By DASCHELL M. PHILLIPS
The Chicago Public Schools Board of Education unanimously voted in favor of keeping Canter Middle School open for another year to allow the school’s current 7th grade class to graduate.
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced in March that several schools across the city would be closed next school year due, in most part, to underutilization. CPS held several community meetings and hearings in several neighborhoods before making recommendations to the board. The original recommendation for Hyde Park-Kenwood was that Canter, 4959 S. Blackstone Ave., be closed, but at its Wednesday meeting the board voted to phase out the middle school to allow its current 7th graders to complete 8th grade next year. Canter was one of 50 schools under consideration to be closed, moved or consolidated.
At the board meeting parents, teachers, students and education advocacy groups from across the city spoke out in protest of what was one of the largest school closings in American history. Many of the speakers yelled out at the board in anger and had to be escorted out of the meeting for staging sit-ins at the podium.
Hyde Park resident and parent Joy Clendenning locked arms with members of Parents 4 Teachers, a coalition of parents from across the city, at the front podium during the meeting and chanted “Every school is our school.”
“There are too many schools closing, not enough capacity in the schools that are staying open, no engagement with the community,” Clendenning said. “There is a lot of misinformation and it’s being used to justify this. They need to stop and the mayor needs to stop.”
Clendenning, who is a member of Hyde Park Community Area Residents Empowering Schools (HPCARES), said that Canter parents are elated that the board voted to phase out Canter instead of closing it next year but plan to continue to speak out on behalf of the school.
“We feel supported and relieved but broken-hearted about the plans to close the school the following school year,” Clendenning said. “We’re going to see what we can do to see that it stays open longer.”