A group of parents whose children attend Chicago Public Schools slated for "turnarounds," closures or other adjustments protested the plan with a sit-in at City Hall Thursday, where they vowed to stay until Mayor Rahm Emanuel granted them a meeting to discuss alternatives.
CPS announced in late November that a record number of struggling elementary and high schools would be revamped, with multiple tracks to improvement that include total closure, mergers with charter schools, and "turnarounds"--the controversial practice of gutting a failing school and bringing in new staff and curricula, often overseen by an outside consulting agency.
But members of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) say alternatives to closure should be considered, and want city and school officials to get input from community members, and consider several alternative plans advocates have drawn up to combat school failure, before making such sweeping overhauls, according to NBC Chicago.
"We are here to once again demand that the mayor hear the voices of those who will be most impacted by proposed school actions by the Chicago public schools," said Shannon Bennett with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization. "And if we don't get what we want with this process, we have a lot of other means." (See full video above)
KOCO hopes the mayor will consider their "Neighborhood Agenda for Schools," a plan designed in collaboration with seven other community groups that would allot more resources to traditional public schools than alternatives, like charter and selective enrollment schools, that CPS has increasingly favored, Progress Illinois reports. The "Bronzeville Achievers Village Plan" also promoted at the demonstration makes similar recommendations.
Previously scheduled public hearings on the proposed school closings kicked off Friday and will continue throughout the month, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Parents' calls for CPS to be more accountable to community members than administrators are particularly resonant after the district's Inspector General released a report Wednesday detailing multiple counts of employee fraud and misconduct, including improper benefit payouts that cost the cash-strapped school system $1.13 million.
See parents protesting outside Mayor Emanuel's office: