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Gresham staff, parents protest plans for CPS ‘turnaround’

Principal Diedrus Brown speaks rally outside Gresham School 8536 S. Green  about stopping Board Educatifrom making school 'turnaround' school.

Principal Diedrus Brown speaks to the rally outside of Gresham School 8536 S. Green, about stopping the Board of Education from making the school a "turnaround" school. Tuesday, April 15, 2014 | Brian Jackson/Chicago Sun-Times

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Updated: April 15, 2014 4:26PM

Gresham Elementary School Principal Diedrus Brown continued her very vocal fight Tuesday to save her school from undergoing a so-called “turnaround” — but this time with about 40 teachers, parents and students marching with her.

The group gathered on a snowy field outside the South Side school to protest plans by Chicago Public Schools administration to fire all of the staff at Gresham and replace them in an effort to boost student performance at the neighborhood school.

“We are serious about this,” Brown told the gathering, shortly before the march began. “It has to stop somewhere, and we are at that point now.”

Brown disputes CPS’ claims that the school where she has been principal for 10 years has performed poorly academically. Brown told the gathering that CPS needs to look at the change in test scores through the years at Gresham — not compare those scores with those at North Side schools.

“They have reduced our students to statistics, but our students are not statistics,” Brown said. “They are whole children and that’s what we are doing — teaching to the whole child.”

Teacher Tina Bumpers-Walker said she can’t understand why CPS has targeted a school that is making progress.

“I don’t understand your rhyme or reason, CPS,” Bumpers-Walker said.

Parent Tiffany Walker said if Mayor Rahm Emanuel is serious about improving schools, then he should provide resources for the teachers already at Gresham.

“Write a check and shut up,” Walker said.

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