Principal of Turnaround School Criticizes CPS

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    NEWSLETTERS

    School leaders speak out against the turnaround plan for Gresham Elementary. Mary Ann Ahern reports. (Published Tuesday, Apr 8, 2014)

    The principal of a Southwest Side elementary school targeted by CPS leadership for turnaround, took the bold step of criticizing district officials Monday.

    Gresham Elementary is one of three schools that could be closed and reopened with help from a non-profit management company called the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

    Dr. Deidrus Brown has been principal at the school for 10 years, and she doesn't believe her school's performance is about her students or test scores -- she says it's about CPS wanting to utilize her school building, which recently underwent major renovations.

    "It's not about academic achievement, not about probation ... it's about money," Brown said at a protest and news conference at the school Monday.

    Gresham nearly closed last year, but instead opened as a welcoming school.

    "The gave us air conditioning, they gave us a ramp, they gave us a new library -- no librarian, but they gave us a new library," teacher Ollie Clements said.

    CPS released a statement from Barbara Byrd-Bennett that says AUSL has a record of improving schools from the ground up, and that "when change is in the best interest of our students, we will not waver."

    Chicago Teacher's Union president Karen Lewis disagrees.

    "This is about adult interests and the people who benefit politically," Lewis said.

    The school board will vote on the fate of Gresham and two other schools at its next board meeting.