Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Questionable Legacy

If CPS families, teachers, and staff need further hints that Chicago's media and corporate elite are ready to make them a relic of the past, look no further than the Tribune's Thursday editorial subheading: "Let charter schools breathe life into empty CPS buildings." The editorialists seemingly believe these buildings are self-organized entities who chose to empty themselves. It's not as though CPS willfully underfunded schools and then, ahem, closed them or anything.

Today's Tribune shameless charter plug is for Legacy Charter in the North Lawndale neighborhood. The hot investment property (cha-ching!) Legacy would like to acquire is the former Pope Elementary School, located at 1852 W. Albany Ave. We're informed Legacy's possible probable expansion is, "a terrific idea for students, parents, and teachers...and the North Lawndale community." Nothing like a neighborhood being told by a bunch of non-residents what is or isn't good for them.

The Tribune describes the vacant Pope as "hollow," waiting for 500 learning children to populate it. We are to infer that no learning occurred when Pope was a public school, and the sanctimonious pearl clutchers who write today's column further this notion by quoting a central office pencil-pusher who talks about, "finding a good use for these closed schools." WCT wonders if said bureaucrat is aware the school was previously in good use as...a school. This fact is not lost on residents who WBEZ captured in an August report lamenting Pope's fate. Long a community hub, a former North Lawndale resident narrated her many family members who went there and the sense of loss she felt as Pope marched towards its inevitable shuttering.

Still, readers are exhorted to think of the "opportunity and positive change" schools like Legacy might bring to a community. As an afterthought readers are told, "any strong school" could generate this energy, too. 

Unmentioned in this unabashed endorsement of privatization is that by CPS's own measure Legacy is considered weak in the following areas: student growth, student attainment, culture & climate, and safety. WCT supposes that Legacy's hedge-fundy, corporate-y board members from Wealth Strategist Partners, Dentons, and Willis Stein & Partners make the school's meh performance acceptable because nobody knows education like the business world.

1 comment:

  1. Bill Gates, work to improve your own pathetic product and get the hell out of education…

    Much of the problem in today’s American education is the unabashed arrogance and negative influence of the business types who think that they know everything, including how to run our public schools. It's appropriate to cite the fact that 95% of American businesses go out of business within the first five years of their existence. An abysmal track record like that should never qualify the business types as “experts” in anything, especially in how to educate our children. Yet, their influence in education is unmistakable: Common Core Standards, the ubiquitous standardized testing regimen, the whole concept of punishing schools and teachers in poverty-stricken areas of rural and urban America, "No Child Left Behind", "Race to the Top" with their "free market," "tough love" approach for funding, and the charter school (corporate) movement were all ideas from the business world which resulted in the stultification and devastation of our schools. Attila, the Hun couldn't have visited more chaos and destruction on our children than these business types who claim to know everything.