On Wednesday, January 25, six students from Hancock College Prep–the only Selective Enrollment school on the Southwest side–spoke at the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education meeting.
They definitely impressed the Board members with their statements. It was time students’ voices got heard.
In the Chicago Public Schools, we tell our students that they’re good enough. That they’re good enough to be educated and to be transformed into inspiring individuals. But we have to ask if our district’s actions speak louder than its words.
When Hancock became Selective Enrollment a couple of years ago—a decision that was made without engaging anyone affected by that decision—our community was told there was no money for a new building. So the state gave the school $10 million to renovate an old building that was never intended to provide a comprehensive 21st century education experience. The plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling—the structure and design of the building—are problematic, inadequate, and limiting.
CPS has announced that $75 million are available for a new high school. But we haven’t heard about the possibility of that serving the promising and fully populated Southwest side. That’s probably because we don’t have the political or economic power to secure this city’s attention.
Elementary and middle schools have been built. But our district has to invest in our Southwest youth past 8th grade.
In 2014, Hancock was told that our building was good enough for a Selective Enrollment experience. But it’s not. Students talked about the inadequate facilities—facilities that would never be tolerated in the South Loop, the West Loop, the Gold Coast, or North Park.
Our Southwest side community is good enough to get a Hancock Selective Enrollment building that compares to all the other selective high schools in the city.
And if CPS does not invest in Hancock with a new building—just like this district invested in other schools with the same academic label—CPS leaders will be telling and showing our students that they are not good enough.
See the gallery images to read what students said.
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