'We Have Been Respectful. Now, Let Us Be Clear'

To whom it may concern at Chicago Public Schools:

We, the parents, teachers, neighbors, and community members of Logan Square United for Brentano -- we have been patient. We have been respectful. We have been polite, measured, and reasonable.

We have presented you the data. In December, when more than 300 Brentano supporters came to a Utilization Committee meeting, we calmly showed you our above-average ISAT scores. We showed you the growing number of small children in our enrollment area. We showed you the UChicago 5Essentials study that shows that our school is organized for growth -- 10 times more likely to grow than the average school.

We have shown you the community support. Throughout the bitter cold of January, more than 80 volunteers knocked doors in the Brentano enrollment area and collected more than 1,000 signatures from residents asking to keep Brentano open and growing. We brought these signatures to your headquarters -- along with our alderman, Scott Waguespack, and the support of Aldermen Arena, Moreno, Fioretti, and other elected officials -- and humbly asked you to hear our voices.

We assumed, we hoped, that seeing a community rally so strongly around a school, CPS would want to take part in a sure-fire success, supporting Brentano and providing us the resources to keep growing.

But then, the list of 129 schools considered for closure came out -- a list Dr. Byrd-Bennett described as "based directly on community feedback" -- and lo and behold, there was Brentano on the chopping block.

So now, let us be clear.

Our community is organized. We are growing every day. Ask anyone: Logan Square is a mecca of Chicago culture, and our real estate growth ranks us as America's eighth-hottest neighborhood. We are diverse. We are motivated. We are politically engaged. We get out our vote.

And we are united in this demand: keep Brentano Math and Science Academy open and growing.

If you wanted a case study in the flaws of school closures, shutting Brentano's doors would be it. You have said you want high-performing schools; Brentano scores in the top half of CPS elementary schools on the ISAT, and that includes selective-enrollment and magnet schools. You have said you want to see parent involvement; Brentano's LSC and the Friends of Brentano are active, engaged, and aligned. You have said you support great pre-schools and great special-ed programming and great STEM education; Brentano has all of those.

The only argument we hear for closure is that Brentano is under-utilized. But in a neighborhood full of strollers, with young people and young families flocking here every day, we need a school with some room to grow. Our neighboring school, Goethe, is literally tearing down walls to make room for its kids. With Goethe full, those parents are now turning to Brentano. We have a deliberate and detailed five-year plan to drive up enrollment and make Brentano an even more diverse and vibrant school than it already is.

You have said you want to hear community input. Well, our community could not be clearer: we love Brentano and we want it kept open for our children.

Hear our voice. Because we are organized, and we are motivated, and we are paying attention.

Will Guzzardi, on behalf of Logan Square United for Brentano