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CPS CEO recommends turnarounds for three schools

BarbarByrd-Bennett CEO Chicago Public Schools Chicago Board Educatimeeting Monday November 20 2013. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media

Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of Chicago Public Schools, at the Chicago Board of Education meeting on Monday, November 20, 2013. | Chandler West/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: April 23, 2014 6:11AM

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Friday announced recommendations to turnaround three low-performing elementary schools — two on the West Side and one on the South Side.

If approved by the Board of Education in April, McNair Elementary School in Austin, Dvorak Technology Academy in North Lawndale and Gresham Elementary School in Auburn-Gresham will be managed by the Academy for Urban School Leadership, which already runs 29 CPS schools and teacher training academies.

CPS on Friday confirmed 76 teachers and a total of 147 total employees will be affected by the turnaround, if approved. Teachers must re-apply for their positions. CPS earlier gave an inaccurate number of faculty, counting in the staff of two other schools.

Byrd-Bennett told the Sun-Times the reason behind the decision is “to reverse the trend of failure that we’ve seen with some of our students.”

“The ultimate goal is to ensure that our students are 100 percent college ready and college bound,” Byrd-Bennett said.

Byrd-Bennett said she had been eyeing the schools for turnaround since last August.

All three elementary schools are Level 3, all on academic probation.

Byrd-Bennett also apologized for an error that led parents of students at Parker and Mason elementary schools to believe those schools were also being recommended for turnaround. She said CPS staff had mistakenly sent out the letters. The schools, she said, were not selected for turnaround because they showed some improvement.

If approved, the schools would become turnaround schools for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Chicago Teachers Union on Friday questioned the recommendation and said layoffs will affect predominantly African-American elementary schools. CTU President Karen Lewis called the decision “a continued war on older black educators.”

“What we see are schools that are in the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Chicago. We see schools that are as a group 97 percent African-American,” CTU Vice-President Jesse Sharkey said. “...These policies will hurt the students they are meant to help and it will punish the dedicated educators that have made a point in their life to dedicate their lives to working with the student population.”

Sharkey said the union plans to make an appeal to the public and politicians to reverse the recommendation.


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