Thursday, June 9, 2016

No, Gov.Rauner. Schools are not 'crumbling prisons'. But they are in big trouble.

When asked by reporters to name any ‘Crumbling’ CPS schools he’s visited, he couldn't come up with one.
Gov. Rauner is delusional if he thinks equating Chicago's public schools with "crumbling prisons" is a political winner for him. He has succeeded only in uniting forces, from classroom teachers to parents, unions, Rahm/Claypool and Dem machine pols, AGAINST HIM. The same forces that a year ago were at war against each other.

#Notaprison tweets have gone viral with hundreds of snapshots and positive stories of great teaching by great teachers and wonderful learning opportunities for city kids, despite old, dirty, worn out, and toxic facilities in which teacher/learning take place. Chicago teachers are responsible for the many gains that have been reported (some exaggerated for political purposes) in measurable learning outcomes.

Most recently, for example, we learned that it's the neighborhood schools (not charters), as run-down as many of them are, that have been driving increased graduation rates.

And all these great achievements by students and educators, are now being threatened as Rauner holds school budgets hostage for the past year.

When pushed by reporters to name even one school he visited that was like a "crumbling prison", Rauner couldn't come up with one. How could he? He's more familiar with elite selective-enrollment schools like Walter Payton H.S., the school he clouted his own daughter into, with the help of Arne Duncan. Payton certainly is no crumbling prison.

As we pull together in opposition to our sociopath governor, let's not lose sight of the fact that there are still two tiers of public schools in Chicago, by design, and that many of our schools, serving the neediest children and families are  crumbling and badly in need of repair. Code violations, peeling paint (some of it lead-based), health code violations, fire alarms that don't work... these are just a few of the problems facing schools in the city's poorest neighborhoods.

Let's not forget also how building maintenance and repairs were neglected for years at schools targeted by the board for closing.

Many others are blighted, and strewn with trash as a result of the privatization of the custodial force.

Lead has just been found in the drinking water at a dozen more schools, even while Chicago's whole water testing system is being called out for cheating.

I could go on.

CEO Forrest Claypool is now threatening possible 40% cuts in school budgets and there is a strong possibility that schools may not open in time in the fall. He's used the threat of cuts to attack the CTU and force concessions from teachers in the ongoing contract negotiations.

Rauner is the main enemy of public education in the state and his school=prison demagogy is aimed at playing off suburban and downstate school districts against Chicago and out maneuvering his rival, Mike Madigan. He's even calling adequate school funding a "bailout" (as if Rauner was ever opposed to corporate bailouts). But let's not prettify the horrid conditions that exist in many neighborhood schools.

Fighting Rauner can't mean taking the heat off of Rahm Emanuel and his hand-picked board of education, who are using austerity as a rationale to gut schools, privatize operations, and debase teachers and their union.

Let's fight for our schools with two fists. Not just one.

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