Save North Lawndale Schools

Compiled by Valerie F. Leonard

An update on North Lawndale school closings. Published by the Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools Compiled by Valerie F. Leonard
Save Our Schools Volume 1 | Issue 1 | April 5, 2013

6 North Lawndale Schools are Targets for Closure or Turnaround
Chicago Public Schools has recently announced its intent to close 54 schools in Chicago, and turn over 7 more to AUSL to undergo turnaround. Six North Lawndale schools will be impacted as follows:       Bethune will close, and students will go to Gregory Chalmers will be taken over by AUSL and turned around Henson will close, and students will go to Hughes Mason High School will close Paderewski School will close, and students will go to Castellano and Cardenas Pope will close, and students will go to Johnson
Chalmers students protest at a recent public meeting on school closings. (left) Chalmers has made significant improvement over the past three years, without being taken over. CPS has recently recommended that the school be taken over by AUSL. This means that all teachers and the current principal will be fired and replaced with younger teachers and staff. AUSL teachers tend to have about 3 years experience. Photo: Daily Kos

Welcome to Save North Lawndale Schools, a newsletter to provide updates on school closings. If you would like to unsubscribe, submit material, or make general comments, you may contact me at I look forward to hearing from you soon. Valerie F. Leonard, Editor

Links to Blogs and Other Resources to Follow Education Issues
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West Side Elected Officials, Community Leaders Unveil Alternative Plan to School Closures
The Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools recently released an alternative plan to school closures at the Better Boys Foundation as CPS released a list of 54 schools to be closed. "We need to look at ways the community can utilize the buildings while the school remains open", said Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele, whose 2nd District includes the North Lawndale community. " The City is looking at divesting itself of more than $600 million in educational assets." The North Lawndale community could lose 5 schools, for a total capital disinvestment of $86 million, and $20 million per year in annual operating funding. Half of North Lawndale's neighborhood schools would close. Henson will merge into Hughes; Paderewski will close; Bethune will merge into Gregory; Pope will merge into Johnson; Mason High School will close; Chalmers will be a turnaround school. The committee is concerned about the potential negative impacts of massive school closings, including interruptions in student achievement; increased student mobility and dropout rates; exacerbated blight conditions; reduced property values; increased vandalism and violence. The Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools will create a community schools collaborative to work with schools and the North Lawndale Community Advisory Council to strengthen local schools' ability to deliver favorable academic outcomes while serving as bona fide community centers focusing on the needs of the family, students and community members. The collaborative will 1) develop programming that will reduce truancy and delinquency and cut the pipeline from school to prison; 2) enhance health, fitness and nutrition for students and their families, eradicate the food desert and expand opportunities for healthy eating and positive lifestyle changes; 3) augment the school curricula with workforce development training that will provide students with exposure to career choices in manufacturing, technology, health and the trades, beginning at the elementary school level; 4) provide basic skills and workforce training and development opportunities for parents 5) provide outlets for sports and recreation, arts and culture. The plan includes a proposed structure, implementation schedule and budget. The estimated startup cost for the initiative is $322,000, not including in-kind contributions from collaborative partners. The collaborative will be looking to create win-win alternatives that will ease the financial burden of school operations while creating greater synergies between the City, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Libraries, City Colleges, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Police Department, elected officials, community based organizations, local residents, parents and students. We welcome community based organizations, small businesses (as appropriate),clinics, etc. to rent space in school buildings, subject to approval of principals, LSC's and the schools' plans for improvement. The collaborative also recommends the conversion of classroom space to libraries where possible. The Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools (CSNLS) is comprised of North Lawndale stakeholders who have come together to provide an alternative plan to avert school closings. Members of the ad hoc committee include elected officials, local community-based organizations, and engaged individuals . To date, the group consists of the following members: Congressman Danny K. Davis, Representative Arthur Turner, Commissioner Robert Steele, Alderman Michael Chandler, Dan Cantrell, Congressman Danny K. Davis' Office; David Evers, Commissioner Robert Steele's Office; Trina Mangrum, Alderman Chandler's Office; Dr. Betty Green, North Lawndale Community Advisory Council; Darren Tillis, North Lawndale Community Advisory Council; Debra Wesley, Sinai Community Institute, Annetta Wilson, Sankofa Safe Child Initiative; Mary Visconti, Better Boys Foundation; Sherneron Hilliard, Family Focus-Lawndale; Michael Trout, Y-MEN, Billy Brooks, Better Boys Foundation; Lorenzo O'Bryant, Family Focus-Lawndale, Michelle Young, Action Now; Gladys Woodson 4300 West 21st Place Block Club; Willie Mae Bowling, 4200 West Cullerton Block Club; Windy Pearson, Action Now; Mariame Kaba, Project Nia; Cheryl Francis, Chicago Area Project; Valerie F. Leonard, Lawndale Alliance; Willie Cole, North Lawndale Supporter; Margaret Davis, Lawndale Resident; Nicole "Nikki" Harvey, Eden Advocacy CDC/ WSBNAACP, Bernard Clay, WSBNAACP; Cynthia Williams, Sinai Community Institute; William Riley, Eden Advocacy CDC; Katie Russell, Better Boys Foundation; Wayne Stiles, Better Boys Foundation; Benjamin Bedenfield, Y-MEN; Xavier Ramey, Y-MEN. Any questions regarding the plan may be directed to Valerie F. Leonard at 773-521-3137, or Let us know if you would like us to come to your school, church or community group to provide an overview of the plan. Download a copy of the plan

Public Meetings
Congressman Danny K. Davis, Congressman Bobby L. Rush to Host Public Hearings on Chicago School Closures
Saturday, April 20, 2013 9:00 am-1:00 pm Dirksen Federal Building 219 S Dearborn(at Adams St) Contact: Cherita Logan at 773-533-7520

Pope Public Hearing Friday – April 19, 2012 10:00am – 12:00 noon - CPS – Central Office 125 S. Clark Chalmers School-Public Hearing Only Tuesday – May 2, 2012 CPS – Central Office 125 S. Clark Save these dates so we can continue the kind of support that we have given all the schools. I know it’s quite a few meetings, but we have come too far to stop now. --Betty Allen Green, PhD, North Lawndale CAC Co-Chair

Public Notice of Upcoming Meeting of the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force:
The IL General Assembly's CEFTF will hold the next "Second Mondays" Joint Meeting of its School Actions and Master Planning Subcommittees: MONDAY, APRIL 8TH, 2013 - 9:30 AM BILANDIC STATE OFFICE BUILDING 160 N. LaSalle, 5th Floor - Room N-505 Chicago, IL Please see the attached Meeting Notice and Agenda.

Press Conferences
The Lawndale Alliance, Save Our Neighborhood Schools Coalition, Raise Your Hand Illinois, Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools and a number of other community coalitions have participated in a number of press conferences and actions to raise awareness of the issue of school closures in North Lawndale, Austin and Humboldt Park. To date, we have sponsored a press conference to unveil an alternative plan to school closures; participated in a press conference to save the May School in Austin; organized a press conference to save Chalmers from being taken over by AUSL. Here are links to some of the stories that have resulted from our efforts.

Teachers, Parents & Students Protest CPS' Plan To Turnaround Chalmers Elementary

North Lawndale School Public Meetings
As promised, the CAC will continue to support these schools and is requesting that all of our members continue their support. The next public meetings are as listed below. Henson Community Meetings Monday - April 8 and Thursday, April 11, 2013 Manley High School 7:30pm – 9:30pm Henson Public Hearing Thursday, April 25, 2013 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm CPS - Central Office 125 S. Clark Pope Community Meetings Tuesday – April 9, 2012 and Saturday, April 13, 2013 Manley High School 5:00pm – 7:00pm

Neighborhood walk-through reveals dangers for CPS students

Chicago to Close 54 Schools to Address $1Billion Deficit (This story was carried in over 300 newspapers across the country.)

A Sign of Stability

North Lawndale Stakeholders Release Alternative Plan To School Closures

Press Statement Regarding the Proposed AUSL Turnaround of Chalmers Specialty Elementary School April 2, 2013
My name is Valerie Leonard, the Co-Founder of the Lawndale Alliance. We are a group of residents who have come together to address issues of concern to the community, including education, TIF reform and mortgage foreclosure. We are part of the Coalition to Save North Lawndale Schools. We are very concerned about the prospect of CPS closing 52 schools, representing nearly $600 million disinvestment in Black and Brown communities in Chicago. Approximately 89% of the impacted students are Black. The big winner in all of this will be AUSL, who will gain control of 6 schools at our expense. We are very concerned about the proposed turnaround of Chalmers Specialty Elementary School. The school was recently removed from the list of schools to be closed due to under-utilization. When they successfully proved that the building was 80% utilized, they were notified that CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett would be recommending the school for an AUSL turnaround. This is problematic on a number of levels. After reviewing the impact of the CPS proposed closings and turnarounds on the North Lawndale community, a disturbing pattern emerges. Bethune, which is managed by AUSL, will close and merge into Gregory, which will free up capacity for AUSL to take over Chalmers. Chalmers, located on the corner of Roosevelt and California, is across the street from the northeast corner of Douglas Park. Pope, which is located on 19th and Albany, is across the street from the southwest corner of the park, will close and merge into Johnson (AUSL). Johnson is located on the corner of 14th Street and Albany, and is across the street from the park, on the central west side. AUSL already controls Collins Academy, situated in the park. After the consolidation is done, AUSL will control EVERY school in Douglas Park, including Collins Academy HS, Johnson and Chalmers. The apparent strategy is to create a cohort of elementary schools that they control, and align them with a high school that they also control. This is problematic, as this strategy discourages true collaboration with all neighborhood schools. It also sends a very negative statement to the rest of the community in terms of local control. There have been documented instances of conflicts between AUSL and local school councils, in which LSC's have charged AUSL of attempting to erode their powers through AUSL bylaws. We would prefer a model of collaboration in which all feeder schools are aligned with neighborhood high schools in terms of comprehensive planning, curriculum and activities. The data show that, overall, AUSL schools perform at about the same level as North Lawndale schools in reading, while North Lawndale schools controlled by AUSL have not fared as well. AUSL will divest itself of Bethune before they can realize the promised turnaround for the school. Yet, CPS is prepared to offer a no-bid contract to AUSL to turnaround 7 schools including Chalmers. Chalmers has achieved a rate of growth in reading and math of more than twice the Citywide averages. We prefer that, given Chalmers' significant growth over the past 3 years, that Chalmers be allowed to continue its turnaround using current leadership and staff. A great model is the one used by the Cather school. They, along with a cohort of 7 other schools participated in a program sponsored by CPS, in which the schools were allowed to turn around using their own staff. Willa Cather was turned around in 1 year. Other schools in the cohort were turned around in 2 years. Within 3 years, all 8 of the schools were turned around. They were able to achieve these results at a fraction of the cost of what AUSL would charge to do the job. Moreover, they build the capacity of the existing staff to sustain the results after the re-tooling is completed. Respectfully submitted,

Valerie F. Leonard
Co-Founder, Lawndale Alliance

Note: Collins Academy shares space with North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter School. AUSL controls the capital budget for the building.

AUSL's Track Record in North Lawndale
Trends in ISAT Reading Scores: North Lawndale Schools and AUSL Schools

Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding State Standards








0.00 North Lawndale AUSL Schools
AUSL Schools-Lawndale

2001 25.22 24.35

2002 28.64 30.09

2003 28.62 27.75

2004 34.43 33.81

2005 36.37 30.15

2006 48.21 43.52

2007 48.06 45.83

2008 54.70 50.63

2009 56.22 51.31

2010 58.77 54.19

2011 62.93 61.82

62.40 62.25

Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding State Standards

Trends in ISAT Math Scores: North Lawndale Schools and AUSL Schools








0.0 North Lawndale AUSL Schools AUSL Schools-Lawndale

2001 21.0 20.25 15.55

2002 24.4 25.42 15.70

2003 29.4 26.66 26.95

2004 36.1 28.71 25.35

2005 32.8 22.21 18.35

2006 53.6 45.07 35.30

2007 57.9 51.24 45.50

2008 59.1 50.98 35.25

2009 62.6 58.01 40.30

2010 66.0 64.86 54.00

2011 69.8 75.59 65.95

2012 70.2 77.82 65.75

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