There's no easy or perfect way to close schools for under-enrollment, no satisfying folks who can't imagine ANY school being closed, and an awful lot of ways to do it wrong. But Chicago isn't the first or only district to lose enrollment and have to close schools, and there's even a 2011 study of how other districts did it from the folks at Pew (PDF here). Maybe there are some useful lessens there about how to do it at least somewhat better. Or maybe we can come up with some.Theoretically, this year's closures should be easier since they're enrollment-based rather than performance-based, but, well, only in theory.
And theoretically it should be easier since Byrd-Bennett has done this before, in Detroit, notes this Atlantic Cities article, but again, only theoretically.
In reality, school closing opponents in the teachers union and community groups are in massive denial about the need to close schools, and highly motivated since the "successful" strike and forced departure of Brizard. In this way, they're sort of like Tea Party Republicans right after the 2010 elections, unconcerned about long-term dynamics (or the growth of Latino voters).
The Board is pushing ahead with this March 31 delaying strategy, which I don't think is going to work or help.
My crazy idea to help the process would be to take charters out of the equation for a year, sort of like LAUSD did with its revised Public School Choice program under Deasy. Schools can get closed, and turned around, but charters aren't charged with doing turnarounds (which most don't want to do anyway) and don't get access (or at least first choice) of buildings emptied out by closures and under-enrollment. Let new charters open as before, but keep that separate from the closing and turnaround procedures, in terms of buildings, decisions, etc.
Or, do it like the old military base closing commission, and set up and independent entity to come up with a list and process that can be voted up or down but not cherry-picked.
What's your idea?