Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chicago school closings are all about a political power trip, nothing more

There is nothing concerning the quality of education involved in the proposal to close several dozen school buildings in the Chicago Public Schools system.

EMANUEL: A school board power-play
It’s all about political power. The Board of Education is trying to reassert its control over the system. And since that board is controlled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, he is the one who stands to gain from this.

OR LOSE. BIG time!

Closing down 56 schools would give Emanuel interests significant control over the teachers’ union – what with the fact that it creates a body of unemployed teachers who might want to shift to other schools.

And the fact that officials this week said they were going to “spare” four of those 56 schools -- and in the end voted to close only 49 elementary schools immediately? It means those people who work at Marcus Garvey, Mahalia Jackson, Leif Ericson and George Manierre and the other schools that got spared are now supposed to feel relieved.

As though the almighty Rahm is their savior. Their jobs are spared. Their livelihoods (for the time being) will continue.

PERHAPS HE THINKS they now owe him some sort of tribute for letting them keep their jobs at schools that are economically deprived and struggling in so many ways.

That may sound cold-hearted. But it particularly describes the George Manierre school on the Near North Side. Which is being kept open because of concerns that the students there being mixed with those at the nearby Jenner School would provoke some serious street gang tensions.

As though the gangs now dictate school policies. The fact that such a statement has a bearing of truth to it is more pathetic than anything else that comes out of this whole school closing fiasco.

Even worse than the fact that I have always thought the whole issue was pathetic because it involved people having to fight to preserve schools that were struggling and perhaps ought to be shuttered.

IT TOOK ADVANTAGE of the fact that some people in our city have so little in their lives that they feel compelled to cling to what they have – even if what they have is old and decrepit and worn out.

When our officials ought to be trying to figure out ways to give those residents something better, we’re instead putting them into positions where they feel they have to be thankful for what scraps they have.

I’m sure some people will try to turn this statement into some sort of greedy viewpoint – inner-city residents wishing they could have more. But it isn’t!

There are certain things that all Chicagoans ought to have some access to. If they choose not to take advantage of them, then that is their loss.

BUT MAKING THEM go all out fighting to keep inferior neighborhood schools is something sad.

All of this was supposed to be settled on Wednesday, when the Board of Education was to give final approval on the great school closings plan that has been in the news for months.

It’s all about people being put in positions where they are supposed to feel like the school board and Emanuel are doing them favors if, by chance, there was a last-minute decision to spare another school or two from the symbolic chopping block.

It has me wondering how long the backlash to all of this will linger. It is exactly the kind of issue that could cause a stink come the 2015 municipal election cycle.

THE ONLY REAL trick is if there is anyone out there who could feed off it enough to run a credible campaign to challenge Rahm.

There probably isn’t. Which is why Emanuel thinks he can get away with this kind of a political power play involving the public schools.


No comments: