Tuesday, October 15th: Take Back Chicago

October 14, 2013 in Uncategorized

From the Grassroots Collaborative:

October 15th: Take Back Chicago

Take Back Chicago

Join thousands of community and union members to launch a powerful shared economic justice platform.

October 15th
UIC Forum
725 W Roosevelt Rd Chicago, Illinois 60607
5pm Rally and March
6-7:30pm Meeting
Download Flyer (English) | Download Flyer (Español)

Participating organizations include:
Action Now • AFSCME Council 31 • Bickerdike Redevelopment Corporation • Brighton Park Neighborhood Council • Chicago Coalition for the Homeless • Chicago Teachers Union • Enlace Chicago • Illinois Hunger Coalition • Kenwood Oakland Community Organization • ONE Northside • Pilsen Alliance • SEIU Healthcare  •Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation • Southside Together Organized for Power • Southwest Organizing Project• Stand Up! Chicago

Together we can:

Raise the minimum wage

Raise the minimum wage to ensure decent pay for all Chicago workers and make sure that wealthy corporations do not profit off of poverty wages.

Ensure that our children get the education they deserve

We need our tax dollars to fund public schools, not banks and corporations. We need to support parents, students, and educators and stop corporations from stealing Chicago’s future.

Make the rich pay their fair share of taxes

We need a fair tax system that closes the corporate loopholes and stops the sweetheart tax deals for the super rich.

Pass budgets that provide the services our communities need

We need budgets that prioritize public services and youth investment that supports mental health clinics, libraries, and restorative justice.

Create affordable housing

Get city commitment to creating and preserving affordable housing in the next 5-year plan that serves the needs of residents throughout Chicago, not just homes for the wealthy.

NYC’s De Blasio Offers Stark Contrast To Bloomberg With Progressive Agenda

September 20, 2013 in Education, Leftism

In a fight to succeed Michael Bloomberg as mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio championed an unapologetically progresive message to defeat a crowded field in the recent Democratic primary. In the general election he faces Republican Joe Lhota, who served under former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

After winning a plurality of 40.2 percent of the Democratic primary vote, de Blasio clinched the nomination when other primary candidate Bill Thompson ceded. A democrat has not held the mayor’s office since David Dinkins in 1993, although the number of registered Democrats outweighs the number of registered Republicans in the city.

De Blasio is running on a progressive agenda to contrast Mayor Bloomberg’s twelve years in office. His key talking points revolve around improving public education, making low-income housing more accessible and ending the stop-and-frisk policy.

As New York City Public Advocate, de Blasio helped to prevent closures to struggling schools and instead focused on improving them. He also stepped in to fight against the closure of Long Island College Hospital by joining in the protest.

He also aims to enroll everyone in full-day pre-kindergarten programs and reinstitute after-school programs for all middle school students after heavy cuts were made to the programs throughout the past six years.

His plan to achieve more funding by raising taxes on the rich has been criticized by Lhota as impractical and having a low chance to pass the state legislature. Yet State Senator Bill Perkins, a democrat, does believe de Blasio’s solutions can be attained.

Lhota also wants to universalize access to pre-kindergarten programs, so this change might come to fruition regardless of who is elected. However, he does not want to expand education at the expense of the rich, instead advocating using cuts from other programs to fund the new initiatives.

By taking a stand against wealth inequality de Blasio is able to both show his commitment to what he describes as New York City’s hot-button issue as well as polarize his image from billionaire Mayor Bloomberg’s. He paints New York as “A Tale of Two Cities” consisting of those with money and those without. He uses Mayor Bloomberg as a symbol of the rich, and sees Lhota as a continuation of those policies.

New York City voters will decide the election on November 5.

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A Good First Week, But Rest Of Year To Come

September 3, 2013 in Schools

After a summer rife with anger and uncertainty towards CPS, students are settling into the city’s schools for the new year. The major issues of closures, budget cuts and the safety of moving children to other schools still exist, but did not stop students from attending the first day of classes on August 26. Compared to last year, more students showed up for the first day at the school they were expected to attend, even with all schools on a pre-Labor Day start date.

The district said 93.5 percent of students showed up on Monday, when all CPS schools opened. Last year, schools were running on two different tracks, with schools starting in August showing an 87.8 percent first day attendance, and schools starting in September pulling in 93.4 percent of their students on Day One, according to the district.

This improvement in first day enrollment numbers will help the schools more accurately plan budgeting for the coming year. Among the 22,000 students who did not show up, CPS expects some of them to have in fact gone to school, but not one they had already enrolled at or were expected to attend.

Projected enrollment was tricky this summer, as the 50 closed schools scattered students across the city. Prior to the first day of classes, students had enrolled in 287 different schools.

Chicago Public Schools insists that the majority of the nearly 12,000 students from the closed schools are signed up at the designated welcoming schools, where it did big fix-ups, from paint to iPads. The district made $155 million in building improvements at those schools, adding computer labs, science labs, and installing air conditioning in every classroom.
But numbers obtained through an open records request show some 2,200 students from closed schools have not enrolled in welcoming schools, suggesting that the ripple effects of the largest school closure in recent American history could go well beyond the communities where the closures took place.

As for the closed schools, it is unsure what will happen to the now-empty buildings, mostly located on the South and West sides. Mayor Rahm Emanuel asserts that the goal is to use the spaces as community assets to strengthen the neighborhoods, and he has set up a committee to work towards repurposing these schools.

A “community asset” may end up being a charter school. CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett denied this, but committee chairman Wilbur Milhouse keeps this option open as a possibility.

Sustaining Safe Passage

Also important is that all students continue showing up to school, which may be put in jeopardy depending on the success of the Safe Passage program.

Catalyst Chicago details logistical aspects of traveling to school on the first day. CPS provided bus services and workers to ensure a safe passage for the students, but the bus service was unreliable and the workers were stationed far apart.

“I am a little bit nervous,” [Delano student Aniyah Bray] said, “because we don’t know what can happen.”

The Safe Passage program was installed to quell students’, parents’ and community members’ worries that the closed schools would force students to walk through dangerous areas and across gang lines to get to their new schools. It succeeded on its first day, when all eyes were on it, but maintaining the manpower to see every student to school every day might be harder to upkeep.

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CPS Pushes For More Charters Despite Closures And Budget Woes

August 24, 2013 in Education, Schools

Schools will start against for CPS students Monday after a summer of outrage over school closures. A lawsuit that aimed to prevent those schools from closing did not pass so those doors will be shut forever, but according to CPS new doors will open.

CPS announced its plans to target new charter schools to alleviate overcrowding in the city’s Northwest and Southwest sides. The district is interested in exploring alternative options such as integration with online courses, schools with an arts focus or dual-language programs.

Neighborhoods Without Neighborhood Schools

If CPS succeeds in introducing more charter schools, they could be at odds with the communities they are trying to help. Democratic Committeeman Raymond Lopez of the 15th Ward says members of his community do not trust charters and do not believe they are the best solution.

The community does not want a divergence of public resources that could otherwise be better spent in the existing infrastructure and existing public schools, being taken away to create more charter schools,” Lopez says.

If given the proper resources, many neighborhood schools would excel, he points out.

The Road To Privatization

CPS may choose to give its resources instead to charters, which are publicly funded but privately owned. The privatization of schools is also a point of contention, especially among union members.

The district has been slowly shifting students to charter schools … Around 13 percent of district students—and more than 20 percent of the district’s high school students— are educated in charter schools. Teachers at charters cannot be represented by the Chicago Teachers Union.

CPS has not yet found additional charters or facilities, but if they succeed, schooling in Chicago could look different in a few years.

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Anti-ALEC Protest Shuts Down Monroe St.

August 8, 2013 in Lobbying

Photo of anti-ALEC protest in Chicago

Long known as a corporate lobbying powerhouse and provider of canned anti-democracy / pro-austerity legislation, ALEC, aka the American Legislative Exchange Council has a 40 year record of spamming the legislative process with canned bills tailored to favor the intensely wealthy. The lobbying group’s record of legal corruption of civics brought out at least 2,000 peaceful but lively protesters in Chicago today at ALEC’s annual meeting at the Palmer House hotel.  Carrying signs, wearing union colors and making enough noise to penetrate the Palmer House’s normally placid interior, the demonstrators descended upon Monroe st. at noon, peaking the curiosity of passers-by and sparking conversations.

Working The Edge Of The Crowd Works

I witnessed three such discussions (and participated in one) and saw first-hand how effective it was to work the edges of a protest answering questions of passers-by about what was going on.  It was a vivid reminder of how incredibly easy it is to forget that what we know about what business as usual really means today remains relatively rare knowledge.  Most people know “things are bad”: but why they are and who’s responsible is far from clear to most people who aren’t used to following money.   Following the money of the rich into the state legislatures means you find ALEC.  Today’s protest raised awareness of that entire process to thousands of passers-by, making clearer why and how our schools, our streets, our unions and ordinary people across Chicago are under attack.

How ALEC Works

ALEC is a “bill mill” – a lobbying group that writes bills that eventually become state law once voted upon and passed. The bills ALEC writes represent the ideas of corporate think tanks, only instead of speakers, books and research that say that corporations should get whatever they want whenever they want, ALEC produces something worse: actual legislation destined to become law.  In the same way you might use a word processor program at work to create a template for a document you plan to create over and over again, ALEC does the same with corporate-friendly legislation.  One ALEC bill, for example, might make collective bargaining agreements null and void for unions in Wisconsin.  That same bill is then used in Michigan or California or Florida etc. with only the state-relevant parts updated. It’s an efficient machine to destroy union rights one state at a time.  As well as to cut taxes for the rich, to reduce funding for streets and to make public school closures and new charter school funding a requirement by law, without vote,  in state budgets.

Chicago showed it knows what’s up today.

More about how ALEC works.

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CPS Gives More Money To Some Schools

August 7, 2013 in Schools

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times

Extra money is heading to Chicago’s schools—but it is not an even distribution. The Chicago Sun-Times investigated which schools received the most money, and they are highly clustered on the North Side.

On the other hand is a disproportionate number of closed schools located on the South and West sides.

Dollars Distribution

Last month CPS released $36 million to the schools, a sum that would usually be held until the fall. The money was allotted based on the distribution of low-income students, so it seems odd to counter that with money to schools predominantly on the North Side, an area with less poverty.

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CPS Blames Pension Problems, But Continues To Ignore Classroom

August 7, 2013 in Education, Schools

Chicago Teachers Union organized a protest outside 125 S. Clark St. where the Board of Education hosted its meeting.

Chicago Teachers Union organized a protest outside 125 S. Clark St. where the Board of Education hosted its meeting Wednesday.

At its July 24 board meeting the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education emphasized its management of debt as well as high student performance on the ISAT. However, it did not offer solutions to the heavy cuts in the classroom.

The Board mainly blamed its dire financial situation on the state’s failure to institute proposed pension reform. However, Chicago may itself be partially to blame for this, as former mayor Richard Daley and Mayor Rahm Emanuel have failed to fully pay into the pension system since in 1995.

No matter the cause, CPS laid off 3,000 teachers and school staff this summer, but during Wednesday’s meeting the Board focused on its efforts to trim spending outside of the classroom by cutting down on administrative, operating and central office expenses and looking for other sources of revenue. “We’re going to lean on reserves more than we ever have before,” CPS Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley said. Cawley also said that the city raised property taxes the maximum amount allowed by law and restructured debt.

The Board insisted they tried to stay away from cuts in the classroom, but had little options. They justified the mass closings by explaining that consolidating underutilized schools was a necessary step to save $41 million per year in operating costs. The Board said these savings will not be seen until at least next year after the money is reinvested in the “welcoming schools,” but sources outside of CPS believe that the savings from school closings will not help the ease the deficit by a significant amount.

The parents group Raise Your Hand has been attempting to track the cuts and their amounts, as has the Chicago Sun-Times.

Public speakers at the meeting disagreed that CPS had exhausted all its options to climb out of its financial hole. They urged the board to get funds from TIF, to press tax and pension reform and to be more transparent.

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis wanted to focus on fixing the root of the problem. “Let’s try to figure out how to structurally change how schools are funded,” she said.

Funding is dangerously low, with per-pupil spending at $5,720, 6.5 percent below the statutory minimum.
The Board tried to highlight the positives of Chicago’s schools. ISAT scores improved last year across all subjects, grade levels and demographic groups. 65 percent of elementary schools boast an increase in M/E scores, with the “welcoming schools” performing 12.1 percentage points better than the schools that closed. “This suggests that we’re on the right track for the next generation of Chicago’s children,” CPS Chief Accountability Officer John Barker said.

Students voiced their beliefs that CPS is turning away from them rather than staying on track, with many of them expressing that they felt ignored by the Board of Education despite its insistence that they put the “children first.”

“The actions you have taken these past months… are not putting the students first. In fact, it’s putting us last,” Avelardo Rivera, a student at Whitney Young Magnet High School, said.

Diana Arangulo, a deaf student also from Whitney Young, lamented the cuts to special programs, asking, “Why are you making our future harder by taking resources that we need?”

Other community members echoed the sentiments of the students. “While we can all appreciate that a CPS deficit exists, we cannot continue to balance budgets on the back of our children,” said Theresa Martinez, a member of the Bell School Local School Council and a CPS parent.

Catherine Marchese of Belding Elementary School questioned the drastic nature of the cuts. “How much is too much to cut from these schools and when does it just become wrong?”

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Increased ISAT Scores Don’t Tell Full Story

August 5, 2013 in Education, Schools

The CPS Board of Education boasted its increased Illinois Standards Achievement Test scores as a sign that education is heading in the right direction. Yet what it failed to highlight was that this improved performance is merely a bright spot in a grim truth, the truth being that only 52.5 percent of students met or exceeded standards, nearly a 22 percent drop from last year.

The drop follows changes to the test; students faced harder questions this year and the state raised the cutoff score for passing.

CPS officials said that when they retroactively applied the new cutoff scores to last year’s results, student performance appears to have actually gone up by 1.8 percentage points, showing growth at every grade level and in all subjects.

While it is notable that students improved on an objective level, CPS seems to ignore that almost half its students were unable to pass, an issue that could cause problems for the district and its classrooms going forward.

Digging Into Demographics

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett noted that schools that shut down performed at the lower end of the spectrum, while schools that will be taking in students made improvements and saw good scores. This was not the case across the board:

12 receiving schools saw their test scores plummet by more than 4.8 percentage points, and five of those schools saw drops of more than 10 percentage points, including Lavizzo, which saw a 20.1-point drop – the biggest in the district — and Johnson and Chopin, which had the third- and fourth-largest test score drops in the city.
Also, four schools that will be closed come fall ranked in the top 10 percent of schools system-wide for test score growth. Those were Bethune (16 points), Garfield Park (15.3 points), Overton (12 points), and Songhai (8.1 points).

Closing certain schools does not match up to eliminating low-scoring schools as well as Byrd-Bennett makes it seem. Charter schools as well are not the beacon of hope that CPS wants to make them out to be—12 charter schools fell in the bottom 10 percent of growth.

Another benchmark the Board of Education highlighted was the improvement of minority groups. African American and Hispanic students both turned in better objective scores than past years, but the does not mean the gap is closing.

The percentage of white students—now at less than 10 percent of district enrollment and largely clustered in selective and magnet schools as well as some neighborhood schools on the Northwest Side—who exceed state standards is increasing three to four times faster than the percentage of Latino and African American students.

With schools closings affecting minority children more so than whites, the gap may widen in the coming years and any gains made by minority groups may be at risk.

The Board of Education complied a presentation on this year’s ISAT scores, but what is missing is the stories and truths behind the seemingly positive results.

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Positions Cut, Rearranged

August 5, 2013 in Schools

CPS stressed at its latest Board of Education meeting that it looked for places to make cuts outside of the classroom. However, with another 2,113 teachers and school employees laid off two weeks ago, students’ education will take a direct hit.

The grassroots community organization Raise Your Hand looked into the numbers.

92 schools lost an art position, 54 schools lost a music position, 58 schools lost a PE position, 40 schools lost a librarian, and so on and so forth. Many schools never had these positions to cut in the first place.

CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett wrote in an overview of the budget:

The progress we have made as a district can only be sustained and improved if we continue to invest in areas that have been proven to enhance student achievement. This includes expanding access to quality early childhood education, full day kindergarten, increasing the amount of time available for learning, raising the bar for powerful instruction, and creating positive, safe, nurturing school environments that are conducive to learning and that foster our students’ creativity and motivation.

The CPS ideals of a longer school day and education that strengthens creativity and learning do not match the actions of cutting teaching staff, especially special programs. One proposed solution to eliminating special subjects such as art and music is moving them online.

In these online classes, students will still be connected to a certified teacher, but in a virtual setting. While this method may help cut costs without entirely cutting special programs, more teachers will have trouble finding employment and students’ hands-on creative learning will take a hit.

CPS will leave many individual school budgeting decisions up to the principals, so choices on which areas to cut from will vary among schools. Thomas Kelly High School may lose 23 teaching positions, as well as 10 other staff positions and other resources.

This system also allows CPS to try to avoid blame for cuts in the classroom.

But many of these same principals are reporting back to their local school councils that CPS has reduced funding so much that teacher cuts and other educational impacts are unavoidable.
While a spring budget scare is par for the course at CPS, what’s unusual here is that it isn’t the CPS central office sounding the alarm. In fact, a CPS spokesman continued Wednesday to emphasize the school budgets are only preliminary and that the final numbers will show “very minimal cuts.”
Instead, the hollering is coming from the schools — neighborhood schools in particular — where the actual budget-cutting decisions are being made under the district’s new decentralized system.

Catalyst Chicago shows the numbers of layoffs at closing schools, turnaround schools and schools with budget cuts or changes in enrollment. Raise Your Hand compiled a list of cuts within each school.

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CPS school closings: a round up of articles

August 2, 2013 in Schools

Visualization of School Closings

CPS Approves Largest School Closure in Chicago’s History – May 23, 2013

The Board of Education, hand selected by Rahm Emanuel, voted to shut down 49 elementary schools in Chicago. The board fully endorsed Emanuel’s plan for a downsized school system that they believe will help combat the budget deficit.

Underenrollment is cited as the main reason for the school closings. This problem has been “linked in large measure to an exodus from the city in recent years of middle-class African-American families.” Emanuel contends that depleting enrollment has caused 100,000 empty desks in Chicago schools. The list of closing schools has been pared down from the original 330 schools identified as underenrolled last fall.

One of many complaints regarding the school closures is in response to the district’s promise that all students will be sent to academically superior schools. The promise appears to be unfounded in about three dozen cases.

Critics are still hopeful that the courts will intervene and stop some of the school closures. Additionally, the Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has threatened to use public upset over the closings to block Emanuel’s re-election. Emanuel contends that he is prepared to take a political hit for the school closures.

Teachers union files suit to halt closings: Latest action argues CPS broke proper procedure – May 30, 2013

The Chicago Teachers Union filed a lawsuit seeking to keep 10 schools from closing, alleging that Chicago Public Schools did not follow proper procedure.

Two suits have already been filed, with CTU’s backing, to obtain a court injunction to stop all closings. One contends that CPS failed to delineate an appropriate plan for special needs children during the closings, thus violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. The other argues that African-American and special-needs students are disproportionately affected by the closings.

The newest lawsuit suggests that CPS broke state law by ignoring the recommendations of a group of independent hearing officers, made up of retired judges, that were required by state law to issue recommendations on all school closings. The officers opposed the closures, contending that CPS was not following state laws or district guidelines for shutting down schools.

“The law bars them from closing a school where the hearing officer goes through the process to issue a ruling and determines the school closing plan does not comply with the district’s own guidelines,” CTU attorney Robert Bloch said. “The board is not permitted to close that school then in that school year.”

Hearings began on July 16 for the first two lawsuits two lawsuits seeking to block the closure of 49 elementary schools and a high school program. The first lawsuit requests at least a year delay in the closures and the second requests a permanent injunction.

If the case proceeds, the trial could be months away. The third lawsuit, filed by the Chicago Teachers Union in Cook County Circuit Court, is expected to have a preliminary injunction hearing on July 31.

Closing Schools will not Eliminate Overcrowding Problem – June 12, 2013

Fifty public schools will close over the summer because the schools have too few kids enrolled in their schools. But this ignores the problem of extreme overcrowding in other Chicago Public Schools throughout the district.

There are 50 schools in the district that are considered severely overcrowded. Peck Elementary School is currently operating at 206 percent overcapacity. Despite proposed plans to build more buildings to accommodate students and staff, 18 temporary classrooms have been placed on the playground.

Overcrowding is most common in the predominantly Latino Southwest Side.

“It seems intuitive, but it’s a bit like saying on any given night there are fifty restaurants where people are lined up outside the door and there are fifty other restaurants where the tables are empty,” said Charlie Wheelan, author of Naked Economics and a professor of economics and public policy at Dartmouth University. “No one would ever suggest, well let’s just take the overcrowded restaurants and send them somewhere else. People don’t want to go there. It’s really about changing the food that’s being served. It’s not just about moving customers around.”

CPS is working on alleviating the overcrowding of 22 schools for the upcoming year. This task has been made additionally difficult by the mandate of full-day kindergarten in all schools.

Details on Staff Cuts Caused by School Closures – June 14, 2013

   Chicago Public Schools announced that 663 school employees from the closing schools do not qualify to follow students to new schools and will be laid off.

The cuts include 420 teachers, more than a third of them tenured but marked either unsatisfactory or satisfactory. Only teachers with excellent or superior ratings are protected under the teachers union contract.

More cuts are likely to follow as the plan to close 49 elementary schools and a high school program is implemented. The district has yet to determine how many principals, clerks and other employees will be cut.

The district’s budget deficit for the coming year is almost $1 billion.

 The first round of 28 schools close - June 19, 2013

Chicago Invests in Private Enterprise as Public Schools Face Deep Cuts  – June 23, 2013

In May, Rahm Emanuel and DePaul University announced their proposal for a $173 million arena in downtown Chicago. The city would contribute $33 million of the price tag. This announcement came just six days before the Board of Education voted to close 50 Chicago Public Schools to alleviate a $1 billion budget deficit.

Bob Fioretti, the alderman of the ward where the arena would be built, spoke out against the proposal. Fioretti condemned the plan for prioritizing funding for a private university’s sports team over public schools.

The plan was also criticized by Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union, for the city’s continued investment in downtown business while less wealthy areas continue to be neglected. Lewis noted that most of the school closings were located on the South and West Sides.

CPS currently anticipates more school budget cuts in the coming year as the city pursues its $1.1 billion investment plan to boost tourism.

Twenty more schools close - June 24, 2013

New Method of Funding Drastically Affects School Programs  – June 14, 2013

Budget cuts and layoffs will cause an increase in class size and reduction in specialty programs in Chicago Public Schools. CPS will change how it distributes money to schools to a system that allocates money based on a specific amount for each child enrolled in the school. Some schools will see an increase in funding, while others will experience deep cuts.

   “Teachers at Von Steuben High School said they weren’t sure exactly how much their budget decreased, but had been told they may no longer have a librarian, a writing center or an administrator to deal with discipline issues.”

Charter grammar schools are seeing even or increasing funding and charter high school budgets are declining. Most critics do not object to the method of per-pupil funding. Instead, they protest the small amount that is to be allotted for each student.

Social Events Ease School Mergers – June 21, 2013

In an effort to ease tensions resulting from school mergers, remaining schools will host students from closing schools. This “cultural integration” will include events for students and parents of the combining schools.

Schools such as the merging Stewart and Brennemann are holding “turn and talks” to get students interacting before merging in the fall. Pizza parties, ice cream socials, and bar-b-ques are common methods for increasing familiarity this summer.

These effort will be much smoother for schools like Stewart and Brennemann, where students come from the same general area on the North Side. It will be much harder for schools that come from diverse backgrounds due to “animosity between neighborhoods, gang affiliations, [and] a host of issues not easily overcome.”

Chicago Public Schools Closing Point Up the Dangers of Geography – July 1, 2013

School mergers pose a safety dilemma for students that will be forced to traverse unfamiliar and possibly enemy areas in order to attend their new schools next year.

This is a problem of particular importance for students attending the six schools that will close in Englewood and West Englewood. Due to the nature of neighborhood and block loyalties, students express concern for their safety in the commutes through “enemy turf.”

Chicago Public Schools has responded to safety concerns by proposing an increase of nearly $8 million in funding for its Safe Passage program.  CPS also promised to bus students moving from schools located more that 0.8 miles away from their new schools.


Activists Appeal to the United Nations to Stop CPS Closures – July 24, 2013

Chicago human rights advocates, led by the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights, have appealed to the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights to review the recent school closures in Chicago.

Among their allegations, the letter suggests that children’s human rights to equality and nondiscrimination were violated. As argued in lawsuits already filed to stop the school closures, the activists contend that African American students are disproportionately affected by the school closures.

African American students account for 40 percent of students enrolled in Chicago Public Schools.  However, 80 percent of students affected by the school closings are African American.

Activists also argued that children’s human rights will also be violated when school closings force them to cross gang lines in order to get to their new schools.

Though the U.N. does not have jurisdiction over the United States, activists hope that a U.N. investigation would bring international attention to the school closures.

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