School & District Management

Chicago to Close Three Failing Elementary Schools

By Michelle Galley — April 24, 2002 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Three troubled elementary schools in Chicago will be closed this coming fall, the city’s school board has announced. The step is the most dramatic action that district officials have taken against schools they see as failing since Mayor Richard M. Daley was given control of the city’s schools in 1995.

Two of the schools are expected to reopen in the fall of 2003, after extensive changes have been made, and the third will remain closed indefinitely because of declining enrollment.

“To have meaningful change, we must be honest with ourselves and each other, and acknowledge that we have failed to provide our children at these schools with the quality of education they need,” said Arne Duncan, the chief executive officer of the 435,000-student Chicago public schools.

The district used six criteria in choosing which schools to close. Those included standardized-test scores, annual progress that was below the district’s average, and their proximity to better schools. The schools—Mary C. Terrell, Mary Mapes Dodge, and Daniel Hale Williams—are all located in poor neighborhoods on the city’s South Side.

During the next year, district officials will be meeting with both community members and national education experts to discuss how the schools should be revamped. Some of the options they will consider include year-round school, longer school days, and master teachers, Mr. Duncan said.

New Schools, Old Rift

The step prompted praise from U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige, but drew fire from Deborah Lynch, the president of the 36,000-member Chicago Teachers Union.

The 1,322 children currently attending the closing schools will be enrolled in nearby schools next fall. But many will have to walk through territory controlled by unfriendly street gangs to get to their new schools, Ms. Lynch said. “We’re very concerned about the accommodations for these kids,” she said.

In addition, Ms. Lynch said that during a January meeting with Mr. Duncan, she asked him directly if any schools would be closed this year. She said he assured her that he had no plans to close any of the district’s roughly 600 schools.

That assurance “led us to believe that we had been broadsided” when the announcement was made on April 10, Ms. Lynch said. The union has offered to take over the failing schools, but district officials have not responded to that offer.

The rift between the district and the teachers’ union comes just months before contract negotiations are scheduled to begin this summer. “This action,” Ms. Lynch said, “has certainly damaged any trust that had been developing.”

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the April 24, 2002 edition of Education Week as Chicago to Close Three Failing Elementary Schools


Special Education Webinar Reading, Dyslexia, and Equity: Best Practices for Addressing a Threefold Challenge
Learn about proven strategies for instruction and intervention that support students with dyslexia.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Families & the Community Webinar
How Whole-Child Student Data Can Strengthen Family Connections
Learn how district leaders can use these actionable strategies to increase family engagement in their student’s education and boost their academic achievement.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
The School to Workforce Gap: How Are Schools Setting Students Up For Life & Lifestyle Success?
Hear from education and business leaders on how schools are preparing students for their leap into the workforce.
Content provided by Find Your Grind

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

School & District Management After a Rash of Student Suicides, This School District Stepped Up
Hopeless at first over a student mental health crisis, Colorado's Cherry Creek school leaders decided to build a day-treatment program.
13 min read
Image of a bridge made of puzzle pieces with the middle piece moving to connect the two sides.
Nuthawut Somsuk/iStock/Getty
School & District Management What Superintendents Say They Need More of to Help Them Manage Districts
98% of those surveyed said better data would make them more comfortable making decisions.
2 min read
Image of a data dashboard.
Suppachok Nuthep/iStock/Getty
School & District Management Principals Give Thanks—and Shoutouts—to School Support Staff
Custodians, lunchroom aides, secretaries, and bus drivers are “too often forgotten and underappreciated.”
7 min read
Image of a framed smiley face.
School & District Management How to Recruit and Retain School Board Members of Color
Pay, staffing, and support are key ingredients to persuade people of color to run for their local school board, experts say.
5 min read
Illustration showing diversity with multi-colored human figures.