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Closing Schools in North Lawndale is Not Providing Better Alternatives

As we enter the final stretch of the race to close down a record number of schools in the nation, we are extremely concerned about the patterns that are emerging in North Lawndale. We find that capital costs used to justify closing North Lawndale schools have been inflated up to 3 times. Moreover, there are no capital projects in progress at the schools slated to be closed, and they are in excellent condition. We have also found, consistently, that CPS has misrepresented the amenities of the closing schools. In most instances, the closing schools have greater amenities than the receiving schools. For example, CPS has said that Pope and Henson don't have computer labs. Henson has two technology labs, a library and a computer in every classroom. Pope has a technology lab and a media center. Community residents have questioned whether the proposed school closings are providing cover for AUSL to consolidate their interests in North Lawndale. Bethune, an AUSL school, will close before being completely turned around. This will free capacity for AUSL to take over Chalmers, situated across the street from the northeast corner of Douglas Park. Pope, situated across the street from the southwest corner of Douglas Park, will close, and Johnson, which is an AUSL school, will assume its boundaries. Johnson is situated across the street from Douglas Park on 14th Street. AUSL controls Collins High School, situated inside the Park. After the dust settles, AUSL will control essentially every school in or around Douglas Park. While Hensons receiving school is Hughes, the new attendance boundaries are drawn such that the lion's share of Henson students will go to Herzl, another AUSL school. CPS Board President Vitale is the former board president of AUSL. CPS Chief Administrative Officer, Tim Cawley, is a former managing director of AUSL. While we believe schools should be improved rather than closed, it should be noted that AUSL schools do not necessarily present better options. AUSL school in North Lawndale have historically under-performed the North Lawndale Average. School Closings will re-segregate the African American and Latino communities around Paderewski School, and will not provide better opportunities for African American students. Currently, Paderewski is the only North Lawndale school whose attendance boundaries include North Lawndale and Little Village. Paderewskis student population is 82% African American and 18% Latino. African American students generally live in Lawndale, north of Cermak Road, while the Latino students generally live in Little Village, south of Cermak Road. Even though CPS has designated Cardenas and Castellanos as receiving schools for Paderewski, the new attendance boundaries for Cardenas and Castellanos are drawn such that the northern boundary is Cermak Road. Likewise, the southern boundary for Penn and Crown is Cermak. Effectively, Latino students will be sent to Cardenas or Castellanos while African American students will go to Penn or Crown. Cardenas is Level 1 and Castellanos is Level 2. Cardenas and Castellanos are nearly filled to capacity. Paderewski, Crown and Penn are all Level 3 schools, with Paderewski being the strongest performer of the three.

In closing, we ask that CPS put a moratorium on school closures until they can complete their master facilities planning process, mitigate any conflicts of interest and change any plans that could compound segregation. Sincerely, Valerie F. Leonard Co-Founder, Lawndale Alliance 773-571-3886

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

Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding State Standards


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







0.00 North Lawndale AUSL Schools AUSL Schools-Lawndale

2001 25.22 24.35 25.50

2002 28.64 30.09 26.20

2003 28.62 27.75 23.50

2004 34.43 33.81 30.25

2005 36.37 30.15 23.30

2006 48.21 43.52 33.70

2007 48.06 45.83 42.70

2008 54.70 50.63 43.45

2009 56.22 51.31 38.60

2010 58.77 54.19 43.95

2011 62.93 61.82 53.60 62.40 62.25 51.65

Percentage of Students Meeting or Exceeding State Standards


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










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

North Lawndale
AUSL Schools AUSL Schools-Lawndale

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