Five years after the largest mass closure of public schools in an American city, Chicago is forging ahead with a plan to shutter four more in one of the city’s highest-crime and impoverished areas.
School officials are pitching the new closures around Englewood, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, to make way for a new $85 million school they insist will better serve students and reverse low enrollment. But some parents, students, and activists are skeptical, saying they’re still reeling from the 2013 closures and the latest plan will make things worse, including the displacement of hundreds of mostly black and poor teenagers.
The latest closure proposal has led to shouting matches and emotional pleas during community meetings. Residents have pleaded with the district to invest more in neighborhood schools and safety. Some have alleged that racial politics are at play. And they worry by placing students in schools farther away, they are putting them in danger of gang members who will view them as the enemy by virtue of their address.
A version of this article appeared in the February 14, 2018 edition of Education Week as Chicago Prepares to Close More Schools Located in Impoverished Neighborhoods