RPNPS Rogers Park Neighbors For Public Schools April 16, 2013 TO:
Representative Kelly Cassidy Senator Heather Steans Representative Gregg Harris
FROM: Rogers Park Neighbors For Public Schools
We, the members of Rogers Park Neighbors For Public Schools, ask your support of a moratorium on school closings in the Chicago Public Schools. We urge you to support HB3283 and SB1571. After Chicago Public Schools was granted an extension of the deadline to announce the school closure list, it failed to live up to the spirit of the law. Community hearings were outsourced to a public relations firm, in a program paid for by the Walton Foundation. It makes no sense for a public hearing to be privatized by a foundation with partisan political views and a fullblown privatization agenda for the public sector. Subsequently, the two community meetings required for each closing were conducted in a pro forma way, with no questions answered to individuals with concerns. Around the city, people have asked specific questions about the transition, about the educational programs their children will participate in, and the reasoning behind the closures. None of these questions were answered. CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley told parents that the meetings “were not a forum for questions.” There was no dialogue. There are hundreds of reasons that a closure program on this scale should be stopped immediately. We’ll highlight just these: 1. The “utilization” data used to categorize schools has been shown to be wildly inaccurate and based on a formula that calls for large class sizes and very little space for art rooms, computer labs, greenhouses, music rooms. The formula has no room for the facilities required for an appropriate education.
2. The savings expected from the closings appears to fluctuate with each given day and is subject to a great deal of debate. Since CPS announced its $1 billion deficit, they posted a $340 million surplus and received an unscheduled payment of $130 million from the state, thus cutting the initial, unfounded budget figure in half. Yet they continue to use the $1 billion figure. 3. As Catalyst has noted, CPS lost track of 11% of the students impacted by the last round of closings, in which four elementary schools were closed. The district simply can’t account for where these children went. There is no indication that the district is in any position to track students on a massive scale. 4. Over 100 Chicagoarea professors and researchers in the CReATE network have issued research findings that conclude that the school closings are not in the best interests of the students of Chicago.
“Our findings do not support CPS’ arguments for closing schools and we conclude that school closures will contribute to a separate and unequal educational system in Chicago. “ (www.createchicago.org, April 2, 2013). We recognize that the CPS has to balance a budget, but we believe there is evidence that these closings are part of a predetermined agenda for the schools. The district is wrong to implement this kind of plan, it has rewarded the Legislature’s indulgence with a disrespectful community process, and it is in no way positioned to carry out anything on such an unprecedented scale. We urge you to stop it. Best Regards, Rogers Park Neighbors For Public Schools.