Protests fail to deter Chicago from shutting 49 schools

The New York Times reports that officials here in the third-largest district in the country voted Wednesday, after an emotional meeting, to close 49 public schools that they said were not being fully used. The decision, passed overwhelmingly by the Chicago Board of Education, came after weeks of contentious public hearings that brought more than 34,000 people out to oppose the school consolidation plan at dozens of meetings across the city…

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Chicago teachers get notice of school closings

Chicago teachers, students and parents began learning Thursday whether their schools are among those the city plans to close as part of a cost-cutting plan that opponents say will disproportionately affect minority children, the Associated Press reports. Chicago Public Schools, the nation’s third-largest school district, hasn’t said how many schools or students will be affected. Administrators identified up to 129 schools that could be shuttered, although the total number is expected to fall short of that number. The district says many of those schools don’t serve enough students to justify remaining open, and that the closures will help it deal with a $1 billion budget shortfall and better allocate its resources to students. The pending closures have been the subject of highly charged community meetings all over the city. Critics say that, among other things, the closures will threaten the safety of students who may have to cross gang boundaries if their schools are closed and that they will cause major inconveniences for families. Chicago is among several major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit, among others, to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment…

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Chicago offers to pause school closings after 2013 cuts

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said on Monday he wants a five-year moratorium on closing public schools after anticipated cuts in 2013, but the teachers union called his gesture a “sleight of hand,” Reuters reports. The third-largest school district in the United States, which was hit with a strike by public school teachers in September, was already facing a financial crisis that was made worse by granting pay rises to teachers. The school district forecasts a $1 billion deficit next year and is widely expected to try to balance its budget in part by closing public schools. Enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has fallen nearly 20 percent in the last decade, mainly because of population declines in poor neighborhoods. The district said it can accommodate 500,000 students, but only about 400,000 are enrolled…

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Chicago teachers fear wave of school closings after strike

Striking Chicago teachers fear that once they approve a new contract with the school district and end their strike, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will go ahead with dozens of school closings because of falling enrollment and poor academic performance, Reuters reports. The closing of schools and what happens to the teachers working in them has been a major issue in the bitter dispute, even though the disagreement over evaluating teachers based on standardized test results of their students has received more attention. Urban school districts around the country are grappling with closing schools, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Washington, according to a study last year on school closings by the Pew Charitable Trust.

“If they fire us, we’re done,” said Rhonda McLeod, a special education teacher at Gresham Elementary and one of the union delegates expected to vote on Sunday whether to end the strike…

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