Friday, May 6, 2016

No 'Grit' at Lab or Francis Parker

"What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all its children." -- John Dewey, founder of the Lab School
The latest curriculum for poor kids. 
I checked. No, there's no "Grit" curriculum being taught at the University of Chicago's Lab school or at chichi Francis Parker, the schools where Mayor Rahm Emanuel and schoools CEO Forrest Claypool send their children at upwards of $34,000 a kid.

Professor Duckworth didn't intend it for their kids. Fixing the poor is the burden of the rich, white and powerful.

According to a story in this morning's Tribune, both Rahm and Claypool were "prickly" (ah, that's the word I was looking for) when asked by a reporter about why they, who run CPS, send their children to expensive private schools.
"I've got to be honest, I don't think it's a fair question, and I'll say why," Emanuel said. "My kids go to the same school that President Obama sends his kids to school, and nobody said anything when President Obama was leading the fight for Race to the Top. I don't live in public housing, but I do fight for fairness in housing. I'm not homeless, but I do fight for resources for homelessness. So if it's only about whether I as a parent make a decision, that's not actually, it's not about my kids, it's about the kids of Chicago."
Claypool said the fact his kids attend the exclusive Francis W. Parker School in Lincoln Park is "a parental choice. It's appropriate, OK?"
I remember N.J. Gov. Christie practically chewing a parent's head off for asking the same question.

Point of fact, I and many others, blogged plenty about Obama/Duncan's so-called Race to the Top and its reproduction and reinforcement of our two-tier school system.

And what a strange analogy Rahm's making between public schools -- created for everyone-- and public housing and homeless shelters, specifically reserved for the poorest and neediest of us. It's clear that the mayor views public education as some sort of poverty agency rather than as the cornerstone of a democratic society. And therein lies his problem and ours.

Nobody I know is challenging the right of the rich and powerful to send their children to private schools. That's not the point. The point is that the corporate reformers now running public ed, including our autocratic mayor and his hand-picked CEO, don't want our kids in public schools to experience the best educational practices, now reserved for their own.

Not banned at Lab or Parker. 
Remember back in 2013 when Rahm's felonious schools chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett banned the book Persepolis from CPS libraries? I made a quick call to the Lab School librarian only to find out that Persepolis was part of the middle school curriculum and readily available to all middle school students in the Rowley Library. In fact, the middle school library has 7 different editions of Marjane Satrapi's book, both in English and in French.

In 2011, the mayor forced a longer school day and school year on resistant Chicago schools even though he had no plan for what to do with the added seat time or how to pay for it. Again, I checked with Lab only to find out that their day and year was shorter than Chicago's.

Common Core? Nothing common about Lab or Parker.

Over and improper use of standardized tests? You won't find it in Lab or Parker.

In conclusion -- the best way to learn grit is by standing up to the bullies and pretenders who think they know what's best for other people's children.


  1. Mike,

    Rahm was somewhat less diplomatic the last time he was asked the "where your kids attend school" question.

    Ask Mary Ann Ahern:

    Rahm dodged the question, and then, when the cameras were off,
    ripped into her for asking it.


    Here's Ms. Ahern's acount:

    "In fact Emanuel’s temper can get the best of him. I found out
    yesterday when I asked him a question about where his
    children would go to school, and he let his famous temper emerge.

    "(after the cameras were turned off) the Mayor of Chicago
    positioned himself inches from my face and pointed his finger
    directly at my head. He raised his voice and admonished me.

    "How dare I ask where his children would go to school!
    'You've done this before,' he said.

    "This was the Emanuel we had heard about, and it was
    one of the oddest moments in my 29 years of reporting."


  2. Terrific article, Mike. Thank you.

  3. I wonder if rahm would get inches away from a male reporter's face or point his finger in the head of a male reporter. rahm certainly has female issues. Note how he tried to treat the nurses association at the start of his first term. And how he continues to treat teachers, the majority of which are female. He is like a little trump.

    And you make an excellent point that is missed by most. rahm and forrest consider the public schools as the dumping ground for poor kids. They should see what their own children get at the private schools and use it as a blueprint for what is offered to public school children. Things like small class sizes, art, music, libraries, computer labs, counselors, nurses, and certified teachers instead of positions being filled by substitutes for the entire school year (so much cheaper and perhaps necessary due to the drastic budget cuts made by CPS). I really don't care where they send their children as long as they provide the same resources for the rest of Chicago's children. Therein lies the very nasty rub.

  4. Slightly off topic, but related: Did Forrest Claypool ever ride the "L" while he was President of the CTA? If so, how frequently? Note that photo ops don't count!

  5. Hey Mike!

    Mike Manderino (whom you may not know by name) passed on your name to me because he thought you might be willing to read something for Detention Hall.

    Detention Hall is an once monthly hour of music, comedy, storytelling, essays, and poetry, all performed by Chicagoland teachers running this summer on June 14 and August 9 at the Hideout. Here's the thing: I'm really in need of people who have something to say with a political bent to it, and Mike thought you were that people...person.

    If this sounds like something you'd be down for, let me know which show you'd be able to do and...BAM! you're in! That's how impressive you are to Mike (and how influential Mike is to me). Even if you decide performing isn't for you, please come to show. Oh yeah! and spread the word to your colleagues, and share our facebook page.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Dave Narter


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