go in and see what’s going on,” she said.
“A lot of it is truly perception. There are not a lot of bad schools in chicago once you go into the building. It’s the fabric of most communities, said Barbara Radner, the Director for Urban Education at DePaul University. She says the closures will be a major upset to communities, but hopefully only short term.
“CPS had to do something. What they had to do, they had to make a choice and they made a choice which is probably in the long run going to benefit the children because they will have a school with sufficient staff to give them what they’re supposed to have,” she said.
The plan, and those who support it, however, are not being well received.
On Friday, protesters expressed their anger toward Mayor Rahm Emanuel dangling banners over the Kennedy Expressway and waving posters prominently at City Hall.
The mayor late this afternoon responding to the outcrys by saying: “By consolidating these schools, CPS can focus on safely getting every child into a better performing school. Like school systems in New York and Philadelphia where schools are being closed, Chicago must make tough choices.”