Community left out of school inequity issue

11/17/2010 10:00 PM

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Editor, the Journal

As this week’s Chicago Journal goes to print, the Chicago Board of Education may be voting on a recommendation by outgoing CEO Ron Huberman to expand Andrew Jackson Language Academy (Jackson) into the unused Jefferson school building on West Fillmore. This recommendation was first brought to my attention by a concerned resident of the 2nd Ward. This resident was outraged that the Board could take such action. I think that the concerned resident’s outrage stemmed from his belief that this recommendation will result in the inequitable allocation of scarce educational resources.

Most of us feel very passionate about the need for quality public schools, in particular quality schools for our own children. I benefited from a great elementary and high school education, but my mother made the decision to move an hour away from her friends and family to obtain that education for my sister and me.

This appearance of inequity is what happens when: 1) we react to a problem rather than planning proactively to solve it; and 2) we do not engage the entire community in the deliberative process.

I consulted the IFF’s (formerly the Illinois Facilities Fund) report, Here and Now2 – The Need for Performing Schools in Chicago’s Neighborhoods. The Near West Side does not rank within the top 25 community areas in need of performing elementary schools. Douglas and East Garfield Park are both on the list for 2008, and East Garfield Park was on the list in 2004.

One community organization impacted by this recommendation has participated in multiple meetings with the Chicago Public Schools and two alderman or their representatives, including the current 2nd Ward alderman, Bob Fioretti. This decision impacts more than one community. I would even argue that in this era of scarce resources that it has a potential impact on all communities in the city.

My understanding is that other proposed solutions have been suggested, including adding a gifted and talented program to the neighborhood school. Which option has the greatest potential to impact the most children, and what are the relative costs of all the possible solutions?

Where was the involvement from the broader community? The draft written recommendation says that a “public meeting” was convened on Monday, November 15. I suspect that the term “public meeting” is just a translation for the lack of timely and sufficient notice to hold an official public hearing with evidence and comments preserved on the record.

What planning went into to this recommendation? Where is the transparency?

The Journal raised many of these same questions in its October 20 editorial “Get School Debate in the Open,” including explicitly urging a public hearing. If the Board does vote on this issue today, Fioretti and the Chicago Public Schools will have failed to listen.

Genita Robinson
Candidate for 2nd Ward Alderman

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By parent from 2nd Ward
Posted: 02/03/2011 1:10 AM

After reading that article & others, I do not trust this woman with the 2nd Ward's schools and ed policy. Getting connected kids into the top magnets is corrupt and dirty. Did they give you any campaign contributions? I also learned that you helped close schools in the city and in effect put teachers out of work. Why? Oh... the founders of the Charter schools gave you campaign $. Weren't you the head of the Charter School office, isnt that a conflict of interest? Do the math: Reelect Fioretti

By concerned parent from Chicago
Posted: 02/03/2011 1:01 AM

ST last week: genita "faces questions about the role of her former boss at CPS, David Pickens, on her campaign committee. Pickens resigned from CPS last year after he admitted keeping a secret list of politicians, businessmen and others with connections who were seeking to help kids win admission to the most coveted Chicago Public Schools. Robinson admits she knew about the list when she worked for Pickens and that “it could have been handled better,” but declined to criticize her “good friend

By David Askew from Near West
Posted: 11/22/2010 8:09 PM

So that there is no confusion with respect to my position, I agree with the content of Genita's letter. Furthermore, I am against the AJLA expansion. I look forward to working with all those who endeavor to help Smyth School students (current and future) reach their full potential. Blessed Thanksgiving to all.

By Jay from RS
Posted: 11/22/2010 2:47 PM

I absolutely agree with Miss Robinson. There are other communities with a greater need than ours who would benefit greatly. A school expansion is not needed. There's room for all community children at Smith and all would prosper and strive to do better/be better with a gifted/talented program. If the gifted program is suppose to draw students from across the city, Why not include a intergration program for the new children. AJ expansion is not needed!!

By PM from West Loup from West Loop
Posted: 11/20/2010 0:55 AM

Agreed with MLR. There is nothing more urgent than to offer children in the community quality educational options. Kudos to Fioretti to fight for the expansion of the Andrew Jackson Language Academy. An Andrew Jackson Language Academy will result in equal access to additional seats for the community and the whole city of Chicago.

By David Askew from Near West
Posted: 11/18/2010 4:52 PM

Good comments.

By MLR from West Loop
Posted: 11/17/2010 10:51 PM

Where was she the last 4 years? Sounds like a Jane-come-lately, now that she is an aldermanic candidate. As a former director of the failed Charter Schools dept of CPS she knows full well that school choice is an important facet of ed reform, yet why is she advocating that the U.V. community not be entitled to it. Smyth isnt performing well and CPS doctrine (that she helped create) has been to give those parents choice. Oxymoronic? I think so. Fioretti and his aide L Recht are doing a great job!