Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has announced plans that, despite constructing a new high school for 1,200 selective-enrollment students at 700 S. South State St, CPS will be devoting the entire old Jones College Prep High School (Jones) building, located at 606 S. State St., to selective enrollment students as well, instead of establishing a public, neighborhood school for students of families living in the Near South/Downtown area. I strongly oppose the dedication of the old Jones building as a selective school, with no guaranteed seat to students living in the local area. It appears that CPS plans to continue sending students from the Near South/Downtown area to Phillips Academy High School (Phillips), located at 244 East Pershing Road. Phillips has consistently underperformed in providing quality public education and fails to provide a safe and secure learning community for students. According to the Illinois Interactive Report Card, Phillips is currently on “Academic Watch Status,” meaning the school has failed to make Annual Yearly Progress for two additional years after being placed on Academic Early Warning and is eligible for additional sanctions. I can no longer sit idle and allow CPS to simultaneously open new charter schools that divert funds and resources from students who need them most and send students from my community miles away to be poorly educated in an unfamiliar setting. I implore CPS to abandon its current plans and dedicate the entire old Jones building as a public neighborhood high school to serve the Near South/Downtown community. While parents make school choices based on a number of factors, all parents want an environment in which their children can learn well and prefer to keep their child out of dangerous neighborhoods. It is important for CPS to engage the Near South/Downtown area community for more deliberate decision-making that will strengthen the area’s culture, improve school achievement, and establish an efficient system of high school public education institutions and services that are convenient and safe for students in the Near South/Downtown area.
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