As the dismantling of public education couched as 'reform' sweeps across the country, new reporting shows the potential closing of over 100 public schools in Chicago will overwhelmingly affect black students.
An analysis from the Sun-Times shows that 9 out of 10 of the students affected by the closings are black, a "racial breakdown," they report, "not in line with the overall demographics of the district."
The Sun-Times quotes Jitu Brown, education organizer for the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, who said:
The racial breakdown of the schools that are eligible to be closed is really an indictment on the fact that the district has operated without accountability in a two-tiered education system.
What we should be saying instead of blaming parents, instead of blaming teachers or having low expectations, is, "Why can the school district set up excellent public schools on one side of town because it wants to keep that demographic there but starve out neighborhood schools in another community that’s African-American, and after the district neglects those schools, say ‘Look your schools are under-utilized, your test scores aren’t where they should be.’”
While CPS has 129 schools on its list of possible closures, the commission charged with studying the closure plan announced this week that the district can "pull off 80 school shake-ups, including closings and total staff overhauls known as turnarounds," WBEZ reports.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis responded to the commission's report, saying, "Given CPS history, there is no way it has the capacity to shut down 13 percent of our entire school district without mass chaos."
Black Agenda Report managing editor Bruce Dixon decried "the war of our elite waged to privatize public education" and lamented that the potential closing of 129 public schools in Chicago and 40 in Philadelphia last year had received scant media attention.
It's not news because school closings and school privatization, the end game of the bipartisan policies the Obama administration, Wall Street, the US Chamber of Commerce, a host of right wing foundations and deep pockets and hordes of politicians in both parties from the president down are pushing down the throats of communities across the country, are deeply unpopular. The American people, and especially the parents, teachers, grandparents, and other residents of poorer neighborhoods where closings and privatization are happening emphatically don't want these things.
Even the word describing their policy, “privatization” is so vastly unpopular that they've taken it out of circulation altogether. The best way, our leaders imagine, to contain and curtail resistance to their deeply unpopular policies is to avoid naming them for what they are, to keep them on the down low, to not report on their implementation, and certainly to not cover any civic resistance to them.
Meanwhile, the fate of 27 of the 29 public schools in Philadelphia slated for closure will be decided today by the votes of the School Reform Commission.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that
If the SRC endorses even most of the proposals, the result would be among the largest mass school closings in the country, with one in eight city schools shutting its doors permanently in June.
WLS Chicago has more with this video: