“When our school is under attack, what do we do? Stand up and fight back.”

Less than 24 hours after Chicago Public Schools officials announced that more than 50 schools, including four in Austin, will close, parents, teachers and community activists gathered at Horatio May Elementary Community Academy to protest.

“Closing schools creates more blight,” said Valerie Leonard, an expert on community and organizational development.

The group of around 30 members chanted in front of the school — which is slated for closure — “parents united will never be defeated.”

A few students from a classroom window shouted back, “save our school.”

The entire staff of May Academy will be out of a job in June, but the building will remain open and become a welcoming school to neighboring George Leland Elementary and Louis Armstrong Elementary.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced the 54-school closing list, which is believed to be the single largest number closed in U.S. history. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was on a ski trip in Utah when the announcement. Was made.

“We would like to thank our vacationing mayor for bringing us all together and uniting the city of Chicago with these attacks on poor black and brown children,” said Dwayne Truss, Raise Your Hand board member and an Austin resident.

Truss blamed the school closings on laws pushed by Wall Street, who he said is funding and directing education.

Students from May will be allowed to return to the school, which will be called Leland and led by staff from the neighboring school.

All of the teachers currently at May, however, will be laid off and have to reapply for open positions.

Asif Wilson, a seventh-and eighth-grade science teacher at May, said last Thursday was the only day he walked into the school without a smile.

“Fox News reported the night before, with a picture of my school, that I would be losing my job,” Wilson said.

Wilson recalled walking out of the school Thursday with a smile because his students cheered him up.

“My students demonstrated to me verbally, in written form, mathematically and scientifically, that they are the future of tomorrow and that I shouldn’t be upset because I am a great teacher,” he said.

Wilson’s biggest concern with the school closing is whether he can return to teach his students, whom he considers to be like his own children.

Teachers and community activists plan on holding yet another rally at May, informing the community of what they consider the injustice of the school closing. The Chicago Teachers Union a will host a rally 4 p.m. March 27 at the Daley Plaza.

To learn more

Information about upcoming community meetings and public hearings concerning the Austin schools. All community hearings will take place on the Austin High School campus, 231 N. Pine Ave., while all public hearings are scheduled for CPS Headquarters downtown, 125 S. Clark St.


Community meetings:

  • April 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • April 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Public hearing:

  • April 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.


Community meetings:

  • April 10 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
  • April 13 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Public hearing:

  • April 17 from 8 to 10 p.m.


Community hearings:

  • April 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • April 15 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Public hearing:

  • April 17 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


Public hearing only:

  • May 2 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.


Community meetings:

  • April 6 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • April 11 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Public hearing:

  • April 25 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.