PSAT for 11-20-12: Tell your state reps to vote NO on waiving the Dec. 1 school closure announcement deadline

For Public Schools Action Tuesday today, send a strong message to your state legislators. Contact for Illinois state senators here, and state representatives here. Most are in their home offices this week. The fall veto session, when action on the Chicago school closing deadline waiver will most likely be considered, begins this coming Monday, November 27.

Research and common sense say NO to waiving the Chicago Schools Facilities Act December 1 school closing announcement deadline.

Chicago’s children should not be used as guinea pigs for experiments that are not working.

Chicago’s children deserve solutions that are research-based and that make sense.

Over 100 Chicago area university researchers have concluded that “reforms” such as school closings, charter school expansion, and mayoral control of schools – which are promoted by corporate interests and astroturf lobbying organizations – have not led to any significant improvements in achievement or savings, and have instead resulted in less democratic school governance, less equitable funding, and less capacity for schools to serve the needs of Chicago’s children.

Yet the corporate school reformers are back to ask the legislature to continue on this path of failure, this time by waiving the hard-won deadline of December 1, when state law requires Chicago Public Schools to announce its proposed school closings. We oppose this waiver.

RESEARCH does not support the use of widespread school closures. New fact sheets* from the Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CreATE) clearly demonstrate that:

  • School closures DO NOT save significant money.

Studies of six urban school districts showed that school closures did not save as much money as was hoped, and savings were further reduced by such closure-related new costs as closed school site maintenance or demolition, moving services, and support for both the displaced students and the schools that received them.

  • School closures DO NOT raise achievement.

The vast majority of students from closed schools are moved from one low-scoring school to another with no improvement in student achievement either in Chicago or in other cities.

  • Charter schools, which often move into buildings vacated by closed schools,  DO NOT offer a better education, serve students with the highest need, or save districts money.

Results from Chicago charters mirror the mediocre results of charter schools nationally, where student achievement has only improved for 17% of students. Only 13% of Illinois charter schools made adequate yearly progress in the 2010-2011 school year.

Charter schools spend more on administration and less on instruction than than traditional public schools.

COMMON SENSE says…

If Chicago Public Schools officials want to gain teacher, parent and community trust, they should begin by respecting and following the Chicago Schools Facilities Act — a law that was developed with authentic stakeholder involvement — rather than asking for a waiver of that law. Establishing an appointed committee to circumvent the task force called for in that law and to operate behind closed doors shows how little CPS’s motives are to be trusted. This is clearly just another stalling tactic for a bureaucracy which has historically refused to be open and accountable about its plans.

VOTE NO on the CPS request for a waiver of the December 1 deadline in the Chicago Schools Facilities Act.

*CReATE Fact Sheet on School Closures, Governance and Accountability

* CReATE Fact Sheet on Charter Funding

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.