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Chicago School Closings Deal Another Blow to Black Students

African American parents and school children in Chicago are being dealt yet another blow in the pursuit of the American dream — namely more impediments to getting a quality education in the City of Broad Shoulders. The Chicago Public School System announced that a list of school actions including closings, consolidations and boundary changes will focus on academically failing schools, not on buildings that are underused, according to guidelines released Monday. CPS will release the list of affected schools by Dec. 1

According to Chief Portfolio Officer Oliver Sicat, 42  percent of CPS schools are on probation for low-academic performance and poor attendance. He added that 72 schools have been on probation for five consecutive years, and 16 of them for 15 years consecutively.

For decades the emotionally charged issue of education for inner city youth centers around the failure of public school systems, how it is serving our children poorly and how we need vouchers to enable families to pay for placement of their children in private or parochial schools.  When African American parents and students are slighted by an indifferent school systems or one that appears hell bent to fuel the prison-industrial complex by sending more young black males from school to prison, tempers and options are exacerbated.

But remember the case of Kelly Williams-Bolar, the Ohio mother of two who was sentenced to 10 days in jail and placed on three years probation after sending her kids to a school district in which they did not live.

Unfortunately no no matter how noble and well intentioned, the backlash from public school supporters who oppose the alternatives, like charter schools and voucher systems, leaves desperate parents with little recourse, accept to resort to desperate measures.

The proposed guidelines are open for discussion. CPS parents, teachers and education advocates can weigh in on the guidelines over the next 21 days on the district’s website. Schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard will use the additional input when considering which schools to target. –roz edward

To comment on the guidelines, go to