Save Our Schools: Why I March — Seasoned Teacher Tells Us

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Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action

I could actually write a book listing my concerns about education and why I think it’s important to go to DC and join fellow teachers marching to Save Our Schools. But yesterday I saw a graphic example that gives me all the reason I need to participate in this event.

There is a public school in Chicago — Whittier Elementary.

Whittier Elementary needs a library

Whittier Elementary needs a library

Last fall, the CPS (Chicago Public Schools) decided to sell the field house and the playground at Whittier to a nearby private school that wanted the property for a soccer field.

Whittier Elementary needs a library

Mothers at Whittier didn’t want their children to lose their playground. So they asked CPS to cancel the sale and CPS refused. So the mothers decided to occupy the field house to prevent the demolition. This is the field house:

Whittier Elementary needs a library

It’s not air conditioned, so the mothers improvised:

Whittier Elementary needs a library

The mothers take turns sleeping there at night:

Whittier Elementary needs a library

Several years ago, CPS took out the library at Whittier and converted the space into classrooms. So the mothers asked that the field house be converted into a library for the Whittier students. And to prove the space would work as a library, they all donated books and set up a library in the field house. They named it La Casita:

Whittier Elementary needs a library

Whittier Elementary needs a library

Their library also has a bathroom:

Whittier Elementary needs a library

After several months of the sit in, CPS said ok, we’ll convert classroom space in the school into a library. The mothers said no, that’s a special ed classroom and those children deserve classroom space. CPS eventually agreed not to demolish the school so the mothers stopped their sit in.

Several months went by, the superintendent of CPS resigned and a new superintendent was hired. The mothers decided to meet with the new superintendent and ask him to honor the agreement made by the previous one not to tear down the school. So CPS set up a meeting with the mothers. While they were at the meeting on June 27, CPS sent a demolition crew to Whittier to begin the demolition. They put up fencing:

Whittier Elementary needs a library

The mothers found out about the demolition crew, rushed back to the school and resumed their sit in. The demolition crew left. The mothers have occupied La Casita once again.

I visited La Casita yesterday. The mothers were very welcoming, enjoyed showing us La Casita and were incredibly proud of their library. They also shared the latest plan by CPS – close Whittier School, relocate the children and sell the entire property to the private school for their soccer field.

The mothers told us over and over that CPS claims to want parent involvement but has refused to allow them to be involved. There was a police car in front of the school; the mothers said the police are there frequently.

I’m marching on July 30 because parents are entitled to a voice and they deserve to be heard.

I’m marching because our children deserve libraries in our schools with brand new books instead of books that should be in children’s bedrooms for bedtime stories.

I’m marching because children deserve playgrounds and shouldn’t have to look out of their classroom windows at a soccer field that is private property where they are not allowed to play.

I’m marching because mothers should be sleeping at home instead of in a field house.

I’m marching because this school and field house should have been torn down years ago and replaced with a modern air conditioned facility full of not only a library but up to date technology and facilities.

I’m marching because our children – our future – deserve better than this.

I’m marching because in the United States of America, schools should be caring for our children instead of competing for diminishing resources managed ineptly by dysfunctional bureaucracies that do NOT place what’s best for kids above all.

Seasoned Teacher is from the midwest and teaches special ed. She’s been teaching for several years and is intimately familiar with curriculum design. She’ll be attending the Save Our Schools March and Conference in late July, 2011.

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9 Comments

  1. JW WA SOS IC - July 15, 2011, 12:23 pm

    As One Seasoned Teacher to Another, how wonderful that parents have stood up! I'm so glad I got to meet you in Chicago (west meets midwest in Chicago) and that we got to participate in the wonderful CORE workshop & march!

  2. Seasoned Teacher - July 16, 2011, 12:09 am

    Yes that CORE workshop was wonderful. I should probably write about it. I hope they do it again next year! It would be great to spend a day with you again!

  3. DA_2011 - July 16, 2011, 3:07 pm

    I think this is one of the most powerful march statements I have read. Thank you. GO mothers! Get that library!

  4. Blog For the Save Our Schools March #bloggermarch « Cooperative Catalyst - July 28, 2011, 1:30 am

    [...] Anne Pritchett Save Our Schools Why I March Seasoned Teacher Tells Us [...]

  5. dloitz - July 28, 2011, 1:32 am

    Thank you, Your post is added to the growing list… http://wp.me/pPx06-1uS

    remember to add it on twitter, Tumblr, Google+ or facebook with #bloggermarch

    Cooperative Catalyst

  6. Sandy - July 29, 2011, 12:10 pm

    Where's Bill Gates when you need him most? Why doesn't he throw his billions at something like this where it really makes a difference with kids instead of building more and more bureacracy that interferes with our teaching.

  7. Nate - July 29, 2011, 12:27 pm

    Just re-posted your blog over at our FB page! See you at the March!
    http://www.facebook.com/HastingsTeachersAssociation

  8. 90% of Chicago Teachers Vote to Strike If Contract Negotiations Break Down | K-12 News Network - June 18, 2012, 1:14 pm

    [...] longer school days minus any corresponding increases in pay, and other disputes over class size, restoration of school libraries, art and music classes, and an end to chronic underfunding. A four percent pay raise was rescinded [...]

  9. Chicago Teachers Union Strike: A Proxy for Deep Teacher-Parent Dissatisfaction With Current Education Policy | K-12 News Network - September 13, 2012, 8:10 am

    [...] and reduced- lunch in Chicago Public Schools ALSO deserve art, music, drama, science, history, libraries, textbooks, and properly temperature-controlled and spacious [...]

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