A couple of weeks ago, I attended a Chicago Public Schools school closing meeting. It appears that several schools are “under-utilized,” and are extremely expensive to operate. To reduce expenses and provide quality programs, several schools are slated for closing. Admittedly, I am not a parent, but I, my siblings and nephew attended and graduated from one of these 190 schools slated for closing. My niece currently attends the same school as we did. As in previous meetings, things got pretty heated, but people were generally respectful. Copious notes were taken, and the audience was assured that their concerns would be taken into consideration.
I could end the description of the meeting here, and expound on just that aspect. While the issue of safety was voiced repeatedly, I have to say I was impressed with some of the comments of the attendees, myself notwithstanding.
One gentleman spoke of going to the legislature to alter how money is collected (i.e., tax incremental funding) and disseminated for CPS. Good point; not a new concept. A woman asked what happened to the money CPS was supposed to receive from lottery winners, which had me snickering. Why? I remember that grandiose lie as a former CPS teacher. The schools never saw that money. Never, not ever.
Ah, but it got better. we had breakout sessions, where a report was placed on an overhead projector, with print so small, no one, including some of the presenters could read it. Ha! Our new chief of schools said some CPS schools are completely outdated; we still have blackboards, unlike the Atlanta Public Schools, from which he hails. As a side note, the document that was passed out with the list of schools slated for closing had several charter schools, most, according to the list are deemed efficient. I was going to write an extended piece on how CPS has insulted the intelligence of the many stakeholders involved. Instead, I’ll write this like a top 10 list. Let me know what you think.
CPS in Another Fine Mess
10. Hosts meetings, but gives the incorrect address (Deceptive, perhaps?).
9. Promises no charter schools will result from the closings (Once property is sold, it can’t
be controlled what happens to it).
8. Metrics used to described “under-utilization” tends to be creative (In other words, no
one else does it this way.)
7. Money allegedly saved is going to fund all the things students in the top schools in the
city already get, by virtue of their socioeconomic status.
6. Hires top school leaders with no vested interest in the teachers or students (Hint: The
Outsiders. I read this book in a CPS high school English class; how appropriate).
5. Wants to retain good teachers by closing schools and firing them (Only the strong
will retain employment).
4. Touts safety of children by sending them across gang territories to get to school
(I’ve seen enough balloons and stuffed animals on street corners).
3. Forgets that we know the one sure way expenditures are reduced is to eliminate
salaries (I had to say it another way; that’s what educators do).
2. Gave the public an alternate way to spell r-a-t; R-A-H-M.
1. Thinks the rest of us actually trust what CPS says as being truthful.