Friday, August 25, 2006

Whatever happened to Chicago's "small-schools movement"?

Archived post from Yahoo 360 |08/25/2006 12:49 pm

"At some point you have to say no to what this system is doing to kids" --Principal McGreal

August 25, 2006

Latest from inside the "renaissance"...

Renaissance 2010 started as a small-schools initiative. The original plan called for the creation of 100 new SMALL schools by end of the decade. We're past the halfway point now and one thing has become clear. Ren10 is no longer about small schools or high school restructuring. Rather, it's about closing schools, privatizing school management and making high schools larger and larger.

Case in point.

Gage Park parents have been petitioning the board unsuccessfully for years, for a new high school. Gage Park High School, with 1800, mainly-black and Latino students, is bursting at the seams. Only about 30% of Gage Park students make it to their senior year before dropping out. The perfect place for some new small schools and for restructuring the big high school, right? Wrong. Instead, the central office keeps pushing the school to take more and more kids.

Finally, a brave interim princial, Martin McGreal, stood up and said, enough is enough. He refused to enroll any more new students this year, and was immediately fired.

According to the  Chicago Tribune ("Principal stands up to system, gets fired"):
The interim principal of Chicago's Gage Park High School has been fired for refusing an order to enroll more students at his overcrowded school on the Southwest Side.

"At some point you have to say no to what this system is doing to kids," said Martin McGreal, 37, who joined Chicago Public Schools nine years ago as an elementary school teacher. "It's why the system is where it's at. You compromise all the time."
Adds Tribune writer Lori Olszewski:
The dispute brings into focus one of the hottest issues in the school system--the stark difference in conditions between the neighborhood schools and the system's boutique schools, including new charter schools offering smaller classes.

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