Bret Harte petitions pre-kindergarten special education class cuts, Kozminkski showcases mural art in school news
By ALLISON MATYUS
A petition on change.org is calling to save the pre-K special education class at Bret Harte Elementary, 1556 E. 56th St., which was recently cut by Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
The school was notified of the cut on Tuesday, May 31. The class, taught by Juliette Friel, has six children ages 3 to 5 in the program that serves special needs students to prepare them for kindergarten and regular school level grades.
“We don’t agree with the decision and we would like CPS to keep the class because it’s a great program that is serving our youngest and most vulnerable students,” said Elizabeth Herring, a member of the Bret Harte Local School Council (LSC).
Herring said CPS told the LSC that the reasoning for the cut was not because of the budget, but rather, there are not enough students at Bret Harte’s program.
“CPS actually does the placement of children in the program, so the reason why we have low numbers is because they haven’t been placing students in our program,” Herring said.
Reavis Elementary School, 834 E. 50th St., and a school in the South Shore neighborhood also have the program. The students at Bret Harte would be transferred to the programs at one of these locations, which Herring said are both full.
The petition is asking not only the Bret Harte community but also the local community to sign in support of keeping the program at Bret Harte. So far, there are 592 signatures.
Herring said they will be bringing the signed petition to the Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, June 22, in hopes that they can work something out to keep the program at the school.
“We would like to work with CPS to solve this issue,” Herring said. “We weren’t given the chance to voice our input or ask questions and it seems like a big mistake.”
The north wall of Kozminski Community Academy, 936 E. 54th St., recently got a creative upgrade in the form of a mosaic mural installed by the nonprofit, Green Star Movement.
Since 2005, Green Star Movement has completed 39 murals at schools in the Chicagoland area, as well as countless murals in public spaces like community centers and parks.
“Not only do the murals our participants create transform ordinary spaces into works of art that beautify and revitalize shared spaces, but by involving youth and community members in the process of designing and installing the art, they have a voice and ownership over the art. The messaging of the mural really belongs to them and communicates the themes and ideas that they value and that represent the community,” said Erica Hawkinson, the marketing and operations director at Green Star Movement.