Parents, students and teachers from came together from across Chicago for three days of marches and rallies on March 18-20 to send a message of protest against a plan to close as many 54 elementary schools and impose punitive action on a dozen and a half others.
The marches crisscrossed poor and predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods of the West and South Sides, where nearly all the schools slated for closure are located. The days of marching concluded with a downtown rally on Monday—organizers estimated as many as 7,000 people had participated over the three days. The Chicago Public Schools (CPS) board will make a final decision on the closures at its meeting this Wednesday.
George Manierre Elementary School is on the list of 54 schools. It differs from the others only in that it is located on the North Side, near the former Cabrini Green public housing complex that has been dismantled to make room for gentrification. Like other schools targeted for closure, Manierre has a student body that is almost entirely people of color. It has been assigned a low academic performance rating of Level 3, and CPS plans to send Manierre students to Jenner Academy, which is also Level 3—even though both are near several racially integrated schools with Level 1 academic standings. Another issue: Manierre and Jenner are located on opposite sides of a historic gang boundary—so parents, particularly at Manierre, fear for their children’s safety if the schools are consolidated.
Sherise McDaniel is Manierre parent and a leader of the struggle to save the school from the CPS closures ax. She talked to about the fight for Manierre and the wider issues connected to it.