The Chicago Teachers Union announced that it will file federal civil rights lawsuits on behalf of public school parents to block the closing of 53 elementary schools.

The template for closing schools and opening schools was Chicago’s reform plan called Renaissance 2010; it was created by Arne Duncan and Mayor Daley in 2004. The plan then was to close the 60 lowest-performing schools and replace them with 100 new schools. When 2010 arrived, the Chicago Tribune reviewed the results of Renaissance 2010 and declared it a failure. Did the plan need more time? It was Duncan and Daley who picked the target date.

The Tribune article said:

“Six years after Mayor Richard Daley launched a bold initiative to close down and remake failing schools, Renaissance 2010 has done little to improve the educational performance of the city’s school system, according to a Tribune analysis of 2009 state test data.

“The moribund test scores follow other less than enthusiastic findings about Renaissance 2010 — that displaced students ended up mostly in other low performing schools and that mass closings led to youth violence as rival gang members ended up in the same classrooms. Together, they suggest the initiative hasn’t lived up to its promise by this, its target year.

“Scores from the elementary schools created under Renaissance 2010 are nearly identical to the city average, and scores at the remade high schools are below the already abysmal city average, the analysis found.”

Now Rahm Emanuel intends to close another 53 schools, working from the same script as Renaissance 2010. Indeed, the whole nation is now stuck with Renaissance 2010.

Does evidence matter?