Mike Klonsky

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sun-Times' phony support for CPS sports teams

Sun-Times says, Simeon needs the teachers strike to end sooner than the rest of the Public League 
We have to wonder, if the strike continues through the coming week, how many students this school year will score just a little lower on standardized tests, hurting their chances of getting into a top college or winning a scholarship. -- Sun-Times editorial

I expect anti-union, anti-teacher rants from the likes of Greg Hinz at Crain's or Kristen McQueary (and now Eric Zorn) at the Trib. But I must say, I flipped out after reading today's editorial in the Sun-Times, a paper owned in part by the unions, which hit too close to home.

The editorial calls on striking CTU teachers to return to work immediately or risk hurting CPS sports teams.
If the strike does not end on or before Tuesday, all 78 CPS football teams — some 2,300 kids — will not play their Week 9 games.
It's not just football. Girls tennis teams will miss their scheduled tournament and Class 2A and 3A boys soccer teams had to forfeit every game this weekend.

And the topper...
...if the strike continues through the coming week, how many students this school year will score just a little lower on standardized tests, hurting their chances of getting into a top college or winning a scholarship.
The best solution there is, stop giving them.

First, let me say that as a former CPS basketball coach and IHSA referee, I am sympathetic to the coaches and players whose games have been put on hold, just as I am with inconvenienced parents and teachers who long to be in the classroom with their kids.

But I've always thought that educators talking to their students about a teacher strike and about the whole collective-bargaining process, can provide just as authentic a learning experience on democracy than the ordinary goings-on in the school building or out on the football field for those few days.

But I still have to call B.S. at S-T's sudden phony concern for CPS sports programs. This is a newspaper that remained silent when Mayor Rahm Emanuel was slashing sports programs for all but the elite schools.

As a coach, taking my players to suburban schools, only six miles up the lakeshore, was always a lesson in class warfare. My westside kids would walk into carpeted locker rooms in suburban schools that looked like health-club spas, past fancy offices for large athletic departments, training tables where opposing players were having their ankles wrapped by professional trainers. Courtside was often a doctor or at least a skilled nurse so injuries could be treated on the spot.

These wealthy public schools all had expanded counseling services, full-time nurses, psychologists, and well-staffed libraries. Not just because it was written into their union contracts, but because these districts received two-to-three times the per/student allotment as did city schools.

Back at CPS, I was given a tiny stipend for the hours I spent each afternoon and evening after school and at games. I often came out-of-pocket for after-practice bus fare home or for a meal at McDonald's, or for new Nikes so our players wouldn't have to play in their streetwear. We asked players' parents -- often unemployed or minimum-wage workers -- to kick in for new uniforms that fit the kids. I even had to collect the unis after each game and launder them at home.

I had to purchase a $60 book on first aid, told to read it and then given an online, true-false and multiple-choice test to pass. I was then left to my own devices, with no equipment or first-aid materials (maybe ice from the kitchen) or resources to treat ankle sprains, open wounds, asthma attacks, splint broken bones, or things much more serious until the ambulance came. All this while the game was going on.

CPS has a two-tier system of highschool sports, where the gap between the haves and have-nots was noticeably widened by Rahm Emanuel. He made sure that there were always plenty of resources for elite sports schools like Simeon (see S-T's "Why Simeon needs the teachers strike to end sooner than the rest of the Public League"), Whitney Young and Phillips, but not for the rest of us.

See alsoHow did a CPS high school get in line for a $13M gym to lure a star basketball coach? All one of Rahm Emanuel’s campaign donors had to do was ask.

Sun-Times sports writers help widen the gap by covering the high school sports star system as if it were big-time college or the NBA or NFL.

On the strike line this morning.
As my readers know, I have been out on the picket line supporting the just demands of the teachers for better pay and working conditions, including nurses, social workers and librarians in every school.

I don't equate our progressive mayor with Rahm. Nor do I know what the current budget will allow for sports programs. But oh, how I wished for a full-time nurse to treat sports injuries back then.

However, we were lucky enough to have a wonderful librarian who I often sent my struggling student/athletes to for extra academic help in order to keep them eligible. Yes, we need one of those in every school as well.

Today, at a union news conference, CPS sports coaches talked about the need for higher stipends, better staffing, facilities and busing for sports programs. That's something worth fighting for, during the strike and after. I'm out of the game now, but I hope they get them.

I also hope the Sun-Times editorial board members get their heads out of their rear ends. 

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