CTU leaders ignore vast expense of new high schools while discussing possible racism in the closing of schools in Englewood...

While both the Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Teachers Union claiming they are broke (or, "Broke on Purpose"), the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union took an unusual path to criticizing the proposal by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's hand-picked Board of Education to consolidate three high schools into one and then build an expensive new high school in the Englewood community on Chicago's South Side. In the process of discussing the issues with the closing of Robeson, TEAM Englewood, and Harper high schools, the CTU ignored the other two expensive high schools proposed for Chicago (at a time when none of them are needed) and focused on at best peripheral issues in its June 9, 2017 press release on the Englewood situation.

The CTU's lame position on the Englewood high school is in contrast to other news reports, which note that the new school will cost (at least) $75 million. There is no critique in the union's statement of the cost overrides that typically accompany such school construction projects. Nor does the union mention that CPS is also planning two other high schools, on on the near South Side supposedly to serve "Chinatown" (and add to segregation in that part of town) and one of the Northwest Side, supposedly to "relive overcrowding at Taft High School" (which is only overcrowded because it has been taking in just about every white student who doesn't want to attend school with Chicago's more diverse student population). In fact, the new construction plans are part of a 100-year-old pattern of racist and expensive construction of segregated schools in Chicago. The only mention of racism from the CTU involves the loss of African American staff at the schools to be consolidated in Englewood (note: none of the staffs are all African American, and white and other teachers are as effective in those schools as are the African American staff).

The CTU press release is below:

CTU statement on CPS plans to close Englewood high schools


June 9, 2017 312-329-6235

CHICAGO-The Chicago Teachers Union today issued the following statement regarding Chicago Public Schools plans to close Harper, Hope, Robeson and TEAM Englewood high schools and funnel students into a new, $75 million high school in the Englewood community.

"The Chicago Teachers Union supports well-resourced school communities that help our students pursue their dreams and open doors, but we know far too well that school closings can lead to feelings of abandonment and a loss of learning. The teachers and staff at Harper, Hope, Robeson and TEAM Englewood not only provide stability in their students' lives, but also create classroom spaces where students can connect with one another, process their experiences and help make decisions about their communities.

"With unemployment at Great Depression-era levels in Englewood, a forced mass exodus of African-American families out of Chicago, violence epidemic and affordable housing shortage, school closings are another way for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to sabotage the community at its time of greatest need. Consolidating four high schools into one building is the mayor doubling down on a disastrous and irresponsible gentrification scheme that has already removed scores of African-American residents from the city.

"Many of the teachers and staff at these schools are African-American women who have already experienced consolidations and closures at schools such as South Shore and Calumet high schools. Getting rid of these educators, who anchor a destabilized community through their knowledge and economic support, will exacerbate the mayor's already heinous neglect.

"Instead of closing schools, we should be fortifying them. Instead of pushing families out of the community through the acceleration of high-end developments, we need to provide housing near our schools, a public sector jobs program and a robust array of services and supports inside of our school buildings to address the needs of our communities."


The Chicago Teachers Union represents nearly 25,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the nearly 400,000 students and families they serve The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third-largest teachers local in the United States. For more information please visit the CTU website at


$75 Million New Englewood High School Will Merge 4 Schools At Robeson, DNA Info Chicago, By Andrea V. Watson | June 9, 2017 10:24am | Updated on June 9, 2017 12:39pm

ENGLEWOOD — After months of speculation, Chicago Public Schools is finally revealing details of a new $75 million high school for the Englewood neighborhood, a proposal that would merge four schools into a new building at Robeson High School.

CPS Chief Executive Forrest Claypool and Chief Education Officer Janice K. Jackson announced the plan Friday at Kennedy-King College. CPS is describing the school as "state of the art" — with plans to open it by the 2019-2020 school year. The school would be an open-enrollment neighborhood high school.

Students from Earle STEM Academy in West Englewood were in the audience during the news conference and shared their thoughts about the new school with DNAinfo. They would be a part of the first graduating class.

Luis Lopez, a 12 year old sixth-grader, said he has been thinking about attending Lindblom Math and Science Academy for high school, but now he's excited to go to the new high school.

"From what they were talking about, it feels like it’s going to be a great high school, and I think it’s going to help my education a lot," he said.

Darnell Ward (left) and Luis Lopez will be a part of the new high school's first graduating class. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]

His classmate Darnell Ward, 11, said he's excited about high school and plans to play basketball and football.

"I feel happy about being the first to go to the new school," he said, adding that his older brother will be attending Johnson College Prep in the fall.

CPS noted its proposed new school follows a request by the Englewood Action Council, which studied the issue for months with the community and put forward a proposal in April.

CPS officials and the community announced the plans for the new Englewood high school at Kennedy-King College. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]

That plan called for the new high school to be built on the site of Paul Robeson High School, which would merge with three other schools with plummeting enrollment: TEAM Englewood Community Academy High School, 6201 S. Stewart Ave., which has 143 students; Harper High School, 6520 S. Wood St., which has 160 students; and John Hope Academy, at 5501 S. Lowe Ave., which has 122 students.

The Englewood Community Action Council in April said the new school should be built at Robeson, 6835 S. Normal Blvd., which currently has just 148 students.

The council, created by CPS, met with local school councils, parents and aldermen for months and surveyed 1,200 community members.

“Today we are investing in Englewood, as we have done for the past six years, but more importantly we are investing in the children of Englewood, their education, their hopes and their dreams,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Thanks to the strong input from residents and community leaders, soon Englewood's children will have a brand new 21st century high school that will help prepare them for success in our 21st century world.”

Jackson said that other neighborhoods such as Roseland and Chinatown submitted proposals, but Englewood was selected for a couple of reasons.

"There hasn't been a new school since the 1970s," she said. "This $75 million investment is coming to a community that hasn't had this level of investment in decades. This is worth celebrating and is remarkable."

Jackson and Claypool said that too many Englewood students are traveling miles from their community to attend school.

Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) said the new school will add to the rebirth of Englewood.

"This will be an exciting addition," he said. "We want the best and brightest ideas. This will be a top- tier school."

The three closing schools have the second-lowest academic ranking in the CPS system. Robeson has the lowest ranking.

“As we’ve heard from members of the community, every parent dreams of sending their child to high quality schools, and this is the kind of high school that is truly a dream come true for many parents,” Jackson said. “While we plan to build a modern and beautiful facility, the heart of this building will be the top-notch learning that happens in the classrooms that inspires lifelong passions. We look forward to working with the community to design the type of academic programming that will help Englewood students achieve their dreams.” CPS said that while Englewood's high school-age population is the sixth highest in the city, only 11 percent of students attend their neighborhood high school. More than 4 of every 10 students go to schools 4 miles or more away.

CPS plans to hold public hearings on the plan starting at 5:30 p.m. July 19 at Parker Elementary, 6800 S. Stewart Ave.

CPS said families of students at the four schools that are merging would be contacted in upcoming weeks to discuss plans for the future, but the schools will be unchanged next year.

All three schools slated to close had seen huge drops in neighborhood enrollment in the last decade, CPS said.

Source: Chicago Public Schools

Englewood council co-chairwoman Dori Collins said previously that Robeson would be an ideal location “mainly because of the campus it sits on and the square footage."

During April's presentation, the council said the school would be a "STEM hybrid" that would "provide science and technology-based curriculum that will prepare students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in STEM careers and postsecondary educational opportunities."

It would also offer an international baccalaureate program as well as dual-credit enrollment, career and technical education, apprenticeships, internships and externships.

What happens to the buildings?

Officials said the current buildings housing the other three high schools "will continue to serve the community."

Hope shares a campus with Kipp Bloom College Prep, a charter school that serves grades five through eight, and Team Englewood shares a campus with Urban Prep Academy. Robeson will remain open during construction.

“We don’t want to see buildings being torn down,” Collins said.

The Chicago Teachers Union slammed the proposal for closing schools.

"We know far too well that school closings can lead to feelings of abandonment and loss of learning," the statement said. "The teachers and staff at Harper, Hope, Robeson and TEAM Englewood not only provide stability in their students' lives, but also create classroom spaces where students can connect with one another, process their experiences and help make decisions about their communities."

Improving schools

The plan for a new high school comes as schools in Englewood are showing improvement. Schools in "good standing" rose by 20 percent, while the number students performing at grade level has been trending upward for three years in a row.

Attendance growth was better than the district average, and the percent of students on track to graduate on time increased by "substantial" margins.

CHICAGO SUN TIMES STORY BELOW HERE (June 10, 2015 print and on line editions)...

CPS to build new high school in Englewood, close four others, By Lauren Fitzpatrick and Fran Spielman, CHICAGO NEWS 06/09/2017, 08:59pm

Chicago’s rebounding Englewood community will get a new $75 million high school but pay the price by closing of four under-enrolled schools, according to a long-awaited plan unveiled Friday.

Three days after appeasing Chinatown residents with plans to convert the South Loop’s thriving National Teaching Academy elementary school into a high school, Chicago Public Schools officials confirmed that new construction will go to Englewood.

That high school will be built on Robeson’s campus, 6835 S. Normal, and bankrolled by bonds sold against a $43 million property-tax levy approved by the City Council solely for school construction and renovation.

But getting the shiny new school, expected to open for 9th graders by September 2019, requires closing four South Side high schools whose enrollments have dwindled after CPS created many other options: Harper, Hope, Robeson and TEAM Englewood.

They won’t be shuttered until construction is completed — well after a five-year moratorium on school closings expires and just after the 2019 mayoral election.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who alienated black voters by closing 50 grade schools in 2013, didn’t want to talk Friday about closing high schools (which were spared then because of safety concerns). Rather, he heralded the new building as part of his grand plan to boost private sector investment in Englewood.

Schools chief Forrest Claypool and Janice Jackson, CPS’ chief education officer, said the idea to sacrifice four schools for a new one came from Englewood itself.

“This was a unique situation brought to us by the community where we were able to build a brand-new school while consolidating schools that are dilapidated and significantly under-enrolled,” Claypool said.

Jackson said Englewood, home of many privately-managed charter schools, “has not had this level of investment” in its schools for decades and no new high school since the 1970s.

Yet the unveiling of not one but two new high schools in Chicago, ever broke and hemorrhaging students, raises questions about how the district could possibly need or afford them.

Less than two years ago, Claypool and Jackson opposed a group who wanted Dyett High School reopened in Washington Park, wielding demographic data to show how the South Side lacked enough children.

Emanuel changed his mind about Dyett after a month-long hunger strike of mostly African-American parents and grandparents shamed him nationally. But that’s the kind of decision that happens when there’s no plan, said Beatriz de la Ponce, who heads Generation All, which advocates for neighborhood high schools.

And it appears to have happened again as the families at NTA learned suddenly that CPS wants to turn it into a high school to serve the booming South Loop.

“We can’t make decisions based on individual community groups or aldermen who can advocate for their neighborhoods,” de la Ponce said. “We do have way too many seats, we don’t have quality seats distributed throughout the city, but until we look at that holistically, these kinds of decisions are made behind closed doors and then rolled out.”

Bridgeport and Armour Square have no high schools, and Englewood’s are dangerously under-enrolled. In contrast, the North and Northwest Sides have more access to secondary schools with CPS’ top ratings. District officials said children living on the Near South Side attend 147 different high schools, and Englewood students attend 150.

“But we can’t ignore the ways to take an existing school and wrap it up and transform it into an even more powerful school,” de la Ponce said.

At a boisterous three-hour CPS meeting this week, students from Bridgeport and Chinatown testified of the pressure to get into selective enrollment schools instead of their lower-performed assigned schools — Tilden and Phillips.

Jacqueline Yeo said she was just an average student. In tears, she testified about traveling out to Curie High School on the Southwest Side.

“We’re a minority group. We get ignored,” said David Wu of the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community. But, he added, “we struggle with gaining something at the expense of someone else.”

Chicago’s Chinese community has lobbied for a high school for decades, so Wu said the question becomes, “How do we make it equitable, how do we reduce harm?”

The new property tax windfall could fund construction, Wu said.

But that just pays start-up costs. Schools also need money to keep going once they’re full of students — and existing schools lose money as students leave.

Since CPS allocates money to schools every year based on the number of students enrolled, and principals use that money to hire teachers, a 10-student loss can gouge a school’s budget.

At least one charter operator also wants to open a new secondary school in the fall of 2018.

Plus, other capital needs abound. Ray Salazar, a teacher at Hancock High School on the Southwest Side, wrote Friday on his blog that “leaders have continued to ignore the sub-standard building conditions” — bubbling floor tiles and “urinals and toilets covered with plastic garbage bags and duct tape because of plumbing issues.”

Meanwhile, Harper High School has allies in Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) and Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6th) who’ll lobby to keep it open, citing concerns about crossing gang boundaries as well as Harper’s increasing enrollment.

The Chicago Teachers Union also will fight the closings. It accused Emanuel of “doubling down on a disastrous and irresponsible gentrification scheme” that has triggered an exodus of black residents.

“… school closings are another way for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to sabotage the community at its time of greatest need,” the union wrote in an emailed statement.

NTA also has organized already around its survival. The Level 1 school has improved quickly and steadily, said Hannah El-Amin, who happily schleps her two children from Hyde Park to 4th grade and kindergarten there.

“The vast majority of students in Chicago do have to travel for a high school education, to get access to a high ranking high school. It’s actually the norm. I think if you only have to travel three miles to get an excellent education you’re in pretty good shape in Chicago,” she said.

“I understand it would be a nice benefit” to have a closer high school, she continued. “I see that as a minor inconvenience not worth the sacrifice of NTA.”