Nine-year-old Asean Johnson may need to stand up on a chair to be seen above the podium from which he speaks, but he holds in him a wisdom and fire well beyond his years. Watch him address the crowds that assembled Monday to protest Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school closures agenda, which will affect Garvey Elementary School, where Johnson is a student, and a proposed 53 other schools in the district.
“Kids need safety. Rahm Emanuel is not caring about our schools. He’s not caring about our safety,” Johnson said at the rally. “He should be invested in these schols, not closing them. He should be supporting these schools, not closing him.”
Emanuel’s projected plan to shutter dozens of schools is ostensibly a bid to address a serious budget shortfall. And yet, teachers, parents and students in Chicago have come together to argue that shutting down schools is a wrong-headed move that overwhelmingly and disproportionately affects communities of color. (Asean Johnson’s addressed the racial inequity in Emanuel’s agenda too.)
Alas, despite months of protest, including multiple acts of civil disobedience and Johnson’s own passionate pleas, the Chicago Tribune reports that perhaps just five of the projected 54 schools may be saved.