Chicago Public Schools has provided further proof that they could care less about what is best for students; regardless of the rhetoric they proliferate. The most recent proof of this is their plans to cut the Pre-K Special Education program at Bret Harte Elementary on the South Side.
CPS is intentionally and knowingly harming the kids who need the most, by cutting a Special Education Pre-K program for 3 and 4 year olds with various types of physical and mental disabilities.
I should not be shocked that CPS would attempt a move like this. This is not new for Chicago Public Schools. In my 9 years of teaching in here I have witnessed CPS hold community meetings in which students and parents begged and pleaded for CPS to keep their schools open, only to have CPS ignore the community and close the most schools in the history of our country. CPS claimed the cuts were to save money and that the schools were under-enrolled, yet at the same time they were increasing funding for charters and opening new charter schools.
But I guess I still am actually shocked by their desire to cut a Special Ed. Pre-K program. Apparently CPS has now shifted their destruction from schools on the South and West sides to programs that serve the South Side and West Sides.
There are other Special Ed. Pre-K programs on the South Side, but they are either filled to capacity, much too far away, or staffed without certified Special Ed. teachers. As a high school teacher I know from experience that many special needs students depend on a school routine that is consistent and safe. Forcing these very young students to switch schools can be especially traumatic.
One of the parents of a child in the Special Ed. Pre-K program created a Change.org petition to be delivered to CPS demanding that this program be saved. In the petition she writes, “My daughter has made remarkable progress through the efforts of the amazing and dedicated teacher in the special education preschool program. The class at Harte is an effective, loving learning environment for my daughter and her classmates, for whom stability and consistency are crucial. In addition, the special education preschool class is an important part of the school. It is often integrated with other classes for recess, field trips, special events, and sometimes just stories and centers. “
You had better believe that as a parent I will do what is best for my kids, because the school district that I choose to work for and send my children too, does not care about our children.
Here’s how you can get involved and help save Harte’s Pre K Special Education Program:
- Sign the petition
- Contact the Alderman of Bret Harte School Leslie Hairston
- Call CPS and leave a message for Forrest Claypool and Janice Jackson 773-553-1000
- Come to the “Play in” at Harte!
Finally, the parents of Bret Harte are organizing a “Play-In to Save Pre-K Special Education at Harte” on Tuesday the 21st from 3:30-4:30pm (1556 E. 56th St.) on the playground. Please bring your child and/or come out and support us as we fight to keep open an amazing program that serves amazing kids.
Sample Script for Leslie Hairston, Forest Claypool and Janice Jackson:
“My name is ____________ I am calling to ask you to save the Special Ed. Pre-K program at Bret Harte Elementary School. This a very successful and positive program at the school. Cutting a program that helps special needs children is wrong. I am asking you to keep this program open. Thank you”