Letter To the Editor:

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Local NewsChicago Public Schools recently announced that 129 schools are up for possible closure resulting from consolidation. Before any doors close, we must ask ourselves what exactly is our commitment not only to each other but also to our communities? Are we properly investing in our children’s future? Or are we shifting the main priority of public education further away from being one that focuses on educational quality and accountability to instead being one that is consumed by fiscal efficiency and utilization ratios?

In West Englewood, all of our local public schools are candidates for closure. Many of our students walk each day to either Henderson, O’Toole or Earle elementary schools. Closure of one or more of these schools will force students and parents to walk greater distances each day. I have cataloged over 300 unsecured properties in the 15th Ward’s West Englewood neighborhood alone. Each of these buildings represents a grave and serious threat to the safety and comfort of our children. I know this danger will only increase as families are forced to send their sons and daughters farther from home each day. Our parents know this and, more importantly, our students sense it also. Quality learning occurs when students feel safe. Can students truly feel safe passing almost twenty abandoned buildings to school each way every day? How can we expect their educational experience and quality of life to improve as a result of any school consolidations in our area?

I know in the West Englewood community, as I’m certain in other struggling neighborhoods, our local public schools are a child’s beacon of hope when surrounded by poverty and uncertainty. It is our obligation to protect these beacons. Any closure, following the decades-long exodus of jobs, cash-strapped community resources, collapsed housing market and escalating street violence will only reinforce the perception that we no longer feel obligated to invest in each other’s futures. Who in good conscience can turn their back on our next generation? I certainly cannot and I hope many more cannot either.

Respectfully serving the 15th Ward,

Raymond A. López
Committeeman – 15th Ward

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