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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Remember the battle over the Marine Academy? Look what's happened since.

Community activists like Delia Borillas, worked hard to rally neighbors against plans to turn Ames into a military academy.
Back in 2014, after the Mayor and then school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett promised not to close any more schools, they instead pushed for their militarization. Chicago had already led the nation in publicly financed military academies but soon-to-be-indicted BBB decided to ignore parent protests and turn our neighborhood middle school, Ames, into a Marine Academy.

It was later discovered that the Marine Academy was part of the scheme that would profit her personally and later lead to the fraud convictions of BBB and her Synesi/SUPES partner in crime, Gary Solomon.

Ames Middle School, was originally built to house Small Learning Communities focused on personalization and experiential learning. After first threatening to move a Marine Academy into the "underutilized" Ames building, Rahm and BBB, with help from then Ald. Roberto Maldonado, shifted gears and came up with a plan to militarize the entire school elevating military programs at the expense of music, sports, and art and sparking protests from the the mostly-Latino community and parents. In a neighborhood referendum, community members voted overwhelming (97%-3%) against the militarization of Ames.

Lauren Fitzpatrick wrote in the Sun-Times:
In April 2013, grant applications were submitted for Carver Military Academy, Corliss, Farragut and what then was called Marine Math and Science Academy, now the Marine Leadership Academy at Ames. Each planned to pay Synesi $270,000 per year for its help, according to the schools’ proposals.
Fast forward...Byrd-Bennett and Solomon are on their way to prison. But the Marine Academy at Ames is still a thing -- barely.

This week, CPS announced another round of devastating mid-year budget cuts amounting to $46M. The school in our neighborhood, hit hardest by the cuts was -- you guessed it -- the Marine Academy, which, according to DNAInfo,  stands to lose $227,402.

If you appreciate irony, that's nearly the exact amount that would have been funneled to Synesi.

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