Bret Harte Elementary Math and Science school is located in Hyde Park at 1556 E. 56th street. It serves pre-kindergarten to sixth grade. Harte is a Math and Science Magnet Cluster School. A variety of extracurricular and enrichment programs are available for the students after school, and technology is integrated throughout the curriculum. Various partnerships have been established through the University of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry and the SMART Museum.
According to CPS, as of 2012-2013, there were 336 students enrolled at Harte; of these 75.3% were low income students, 19% were Special Education Students, and 5.4% were Limited English Learners. African Americans make up 77.1% of the student population; the school is 5 percent Hispanic and 3 percent White. 79.8 percent of Harte students are scoring at or above State Standards. Harte also has a thriving after-school program, as well as a choir, an Art Club, a Spanish Club, and an African/Jazz Dance club.
CPS says that Harte can house 360 students; this year it has 328, 91% utilization based on CPS’s formula. Harte will be a receiving school for Miriam G. Canter’s 7th and 8th graders. This means that they will have to add two grades, and that in addition to up to half of Canter students (the other half will go to Ray) they will have their own rising sixth graders.
“For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Mayor and CEO would suggest closing a safe school in a safe neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. My anger is not directed at you [the CPS representatives present at the meeting]. I hold Mayor Emanuel responsible for these reckless, unprecedented, and poorly planned school closings.” —Beth Herring, Harte parent
Currently class size at Harte ranges from a low of 19 students in the third grade to 28 students in kindergarten. The current 6th grade class has two classrooms of 20 students each.
“It’s a bad situation. You’re talking about putting intermediate kids here — 7 and 8th graders. Where are they going to have their recess? That’s mandatory now.” —Darryl Williams, Harte parent and LSC member
It is unclear where the new classrooms would be, and there is concern that the classrooms for children with special needs may be consolidated, or that rooms now used for art or computers would become general education classrooms. The CPS utilization formula does not take into account the smaller class size limits for special education students, and both Harte and Canter have sizable special ed populations, 19% and 15% respectively.
Although Harte is strong academically currently, its 5 Essentials ratings were down from the previous year, and weak in two others, and it received a “not yet organized for improvement” rating overall. Receiving schools are often destabilized as a result of school actions:
“It’s just not the students from closed schools whose academic performance may suffer, but also the kids from the receiving school, partly due to – in part – the increase in the classroom sizes.” —Professor Stephanie Farmer, associate professor of Sociology at Roosevelt University
Post author: Hannah Hayes