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Chicago Public Schools Expected to Announce 'Largest Number of Schools Ever Closed in One Place at One Time'

Critics: 'It's been slash and burn'; there will be 'chaos'

Students enter Mahalia Jackson Elementary, which is on the list for closure.

The Chicago Public Schools is set to announce the closure of around 50 public schools on Thursday, what the Chicago Sun-Times has described as "the largest number ever closed in one place at one time in the country."

While the full list and names are expected to be announced by CPS at 5 PM, media outlets report that adminstrators of the schools slated for closure were told earlier in the day to notify their staffs.

A recent Sun-Times analysis of the 129 schools on the list for possible closure disproportionately affected black students. And on Thursday, parent Natasha Norment, whose daughter's school, Mahalia Jackson Elementary, was on the list for closure, told the Chicago Tribune, “It seems that they’re targeting the African-American schools.  The majority of these schools are in black communities. I feel it’s not right."

The Chicago Teachers Union has criticized the mass closures, and on Thursday the group's President Karen Lewis said in a statement, “This city cannot destroy that many schools. It will send our district into chaos.  These actions will put our students’ safety and academics at risk and will further destabilize our neighborhoods."

WGN reports that the CTU is "preparing for possible civil disobedience," and WLS reports that "There are at least three different protests scheduled Thursday by community organizations. In one of those protests, parents are expected to go to the homes of school board members."

Clarice Berry, president of Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, told the Tribune she was "shaking to the core. I didn’t think they’d actually go through with this, the largest number of closings ever. There’s been no real planning."

Berry said it's been "Just slash and burn."

While a final decision on the closings might not happen for weeks, Rosemary Maurello, a teacher at Lafayette Elementary, which was informed it was among those slated for closure, told the Associated Press, "It sounds like a done deal to me."

The Tribune reports that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not in town for the announcement of the closures this week as he is on a family skiing vacation in Utah.


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