Dear Mr. Vitale, Mr. Ruiz, Mr. Azcoitia, Mr. Bienen, Ms. Hines, Ms. Pritzker, Ms. Zopp:
It is decision time in Chicago. You have been presented with a plan by the Mayor and his hired CEO. You are his appointed Board of Education members with the power to decide. I use the term plan loosely because by definition it is, “a detailed formulation of a program of action, a method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective.” This school closing action is definitely not a plan, up until the day of the announcement even people in the CPS central office were unaware of many parts of it. Imagine how poorly it will be executed when it continues to be drawn up minute by minute with little thought and consideration of the outcomes and consequences. Even if the community opinion and parent voices are ignored, I hope the research is considered by the board. I hope you have taken the time to read the articles and research discussing the cost, dangers of school closings, as well as information about the schools closed and the impact on welcoming schools.
The Board members actually have an opportunity to lead a change in school reform with your vote. By looking at the research and saying NO to school closings you can shift the conversation, lead real reform in urban schools. You have a chance to determine what a community school can look like in every neighborhood. You have a chance to do just as our school motto says: educate, inspire, transform.
So here is your chance. Here is your moment to do something for Chicago. Make a choice as a Chicagoan, a community member and a leader in education. You are at a crossroad: will you be a part of the destruction of Chicago and its communities or will you be a beacon in the storm of education reform? Your name is attached, your legacy will be remember, your choice will have an impact for generations. Will your name be written with those who create positive change and bright futures for our children, or will your name be written on the death certificate of neighbor schools and the communities they serve?
Dare to give our neighborhood schools and the children that attend them an education the mayor gives his own children. Show our children what it means to think critically, take all the information from the research detailing the damage of school closing on communities, children and finances and make a decision to keep schools open. Show our children what courage looks like, stand up to the man who appointed you and say you think what’s best for our children is to have a quality neighborhood school in every neighborhood. Show our children that you think of them first when you are making decisions. Take the money that is set for security and busing and use it to give children the resources they need, show them you believe they deserve all of that in the school they are in, not just if they are willing to face danger and distance to get it.
Let your choice and legacy be the model that other urban districts follow, let this world class city lead by offering a world class education to all of our students in their neighborhood.