Thursday, May 18, 2006

Really Bad News

The Big Picture High School in Back of the Yards is being threatened with closure. The Board of Education has told the school not to accept new freshmen for next fall. I'm told the current juniors will be able to stay and graduate in June of 07, but there's no word yet about what happens to the sophomores and freshmen, including Dawn and Julian.

My friend Mike Klonsky went ballistic over this on his blog, sparing me from having to do it here. Here's the link:

There's a meeting tonight at 6 at the school for parents and community to strategize.

I will tell you all that at the Neighborhood Housing Services board meeting last night I did not hear resounding support for saving Big Picture. The Peace and Education Coalition is focused on getting a new high school building in the neighborhood with enough space to serve a lot of kids, and frankly Big Picture has not been involved in the Coalition, so it hasn't won their backing. They've never been to a meeting, I've been told.

What I heard was a lot of griping--they don't serve many kids, how many of them are from the neighborhood anyway? (the first class had a lot from Little Village, which I think left a bad taste in some people's mouths) all the schools here need help, we need a real high school in here, etc. etc.

I tried to be sympathetic (and we do need a real high school, that will serve more kids--but it needs to be done right or it won't serve them well), but finally I told everyone in that room straight out: "My concern here is for the 80 kids in that building right now, especially for the two of them who live next door to me. If the school closes, what happens to them?"

One person said: "They'll transfer." Yes, probably to Richards, one of the worst high schools in the city. Great.

Another person said, more thoughtfully, "Probably if they have to transfer, a lot of them will drop out." Bingo.

I think I'm gearing up to pay tuition for Dawn to go to Our Lady of Tepeyac in Little Village. I don't know what to do about Julian. Frankly, I'm tempted to tell him to just goof around at Richards until he can drop out and go to Second Chance, where he might get some education. Ouch.

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