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Hearings on school closings

For coverage of community and downtown hearings on Renaissance 2010 school closings, there’s really only Substance — since, as Substance reports, the Trib and Sun Times haven’t reported on hearings where 2,500 people have come out.

The paper posts daily on the web and is now posting video from the hearings on youtube.  Check out Debra Thompson, LSC chair at Paderewski, 2221 S. Lawndale:

One new trend: unlike last year, members of City Council are coming out to oppose closings.  Freddrenna Lyle of the 6th Ward has spoken out against “turnarounds” at Gillespie (9301 S. State) and Deneen (7420 S. Wabash), Pat Dowell of the 3rd against the “consolidation” of Mollison (4415 S. King), and Scott Waguespack of the 32nd  against closing Prescott (1632 W. Wrightwood).

Perhaps most notably, 17th Ward Ald. Latasha Thomas, who chairs the council’s education committee, has opposed the closing of Guggenheim (7141 S. Morgan), not only challenging the convoluted (and sometimes absurd) “performance” ratings used to justify the closings, but questioning the entire school closing strategy:  “When you close a school you penalize the students.  When you close a school you penalize the very people you are working for.”

There have been repeated challenges to the bizarre “performance policy” data (which turns out to be inaccurate in many cases) and repeated charges that schools have been denied resources.

And there is repeated evidence that CPS is flying blind when it comes to facilities planning.  Mollison lost its reading specialist based on a projected decline in enrollment that never actually occurred (the position was not restored); Prescott is being closed for underenrollment even though it’s attracting young families that are now moving into its attendance area; Paderewski lost enrollment after CPS reduced the school’s attendance boundaries.

In several cases, students will face long treks – and pass several nearby schools – in order to keep Ron Huberman’s promise to send them to schools with higher scores.  Latasha Thomas says:  “Seven or eight blocks means some students will drop out.”

Here’s what Debra Thompson says in the video above:  “You expect my kids to walk through drug-infested neighborhoods — for 12 blocks – to get to school?  That’s unreal.”   She asks: “What right do you have…to make decisions for our children and our community?”

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Category: Bronzeville, CPS, Englewood, Lawndale, school closings, school facilities, West Town

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