Opponents allege school closings plan is racist - Boston News, Weather, Sports | FOX 25 | MyFoxBoston

Opponents allege school closings plan is racist

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Just about 24 hours after the announcement that more than 50 Chicago public schools are slated to be closed, the shockwaves are still rolling through the city. The schools chief says it's for the good of the children but the head of the teachers union calls it a racist outrage.

Teacher's Union president Karen Lewis has made inflammatory, over-the-top her trademark. In a city beset by a blood-dimmed tide of homicide, she responded to yesterday's school closings announcement by calling Mayor Emanuel a "murderer" of schools. Today, at FOX 32 News, she was unapologetic.

"It's the truth," Lewis said when asked if calling the mayor a "murderer" of schools is the right thing to say. "And he's delusional about the problem he has with the murder rate, and delusional about what this is going to do to schools."

But she didn't stop with calling the school moves "murder."

"This policy is racist," she continued. "It's classist."

When asked if the racism charge is helpful in this debate, UIC Professor Dick Simpson said, "I think it's the kind of rhetoric that will simply be ignored."

Others disagree, especially those in the predominantly African-American neighborhoods hit hardest by the proposed school closings. They note that a map of them coincides closely with a map of Chicago's homicide hotspots. Hundreds of thousands of African-Americans have moved out of Chicago in the past quarter-century. Once a clear majority of students in the public schools, African-Americans are now 41.6%, surpassed by Latinos who are now more than 44%.

"If it's not racism, it's very suspicious, very suspicious," Senator Hunter says. "Just the fact that so many schools are being closed in our communities. I have 15 schools that are being affected."

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