CPS school closings: district spares some schools, but problems still persist
by Josh Dwyer The big news from the Chicago Public Schools school board meeting is that Ericson, Garvey, Jackson and Manierre schools will remain open. Still, 50 other schools are on the chopping block. Forty-eight schools will close in June. Canter Elementary will get a one-year reprieve and Attucks Elementary will close at the end of...
by Josh Dwyer
The big news from the Chicago Public Schools school board meeting is that Ericson, Garvey, Jackson and Manierre schools will remain open.
Still, 50 other schools are on the chopping block. Forty-eight schools will close in June. Canter Elementary will get a one-year reprieve and Attucks Elementary will close at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.
These actions followed a contentious eight-month process, where CPS and the Chicago Teachers Union have each made a number of missteps.
CPS’s reasoning for the school closings has been confused since the process began. At first, its primary justification was to save money, citing data that showed a cost-savings of $500,000 to $800,000 per school.
When people began questioning those numbers, CPS’s story changed. Instead of being primarily about cost savings, the school closings were being undertaken to move kids out of the poorest-performing schools in the city.
But that argument only lasted for a few days. Opponents of the school closings went to the media with a study conducted by the University of Chicago’s Consortium on School Research, which showed that eight of 10 Chicago students displaced by school closings in the past have transferred to worse-performing schools than ones they were attending.
Now, CPS is citing both reasons for the school closings, though they are forecasting more than $100 million less in savings.
With enrollment in traditional CPS schools declining by 80,000 – more than 18 percent – since 2003, and no reason to expect the trend to reverse on its own, some sort of consolidation was inevitable. The shifting rationales and shaky budget math leave plenty of reason to doubt that CPS handled this situation well.
Despite the vote, it is unlikely that the feud between CPS and the CTU will end any time soon. In fact, the union has already filed lawsuits alleging that the school closings violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Civil Rights Act.
Lost within this back and forth, though, are the parents and students who will bear the brunt of this decision.
Understandably, they have many concerns. Some parents are fearful that their children will be attending a lower-performing school while others worry whether child will come home at after school lets out.
Chicago’s students would be better served if parents were given the power and the financial resources to decide for themselves which schools their children should attend.
To learn more about the CTU’s role in the school closings, check back in tomorrow to read a blog post by our Director of Labor Policy.