The closing of educational institutions is never a good idea, especially when it impacts those are just beginning their educations.
In Chicago, one of the nation’s largest public school districts is closing 53 elementary schools and one high school, Yahoo! News reported on March 21. Furthermore, the schools the district is planning on closing that are located in primarily low-income areas, where the number of dropouts is rising at an alarming rate.
Because of population declines, public-school enrollment in Chicago has already seen a 20 percent fall in the last 10 years, especially in poor neighborhoods. Apparently, this was reason enough for the district to make this controversial decision to compensate for the $1-billion deficit that they face every year. Because the schools are not filled, they become a liability — a financial burden.
The decision was followed by angry protests and demonstrations by Chicago teachers contesting the mass closing of the elementary schools, according to the Huffington Post. Their sentiments were rightfully based, as many teachers would lose employment as a result of this decision.
Though the district will save money by closing these schools, the buildings will remain abandoned. The biggest problem with this decision, however, is that it will lead to a decline in the quality of education in minority neighborhoods — places that already face difficulties. These schools have the ability to hold 511,000 students, yet only 403,000 are enrolled. Of those schools, nearly 140 are more than half empty.
“Consolidating schools is the best way to make sure all of our city’s students get the resources they need to succeed in the classroom,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement.
Debt is an issue that plagues almost every city and state in this country. But there are ways to fix the problem without sacrificing something as imperative as education. With a lack of education, the cycle of financial ruin will continue with low-paying jobs and a job sector filled with unqualified applicants.
No one needs to be lectured on the importance of education, but to rip it away from children who have very few chances to begin with is cruel and unfair. These low-income schools deserve the opportunity to improve and not just have the future of their children taken away from them.
Yes, Chicago will be saving money. But at what cost?
Ayesha Misra is a sophomore majoring in psychology.