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Marchers, led by teachers union, speak out against school closings

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Updated: June 20, 2013 4:39PM



Crystal Cook moved to Washington Heights so her four children could attend Marcus Garvey Elementary School. And she’s willing to move again if the school is closed by the Chicago Public Schools.

But Cook, president of the school’s local school council, is hopeful that won’t happen.

“I think there is a very good chance that Marcus Garvey is going to be off the list because of their [academic] performance,” Cook said Saturday. “And we have put up a good fight.”
Cook joined hundreds of teachers, students and parents on Chicago Teachers Union-led marches and rallies on the West Side and South Side on Saturday, hoping to draw attention and voice objection to officials’ plan to close 54 Chicago schools.

On the South Side, the 7.5-mile march and rally began at Jesse Owens Elementary school, one of two schools in West Pullman slated to close. Another eight-mile march, hitting six West Side schools, started at Lafayette Elementary in Humboldt Park.

Dominique Grant, a teacher at Owens, told the crowd she’s worried her students will be attending Gompers Elementary, a school on academic probation for seven of the last 10 years. According to CPS, Gompers ranks higher using CPS performance measures, though both share the school system’s lowest ranking and are on academic probation.

“Why is Jesse Owens school being wiped out when their track record is great?” Grant said. “Our school has to stay open because our welcoming school does not even have the room.”

Teachers at Owens also argue attendance averages 70 percent of capacity — CPS’ threshold to stay open.

Angelense Jones, a third-grade teacher at Overton Elementary, said she’s concerned her students would be going to Mollison Elementary:

“You’re not taking them to a better school, to a better environment,” Jones said.

Some schools slated for closing could be saved before Wednesday’s final school board vote, sources told the Sun-Times, saying a few of the 13 schools whose closings were opposed by an independent hearing officer could get a reprieve before the Board of Education casts its final vote.



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