Chicago Public Schools may reevaluate its proposed school turnarounds and closures after more than 100 teachers, students and parents protested outside its offices last Wednesday.
School officials said the public outcry through protests and hearings warranted a second look at the proposal, according to a statement released late last Wednesday.
“It would be absolutely unimaginable to me that CPS would be unaffected by the testimony of the parents, teachers, students and community members,” said Chicago Teachers Union spokeswoman Rosemaria Genova.
The union organized the rally, demanding that Chicago retract its plan to close or overhaul 14 schools. Genova said she credits public rallies and hearings with having a direct effect on the school system reconsidering its proposal. Virginia Parks, a sociologist who specializes in community organizing, agreed with the sentiment, saying, “[Protesting] is an organizing tool in and of itself. It can get people together to express their anger, and that can be very powerful.”
That’s what CPS student Andrew Comier had in mind by attending the rally. The 13-year-old is hopeful that his efforts will persuade the school board to remove his school, Guggenheim Elementary, from the closure list.
“We’re trying to keep Guggenheim open so we don’t have to transfer,” Comier said. “Our school is like a family to us.”
Public schools spokesman Frank Shuftan declined to comment on which schools were being reconsidered. But according to CPS’ statement: “The concerns voiced at these hearings are being carefully weighed and will be considered in our final recommendations to the Chicago Board of Education.”
Genova recalled that last year, efforts from the teachers’ union led to six schools being dropped from the closure list. And with the Chicago Board of Education not voting on the proposal until March 24, the teacher’s union rep insisted that there’s still more work to do.
“We’re not done yet,” she said. “We are still putting together some other gatherings to get the board’s attention before the vote.”