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Ministers, Community Leaders Petition For School Turnaround Plan

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School Petition

Ministers and community leaders gather at City Hall with a petition asking that the Chicago Public Schools go ahead with a “turnaround” plan for failing schools. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — Another side is weighing in on the Chicago school system’s plan to fix some failing schools.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, a group of ministers and community leaders brought petitions with 15,000 signatures to City Hall Tuesday.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

But unlike some recent protesters who oppose the school turnaround plan, the ministers and business leaders who came to City Hall said they don’t think it is aggressive enough.

“We have a failed school system, and to do the same thing over and over would be egregious and atrocious, and just downright insane,” said the Rev. Ira Acree.

Melinda Kelly, executive director of the Chatham Business Association, says her members would like to hire Chicago Public Schools graduates.

“But hiring locally is impossible for a small business when Chicago schools are stuck in a state of perpetual failure, and are not producing literate employees for small businesses to use in their business,” she said.

On Monday, a group of parents marched from Lake View High School to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Ravenswood neighborhood home, protesting against the turnaround plan.

They said the Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago School Board are making decisions about school closings and teacher layoffs without consulting the schools or talking to parents.

But the group that came to City Hall Tuesday said the parents who oppose the turnaround plan are pawns of the Chicago Teachers Union.

CPS chief executive officer Jean-Claude Brizard announced in December that he had asked the Board of Education to close Simon Guggenheim Elementary School, at 7141 S. Morgan St. in the Englewood neighborhood, and Florence B. Price Elementary School, at 4351 S. Drexel Blvd. in the North Kenwood neighborhood.

Targeted for phase-outs are Dyett High School, at 555 E. 51st St. in the Washington Park neighborhood, and Richard T. Crane Technical Preparatory High School, at 2245 W. Jackson Blvd., on the Near West Side. Phase-outs mean the schools would not admit any new freshmen and the school would shut down once the last class of existing students graduates.

Ten more underperforming schools are scheduled to undergo a “turnaround,” in which their principals and entire staff would be replaced. Those schools are:

• Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary, 7424 S. Morgan St.;
• Wendell Smith Elementary School, 744 E. 103rd St.;
• Pablo Casals Elementary School, 3501 W. Potomac Ave.;
• Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, 1040 N. Keeler Ave.;
• Theodore Herzl Elementary School, 3711 W. Douglas Blvd.;
• Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School, 4444 S. Evans Ave.;
• Melville W. Fuller Elementary School, 4214 S. St. Lawrence Ave.;
• Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S. Richmond St.;
• Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School, 4747 S. Union Ave.;
• Chicago Vocational Career Academy High School, 2100 E. 87th St.

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