Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Don't wade in the water, children.

"We'll spend whatever it takes to remove any devices or any piping that might pose lead hazard risk. Whatever that is, however much it costs, we will do it to make sure that our water pipes are safe and that our children, your children, are safe." --  Forrest Claypool
Claypool sounds like a guy trying to get out of a bad marriage after he's been caught cheating.

Lots of questions here. What does he mean, "whatever it takes"? What if it takes billions, like in Flint for example? I mean, we're only beginning to get a handle on the problem. Right? And why is that?

Every day, the number of schools found with leaded water grows. CPS is still awaiting test results from dozens of buildings but has disclosed that at least 27 28 schools have dangerous levels of lead in their water fountains.

Does Claypool have some unlimited mountain of money stashed somewhere that he's not telling us about? I thought the system was "broke". At least that's what he's been telling the CTU as an excuse for not settling contract negotiations with the union.

Does "whatever it takes" include making things right for the potentially tens of thousands of students, former students, and teachers who have drunk from those toxic fountains for years?

And finally, how can parents trust that current and past lead testing is on the up and up? The Guardian names Chicago as one of 33 U.S. cities that have used water testing “cheats” that potentially conceal dangerous levels of lead. It seems that the mayor's  water department testers have been using the same water testing methods that prompted criminal charges against three government employees in Flint. In one case, Chicago officials asked employees to test water safety in their own homes.

It's enough to make you wonder why Claypool brought over Jason Kierna, one of his cronies from the CTA, with no school building experience, to run the facilities department.

It also makes me wonder why State Senator Heather Steans suddenly rode in on her white horse last week to sponsor a new water-testing bill. Where has she and her bill been all these years?

Steans, who is exploring a run for governor, is right when she says:
“We know that exposure to lead can cause developmental delays, learning disabilities and many other significant health problems, and young children in low-income and predominantly minority neighborhoods are most at risk. That’s unacceptable. By mandating rigorous testing of water systems and communicating openly with the public, we can prevent our cities and towns from becoming another Flint – a community where children were poisoned unawares.”
But hasn't this horse already left the barn? Could lead poisoning be one of the causes of the so-called "achievement gap" in our test-crazy school system? The Steans testing bill, even if passed and signed by the governor, won't "prevent" anything for those like my former basketball players who guzzled water at practice from those fountains for years or for all those summer school students, going back decades, who tried to stay hydrated in 100-degree buildings with no A/C.

Steans claims that until her bill is passed, CPS is under no legal obligation to do lead testing. Who does she think she's protecting here? Does she really expect angry parents to buy the excuse that lead testing didn't go on, or that Chicago cheated on testing, because there was no legislation mandating it?

Do you think Claypool is at all worried about leaded water at Francis Parker, where where he sends his children?

No, this isn't just about  removing or fixing some water pipes. It's about trying to restore faith in the leadership of a school system that seems more concerned with political ass-covering than in the safety and well-being of other people's children.

Have we learned nothing from Flint?


  1. Does a society have a moral obligation to provide clean water to children?

    Abigail Shure

  2. A moral obligation and a legal one. After all, we are paying the bill at extremely high rates, for potable water. Not lead juice for our kids.

  3. Lead exposure can cause a myriad of problems for children that are irreversible, including lower IQ's, hearing loss, reduced attention span, learning disabilities, and possibly death. According to the CDC once lead is ingested it is absorbed quickly and efficiently into children's bodies - more so than in adults. Lead toxicity on the health & development of children is truly alarming, especially since elected officials and private water suppliers have known for decades of its danger.

    Lead exposure is entirely preventable. Lead poisoning is preventable only if all water and water delivery mechanisms are tested regularly and from many different sources. Those agencies in government tasked with oversight have not been permitted to do their jobs thanks to legislators who hamstring them, who privatize the agency's services, and governors who staff agencies with incompetent cronies. That's what deregulation means. The unfortunate reality is that the general public assumes someone in government is there to protect them.

    The time to act is now. When will safe drinking water be considered too "big" to fail?

  4. I am beginning to wonder how many children from poverty-level schools actually have been suffering from elevated lead levels through exposure at CPS?


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.