The Link Between School Closings and Gentrification- A Chicago Story

The single story that will remain with me longest from Washington was told by Badass Mom founder and Chicago parent leader Rousemary Vega at the workshop on Community Organizing the day before the March. After sharing heartbreaking stories of the harassment she and her family experience fighting the closing of neighborhood schools her children attended, Rousemary said the following
. ” I live in Humboldt Park. When I was growing up, it was one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago. There were gangs, shootings, You really had to watch where you were going. But it was home to me and I loved the people I lived with. But in the last ten years, Humboldt Park has changed, The neighborhood schools have been closed, many people have been pushed out, the old stores are gone, and new people have moved in who look at me as though I am a piece of garbage who doesn’t belong here Right in my own neighborhood!”
By the time Rousemary finished, tears were pouring down her face, and many of us in the audience were crying too.
Because her story could be told about city after city where poor and working class people have been pushed out of neighborhoods they had lived in for decades, sometimes generations- New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Milwaukee- a process accelerated by the school closings and charter school openings mandated by Race to the Top.
The linkage between School Privatization and Gentrification is one of the ugly subtexts of recent American Urban History and the Obama Administration’s complicity through Race to the Top is if not explicit, certainly implicit