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Chicago Public School Closings Overwhelmingly Affect Black Students

The Chicago Public Schools' plan to consolidate 80 schools over the next two years disproportionately affects Black students.
FILE - In this Oct. 27, 2011 file photo, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, right, visits with Brandy Toliver, left, and Mariah Neyland, in their first-grade class at the CICS Washington Park School on Chicago's South Side. The Chicago Public Schools extended the school day from 5 hours and 45 minutes to 7 hours in 2012 after a heated offensive by parents. Emanuel, a proponent of longer school days, had originally proposed a 7 1/2-hour school stay, but adjusted his proposal after discussions with parents, some of whom had been critical of the original plan. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

By// Mariah Craddick

According to an analysis conducted by the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Public Schools’ plan to consolidate 80 schools over the next two years disproportionately affects Black students.

The CPS’ Commission on School Utilization recently released their final report on the district’s plan to shut down several schools in an effort to “right size.” While African-American students make up only 41.7 percent of the student population, nine out of every 10 students potentially affected by the closures are Black.

“It bothers me that schools that are in mixed neighborhoods, schools that are mostly Hispanic or Caucasian, they don’t seem to show interest to close them,” said Willetta Gary, a substitute teacher at Shoop Academy. “Children fare best when they can attend school in their own neighborhood where they live.”

“It’s a lawsuit waiting to happen,” said Dwayne Truss of the Save Our Neighborhood Schools Coalition in the Austin and North Lawndale cities.

CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett told the Sun-Times that race was not a factor in the process to close schools. Instead, the district is focusing on capacity rather than the academic achievement of its students, targeting areas that have lost population. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, African Americans are leaving the city resulting in “under utilization” of schools.

“Every child in every neighborhood in Chicago deserves to have a high-quality education that will prepare them to succeed in life,” Byrd-Bennett said. “These numbers show that right now, that is not happening, and a disproportionately high rate of our African-American children are in schools that lack the resources necessary to give them an education we can all be proud of.”