Protesters Demand Board Of Education Not To Close Englewood High Schools

Andy Dahn
February 28, 2018 - 12:41 pm

CBS Chicago

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Ahead of a controversial Chicago Board of Education vote on Wednesday to close four Englewood high schools, parents, students and community activists gathered outside of Chicago Public Schools headquarters demanding it be cancelled. 

The vote comes after CPS made the decision earlier this month to gradually close three of the schools, rather than close them all at once at the end of this school year. In December, CPS announced plans to close Harper, Hope, Robeson, and TEAM Englewood high schools in June. The district has said all four schools are under-enrolled, and the money saved by closing them will be used to help create the new Englewood High School, which would be built on the site of Robeson, and open in 2019. But earlier this month, CPS Chief Executive Officer Janice Jackson announced the district will delay closing Harper, Hope, and Team Englewood for three years, allowing existing students at those three schools to finish their high school careers at their current schools if they choose. Robeson would still close at the end of the year to make way for construction of the new Englewood High School.

Despite the decision to keep those three schools open for the next few years, some critics were still protested ahead of Wednesday’s school board vote on the consolidation plan.

"Public schools were places where communities came together. Public schools were the community center, the educational centers of our communities. And when you take those things away, it dismantles community and we refuse for that to be blamed on the color of our skin," one protester shouted.

Many held signs reading, "Save Our Schools. Don't Close Them." 

"These closings are a scam. They are not about moving children into better schools. They are about destablizing black and brown communties," another protester said.

The proposal to eventually close several high schools in Englewood as well as the National Teacher's Academy is not sitting well with students like McKenzie.

"We need to promote equality within our school systems and stop treating students as if they are not worthy of the programs offered at other schools. We all deserve an equal shot and no one here is to tell me we don't," she said.

NTA seventh-grader Eugene said, "They are closing down not only the school, but the future of kids." 

The group accused CPS of using paid contractors to generate support for the plan and renew their call for an elected school board. 

Teacher's Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said the Board has ignored overwhelming public opposition of the plan.

"If you are rehabilitating school closings, you need to actually talk to the people who's community it affects," he said.

CBS 2 Chicago contributed to these interviews.