Editorial: Delay Canter closure

As the vote to decide whether to close 54 Chicago Public Schools draws near — it is scheduled for next Wednesday, May 22 — we are endorsing a very sensible proposal regarding Canter Middle School, which is on the closure list, made by House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-25), whose district includes Canter, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. We think the decision should be delayed by one year, so that the final class of Canter students can finish out their middle school experience there.

Like Currie, we think the decision to close Canter must be reconsidered. It is a work in progress, and, in our view, overall signs are more favorable than not. Regardless of one’s views on Canter, however, there is a seventh grade class that has just one more year at the school. It simply doesn’t make sense to shuttle these children to another school just to send them the following year off to high school.

There can be no advantage in this disruption to their learning experience. In fact, one can anticipate just the opposite — that their ability to prepare for high school will be dampened by these changes. With millions of dollars being spent on schools citywide in anticipation of new students coming from schools being shut down by this process, surely the heat and lights for Canter will not break the bank at CPS.

During the intervening year, we would also urge CPS officials to reconsider their decision. There’s lots to like about the Canter Middle School environment, including dedicated teachers, a caring administration (all-too-rare in public schools) and real improvement in the academics of the students who attend the school. But regardless of what is decided during that year, postponing this decision means the educational outcomes of a class of students at Canter will not be hampered in the name of keeping to a timetable.

We think that’s worth keeping the lights on.