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Some Chicago Parents Say School Closures Created Problems

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More than a year after the Chicago Public School Board approved the closure of 49 schools, some parents say their children are faced with overcrowded classes.

A story by Al Jazeera America, features interviews with several frustrated Chicago parents, grandparents, and educators who say they are still waiting for the educational improvements and additional resources that were promised in the wake of the mass school closings.

The schools were shuttered in 2013 to help manage a $1 billion deficit in the nation's third-largest school district. With classes underway for the 2014-2015 school year, Chicago schools are facing a $50 million budget cut, according to the story. (School closures reportedly saved the district $42 million.)

Irene Robinson, the grandmother of nine Chicago Public School students, told Al Jazeera America that kindergartners are having class in the gym because there is no other space large enough to accommodate them at Irvin C. Mollison Elementary. Darryl Owens said his 4th grader's class shares space with a 5th-grade class because of overcrowding at Duke Ellington Elementary School.

This story seems to mirror the findings of research examining parents' perspectives of the school closings by the Collaborative for Equity and Justice in Education, a research-and-advocacy group at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Relying on in-depth interviews with 23 parents, the report found that parents believed that their children's new schools were no better than those that had been closed.

For its part, the district, in a March 2014 report, cited small gains in student attendance and grade point averages since the school closures. However, an Illinois state task force report released in June was highly critical of the process Chicago Public Schools' used to close the schools. District officials rejected many of the report's conclusions, telling Education Week that the document was riddled with inaccuracies. 

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