Never in U.S. history has a local school board–or any other board, appointed or elected–chosen to close 49 public schools.


That’s what the Chicago Public Schools did yesterday.

Thousands of parents, students, and teachers objected, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his puppet board didn’t care.

Yesterday was a day of infamy in Chicago and in the history of American education.

School boards exist to protect, improve, and support public schools, not to kill them.

The New York Times has written about this story and twice said that the school closings were the largest “in recent memory.” The Times wrote this despite my telling them–twice–that these were the largest mass closure ever. I wish the reporters would explain whose “memory” they were relying on. Just yesterday I explained in an email that no public school district had ever closed 49 schools at one time. On this issue, the “Times” is not the newspaper of record but the newspaper of “recent memory.”

Why does it matter? The phraseology removes the truly historic destruction that Rahm Emanuel is inflicting on children and schools in his city. He is wantonly destroying public education. He is punishing the teachers’ union for daring to strike last fall. He will open more charter schools, staffed by non-union teachers, to pick up the kids who lost their neighborhood schools. Some of them will be named for the equity investors who fund his campaigns.

Rahm and his friends will laugh about the way he displaced 40,000 kids.