CHICAGO, May 22, 2018Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey issued the following statement in response to a University of Chicago Consortium on School Research report released today that showed Chicago public school students in schools closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013 suffered academically amidst disruptive and traumatic conditions:

“Mayor Emanuel’s mass school closures were marred by chaos; a desperate lack of resources; lost libraries and labs; grief and trauma; damaging disruption; and a profound disrespect for the needs of low-income Black and Brown students and the educators who teach them. This report validates that. It’s also telling that Emanuel has stonewalled in providing any financial accounting of the costs and long-term fiscal consequences of these school closings, even though he has repeatedly claimed that the closures were undertaken to save the district money.

“We do know two things: These school closings have further destabilized Black and Brown neighborhoods that Emanuel has been willfully undermining for the last seven years, and in the wake of these school closings, the exodus of Black and Brown students and their families from this city has continued. That’s appalling but unsurprising, given the racist, classist character of both these closings and Emanuel’s larger push to privatize public resources and starve our most disadvantaged communities of vital public supports.

“It’s time to end the mayor’s practice of treating our school communities like a venue for educational ‘Hunger Games.’ We must instead reinvest in neighborhood schools that anchor and support our most disadvantaged communities. Emanuel’s power over our schools has been marked by mismanagement and negligence, and it’s time for that to end.

“If [the mayor] had an ounce of real regard for our students and those entrusted with their education, he would concede to Chicagoans the right that residents in every other school district in the state possess—the right to elect a representative school board that provides citizens the accountability, transparency and respect we deserve and demand.”

ILLUSTRATION: Crispus Attucks(Crispus Attucks Elementary School in Bronzeville, closed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel in 2013.)