Save Collins High School

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Deal

On Monday the proud, hard-fighting warriors of Collins High School, and supporting members of the community, finally got their chance to speak with Board President Michael Scott and Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan. Riding a wave of momentum spun from a raucous showing at the February 9th public hearing, those Westside representatives did not flinch, or quiver, from the 2-hour showdown. Rather they stood toe-to-toe with those would seek to take what they have made.

The meeting was arranged by State Senator Ricky Hendon, and held openly in his office for any who supported the cause. That illustrious group would turn out to include Congressman Danny Davis, Commissioner Bobbie Steele, and Men for a Better Lawndale President Julius Anderson. All spoke on behalf of Collins High School. And we too, spoke for ourselves, proudly, and without fear.

Back and forth we went. Issues involving the school culture, reading scores, the nature of the freshmen entering Collins High School, the socio-economic features of the community, all were discussed. We asked tough questions. They gave tough answers. We looked for seams and cracks, they baled water out of their boat. Hendon was unflinching and focused. He pushed the discussion and recorded every inch they gave. Determined, but smart enough to keep the debate moving, Hendon was certain to include all of the stakeholders in attendance who sought to contribute. For two hours the issues were held up, examined, dissected, analyzed, and finally put to rest.

The deal that was brokered: Collins High School will not be closed. Rather than a three year phase out, with no freshmen attending Collins again until 2009, we were able to get the Board to commit to a 1-year turnaround, so that Collins would not take freshmen in 2006, but would again in fall 2007. That our curriculum would not be sacrificed for a new police academy, or a golf course, or a charter school. That it would be spliced into two strands, one for vocational (or trades) education, and one for college preparatory work, but not including selective enrollment. So that Collins High School will remain in the community, by the community, and for the community. That was a victory for us. A fine reward for our efforts. But naturally we are not satisfied. Not fully anyway. We believe we can restructure the curriculum in 7 months. That freshmen do not have to be transfered out of their neighborhood school, not even for one year. They should not have to be bussed to Crane, or Michelle Clark, or even miles uptown to Lincoln Park. That they should be able to remain safe in their community, and attend their local school. We have the knowledge to do this, we have the resources to do this, and we have the will to do this. If our previous commitment is any proof, then their should be nothing to stop our success pending of course Board approval. Therefore, tomorrow, at the Board meeting, and really in our final fantastic effort, we will make a plea to vote "no" to the boundary realignment, and to vote "yes" to pushing ourselves to give the North Lawndale community the school it deserves in 7 months, rather than in a year and 7 months. We believe that it can be done, and we will make one last effort to keep our freshmen.

So once more we ask you to light your candles for us, and to believe that those who have come so far, for nothing other than love, can go a bit further. There will be no shame either way. We have saved our school. There will be a Collins High School in Douglas Park for the North Lawndale community for now and the forseeable future. We have proven that the people justly united can stand against injustice, and overcome stark challenges. We our proud of ourselves and know that the effort we put forward was our best one. Tomorrow we can only add icing to our cake, and we only seek that because we are proud, and we know that we can achieve it.

So wish us well, and wish us luck for Wednesday, and on Thursday pat us on the back, and say "What a thing you did! What a great people you are!"

And on Friday we will rest.

2 Comments:

  • At 11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hey wow! Kudos! Props! Way to fight the machine. This is the most enocouraging thing I've heard all day...If you can do this I believe in your 7 month time frame too...

     
  • At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    from Howie:
    forwarded from a UPC caucus colleague

    Subject: Education of Black Children


    Committee To Educate Black Children
    News Release

    Friday, March 3, 2006,
    11:00 AM
    125 S. Clark Street, Building Lobby
    Contact: Gilda Walker
    Phone: 773.485.2182

    The Committee To Educate Black Children, Including: Concerned Black
    Women Of Chicago;
    United American Progress Association; Committee For A Better Chicago;
    Voices Of The
    Ex-Offender; The Impossible Dream Team; Vote to Live; and other
    educational community
    activists, announce the establishment of the Junius Gates Education
    Defense Fund; as well
    as, Plans to seek an injunction to prevent the Chicago Board of
    Education from closing
    additional schools; and an intent to remove Black children from Chicago
    Public Schools,
    if all else fails.

    On Monday, February 26, 2006, hundreds of parents, educational
    community
    activists and
    business owners met, donated thousands of dollars, and recorded pledges
    to establish a
    Black Education Defense Fund. The money has been deposited into an
    account at the
    Southside Community Federal Credit Union. Fund administrators include:
    Spencer Leak,
    AR Leak and Sons Funeral Home, and Frank Logan, Franks Auto Repair.

    Donations to the Junius Gates Education Defense Fund can be mailed or
    deposited in person:
    Southside Community Federal Credit Union, 5401 South Wentworth Ave,
    #25,
    Chicago, IL, 60609.

    On Friday, March 3, 2006, hundreds more will peacefully assemble inside
    the lobby of CPS
    headquarters to confront the closing of schools in the Black community.

    According to Bill Dock Walls, spokesman for the Committee to Educate
    Black Children, We are
    drawing a line in the sand, and will prevent Mayor Daley and CPS Board
    members, from closing
    schools, almost exclusively, in our community. We will request that the
    courts enjoin these
    racially discriminatory closings, on the basis that they violate the
    Equal Protection Clause of
    the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

    In 1964, The Supreme Court of the United States - Griffin v. County
    School Board of Prince
    Edward County (Va.)- found a violation of Equal Protection, citing
    that,
    Closing Prince Edward's
    schools bears more heavily on Negro children. Certainly, that is the
    case here and now.

    Walls warned, We will not sit idly by while Mayor Daley, Michael Scott,
    and Arne Duncan neglect
    the educational needs of our children. We struggled for years to reduce
    class size; we will not
    allow classes to balloon to 37 children. Either the courts will act to
    prevent further discriminatory
    school closings, or we will remove a significant number of our children
    from Chicago Public Schools,
    and educate them in makeshift classrooms in our homes and churches.

    We believe Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010, a plan to privatize
    education
    and sell public schools
    to the highest bidder, exceeds Chicago's Home Rule Authority.

    As taxpayers, we challenge him to prove otherwise.

    For complete Information about CFABC activities, please view our site.

     

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