These remarks were prepared for a community meeting on the closing and consolidation of National Teachers Academy on July 10, 2017. (Speaker sign up ended 30 minutes before the start of the meeting and thus this statement was not publically shared at that time.)
My name is Misuzu Schexnider and I am an associate program officer at Generation All, an initiative focused on uniting Chicagoans around revitalizing neighborhood public high schools in this city. In 2016 we, along with our 41 member steering committee, published a plan entitled Strong Neighborhood High Schools for a Stronger Chicago where we outlined specific actions all stakeholders across the city could take to help revitalize neighborhood high schools and in turn, our city. You can check out the plan at genallplan.org
Our first policy recommendation, that was endorsed by the Sun-Times editorial board, is to put a hold on the opening and closing of public high schools until there is an open, inclusive, citywide planning process that considers neighborhood needs. Rather than proposing quick fixes, Generation All proposes a long-term plan that works to re-establish neighborhood high schools as quality learning centers and anchor institutions in their communities.
Building a new high school, anywhere in the city, without a coherent, city-wide, neighborhood-informed plan is disruptive, especially to families of color. We need to invest in the schools we already have and make them safe and exciting places for learning so ALL students can thrive, not just those with the loudest or most privileged voices.
Generation All is currently advocating for increased enrollment to neighborhood public high schools and increasing learning and development opportunities for students who attend them. If we prioritized making all neighborhood high schools great, we wouldn’t have to worry about creating a new high school to benefit some at the expense of others. Thank you.