Austin Woes Are Capped by Decision to Fire Teachers and a Student Protest
(Chicago News Cooperative) — After discovering last week that nearly a quarter of their teachers were being dismissed, students at Austin Polytechnical Academy decided to take extreme action. Holding secret planning sessions under the guise of a robotics team meeting, they plotted. First, they gathered signatures of more than half the student body on a petition demanding that the decision be reversed. Then on Monday, at 9 a.m. sharp, despite threats of suspension, more than 100 of the school’s 358 students walked out of their classes and into the street. Chanting “Save our teachers,” the students circled the school at 231 North Pine Avenue on the far West Side. The firings, student walkout, and a flurry of union grievances that are in the works follow a year of abrupt fits and starts at Austin Polytech. In October, Chicago Public Schools officials placed the school on academic probation. In February, students learned the interim principal was leaving at year’s end. In March, C.P.S. backed off a hasty plan to merge Austin with another school after a community uproar.