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Chicago Public Schools To Close 54 School Programs, 61 Buildings

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 21, 2013 10:30PM

Here's a map of the CPS schools slated for closure overlaid on a map of the city's poverty levels. (Image credit: Toaddio on Twitter.)

Chicago Public Schools announced the closing of 54 school programs and 61 buildings a few moments ago. The closures will affect 30,000 students and is the largest single group of school closings in U.S. history. The Sun-Times has the full list of the schools to be closed and the schools receiving students displaced by the closings here.

As expected, teachers, parents and politicians have all voiced their objections to the plan. CPS principals accused the school district of having no rhyme or reason to the closings that affect mainly poor students on the city's South and West sides. (We've included a map above overlaying the planned closures against the city's poverty levels.The Sun-Times has its own interactive map.) Clarice Berry, president of Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, called the closings "slash and burn."

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, at a news conference at Mahalia Jackson Elementary in Gresham this afternoon, called the closures "outrageous" and described Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who is on a ski vacation in Utah, a "murder mayor."

He is murdering public services. Murdering our ability to maintain public sector jobs and now he has set his sights on our public schools. But we have news for him: We don’t intend to die. This is not Detroit. We are the city of big shoulders and so we intend to put up a fight. We don’t know if we can win, but if you don’t fight, you will never win at all.

“The people of this city can no longer sit back and allow this mayor, his school board and his corporate cronies to run roughshod over democracy. They’ve turned their backs on affordable housing; turned their backs on job creation; and, now they’re turning their backs on our students, their families and our schools. We are tired of playing their school reform games. But who are the winners and losers? Who made the rules? And what do they keep telling the losers to keep them playing their games?

“We do not have a utilization crisis. What we have is a credibility crisis. CPS continues to peddle half-truths, lies and misinformation in order to justify its campaign to wipe out our schools and carry out this corporate-driven school reform nonsense. CPS continues to peddle an ‘underutilization myth’ and ‘billion dollar deficit lie’ as justification for their actions. When research and the facts prove them wrong they simply reconfigure their talking points in order to further perpetrate their sham and to keep us playing their school reform games."

The City Council Progressive Caucus released a statement before the announcement decrying CPS' decision to move forward with the closings.

In going ahead with this plan, the Chicago Public Schools administration and the Board of Education are violating the Illinois General Assembly’s requirement that it disclose its ten-year master facilities plan first.

Moreover, we are concerned that the plan disproportionately targets schools serving African-American and Latino children. As a result, this massive closure would leave entire neighborhoods as virtual "school deserts," disrupting the lives of children and families and depressing property values.

The impact of these closings is overwhelmingly negative and socially costly: It will have a negative impact on children who are forced to travel long distances to the receiving school, or to be bussed out of their communities. Children will have to travel through unfamiliar and possibly dangerous neighborhoods beset with gang activity. Schools which receive children will be at risk of overcrowding, thus negatively affecting both the new arrivals and the children already in the receiving schools.

The CEO has assured that all children from closed schools will be assigned to a school which are performing better academically than the closed school. The Police Superintendent has assured that each child from closed schools will be afforded safe passage to and from school. The people of Chicago should hear how these assurances will come to bear before any changes are made. Such assurances have been hollow in the past, and there is no evidence they will be truer today.

The public deserves answers to these important questions: How much will it cost to move all these students and to ensure their safety and security? How will the new expenses be paid for? Until this and many other questions are explored, examined and presented for public review, we stand with our teachers, parents and other community stakeholders in calling call for an immediate moratorium on school closings.

Overview Proposed School and Program Closures