Loud and Clear
School staff and communities are coming together to fight school closings, disinvestment in education.
WHEN SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED, the ramifications run deep. Students are disconnected from the productive, caring relationships they had with school staff. Kids accustomed to walking to school are forced to travel farther—often through dangerous areas—to get there. And neighborhoods often lose an institution that had served as an important community hub.
Is it any wonder that school closings spark outrage and distrust?
This spring, the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to close 27 schools and the Chicago Public Schools announced it was closing more than 50 schools. Both decisions led to massive protests. The crisis in Philadelphia was prompted by a recommendation from the Boston Consulting Group to close 64 neighborhood schools, almost a third of the city’s public schools. BCG is notorious for its privatization schemes, which typically hire far fewer school support staff and expect those who are hired to carry unreasonable workloads.
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president Jerry Jordan, also an AFT vice president, says the consultant’s proposal was the most recent example of what happens when governments disinvest in schools.
“For the past year, every major education action … has involved taking resources and people away from our neighborhood schools,” Jordan says. “And when the schools are sufficiently starved, they shut them down.”
The Chicago decision to close schools and relocate thousands of schoolchildren will devastate many neighborhoods and families, Chicago Teachers Union president and AFT vice president Karen Lewis wrote in an op-ed published in the Chicago Tribune