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By releasing its preliminary hit list of 129 neighborhood schools that remain on the block for closure at the end of the 2012-2013 school year and proceeding with a second round of community meetings to garner feedback on how to best manage its manufactured utilization crisis, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has told Chicagoans that if they want a school to stay open, they will have to fight for it. They will have to beg for resources that should be available to all, and in a sadistic game put forth by CPS where individuals and their lives are mere pawns, parents, children and teachers are pitted against one another in a battle for a basic citizen right—a neighborhood school.

It is, as one local activist put it, much like the post-apocalyptic scenario created in the 2008 novel “The Hunger Games” by author Suzanne Collins.

Video after the jump.

Video from the 2/16/2013 School Closing hearing on Chicago's north side. Schools that specialize in special education and working with homeless students are pitted against each other for scraps from a starved budget.

In the book, boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 18 are chosen by an annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, where the participants fight to the death until only one child remains. As the intensity and stakes grow higher in the quest for survival, and some children are seen as appealing for their prowess, it becomes easier for those in power to secure the money and supplies to help them live.

Our public school system creates a similar paradox, where it high stakes test scores that are designed to “prove” that children are worthy of resources, instead of viewing them as one of life’s most precious resources.
 photo hungergames_zpsebeb6a36.jpeg
Rahm Emanuel to announce the winners of the Chicago Hunger Games at the end of March.

The 129 neighborhood schools on the CPS hit list include schools that were subject to CPS actions just last year, like Herzl Elementary in North Lawndale, which was a turnaround school and is now in danger of being closed permanently. Herzl families—punished for another year—are forced to muster the energy for a new “Hunger Games” fight for survival, and as the March 31 deadline approaches, time is running out. The actions CPS is considering could have been part of a process that started in January, as mandated by law, which would have provided ample time for a transition, but this is just the latest incident in a decade of failed education reform policies in Chicago.

Releasing the number of schools still under consideration is not a plan—what is CPS’ plan for potentially closing more than 100 schools and sending children to receiving schools? Where are the specific safety protocols? Children are rambunctious, and as many of Chicago’s elementary school teachers will tell you, violence does not start in high school. Students affected by school closings also lose 3-to-6 months of learning and there is no certainty they will be sent to a higher-performing school. We are concerned about the children impacted by these closings—some of whom have been through this process multiple times—and the subsequent effect on their communities.

Much like “The Hunger Games,” CPS families have not been given a choice; they’ve only provided a chance. Our children, their families and teachers deserve better. They deserve a guarantee

Originally posted to Tristero 312 on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:09 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This is the education equivalent of "The Hunger (13+ / 0-)

    Games." Reprehensible.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:25:27 AM PST

  •  Totally within character for Rahm. (13+ / 0-)

    He has always been most effective when attacking the Democratic Party platform. The longer he remains in public office, the less he engages in anything else.

    The Class, Terror and Climate Wars are indivisible and the short-term outcome will affect the planet for centuries. -WiA "When you triangulate everything, you can't even roll downhill..." - PhilJD

    by Words In Action on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 11:42:34 AM PST

  •  Reality (15+ / 0-)

    Wasn't Rahm a Chief of Staff once? Chicago under Rahm will find money for drones before it finds money for schools.

    (Today in 1792: President George Washington signed an act creating the U.S. Postal Service.)

  •  It's pretty terrible. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumbi, Dale Murphy

    But comparing it to The Hunger Games is a little hyperbolic.

    •  You are okay with this? (12+ / 0-)

      Sorry to realize someone is more upset by the hyperbole than by the reality of these Class Warriors that are continuing their attacks on the lower and the middle classes.

      An internet friend of mine, Madfloridian, has detailed what happens when these policies go through, as they have in Florida. A school building gets "sold" to some nefarious entity, and then the "Charter School" org gets to have the city or other locale pay a whopping $ 500,000 a year to rent the building back, using tax payer monies, of course.

      This is nothing but stripping away the public school money away from the Commons for the purpose of enriching the one percent.

      And by the way, if a child is not educated, their ability to earn a living means they rather end up in a "hunger games" scenario.

      Offer your heart some Joy every day of your life, and spread it along to others.

      by Truedelphi on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 01:34:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Where do you get that I'm okay with this? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dale Murphy

        I am entirely in agreement with condemning this.  I'm criticizing the metaphor, not the condemnation.

        •  So... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Enzo Valenzetti

          Besides filtering for tone, what are you going to do to stop this horrific treatment of poor children of color?

        •  It was dog eat dog when my town closed our school. (3+ / 0-)

          My town used to have the best elementary schools in the state.  Our elementary school scored the best in our town, and it was built to educate children in post WW II veteran housing, which evolved into low income housing.  Our school also accepted METCO students.  So, it was one amazing school, having the best test scores in a town that was #1 in the state, while having a large percentage of low income children.  

          Well, the Superintendent decided to close a school and it was ugly.  One of the schools in town had trichloroethylene seeping under it making the kids and faculty sick, and a neighborhood wanted to get moved out of that district, so they fought to close my school so a larger, 1,000 or more student school could be opened and they could get redistricted.

          They fought me brutally for writing letters supporting keeping my school open.  They threatened me, "You'll see what happens to you."  They slandered me.  I won the first round, but eventually lost.

          I think calling it the "Hunger Games" obviously is hyperbole, but it's apt.

          Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

          by CIndyCasella on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 06:54:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I wish it was more hyperbolic than it is (6+ / 0-)

      Are you familiar with the way the school closings have been literally endangering the lives of children by making kids cross into hostile gang territory to go to their re-assigned schools? (It's fairly well reported here in Chicagoland but I'm not sure if it's national news.)

      •  As I said: it's terrible and should be stopped. (4+ / 0-)

        But putting children in danger of their lives as a side effect of uncaring greed is not the same thing as forcing children to murder each other for an annual public entertainment.

        •  Batya, that's what hyperbole is all about. It's (0+ / 0-)

          to stress a point, and I think the "Hunger Games" is a clever way to make people see how vicious this school closing game is, pitting neighborhood against neighborhood, degrading the quality of public education by increasing the size of schools and doing away with neighborhood schools, disrupting education, wasting the time and energy of the parents by forcing them to "fight" for their schools.  

          This while people of Rahm Emanual's wealth can easily buy their kids expensive private school educations.

          When one thinks about how we were all swindled by the banksters out of trillions of dollars and they were rewarded bonuses and how the Neocons conned us into endless wars that have also cost trillions, to do this to low income families is just despicable.

          The way this country is hurting the poor by cutting education, health care, etc., killing and maiming people for oil and hegemony in the Middle East, and continually redistributing wealth upward, I'd say the "Hunger Games" isn't hyperbolic enough to describe the brutality and viciousness.

          Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

          by CIndyCasella on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 07:06:39 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I will grant you that use of hyperbole (0+ / 0-)

            is sometimes very effective to stress a point, and I am in complete agreement that this is a point worthy of being made in very strong terms.

            Personally -- and this is a personal opinion, on a fairly subjective style issue, so please help yourself to a complimentary grain of salt -- I tend to dislike the use of hyperbole in serious situations.  I don't think it does a serious problem any good to equate it to a different problem (especially a fictional one) that is (a) worse by orders of magnitude, and (b) fundamentally different in cause and purpose.

            The way this country is hurting the poor is terrible all by itself.  It doesn't need to be compared to something else that's terrible.

        •  The whole point of the Hunger Games stories (0+ / 0-)

          Is that the society chose to put children in danger of their lives as a side effect of uncaring greed. You have synopsized the books in a nutshell.

          If you don't think forcing kids through a whirring blender of blazing guns and flashing knives isn't forcing them to murder each other in order to survive, you don't understand how brutal rival gang activity can be.

          •  ... no, that is not the point of the story at all. (0+ / 0-)

            It was not putting children in danger of their lives; it was exterminating those lives directly.

            It was not a side effect; it was a deliberate, purposeful action, laid down in law.

            It was not because of uncaring greed; it was means to the dual end of (a) keeping a conquered populace down, and (b) keeping a privileged populace entertained.

            •  It was the privileged populace's uncaring greed (0+ / 0-)

              ... that led them to create the "game."

              The act of forcing boundary crossing is being done so some money hoarders won't have to pay their fair share of taxes.

              This forced boundary crossing will be a direct causative factor, and it is known a-priori that it will happen.

              How many extra children will die each year from among those forced to cross rival gang boundaries for the sake of the wealth hoarder's hoards?

              Is it OK, if it's "only" 4 or 5, you know, since it's just a "side-effect"?  Heck, "only" 23 chosen children are killed each year in the Hunger Games. Would the city have to reach that number of extra murdered children each year to trigger a scintilla of caring?

              Sure, it's not happening as a spectator sport, but it is happening as a means of keeping the privileged populace happy. That's the only real difference, morally. And it's pretty thin soup.

              •  Batya... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                radical simplicity

                I have to hand it to you, you're the most persistent concern troll I've encountered on DK. Hat tipped in your direction.

                "Your conspiracy theories won't work without evidence." -Nasir Jones

                by Tristero 312 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:54:51 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  You do me too much credit for forethought. (0+ / 0-)

                  Seriously, I didn't anticipate this turning into a side argument, and probably should have stopped once it became one.  I get unduly distressed by analogies that bother me.

                  Will I stop now?  I don't know either!  Let's find out.

              •  How many times do I have to repeat (0+ / 0-)

                that the real issue in the diary IS TERRIBLE AND SHOULD BE STOPPED before you hear me?

                My response to you has nothing to do with moral comparison.  I am countering your misinterpretation of the books, which by this time has turned into factual error; the game was not created by the privileged populace at all, and its purpose had nothing to do with greed.

                You're bending over backwards to assert that these things are the same, when (a) they are not, and (b) seriously, do you have to insist -- and do I have to agree -- that this real-life event resembles a fictional story in order to demonstrate that (one more time) IT IS TERRIBLE AND SHOULD BE STOPPED?

                •  We clearly interpret the story differently (0+ / 0-)

                  I don't think it's valid to state that either has misinterpreted it. So we'll just have to agree to disagree on that.

                  In the mean time, for effective communication, the use of popular cultural references as familiar "hooks" can help people recognize a moral issue that would not ordinarily capture their attention. It's valid to use well-known stories as metaphors in showing that there is a significant moral issue with a particular policy proposal.

                  •  Fair enough, re differing interpretations. (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    radical simplicity

                    And if the metaphor works for enough people -- to bring home how terrible this is or even just to get their attention in the first place -- then it isn't really important whether or not it works for me personally.

                    Judging by the comments here, it seems to be working for most.

  •  So your solution is not to close any schools ever (0+ / 0-)

    no matter what?

  •  Rahm is in bed with the same folks... (7+ / 0-)

    Educational experience based on non-consensual behaviorism is authoritarian mind control.

    by semioticjim on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 05:27:45 PM PST

  •  Educational triage condemns very little children (3+ / 0-)

    to certain failure.  I have felt nothing but loathing Emanual for a very long time.  He keeps proving that he's worthy the highest contempt.

    And yes, these actions are equivalent to the Hunger Games.  Emanual is a son of a boar hog.

    Newt 2012. Sociopath, adulterer, hypocrite, Republican.

    by tikkun on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 07:59:36 PM PST

  •  35 Aldermen signed on for a moratorium on... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CIndyCasella, Oh Mary Oh, hungeski charter schools until this mess is solved. Mine was one of them. It's a wholly ridiculous situation as the Board of Ed plays these games while the whole city waits for what? Meanwhile they have held up the magnet lottery for elementary schools because everything is a toss up.

    They also say now they have an 'arts education' plan and want art in all the schools by next fall but they can't even use a reality based 'utilization' process that accounts for rooms used in "arts" such as dance room, art room, drama room, etc. If you have a dedicated room for any of this, then your school is under utilized and this is the main reason for closing and/or consolidating schools. How are they going to pay for arts specialists and other content area teachers when they are freaking out about the budget now?

    CPS central office is run by extremely incompetent individuals who say and do contradictory things all the time. They haven't addressed the gang issues related to merging schools or sending kid into the wrong areas. They haven't addressed the issues of children with IEPs and the services needed, etc. They have no plan of what will happen to the empty buildings. [we all know that they just want more charter schools and this is a way of doing away with neighborhood schools] We have recent examples of Philly (I think it's Philly) where empty schools cause all sorts of other probs, etc.

    It's crazy and what will happen is this: people of means will pull their kids and the system will be catering only to low income and disadvantaged children and will sink into the abyss.

  •  I loath Rahm Emanuel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    apimomfan2, CIndyCasella

    he's a reprehensible human being.

    "Your Actions Are So Loud, I Can't Hear a Word You're Saying"

    by toosinbeymen on Wed Feb 20, 2013 at 08:44:46 PM PST

  •  The Architect (0+ / 0-)

    Rahm is the ultimate neo-liberal. Going back to his days in the Clinton administration, Rahm might be the father of the modern day Democratic Party. Charter schools trump an equitable public education. Union-busting is at the heart of the Emanuel doctrine.

  •  Rahm's approval rating drops...again! (0+ / 0-)

    "Your conspiracy theories won't work without evidence." -Nasir Jones

    by Tristero 312 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:18:54 AM PST

  •  Love the analogy. n/t (0+ / 0-)

    The banks have a stranglehold on the political process. Mike Whitney

    by dfarrah on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 08:28:44 AM PST

  •  Question. Why is this Rahm Emanuel's doing (0+ / 0-)

    and/or fault?

    Please forgive my lack of knowledge regarding Chicago's schools & what exact role Rahm Emanuel plays in regards to them.

    In the county where I live, decisions are made by each  Board district /LEA along with the State Dept of Education.  With parent/community involvement.  
    My county currently has five Board districts serving more than 165,000 students in 132 facilities-plus other entities such as the International Newcomers Center (resource and transition center for international middle and high school students) & Technical Education Program.

    Way too many mayors in my county alone.  It would be a total clusterf*** if they were given the power that is alluded to regarding Rahm Emmanuel.

    If I have an issue regarding our school system, I go to the LEA/Board & State DOE-not a mayor.

    So I am confused as to the power being assigned to Rahm Emanuel, the mayor.  

    •  In Chicago... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The Mayor of Chicago was handed complete control over the schools in 1995 under what was called the "Amdendatory Act." He appoints the Board and the CEO of schools (not superintendent). All decisions fall under his purview.

      "Your conspiracy theories won't work without evidence." -Nasir Jones

      by Tristero 312 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 11:14:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tristero, thanks! What, if any, role does the (0+ / 0-)

        State Dept of Ed have in all this?  One board to rule them all and/or is there district/cluster representation?

        Why was the Mayor of Chicago handed complete control in 1995?  Who gave the Mayor of Chicago this er extra special duty?

        Just trying to wrap my mind around how this works.  Especially so for an entity (Chicago) that must have a staggering number of schools/students in comparison to my county's (little) spot on the US map....

        •  The state legislature did... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          After the Republicans swept the mid-terms in 1994 (remember the contract with America?), they carried state elections as well. This was back when Democrats were friends of labor. The Republicans gave the schools to Richie Daley to screw the union. Daley was a Democrat, but in a one party system like Chicago that doesn't mean anything.

          "Your conspiracy theories won't work without evidence." -Nasir Jones

          by Tristero 312 on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 12:57:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Tristero, ignore my previous post questions. Found (0+ / 0-)

        & in the process of reading a fascinating 2011 dissertation
        that should get me up to speed re CPS albeit minus the current mayor:

        By: LEVIIS A. HANEY
        May 2011
        Thanks again for your previous very helpful response.
  •  Chicago School headline (0+ / 0-)

    made me think of Milton Friedman and then disaster capitalism. Then it hit me ... this was Obama's right hand man. Maybe our president is a disaster capitalist. Just free associatin',  that's all.

    Facts don't stop being facts just because no one listens to them. - Aldous Huxley

    by bisleybum on Thu Feb 21, 2013 at 02:58:22 PM PST

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