Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and the mayor's hand-picked Chicago Board of Education have their sights set on closing 54 public schools this year, giving our city the dubious distinction of having the most school closings in U.S. history at a single time. They intend to do this despite the numerous protests and resistance by thousands of parents, student, teachers and concerned members of the community.
School closings on this large of a scale will send Chicago into chaos. CPS has a history of mishandling much smaller transitions, and if the district cannot close five schools without massive blunders, imaging the imminent danger of more than 50 closures.
This decision, however, is based on politics and a plan for corporate privatization, and follows a well-crafted script that is being played out in cities across the U.S. But in each instance of mass school closings, young lives are at stake. A nation can be defined by how well it treats its children, and by that definition. America fails. Chicago has failed.
We are standing in the vanguard of education justice. We want well-resourced schools; experienced educators who are supported by their principals and administrators; involved parents who are welcomed in our schools; the essential supports needed for quality learning environments; and well-resourced, safe buildings that aren’t left to their own demise because the district refuses to invest in them. We want TIF dollars—some $250 million—returned to the schools where the money belongs. We call on the school district to renegotiate their toxic tax swaps and end the corporate tax breaks to its billionaire buddies.
We want the schools our students deserve—not PR gimmicks, corporate incentives and slapdash upheaval plans. The children of Chicago, and their families, deserve better.