On May 20th the Chicago Teachers Union wrapped up a three-day protest over the yet-to-be-determined but possible closure of more than 50 public schools. One banner trotted out by the CTU supporters read: “Support Our Schools Don’t Close Them.”
Yet, the CTU must be collectively suffering from amnesia. At the beginning of the 2012 school year, Illinois teachers proved harder to drag back from summer vacation than students did. The teachers union’s seven-day strike shut down 675 schools and took nearly 400,000 kids out of the classroom.
Even more astounding, to combat the decision of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City School Board to close underutilized schools, the CTU sent out flyers to high schools throughout the Chicago Public School system that encouraged students to join their protest, essentially advocating for kids to skip class. EAGnews.org reports similarly disturbing tactics:
“The union orchestrated another round of arrests in front of City Hall yesterday to provide the necessary image for the CTU’s protest against planned school closures.”
Further, the detractors’ rhetoric concerning the school closings is no more legitimate than their tactics. Protestors’ claim the closings would, “bring more violence to some neighborhoods by leaving buildings vacant, creating a place for troublemakers to gather.”
Another protester said, “Violence will really overtake that community, because the schools are a safe haven for the children.”
But if the union truly cared about the safety of students then how did it justify putting a far greater number of students at risk during its strike?
The response from CTU President Karen Lewis? “This is not a strike I wanted… It was a strike of choice … it’s unnecessary, it’s avoidable and it’s wrong.”
In the end Chicago Public Schools actually have a plan to keep kids safe (unlike CTU, which left students with no place to go) on their way to school and the closings will contribute greatly to reducing the district’s nearly $1 billion budget deficit.
The fact check performed by WBEZ tells the story:
- Chicago is closing 61 buildings.
- 30,000 children are affected by school closings.
- Schools are under-enrolled because the City of Chicago lost 145,000 children in past the decade.
- Children will be going to better performing schools.
- CPS needs to close schools to address its $1 billion deficit.
- CPS will save $560 million in capital expenses over the next 10 years.
- Chicago Public Schools will save $43 million annually on operating expenses by closing schools.
- Students will have busing if their new school is more than 0.8 miles away from their old school.
- Schools slated to close are half-empty.
Unfortunately these tactics are here to stay, at the expense of the well-being and academic future of Chicago public school students, due to CTU membership overwhelming reelecting President Lewis to her position over the weekend.