By STATE REP. BARBARA FLYNN CURRIE (D-25)
I am pleased that the members of the Chicago Board of Education agreed with our community and with me that it makes no sense to deny Canter Middle School seventh graders the chance to finish their 8th grade year in place. Closing the school now would have meant major dislocations for the current seventh-grade class. They left their home schools in September and will change schools again next year when they finish 8th grade and move on to high school. Most of the current crop of 7th graders would not even have had the option of returning to their home schools next fall had Canter closed this year.
I’m grateful, too, for the energy and the hard work our local school advocates, HPCARES, displayed on behalf of the Canter children and on behalf of children across the city. I hope that during this phase-out year the Board will continue discussions with the community. I’ve joined both HPCARES and the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference in suggesting that Canter stay open permanently. Perhaps we should set our sights on Canter as a full middle school, covering students in grades six through eight, rather than just grades seven and eight. It’s fair to say that, in the beginning, enrollment at Canter was slow to pick up steam. But today, by all accounts, the school is an academic success and a credit to the community.
Wednesday was a sad day for the 50 schools on the CPS closing list and for the communities those schools serve. I am glad that common sense prevailed for Canter, and that this year’s seventh graders will be able to finish middle school without facing the specter of yet another new school next fall. Four schools in four years is not a prescription for stability, and it’s not a prescription for academic success.