|I think Dr. Seuss would be turning in his grave if he knew this sign was hanging over his books at Barnes & Noble.|
Last night, I broke my vow not to go to any more meetings so as to enjoy what's left of our beautiful summer evenings in Logan Square. But with the opening day of school approaching, there's just too much going on to sit out on the porch sipping lemonade. Instead we walked up the block to a community meeting -- one of many going on around the city -- and got another taste of the anger people are feeling over the latest round of budget cuts and teacher firings. I was glad to see Progressive Caucus Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) there, bringing us up to date on the struggle to redirect some of that $1.7 billion in TIF funds away from Rahm's corporate friends and towards public schools.
Parents and community groups are fighting to have the TIF money used as a short-term measure, and to have cuts restored and teachers and staff called back. More and more, it's looking like there will be a citywide boycott of schools to shine a light on Rahm's devastation of public education in Chicago.
The Mayor and his dwindling gaggle of loyalists are back-pedaling in the face of the mounting protests, hoping that it will be business as usual come opening day of school. But it ain't gonna happen.
Just listen and watch as a desperate Andrea Zopp on Chicago Tonight tries to downplay the chaos she and the rest of Rahm's hand-picked school board have caused with their disruptive policies.
But CTU's Kristine Mayle and former interim schools CEO Terry Mazany make her look silly as she does damage control. Kudos especially to Mayle who hands Zopp her hat and speaks truth to power.
Check out this great website, Faces of CPS layoffs, which offers up a different narrative from the one Zopp is spinning. Zopp claims that the firings of thousands of teachers and staff, including 200 lunchroom workers this week, won't be all that bad. It may be "difficult for some teachers," she concedes. But no big thing. In fact, she says, by the time school opens there may "only" be 500 teachers lost instead of thousands. They're just numbers on a sheet to her. (Ironic, isn't it? Zopp is the president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, an organization whose mission is to expand economic and educational opportunity especially for African-Americans. Like those lunchroom workers.)
Zopp claims that cuts amount to "only" $68 million net, but the group Raise Your Hand suggests schools may have lost $162 million.
Even with some expected rehires in the days right before school opens, many badly-needed arts, music and special-ed programs have been destroyed and won't be recovered. Principals won't have time to prepare and reorganize their staffs -- especially because so many principals were pulled out of their schools and forced to sit through a week of insipid retraining at the hands of $20-million man, Gary Solomon and his Supes Academy. In short, expect another year of chaos, fear, mistrust, and community resistance, starting on Day One of school and continuing through the year.
Rahm and his board have caused this chaos and disruption. Parents and community folk know that, and are taking names with elections coming up.
How many more reasons do we need to get rid of mayoral control of the schools and move to an elected school board? As Matt Farmer warned CPS top bureaucrat Tim Cawley the other day:
"We will see you in the streets," he vowed. "You will hear our voices in your sleep."