budget, Chicago, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Reader, Chicago Sun-Times, civil disobedience, CPS School Closing Dalcy Plaza Protest, Dever Elementary School, education, Grandmaster Flash, Huffington Post, Lupe Fiasco, Mayer Emanuel, Nathan Weber, poor neighborhoods, protest, racism, Robert Emmet Elementary School, schools closing, The Message, The New York Times, under-resourced schools, underutilized
“When I look up at the people, presidents and my country, telling me violence isn’t the answer and then they seem to only be able to solve their problems around the world with violence, how do they think I’m supposed to act?”*
A few years back, when I heard that they cut down the police force in Detroit, I didn’t think I would hear public officials do something as foolish again – not once they saw the (bad) results. Unfortunately, Chicago has not yet learned from other cities’ mistakes and they’re about to do something even worse. Almost two weeks ago, it was decided that they were going to close a number of public schools in Chicago in order to save money. The New York Times reported that the Public School Officials think that “the district would save $560 million over 10 years by reducing investment in the closed buildings and cut annual operating costs by $43 million.”
54 schools will close. More than 30,000 boys and girls will be moved into the remaining schools and the class sizes will expand. 1,000 teachers will be affected as well (and their future is uncertain). Huffington Post reported that about 88% of the children who are affected by this are from black and Latino neighborhoods, which leaves some people thinking that this is a racial issue. None of the wealthy districts have to shut down any schools. Last week, people staged a large protest in the city – teachers, principals, parents, students, preachers and even those who don’t have children but who support the families and education in general.
When I told my little brother about this event, he said something that made me proud (and keep in mind that he is no older than 18): “Why do they close down so many? They should maybe just close a few and then use the money they save to improve the conditions in the schools that have it the worst.” He saw where they were coming from, but thought 54 was too much.
A kid can tell that decreasing the opportunity for someone to have a decent education is downright wrong. How come people of power – adults – cannot comprehend the possible results from their decision? Personally I believe that the city needs to pull their resources to together – meaning both money and labor – in order to boost the educational system. And it’s not enough to simply throw some cash in anyone’s direction. They need to actively participate. It will be costly, but it will help in the long run, because these children will grow up to be productive members of society if you nurture their education. If you make it harder on them, there’s a greater risk for kids dropping out, committing crimes, joining gangs, wasting their time doing nothing, and so forth.
Additionally, schools in the Chi are as overwhelmed with children and lacking resources and space already. I read in Chicago Reader that Dever Elementrary School is supposed to enroll no more than 600 students, but currently it has 830 kids and the numbers are rising. For instance:
“You walk down the hallways and you see kids sitting on the floor with their teachers,” says Tilly Tremmel, another parent. “It’s really hard to concentrate and really easy for them to get distracted.”
If you read the column in Chicago Reader, you’ll receive a clear picture showing you how wrong it would be to close schools in the Chi. It’s heartless.
The New York Times – 54 less
Huffington Post – civil disobedience
Chicago Reader – Dever
*Quote is borrowed from a column in Chicago Sun-Times, written by Wasalu Jaco (a.k.a. Lupe Fiasco). More about that in part two…
**This blog entry was written for ‘Writing for Mass Media,’ JRN202, at Central Michigan University.