"We believe that turnarounds are what have caused a lot of this increasing violence," said Rose-Maria Genova of the Chicago Teachers Union. "Teachers have longtime relationships with these students, they know the families, they know the children and they are familiar with their circumstances. When you disrupt this relationship, you are going to have more unpredictable behavior."
In addition, since 2005, dozens of failing Chicago public schools have been completely shut down, with students reassigned to schools in other neighborhoods, often forcing rival gangs into the same classroom. The closures were part of a broader reform initiative launched by Daley and placed under Duncan's leadership.
According to the AP, before the 2006 school year, an average of 10-15 public school students were killed in shootings each year. That number increased dramatically to 34 deaths and 290 shootings in the last school year.
Huberman said he hears "theories all the time" of education reform causing the violence, but he believed its causes are complicated, and a multi-faceted problem many years in the making.
Vickers said children in Chicago are terrified of the violence in school and their neighborhoods.
"These kids have fears that are just really unfathomable to most people," he said. "They're worried they're going to come home and their mom is going to be dead."
Their parents are just as terrified.
Carla Lucious's 14-year-old daughter, Ameenah Haqque, rides a city bus home from school more than 3 miles every day, past a rival school and through gang territory.
"I just pray every day that she gets home from school safely," Lucious said.
ABC News' Mary Bruce contributed to this report.