Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Remembering Metro, the school without walls


Progressive educators, alternative and small-schoolers will want to download a copy of Metro: The Chicago Public High School for Metropolitan Studies, 1970-1991. 

Metro was fondly referred to as “the school without walls,” and the city was its classroom. Derived from the radical concept that students should take responsibility for their own education and that urban institutions and businesses represented countless and varied opportunities for educational enrichment, the Chicago Public High School for Metropolitan Study, or “Metro,” was unique in the CPS system and the school was under fire from the Chicago Board of Education almost as soon as classes began in 1970. As I recall, Metro was ultimately closed and absorbed into Crane High School in 1991, which is now being closed and turned into a charter schools. And so it goes in Chicago's version of school reform.

The late, great Chicago educator, researchers and schools activist, Don Moore, then a Harvard doc student, was part of the Metro planning team.

Paula Baron, one of Metro’s history teachers, brings the school’s story to life in 86 pages of essays by Metro students, parents, teachers, and the school’s founders and  founding principal, Nate Blackman. Illustrated with photos and ephemera, including a wonderful picture of Studs Terkel speaking at 1975 graduation,  the book evokes the spirit of a school that allowed teachers to use their creativity to find ways to link academics with practical experience, and to bring students into the lives and workplaces of professionals in an array of fields.

It's available as a print-on-demand book at www.lulu.com on Amazon, or as a free PDF download at www.metrohschicago.com.  For more information or to speak with the editor, you can contact Paula Baron directly at plbaron@rcn.com (773-907-2203).

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