I could actually write a book listing my concerns about education and why I think it’s important to go to DC and join fellow teachers marching to Save Our Schools. But yesterday I saw a graphic example that gives me all the reason I need to participate in this event.
There is a public school in Chicago — Whittier Elementary.
Last fall, the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) decided to sell the field house and the playground at Whittier to a nearby private school that wanted the property for a soccer field.
Mothers at Whittier didn’t want their children to lose their playground. So they asked CPS to cancel the sale and CPS refused. So the mothers decided to occupy the field house to prevent the demolition. This is the field house:
It’s not air conditioned, so the mothers improvised:
The mothers take turns sleeping there at night:
Several years ago, CPS took out the library at Whittier and converted the space into classrooms. So the mothers asked that the field house be converted into a library for the Whittier students. And to prove the space would work as a library, they all donated books and set up a library in the field house. They named it La Casita:
Their library also has a bathroom:
After several months of the sit in, CPS said ok, we’ll convert classroom space in the school into a library. The mothers said no, that’s a special ed classroom and those children deserve classroom space. CPS eventually agreed not to demolish the school so the mothers stopped their sit in.
Several months went by, the superintendent of CPS resigned and a new superintendent was hired. The mothers decided to meet with the new superintendent and ask him to honor the agreement made by the previous one not to tear down the school. So CPS set up a meeting with the mothers. While they were at the meeting on June 27, CPS sent a demolition crew to Whittier to begin the demolition. They put up fencing:
The mothers found out about the demolition crew, rushed back to the school and resumed their sit in. The demolition crew left. The mothers have occupied La Casita once again.
I visited La Casita yesterday. The mothers were very welcoming, enjoyed showing us La Casita and were incredibly proud of their library. They also shared the latest plan by CPS – close Whittier School, relocate the children and sell the entire property to the private school for their soccer field.
The mothers told us over and over that CPS claims to want parent involvement but has refused to allow them to be involved. There was a police car in front of the school; the mothers said the police are there frequently.
I’m marching on July 30 because parents are entitled to a voice and they deserve to be heard.
I’m marching because our children deserve libraries in our schools with brand new books instead of books that should be in children’s bedrooms for bedtime stories.
I’m marching because children deserve playgrounds and shouldn’t have to look out of their classroom windows at a soccer field that is private property where they are not allowed to play.
I’m marching because mothers should be sleeping at home instead of in a field house.
I’m marching because this school and field house should have been torn down years ago and replaced with a modern air conditioned facility full of not only a library but up to date technology and facilities.
I’m marching because our children – our future – deserve better than this.
I’m marching because in the United States of America, schools should be caring for our children instead of competing for diminishing resources managed ineptly by dysfunctional bureaucracies that do NOT place what’s best for kids above all.
Seasoned Teacher is from the midwest and teaches special ed. She’s been teaching for several years and is intimately familiar with curriculum design. She’ll be attending the Save Our Schools March and Conference in late July, 2011.