CPS to Vote on School Closures, Turnarounds

UPDATE: The plan was unanimously approved

The protest over proposed Chicago Public School policy comes to a head Wednesday when the school board votes on the closure or turnaround of several underperforming schools.

The CPS plan backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel doesn't sit well with some parents, students and community members who gathered early Wednesday outside CPS headquarters ahead of the 10:30 a.m. meeting. 

Ten schools are slated for turnaround and seven for elimination. The schools are among the lowest performing in the district for the past 10 years, but protesters said the closures would tear apart their communities.

One school, Crane Tech High School, received the OK to transform into a health science academy, but neighborhood groups and the Chicago Teachers Union are fighting the other reforms. They filed a lawsuit, held a candlelight vigil and even a sit-in at a school.

Protesters plan to speak out during the 10:30 a.m. meeting. They argue the city should put more resources into fixing the schools instead of shutting them down or eliminating and replacing the schools' staff.

Earlier this week hundreds of community activists, teachers and parents marched toward Emanuel's Ravenswood home to protest the elimination or turnaround of the schools.

They carried signs during the march and wore symbolic stickers over their mouths to demonstrate how they felt shut out of the decision-making process.

On Tuesday they presented 15,000 signatures against the reforms.

Chicago Public Schools has said the turnarounds and closures are meant to break away from methods that have failed students in the past.

“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," the district said in a statement this week. "For the first time in many years, we are putting the academic needs of our students first."

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