Mayor Rahm Emanuel delivered a passionate defense on Wednesday for the proposal to close 54 CPS schools. He said he understands a major change like this one is very tough to deal with, but that doing nothing is unacceptable.
The mayor said that those who are defending the status quo are the ones who should be called to account by the public.
He pointed to a few key statistics, he said that a recent record high 61% of Chicago public high school students graduated last year, but only 54% of African-American students did so. More specifically, only 44% of African-American male students graduated from high school last year.
The mayor made these comments in response to the criticism that these proposed closings are racially motivated, and that they could cost about 600 union jobs - including about 300 teachers' jobs.
Emanuel rejected the complaint that somehow those closings might be racially motivated. He insisted that the changes that he is aiming to achieve with these closings are to put all Chicago Public School students into schools that are going to be high achieving.
He said doing so will help prepare these students to be competitive candidates for the kinds of jobs that were announced at the Cultural Center on Wednesday, like those that Coeur Mining will bring to the city.