CPS Makes New Push To Close, Consolidate Failing Schools

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago Public Schools could be in for another round of closures and consolidations.

A plan presented at Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting would close the schools that are considered to be chronically under-performing.

“Over the next couple of months, we’re gonna work to identify our lowest performing schools and create a transition plan for students,” Oliver Sicat, a top executive for CPS, said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

“Chronically” is not defined in the report, but it says 124,000 students are in schools that are under-performing.

It says there are 283 schools on probation – 72 of them for more than five years. Sixteen schools have been on probation for 15 years.

One board member was skeptical, saying it would scare parents.

Board member Rod Sierra told Sicat that the plan that he presented on behalf of CPS Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard was “stepping on the third rail of politics and community relations when you talk about closing schools or transferring students.”

Reaction from Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis was swift and harsh.

She cut in line during the public comment portion of the meeting, to suggest the school system’s leaders have learned nothing.

She said the past ten years of school reform, including adding charter schools and closing and consolidating other schools, “have proven no improvement across the board. So why would you continue with a failed strategy?”

She said simply lowering class sizes would go a long way toward providing a better education in the Chicago Public Schools.

  • tom Sharp

    “Poor Performing schools” are, more often than not, determined by subjective, unfair measures (anyone remember the headlines of two days ago about schools cheating on tests???). Inner city schools are not on a level playing field with magnet schools, and other selective enrollment schools. Closing and consolidating these schools will only concentrate the low-achieving students, who get little or no support from parents and family or the CPS hierarchy, into fewer schools. It won’t make things better (note the other recent stories about no real gains in reading for decades). It’s all just politics as usual.

  • Jennie

    Tom, Tom, Tom, you don’t understand. Schools are a reflection of the neighborhoods. You may have pockets of success here and there but by and large they reflect the neighborhood. Inner city schools, have students that come from failing elementary school therefore what do you expect for them to know? Inner city schools have a host of discipline problems and some of the children have mental problems. (ADHD, biopolar, depression etc.) This is not to say these children cannot be taught but they are in regular classrooms and sometimes the situations can become explosive thereby affecting the other students. Coupled with this, you have very poor principals, LSC that keep voting
    for HORRIBLE PRINCIPALS. (In the poor areas they are usually a paid off by the principal.) You have a curriculum that leaves a lot to be desired and books that are old, not to mention a lack of resources and enrichment. So what to you expect?

    • tom Sharp

      Read what I said. What you said won’t change with “new, consolidated schools.” What do they expect is the question! They have been closing schools building new ones (at the cost of $1 billion–via Ren 2010″–, firing principals and teachers for 20 years with absolutely no improvement in the scores, attendance, dropout rate, etc.. Why? Because the same gang banger kids with their gang banger parents are in the inner city schools. If a student doesn’t want to learn and his/her parents don’t value education, the age and beauty of the building doesn’t matter! In addition, a principal has little influence on test scores and learning. If you doubt this–try moving all the ghetto kids to New Trier and vice versa. Do really think the New Trier kids in the ghetto will stop learning and the ghetto kids at New trier read at grade level!? This is a waste of time and money!

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