The three-day protest against Emanuel’s school-closure plans kicks off today with what CBS 2 Chicago said was “being billed as the mother of all marches.” The march route will take demonstrators to each of the 54 schools on the closure list.
School district officials say a looming $1 billion deficit is forcing them to close the schools. The teachers union has gone to court to block the closings, arguing that they disproportionately affect African-American students in the district, which is not majority-black, and would harm special education students.Many parents are also concerned about safety issues, because their children will have to walk through violent neighborhoods to get to their newly assigned schools. The district says it is spending $8 million to beef up its Safe Passages Program, but parents remain worried.
Independent hearing officers hired by the school district to evaluate the closing plans concluded that 13 of the targeted schools should stay open for various reasons, including child safety and lack of evidence that the students were being assigned to better schools.