Preckwinkle criticizes, questions CPS closures plan

May 17, 2013 2:52:46 PM PDT
Plans to close dozens of Chicago Public Schools will weaken the city's education system, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said about Mayor Rahm Emanuel's closure plan.

Preckwinkle told Chicago Sun-Times reporter Dan Mihaloupoulos, in this video provided by the newspaper, that the Chicago Public School Board appointed by Emanuel is trying to close too many schools too quickly.

"The magnitude of this, in my view, is at least open to question or problematic," Preckwinkle said. "I'm a teacher so I have always believed that schools are community anchors."

Emanuel would not respond but CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett was surprised by the criticism from Preckwinkle with whom she's had conversations.

"That's never been brought to my attention, the deep concerns that she had," Byrd-Bennett said. "And I did call her when I heard from you guys about the interview and asked her for an opportunity for us to get together so I might hear all of the concerns she had specifically."

Preckwinkle questioned whether public hearings on which schools would be closed were a charade and why the board did not accept the recommendations not to close 13 schools.

"And they come back and give you a recommendation and you brush it off," she said.

She also wondered out loud how so many buildings could be prepared by school's opening in August.

"They're closing 54 schools, that's the proposal and they're doing upgrades to a hundred schools in six weeks and I asked repeatedly how we're going to get this done," Preckwinkle said.

Byrd-Bennett said she believes the closures would weaken public education and put too emphasis on buildings and not enough on the people that used them.

"Seriously, I think-- no I know--that we're going to be able to do this well and execute well," she said. "We need to help our teachers improve the quality of instruction that they deliver and we need to support our kids."


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