Saturday, February 09, 2008

Thurgood Marshall Middle School

Last night, I attended GIPNA's community meeting about CPS' proposed merger of Thurgood Marshall Middle School and Irving Park Middle School. The public hearing about it is next Friday. In my opinion, it's going to happen whether we like it or not. And, honestly, having heard the statistics that the community organizers quoted, it sounds like the "problem kids" are not the kids who take the bus, but the kids who walk to areas just outside our immediate neighborhood. One organizer, who our neighborhood CAPS rep, said that were were 107 9-1-1 calls related to TMMS in 2007. At IPMS, there were only 40. So, really, if our neighborhood hosts an additional 300 middle-schoolers who take the bus here, it's not really going to affect us that much.

I'm way more excited about the prospect of sending my children to a magnet school that is walking distance from my house (assuming, of course, that they can get in). And, outside of Greater Independence Park, I think that's what everyone else is thinking as well. Because, honestly, everyone else who is affected by the proposal can take a NIMBY view because it's NITBY.

I left the meeting when they started to brainstorm "alternative proposals" in response to CPS' proposal. While that might make the people opposed to the plan feel better, it was an exercise in futility in my opinion. Unlike GIPNA, OIPA is a force to be reckoned with; it is big, fairly cohesive, and well-established. I can't imagine that they'd be OK with the alternative of making TMMS a magnet school and pushing all of the TMMS students over to IPMS. And to be honest, that plan makes no sense to me. TMMS is a land-locked school with no outdoor space. IPMS has 1/2 block of athletic fields and a brand-new playground adjacent to its lot. Seventh-graders can wait 6 hours to run around; grammar schoolchildren cannot. The other alternative plan they came up with involves redistricting feeder schools for CPS to push the "problem" kids into another school, which just doesn't seem fair either. I didn't hear any of the other alternatives because I left.


Anonymous said...

At the hearing on Friday the hearing officer Mr. Vazquez gave the parents until Tuesday the 19th until 12 noon to fax in any testimonies about IPMS and Marshall.

Fax attn:
Respicio Vazquez

Anonymous said...

You're correct in one regard, Caroline. OIPA is more of a force to be reckoned with than GIPNA. GIPNA is a grass-roots organization founded a mere four years ago versus the decades that OIPA has been in existence. As a former board member you might remember how difficult it is to get people to help out their community. Oh, that's right, you left the board after one unfruitful term. Easier to cast stones from the outside?

Caroline said...

As I understood it when I joined in 2004, GIPNA started out in 1996, but fizzled out soon thereafter from a lack of interest. I didn't live here then, but I left my 2004 GIPNA slot when I realized that it was run entirely by a select few who used the organization to advance only their own agenda. In an environment like that, it's no wonder that half the circa-2004 board has left.

At least OIPA encourages discussion, enables communication among neighbors, and advocates cooperation -- without moderating every conversation. OIPA, for example, has several open e-mail discussion lists.

FWIW, I'm a paying member of both groups, and I had thought that my volunteer hours spent on GIPNA projects counted toward "helping out in [my] community," but Anon clearly does not agree.