Monday, March 21, 2011

Alderman blasts lack of early warning on school consolidations

Today appears to be education day at The Sixth Ward. So Ald. Lyle is the subject of this Sun-Times article:
A South Side alderman on Monday lashed out at the Chicago Public Schools for forging ahead with discussions to consolidate at least 10 schools without the early warning promised to parents, community leaders and elected officials.

Last summer, Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) was so upset about the top-down process that had targeted two schools in her South Side ward, she co-sponsored a City Council resolution demanding a moratorium on closings.

She backed off, only after then-Schools CEO Ron Huberman promised to implement a five-step process designed to allow more time for community and school input.

On Monday, Lyle lashed out at interim CEO Terry Mazany for blindsiding neighborhoods with school consolidations.

“If a letter had gone out that a particular school was in danger because of low enrollment, parents might have made different decisions at the start of the school year to avoid the disruption. But, these decisions were made without any notice, discussion, assembly or letters,” Lyle said.

“The community is gonna have no input. That is totally contrary to everything we talked about. Promises made to us were totally ignored. The admission that last year’s closings were poorly rolled out has been forgotten.”

She added, “I just don’t know why they’re moving on such a large scale when we don’t know what the new [CPS] administration’s vision is because we don’t’ have a new administration. ... They need to tread very cautiously ... when they want to come into communities and disrupt them. Neighborhood schools do more than educate kids.”

Here's more:
The five-step process was designed to start with letters to parents and easier-to-read “school scorecards” that “build awareness of school performance” and continue with focus groups and town hall meetings to “weigh improvement options.”

In the past, the dreaded list was handed down from on high in January and ratified by the Board of Education in February.

In early March, Mazany said as many as 30 CPS schools were seriously under-used and he favored using the summer and fall to identify them so their buildings could ultimately be given to high-performing charter schools.

However, also earlier this month, Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel told high school students that CPS needs to move to quickly to close under-utilized schools. He noted that some schools built for 500 were operating with only 100 students.
So what schools in our community will be affected by this policy?

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