Chicago Public Schools (CPS) seeks an extension for releasing the list of intended school closings, for possibly insincere reasons. Claiming an extension is necessary so that community voices may be heard and considered, CPS’s claim is flawed. The decision to close a school takes research and reasoning; the decision is not a sudden one. If schools were being considered for closure, the opinions of the community could have been taken into consideration long ago. It is possible that a request for an extension is really only an excuse for more time. The voices of the community will not be pleasant ones. More students will be forced into already cramped schools; student-teacher ratio will continue towards a number that is hazardous towards the academic health of students. Finances, rather than the students, are again the priority.
Genuine concern for the community’s opinion is the reason for the requested extension. The reason would be understandable if the opinions of the community would make a difference. Instead Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of CPS, states in her Chicago Tribune article, “This extension is not meant to delay the inevitable by the next school year.” No community opinion will change the closing of schools, so it is unclear why the list release must wait. The list can be released, and upon its release the reaction and response of the community can be collected. The claim for community opinion collection is understandable, but not a valid reason for extension of list release. It is the responsibility of CPS to do according to the law. CPS is well aware of the law-required timing for the list release, and with this knowledge is able to collect community opinion prior to Dec. 1, 2012. CPS offers no excuse for not collecting community opinion prior, and due to lack of obstruction, there is no reason that CPS should not be required to provide the list release to the public at the time law requires. Desiring a transparent process and transition, it is unwise for CPS to be dishonest about the reason behind the request for an extension on the announcement of school closings. It is also unwise for an extension to be given without valid reasoning. There was no reason that community views could not be collected prior to December 1st, and an extension could be seen as favor upon the new CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennet. Laws should not be changed for leadership without valid reasoning. If change in leadership creates obstruction to duties of CPS, maybe it is time for CPS to find consistency.