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School hearing – with questions!

A hearing on a proposed school “turnaround” Thursday evening will have something the others don’t have: parents, teachers and community members will be able to question CPS and AUSL officials.

That’s because Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) is sponsoring the meeting, which is on the proposed “turnaround” at Wendell Phillips High School by the Academy for Urban School Leadership. (It takes place at 7 p.m., Thursday, February 18, at Apostolic Faith Church, 3823 S. Indiana).

According to Dowell’s announcement, the meeting is intended to allow “community organizations, parents, teachers, and residents to learn more about CPS and AUSL’s plans for Phillips High School, ask questions, and raise concerns.”

At official CPS hearings, like the February 1 hearing on Phillips, CPS officials give long presentations and then members of the school community are allowed to comment.  But as George Schmidt writes at Substance, “CPS procedure refused to allow teachers, students, parents or community leaders to ask any questions.”

“The [February 1] hearing adjourned abruptly after two hours, even though there were others who wished to speak and dozens who had questions that had not been answered.”

CPS chief Ron Huberman’s new “performance policy” rating system “has not been subjected to public review” since the school board approved it “without discussion or debate” last December, Schmidt writes.

Likewise, he writes, AUSL’s claims of success “have never been subjected to independent verification.”

PURE recently noted that AUSL “turnarounds” seem to involve largescale “push-outs”:  at five elementary schools taken over by AUSL, enrollment dropped by an average of nearly 100 in the first year.  At Harper High, enrollment dropped by 30 percent the year AUSL took over, Linda Lutton reported on WBEZ last year.

According to Catalyst:  “There is yet no evidence that (turnarounds) can fix high schools at all.”

“There is a growing interest in the council to more fully examine the CPS consolidation, turnaround and phase-out policies,” Dowell told WBEZ. “They’re not transparent; they lack community involvement and public accountability.”

Dowell has joined Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward) in introducing a resolution calling for a moratorium on school closings.

School advocates are calling on Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th), who chairs the council’s education committee, to call a hearing on their resolution prior to the February 24 board meeting where this round of school closings will be voted on.

As noted here previously, Thomas has spoken out against the closing of Guggenheim Elementary in her ward.

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Category: Bronzeville, CPS, school closings

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