Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Did Englewood leaders propose closing their own schools?

President of R.A.G.E. Asiaha Butler explains her role in coming up with an education plan for CPS and she further explains that she never proposed closing down any schools in Englewood. Her op/ed was published in Chicago magazine last week.
Published in September 2011, the Educational Strategic Plan laid out 12 detailed goals that would lead to the necessary transformation of education in our community. It included important data about the enrollment and academic achievement of all the schools located in Englewood. It touched on the need for appropriate parental/caregiver support, early childhood programs, improved, culturally relevant curriculum, high-quality administrators and staff, social-emotional learning, post-secondary career development, and more.

Nowhere did we suggest closing schools.

In fact, the strategies we listed were aimed at making schools more appealing for students and parents alike. But after filing the report in 2012, CPS suddenly lost interest in our work. Not only did the district turn its back on the Englewood CAC, it was difficult to keep parents and community stakeholders engaged. This was around the time I posted to Everyblock about the dire need for community involvement. Then, we were up against potentially 10 elementary schools closing, and although I walked away from the CAC at that time, I made sure my voice was heard on why these schools should remain open. After exhaustive research and effort to convince CPS that not all schools slated for closure were lost causes, the city decided to close six of the original 10—still the highest number for any neighborhood in Chicago.

Our strategic plan was shelved, enrollments declined, more charters opened, and many of the educational institutions that we knew are now boarded-up, vandalized buildings that remain as a reminder of the injustice we face in communities like Englewood.

I was extremely disappointed when I found out the Educational Strategic Plan created under my leadership five years ago had been dusted off and used as a bible for the school closures and new high school proposal in Englewood, which was officially announced last summer. (The final public hearing will be January 30, and the school board can vote on the plan as soon as next month.) CPS says the closures are necessary because the high schools are under enrolled and performing poorly.

I can’t help but think that these issues could have been solved, or at least improved, if the district had taken up some of the CAC’s proposed solutions five years ago. Since then, enrollment has dropped by 80 percent at each of our neighborhood schools. Three CPS CEOs have come and gone—Brizard, Byrd-Bennett, and Claypool—yet, the district did not engage with the people who they originally asked to help create solutions. It’s a slap in the face for them to come in now and conveniently use our old strategic plan as a way to justify their decision to close four schools.
Sounds like someone at CPS already had set their agenda regardless of whatever the group headed by Butler would come up with. When you think about it, that's a shame. It's definitely a slap in the face for the idea of participatory decision making when you don't listen to the people who are telling you what they need.

I recommend that you read the whole thing.

No comments:

Post a Comment

PLEASE READ FIRST!!!! Comment Moderating and Anonymous Comment Policy

While anonymous comments are not prohibited we do encourage you to help readers identify you so that other commenters may respond to you. Either read the moderating policy for how or leave an identifier (which could be a nickname for example) at the end of the comment.

Also note that this blog is NOT associated with any public or political officials including Alderman Roderick T. Sawyer!