School Closings and Their Trail of Tears

From the New York Times:

CHICAGO — After weeks of uncertainty, principals at 54 public schools here officially learned from city officials on Thursday that their schools would close, with 11 more to share space with other schools. The closings represent the largest group of campuses to be shut down at one time by a city in recent memory.

Text by Michelle Gunderson

A Journey to Someone Else’s School

This is a 25 minute video of the walk a family will have to take when their neighborhood school, Fermi is closed. It is directed and research by Joshua Marburger and filmed by Amy Diamond. The video is shot in silence to protest the silenced voices of the community in the Chicago Public School hearings.

I’ve chronicled the film so that you can see minute by minute what these children will face in their journey to go to access their education. Let us all remember while watching this that the proposed school closings in Chicago will affect 38,000 children. This is the story of just one family.


At minute 3:15 the family walks past their first school, South Shore Fine Arts Academy. A school they cannot attend because of restricted enrollment.

At minute 4:00 they pass Fermi School, their current school which is slated for closing.

The family walks past 22 abandoned buildings.

At minute 16:20 the kids pass their third school, Woodlawn. This is another school they cannot attend because of lottery enrollment.

At minute 24:00 they finally arrive at Dumas school that will be taken over by another school community and restructured next year.

This is a walk that was taken on a Sunday with minimal traffic, good weather, and no backpacks. Can you imagine this being the daily journey for this family to receive their free and appropriate public education? Is this what you would want for your children?

537377_10152694854680333_1873236583_nFermi School teacher Joshua Marburger being detained by police at the March 27th march and rally to save Chicago Schools.

In an act of civil disobedience, more than 120 members of the protest organizing unions UNITE HERE Local 1, SEIU Local 1, the Grassroots Education Movement and the CTU staged a sit-in in the southbound lanes of LaSalle Street outside of City Hall. Among those led away by police and issued citations for “pedestrian failure to exercise due care,” according to attorney Pat Calihan, were SEIU Local 1 President Tom Balanoff and nearly 40 members of the CTU, including Vice President Jesse Sharkey and Recording Secretary Michael Brunson. Click here for a recap.

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    Kenzo Shibata

    Kenzo Shibata taught high school English in the Chicago Public Schools for nearly a decade and was a founding member of CORE: The Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators. Shibata was a labor and public education activist who reported and blogged on education policy before taking a position with the Chicago Teachers Union. From 2010-2012 he was the chief publications editor before taking on the newly created position of social media coordinator in July of 2012. He manages social media, blogs, and edits video for CTU. His work can be seen in Gapers Block, Beachwood Reporter, AREA-Chicago, Alter-Net, In These Times, Substance News, Jacobin Magazine, Huffington Post, Labor Notes and Truth-Out. His social media work has been highlighted in NPR, The Daily Dot, and DNA-Info. He’s been a guest on Take Action News and the Matthew Filipowicz Show. Shibata recently completed his Masters in Public Policy at Northwestern University. Shibata was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Organizing 2.0 Conference. Follow him on Twitter: @kenzoshibata

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