CHICAGO (CBS) — A study by the University of Chicago has provided new insight into how the Emanuel administration’s move to close nearly 50 schools in 2013 affected students at the Chicago Public Schools.
The school closings impacted more than 10,000 students. Although the school closings created a furor from parents and the Chicago Teachers Union, the study showed positive results overall.
According to the study, nearly all of the students – approximately 93 percent – ended up at a school with better academic ratings than their original school. One-fifth of the students whose schools were closed were transferred to top-tier schools.
The study also revealed 33 percent of students chose a different school than their designated welcoming school. Of those, more than half landed in schools rated lower than the welcoming school assigned by CPS. In addition, they missed out on extra resources the district provided to welcoming schools.
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Many CPS families based their decisions on how close their new school was to their home, rather than how well it performed.
Lots of parents whose students were affected by the school closings complained the decision by the mayor and CPS put kids in danger, because many students would have to travel to unfamiliar or gang territories to get to their new schools.
CPS set up Safe Passage routes, staffed by trained workers, to calm those fears, but still many parents opted for schools with lower performance ratings than the ones that closed, to keep their children closer to home.
The Chicago Teachers Union, which opposed the school consolidation plan, said the closures put student safety at risk and created unnecessary transportation and scheduling problems for Chicago families.
“The mayor and his handpicked Board of Education are trying to spin the fact that school closings actually hurt students, and parents’ desire to enroll students in a school of their own choosing shows that community concerns are much different than what is coming out of the 5th floor of city hall,” the union said in a prepared statement issued Thursday.