Josephine Norwood, a Bronzeville mother of three Chicago public school students, has rebounded from two rounds of school closings that displaced her children from their schools. As she watched the Board of Education approve another set of schools for closing or turnaround last week, Mrs. Norwood had a simple question: Can Chicago Public Schools officials promise that the new schools will be better?
“If this process could guarantee the child the best and they would benefit from the school closing, then maybe it is a positive thing,” Mrs. Norwood said. But she spoke out last week, along with many others, about the need for more transparency and proof that the disruptions are warranted.
As the public schools system entered its annual process of selecting schools for closing or turnarounds, parents, teachers and community groups leveled criticism at school officials for the lack of communication with the communities involved and questioned data from the central office that does not match the reality in the schools. Some also pleaded for the district to delay any action until the corrective measures taken at the lowest-performing schools — the wholesale turnover of administrators and teachers — could be better evaluated and a comprehensive plan for school facilities could be developed by a new task force.