Note: This post was from February25, 2013

How hypocritical is it that CPS says that school closings have nothing to do with charter schools – yet the Walton Family Foundation (who have made CPS the largest recipient of funds for charter schools in their massive funding around the country, according to the Daily Kos) are running the community outreach hearings on school closings?

I attended last Monday’s hearing for the Burnham district (my district) and it was somewhat surreal. The church at 60th and Michigan was packed, including the balcony, and it was  standing room only. Three CPS officials sat at a table while two representatives from the 44 schools in the district were called to the microphone alphabetically where their pleas were met with raucous cheers from the audience.

School ClosingsSuddenly, about halfway through the school list, the moderator announced that if your school had spoken they should retire to the basement for “break-out” sessions. Now, not only was this diluting the support for schools most at risk, but these “break-out sessions” were nothing more than a PowerPoint presentation informing the community that the process for “right-sizing” these schools (I hate it when people create new verbs) was going to be done in a way that addressed everyone’s concerns. CPS would protect children from gang crossfire as well as preserve every special program in the school. (And if you believe that ….)

Beyond the chaos of people speaking over each other to one of the two “session leaders” – who by the way don’t work for CPS and were allegedly taking notes and trying to hear above the din, was the acceptance that schools are closing. It quickly then became every school for himself/herself. “Here’s why you shouldn’t close MY school” became the theme.

My favorite part of the night when was when Joy Clendenning, a member of Hyde Park Community Area Residents Empowering Schools (HPCARES) and parent of four children who attend three different CPS schools,  stood up and outshouted everyone to urge parents not to fall prey to the Board’s divide and conquer strategy.

It’s also likely that CPS is strategizing by starting with a big list and hoping people will be relieved when they cut it in half.