Defend Chicago’s Social Justice High School (Sojo)
August 23, 2012 Leave a Comment
Sojo was “born out of struggle” in 2001 when 14 Little Village residents endured a 19- day hunger strike to fight for a new school in their neighborhood. In Fall 2005, Sojo and three other small schools opened in a new building on 31st and Kostner, serving Little Village and North Lawndale. Sojo is a neighborhood school built on the principles of the Hunger Strike: “truth and transparency, struggle and sacrifice, ownership and agency, and collective and community power”. It is a national model of social justice education. But now, Sojo is under attack by the CPS Administration. CPS is trying to dismantle Sojo by downgrading the curriculum, displacing teachers, and lying to the community. Sojo’s very existence as a neighborhood public school serving low-income African American and Latin@ students with the vision of community self-determination is a threat to CPS’s top-down corporate model of schooling.
CPS never gave a contract to the new Sojo principal, Kathy Farr, who was selected by the Advisory LSC and started in March 2012. On Tuesday, August 7th, just six days before school began, CPS fired and replaced her with an interim principal, without consulting anyone in the Sojo community. When school opened Monday, the interim principal cut three AP classes and replaced them with remedial classes, fired two attendance clerks, and reassigned teachers to classes and subjects with no preparation. On Day #3 of school, students organized a peaceful, disciplined sit-in to demand the reinstatement of AP classes and staff to their original positions. Now student leaders are threatened with explusion.
Sojo is striving for the critical and culturally relevant education our youth need. From Tucson to Sojo, this is the same attack! CPS is dismantling this national model. Given what we have learned from the past 8 years of school privatization in Chicago, CPS may be planning to “redefine” sojo and turn the school’s state-of-the-art building and its students over to politically connected charter operators.
This is all of our fight! Come out to a community forum on Thurs., Aug. 23, 6 PM (31st St. & Kostner) in solidarity with Sojo.