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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Children are pawns in CPS plans to increase class size

The decision by Mayor Daley and Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman to close their budget gap on the backs of Chicago's schoolchildren is a travesty that Daley should pay for in his upcoming re-election campaign.

Chicago Public Schools staff know, and Huberman himself knows, that there were many other places he could have cut other than making our children suffer, literally suffer, through a year (who knows how many more) of their precious education.

[The Chicago Board of Education on Tuesday voted to give school officials the authority to raise class size up to 35 and lay off teachers if necessary to balance the CPS budget.]

Let's look at my school, Gage Park High School, a neglected high-poverty neighborhood high school that has already been set up for failure by past policies.

As a non-magnet, non-selective enrollment, neighborhood high school, we are unfortunately a school of last resort. The highest-achieving students with good parental support don't come here, leaving us with very few top students who could be role models. We must take everyone else. And we do. We also must take students expelled from our neighborhood charter schools, private schools and jail schools.

We are overcrowded, have one social worker for 1,700 students, have four board-funded security guards to control those 1700 students and -- no surprise -- are on probation. But according to CPS, the media and the business community, we are the problem, and CPS continues to close schools like ours and be lauded for it.
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