Washington—AFT President Randi Weingarten's statement on the Chicago school closings.
"What we witnessed today was the largest mass school closing in America's history. Sadly, the reasons for these closings seemed to have changed over the course of the last few months, as a May 16 WBEZ analysis demonstrated. When the district's claims—namely, that these closings would produce the savings promised, that children would really go to better-quality schools, and that the closings were because of underenrollment and underutilization—were scrutinized, serious questions were raised. That leaves a strong impression that these were political decisions, not decisions made in the best interests of children. In addition, this school closure strategy is not what the people of Chicago want. According to a recent Chicago Tribune poll, just 19 percent of Chicagoans sided with this strategy.
"Separate and apart from what it means for the continuity and stability of children's schooling, the evidence makes clear these mass closings will destabilize neighborhoods, and it has raised serious safety concerns for children in a city where there is already too much violence.
"We are left at a loss as to why the board chose to ignore the parents, teachers, students and residents of Chicago in pursuing this reckless strategy that is not what the people want and will not help children.
"We commend CTU President Karen Lewis, CTU members, parents, students and the greater Chicago community, who have attempted at every step to do what is in the best interests of kids and Chicago's public schools."