Chicago to shutter 50 public schools: Is historic mass closure an experiment in privatization?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Last week, the Chicago Board of Education voted to close 50 of the city’s public schools in a move that will impact some 30,000 students, around 90 percent of them African American.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pushed for the closures in order to save the city more than $500 billion, half of its deficit.

"Rahm Emanuel actually does not have an educational plan, he has an economic development plan," says our guest Diane Ravitch, who served as the assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

Proponents say the closures will hit schools that are both underperforming and underutilized. But a vocal coalition of parents, teachers and students has fought back, warning that the closures will lead to overcrowded classrooms and endanger those students forced to walk longer distances to their new schools. We go to Chicago to speak with Jesse Sharkey, vice president of the Chicago Teachers Union, which helped lead the campaign against the school closures.

"They are making a very massive, radical and, frankly, irreversible experiment here on other people’s children," Sharkey says.

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