Friday, January 23, 2009

Duncan's Last Move: Close 25 Schools

25 schools set for shakeup
6 CLOSING | Parent-teacher forum rips CPS chief Duncan's last move
January 11, 2009


In his last major act before heading to Washington as President-elect Barack Obama's pick for education secretary, outgoing Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan wants to close or consolidate 25 "underperforming" or under-enrolled schools, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The proposal -- which Duncan plans to unveil Wednesday -- would be the largest wave of school closings in Chicago in one year since Mayor Daley gave the schools chief the authority through the "Renaissance 2010" initiative to replace 70 underperforming schools with 100 new schools by 2010.

As expected, Duncan's plan has ignited community protest.
"This reform is not about education. It's about regentrification," angry parent Virgil Crawford said Saturday at a Malcolm X College forum on Duncan's strategy called by the Chicago Teachers Union.

Six schools would be closed under Duncan's plan, details of which were obtained from information provided to parents groups and the CTU.

Five more schools would be consolidated, or merged into other schools. Five would be phased out. And nine would become "turnaround" schools, where students remain but staff replaced.
Many of the 400 parents, students and teachers attending Saturday's forum ripped Duncan's appointment to a national post.

"He's unqualified for the job," charged moderator Karen G.J. Lewis. "I'd like to know what his vision is. What's he going to do without Daley telling him what to do?"

Poor academic performance or under-enrollment generally are being cited as Duncan's reasons for the changes, but some schools also were given new criteria for being targeted, union reps said.

"We were informed [Friday] as classes were beginning," a union source at Peabody Elementary on the Northwest Side said. "Our principal told us, 'We're on the list.' And there's brand-new criteria. The rules change as they go along."

Central school administration officials would not comment on the targeted schools except to call briefings to those schools "preliminary conversations."

"Our position is pretty clear that president Marilyn Stewart and the officials of the Chicago Teachers Union really oppose any closing of schools," CTU spokeswoman Rosemaria Genoa said Saturday .

On Thursday, word that Duncan would move to close Carpenter Elementary -- where the student body is 97 percent low-income -- and turn its building over to Ogden, a Near North Side elementary approved for a new high school, sparked outrage.

"They [CPS] put money where they want to put money," student teacher Terry Rudd complained.

Since taking the leadership of CPS in 2001, Duncan has aggressively pushed the Renaissance 2010 plan over protests from some parent groups and the teachers union. With 61 schools closed and 75 new ones opened, Duncan will have met the mayor's closings goal if his swan song list is approved. Earlier, he had proposed 20 new schools to the Board of Education, but only 13 were approved in October.

"We must take a stand and make a statement about why Mr. Duncan's model is not the model for America," former CTU president Deborah Lynch said Saturday.

These 25 Chicago schools are targeted for closing, consolidation, "phase out" or "turnaround" in 2009, under plans by schools chief Arne Duncan:
* Las Casas Occupational High School
* South Chicago Elementary
* Peabody Elementary
* Carpenter Elementary
* Nia Foundation Elementary
* Princeton Elementary
* Abbott Elementary (Hendrix)
* Schiller Elementary (Jenner)
* Medill Elementary (Smith-Joyner)
* Global Vision High School (New Millennium)
* Davis Developmental Center (Hughes)
* Key Elementary
* Lathrop Elementary
* Hamilton Elementary
* Best Practice High School
* Reed Elementary
* Dulles Elementary
* Johnson Elementary
* Bethune Elementary
* Ross Elementary
* Holmes Elementary
* Yale Elementary
* Curtis Elementary
* Lavizzo Elementary
* Fenger High School

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