May 27, 2013
On May 22nd, Chicago’s Board of Education, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, voted to close 49 schools. The Board decided to leave four open, as a small concession to the many protests against the closings. Parents, students and teachers demonstrated at the various hearings held at schools to be closed. Also, there were protest marches through black neighborhoods on the South and West Sides the weekend before the Board’s decision, followed by a Monday rally downtown.
Despite the Board’s lack of support for these schools, they were anchors for the neighborhoods, where parents and neighbors could keep an eye on the kids and keep in touch with the schools. Now with the closings, kids will have to go to more distant schools, traversing unfamiliar neighborhoods with potential for gang violence.
These closings are part of Rahm’s attempt to undermine public education, supported by the Obama Administration that he formerly served. The Chicago Board of Education opened more than 100 charter schools in recent years, often in closed public schools. They are often run by so-called non-profits, which in fact line their managers’ and cronies’ pockets.
These schools will be closed, but the organized resistance to the closing could be the start of a continuing fight for decent schools in all neighborhoods, especially the poorest.