The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to turn over three city schools to the Academy for Urban School Leadership as part of a “turnaround” model.
Among the schools selected were Dvorak Technology Academy, Ronald E. McNair Elementary School and Walter Q. Gresham Elementary School.
Officials said the schools were “chronically underperforming” and noted the decision came after two community meetings and a public hearing involving the schools’ communities.
"CPS is committed to ensuring that all of our students have access to a high-quality education and strong school leadership that will provide them the foundation necessary for academic success.” CPS CEO Byrd-Bennett said in a statement. “We do not take a decision to bring systemic change to a school lightly, but when change is in the best interest of our students, we will not waver. We will continue to work with these school communities to ensure a smooth transition that will put these students on a path to be 100 percent college-ready and 100 percent college-bound.”
Officials said the AUSL currently operates 29 schools and teacher training academies throughout CPS, and the change will likely bring new staff, including union teachers who were specially trained to “help meet the specific needs of the children at low-performing schools.”
The Chicago Teachers Union, however, claim the schools were set up for failure due to a lack of resources.
“After being starved of resources for many consecutive years, Dvorak, Gresham and McNair, three promising elementary schools, were set up for failure by our school district,” the CTU said in a statement. “While we are proud of the members we have working in ‘turnaround –schools’ operated by the Academy of Urban School Leadership our issue is that this dubious, corporate reform model has proven to do little but take over schools discredited by CPS and then, after receiving millions of dollars in support, take credit for the sudden, but short-lived academic success among students.”
CPS said the three schools will receive facilities upgrades over the summer, including new paint, technology upgrades and new furniture.