Shock waves are still being felt across Chicago as parents and teacher’s assess the impact of the proposed CPS closure of 54 schools.
Close to 30,000 kids face the prospect of changing schools as a result of yesterday’s bombshell announcement.
The impending closures have also provoked an angry reaction from community leaders and the Chicago Teacher’s union which defends controversial comments made about Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Community activist Paul Jakes says if the blood of any child is lost then that blood will rest on the hands of Emanuel.
Chicago Teachers’ Union President Karen Lewis says decision is “racist and classist” and she is angered that Mayor Emanuel released this information while he is out of town on a family vacation and right before CPS students go on Spring Break.
Emanuel says the closures are painful but unavoidable due to a looming $1 Billion dollar budget deficit.
Community leaders worry about the potential for violence with children shuffling to new schools and crossing boundaries in gang-infested neighborhoods.
Chicago School Board members and the Mayor say the closures are painful medicine for the city’s ailing educational system with underutilized and under-equipped buildings, in many cases without air conditioning libraries or computers.
Board member Andrea Zopp says the district is saving money by closing schools that are only 50% enrolled and reassigning those students to buildings where they can invest money and improve the learning environment. Zopp says CPS expects to save $500 Million from the closures.
Barbara Radner with the DePaul Center for Urban Studies has spent decades working exclusively with Chicago Public schools. She hears the parents and teacher’s concerns. But she says the problem of underutilized schools is real. The end result, in many cases, are problems like split-grade classrooms or partial curriculums.