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School closure plan hurts children

Updated: April 26, 2013 6:10AM

Thank you for your editorial “Closing 54 Schools So Soon Means Pain.” As a CPS mom and a taxpayer, I am outraged about the proposed 54 public school closings in Chicago. A school is the heart of a community — closing even ONE should be done as a last resort. The short-term savings are not worth the long-term costs to the lives disrupted and children put in harm’s way, and the neighborhoods destroyed and destabilized.

Most of the proposed closings are in communities that need positive institutions, such as public schools, where everyone — regardless of ability — is welcome. What beacon of hope do they have in their neighborhood if there is yet another boarded-up building? Sure you can bus the kid out, but he has to go home at night to look at the carnage. Closing a school doesn’t erase poverty — or necessarily improve the performance of students leaving, but it does take away a sense of stability for a child whose life may be anything but. Has the mayor or school CEO visited these neighborhoods or schools? Shouldn’t we be investing in them and building them up — not closing places of community?

Why not look for creative solutions for “utilization” — such as sharing the space with a community or faith-based organization(s)? A job-training center? Another outlet for the Park District? The possibilities are endless, if you want to put taxpayer money to good use. Neighborhood schools are the lifeblood of a vibrant city. We should invest in them, not shutter them.

Let’s slow this down and do it right — closings should be done carefully and slowly, not rushed and haphazardly. Some of these institutions have been there for 100-plus years. Let’s respect the communities that built them and housed them — and let’s try to save them, not tear them down.

Tracy Baldwin, Portage Park

NRA not strong on rationality

So let me see if I understand this. The NRA says that allowing people to carry weapons to protect themselves would help to prevent crime. However, two of the most notable incidents involving mass shootings occurred in states where people are allowed to arm themselves, Arizona and Colorado. Having a gun and actually using it are two different things.

Dave Schmitt,

Franklin Park

Charter schools soak up all the money

As a former CPS teacher, I am saddened by the school closings just announced. To me this is deja vu on steroids. I was in a school that was to receive many new resources that never materialized. CPS did not have the wherewithal to handle a few closings without chaos, so it will be frightening what children and parents may be going through this fall.

It is ironic that the day that all the school closings were announced, the Sun-Times reported on the UNO charter scam. How does an agency with such a marginal track record receive so much money from CPS and the State of Illinois?

The crazy thing about this charter movement is how little money is allocated to students. Each charter operator has its own bureaucracy taking away student resources. This is in addition to the CPS bureaucracy. The powers that be keep talking about the pared down Clark Street offices, but the bloat moved to the cluster offices. Maybe the hope for real school reform may become a reality with an elected school board rather than civic luminaries who are placed on the CPS board to help advance the mayor’s misguided policies.

Barry Nolan, Norwood Park

Duplicity from Harrelson

I read with interest Chris De Luca’s article on the Ken “Hawk” Harrelson/Steve Stone broadcasting relationship. In the article, Harrelson is quoted as saying, “I will not be scripted.”

The reality is that every Harrelson broadcast is scripted. Every home run is described as “put it on the board, yessss!” Every easy fly ball is a “can of corn.” When an opponent strikes out he can “grab some bench.” And at the end of every White Sox victory he states “this ballgame is ovah[sic].”

How much more scripted can you get? The problem, as I see it, is Harrelson has been at this job too long. Using the English language in a descriptive and imaginative way seems to have eluded Harrelson. He has been mailing in his accounts of the Sox games for decades.

After four previously failed partnerships, Harrelson ought to be grateful that he has a loyal boss in Jerry Reinsdorf, who is willing to over look his shortcomings. If, and when, the Harrelson/Stone relationship falls apart, who will be responsible? Harrelson is now on his fifth partnership. I rest my case!

Joe Hafenscher, Arlington Heights,

Revitalize neighborhoods, help schools

Our charity, Schools Count Corp., has been involved with many of the schools being closed because of ‘empty seats.’ What I have found at a number of these schools is that those students who are in their seats are making terrific progress. Until the ‘powers that be’ realize that neighborhoods need to be revitalized then those communities, citizens, schools and their students will be left to fend for themselves. How sad.

Dick Flesher, Mokena

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