"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rahm's Chicago

I went to Rogers School in Chicago from kindergarten through eighth grade -- a public school. In the fall of 1962 I started attending Sullivan High School in Chicago -- a public school. I graduated in June, 1966.

What's happening in my home town today saddens me. Neither of the schools I attended in the 50s and 60s is going to be closed, but the rest of the story throughout the city is not so positive. The Mayor and his wealthy friends seem set on doing away with the city's public school system.

Emanuel has orchestrated the closing of 50 schools and the removal of 3500 public school employees. I'd say that the closings and layoffs are part of a small person's retribution for embarrassing him with a strike late last year, but the sad truth is the closings and layoffs were probably planned a long time ago. The money saved by the cuts to staff and buildings is being redirected to privatizers. In addition, while the city's school system is being starved by the mayor, plans for a multi-million arena for DePaul University continue, paid for in part by the city.
Emanuel hasn’t talked openly about the plan, but an alderman on the city’s board told CBS that the plan, which includes hotels attached to the city’s convention center at McCormick Place, was about fostering economic growth. “Sometimes you have to make an investment in city resources to be able to generate tax dollars,” Ald. Pat Dowell said.
How about investing in the city's students and future citizens...instead of a college basketball team that wants to "recapture its glory days"? The basketball team is from a large private, Catholic, university. I wonder why "The Church" can't afford to support the basketball programs of its large universities. Could it be that the city's support of private and corporate charters is now spilling over to post-secondary education?

Here's a sampling of what's coming out of Chicago...

See the list of schools closing, a map showing where they are located, and information about the population of students at each school.

Take a look at the map...look at how many schools are being affected from the areas with "Below 10% of households living in poverty." You'll see that there are just 2, Chappell Elementary and McPherson Elementary. How are they being affected? They aren't closing...they are "receiving schools" which means that they are schools which will receive children being shuffled from closing schools.

The cutbacks are being foisted on the schools, neighborhoods and families most in need of stability.

CPS continues its attack on teachers, students and public schools by laying off 2,085 more educators

After you read this, go right to the next article below. Read about the opening of charter* schools to replace the closed public schools. Read about increasing Teach For Awhile America contractors to the tune of $1.5 million to replace experienced career educators.

The mayor is being dishonest. He should have just said,
  1. "We want to close our current public schools, and then reopen them as charters. The education won't be any better, since charters and regular public schools are pretty much equal, but this way the money goes to our friends."
  2. "We want to fire experienced teachers who get paid more so we can hire new, inexperienced, poorly trained teachers for a pittance."
His children, by the way, will still get to go to their school at the University of Chicago...small class sizes, the arts, physical education, science labs, libraries, highly qualified degreed teachers...
“As the CTU continues to lobby the Board of Education to restore these jobs, remarkably CPS refuses to agree to a hiring freeze. It makes no sense to hire new people as the district lays off veteran teachers, paraprofessionals and clinicians, many of whom have excellent and superior ratings.

Chicago School Closings And The Joyce Foundation: The Obama Connection

The President is backing his friend, Mayor Emanuel. The big money is here...
Most recently, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel oversaw the closing of 50 public schools, many of which will be replaced by charter schools. A bulk of the 550 laid-off teachers will be replaced by Teach for America contractors, many of whom teach in charter schools.

What You Need to Know About CPS Budget Cuts
CPS finished the most recent school year with a surplus of $344 million. And then closed 50 schools and laid off thousands of teachers because they couldn’t afford them.”

Rahm’s Plan: Another 2,000 Teacher Layoffs
“The Raise Your Hand Coalition (RYH) is disgusted to learn that Chicago Public schools has laid off another 2000 teachers and staff, bringing the total number of layoffs for the year to 3500. This news lies in stark contrast to the ongoing CPS rhetoric to minimize any impact of budget cuts on the classroom. Now CPS is claiming that there will be “winners and losers.” Even if a few schools have been spared from these widespread and severe cuts, we believe that there are only losers in this scenario.

Gang expert Hagedorn warns federal judge to stop Chicago school closings

Children will die because Rahm Emanuel doesn't know how to run a city or a school system.
John told Judge John Lee that it's not a question of whether there will be shooting in neighborhoods kids must walk through. He says shootings are happening now. He adds school closings already are prompting gang Facebook postings warning students to stay away.

CPS fired my friend Xian Barrett and 2112 others.

Here's just one example of how a school system fires 3500 teachers, bus drivers, paraprofessionals and other support staff.
Why the principal called his emergency contact instead of his primary number, he isn’t sure. But when Barrett returned the message his mother relayed from his principal, he was read the script thanking him for his service — but pink-slipping him.

“The fact that there’s a script and it has in it, ‘Thank you for the service to the kids’ but no details — the fact that it’s always done this impersonally. It’s not just about firing. It’s how CPS treats their students. They’re interchangeable, and the relationships in their lives are interchangeable,” Barrett, 35, told the Sun-Times Friday. It went better, though, than the first time the district laid him off in 2010, when the principal — who also called his mother — went right into the script.

“The principal laid off my mom,” said Barrett, recipient of a prestigious and national U.S. Department of Education Teaching Fellowship, and a tenured teacher of law and of Chicago history at Gage Park on the Southwest Side. His law class typically spent Monday mornings with a triage of cases kids brought to him that friends or relatives were involved in.

Why your tax money keeps going down the TIF portal hole
As you've probably heard me mention before, if it weren't for the TIF program, more than half that money would go to the public schools—which, the mayor claims, are so broke he had to close 50 of them a few weeks ago.

The mayor sent out a press release Friday morning congratulating himself for creating the portal and claiming it "will help the city focus programs on job creation and economic development."

Right on, Mr. Mayor—jobs are good!

Alas, within hours of the good news, word broke that the mayor was firing about 2,100 CPS employees—including more than 1,000 teachers—in the latest, largest round of budget cuts. That's on top of the 600 teachers he fired last month as part of the school closings.

So much for job creation. You know, Mr. Mayor, you make it hard for anyone to be a cheerleader.

In the meantime, the mayor's moving full steam ahead on his plans to spend $55 million in property tax funds for a basketball arena for DePaul and a new hotel.
Sweet Home Chicago? Not if you have children in the public schools.


*References to charters generally imply corporate, for-profit charter schools. Quotes from other writers reflect their opinions only. See It's Important to Look in a Mirror Now and Then.


All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.


Stop the Testing Insanity!



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