Thanks to Erin Mason, one of the speakers at the press conference yesterday, you can watch all the statements at our press conference on You Tube.
On Tuesday, at a news conference held by Parents United for Responsible Education, which opposes the closings, a group of child mental health experts called on CPS to add social and emotional supports for students in closing schools. The experts also said CPS should allow counselors who have worked with students at schools being closed to move with those children to their new schools.
Erika Schmidt, director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, said that in a few schools she has noticed more students acting out and expressing concerns about the safety of going to a new school.
“There’s a level of anxiety and uncertainty that is making the ending of the school year very difficult,” Schmidt said. “Many of (the students) are scared to leave because they are going to schools that have traditionally been in conflict with them. They don’t think the welcoming schools will really be welcoming.”
Mental health experts are seeing first-hand how the biggest school closing in the nation is already affecting the students.
I think the most important part of this is they feel disregard devalued they feel like nobody cares their school matters to them,” said Erika Schmidt, of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.
Schmidt works in closing and receiving schools. She and others say CPS is not even close to being prepared for handling the emotional needs of the kids. In addition, Schmidt says CPS is controlling what is being communicated to schools about the closings.
“My understanding is the principals are given scripts to talk to teachers about what could and couldn’t say about the closings,” said Schmidt.
When asked about the principal scripts, CPS and the mayor stuck to their script.
They spoke again about closing schools to provide a better education. As for emotional support, CPS says closing school students will have an 8 week class with a social worker.
Mental health experts say much more is needed.
CBS-2 TV did a nice piece at 5 pm, which I can’t find online, but which included footage of the press conference as part of a larger story about school closing protests. The story quoted Erin Mason, president of the Illinois School Counselor Association, describing students’ feelings about the possibility of their schools closing. It also included a clip of me speaking more generally about the closings.
They used the clip of me again at 10 PM with this quote: “This is the year for school closings and I think our mayor wants to be the number one school closer in the country.”
I’m still looking for a link to a WBEZ story this morning which included Erika Schmidt.