South Loop School decision a black eye for CPS
11/09/2011 10:00 PM
Last Friday, Chicago Public Schools had a high and a low point.
When they announced around noon that they had cut a deal with the Chicago Teachers Union ending their months-long battle over a longer school day, it was a triumph. Finally, the two organizations put aside their bickering to begin working for the city’s children.
Sure, everything’s not ironed out smoothly yet and there may be a court appearance or two left before this whole thing is wrapped up, but it looks like the beginning of an era of cooperation. That’s worth commending.
But another announcement came out around 6 p.m. Friday night, one that shows just how little CPS respects the community: the complete closure of South Loop Elementary School’s gifted program.
The decision to cut the program was done in the dark, and seemingly without any meaningful input from the community. Sure, they’ve had several meetings at which they’ve allowed parents and community stakeholders to talk at the folks in charge, but CPS officials seem not to care about what they learned there.
This decision was thrown out at 6 p.m. on a Friday night. As any journalist or public relations professional worth his salt could tell you, that’s when information gets tossed out that is intended to be buried.
Frankly, this might have been the best option on the table for South Loop Elementary. We’re not sure what other options there were in the immediate term, other than sending kids to the nearby National Teachers Academy (which has a whole lot of empty space, we hear). That seems to have been a nonstarter with CPS for one reason or another, so it’s hard to see what else might have been on the table to open up space for the burgeoning local student population.
Kids going to the school are already likely to be from well-off families, so we’re sure that local parent involvement will stay strong regardless of the programming. That’s one of the biggest keys to a vibrant school.
But even if this was the best option, this is no way to execute it. There needs to be more input from the stakeholders here, and an opportunity to collaboratively decide what the best option is.
Though it might be the right decision, this is the wrong way to come to it. Try again, CPS.