CHICAGO (CBS) — Parents opposed to the Emanuel administration’s plans to close dozens of public schools urged the mayor to walk the same routes they and their children would have to take to get to new schools, routes they claim often pose a danger of gang violence.
Cecile Carroll led parents and others in an emotional news conference at City Hall, to urge Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take a closer look at the schools slated for closing, and what would happen to the students who are affected.
They said their children will travel through gang turf, and past abandoned buildings, to get to new and unfamiliar schools after their current schools close.
“We are officially inviting the mayor to come and walk with us to see the realities of what he’s sending our children through,” Carroll said.
Avanette Temple, whose child attends Edward C. Delano Elementary School, said “Gangs are going to interact with our children. I don’t want to see no child harmed. Mayor, you said that you were going to take care of our children. You’re sending them back into the ‘60s, so I need you to walk that walk.”
Torrence Shorter, a parent at Martin A. Ryerson Elementary School, said some of the 53 schools targeted for closing by the Chicago Public Schools are doing well right now.
“We’re trying to send out positive citizens for this city of Chicago, but you’re not giving us an opportunity,” he said.
Shorter said he feels like he’s been slapped in the face.
Cynthia Thomas, whose child attends Francis Scott Key Elementary School, said she’s worried about overcrowding at the new school her child would have to attend, and safety for students there.
“Walk into my shoes, where I already have to struggle for my baby to walk out of his house, and the struggle for their lives as they walk down the street,” she said.
Latrice Jamison has a daughter at Robert Emmet Elementary School, where she said there are gang problems that would only get worse if the school closes and kids are sent to nearby Oscar DePriest Elementary or Edward K. Ellington Elementary School
“The kids from DePriest came over to Emmet on recess time, jumping the gates, fighting the kids; so how the kids going to go to DePriest or Ellington if they’re fighting each other already? So once they get in that school, it’s going to be getting worse,” she said.
The group said they plan to walk the routes every Tuesday to point out problems that could pose a danger to their kids. Emanuel spokeswoman Caroline Weisser told the parents she’d pass on their request to the mayor.