CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents, students and community volunteers who oppose conversion of Logan Square’s Ames Middle School into a military academy canvassed the neighborhood surrounding the school Saturday.
They took to the streets armed with fliers and with voter registration forms, saying that 26th Ward Ald. Robert Maldonado and Mayor Rahm Emanuel are ignoring the wishes and needs of the community in transforming Ames from a community school into a military-oriented middle school.
Supporters of Ames in its current configuration said the school offers a variety of services to the surrounding community that would be jeopardized by the changes, although many are done in conjunction with the Logan Square Neighborhood Association. Some parents say they fear that Ames will lack the bilingual education programs currently offered at Ames as well as facilities for special education students.
Ames is a community school that accepts all students who wish to attend. The military academy would be a selective enrollment school, although Mayor Emanuel said Tuesday that all seventh-grade students currently enrolled at Ames would be allowed to graduate.
Nonetheless, said parent Emma Segura, she and others are confused because of the conflicting press releases and statements made in recent days.
“We want to know where do we stand?” she asked.
Supporters of the status quo distributed fliers saying that Ames outperforms the Marine Military Academy academically and that Marine graduates only 56 percent of its students. The local school council at Ames will meet twice Tuesday.
The Chicago Teachers Union is on record opposing any transformation, calling it “yet another betrayal of children by Mayor Emanuel and his appointed school board.”
The union said Ames has improved its academic standing in recent years. A school board spokesperson has said that Ames’ staff will be retained, as will its principal, Turon Ivy.
WBBM is attempting to obtain reaction from Ald. Maldonado.