Friday, March 22, 2013

Chicago closes 54 schools

...thus beating out Philadelphia who as of last week was holding the "most school closed in a single year" label.
Over the course of yesterday, principals were informed in Chicago that their schools would be closing at the end of this year. Only at the end of the day was there a central announcement that it is 54 schools, with another 11 slated for shared space. (Twitter became the best source of information, as people tried to work out which schools were slated for closure.) It's expected to affect 30,000 kids.
The New York Times notes that, while finances are what are cited as the reason for the closures, it won't necessarily help:
Some studies have shown that savings are often less than anticipated.“Our research found that school districts tended to save under $1 million per school” closed, said Emily Dowall, a senior associate at the Pew Charitable Trusts who has studied school closings. “So in some ways that’s not a game changing amount.”
Note also that it is disproportionately poor and minority-majority schools that are affected:
Critics say that even more significant than cost, school closings tend to affect the poor and minorities disproportionately. In the 100 schools that have closed in Chicago since 2001, 88 percent of the students affected were black. Over all, black students make up 42 percent of the city schools enrollment.
There is also enormous concern for student safety, as Chicago students will have to go farther to get to school through what their families fear are unsafe streets.
There is lots of commentary out there; I would point you to Kenzo Shibata and  Xian Barrett to start.

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