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*** UPDATED x1 *** Dem candidates oppose next round of Chicago school closings

Wednesday, Dec 6, 2017

* NBC 5

A Chicago Public Schools plan to close four high schools on the city’s South Side has been met with an avalanche of criticism, including from students in the area.

“It makes me feel like I’m worthless,” Harper High School student Traivon O’Neil said.

O’Neil was one of several students who staged a sit-in at the high school on Friday. Harper is one of four in the neighborhood that CPS is planning on closing to make way for a privately-operated new $85 million charter school that is slated to open in the fall of 2019.

The plan has been criticized by the Chicago Teacher’s Union and elected officials, including State Representative Sonya Harper. […]

Harper, Hope, Robeson, and Team Englewood are all set to close in June as part of the plan, meaning that hundreds of students in those schools will have to transfer to different institutions for the 2018-19 school year.

* JB Pritzker tweeted out his support last night…

* Biss this morning…

Today, Daniel Biss will join members of the Chicago Teachers Union, and students and parents at a press conference and rally being held at 9:30 a.m. at Chicago Public Schools headquarters to speak out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s plan to close more schools in mostly Black and Latinx neighborhoods.

“I stand in support of Chicago’s students, parents, and teachers,” said Daniel Biss. “Once again, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has targeted schools that serve mostly black and brown communities for closure — ripping the heart out of neighborhoods already weakened by years of disinvestment.

“We’re being sold a lie, that we can’t afford schools. But that’s only true in a system that doesn’t make the wealthy pay their fair share. It’s no wonder that when the wealthy and well-connected govern, their schools are funded without debate while black and brown working class families have to constantly fight to keep their schools open.

“I’m proud to stand united with the working families of Chicago to demand an end to school closures, a moratorium on charter school expansion, a repeal to private school vouchers, and a duly elected school board.”

* Kennedy campaign…

Five years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. Since 2013, we’ve seen 32,000 students leave CPS schools, which is enough to fill over 50 additional schools.

Now, the Mayor says it’s not enough. CPS has put out its School Action Plan that includes closing even more public schools — primarily impacting students in the black community.

“Closing schools is not a plan for building up communities and fostering economic growth,” said Chris Kennedy, Democratic candidate for governor. “It’s a recipe for more violence. It’s a plan to push people out. It’s a tool of strategic gentrification. We should be investing in our neighborhood schools by ending our reliance on the broken property tax system that is chronically underfunding our schools. Our public schools are the backbone of rebuilding our economy; they’re not line items in our budget that we can cut.​”

Kennedy’s running mate, Ra Joy, spoke at a Chicago Teachers Union press conference this morning in front of CPS Headquarters in support of students whose schools are facing closure.

“What’s happening with our schools is a symbol of dysfunction, it’s a symbol of racism: the massive cuts, the massive layoffs, the massive school closings,” Joy said. “If politicians had half the courage that these student advocates have, Chicago would be a just and more vibrant city. We need a Chicago where equity is paramount.”

*** UPDATE *** Ra Joy spoke eloquently on this topic. Watch this video

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Ron - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:23 am:

    CPS needs to close more schools than this.

  2. - lake county democrat - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:27 am:

    The reactions are predictable, understandable, and still sad - these people can read the census numbers. They also know that Rahm’s predictions proved far truer than the apocalyptic predictions of CTU during the last closures. All that’s missing here is “failing on purpose” and “we’ll just get the money by suing the banks for the toxic swaps” and CTU could copy and paste for their press release. The one thing that’s good here is the call for an elected school board - let’s see what they do different (prediction: gut the better performing schools - nothing does more to fuel middle class flight but I don’t think they care that much).

  3. - PJ - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:29 am:

    ===CPS needs to close more schools than this.===

    Do they all need to be from the same poor, minority neighborhood? Does the forced transfer of hundreds of students seem like a positive in areas where graduating is already filled with incredible hurdles?

    You can phase out underenrolled schools by stopping new enrollment and closing it after the last class graduates. This is not that.

  4. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    Wasted space. CPS is down to 370K students. Cut the schools. Next CPS will be against the associated layoffs that will accompany next year’s decline in students

  5. - Molly Maguire - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:34 am:

    It is interesting the box that we find ourselves in now. Read about the kids in those shrinking schools–it is not a good situation for them. Closing and consolidating schools, and investing more heavily in public education are not mutually exclusive. As a Dem progressive, I support both, but I don’t see teachers, unions, Dems and cadidates finding a nuanced way to express this.

  6. - Ron - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    PJ, unfortunately, it’s poor and minority (almost entirely african american) students that CPS is losing. Those are the schools that are horribly under enrolled and need to be closed.

  7. - Whatever - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:51 am:

    ==Five years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed 50 Chicago Public Schools. Since 2013, we’ve seen 32,000 students leave CPS schools, which is enough to fill over 50 additional schools.==

    Taken at face value, this just means it’s time to close more schools. A better message to oppose closing would be to say that closing schools makes the system even less valuable to students, and causes more dropouts.

  8. - Ron - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:57 am:

    Chicago is losing african americans en masse, for the last 50 years, african americans have been by far the largest demographic in CPS. Schools need to be closed. Money should not be wasted staffing and operating schools built for 2000 students that have 500.

  9. - Anon221 - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    More from WTTW-

    Harper School Plan-

    To look up other school actions, go here:

  10. - Amalia - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:00 pm:

    well that’s nice for pols to say. but the reality is that keeping a building open with far fewer students than really needed to keep a school going is not good. That said, the CPS has for the past several years done a terrible job at explaining why the closings are happening. the message simply comes through that this school in this neighborhood is closing. with all the staff and salaries at the corporate offices of CPS, get a better message out.

  11. - A guy - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    Many of the poor and minority school student’s parents have already made a choice by moving to suburban school districts that are offering a better opportunity. Leaving a terribly failing school district for a better one is not a fate worse than death. People are already doing so if and when they can. Buildings and locations can and do become obsolete. Suburban and rural schools have faced these same choices, granted on a more limited basis, but the lifespan of a school is not limited to any particular area.

  12. - Roman - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    I wish it wasn’t true, but some schools absolutely have to close. You can’t run a high school for 200 students in a building built for 2,000. It’s way too expensive and you can’t achieve the economy of scale necessary to offer the students classes in any subjects beyond the basics — and oftentimes that isn’t even achieved.

    Having said that, population loss is only one of the causes of this problem. For more that 20 years, CPS has pursued policies to de-emphasized, disinvest, and ultimately kill neighborhood schools. Half of CPS elementary students and 75 percent of high school students do not attend their neighborhood schools. They’re at charters, selective enrollment, and magnet schools.

  13. - Original Rambler - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    If I’m a Chicago taxpayer, I want CPS right sized regardless of the impact on the CTU. I can understand the CTU being up in arms, but this is the reality and they need to accept it at some point.

    Rahm needs to hold firm on this. I believe that is a key reason his numbers are up. He’s seen as the best candidate to handle a lot of upcoming labor negotiations.

  14. - Ron - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    It seems like a lot of northside neighborhood schools are attracting area attendance now.

    Agreed Original Rambler. Rahm needs to be tough with CTU or CPS will be destroyed.

  15. - cdog - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    So let me get this straight,

    Pritzker is for a progressive income tax on every normal citizen in this tax-happy blue state, but he’s not for letting anyone know what his off-shore income truly is.

    Pritzker’s true income will never see the light of day on an IL-1040.

    Sorry Chicago school kids. You have to learn that sometimes what people, like Pritzker, say is not what they really believe.

  16. - WasAnon - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 1:06 pm:

    Pritzker always looking out for the children. Keep all schools open no matter what. As a billionaire he can pay taxes…..but he’d rather find ways not to. Hypocrite

  17. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    Great job by Ra Joy.

  18. - Harry - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 3:15 pm:

    Maybe Pritzker and Kennedy would each commit to donating, say, 2% of their net worth to CPS each year in order to keep schools open despite declining system enrollment?

    Just joking. I know, the whole point of politics is to spend OTHER people’s money and take credit.

  19. - dbk - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 4:22 pm:

    If a massive exodus from the South Side requires that four schools be closed, well, that’s demographics.

    But you can’t say four schools need to be closed because they’re drastically under-enrolled and then in the same breath say (in order) “to make room for a new charter school.”

    Charters are supposedly about “choice” (the big buzzword); closing all the neighborhood public schools and leaving only a charter isn’t choice, it’s charterization.

  20. - truthbetold - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 4:42 pm:

    The schools are under enrolled because Charters have siphoned off too many pupils. Why? Because the parents have been bought a bill of goods - achievement isn’t any higher in the Charters, but Bruce and Rahm see Charters as a way to weaken the CTU and as a mechanism to line pockets of their pals.

    Schools are the the focal point of communities. Close them and the community drifts apart. I served on the school board in an affluent west suburban elementary district. Trying to close a school in that district would have been a disaster because of the fight parents would have launched.

    In Chicago, parents don’t have that kind of voice, so the CTU has to raise its voice instead. Give Chicago an elected school board, like every other community in the state. Don’t disenfranchise Chicago voters any longer. Let the people of Chicago have a voice on this and not leave it up to back-room deals with Rauner, Rahm, and Griffin.

  21. - Arizona Bob - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 5:37 pm:

    I’m surprised that no one mentions the REAL reason why pols oppose the school closings; administration a non-teaching jobs at CPS are HUGE patronage treasure. I worked fixing up CPS schools for about 5 years, and met all the principals in the schools in which I worked. Considering that few could write a coherent paragraph and at least one I saw arrested after falsely telling CPD a student in a fight had a gun (and she kept her job), political clout was about the only explanation.

  22. - Amalia - Wednesday, Dec 6, 17 @ 6:56 pm:

    well, this got more complicated with the IG recommendation. wow.

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