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.