CHICAGO—School officials here said Thursday they plan to close 53 elementary schools and one high school, one of the largest mass school closings in the nation's history, as Mayor Rahm Emanuel seeks to fill a gaping budget hole.
Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the chief executive of Chicago Public Schools, said the closings would not be easy, but the city "must make tough choices," and by consolidating schools, "we can focus on safely getting every child into a better-performing school close to their home."
The move to close about 11% of the 472 elementary schools in the nation's third-largest school district this fall sparked anger from the teachers union, some elected aldermen, parents and neighborhood groups who vowed to fight the move. The Chicago Board of Education, appointed by Mr. Emanuel, a Democrat, must approve the final plan.
They're using "consolidation" as the excuse for privatization.
Tim Furman posted the following at Diane Ravtich's blog:
Diane, this is all terrible enough on its own, but I want to point out an interesting sidebar. As you know, the states now have established charter commissions as part of Race to the Top, and Illinois has one of these appointed commissions, which can overrule school districts’ charter decisions.
The Illinois commission only a couple days ago approved a new charter for Illinois, overriding the Chicago Public Schools board’s earlier decision not to approve this particular charter.
The charter has already applied for a zoning variance right down the street from one of the public schools on this closure list! There’s a community meeting tonight about the zoning.
In the midst of an historic attack on public education, the state steps in an adds another charter into the mix.
Just for icing on the cake, the charter is a Concept school— one of the Gulen school networks that you wrote about some time ago.
Wow - opening a Gulen charter in the same zone that they close a public school for being underutilized.
How's that for gall?
And let's all remember, while the playbook for these closures comes from Milton Friedman, Wall Street and ALEC, it's Democrats carrying out the neo-liberal program - Barack "Race to the Top" Obama at the federal level, Rahm Emanuel at the municipal level.
This is the end game for education reform - create crisis, close schools, fire unionized teachers, open charter schools, hire non-unionized at-will employees, privatize the entire system.