|Twenty-seven students who will enter fifth grade at receiving school, Brennemann, 4251 N. Clarendon Ave., stood along the wall behind the podium during the event, all receiving handshakes from the mayor when he entered the room. (DNAInfo)|
But the campaign so far is lackluster. For thousands of south and west side students there's little to get excited about this opening day, given the closing of their neighborhood school, the loss of their favorite teacher, destroyed special ed programs, limiting of arts and music, or maybe having to sit on a window sill or file cabinet in badly overcrowded receiving school classrooms. Or even worse, navigating their way to school across rival gang territory.
Byrd-Bennett plays the overused "research shows" gambit to make her case with the media.
“We know from all of the research, and I know from practice, that students who attend school on the first day are far more likely to attend school throughout the school year."Um, exactly what research is that, BBB?
Actually, I've got some research of my own. It goes something like this:
Research shows that when you pack kids from low-income families into overcrowded class rooms bad things happen to kids and teachers.
Research also shows that when school closings destroy badly-needed special-ed programs, which are not replaced in the receiving schools, and when those kids' IEP are violated, special-needs kids will suffer.
How about this one -- research shows that most of the students forced out of closed neighborhood schools don't benefit academically and that the closings amount to little more that a new form of urban renewal.
Finally, research shows that a longer school day and more seat time, offers no real benefit to students unless it comes along with adequate resources and top-notch programs, including arts, music, and planning time for teachers.
So whether or not there's a real benefit to kids who attend opening day, or any other day, seems to depend on what's happening in those schools, what kind of culture and climate exists, whether nor not there are skilled, highly-qualified teachers in the classrooms (as opposed to TFA 5-week wonders) and whether or not there's resources available to deliver a high quality school day to the neediest children.
Research shows. But multi-million-dollar media campaigns just won't cut it.
Matt Farmer, one of the attorneys handling the Chicago Teachers Union-backed federal lawsuit that attempts to block the district from closing 49 elementary schools and a high school program, was among many speakers who said the budget cuts, like the closings, are a direct strike against neighborhood schools.
Farmer blasted the $20 million no-bid contract awarded by the district to a leadership training academy where Byrd-Bennett was once a paid coach. He brought audience members to their feet with a call to taking their anger to the streets and to the homes of CPS officials, including Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley, who presided over the hearing.
"We will see you in the streets," he vowed. "You will hear our voices in your sleep." -- Tribune