I'm sitting here in my cozy dining room while baby sleeps and before I pick up my others kids from their public magnet school. I am lucky. My kids' school isn't one of the 52+ being closed or 'consolidated' in the city of Chicago today. I'm crying. I really am. My face is hot and splotchy. My fingers are trembling as I write this. Our school system is in shambles. Our system caters to an overwhelmingly minority and high poverty group. They are being FUCKED by these closings. Yes, they are.
I am white, over educated, married to an over educated highly well compensated guy (not rich but not struggling by any means). I wanted my kids to be a part of the diverse public education system 'cause it did fine by me and would for them too I figured. Now I wonder.
As we speak 100s probably 1000s of teachers and staff at these school will have no where to go in the fall. Why below the orange cloud. And my emotional hot ramblings.
We had a strike in Chicago Public schools this past fall. Two weeks they walked the line. Got some concessions, didn't get enough and it seems like the whole thing was a lesson in futility. Now, the mayor, Rahm, is skiing while the school closing list came out. His kids go to a private school, which is fine, I'm just saying.
What a jerk. He's never going to be re-elected in this town. We thought he'd come in here and clean house and have special time with the President who was going to help change all our problems. Rahm's proven no better than his predecessors. Worse in fact because as much of a wheeler-dealer Daley was, at least he was a likeable sort of guy and you felt it that he liked the city and was working to ultimately do good by it. What a waste of our votes for Rahm! He has managed to piss off very single union in the city: police, fire, teachers, etc. Acts like a privaleged moron half the time and the other half you can't tell what his end goal's going to be. Not the lifting up of the city because surely if it was, he wouldn't be doing the things he is, the way he is. What is wrong with this executive staff? Isn't there anyone one who can clue him in??
Schools are the most important thing for people like me- the EXACT people he wants in this city because we pay taxes and don't suck the city dry with using services: public transport, social services, park district, police, etc. I'm the kind of person who pays for that other stuff if the free stuff doesn't fit my schedule- I don't need it to be free because I can pay for it. I do use it, just don't rely on it like other folks do.
But, fucker mayor, I VOTE. I vote at all the primaries that get very low turnout no matter what. It was the one thing that my immigrant folks instilled in me: VOTE. It's the only way to get your voice heard. And you better believe I will, against you and the horse you rode in on. You are out buddy.
Chicago public schools has some of the best schools in the state. And some of the worst. But, the system provides lots to many folks who rely on it: after school activities, english as a second language classes, community services, special education, etc. You get the idea. Some of these schools in certain communities where/are open on Saturdays to give kids a place to hang and not be in trouble. These are the schools they are closing because according to some fucked up software program they are 'under utilized'. They have SPED rooms with less kids per room because that is what this population needs to learn appropriately. They have rooms allocated for parent classes in language and citizenship, etc. They have rooms allocated for ART, MUSIC, etc.
I know deep in myself that this whole school closing thing is about politics and getting back at the union because now the closed schools' staff will be left high and dry. Where are they going to teach? Where?
Oh yeah, the new funding cycle will be on a per pupil basis without the allotment of 'one teacher per 2 kids' by the Board of Ed. Now the principal just gets a lump sum per kid and she figures it all out. So, central office isn't the bad guy, but the principal. Of course every principal is going to stuff the max # of kids per room and pay for the cheaper teacher. The higher paid teachers who are out now, who's going to hire them at other schools? No one.
My school is safe. But many around here are not and I feel for the parents. I feel for the kids. Mostly I feel for the teachers. The catholic schools just released their projections of higher enrollment for the fall. Of course. But most of the kids affected are in high poverty areas whose parents can't afford this tuition. They are screwed and will be crammed into other schools and bused and made to attend schools no better than the ones they left behind.
It just seems like a set up for a building grab for the charters to come in and use the empty buildings 'cause this mayor, he loves him some charter schools.
We don't have an elected school board. The mayor is in control of his group of monkeys. It's sad. The last few CEOs of the school system were a joke. One was a student of mine in grad school at U of C. He was a suck-up who came into my office constantly to try to talk up his grade. I never gave in. He had no education backgroud, just an administrator and ex-cop. The one before him is now in Washington, but really no better. The last one was a failed educator from Rochester, NY. The current one drove the Detroit schools into the ground. What do they all have in common? They are YES men to the mayors. They are Rhee-formers too.
Are there problems in the system? Yes, yes, many many problems that are made worse by poverty and all the issues surrounding that: violence, hunger, homelessness, etc.
But research has shown that simply closing the schools isn't going to fix it.
I am sick at heart. There are rallies at the chicago board of ed member's homes. There are community meetings. There is huge Occupy rally for 3/27. Spread the word. Peace
7:29 PM PT: Ok wow- thanks for the considerate conversation going on. Just a few more thoughts. I'm an LSC member. That is a local school council that every school has and it's mostly parents, a few teachers, a staff rep and the principal. We are supposed to have a say in how our schools are run. This system was set up after the strike of the 80s. Now, were any LSC members consulted about any of this? Were there focus groups? Were there committees? Nope, nothing of the sort. It flies in the face of the supposed democratic process of this whole thing. You see, as an LSC member I am an elected official. But, the mayor has taken our ability to do anything about this mess away from us completely. I see law suits popping up. I think it's going to be a huge shit storm. My immediate family is lucky. The magnet school is safe for now. And how did I get the lovely magnet school spot. Through sheer luck. Through a lottery. How can that be a sane or fair process? It's not and shame on all of us for letting this happen but you take what you can get and worry about the consequences later. I chose this magnet school- it's lovely and has arts and my kid gets piano twice a week. The neighborhood school is over crowded. Its not one of the bad ones so it would have been ok. Now, all the other folks directly affected by this mess are going to have a hell of a hard time navigating the system. You see, they've already sent out the acceptance letter just this week for all the magnet spots. So, theoretically they can't get their kid in unless they had already done the paperwork and such.
This is why charters seem like a good alternative here. They offer hope when there isn't any glimmer of hope. People want a better alternative and will do what I did, take what you can get.
Please see this report on closing by this thoughtful group:
The CReATE Research Brief on School Closures is available at http://createchicago.blogspot.com.
The briefing paper was prepared by professors Stephanie Farmer of Roosevelt University, Isaura Pulido of Northeastern Illinois University, Pamela J. Konkol of Concordia University, Kate Phillippo of Loyola University, David Stovall of the University of Illinois at Chicago and Mike Klonsky of DePaul University.
7:35 PM PT: Oh yeah, I almost forgot. There is a movement here to end high stakes testing as we know it. Yeah yeah, it's a long shot. Check it out:
I actually opted my two kids out of this hot mess. I'll be doing it in the fall as well. Aren't we stressing these kids out enough. Imagine all these kids now in the new schools along with whatever nonsense they have to deal with having to deal with all the new silly and redundant CPS testing in the fall: NWEA, Reach, Dibles, etc. Ha I say. ha
I was told that the CEO of schools was on the pbs (WTTW) basically blaming parents. Wow, good job lady. She's lucky she's not elected. I think she'll be out in a year too.
also check out #cpsclosings on the twitter feed
I feel she is dead on.