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CPS must go further to address Englewood student needs

CHICAGO, February 12, 2018The Chicago Teachers Union called today’s CPS decision to pull back from closing all of Englewood’s public high schools next fall a step in the right direction, but are calling on CPS CEO Janice Jackson to address parents’ and students’ demands for meaningful local investment in their children’s educations. The CTU also continues to demand that CPS abandon plans to shutter NTA and hand Hirsch high school over to an ethically challenged charter operator connected to scandal-plagued SUPES.

“Thanks to enormous pressure from parents, students, teachers and local residents, CPS has decided to back away from their draconian plan to close all of Englewood’s neighborhood high schools,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Clearly, the inherent racism of a plan to leave Englewood without a single neighborhood high school has provoked the type of public backlash that makes the mayor nervous as he nears another election cycle. Struggle, protest and organizing works – but now it’s time for CPS to embrace the larger demands of these school communities and schools across the city by providing the resources our schools and students need to thrive.”

In an important victory for parents and students, CPS also announced today that its proposed new Englewood high school will accept students from the neighborhood – the first time CPS has assured residents that the new school will not be selective enrollment, thereby locking out potentially thousands of local students.

“With this decision, CPS has essentially admitted that it was a terrible idea to put hundreds of additional Englewood high school students in harm’s way by forcing them to travel miles out of their neighborhood and abandon their beloved school communities,” said Sharkey. “But too many Englewood high school students today are already forced to make this long trek to school. And subjecting future students from Englewood – kids who will be freshmen and sophomores before any new high school is built – also makes no sense, and flies in the face of community demands for reinvestment in existing schools today. We’re consulting with parents, neighborhood leaders, students and our allies to determine our next steps – and we plan to continue our campaign to demand adequate resourcing for every Englewood school and every student who calls Englewood home.”

Englewood’s four neighborhood high schools – Harper, Hope, Robeson and Team Englewood – have seen resources and programming slashed since Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011 – with budget cuts totaling almost $20 million just since 2012. Programs that could help schools enroll more students have also been gutted in recent years, with career and technical education -- CTE -- programs alone cut by 60% since 2008. The CTU has charged that CPS, whose top executives and school board are appointed by the mayor, has essentially manufactured a crisis of resources and under-enrollment in Englewood’s public high schools, by creating a chronic cycle of disinvestment and dismantlement of programs and supports for students, from special education to athletics, art and music.

“Resources that CPS proposes to target to the proposed new high school should, in fact, have been targeted to Englewood’s current public high schools,” said Sharkey. “We’ve been able to force CPS to at least begin to listen to parents, students and community residents by agreeing not to wipe out every single public high school in this neighborhood. Now CPS needs to take this a step further – by offering the real resources these schools deserve, just as selective enrollment schools like Payton receive, and by ending its efforts to dispossess not just Englewood’s families, but families at NTA and Hirsch, as well.”

Chicago Teachers Union