National Teachers academy
What does racial equity demand in school actions?
In Spring 2017, Chicago Public Schools announced interest in closing National Teachers' Academy Elementary School and re-opening the building as a new neighborhood high school. The District argued this would create a more racially diverse school in a hyper-segregated city. Families at NTA argued that integration should not come at the expense of Black students, who are thriving at a rare school built to support them.
In Fall 2017, CUE launched Chicago's first public Racial Equity Impact Assessment, bringing together over 350 residents to assess the burdens and benefits of the proposed school closure by reviewing data, sharing historical narratives, and creating alternative high school options. The final report from these three community meetings were submitted to the Board of Education in February 2018, who voted to move forward with the closure.
As a result, CUE joined parents and families from National Teachers Academy, along with lawyers from the Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Legal Aid Chicago, and Eimer Stahl to file an injunction to stop the school closure.
On December 3rd, 2018, we were granted the injunction, the first time in national history where a school closure has been halted by court action on the grounds of racial discrimination. Later that evening, Chicago Public Schools issued a statement rescinding the proposal to replace NTA with a high school.
The story of CUE
In 2016, Niketa Brar and Elisabeth Greer met on the Local School Council of National Teachers Academy and began working together to advance their shared interest in promoting educational equity in their neighborhood. That desire for systemic reform led to CUE's work to champion the use of a community-led policymaking.