This post is republished from the Education Opportunity Network, a new online publication edited by Jeff Bryant.
Chicago, the city famous for “big shoulders,” has a big mouth, too.
Spurred by an alarming level of school building closures – 61 in all – mandated by Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration, Chicagoans are speaking out loudly and forcefully against a plan to “downsize the facility footprint of the district.”
A point being made most vociferously, according to Huffington Post, is the blatant discriminatory context of the closures due to the fact that “the schools slated for closure are all elementary schools and are overwhelmingly black and in low-income neighborhoods.”
While the rationale for closing the schools, or not, gets quickly into the weeds – are the schools really “underutilized” and “under performing,” does the city really have a budget “emergency” – what has gone completely unaddressed is the incoherence that an edict of this nature has been promulgated by a mayoral administration claiming the mantle of the Democratic party.
Once upon a time, the Democratic Party had this reputation for promoting policies that were supportive of educating African American children. It was left-leaning factions of the Democratic Party that led efforts to desegregate schools, use Title I funds to ensure some equity of funding for schools that poor kids attend, and push for the rights of teachers working in those schools to have some say in ensuring school children were well served.
The idea that the way to improve the education of African American children is to close their schools seems bizarre from the point of view of anyone purporting to be a Democrat. More…