Teachers, leaders take bus tours along potential routes for CPS - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Teachers, leaders take bus tours along potential routes for CPS kids

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Teacher's Union gathered together politicians, teachers and parents to board a bus on Thursday to visit more than 50 schools on the list for possible closure.

Chicago Public Schools is looking at closing 54 schools to help ease a $1 billion budget deficit. It's the latest effort by the teachers union to show how upset they are about the consolidation plan.

"I'm going to take a look and try to keep understanding the rationale that's being used for these proposed closures," 7th district congressman Danny Davis said. "You know, formulate my own opinion in terms of what should happen."

The first stop on the tour was to Mahalia Jackson Elementary in the 900 block of West 88th. Parents here pleaded their case to keep this school open.

"They're not thinking about our children's welfare," Jymmetta Penson said. "All they're thinking about is saving a dollar here and there."

Opponents of the closure feel they will affect everyone in these neighborhoods.

"This closure and the way it is being handled by CPS is shredding communities across this city," 2nd ward alderman Bob Fioretti said. "We better be prepared on the economic impact."

In response to the bus tour, Chicago Public Schools released this statement: "By consolidating these schools we can move students safely into higher-performing schools near their home that will have all the resources they need..."

A number of people told FOX 32 News Thursday they feel this move is aimed at the poor and working class people of Chicago.

"Here we are today, on this day of all days," Congressman Bobby Rush said. "April 4, 2013, the same day Martin Luther King was assassinated. Here we are with the same issues, dealing with the same problems, the problems of poor people in this city and in this nation. Shame on us."

Vigils are planned for Thursday night, at campuses that will be shut down at the end of this year.

Protesters chanted and called for a moratorium on any closings, outside a school board meeting on Wednesday. One of their biggest complaints is that the closings only affect minority students.

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said that sentiment is not true.

SEE: Byrd-Bennett defends CPS closing plan, insulted by racism charges

The schools chief said in a statement that she understood the community anguish, but added "what I will not accept are charges that the proposals I am offering are racist."

Byrd-Bennett said she was personally offended by the charge as a "person of color."

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