Random thoughts. The politics of labeling schools, teachers and students.


I’m not fooled for a minute that Governor Rauner’s labeling Chicago public schools as crumbling prisons was a case of him stepping in it.

It is pure political calculation. It is the politics of labeling kids, teachers and school as failing.

The work of most teachers in CPS is masterful in the face of the real failure:  inadequate funding by the political leaders of this state.

It is not the only political failing. But I say, let’s start there.

Remember when Arne Duncan was the master of labeling kids, teachers and schools as failing?

To achieve his union-bashing turnaround agenda, Chicago is his biggest nut to crack. Chicago is a union town. And the teachers union is his fiercest opponent among the city’s unions. To achieve his strategic aim of busting the public employee unions in Illinois and Chicago, he has targeted the city itself with his talk of schools-as-prisons and bailouts – not without full knowledge of the racist implications of the tactic.

When I Tweeted yesterday that Illinois spends twice the amount of money on the state’s actual prison population as it does on the average on public schools, I was corrected. The state spends way more than that on prisons.

As a part of my retirement I have volunteered in a couple of Chicago Public Schools and visited plenty others, with my ukulele in tow.

Many are old, beautiful and warm. Others have peeling paint and do indeed suffer from crumbling infrastructure. Many are both old and warm with peeling paint.

None of what is crumbling is a reflection on the students or the teachers. It does reflect on the Governor and the state’s political leaders who want a failing public system replaced by a profit-making one.

3 Replies to “Random thoughts. The politics of labeling schools, teachers and students.”

  1. Labeling is a technique for putting power in the hands of the labelers.
    It’s a way of saying —
    (1) You are nothing until we label you.
    (2) We create your value by labeling it.
    (3) We made you and we can break you.
    In that light, it does not matter if the label is positive or negative —
    By labeling we create you, we control you, and we can destroy you.

  2. Politicians and big business have been saying these things about teachers and schools for about 15-20 years now. It was the first step in demonizing teachers so that they could get their foot in the door to strip money from schools and put it into their own pockets. That is what Pearson does. That is what Kipp and Uno and all the other charters do. That is what Gooldman-Sachs does. The list of players goes on and on. All rahm’s buddies. It is their game plan.

    It is interesting to hear this continuing drivel from someone who cheated in order to get his daughter into an elite CPS school instead of going to New Trier. It is interesting that he ignores the facts that the best high schools in the entire state are some of the elite CPS public high schools. It is also interesting that all the facts about improving student achievement in CPS in the face of CPS-mayoral controlled chaos is ignored. But then, facts have never gotten in the way of this governor.

    He is a pathetic excuse for a human being much less a governor. He is like a spoiled child who cannot get what he wants so he throws a tantrum of name-calling and lies. Who does this remind you of in today’s political garbage?

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