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CTU President Karen Lewis Renews Call for Full Moratorium on School Closings; Commission Recommends 80 Closings

by CTU COMMUNICATIONS  |  03/06/2013

CHICAGO--The president of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) said the final report issued by the school district’s Commission on School Utilization further illustrates the need for a full moratorium on school closings, turnarounds and other actions until an independent body can study the impact of these policy decisions on Chicago students, neighborhoods and their families.

Following significant criticism by parents, teachers, and clergy as well as community-based organizations, the Commission has reduced its recommended number of school actions to an arbitrary list of 80 neighborhood schools. Chicago Public Schools (CPS) initially targeted 330 and then 129 schools, respectively, in a “shock them with crisis” tactic in order to ease outrage when a smaller hit list of schools is finally announced by March 31 as required by law.

"The Commission’s report suggests that CPS should continue with its intent to destabilize thousands of our students by disrupting 80-plus school communities in a single year.  This is outrageous,” said CTU President Karen Lewis. "Given CPS's history, there is no way it has the capacity to shut down 13 percent of our entire school district without mass chaos. Every school that is closed impacts another in the broader community. That’s one more child exposed to Chicago’s rising tide of violence."

“These non-binding recommendations do not address CPS’s unsubstantiated claim that school closings save money. In reality, school closings costs taxpayers more and the city is left with abandoned buildings,” Lewis said. "CPS continues to move the target to justify why it should close rather than support our schools. These public policy measures hurt our students, put people out of work and destabilize neighborhoods. In the meantime, they want to open new charters.”

The CTU president also said she will continue to urge educators, parents, students and community residents to resist disruption to their neighborhoods by participating in a march and rally in downtown Chicago on March 27 which will include the voices of many of the people whose school communities are targeted by the city for destabilization.

"City Hall must stop its war on poor and working-class people," Lewis said. "When you attack our schools you are attacking our students and our parents. In fact, class sizes will skyrocket. You’re attacking the dedicated people who work there. The Commission’s report does not contain a single pedagogical argument on why closing schools helps our students in any shape or form."                                                                                                                     

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Chicago Teachers Union