Regarding closing up to 50 Chicago schools, Mayor Emanuel said that “Not doing anything and allowing 56 percent of African American male adolescents to drop out would be a political concern to me.”
We’re not asking the Mayor to do nothing. And we agree with him that past school leadership decisions have led to severely under-resourced schools in some of our most under-resourced communities.
But the right answer to one set of bad decisions is not another bad decision. Report after report show the folly of the mayor’s mass school closings plan. We have learned that the closed schools are mostly on a par with the receiving schools academically and in terms of maintenance costs. Mental health professionals have stated that CPS transition planning is inadequate to meet students’ emotional needs. Substantial money will not be saved. Student safety is a rising threat. The massive instability from 50 school closings is much more likely to increase, not decrease the drop out rate of African-American males and all other affected students.
Here’s what the mayor ought to be doing if he really cares about the students more than he cares about being a drum major for the corporate reform movement. He ought to be putting his considerable fund-raising and get-it-done energies into supporting the schools we have rather than shutting them down and replacing them with more mediocre charter schools. He ought to stop fighting the people who do the hard work of education every day. He ought to put aside his misplaced confidence in his own ideas about what’s best for other people’s children, and open his mind to the rich knowledge and experience of those who have actually walked the walk.
That would really be something.