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CPS' school closures and charter schemes

by CTU officers  |  11/30/2017

Greetings, sisters and brothers. First, thank you once again to all of our members for all the tireless work you put in to provide our students with the education they deserve. You are the backbone of this union and the backbone of our schools, and every single success we can point to is built on your hard work and your commitment as education professionals.

We learned today from members that CPS is moving to close all four high schools in Englewood, according to several principals. CPS has scheduled meetings at Hope, Harper, Team Englewood and Robeson Friday morning. We also learned today that CPS plans to approve the Distinctive Schools charter proposal, which seeks to take over Hirsch High School in Greater Grand Crossing. We should also know more on Friday about CPS' plans for NTA, whose school community vigorously opposes CPS' scheme to shutter their school.

Our union staff will be traveling to meet with members in the impacted schools beginning on Friday. There has been NO official layoff notice sent out yet. Under our contract, teachers laid off through school closings go into the CPS reassignment pool -- with one year of pay and benefits. We will fight for the jobs for every one of our members -- and we are conceding nothing in our battle to keep these public schools open. This fight has just begun -- and this battle, like our larger fight against school closings and charter operator expansion, is far from over. These racist policies are deeply unpopular, and the Mayor is politically vulnerable on this issue. We must come together to support our brothers and sisters and their school communities at this pivotal moment.

We've also learned that students currently enrolled in the Englewood schools targeted for closing will NOT be going to the promised shiny new Englewood high school, which has yet to break ground. They will instead be 'invited' to attend school in Gage Park, Hyde Park or whatever other high school they can scramble to get into. In a classic bait-and-switch, Mayor Emanuel and his hand-picked CPS bureacrats flat-out lied to the Englewood community when CPS claimed the proposed new high school was for those students.

The Hirsch/Distinctive Schools charter proposal is equally appalling. Distinctive Schools executives have been connected to a series of failing charter operations, left one Delaware school district over ten million dollars in the red, and were subsequently FIRED by another school district in Florida. We currently have a formal complaint before the CPS Inspector General that documents how profoundly unfit Distinctive Schools is for ANY role in our school system.

We will continue to fight against both these school closings and ANY additional school closings, as well as any and all charter operator expansion -- including charter expansion into Hirsch. And we're renewing our demand for an elected representative school board. There should not be ONE SINGLE school closed while our city's residents are denied the elected, representative school board we have demanded for years. We deserve responsible, democratic oversight of our schools -- not the autocratic control of Mayor Emanuel's political insiders, who 'govern' for the benefit of politically connected contractors, charter operators and developers.

In solidarity,

Jesse Sharkey 
Vice President

Maria Moreno 
Financial Secretary

Michael Brunson 
Recording Secretary

Chicago Teachers Union