Just yesterday, the City of Chicago declared that it will close 54 schools, giving a last-minute reprieve to four after community protests. It is the first wave of closings in Chicago; Mayor Rahm Emanuel has placed more than 120 in the crosshairs, claiming underutilization and budget issues. Chicago’s fight against school closings is symptomatic of a nationwide pattern, especially in large urban areas, in which the targeted schools are overwhelmingly in poor African American and Latino communities. City administrations cite the same reasons. Leid Stories sees two parallel motives in school closings – the Obama-supported plan to privatize education, and, locally, politically connected real estate developers who have their eyes on city properties in now-undesirable areas that they can get for a song and then turn into handsome windfalls with inevitable gentrification.
May 23, 2013