Chicago Public Schools opened the doors of Willa Cather Elementary School on the West Side to media as its example of the underutilization “crisis.”
Now the Chicago Teachers Union is set to counter the school district with a tour of its own. Thursday the CTU will host a bus tour for media and elected officials to areas where the union says school closures have led to destabilization.
March 21 CPS announced that 54 public schools would close due to being underused and will fold into other nearby school buildings. The move has ignited a fury of opposition from the union, community leaders and supporters, parents, students and others.
CTU led a rally in downtown Chicago March 27 and was joined by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-1st, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Tavis Grant and others. The union has called for a moratorium on any school closures, an idea CPS apparently sees as not an option, based on its proposal to close, turnaround and co-locate dozens of elementary schools.
CPS calls the actions long-term cost savings for the district.
CTU rejects that.
“These actions will leave 61 buildings empty and add to the portfolio of empty school buildings collected by the district over the last 12 years. In addition, mass closings will cost Chicago Public Schools nearly $1 billion. To be clear, this is the largest school closing operation undertaken by any city in our nation's history. This year's round of school closings will have a significant impact on students' educations, their safety, and the economic life and vitality of the neighborhoods where these school closings will take place,” CTU officials said as Thursday’s bus tour was announced.
In a school district that is majority minority, CTU calls the school district’s actions “racist.”
“This action will have a significant impact on African American and Latino students,” according to CTU.
The union did not release details of the bus tour and explained that no itinerary will be given in advance of the event.