The Verdict: Board Votes to Close 50 Chicago Public Schools

Jessica Corbett

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At an hours-long meeting today, after listening to angry parents, Chicago Teachers Union members and aldermen express frustration with the city's plan to shut down dozens of public schools, the Chicago Board of Education voted to approve 50 of the closings. With the exception of the 4-2 vote to close Von Humboldt Elementary, the six-member board voted unanimously. Of the original list of 54 schools slated for closure, only four elementary schools were spared: Ericson, Mahalia Jackson, Garvey and Manierre Elementary. The Board also decided to delay Canter Middle School’s closing by a year and to reject the “turnabout” proposal to replace all teachers and staff at Clara Barton Elementary School. The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has been a leading force opposing the plan. Last week CTU agreed to financially support two federal lawsuits that challenge the closings on grounds including racial discrimination, since many of the schools on the chopping block serve predominantly African-American communities. spoke with the lawyer who filed the suits, attorney Thomas Geoghegan: According to Geoghegan, CPS has closed 72 schools since 2001, and more than 90 percent of the displaced students were African-American. He estimated that 88 percent of students in the 54 schools slated to be closed this year are African-American, yet African-Americans make up only 42 percent of all CPS students. Forty-nine of the soon-to-be-closed schools are elementary schools; one is a high school program.

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Jessica Corbett, a former In These Times intern, is a Maine-based staff writer at Common Dreams. Follow her on Twitter at @corbett_jessica.
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