No more schools,
No more books…
The Chicago Board of Education voted Wednesday to close 50 schools and programs, an ambitious plan that has sparked protests and lawsuits and could help define — for better or worse — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s term in office.
City officials say the closings are necessary because of falling school enrollment and as part of their efforts to improve the city’s struggling education system.
“The only consideration for us today is to do exactly what is right for the children,” schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said before the board’s vote.
Critics have blasted Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, and Byrd-Bennett, saying the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods and will endanger children who may have to cross gang boundaries to get to a new school.
They protested during the board’s meeting Wednesday and sent busloads of parents, teachers and students to Springfield to lobby lawmakers to approve a moratorium on the closings. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called it “a day of mourning” for the children of Chicago.
Chicago is among several major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment. Detroit has closed more than 130 schools since 2005, including more than 40 in 2010 alone.
The school closings are the second major issue pitting Emanuel against the Chicago Teachers Union. The group’s 26,000 members went on strike early in the school year, partly over the school district’s demand for longer school days, idling students for a week.
Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett say the district’s financial and educational struggles call for drastic action. They say the nation’s third-largest school district is facing a deficit of about $1 billion and that too many Chicago Public Schools buildings are half-empty because of a population drop in some city neighborhoods. They’ve also pledged students will be moved to schools that are performing better academically.
CPS says it has 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000.
The city says enrollment has fallen; the teachers say “the closings disproportionately affect minority neighborhoods”. Are the two irreconcilable?
We know for certain that black women abort their unborn children well above the average for all women. Doesn’t it follow that there would be fewer black children to fill those seats in schools? And aren’t the black children who are born at a greater risk of dying of violent crime—see the lovely Hadiya Pendleton—almost always from other black babies who grew up?
I don’t know Rahm Emanuel, but I don’t like whom he associates with. Racism, however, is a strong charge that doesn’t hold up on analysis.