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CPS Closing of Canter Is Pure Politics, Parents and Teachers Say

By Sam Cholke | April 3, 2013 8:31am

HYDE PARK — Canter Middle School is closing because of politics, plain and simple, according to some teachers and parents at the school.

“I see such ugly things happening in our city that I have no hope, it’s just a game,” said special education teacher Carol Harrigan, who has taught at the school at 4959 S. Blackstone Ave. for three years. “It has nothing to do with our students, I’ve never worked at a better school.”

On March 21, Chicago Public Schools added Canter to the list of schools to be closed because enrollment had declined by 31 percent over the last 10 years and a little more than half of the classroom space is now being used.

A.C. Chandler, a community representative on the local school council, said citing the declining enrollment was a “smoke screen.” He said he thought CPS needed a facility to close to deflect claims that only schools on the West and South sides were being shuttered.

“This is one of the only schools in Chicago where the teachers care about the students,” said Chandler, whose 14-year-old sister, Lariece Grayer, attends Canter. “We’re not ready to throw in the towel yet.”

Grayer is hoping to head off to King College Prep next year, but for the students who expected to remain at Canter, they will have to adjust to a new classroom at Ray Elementary or Bret Hart Elementary.

Seventh-grader Elizabeth Forrest said she was looking forward to going back to Ray, where she attended grade school and many of her friends also would be attending. But Forrest’s grandmother, Anne Munoz, who was picking her up on Tuesday, said the closure only confirmed her distaste for Chicago’s public schools.

“We thought we were all set when she was transferred from Ray,” Munoz said. “If it was left up to me, she would go to St. Michael [the Archangel Catholic School].”

Munoz said she sent all of her five children to Catholic schools and was only recently warming up to public schools because of the teachers at Canter.

“I’m sorry that it’s closing, the people here are so nice,” Munoz said.

The first community meeting on closing Canter is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. Monday at Kenwood Academy, 5015 S. Blackstone Ave.

CPS officials were unavailable for comment.