Chicago public school officials said they plan to close 54 schools because many are half-empty and the move will help solve a $1 billion shortfall. But many parents and teachers say the plan will disproportionately affect minority children.
As word of the schools on the long-awaited closings list trickled out Thursday, parents, teachers and community members — some furious, some in tears — vowed to fight the closings. One group took a bus of people to protest in front of the homes of school board members, and some parents spoke of a lawsuit. The Chicago Teachers Union already had scheduled a mass protest march through downtown for next week.
"We are the City of Big Shoulders and so we intend to put up a fight," union President Karen Lewis said. "We don't know if we can win, but if you don't fight, you will never win at all."
About 30,000 students will be affected by the plan, with about half that number moving into new schools.
CPS officials say money being spent to keep underused schools open could be better used to educate students elsewhere as the district deals with a $1 billion budget deficit. The district says it will invest money to improve schools that are welcoming new students. The funds will be used to add better technology, air conditioning, tutoring services, increased security and other services. CPS says it also will ensure every school has a library and that students no longer are learning in dilapidated buildings.
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