Teachers March to Save "Turnaround" School - NBC Chicago

Teachers March to Save "Turnaround" School

Community members don't want their school closed, CPS says kids need higher performing schools



    Marquette Elementary School parents and teachers used Martin Luther King Jr. Day to march and send a message. (Published Monday, Jan. 16, 2012)

    Marquette Elementary School parents and teachers used Martin Luther King Jr. Day to march and send a message.

    The group on Monday walked the same path as the civil rights leader did when he was in Chicago years ago. The new fight: education and justice.

    "They give these schools in these neighborhoods no resources and then they blame them when they can't educate the children," said Michelle Wilkins, a concerned resident.

    The group chanted and raised signs of support for their community and their school, one of 10 schools slated to be "turned around" by the city.

    As part of the program, underperforming schools could be closed and staff fired in an effort to ultimately improve Chicago Public Schools. But some say the turnaround program is Mayor Rahm Emanuel's way of privatizing schools.

    "It was micromanaged to the point where teachers could not take care of their classrooms," said Raymond Lopez, 15th Ward Democratic Committee candidate, of Marquette Elementary.

    Mary Hardaluopus, a fourth grade teacher at the school for 20 years, said conditions for teachers have gone from bad to worse.

    "My kids have not had music for two years, art for two years, because they fired those music-art teachers," Hardaluopus said. "We have 20 minutes of lunch."

    In response, Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the school system needs to immediately take action to give kids access to higher performing schools.

    "For too long, our students have been cheated out of the high quality education they deserve and we can no longer accept a status quo that has failed them year after year," Carroll said in an emailed response.

    She pointed to a 57 percent high school graduation rate and 7.9 percent of 11th graders testing college ready as the reason why CPS proposed a record number of turnaround schools.

    "The needs of our students must come before all else and we must do everything in our power to prepare them for college and career," she said.