CPS protests continue ahead of key school closings vote

May 21, 2013 (CHICAGO)

He's not about to back off, despite days of school closing protests directly aimed at him.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is sticking to his promise to close dozens of schools.

"I will absorb the political consequences so our children have a better future," said Emanuel.

The five-month-long battle comes to a head tomorrow when the mayor's hand-picked school board votes. While some board members say a few of the 54 schools may be saved, it is not likely to be many.

"That is not what we are here for- a minimal change- we are here for all schools to come off the list," said Shannon Bennett of the Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization.

Community groups supported by the Chicago Teachers Union are fighting to the end, while this group's fight is just beginning.

Mental health experts are seeing first-hand how the biggest school closing in the nation is already affecting the students.

I think the most important part of this is they feel disregard devalued they feel like nobody cares their school matters to them," said Erika Schmidt, of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.

Schmidt works in closing and receiving schools. She and others say CPS is not even close to being prepared for handling the emotional needs of the kids. In addition, Schmidt says CPS is controlling what is being communicated to schools about the closings.

"My understanding is the principals are given scripts to talk to teachers about what could and couldn't say about the closings," said Schmidt.

When asked about the principal scripts, CPS and the mayor stuck to their script.

They spoke again about closing schools to provide a better education. As for emotional support, CPS says closing school students will have an 8 week class with a social worker.

Mental health experts say much more is needed.

The vote is Wednesday.

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