As expected, Chicago Public Schools announced the closing of an incredible number of schools; 54 to be exact.
It is the largest round of school closings in our nation’s history. These closures disproportionately impact black and brown students.
CPS argues these schools are underutilized due to “dwindling population in some predominantly black neighborhoods.” They expect to save $500,000 to $800,000 per school.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle weighed in on the controversial decision with the Chicago Reader, echoing the sentiments of many community members.
“I talked to a member of the school board that I knew and said what a terrible idea I thought it was,” Preckwinkle told me in an interview. “You know, schools are community anchors. They’re social centers. They’re part of a community’s identity. And often kids go half a dozen blocks and they’re in different gang territory.
“The closings are going to take place almost entirely within the African-American community, and given the problems we already have with violence, I think it’s very problematic.”
The communities impacted by the closures are already struggling with a variety of other issues; these closures could exarcerbate those existing problems.
Nearly 30,000 students will be impacted. Naturally, activists, parents, and community members are outraged.
Jennie Biggs, who has three children at Mark Sheridan Math & Science Academy in Bridgeport, called the district’s decision “unbelievable.”
“School is their second home,” said Biggs, 40. “It’s where they feel most comfortable. To lose that sense of belonging and that sense of community must be a traumatic event for a child.”
To simulate the effects a school change would have, one parent walked from Libby Elementary to Sherman Elementary in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Biggs said, passing seven abandoned buildings along the way. The trek took 27 minutes.
“That’s what will be the daily experience for kids who are displaced,” said Biggs. She added the district will likely see a spike in truancy numbers as parents struggle to get their kids to a new school.
Thoughts on the massive round of school closures in Chicago?
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