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March 25, 2013

Chicago Plans to Close 54 Public Schools Next Year

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Teachers: this video contains a 2-minute story followed by a discussion.

Citing a $1 billion budget deficit and under-enrollment in many of the city’s schools, the Chicago Board of Education announced plans to close 54 schools throughout the city, and relocate the approximately 30,000 affected students.

The district says the move will save $560 million over the next decade, but critics say it will hurt the communities where the schools are located, primarily Hispanic and African-American neighborhoods.

The Chicago Teachers Union, whose members struck last September for higher pay and other issues, oppose the move and have organized a march and rally for next week.

However, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett defended the move, saying “What we must do is to ensure that the resources that some kids get, that all kids get. With our consolidations, we’re able to guarantee that our children will get what they need and what they deserve.”

The Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on the measure in May.


“Now we have got to worry about our kids going to another location and worry about what’s going to happen to them going to school,” – Woman 1, Chicago.

“It would be a great opportunity for her to get outside of the neighborhood school and go to a better school,” – Woman 2, Chicago.

Warm up questions

1. What is a budget? What is a budget deficit?

2. Why do cities create budgets?

3. Name some factors that would contribute to cities experiencing financial struggle?

4. What does the term “under-enrollment” mean?

5. Besides under-enrollment, name other reasons why a school might be closed down?

Discussion questions

1. Do you think that closing schools is the best way to pay off the Chicago Public Schools budget deficit? Why or why not?

2. What are other ways the school district could pay its costs? Why would these options work or not work?

3. Do you think it’s important to go to a school in your neighborhood? Why or why not?

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