In an August 27th letter that appeared in the Huffington Post, Matt Farmer wrote extensively on his search for the paper trail within CPS documenting how this decision was made, and heavily criticized the decision to make Clemente an International Baccalaureate school. The insinuation that Clemente High School is not deserving of the designation as an International Baccalaureate is devoid of any facts or contextual framework of the educational vision that the Greater Humboldt Park community has been developing for the past three years under the rubric of the Community as a Campus. In this plan, Clemente and it’s satellite schools are organized:
• to create an aligned curriculum across all area schools
• to create a community-wide network of support is created for students, parents and educators.
• to harness the social capital of the community to provide a seamless academic pipeline of services that will link pre-schools and elementary schools to a high school hub and higher education institutions.
• to provide opportunities for early engagement of learners in pre-schools and full day kindergartens, programatic options at the elementary and high school levels to include STEM, Montessori, Fine Arts and Culture, Dual Language, Culinary Arts and Dual Enrollment programs that build on classroom learning which are aligned with rigorous state standards and outcomes.
• to provide wrap around social services to all learners by community based agencies, and post-secondary preparation to include pathways into health, teaching, engineering and technology, urban agriculture and retention services from our College and University partners.
The community has been working with CPS for over a year and a half to make this plan a reality. The designation of Clemente as an International Baccalaureate is a response to the communities efforts to create quality education.
Had Matt Farmer and the Huffington Post covered the press conference on June 21, 2012, where the designation was announced, it would have noticed that all sectors of the community were represented and that they were all in support of the designation of Clemente as an International Baccalaureate and the adoption of the IB standards as the framework the Community as a Campus would be articulated through.
Matt Farmer and the Huffington Post should have made an effort to contact community stakeholders to learn about the process that has taken place and is responsible for Clemente being designated as an International Baccalaureate High School, instead of making assumptions based on politically motivated forms of yellow journalism. Had they done so, they would have found an abundance of work taking place throughout the community to transform the schools in the Humboldt Park community to ensure they’re preparing its residents for the jobs of the 21st century and is informed by the challenges of the informational age in a way that does not call for further spending of taxpayer dollars, but rather a different way of allocating already existing social capital and monetary resources.
What’s missing from this attempt to understand how this decision was reached?
At no point did Mr. Farmer or the Huffington Post reach out to members of the community to see what was going on or to get their perspective. Had they done so, they would have found an extensive community driven process that has formulated an educational vision to transform Clemente, its feeder schools and the surrounding community.
On June 18th of 2011, a community-wide summit attended by over 300 people was held to discuss the Community as a Campus concept. All the key community stakeholders were present that day as the concept was rolled out, its three institutes were explained and the floor was opened for dialogue amongst those in attendance on the concept, its implications and its implementation.
Its important to note that Principal Marcey Sorensen was in attendance that day, after only being the principal for one week, and that despite the invitation, not one teacher from Clemente high school was in attendance on that day.
The Community as a Campus is a plan written by the people who best know and are most affected by the problems of the communities low performing schools, the area residents. No one is better suited to make the decisions that will determine the educational outcomes of the Humboldt Park community better than it’s residents. These are the people who have engaged in the work around this plan, which has lead to the announcement that Clemente High School will become the first non-selective enrollment IB school in the world. This way, all children and their families will be the beneficiaries of the schools in the community.
We firmly believe that Clemente’s designation as an International Baccalaureate school and the Community as a Campus concept will provide the mechanism for the greater Humboldt Park community to become active participants in driving the necessary changes our schools, children and families need and deserve.
by Julio Urrutia