By STATE REP. BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE (D-25)
The Chicago Board of Education will soon make decisions about school closures, decisions that will disrupt communities and displace large numbers of students. One can only hope that the board’s decisions will be made with care and caution. One can only hope that dislocated students will find themselves in safer, better-performing schools in the fall. I know many in the community share my hopes – and my reservations.
I continue to hope that the board will decide against closing Canter Middle School, as it is a vibrant, academically sound and important resource for our neighborhood. If the board should decide to close Canter, I implore the members at a minimum to extend Canter for one more year. Current seventh-graders at Canter left their home schools last year, and they will be changing schools when they graduate from eighth grade next year. Chicago Public Schools stresses continuity and its current philosophy supports schools that cover the elementary school landscape, from kindergarten through eighth grade.
Only some of the seventh-graders at Canter can return to their home schools. Even though Harte and Ray are receiving schools for Canter youngsters, only 19 of the 105 Canter seventh-graders started out at either Harte or Ray. The largest number of seventh-graders at Canter — 38 — came to Canter from Shoesmith. Under the current plan, they can’t go back to Shoesmith, as Shoesmith has no eighth grade. Nearly 30 youngsters came from schools in Woodlawn, South Shore and other parts of the city. All of these students have one more year of elementary school. They left their home school for a year, they’ve had one year at Canter, many of them will find themselves in yet a third school before they embark the next year upon a fourth, the high school they’ll enter after the next academic year.
This isn’t good for continuity. Four schools in four years is a lot of disruption, and I can’t imagine it will provide our children with the best education our public schools have to offer. I have urged the Chicago Board of Education to keep Canter open for at least the next academic year — and to reconsider the decision to close Canter at all.