CHICAGO (March 21, 2013)–Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Coalition members Aldermen John Arena (45); Bob Fioretti (2); Toni Foukes (15); Leslie Hairston (5); Ricardo Munoz (22); Roderick T. Sawyer (6); Nick Sposato (36); and Scott Waguespack (32), issued the following statement Thursday in response to the news that Chicago Public Schools will close more than 50 schools.

We are deeply disappointed at the report that the Chicago Public Schools administration has decided to proceed with its school closing plan.

This plan, if implemented, will be the largest mass closing of public schools by any school district in the country, according to the Sun-Times. It has been opposed by tens of thousands of vocal involved parents, teachers and students, who have made the case for the vital roles their local schools play in maintaining education, stability, safety and resources in their communities.

In going ahead with this plan, the Chicago Public Schools administration and the Board of Education are violating the Illinois General Assembly’s requirement that it disclose its ten-year master facilities plan first.

Moreover, we are concerned that the plan disproportionately targets schools serving African-American and Latino children. As a result, this massive closure would leave entire neighborhoods as virtual “school deserts,” disrupting the lives of children and families and depressing property values.

The impact of these closings is overwhelmingly negative and socially costly: It will have a negative impact on children who are forced to travel long distances to the receiving school, or to be bussed out of their communities. Children will have to travel through unfamiliar and possibly dangerous neighborhoods beset with gang activity. Schools which receive children will be at risk of overcrowding, thus negatively affecting both the new arrivals and the children already in the receiving schools.

The CEO has assured that all children from closed schools will be assigned to a school which are performing better academically than the closed school. The Police Superintendent has assured that each child from closed schools will be afforded safe passage to and from school. The people of Chicago should hear how these assurances will come to bear before any changes are made. Such assurances have been hollow in the past, and there is no evidence they will be truer today.

The public deserves answers to these important questions: How much will it cost to move all these students and to ensure their safety and security? How will the new expenses be paid for? Until this and many other questions are explored, examined and presented for public review, we stand with our teachers, parents and other community stakeholders in calling call for an immediate moratorium on school closings.