How Chicago Public Schools Engaged African American Parents in the Closing of Austin Career Academy High School
Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
The role of African American parents in education reform initiatives in Chicago is not clearly defined. Local School Councils (LSC) allow parents to make school related decisions in Chicago. But LSCs are removed from decisions about whether or not to place school on or off probation, and whether or not to close schools based on performance or building utilization. In 2013, African American and Latinx parents expressed outrage over the decision by Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to close 49 schools with protests, including a hunger strike by a group of parents, and pleas to the Chicago Board of Education (BOE). These efforts were unsuccessful. Six years before, in 2007, Austin Community Academy High School (Austin HS) parents, students, and engaged in efforts to prevent the closing of the only neighborhood high school. These efforts were significant, but also unsuccessful. Austin parents, students and community members were highly engaged, and organized events for parents and students to share how the decision to close Austin HS would be a problem for the community, and plan actions to let their voices be heard. The policy decisions by CPS that led to the phase out and closing of Austin HS are evidence of how parental engagement and the authority of LSCs in predominantly African American communities are undermined. Additionally, the experiences of Austin families and community members, including parental engagement using non-LSC, community led methods, were not acknowledged by CPS. Schools in African American communities have been the most affected by school reform initiatives in Chicago. When a LSC is removed from making school related decisions, CPS does not insure parents in communities in most need of resources are included or heard in discussions and decisions that affect their communities.
Blackwell, Shani, "How Chicago Public Schools Engaged African American Parents in the Closing of Austin Career Academy High School" (2022). Master's Theses. 4439.
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Copyright © 2018 Shani Blackwell