Gangs are Latest Excuse for Not Closing Failing, Half-Empty Chicago Schools

Kyle Olson

1/14/2013 12:01:00 AM - Kyle Olson

Instead of appropriately dealing with gang-related violence, an independent Chicago school closure commission is recommending no school closures because such a move could force students to cross gang lines.

So in Chicago, gang violence is the “new normal” and instead of combating and gaining some control over the problem, city leaders are simply accommodating it.

Wow. Gangs of street punks are now influencing public policy and million dollar decisions. It looks like they really have won.

Of course the Chicago Teachers Union, which stands to lose money if schools close, agrees with the recommendation.

The CTU has been arguing against school closures for some time, as the union is looking to stave off an increase in the number of non-union charter schools, which serve about 50,000 students. A moratorium on school closures would naturally mean that more union teachers will be needed and their dues money will keep flowing to the CTU.

Chicago Public Schools are facing a $1 billion budget deficit and now that the district has locked in an expensive three-year collective bargaining agreement with the CTU, reducing labor costs is not really an option. But consolidating schools and streamlining operations is.

But now taxpayers might have to continue to pay to operate half-empty schools because city leaders don’t seem to be willing to deal with gangs. The Chicago Tribune reported there are 100,000 empty seats in schools in a district that has 400,000 students.

“CPS built new schools to relieve overcrowding in some communities but failed to close enough of the older, emptier ones, often caving to community pressure,” the newspaper reported.

Those half-empty schools are among the city’s worst performers academically.

The latest excuse shows the CTU will stop at nothing to protect the miserable status quo, regardless of the consequences for Chicago’s children.