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Chicago’s Soon-to-Be Ex-Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, Pays the School-Closure Piper

September 20, 2018

Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has decided not to run for a third term despite absence of an obvious contender.

Election of the next mayor of Chicago is scheduled for February 26, 2019.

rahm emanuel 2

Rahm Emanuel

In the September 20, 2018, Washington Post, Duke University professor Sally Nuamah poses an intriguing reason: Emanuel’s role in closing Chicago’s public schools.

In 2013, under Chicago’s policy of mayoral control of schools, Emanuel closed 50 of them. A 2018 study released by the University of Chicago shows that the “brighter future” Emanuel promised instead “caused large disruptions without clear benefits for students.”

The time has come for Emanuel to pay the school-closure piper, and Emanuel knows it.

To support her claim, Nuamah has conducted statistical analyses of voting trends in districts affected by Emanuel’s school closure decisions. From Nuamah’s article:

Here’s how I did my research

To start, I collected the addresses of every school closed in Chicago in 2013. I then linked these data to a representative citywide survey that asked Chicagoans about their attitudes toward school closings before engaging in a statistical analysis of the results by race. Then, my colleague Thomas Ogorzalek with the Chicago Democracy Project and I linked the location of school closings in Chicago to precinct level turnout data just before the closure wave (2011 and 2012) and just after it (2015). In both analyses, we account for other factors such as income and education, as well.

The mostly black neighborhoods where schools had been closed turned against Emanuel

We found that the closer a neighborhood was to the school closures, the more Emanuel’s support dropped. In particular, we saw that in the precincts within 1.5 miles of a closing — populated largely by African Americans — Emanuel’s support fell by approximately 13 percent. In the precincts farther from a closing, the drop was about 3 percent.

What’s more, combining Cooperative Congressional Election Study opinion data on Chicago with local election data, our analysis reveals that those who lived closest to areas where the local schools were closed — again, largely African Americans — became increasingly likely to attend a community meeting, to advocate for an elected school board, and to turn out to vote in 2015.

Nuamah notes that in 2018, Chicago faced more school closures. She observes,

Citizens often vote based on policies that shape their everyday lives.


It seems that African American voters in Chicago have had enough of Emanuel’s school-closure “shaping.”

chicago school closure

To read Nuamah’s full article, click here.


Want to read about the history of charter schools and vouchers?

School Choice: The End of Public Education? 

school choice cover  (Click image to enlarge)

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of two other books: A Chronicle of Echoes: Who’s Who In the Implosion of American Public Education and Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools?. You should buy these books. They’re great. No, really.

both books

Don’t care to buy from Amazon? Purchase my books from Powell’s City of Books instead.

From → School Closings

  1. Many willing to say that massive school closures “caused large disruptions without clear benefits for students,” but few willing to bring actionable truth to the narrative: His blind blame and thoughtless attack on schools/kids/teachers/neighborhoods resulting in multiple school closures IS A DIRECT cause for disrupted neighborhood deaths. The citizens who have lived through this hell know exactly what is never said. The man shouldn’t just resign, he should be prosecuted.

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  1. What we’re following 9-22-18

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