The Chicago Teachers Union led 3 days of marches in protest of the Chicago Public School District’s plan to close 54 schools. It ended with a rush hour rally in Daley Plaza on Monday night. Though smaller than the March rally at Daley Plaza, this was no less emotional. The protesters shouted chants blasting the district, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The CTU said 26 people were arrested after calling for a moratorium on school closings and blocking elevators in City Hall. According to Chicago Police, the people were issued citations and later released.
School closings protesters marched around City Hall for over an hour. Many were students that the district tried to dissuade from attending. Many of the students learned of the protests while in class. Some students even handed out sign up sheets and all of the students seem united in keeping the schools open. Some students were overheard saying “We have to get Rahm out of power. We have to elect someone else. ”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel declared the argument over, after the list was released in March. The mayoral appointed school board was set to vote yesterday to finalize the list of closures. But it is reported that the board has already decided it would likely save fewer than 5 of the 54 schools set to close.
Chicago is crushed by a $1 billion education budget deficit. The school district is 20% under capacity and almost 100, 000 students, leaving many of the schools half empty. The district says it will save $500 million to $800 million for each school that is closed. Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that Chicago couldn’t afford to put off difficult decisions any longer.
Emanuel said “By consolidating these schools, CPS can focus on safely getting every child into a better performing school. Like school systems in New York and Philadelphia where schools are being closed, Chicago must make tough choices. Our children’s futures are bright and consolidating schools is the best way to make sure all of our citys students get the resources they need to learn and be successful. ”
Democrats are supporting Emanuel on this despite the fact they do not like to clise schools. Republicans argue for the children’s safety, saying they will have to crosd gangland. Maybe this will give the city more money to spend on an increased police presence to combat these gangs. But hindsight is 20/20 and you would think Republicans would be on board with spending cuts. This is just another example of Republican hypocrisy. President Obama seems to support his old staff members decision. Ultimately only time will tell whether this was right or not.