In the wake of an announcement that some 50 schools will be shuttered across the city, approximately 70 protesters visited the homes of three Chicago Board of Education board members this morning to push back against the actions.
Accusing them of “bullying” parents, students, teachers and the community, members of Action Now, some of which have children and grandchildren enrolled in CPS, left “suspension” notices on the board members lawns.
David Vitale, president of the Chicago Board of Education, Andrea Zopp, board member and Penny Pritzker, former member of the school board who resigned earlier this month, all received notification to stop making decisions based on “failed policies” until further notice from the community.
As the closures are set to be formally announced shortly, the closing of some 50 schools would be the largest number of educational institutions in the nation to be closed at one time, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
“A good public education is a human right,” said Adeline Bracey, a former paraprofessional with Chicago Public Schools (CPS), at a press conference in front of Zopp’s house in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Morgan Park. Bracey has four grandchildren attending public schools in Englewood.
Bracey called for a moratorium on school closings and said, despite CPS’s efforts to include the community in school closure decisions, the wants and needs of Chicago’s residents are not given enough attention by the school board.
According to CPS, they heard from more than 20,000 people over the course of 34 community meetings the district hosted in preparation for the next wave of school closures.
“If Andrea Zopp was doing right by us, black and brown people, we wouldn’t be here having this conversation,” Bracey said.
Here’s more from Bracey:
The public has only been notified of a few of the 50 schools slated for closure. CPS notified aldermen last night to start preparing, but is waiting until the end of today to make the final announcement.
A list of 129 schools being considered for closure was released earlier this year, with majority of the schools coming from Chicago’s South and West sides. A majority African-American student body exists in 117 of the 129 schools.
“We’re here today at Lady Penny’s house — and mansion — because we are sick and tired of the mayor appointing billionaires to the board of education when they don’t know nothing about our school, our culture, or our children,” said Michelle Young, president of Action Now and member of the local school council at Horatio May Elementary Community Academy in Chicago’s West Side neighborhood of Austin.
“They don’t care about us, they don’t care about education, all they care about is getting richer,” Young said from the front of Pritzker’s house in Oak Park.
Young said Pritzker did so much damage while holding her position on the Chicago School Board that “she should never hold another government position.”
With tears in her eyes, she revealed she had just received news that May was one of the approximately 50 schools slated for closure.
“The board of education, starting right now, is hereby suspended from making any more decisions,” Young said. “Their days are numbered, and I can say that to the Chicago Board of Education, your days are numbered, you will answer to this.”
Here’s more from Young:
Facing a $1 billion deficit, district officials are attributing this wave of school actions to a utilization crisis. They say nearly 140 schools in the district are more than half empty.
But they have not yet announced the cost of school closures, or the price of extra security for students now forced to travel further distances. Receiving schools may also get upgrades, such as air conditioning, science labs and libraries.
“The word ‘underutilized’ is just another sad excuse for the board and the mayor to close schools in black communities, and open up more charter schools. Ching, Ching, that means money,” said Chevelle Alberts, whose nine-year-old son attends Miles Davis Elementary School in West Englewood, from the front of Vitale's house in Kenwood.
Miles Davis Elementary was included on CPS’s preliminary list of 129 schools that may be shuttered. Alberts said her son stands to lose his sense of stability.
“I refuse to stand by while CPS plays games with my sosn education, and every other kid in the community,” she said. “The current school board is not interested in what’s best for my son.”
Here’s more from Alberts: