Across the city Saturday, a scant number of concerned parents and community members scattered across 10 meetings, for CPS officials to hear their concerns over proposed school closings.
At Austin High School, just a handful chose to come, even fewer chose to speak.
Catherine Jones, an Austin neighborhood resident said she feels “very bad for the parents, I wish they would speak up. I’m still here, I have no grandchildren, I’m just a community resident and my heart is hurting for all the children.”
At nearby May Academy, Dwayne Truss is asked “why should we go to the CPS community meetings in which the mayor says it doesn’t make any difference.”
Several parents and students gathered in protest against the public meetings saying the plan to consolidate schools is already a done deal. Their objections… would not be taken into account.
“We’re going to be here and continue to discuss the facts and continue to push against this blatant racist proposal. Yes I said racist because you have these white males in an ivory tower making these decisions,” Truss said.
That’s a charge CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett took personally Wednesday saying “that is an affront to me as a woman of color and it is an affront to every parent in our community who demands a better education for their children.”
The plan would close 53 schools across the city. CPS says it would save $43 million a year in operating costs and $560 million in capital costs over the next decade.
Parents at Saturday’s counter-meeting say it’s not Byrd-Bennett behind the cuts– it’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Truss says “Barbara Byrd-Bennett does not run anything. She’s just a figure head who’s carrying this out and obviously, my wife said, she’s very good at closing schools and that’s about the only achievement we can see on her record.”
In a statement today, CPS thanked the nearly 400 people who spoke Saturday and said:
“Too many children in CPS today are trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools and aren’t getting the quality education they deserve”
“The board is not always honest. The mayor is not always honest”
Regardless, parents say the mayor is walking a fine line in this latest move.
Austin resident Cata Truss said “if this happens I don’t care if bozo the clown against Rahm Emanuel– I will be out with every fiber in me campaigning against him.”