'School killer' Rahm still on the hunt
Rahm's latest scheme calls for the closing of at least 7 more high schools in Chicago's black community. I know, I know -- he promised the community a moratorium on school closings after blighting the neighborhoods with his 50-school closings four years ago. But now he's promising the Englewood neighborhood a brand new, consolidated $76M large, shiny new high school to mollify the expected opposition.
The mayor's using the same old "underutilization" argument to board up more south-side schools. And it's true that there are about 15 predominantly African-American high schools in the city with enrollments of under 250 students. But there's several things missing from discussion of the consolidation plan (assuming that the decision hasn't already been made and the discussion isn't just for show).
- Why is enrollment dropping? The obvious answer has more to do with the whitenizing of the city, including the push-out of more than a quarter-million African-Americans over the past few decades, than anything about the schools themselves. It's about neighborhood gentrification and switching neighborhood populations. Disinvestment, loss of jobs, combined with the closing of schools, businesses and community social-services have left these neighborhoods blighted and dangerous. The Chicago Reporter attributes the enrollment declines and eventual school closings to "a legacy of disinvestment and segregation".
- What's the downside to more mass high school closings? Past closings, done despite massive community opposition, haven't saved the city or the school system much, if any money. After a previous round of closings, internal documents leaked to the press showed how school administrators failed to inform the public of associated transition costs for closing and consolidating a proposed 95 public schools. The cost of maintaining the buildings and problems of reuse often led to even greater debt for the Mike Klonsky's SmallTalk Blog: 'School killer' Rahm still on the hunt: