MEDIA CONTACT: George Roumbanis, PresidentAFSCME 3506, Adult Educators & Coordinators UnionCity Colleges of ChicagoPhone: 773-744-7603Email: email@example.com
CLOSING OF LAKEVIEW LEARNING CENTER: A WRIGLEYVILLE LANDMARK
A historic landmark of progressive education is being forced to close, less than a mile from Wrigley Field just as the Chicago Cubs play in the World Series for the first time in seven decades.
The City Colleges of Chicago announced on October 14th that Lakeview Learning Center, an off-campus program of Truman College, will close in May 2017. The community center has provided more than three generations of immigrants and working-class Chicagoans with free classes in English as a Second Language and GED high school equivalency. It has an important history in the Wrigleyville neighborhood that stretches back to 1972, when the program was originally named Universidad Popular (People’s University) by Latino activists in the city. Founding organizers of Lakeview Learning Center brought together their experiences with the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee and Jane Addams Hull House in Chicago to promote adult literacy.
Thousands of students have passed through the doors at 3310 North Clark Street and many of them have moved on to college educations or professions throughout the city. The 14,200 square foot facility was built by the Public Building Commission of Chicago in 1983. Today, Lakeview Learning Center continues to provide services to approximately 1,000 students per semester with free classes in the mornings, evenings, and on Saturdays. It is one of the longest ongoing, self-contained adult education programs in Illinois and a home away from home for many students. Current data shows that 61% of the students self-report being born outside of the U.S. Along with the LGBTQ Center on Halsted and the senior citizens Hattie-Callner Apartments, Lakeview Learning Center is an active site of diversity in the midst of Wrigleyville’s mass gentrification.
City Colleges of Chicago, which reported total net assets of $859 million in 2015, says it hopes to receive “between two and five million dollars for the Lakeview Learning Center location.” It announced that the center would be closed to “help City Colleges weather the state funding shortfall.” The closure comes at a time when millions of dollars are being invested in the Wrigleyville neighborhood by the Ricketts family to construct upscale restaurants, luxury hotels, and chain stores. The CTA also plans to spend a minimum of $570 million in the area to speed up Red and Brown Line trains by a few seconds. Meanwhile, independent stores and longtime homeowners in Wrigleyville are finding themselves priced out and pressured to relocate.
Responding to the closing, Lakeview Learning Center student leader Óscar Piña Morales says “I’m 21 and from Mexico. I’ve been studying here for two and a half years. This school changed my life. It’s a gift. You can’t put a price on this gift.” According to several teachers and activists who were present during the center’s early years, it is common knowledge that this specific property was given to City Colleges as a gift with the stipulation that it be used solely for educational purposes. AFSCME 3506, the union that represents the teachers and coordinators at Lakeview Learning Center, is currently searching for documentation on this claim.
To help keep Lakeview Learning Center open, the union is asking Chicagoans to write statements of support. Please send emails to: *firstname.lastname@example.org (Rasmus Lynnerup, Executive Vice Chancellor – City Colleges of Chicago) *email@example.com (Hilary Hodge, Associate Vice Chancellor of Adult Education – City Colleges of Chicago) *firstname.lastname@example.org (Tom Tunney, Alderman of the 44th Ward)
All emails should also include a CC and be forwarded to: *email@example.com (George Roumbanis, President of AFSCME 3506)