I've rounded up all the best coverage I could find and divided it into categories based on whatever issue or angle jumped out at me as most interesting -- the political angle, the logistics of what comes next, the new programs and colocations, What jumps out at you?  What news stories did I miss or points are the media missing or getting wrong?  What do you think of the coverage? *Other options include consolopalooza and closegate.


CPS School Closings Put Focus on Gang Territories in Neighborhoods DNAI: Ald. Walter Burnett: "I wouldn’t let my kid go to that other school" across gang lines.

CPS School Closings: What's Next for Parents, Teachers DNAI: Other schools will be open for student applications and some displaced teachers will continue to be paid.


Chicago Public Schools Proposes 54 Schools for Closure, Six for Turnaround Chicago Magazine: For the schools that have data going back to 2000 or 2001, the average drop in enrollment among the schools being closed is 47.4 percent.


Chicago proposes closing 53 elementary schools, firing staff at another 6 WBEZ: CPS officials also said they plan to add 18 new programs to the receiving schools. On Thursday, CPS also announced 11 "co-locations"--an arrangement where two or more schools share the same building. Five of the schools do not even exist yet. Chicago is closing down some of its original "renaissance" new schools.

What the Past Says About the Future Chicago Magazine: The number of school closings trickling out today is unprecedented, but in the prior decade CPS closed a lot of schools. So there's precedent to bring to bear on what's to come.

Principals on School Closings: There’s Been no Planning.  Just Slash and Burn Tribune: Berry said there has been little planning at schools that are expected to take in students whose buildings are shuttered. Principals have told her that nothing has been worked out to provide the libraries or air conditioning CPS has promised at all receiving schools.


CPS shakeup: 54 schools closing, 30,000 kids affected, 1,000 teachers losing jobs Sun Times:  Chicago Public Schools on Thursday announced the largest school shakeup in the nation: closing 54 schools and 61 buildings, jostling 30,000 kids and giving pink slips to more than 1,000 teachers.

List of school programs to be closed Sun Times: On Thursday, Chicago Public announced that it will be closing 54 school programs and 61 school buildings.

CPS to close 61 buildings, affecting 30,000 kids Tribune: With Chicago Public Schools facing a financial meltdown, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration on Thursday targeted 61 school buildings for closing, unleashing a torrent of criticism from anxious parents, children and teachers as well as aldermen.

Chicago to close 54 schools to address $1B deficit The Associated Press: ... that prepares them to succeed in life, but for too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed because they are in underutilized, under-resourced schools," said district CEOBarbara Byrd-Bennett.


71 school actions in massive district shakeup Catalyst: In addition to the 54 shut-downs, 11 schools will co-locate with another school, eight of them with charter schools. Two severely underutilized high schools—Bowen and Corliss—will share their buildings next year with new Noble Street charter high schools. CPS officials said this will give people in the area two “good, strong” options in one building, but some community members and others are likely to worry that the charters will drain away more students from the neighborhood schools.


Chicago Moves to Close 11% of Elementary Schools in Fall WSJ:  Thursday's decision is fraught with political danger for Mr. Emanuel. He already faces a burgeoning budget deficit, a much-publicized crime rate and tense relationships with the police union and the teachers union. Shutting down schools—no matter how low-performing—engenders anger, especially in minority communities, which will to bear the brunt of closures.

Rahm on Vacation as School Closing List Links DNAI: Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s spokesman Sarah Hamilton said the mayor takes a vacation with his family at this time every year and will be returning to Chicago on Friday.

Why Chicago’s Spineless City Council Just Can't Say No Chicago Magazine: Emanuel is “surrounded by people who tell him he’s got the best ideas in the world. . . . [There is] no one in his inner circle to say he’s wrong,” says Dick Simpson, a professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and himself a former alderman.

Parents, teachers vow to fight Emanuel, Chicago Public Schools plan to close to 54 schools AP: Chicago is among several major U.S. cities, including Philadelphia, Washington and Detroit, to use mass school closures to reduce costs and offset declining enrollment. Detroit has closed more than 130 schools since 2005, including more than 40 in 2010 alone.

Could New York Be the Next Chicago? In These Times: “Teachers need to play the role in laying a platform for parents and students,” says Marissa Torres, MORE's candidate for assistant treasurer in next month's elections. Torres calls for the UFT, like the Chicago Teachers Union, to foreground explicit ...


54 Chicago Public Schools to Close WTTW: 54 Chicago Public Schools are on CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett's final closure list. We have reaction.

Barbara Byrd-Bennett WTTW: The CEO of Chicago Public Schools joins us to explain one of the largest school shutdowns in U.S. history.



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  • I'm wondering if anyone has any information about the new programs receiving schools will be getting. What exactly is "new STEM program," for example? Where is it coming from? CPS? Some other entity? IB is pretty standard.

  • Why is CPS closing Bethune?

  • From Catalyst... "IPADS FOR DISPLACED KIDS: As if to make the historic shuttering of 54 schools more palatable, CPS pledged to provide iPads to third- through eighth-grade students at schools taking in displaced students, the Tribune reports."

  • From "Despite a reported 1 billion dollar debt, the Chicago Public Schools announced that all students at closing students would be given their very own pony. District officials vowed to pick up the tab of approximately $2,500 per student for the ponies"

  • In reply to district299reader:

    This is utterly disgusting. iPads for those who transfer??? Let's look at the reality: crossing gang lines, overcrowded classrooms, loss of resources, consitency, and friendships, but you get an iPad. But my pension (which won't be there soon) lots and lots of charters coming to a neighborhood near you!
    CPS should state: iPad and air conditioning for transfers, sweltering heat and cockroaches for the rest!

  • In reply to displacedteach:

    Where do you keep the iPads? Travel to school with them? Kids who have iPads or even iPhones in my would get them stolen a lot.

  • Juan Rangel, the $250,000-a-year chief executive officer of one of the largest charter school operators in Chicago, has three children of his siblings on the UNO payroll, who together earn $208,000 annually.
    Rangel has his 30-year-old nephew working as his deputy chief of staff. Carlos Jaramillo, the son of Rangel’s sister Rosario Jaramillo, is paid $88,000, payroll records show. Rangel’s niece Araceli Estrada is paid more than $49,000 a year as an apprentice kindergarten teacher. Another Rangel nephew — Juan Antonio “John” Rangel, 38, makes more than $71,000 a year as an information technology manager for UNO’s charter school network.
    This is what Rahm wants from charter directors?


  • In reply to district299reader:

    may be on preckwinkle-did she not support TIF on pritzger hyatt in hyde park and open canter which will close and overcrowd ray schl?

  • From Catalyst website, a comment by Rod Estvan:

    Rodestvan wrote 2 hours 43 min ago
    A look at six additional schools being closed and special ed

    I have now had a little more time to look at additional schools proposed to be closed and their receiving schools in terms of the performance of students with disabilities and approximate numbers of disabled children in a consolidated school. I looked at 6 additional sets of schools, picked randomly from the list. I reviewed the subgroup scores in math and science for students with IEPs who were administered the ISAT in 2012.

    I did not review the Illinois Alternative Assessment scores for more significantly disabled students because they generally are not available on the school level and to be honest I have questions about their meaning.
    The Illinois Alternate Assessment (IAA) is the test the state uses to measure the learning of students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Students take the IAA if participation in the state's regular assessments — the ISAT or the PSAE— are not appropriate, even with accommodations. Just in relation to the meaning of IAA scores, for CPS as a whole on its 2012 report card 55% of the CPS students administered the IAA were found to be reading at a level called satisfactory or mastery. In fact many of these students may not be able to read at all because test administrators are allowed to read passages aloud to all students who are qualified to use read aloud as an accommodation within their IEP program. From my experience with more severely disabled students many if not most have this accommodation written into their IEPs.

    In the 2012 testing cycle CPS administered the IAA reading component to 2,481 students with disabilities and the ISAT to 21,810 students with disabilities. Some of the schools that have been proposed to be closed may have more students than would be expected taking the IAA because a special education cluster site is located at that school.

    Back to the 6 additional closing and receiving schools I looked at. Banneker is closing and its students are going to Mays. CPS currently states Banneker has a total of 350 students and 18% have disabilities (about 63 disabled students). Mays has a total enrollment of 309 students with 7.8% (about 24 disabled students). If things were to stay stable next year the combined school would have around 660 students and a disability percentage of about 13.2%. Mays effectively will experience a dramatic increase in its special education population and the one case manager at that school will experience a big work load increase.

    In terms of special education ISAT performance of Banneker students with IEPs only 4% of these students were reading at or above state standards in 2012 and 17% were performing at standards in math. Mays' disabled students did dramatically better 48% were reading at or above standards and 62% were performing at standards in math. Are the teachers that much better at Mays or was it the lower numbers of students with IEPs that allowed for such a dramatic higher performance level?

    Hopefully, CPS knows the answer because I don't have a clue. But at any rate CPS would be honest in saying that it was sending the students with disabilities from Banneker to a academically stronger school.

    Bethune is closing and its students are going to Gregory. CPS currently states Bethune has a total of 392 students and 14.5% have IEPs (about 57 students). Gregory currently has 340 students and 10.9% IEPs (about 37 students). If things were to stay stable next year the combined school would have around 732 students with and a disability percentage of about 12.8%. Gregory will experience an moderate increase in its special education population and the one case manager at that school will experience a moderate work load increase.

    In terms of special education ISAT performance of Bethune students with IEPs 22% of these students were reading at or above state standards in 2012 and 6% were performing at standards in math. Gregory 's disabled students did dramatically better 37% were reading at or above standards and 70% were performing at standards in math. Are the teachers that much better at Gregory or was it the lower numbers of students with IEPs that allowed for a higher performance level? Again I hope CPS knows the answer because I don't have a clue. Again I would say CPS would be honest in saying that it was sending the students with disabilities from Banneker to a academically stronger school.

    Duprey is closing and its students are going to DeDiego. Duprey currently has according to CPS around 99 students, of whom 14.1% have IEPs (about 14 students). Because Duprey has so few students an ISBE data test score suppression rule applied to the 2012 test scores for students with disabilities. So I had to use 2011 scores for comparison purposes. DeDiego currently has according to CPS around 776 students of whom 13.4% have IEPs (about 104 students). If things were to stay stable next year the combined school would have around 875 students with and a disability percentage of about 12.8%.

    In terms of special education performance Duprey simply blows DeDiego off the charts using data for both schools from 2011. In 2011 Duprey had 33% of its students with IEPs tested in reading at or above state standards and 50% of its students with IEPs performing at or above standards in math. DeDiego in 2011 only had 17% of its students reading at standards and 23% of it students with IEPs meeting or exceeding standards in math. Again it's the school with smaller numbers of students with IEPs that has higher testing scores for that subgroup and again it's not at all clear why. DeDiego by the way in 2012 had a very small decline in its reading scores for students with IEPs and in math. It's fair to say CPS would be less than honest claiming that it was sending the students with disabilities from Duprey to a academically stronger school.

    Ericson is closing and its students are going to Sumner. This year Ericson had an enrollment of 488 students with a very small special education enrollment of 5.1% (about 25 students). Sumner had 359 students with a special education enrollment of 9.5% (about 34 students). The combined school if the enrollment stays the same would have about 847 students with disabilities would compose about 7% of the school.

    The students with disabilities ISAT scores for these two schools are very similar, with a slight edge in reading going to Ericson. But both schools have pathetic performance results in reading for disabled students. Sending the Ericson's disabled students to Sumner in no way presents these children with a better option based on performance data.

    Herbert is closing and its students are going to Dett. Herbert has a large percentage of students with IEPs, 29.5% of its approximate current enrollment of 356. Dett has a total enrollment of 204 with 16.2% having IEPs. A combined school would have around 560 students if nothing changes and have about 24.6% students with IEPs. This increase in students with IEPs could change the character of Dett.

    Dett has much stronger performance in math for its students with disabilities compared to Herbert, but just about the same reading scores (15% at or above for Herbert and 14% for Dett). While CPS can reasonably claim its sending Herbert's students with disabilities to a stronger school, it's also clear Dett will face real challenges with a larger special education enrollment.

    Lastly, I looked at Lafayette which is closing with its students going to Chopin. Lafayette has the largest percentage of disabled students of any of the closing schools we randomly picked. According to CPS its 30.8% with a total enrollment of 483 students, that's about 149 students with IEPs. Many school districts in Illinois have far fewer disabled students than just Lafayette has. Lafayette has a good number of self contained programs, including an autism program with about 12 dedicated staff.

    Lafayette's ISAT test scores for those disabled students capable of taking the standard test are shockingly low compared to Chopin's. Chopin has 45% of its students with disabilities reading at or above standards whereas Lafayette only has 6% meeting or exceeding standards. But Chopin has really very few disabled students compared to Lafayette, about 40 out of an enrollment of 271. CPS is totally correct that its sending Lafayette students to the better school based on test data. But its seems clear that Chopin is in for a dramatic increase in its special education population if enrollments next year look like they do this year. Chopin would go from having 14.8% of its population composed by students with IEPs to having 25% of its population composed of disabled students and many of them would be significantly disabled students.

    I have now looked at 7 closings and mergers, yesterday I looked at Morgan and Ryder, and I see trouble ahead at some of these schools. I saw three schools whose disabled students would be transferring to an academically weaker receiving school than was the closing school. I also saw several receiving schools which would experience a dramatic increase in their special education population. Once you begin to look closely the CPS closing process appears more and more difficult.

    Rod Estvan

  • Close schools but not so many this fast, says Sun Times opinion page

  • In reply to Alexander Russo:

    Alexander the Sun Times editorial was well worth reading this morning, thanks for linking it to your blog. Here is a quote from that editorial that I found very interesting:

    “CPS also has planned for these moves like never before. In addition to logistical planning and the goodies such as air conditioning, 19 of the receiving schools are to get new programs in either math/science, International Baccalaureate or the fine arts. All these upgrades, CPS says, will be paid for over two years from savings derived from the closings. We fear that’s overly optimistic, given the $233 million price tag. It’s worth noting that the closure savings won’t reduce CPS’ projected $1 billion deficit this year.”

    It's true CPS is making a real effort to plan for the closings, I and other advocates for students with disabilities are working with CPS to try to make this work as well as possible. But that doesn't mean it will or even that the surviving CPS staff trying to implement moving so many disabled kids fully believes it can in any way seamlessly pull this off. In fact there were some schools that had large populations of severely disabled students, like Penn, that were pulled out of consideration because of the complexity of the task.

    One of the biggest problems CPS will face with the mergers will be those cases where schools with significant numbers of students with IEPs are going into schools with lower numbers of students with IEPs . In the Catalyst post that was cross posted I discuss a few of these examples. Having larger populations of disabled students can change the character of schools for the worst and in rare situations for the better by making them more open to learning differences.

    Many CPS teachers critique charter schools for keeping more severely disabled students out, but rarely do we see this critique extended to traditional schools that have done the same thing. There are CPS traditional schools that have pushed challenging students with disabilities out the door and they have gotten away with it for years. One reason some very low income CPS traditional schools are more successful than others is in fact due to the order and structure created by their administrations. Part of that process has in some cases been created by pushing kids out the door into cluster programs or other elementary schools that supposedly had a more full array of services and supports.

    A few of these schools are now going to have a lot of challenging students real fast and I am deeply concerned about that. I have expressed these concerns to CPS. The go slow approach suggested by the Sun Times was in fact advocated for by some at CPS and it was rejected by the Mayor.

    The primary reason for that rejection I think was political. If these closures can be completed fast the political wisdom is that people with accept that reality and the Mayor will have to pay no price when and if he runs for office again. If closings and battles around them are dragged out over the next two years that might change the calculus of reelection. In my opinion this is a great example of the problem of having Mayoral control over CPS. Before one of the Mayor's supporters says it on this blog I will say it, I have no proof such a political calculation was done, but I do think it was.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rod—it pays for schools and CPS to NOT take special educating students, sending them off to overcrowded schools with cluster programs. Can you blame non-cluster teachers and principals to not want these students in their schools since they are evaluated on the attendance and progress of these very needy students? Selective enrollment schools do not want these students though some live right across the street since their scores would go down and parents would apply elsewhere! With mandated per pupil budgeting, these students cost the school more—forcing schools to raise class size. All schools should have to take their fair share of these students, but CPS is not fair, making the most negative impact on the schools that take these students for the cheapest price. Thank you CPS.

  • it would be so easy to keep all these schools open. all chicago needs is more money. how about a city income tax? who thinks that would be a great idea? remember it's for the children.

  • In reply to ejhickey:

    Save your nickles and dimes to pay for adult disability or prison for the "left behind" SWDs.

  • I know that many are putting "one term mayor on their protest signs" but that may be an incomplete message. I don't think that this is about election. This is about real estate deals and promises. Do you remember the Chicago bid for the Olympics? That proposal also called for massive school closings. When that didn't work, it appears plan b was put into action. Once this administration leaves, there will be enough deals and deals for friends to fund a lifetime. I am not sure if this guy ever really cared about being the mayor for the sake of leadership. This is kind of like another investment banking situation for him. BBB has no interest in a future in Chicago, that was not what she was hired to do. I am sure that her exit package will be generous. Does she still commute from Ohio? If so, are there any planned protest for her front yard? I am certain that there are sister unions and parent groups that won't mind taking Chicago concerns to her real place of residence. The protest signs need to include one term mayor and your corruption will be exposed!

  • Don't worry folks. You can see your lovable under performing teachers soon. The over educated under performing teachers will be working as baristas at a Starbucks near you.

  • Hey, hey, Peter. Do you teach in CPS?

  • It appears that good old pete was once a Chicago police and clearly not their finest. Thank goodness for forced retired in this case.

  • In reply to teach4chicago:

    forced retirement

  • The Making of the "Other" Chicago Mary Mitchell in The American Prospect

  • Alex: What did you think of Mitchell's piece?

  • Well I will tell you what I think of Mary Mitchell's piece in the American Prospect, it was the most analytic piece I have ever seen with her by line attached to it. Normally she is much more superficial and this article had some real substance to it.

    Mary and her twin sister grew up in a CHA housing project and she has walked the walk and talked the talk.

    Rod Estvan

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