Blame to share for Canter closure

To the Editor:

As the parents of a recent Canter Middle School graduate, we’re sickened by the news that this excellent school will be closed.
Let us be perfectly clear: Canter is a successful school, and it is not “underutilized.”

We’re sickened, as we say, but not surprised. This is simply the final insult added to a series of injuries, earlier insults and bad breaks the school has endured since its middle-school program was introduced a decade ago.

It started with a piece of bad luck. A promising and energetic young principal who had been brought in to launch the program became ill and had to resign.

There was the building extension CPS promised but never built. Somehow, with all the money coursing through the neighborhood for hotels and glass-and-steel office towers, none could be found for this small school with Black students.

Then, we are sad to say, there were the parents from Canter’s feeder schools who simply refused to send their children to a school with predominantly poor, Black students. The things we heard from neighbors who had never set foot in the school about how bad Canter purportedly was, none of them even remotely true, were appalling. This was racial and class antipathy at its worst, and it revealed a dark side to our putatively enlightened neighborhood.

Despite all this, Dr. Colleen Conlan, Canter’s principal; Mr. Eric Lewis, the assistant principal and a talented staff of teachers have built a program in which kids study, learn and are nurtured in the way children at this age should be nurtured. (And this, by the way, is the essence of a good middle-school program and something the students won’t get when they’re returned to K to 6 schools.) Canter has succeeded against all odds, even if few people know about it.

There is plenty of shame to go around in Canter’s brief story, in the system and in the community. The people who can be proud, however, are the students, parents, teachers and staff of the school, whose loss will be a big one for Hyde Park-Kenwood.

Jane Averill
Tom Panelas

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