Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

School Protest Heads to Mayor's Block

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Days after waging a sit-in Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School on the city's west side, a group of community activists, teachers and parents opposed to the closure and shake up of more than a dozen Chicago schools marched toward Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home. (Published Monday, Feb 20, 2012)

    Days after waging a sit-in Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School on the city's west side, a group of community activists, teachers and parents opposed to the closure and shake up of more than a dozen Chicago schools marched toward the mayor's north side home.

    "I have peers from [Walter H. Dyett High School], from [Dunbar Vocational Career Academy], from so many schools on the south side of Chicago that they say are failing, but when I look to my left and to my right with my colleagues and my co-workers, I see success stories. I know what we're capable of. Don't close us down," one protester said at a rally at Lakeview High School.

    The worries are similar to past debates on school turnarounds and closings: the feeling of a loss of local control and an identity when politically-connected companies take control of the schools in an attempt to make them better.

    Still, the facts paint a different picture. The Academy for Urban School Leadership, the turnaround company embraced by Emanuel and schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard, posted bigger test score gains than CPS-run schools.

    In a statement Chicago Public School said it was "breaking away from status quo that has failed our students year after year. What has been tried in the past has not worked and going back to the same failed policies is not in the best interest of our students."

    Monday's protest began 4 p.m. at Lakeview High School, at 4015 North Ashland Ave., before heading the three blocks to the mayor's house. The protesters weren't able to stand directly in front of the mayor's home but were able to get about a half-block away.

    They marched with their mouths covered with stickers to show that they have been "silenced" and "excluded," they said, from the process.

    The board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on a proposal to close five schools, phase out two others and "turnaround" 10 others, including Piccolo, by firing all the administrators and principals.