School Closings Threaten Children, Working Families and Struggling Neighborhoods


Chicago—Leaders and members from three unions represented at Chicago Public Schools – Chicago Teachers Union, SEIU Local 1 and UNITE HERE Local 1 – released a joint report today, Strong Schools, Strong Neighborhoods, calling on the Chicago Board of Education, Chicago Public Schools, and Mayor Emanuel to work with them to protect CPS families.

The report by the three unions, whose members’ households make up 15 percent of the city’s population and close to 20 percent of the CPS student body, criticizes the City’s plan to close schools, expand charters and eliminate good, middle class jobs in already struggling neighborhoods.

  • Closing neighborhood schools hurts public school children, who are overwhelmingly economically disadvantaged students of color, and the communities in which they live.
  • Disinvesting in neighborhood public schools in favor of charter schools is bad public policy for Chicago’s children.
  • Privatizing and closing schools shortchanges Chicago’s workers; good, middle class jobs that strengthen communities either disappear or become minimum wage jobs.

“The economic impact of closing schools will take away vital resources from Chicago communities,” said Valeriea A. Betts, a music teacher at May Elementary School.

On behalf of their 125,000 members in Chicago – the workers who are not just workers in the public schools but are parents and grandparents to the City’s schoolchildren – the unions advocate for fully investing in the city’s public schools, which are social and economic engines for Chicago neighborhoods.

 “The school closings are being called a ‘change for the better’ and a ‘necessity for our city. But, it is a disruption to all of our lives: teachers, workers, students, and parents,” said Donnel Pitman, a custodian at Goldblatt Elementary.