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Fighting for Community Control in Schools: Blocks Together and Chicago Local School Councils (offline)

Lewis Wallace
Date Published: 
June 01, 2008

Over 100 students at Chicago’s Orr High School campus walked out of school mid-day on February 27 to protest the school’s imminent “turnaround” by the Chicago Public School Board. Orr’s turnaround means that its principal and all of its teachers will be fired and new staff brought in to create a teacher-training academy sponsored by the Gates foundation.
“I’m not against change, I’m against how the change is coming about,” says Michelle Crowley, 50, whose son is a junior at Mose Vine High School on the Orr Campus. Crowley, a parent activist, is concerned that the changes at the school will negatively impact students who have built trust with their teachers. “To do a complete turnaround and throw these teachers out is no guarantee that anything will change, and it can cause some real turmoil [in students’ lives],” she says.
Students, parents, and community members in Humboldt Park, the working-class neighborhood where Orr is located, are part of a widespread movement across Chicago fighting for community input into 18 separate school closings and turnarounds announced in January 2008 by the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) as part of their Renaissance 2010 school reform program. “CPS alienates the participation of low-income people of color communities through their Renaissance 2010 policy of imposing changes and breaking up communities,” says Cecile Carroll, Education Organizer at Blocks Together, a multi-issue community organization in Humboldt Park.
To read the rest of this article, please purchase issue #29 Ecology and the Left