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Mike Klonsky's Blog: U of C Study, Out Today, Shows Rahm's 2013 School Closings Failed CPS Students

Thousands of Chicago parents and community members protested the 2013 school closings. 

CPS’ current Schools Chief Janice Jackson called what happened “unacceptable.” But said the outcome will not deter her from closing schools in the future. -- WBEZ

Rahm Emanuel's mass school closings in have proven to be a disaster for the city and have offered none of the promised academic gains for the affected 12,000 predominantly-black students.

Aside from further blighting Chicago's south and west-side neighborhoods and likely contributing to the massive black exodus from the city, the closing of 50 CPS schools in 2013 led to a significant drop in student test scores. This according to a report being released todayby researchers at the University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research.

The report comes weeks before the city’s five-year moratorium on school closings expires. It's a moratorium that Rahm has already violated time and time again, most recently with the closing of high schools in Englewood as well as the National Teachers Academy.

According to the Consortium Report:

Despite the promised improvement in academic opportunities for students from the schools that were closed, the University of Chicago researchers found that their test scores fell in the wake of the closings and subsequent school mergers. And the drop in math scores lasted for four years. 

The researchers also said their interviews with CPS staff members revealed a “chaotic” plan for moving the students to other schools and too little support for blending the new and old communities of students and families, creating “challenging us-vs.-them dynamics.

The study concludes:

“Closing schools — even poorly performing ones — does not improve the outcome of displaced children, on average. Closing under-enrolled schools may seem like a viable solution to policymakers who seek to address fiscal deficits and declining enrollment, but our findings shows that closing schools caused large disruptions without clear benefits for students.”

CTU's Jesse Sharkey, said the report “validates” that the closures "were marred by chaos, a desperate lack of resources, lost libraries and labs, grief, trauma, damaging disruption, and a profound disrespect for the needs of low-income black students and the educators who teach them.”

Important to note... It wasn't just Chicago. Mass school closings were a requirement of then Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's Race to The Top policy. Unless school districts closed schools, they were threatened with loss of millions of dollars from the D.O.E. An epidemic of closings and teacher firings, mainly in urban districts, followed in the wake of RTTT.

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Mike Klonsky

Mike Klonsky is an educator, writer, school reform activist, and director of the Small Schools Workshop ( ...