Startling unemployment rates and the proposed closing of more than 50 schools deemed to be under-performing has left residents questioning Emanuel’s role in the issues. Under the recommendation of President Barack Obama, Emanuel earned 59 percent of the black vote in the 2011 election, but his failure to in favor of the city’s large black population has affected his public image.
Chicago Public Schools is shutting down more than 10 percent of its buildings, most of which are located in areas of the city that are predominately black. Speaking to ABC Local, Chicago parent Michelle Young questioned whether black families were being unfairly targeted.
“Why do we have to have 50 kids in a classroom? They don’t have it in the white neighborhood,” Young said.
“In any city that’s as segregated as Chicago, anytime that you destroy black schools and destroy black communities you can’t call it anything but racist,” Action Now Executive Director Katelyn Johnson told ABC reporter Charles Thomas.
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Last month a Chicago Business/Ipsos Illinois Poll showed that less than 2 percent of Illinois voters strongly approved of Emanuel’s actions as mayor. Losing the support of the city’s African-American residents could prove deadly for Emanuel’s political initiatives.
The mayor acknowledged that the decision to close 54 schools was “difficult,” speaking in public for the first time since the announcement. He said that the city had previously failed to provide every child with quality education, and that the choice would ultimately be for their benefit.
“Everybody on the board did not look at this decision as numbers on a spreadsheet,” the mayor said. “We looked at it and viewed it as what can we do to have every child have a high quality education regardless of their neighborhood, regardless of their circumstances, regardless of where they live.”