61 Chicago public schools to close
CHICAGO — Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanual’s latest move in privatizing public assets, the newly announced closure of 61 public schools, shows just how unfit bankers and businessmen are to lead. His announcement of plans in Chicago, Illinois to shut down 61 elementary and middle schools marks a new stage in the assault on public education and the social counterrevolution in America.
In the latest phase of school shutdowns, some 13 percent of primary schools in the nation’s third-largest district will be closed, affecting 30,000 students and laying off some 1,000 teachers. These cuts will produce higher class sizes and greater strains on the schools that stay open, and four percent of all teachers in the city will immediately lose their jobs.
The ultimate aim is the privatization of the entire public education system. Six of the schools targeted in this round of closures face “turnaround”—with all teachers and staff fired, and control handed over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership, a politically connected private charter school operator with close ties to banks and investment funds.
There is mass popular opposition to school closures. In Chicago, thousands of people attended hearings scheduled on the closures over the past two months, giving one indication of the seething anger among broad layers of working people.
A confrontation is brewing between the working class and the policies carried out in Chicago by Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff. His arguments echo those of politicians nationwide: with a $1 billion budget deficit, there is supposedly no money to keep existing schools open. Moreover, public schools are “underutilized”—a self-fulfilling prophecy, as students and funding are diverted to charter schools.
The argument that there is no money for schools is a contemptible lie. While the ruling class insists that there is no money for basic social rights such as public education, it hands out hundreds of billions of dollars every year to the financial criminals on Wall Street.
In opposing school closures, working people are also entering into struggle against the national policy of the Obama administration and the Democratic Party, which have overseen an all-out attack on public education as part of Obama’s Race to the Top program. Mass school closures have been announced in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., New York and Detroit—all overseen by Democrats. Today, an emergency manager is taking over Detroit, serving as a financial dictator tasked with making massive cuts to jobs, wages and living conditions.
At a national level, the Democrats and Republicans are involved in a bipartisan conspiracy to attack Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. This follows the implementation of the “sequester” budget cuts, which will involve a 20 percent pay cut for one million federal workers, a sharp cut in federal unemployment benefits and other devastating cuts. more