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50 Chicago Public Schools to Close

Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett

After months of hearings and debate, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration is ready to announce plans to close about 50 elementary schools, sources said, a number that quickly drew fire from aldermen and community leaders in the mostly African-American neighborhoods that will be hardest hit.

"Rahm Emanuel, I've been a supporter of yours since day one, but you've done us wrong this time," said Ald. Carrie Austin, 34th. "He's forgetting about the people who helped put him in office."

An announcement on school closings is expected Thursday. In a statement released late Wednesday, Chicago Public Schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she will make her recommendations on closings soon "so we can get those students safely into a higher-performing school that will have all the things they need to learn and succeed."

Austin said she had not been told which schools in her Far South Side ward are in line to be shut down. But most of the schools targeted by the district are in predominantly Black neighborhoods on the South and West sides.

"I don't think anything is a done deal in this city. I'm not going to let them do this to us, not again," she said. "Every time the Whites get to screaming and hollering, they back off and steamroll over Black and brown folks. Not this time."

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