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CHICAGOLAND

Chicagoland: The Fight Over Closing Schools

Aired March 6, 2014 - 22:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERT REDFORD, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "CHICAGOLAND": Chicago is a quintessential American city at the crossroads of change. It's a story that could be told in many cities all across the country.

Welcome to the premiere episode of "Chicagoland."

RAHM EMANUEL (D), MAYOR OF CHICAGO: You want to see America, you come to its heartland. And what is the capital of that heartland? Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I call it a blue-collar town because, if you work hard, you play hard, and you show up the next day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicagoans do not put up with the bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no city like Chicago. And then you start coming out into the neighborhoods, and it's a little different.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Hurry up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My world is all about living in people's worst nightmares.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is just like a Third World country.

ELIZABETH DOZIER, PRINCIPAL, FENGER HIGH SCHOOL: I look at myself as a parent of hundreds of kids.

Get out of the street!

Why are you crying?

If we don't get them into something else, there are no other options.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you trying to achieve?

GARRY MCCARTHY, CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Right now, I'm trying to save Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any particular part of Chicago? MCCARTHY: All of it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People know Chicago is rising to the top. We don't get enough credit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, we sent a message to the world!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show them who we are.

NARRATOR: Springtime in Chicago is a celebration that doesn't last very long. The warm weather that pushes tulips from their beds and invites kids back outside to play brings with it a warning: Watch out. Things are about to heat up.

EMANUEL: When's the first day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When is the first day?

EMANUEL: Yes. I'm going to be in town, right?

NARRATOR: Chicago's famous for power politics. For generations, the mayor was better known as boss and his political operation was called the machine.

EMANUEL: Ari (ph), it's Rahm.

NARRATOR: The Daley family ran Chicago for decades. Now, for the first time in more than 20 years, there's a new boss in town, Rahm Emanuel.

EMANUEL: Because of the people of Chicago, this is the warmest place in America.

(APPLAUSE)

NARRATOR: Emanuel has come home to Chicago with an impressive resume, senior aide to President Clinton, spent six years in Congress, and later served as chief of staff for President Obama. Emanuel got things done, tough, unrelenting. His enemies called him Rahmbo.

QUESTION: You're known as a volatile guy, bit of a Roman candle with a temper. What is the angriest you have gotten in the first 100 days?

EMANUEL: That I had to do this interview right in the middle of everything else I needed to do.

Swam this morning a mile. Yesterday, I swam a mile, biked four, weight, and then a yoga class. Neurotic is actually a fair word about it. Obsessive, obsessive about it.

NARRATOR: Obsessive, that about sums up all things Rahm Emanuel, especially his commitment to shake up Chicago's failing public schools.

EMANUEL: There's 400,000 kids that go to all our schools. We have the capacity for 500,000, certain schools that were 200 kids when they were able to handle 600.

NARRATOR: The Chicago public school system faces a $1 billion budget gap. The mayor's handpicked school board is proposing to close underutilized schools, mostly in African-American and Latino neighborhoods, where the population has dropped.

EMANUEL: It's a very difficult decision. Nobody likes to do it, which is why people hadn't done it in the past. I'm not an education reformer. I believe in educational excellence, and I will adopt any reform that gets me there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shame on the mayor! No school closings!

NARRATOR: With 54 public schools on the chopping block, it is the largest consolidation in U.S. history.

KAREN LEWIS, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: Don't let these people take your schools.

NARRATOR: For Mayor Emanuel, the guy who helped President Obama save the auto industry, bail out the banks, and reform health care, the Chicago public school crisis is right in his wheelhouse.

EMANUEL: You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

NARRATOR: The mayor is taking a risk with his bold school plan. While it might make sense because of the budget crisis and declining enrollment, many parents fear it puts their kids at risk, because they will have to walk across dangerous gang lines to attend new schools.

ASEAN JOHNSON, STUDENT: Rahm Emanuel thinks he can just come into our schools and move all our kids all over gang lines and just say, oh, we can build a building right here. Let's take this school out. We don't care about these kids. But it's kids in there. They need safety.

NARRATOR: Asean is speaking out for the 30,000 kids that would be affected by the closings.

JOHNSON: You should be investing in these schools, not closing them. You should be supporting these schools, not closing them.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

JOHNSON: We are not going. We are not going down without a fight.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EMANUEL: This has to be done in a very thoughtful way. We have to make the changes that are necessary, so our children don't continue to go to schools that are not achieving the goals that they need to achieve academically. So, the implementation is going forward as we talk right now. QUESTION: How would you respond to neighborhood residents who say, if one kid gets hurt, the mayor has blood on his hands?

EMANUEL: My responsibility starts when doors to the future of a child are closed; 56 percent of African-American male adolescents are dropping out. And I'm accountable, as every parent, every teacher, every principal is to turning that number around.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's going to be a lot of death on his hands if these schools close.

NARRATOR: The truth is, going to school in certain parts of Chicago is risky enough. And in Roseland, a tough neighborhood on the far South side, where President Obama was a community organizer, warring gang factions remain a constant threat to student safety.

DOZIER: How is it going, Commander? And what time in the morning was this? At the school? Who are the students? And the boys, they now know what it's related to? OK, let me talk -- I have good relationships with all those kids, all of them. I'm going to talk to them as soon as I get back.

Somebody was shooting at the kids on the way to school this morning.

NARRATOR: Fender High School Principal Liz Dozier is on a mission, to give her kids a shot at a better future.

DOZIER: This is exactly why I hate the warm weather. It just begins to like slowly like heat up. But there's a larger ongoing gang conflict within the community, and like the school, we sit like in the middle of this.

NARRATOR: An important part of Principal Dozier's job is to keep tabs on gang conflicts and make sure her students are safe at school.

DOZIER: I am looking for Shelton Woolridge. You may have a 20 on Shelton Woolridge.

You don't know what happened?

SHELTON WOOLRIDGE, STUDENT: No.

DOZIER: How many shots were fired?

WOOLRIDGE: Like three.

DOZIER: And you don't know what direction they were shooting in?

WOOLRIDGE: No.

DOZIER: Have you heard of any conflicts in the neighborhood?

WOOLRIDGE: No. I'm not from around here. I don't know of everybody going on.

DOZIER: He was like, no, I don't know what's going on.

KEITH CONNOR, DEAN, FENGER HIGH SCHOOL: Amnesia.

DOZIER: Right.

Were they from a car or were they just walking by?

CONNOR: Just people just like walking I believe.

(CROSSTALK)

DOZIER: And started shooting?

CONNOR: One person, yes.

(CROSSTALK)

DOZIER: It's hell.

NARRATOR: It's times like this when the fear is all too real for Principal Dozier.

In 2009, the brutal murder of one of her students was caught on video and broadcast worldwide on the Internet.

JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Simply sickening is about the only way to describe it, pictures taken on a cell phone of the kid pounding another kid with a wooden board. That teenager who just got hit is 16-year-old Derrion Albert, and he's dead now.

NARRATOR: Just weeks into the new school year, Fenger student Derrion Albert got caught up into a brawl and was beaten to death on his walk home from school.

ANJANETTE ALBERT, DERRION ALBERT'S MOTHER: Someone said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. No, he wasn't. He was in the right place. He was coming from school.

NARRATOR: Fear that the walk to school might be deadly for some Chicago kids isn't crazy paranoia. It's real. Derrion Albert will always be a reminder.

DOZIER: The climate in the school was just absolutely abysmal, like massive gang fights in the hallways, 300 arrests that first year.

We had to have literally two districts' worth of police in the building for us to be able to change classes one day. It was a scary time in times of, like, what's happened to our children?

NARRATOR: Four years later, Fenger has made significant progress.

DOZIER: Ms. Bester (ph) will check you right in.

Hey, how is it going?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's going good.

DOZIER: Hey, sweetheart, how are you?

I don't have biological children, but I'm assuming it must be what a parent feels like when they have to send their kid out into the world, be like my kids have a greater chance to be happy. And I just like worry about them.

DOZIER: Gentlemen, gentlemen, not going to happen, not today, not today! Keep it moving! Get out of the street. I'm not going to say it again. Get out of the street.

He's headed southbound on 112th and Emerald. Principal down, principal down. I done -- I broke my shoe. Can you assist? I'm on 112th and Emerald. I broke my shoe.

You haven't seen me. I'm walking down Emerald. I don't have no damn shoes on, none.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NARRATOR: Two years into his first term as mayor, Rahm Emanuel has unveiled his boldest plan yet, the proposed closing of 54 public schools. The midterm brings a flurry of speculation from citizens and pundits alike.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two-year anniversary of Rahm.

ERIC ZORN, COLUMNIST, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": When you consider the year that he had, kind of getting waxed by the teachers union in that strike and the number of murders shooting up the way they did, he had a pretty rough year.

And, right now, there's nobody on the horizon who is going to run against him.

NEIL STEINBERG, COLUMNIST, "CHICAGO SUN-TIMES": There never will be. That's the Daley way, OK, is you either -- you co-opt people. You destroy them. Rahm Emanuel is Richard Daley with a circumcision, to put it like that. But he's a continuation of that kind of politician.

ZORN: I will say, though, the school closings coming up, they have 54 on the dock, people are predicting some real chaos, real disturbance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our schools, our children, and our babies that you're hurting. Rahm Emanuel, take your ass off our school.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) NARRATOR: Just seven weeks before the final vote to close schools, there's one thing on everyone's mind, how to keep kids safe as their walk through school takes them through hostile gang territory.

EMANUEL: Is there cops with bikes out there and the whole riding alongside them?

MCCARTHY: It's going to be route-specific.

EMANUEL: But there will be a presence?

MCCARTHY: Yes.

EMANUEL: Alongside? All right, good. Thank you, everybody.

NARRATOR: Most of Chicago's neighborhoods are safe.

But parts of the city are plagued by gun violence. Emanuel promised to take on Chicago's shooting problem, and when it came time to pick a top cop, he chose an outsider, Garry McCarthy from the Bronx.

In New York City, he helped develop comparative statistics to combat violent crime. In Newark, New Jersey, where he was police director, McCarthy's strategy led to a drop in the murder rate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: County board of commissioners commending Superintendent Garry McCarthy for keeping the peace during last month's NATO summit.

NARRATOR: A little more than a year after his appointment, the local press hailed McCarthy a hero. But by the end of 2012, the number of homicides in Chicago had skyrocketed to more than 500, and some aldermen were calling for McCarthy's job.

MCCARTHY: I mean, my biggest issue in Chicago is dealing with gangs, guns, and the press. It's not cultural change in the department. It's not acceptance of an outsider, none of those things. Really, they all pale in comparison to those challenges right there. And the media, they keep talking about the rising toll of gun violence in Chicago, while the numbers are going in the other direction.

NARRATOR: While the press continues to focus on Chicago's violence, there's actually been a decline. In 2012, there were 161 murders in the first quarter. In 2013, there were 93. That's more than a 40 percent reduction.

MCCARTHY: We're taking a more holistic approach to crime reduction here in Chicago than I think has been done in most places in the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you trying to achieve?

MCCARTHY: I'm trying to save the world. Can't you tell?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... say that, too, but...

MCCARTHY: Yes. Well, right now, I'm trying to save Chicago. So, here's...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're trying to save Chicago. Any particular part of Chicago?

MCCARTHY: All of it.

Chicago has one of the worst, most difficult, most intractable gang violence problems in the country.

NARRATOR: Maybe there's something in the water here. Al Capone's prohibition era outfit put Chicago on the map as gangster cities. In the '60s, the Latin Kings ruled. Then came Larry Hoover, leader of the Gangster Disciples, Willie Lloyd, king of the Vice Lords.

That all fell apart in the '90s when federal indictment sent top gang lieutenants to prison and most of Chicago's notoriously violent public housing high-rises were torn to the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When they did that, they turned the street into chaos. So now it's every man for himself.

NARRATOR: In the '80s, there were five dominant gangs in Chicago. Now there are more than 70 and 600 gang factions, in all, 70,000 gang members.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN LIVE": What the hell is going on?

EMANUEL: We have a gang problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gang situation is dead, man. It's about cliques.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every two to three blocks is a different faction of a gang.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two or three blocks away from each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter what gang you're in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This community against that community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People get mad over the little (EXPLETIVE DELETED) looking at your girl, bully. Step on your shoe. You want to kill them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I done lost too many (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I don't know to expect. It's Iraq. It's real. (INAUDIBLE) And they ain't aiming in no leg. They aiming at your neck.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Children start claiming gangs as young as kindergarten.

NARRATOR: By the time a kid gets to high school, his gang affiliation can become his identity, and even a lunchroom fight can turn into a gang war.

DOZIER: Who was the other girl? I need you to go down there and get that.

NARRATOR: But four years after Derrion Albert's tragic murder, Principal Dozier and her team have transformed the culture at Fenger high.

DOZIER: Ladies, ladies, it's too loud, it's too loud.

Here are two kids arguing. So, figure out what the issue is, because if we don't get to the root of it, it will continue to bubble up until it will explode.

ROBERT SPICER, DEAN, FENGER HIGH SCHOOL: All right. Well, good afternoon, everyone.

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENTS: Good afternoon.

SPICER: What I'm thankful for is the fact that we can sit in the peace circle and we can talk about what's going on. And then we can decide from this particular point, how do we move forward from it?

Using zero tolerance was never going to work. I began to bring in the practices of restorative justice, which is justice that heals.

NARRATOR: In the past, the girls would have been suspended. Now they take part in a peace circle to settle scores.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My friend got gunned down over some he said/she said stuff. So, if you all through with the situation, just let it go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am cool with each and every one of you guys, because I love you. Yes.

NARRATOR: In 2009, Fenger was identified as a failing school that needed to be saved. Principal Dozier was hired and given broad authority over an entirely new team. She also received a four-year federal grant to help turn the school around.

DOZIER: There was about $1.8 million of additional funding to be able to give kids what they need in terms of programs. And the fact I am able to provide Mr. Spicer's position, a couple full-time reading teachers, home advocates who go out into the homes, knock on doors, bring parents in, all these types of programs are tied to this money.

But the grant is getting ready to run out. So, basically, at the end of this year, I don't know what I will have. It could all fall apart.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NARRATOR: Come May, Chicago's tech startups really start to bloom. The mayor has a lot of responsibilities, but he makes it a priority to visit Chicago's new tech hub, 1871. It's part of Emanuel's plane to revitalize the city's economy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Before, we had zero employees. Now we have eight employees. We have an office and we have revenue. So...

ERIK SEVERINGHAUS, FOUNDER, CEO, SIMPLE RELEVANCE: 1871 is this really interesting sort of experiment, 50,000 square feet. Entrepreneurs and venture capitalists have these working sessions to change the status quo, as well as hopefully make money.

STEVE FARSHT, DIRECTOR, TECHSTARS: When you come in here, you feel like you have basically gotten into Harvard Business School.

CARTER CAST, ENTREPRENEUR: The trick is, focus on the one and do it really well. I love this. This is great.

EMANUEL: We of the city now have a center of gravity to the digital economy.

NARRATOR: The mayor is energized by the new startups at 1871 and the young scholars back at City Hall who hope to become part of the new digital economy.

At a City Council meeting, he sets aside a moment to honor Chicago's Gates Scholars.

EMANUEL: Chicago has 35 Gates Scholar winners, the most of any other public school in the country.

(APPLAUSE)

NARRATOR: There's only three weeks before the Board of Education votes on which schools to close, and some parents are growing desperate.

EMANUEL: We are putting out greatest of hopes in you. But the test won't be today and the test won't be your graduation. The test won't be when you got that letter. You will get knocked down. And it's in the valley that your character gets revealed, not at the peak.

(CHANTING)

NARRATOR: Parents continue to voice their objections to the mayor's plan, but the most vocal critic is the Chicago Teachers Union.

LEWIS: He is the murder mayor. Look at the murder rate in this city. He's murdering schools. He's murdering good jobs. He's murdering housing. What -- I don't know what else to call him. He's the murder mayor.

NARRATOR: Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis is Mayor Emanuel's most outspoken opponent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the largest teacher strike this country has seen in more than two decades.

NARRATOR: In 2012, she led teachers out on a weeklong strike and faced off with Rahm Emanuel.

LEWIS: He's a liar and a bully.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

EMANUEL: This is a strike of choice, and it's the wrong choice for our children.

NARRATOR: It was a bitter fight. And when it was over, both sides claimed victory. Lewis and the teachers walked away with a better contract. And the mayor got his longer school day and longer school year.

QUESTION: Do you feel you have won this strike?

LEWIS: Oh, absolutely.

EMANUEL: Oh, give me a -- you had a strike. I don't know. Kids got a longer school day.

Hey, guys. How are you?

(LAUGHTER)

EMANUEL: Have you been quiet and patient?

UNIDENTIFIED STUDENTS: Yes.

EMANUEL: Better than the mayor, because I'm not quiet or patient.

(LAUGHTER)

EMANUEL: In that order.

This is how the finger happened. You know how any adult always says be careful with sharp objects? I was working somewhere, and I was working with a sharp object, and I wasn't careful.

I had a cut, and I had to go to the doctor and I had to go to the hospital for a while. And so when somebody says, don't play with sharp objects, like doesn't your teacher always say, no running with the scissors? They're all saying that to be careful, so nothing happens. And I wasn't -- I was careless and something happened.

All right, guys, see you later.

(APPLAUSE)

NARRATOR: Chicago public school students are mostly African- American and Latino. Only 9 percent are white. Many Fenger students come from poor, single-parent families and need extra support at school. When federal money runs out, those kids might suffer the most.

DOZIER: Is he in anger management? I put him in anger management. Did he start going to that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I don't know.

DOZIER: Right, because remember...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back and forth after I talk to him.

DOZIER: Let me talk to him, because he and I have a pretty good relationship.

OK, now we're going to back that all the way up.

JAMAR SLATTON, STUDENT: But then she say I said some curse words.

DOZIER: OK.

SLATTON: Talking about some...

DOZIER: Tell the truth.

(CROSSTALK)

DOZIER: Maybe a few F-bombs.

SLATTON: I never said the F-bomb.

DOZIER: Hopefully, with anger management, you do like check-ins with the social worker or with me, you talk about it more, and the more you talk about it and the processing of what is going on at home, the more it will help you be -- feel better inside, so you won't feel so, like, stressed.

School has become like these dropout factories, and it really has to do with issues that are happening at home that no one is really addressing at the school. So, this is the really last stop for 98 percent of the kids here. Like, if we don't get them off into something else, like, there are no other options.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Thousands of children in the city live in neighborhoods where a funeral for a teenager is considered unfortunate, but not unusual. Those are the odds that so many young people are facing in the city.

NARRATOR: When first lady Michelle Obama returns home to Chicago to raise money for at-risk kids, she reflects on the recent murder of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old band majorette shot in the back on her way from school just weeks after performing at President Obama's second inauguration.

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Hidea Pendleton (ph) was me, and I was her. But I got to grow up. See, at the end of the day, this is the point I want to make: that resources matter.

Today, too many kids in the city are living just a few El stops from world-class museums and universities, yet all of that might as well be in a different state, even in a different continent, because many of them don't even know that the University of Chicago exists. Let alone dream of attending that university or any university for that matter. Because instead of spending their days enjoying the abundance of riches the city has to offer, they are consumed with watching their backs.

DOMINIQUE BROOKS, STUDENT: My name is Dominique Brooks, D-o-m-i- n-q-u-e. And I attend Lanier Elementary. I have been jumped on in school, and I stayed in the hospital for a long time. I don't feel I'm safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids at Lanier Elementary, one of 54 schools slated to close, will have to walk to General (ph) Academy across Division Street. That might not sound like a big deal, but it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't even walk that way. It's just crazy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they're still out here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They beat up everybody they see. They even tried to beat up my little sister, and she's only in the first grade. I'm just so scared.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) in Chicago, and the mayor, courtside at the United Center, cheers on the scrappy Bulls, who refuse to go down without a fight. Two weeks before the final vote to close schools, parents and teachers also refuse to go down without a fight.

THERESA HARRINGTON, TEACHER: It's criminal to take these children out of the safety of this environment and this school. I know it's numbers; I get it. But we are their families. We are parenting these children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Emanuel, well, he's been at the center of unpopular decisions like this before. He's never backed down. And nobody expects him to start now.

RAHM EMANUEL, MAYOR OF CHICAGO: I've been fortunate to work for two really, really good presidents. And I've learned a lot from both of them. When I was going through it, being chief of staff, every chief of staff hates it. It is the most difficult job in America. There's a target on your back. Nothing you do anybody likes. And you've got to make sure it works for the president. And then when you make your decision, you're not done, because everybody else says you're an idiot.

The first nine months to a year, I had this joke with the president. Because we would go like from the auto meeting. The next would come the financial meeting. The next would come in, the economy is collapsing. The next would come in, Afghanistan is unraveling. We've got to get out of Iraq. And you'd go from meeting to meeting, 45 minutes, and you'd have to make all these decisions. It just kept pounding and pounding and pounding.

So I used to say to him, "You know, Mr. President, I really don't want to make any more decisions." So we joked that when we got out of the White House, we were going to set up a little T-shirt shack in Hawaii that looked right out to the beach. We were going to sell one color -- white, one size, medium. We'd have to make a decision, and you could just look, because we were done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Liz Dozier knows a thing or two about having a stressful job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fenger is always somewhere in my brain rumbling around. I think about, like, are the kids safe? I think about what are they doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dr. Schrager (ph) works on an anti-violence strategy to take to the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of the things that Mr. Spicer actually brought to the table about two years ago was a peace walk. I didn't feel we were ready for that as a school. But I think this year we're actually ready for it. We can take the whole school out, and walk, so I'm excited.

I met with the police commander a couple weeks ago to talk about helping to kind of secure the route so that we could be stationary along the route. The other thing we were thinking about is it being a silent walk, and how powerful that would be, to have the kids walking through the community in absolute silence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're silencing the violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's it. That's it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Despite all the neighborhood violence, Fenger students continue to push for their peace march.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like, you know, people that are gang banging and stuff, so you figure why not let us walk through our neighborhoods? And let us know we're trying to do something different. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The thing that's different, we done seen how the school done changed and how the community has bettered itself just in our schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd say there's pros and cons to this walk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wouldn't be a good idea without the police force. Still at the same time, there's still violence.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: More deadly violence breaks out on Chicago's streets. At least eight people died and 40 people were hurt till early this morning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the warmer weather, shootings are escalating. Even in broad daylight.

GARRY MCCARTHY, POLICE SUPERINTENDENT: Kind of blew up in a couple different areas.

FRED WALLER, COMMANDER, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT 6TH DISTRICT: Eight murders in the 28-daytime frame as opposed to three last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's times like these Superintendent McCarthy holds his district commanders accountable.

MCCARTHY: I want a little bit of analysis on this, because the way the system is designed, we gave you the cops. We want them on those beats doing police work. If that's not happening, that's got to be addressed.

WALLER: As far as overall, it's a matter of us will to just...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the type of person that if I had their beat, I'd know who every one of these guys were and I'd be out hunting them every single day. I want to make sure that these guys feel the heat. Those numbers are just through the roof. You've got to fix that right there, right now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the mayor commutes downtown, the city is buzzing. But for folks who send their kids to 54 schools on the chopping block, doomsday is coming. And it's just a week away.

Mayor Emanuel remains committed to his plan. The mayor meets with Barbara Bennett, CEO of the Chicago public schools, to review the list and move forward with the largest school consolidation in the country.

ASEAN JOHNSON, THIRD GRADER: Rahm Emanuel only cares about his kids. He only care about what he needs. He do not care about nobody else but himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People say Asean has what it takes to be mayor of Chicago someday. His school, Marcus Garvey, is on the closure list, but the 9-year-old believes there's a chance to keep it open if he can make enough noise.

JOHNSON: I respect the man. I'm not saying he's racist. But how he's trying to close the schools, that's racist, because the majority of the schools are in black neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Asean hits the pavement with his mom, a public school clerk and a member of the mighty Chicago teachers union.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You get that house.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gotcha. OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joey McDermott is the teachers union field rep, organizing against the mayor's plan to close schools. Joey is making a big push to mobilize teachers at Lanier Elementary School.

JOSEPH MCDERMOTT, FIELD REP, TEACHERS UNION: They've got to know that the teachers are very strong and want to save their school.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And parents, like single mother Sherise McDaniel.

SHERISE MCDANIEL, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have a great school here. Our kids have art. They have drama. They have dance. And I mean, those are all the things that Rahm Emanuel's kids have at his schools. Why can't we have that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is about balancing the budget on the backs of poor people. And we know they're going to turn around and put the money into charter schools and open up more charter schools so that billionaires that are living loud can name schools after themselves.

Because of what he's doing to our schools, the people of Chicago are going to stand up and say to Rahm Emanuel, "Hasta la vista. See you later!"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The teacher's union teamed up with parents and headed to court to fight the school consolidation plan.

THOMAS GOEGNEGAN, attorney: Parents have filed two class-action lawsuits today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One lawsuit seeks to protect special-needs students, who could be especially vulnerable.

GOEGNEGAN: I don't think that people really understand how much harm is going to be done to these children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alice Thomas knows how important the neighborhood school is for kids with special needs. Her daughter is one of them. Two years ago, Arianna and her cousin were shot while jumping rope. Arianna survived a gunshot wound to the head but still suffers physical and psychological trauma. Her cousin didn't make it.

ALICE THOMAS, ARIANA'S MOTHER: You got kids that come up to her and say, "That's why your little cousin got shot. That's why your cousin dead." That's cruel.

The school that they're trying to sell to us, that's where they from. I can't send her up there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Ariana's school is closed, she could come face to face with the family who shot her and murdered her cousin.

ERIC WILKINS, COMMUNITY ACTIVIST: Got to walk past all this, and go through all that, then go home and study? How many hours am I going to have to study and worry about my house getting shot up? Where am I going to study at, on the floor with a flashlight? You know, and I'm 8, 9 years old. You know, it's sad.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Three people got shot last night right up the hill. It's just crazy. The first hot day come, here comes the shooting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even as shooting continues on the street just blocks away at Fenger High, Principal Dozier moves forward with plans for the peace march.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The objective is for students to be able to walk away and understand the importance for the peace walk.

DOZIER: How is it going to go? The kids are all leading this, so they have to have a really clear understanding of what they're supposed to do and where they're going to go.

There are serious safety concerns I know parents have expressed. Community members have expressed it also about kids coming down this way. There's neighborhood boundaries. Like, whether or not people think they're real or not, they are real. And so there's just tensions that flare from different neighborhoods.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighborhood tension erupted unexpectedly for Arianna's mother Alice and her boyfriend, Wild Bill. They were approached by a gunman in front of their house. Wild Bill was shot dead right in front of Alice.

THOMAS: They were in front of the house, talking about the kids' school. Guys was walking across the street. And I said, "Look up." And he pulled the gun out and started shooting.

I just fell to the ground and balled up. And when I got up, I seen him laying there, gasping for air. Trying to breathe. And I don't know how to deal with it right now, because I feel like I'm losing it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The superintendent gets regular briefings on murder investigations city wide.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a murder, a victim in (UNINTELLIGIBLE) location when an offender emerged on foot from the south of the building and opened fire, fatally wounding the victim.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Victor's family is cooperative and the witnesses have been cooperative, but they all agree the shooter had his face covered. Like covered with a T-shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) versus (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Black souls, new breeds (ph).

MCCARTHY: Eddie, let's get a plan, all right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is it going, Commander? What is going on?

DOZIER: Someone that was killed, somebody, Wild Bill, he was really high ranking in one of the gangs. So this has now tripped off all this stuff, and like the school, we sit like in the middle of this.

Somebody got killed, somebody named Wild Bill or something like that. Did you hear about this? We should probably talk about the peace walk. I can't just set them in harm's way to make a statement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Roseland, the murder of Ariana's stepfather sparks fears of an all-out gang war. Tensions are high, and Principal Dozier has a tough decision to make about the peace march.

DOZIER: First of all, just say thanks again for being willing to come out to our peace walk. We're actually going to have to cancel it, unfortunately. There was some shooting that happened earlier in the week on the corner, just some brewing conflict in the neighborhood, and I don't feel safe taking the kids outside.

DONALD GORDON, DEAN, FENGER HIGH SCHOOL: I need everybody to sit in the first two rows, please. Right here, first two rows.

The peace walk has been postponed. I want you to understand it's not canceled; it's postponed. So I don't want you to walk up out of here and think what you did all week is in vain. It's not. We want to make sure that everything is safe and we can be productive with this, OK?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mayor visits a water filtration plant where he's eager to announce one of the largest infrastructure investments in Chicago history.

EMANUEL: Charles, do you need a pen, man? There's a whole new meaning to helping a reporter out. Working to build a new Channel 7.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the school closing debate reaching its climax, local reporters want answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should the board members vote not to close some of those 54 schools...

EMANUEL: This will be very challenging. So is knowing that kids are going on in years not reading, not knowing math and then eventually dropping out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you say to the parents and the teacher's union that say that no one was listening to them?

EMANUEL: Fifty-six percent of African-American males are dropping out. I will not accept that when I think I can do something about it and give children a better future. And that's the responsibility of not just being a mayor; that's the responsibility of being an adult.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's D-day, and the board meets to vote. But not before people gather outside to voice their objections, loudly.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are the people! We are united!

KAREN LEWIS, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION: I personally feel you're on the wrong side of history. And history will judge you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Parents and students of Lanier still hope their school will be spared.

MCDANIEL: We're here now, waiting for the governor's call for a stay of execution.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, these items do require a vote.

BARBARA BYRD-BENNETT, CEO, CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS: These schools will be...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly before the vote, Barbara Byrd-Bennett makes an announcement.

BYRD-BENNETT: I recommend that the board vote no on the recommendation to close Lanier.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you all right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just stand up for what you believe in, anything is possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They also spared three others, including Asean's school, Marcus Garvey Elementary.

MCDANIEL: This has bittersweet, because there are still so many other schools that won't have the joy that we have right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then the Chicago Board of Education makes history. They vote to close 50 schools, a decision that will affect 27,000 kids.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think about the children that are going to be killed because of the stupid-ass decisions you've made!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace! UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!

LEWIS: This is an unmitigated disaster.

EMANUEL: I was walking out of the house, and my wife, Amy, says, "I've never seen you calmer."

And I said, "I am comfortable with what I am doing to put our children first."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mayor Emanuel's decision to close schools is final. And now Chicago's new boss has a whole city wondering one thing: What's next?

EMANUEL: I happen to think the city of Chicago is the most American of American cities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is something about this place that's magical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right here in Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not just food. It's not just dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're expected to give back as the price of admission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to the age of possibilities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every single student counts for $5,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't get more kids in this building we're going to, like, lose position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody in this room is lucky to be alive right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just too many guns in our community. Unfortunately, we're going to have tragedies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got some people shot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Retaliation can go back and forth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Murder, murder, murder.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've seen some bad stuff here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like living in a battle zone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man down. Man down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Over a thousand people have been shot.

EMANUEL: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) this place, or am I having a stroke?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get on the scale.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Only thing you can't kill is an idea.

EMANUEL: We're all accountable to the children of the city of Chicago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They found out that we called the police on them, they came inside and they lit our house on fire.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not doing this. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can't wait for this to be over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop. Stop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's 24-7. It absolutely never ends.

JOHNSON: You need to talk to that mayor and tell him to just quit his job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do we change our friend rather than our foe?