As hundreds of teachers took to Chicago’s streets Wednesday to protest the closure of 54 public schools, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public School CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett refused to negotiate. The consolidation of many of the city’s schools is necessary, they argue, as classrooms are half-empty and CPS faces a $1 billion budget deficit.
Byrd-Bennett joins “Starting Point” on Thursday to discuss the city’s efforts to consolidate schools and to improve education for Chicago’s students.
“Our guarantee is that no child will go to a school that is lesser performing than the school that they’re in,” Byrd-Bennett explains, adding that for many years students have been “trapped in under-utilized and under-resourced schools.”
The consolidation plan has come under fire for potentially endangering students that will have to travel farther to attend their new schools. The Chicago Teachers Union warns that closing schools in certain neighborhoods may expose students to gang violence.
“No child will travel more than two blocks in an average than from where they currently live and we are working very, very directly with the Chicago police department, our faith-based organizations, and our neighborhood-organizations to ensure that there’s safe passage for our children on the routes to and from school,” Byrd-Bennett says on “Starting Point.”