CHICAGO (CBS) – Students from Chicago Public Schools slated to close at the end of the school year and other opponents of school closings rallied in the Loop on Monday to voice their outrage over plans to close or consolidate 53 schools and 61 buildings.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports dozens of students gathered at CPS headquarters before marching to City Hall to deliver an oversized letter to the Mayor Rahm Emanuel, demanding he stop school closings and listen to them.
Eighth grader Isis Hernandez said, at first, she was relieved her school was not on the closing list, then she felt upset.
“I was worried. What would happen to all these other kids in our neighborhoods? This means more abandoned houses as more families move away,” she said.
So Isis was protesting the school closings plan, along with Sarah Johnson, a student leader from Albany Park.
“Many of these school closings are in low-income black and Latino neighborhoods. Is that right?” she said, to shouts of “No!” from the other protesters
Brian Sturgess, a senior at Paul Robeson High School in Englewood said even elementary school kids must worry about gang violence as they travel to new schools, and the problems don’t stop when they arrive.
“Schools merging with each other force even more students into compact classrooms under one instructor,” he said. “Students will now receive even less individual attention, sending them to high school without being able to … solve simple math problems.”
Alexssa Moore says her 13-year-old brother Desmond will have to walk several extra blocks to his new school, from gang territory he’s familiar with, to one he’s not.
“If they see a new face walking they’re more likely to pick on that new face,” said Moore.
Felicia Davis, the mayor’s director of public engagement, cordially accepted the letter from the students, but did not comment.
The students said they’ll be downtown again on Wednesday, for a protest rally at Daley Plaza, organized by the Chicago Teachers Union.