LETTER: 'Pride is sometimes all we have...'... CPS should not destroy the Guggenheim family... An open letter to the Englewood community

The Closing of Guggenheim... This letter is meant to address all those who stay in the Englewood area on the south side of Chicago, IL. Specifically in the 60621 ZIP Code range. When one of the students who testified against the closing of Guggenheim Elmentary School broke down in tears during the January 29, 2010 hearing, teachers Jacqueline Jones and Earnest Jones brought tissues and comfort to him. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.If you are currently or were a former resident of the Englewood area, then you might already know the controversy that is going around the neighborhood. And for those who are out of the loop, you should be informed of the situation at hand. If you or anybody who is in affiliation with you, haveever been to this school, or at least heard of it, then you should be informed of the intended closing down of Simon Guggenheim Elementary School (also known as “Guggenheim”) located at 7141 S. Morgan Street. The reason given by the Chicago Board of Education for the school’s closure is that the plan is due to Guggenheim’s low academic scores.

I am a graduate of Simon Guggenheim, class of 2005, and during my years there the situation was the same as now….low academic scores. But we were always able to pull through, though. But my issues with the Chicago Board of Education are several.


The Chicago Board of Education is suggesting that if they do in fact close Guggenheim, they will relocate every student currently attending Guggenheim to two other schools outside the Guggenheim area. These schools are William A. Hinton Elementary School (“Hinton”), located at 644 W. 71st Street and John P. Altgeld Elementary School (“Altgeld”), located at 1340 W. 71st Street. One of the things the Board says about the closing policy is that children will not have to go more than 1.5 miles from their current school. But if you really think about it, you can clearly see that neither one of these elementary schools is within the 1.5 mile radius. The Chicago Board wants to send these students and make them pass rough very dangerous areas just for them to get a what they call, an “exceptional” education. Just because these two schools "performed" better at academic scores than Guggenheim recently doesn’t necessarily mean they are a better qualified placement for the education of the children currently at Guggenheim.

If that was the case, then it is clear that the three other elementary schools that remain within the 1.5 mile block radius must have scored higher than Guggenheim in the academic score charts as well, right?

These other schools are Carrie J. Bond Elementary School (“Bond”), located at 7050 S. May Street; Amos A. Stagg Elementary School (“Stagg”), located at 7424 S. Morgan Street; and Daniel S. Wentworth Elementary School (“Wentworth”), located at 6950 S. Sangamon Street.

As you can clearly see by checking a map, all three of these school are well within the 1.5 mile block zone, and yet the Board has not recommend nor even mentioned these schools.

Okay, I’ll admit that the numbers show that Guggenheim has not "performed" well in the academic scores. I mean between the years of 2007-2008, Guggenheim has scored a 26.2 percentage (whatever that means). They scored even lower for the school year 2008-2009, earning a 19.0 percent. That’s a 7.2 percent decrease on the school's behalf. But what the Chicago Board failed to notice is that they are looking at these children as numbers and not as human beings with feelings. They are not looking at what is really going on in this area.

Now, if you would please pay attention and follow what I am saying, then you would know in your minds and heart that what I’m saying is true.

Okay, now really think outside of the box on this one. There are three other schools within the 1.5 mile block range, right? The community that harbors Guggenheim plus the three other schools, are not really that expanded.

The average household in the area sometimes, quote, sometimes only contain between the estimates of five to six children qualified for elementary school. But because the parents or legal guardians of those five or six children, or the children themselves, don’t want them all to attend the same school. So they think to themselves there are a few other schools around close enough for them to decide which child should go to which school. One or two children goes to Bond, one goes to Wentworth, and so on and so forth — plus vice versa. Around here, it’s not really the case. Almost every household in these specific communities only houses the majority of high school students. Some don’t even have children that are eligible for elementary schools, viz, they are to old for grammer school or just not old enough to attend. So basically these houses or places of residence as you or they so call it, only really holds a certain amount of children. Even then they only hold high school students or children who are not old enough to attend elementary school. Not for a few years anyway.

But you can use your own imagination to figure out why enough students are not attending Guggenheim. Now look at what I just said right there. Put all these statements together in your minds. The Boards are not seeing the real big picture here. They are only looking at numbers, but they are not asking or thinking about the real question that comes to mind.

That question is “What are the reasons for such low scores?”. It can’t be because Guggenheim’s students are academically illiterate. No, that’s not true. I’ve attended the school’s annual Spelling Bee Contest and I was very impressed with their spelling abilities. Children — I’ll say no more than six to fourteen years of age — pronouncing and spelling words better than most adults can sound out. Plus attending the Chicago Public School Board Meeting inside the CPS building, located at 125 S. Clark, Downtown Chicago on January 28th, I have never heard such correct usage of expanded vocabulary coming from such young minds standing in front of the podium.

It also can’t be because fights and arguments erupt during the school time. If that was the case, then every school all over the globe should be closed down. Can’t be because of a few disruptive students. Every school has a few bad apples. Not to offend anybody, but if you think about it, maybe when you were their ages you were the disruptive one who started arguments and fights a nd was occasionally the class clown.

So what could it be? Now I’m only stating my opinion, but maybe, just maybe, that with three other schools within the 1.5 mile block radius, plus with the fact that not every household has children either ready to attend elementary school or already graduated from an elementary school, don’t you think it is possible that not enough children are attending Simon Guggenheim Elementary School? Even with the school taking in thirty more students, it’s still not enough. The same thing could be said about Bond, Stagg and Wentworth. The Board neglects to mention that though. These three other schools could be going through the same situations as Guggenheim is but yet they only want to close down one specific elementary school. They surely didn’t show charts on these other schools academic scores.

Even if the Chicago Board does make the decision to close down Guggenheim, why send these children outside of the area just to attend school and get an education? Why do they want to send Guggenheim students to both Altgeld and Hinton (especially Altgeld) that are passed what we call “Danger Zones”, when there are clearly three other choices to choose from?

The danger zones are whatever you can use your imagination to think of for. Anything bad or disturbing you can think of has basically happened there. The Board has stated that CPS will create safe passage plans for the Guggenheim students. Community partners, the Chicago Police Department, and the Chicago Transit Authority. Yes, that sounds good and all, but the Board has to realize that danger is everywhere you look. We all have to realize that. There’s even danger around the four elementary schools within the 1.5 mile block radius.

But at least within the area, where everybody knows each other, we can actually see or, at least hear about what’s going on or what’s going to happen right then and there. I’m afraid to say that CTA and Chicago Police are not always so reliable in times of need. Do you honestly think or believe that CTA nor the Chicago Police would be around every single time? I’m one of those who travels by CTA. I’ve witnessed an obscene amount of wrong doings on them and nobody did or ever does anything about it. I’ve even seen Chicago Police ride behind CTA while an officer was on board. A group of people ganged up and jumped on a young teenager. Plus knocking over little kids and adults alike just to vacate off the bus on top of that. I did not see the police make pursuit of group. They stayed right behind the bus, and the officer on board at the last minute, goes to see what happened.

So you tell me….does that sound reliable to you? Like I stated earlier, danger is all around us, but at least if you if keep Guggenheim students around in their area, the residents of the same area will be able to keep an better eye on them and react a lot faster in their aid. Even when the residents call the police, the children will at least be in the presence of their loved ones.

I’ve basically stated all what I had to say. To whoever reads this, if you find an issue in this article that has not been address to the issue at hand, please, I implore you to take it up with the Chicago Board of Education. If what I said here doesn’t change the minds of the Board, then maybe your voice or written statement will be heard, read and/or recognized. Then maybe the Board will think twice before closing down a well beloved school that has been around our lives longer than most can recall. This especially goes out to those who have attended or still attend Simon Guggenheim Elementary School. For those who’ve went their in the past, remember the times you’ve had there. Some maybe good times, some maybe even bad times. But that is natural in every school all around the world. The fact of the matter is, that school is a part of history….our history, and you’re just going to let them close it down? The same goes for those who still attend Guggenheim. If you are from or still have residency in the same neighborhood as this school is does, then you probably come from a long generation of family who have went and/or graduated from Guggenheim.

Your mother, your father, grandmother, grandfather, aunts, uncles, older siblings or maybe even just a friend of the family have attended Guggenheim. For some people, the Guggenheim building is just a building. But for others who either attended Guggenheim, is or was employed there, or maybe even both….that building is one of several representations of pride and glory that people have in neighborhood.

And for what I’ve seen in today’s time….pride is all we have.

So I’m begging you, don’t let the Chicago Board crush our pride and glory. Stand tall to the Board, and let them know that if we’re going down….we’re going down fighting! We are going to fight to keep the school open….and we are g oing to fight to make sure that the children have an education that is closer to home until they are ready to take on the world! And if any members of the Chicago Board have ever attended Simon Guggenheim Elementary School, ever gets a chance to read this, please….convince the other Board members to reconsider the closing down of our beloved school.




Signed, Corey Owens

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February 2, 2010 at 2:53 PM

By: Hit List Heroes

'There is a limit to the tyrant's power...'

Thanks to Substance, we can read the truth from the people who are being lynched by Ron Huberman's nonsense and Mayor Daley's viciousness. Can you keep publishing every possible contribution from every man, woman and child at every one of the schools being lynched this year by Daley and his school board henchmen (and women)?

December 15, 2010 at 11:07 AM

By: lynette

thas my over school it is good for the kids


January 23, 2011 at 4:43 PM

By: Charles E. Starling


My whole family went to Simon Guggenheim Elementary School. There were five (5) of us and of the 5: 1 graduated salutatorian, all graduated high school and attended college. 3 became teachers themselves and all have at least their associates degrees. My parents were teachers, yet remained active in the Guggenheim community. Closing this school would be a travesty to the neighborhood. If the scores are low, teach the kids to do better. Its kind of hard to teach when you feel like Lovie Smith did last year and you\\\'re constantly worried about losing your job. Many have graduated from this school, but while there, lifelong friendships were forged. I am 49 years old and still keep in touch with a rather large percentage of the people I went to grade school with. Some still live in the same neighborhood we grew up in. All are taxpayers and depend upon this same school you threaten to destroy. This is not just a school you\\\'re\\\'re breaking up a family. Shame on you! Shame on you all!

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