Community activist Tamar Manessah wrote an eloquent plea in the New York Times to save public schools in Chicago—from Rahm Emanuel and the charter industry. 

She writes:

”On Feb. 28, the Chicago Board of Education is expected to vote on a disastrous proposal to close four public high schools with declining enrollment around the Englewood neighborhood of southwest Chicago. The affected children, who are overwhelmingly black and poor, would go to public schools out of the neighborhood or be encouraged to attend one of the charter schools being pushed by business and religious interests.

“The schools would close over three years, and in their place, the city plans to build an $85 million high school in Englewood. But the school won’t be up and running until September 2019 at the earliest — more than a full school year from now.

“Dwindling enrollment is a reality at these schools, but that’s partly because the city has not invested nearly enough in them. At the same time, Chicago has opened dozens of new schools, mostly charters, which draw students away from traditional public schools.

“Englewood, one of the poorest areas in the city, is plagued by high unemployment and gang activity. It’s where my organization, Mothers Against Senseless Killings, does its work. Our volunteers take care of the local kids during the summer, feeding them hamburgers for lunch and encouraging them to stay in school. And the neighborhood has made great strides — last year there was a significant drop in homicides and shooting.

“My greatest fear is that we will backslide. How we will be able to sustain these gains without a strong public school presence?“