Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicago: Sleep-out to save Anderson

From Tara Mack

On Saturday, May 30, from 11 am until 10 am on Sunday May 31, Hans Christian Andersen School is having a "Sleep-out". Andersen School is located at Honore & Division on the near north side, not far from Carpenter. They are in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood and have been told that "they are not a good fit for the neighborhood". The Board voted to phase them out a year ago February. At the time they mobilized 300 parents, teachers, students, and community members to protest but they won only minor concessions.

Mildred Rodriguez, chairperson of the Andersen LSC is the organizer, and she is putting this sleep out together to protest the accelerated phase-out of Andersen and phase-in of LaSalle Magnet II. The neighborhood school and neighborhood kids are being pushed out to make way for a middle-class "magnet" parent and student body. The school is fighting to stay alive even as the Board takes it apart grade by grade.

This sleep-out is being timed to coincide with the "Do Division Street Fair" which is taking place on Sat-Sun May 30-31. The festival describes West Division Street as "the hottest, hippest, most cutting edge neighborhood in Chicago" identifying the area as ideal for dismantling a neighborhood school and putting in a specialty school such as LaSalle II.

This school would like to have the support of CORE and all our allies. Andersen's example could be an encouraging action to all the schools that are under the gun. Please consider coming out to Andersen on Saturday-Sunday and spending a shift with them, including overnight. CORE could also help produce a leaflet that could be distributed to fest-goers describing what is happening to Andersen School.

I will continue to send updates as I receive them from the organizer at Andersen.

Norine Gutekanst
Whittier Elementary


  1. Hi there. This is Kara Salgado - I run the West Town Chamber of Commerce and organize the Do-Division Street Fest. Did you realize that we plan to donate 7% of the funds raised at Do-Division Street Fest to Anderson School? We estimate that to be close to $4000-$5000. I dont understand why you would schedule this protest at the same time as an event that benefits you! Call me at the office 312-850-9390 please.

  2. Kara,

    I'm afraid I'm not the organizer, only a publicizer of the Anderson sleep-out.

  3. Although I am very much against the process that CPS uses to shut down schools and the connection between school closings and gentrification, I think it is important not to make blanket statements about area residents. Although Division is heavily gentrified, I believe the rhetoric employed by Noreen is very disappointing. How sure are you that the parents who will be sending their children to this school are "privileged"? I live in the neighborhood and know many low income Latino parents who are happy to have a good school opening in their neighborhood. Let's please keep the conversation focused on CPS and not on demonizing parents and making them feel guilty for wanting a good school in their neighborhood for their children.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.