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Study: School Closings Won't Help CPS Students

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A study by Chicago area university professors has found, if history is any guide, the Chicago Public Schools' plan to close 53 schools will fail when all is said and done.

The professors are part of the research group Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education (CReATE). Several of them looked at other school closing studies from Chicago and around the country.

What they found, according to Roosevelt University Sociology Associate Professor Stephanie Farmer, was that most students from 44 closed schools over 10 years in Chicago did not wind up in better academic situations.

"It's just not the students from closed schools whose academic performance may suffer, but also the kids from the receiving school, partly due to – in part – the increase in the classroom sizes," she said.

Study: School Closings Will Hurt Kids

Farmer also said there was more violence associated with the so-called "receiving" schools that got students from schools that had closed.

Farmer said the school under-use rationale for closing schools is right out of the playbook of pro-charter school organizations like the Broad Foundation, of which Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is a disciple.

She also questions the 30 students to a classroom number as the level CPS believes schools should have in order to be utilized fully.

"The Chicago Lab School that Rahm Emanuel sends his kids to only have like 23 students per classroom," she said. "These elites that are going to determine that 30 kids are the ideal utilization level certainly don't send their kids to schools that have 30 students per classroom."

Farmer also said she doubts CPS will save any money by closing schools, and she said the district will wind up opening more charter schools.

Closing schools, she said will likely cause more racial disparity in Chicago, with impoverished neighborhoods getting even worse without a neighborhood public school.

"You keep taking resources out of African-American neighborhoods, particularly the most distressed ones where you have vacant properties," she said. "They need to sell these properties to entice people to move back into these neighborhoods. How can you entice people to move back into a neighborhood when there is not a convenient public school?"

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