NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
ERIC Number: EJ998261
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Oct-17
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Debates over School Shutdowns Heating Up
Zubrzycki, Jaclyn
Education Week, v32 n8 p1, 12-13 Oct 2012
As school closures are increasingly used as a remedy to budget woes and a solution to failing schools in many cities, debates are intensifying about their effect on student performance and well-being, on district finances, and on communities and the processes districts use to choose which schools will be shuttered. Student and parent groups in Chicago, the District of Columbia, New York, Newark, New Jersey, and Philadelphia gathered in Washington late last month to call for a moratorium on school closings and filed separate complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights. In those complaints, the groups allege that in previous rounds of school closings, their districts have not been transparent and have been influenced by outside interests, such as charter school operators. They also argue that the closings have had a harmful and disparate impact on minority students and communities. Each of the districts has predicted new closures for the coming school year. But district officials say their school closing decisions are often necessary, driven by a pressing need to improve schools quickly, close budget gaps in the face of shrinking public revenues, or respond to federal or philanthropic education opportunities. Concerns about disrupting students' education and neighborhoods' structures make school closures a perpetually difficult political and emotional issue, but recent rounds of closings are particularly fraught. The growing number of students enrolled in charter schools instead of traditional public schools in struggling districts has led to some--though not most--of the underenrollment that spawns closings and has prompted accusations from the affected communities of schemes to privatize public schools. The impact of closures on teachers and communities was a concern in the much-publicized teachers' strike in the 404,000-student Chicago district last month. And there is a growing sense in the communities affected that previous rounds of closings--nearly 150 in New York City, which currently operates about 1,700 schools and more than 80 in the 600-school Chicago system, in the past decade--have not always led to the promised goals for disadvantaged students. Even when closing schools is a financial or demographic necessity, "there are good and bad ways to do school closure." Done well, closures can result in a more efficient use of resources, which benefits students in the long run. But other experts say the negatives outweigh the positives, especially when closings are intended as a school improvement effort rather than a budget fix.
Editorial Projects in Education. 6935 Arlington Road Suite 100, Bethesda, MD 20814-5233. Tel: 800-346-1834; Tel: 301-280-3100; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: District of Columbia; Illinois; New Jersey; New York; Pennsylvania