If only CPS critics actually had their children enrolled there – Chicago Tribune
I wish the leaders spouting off about Chicago Public Schools had kids enrolled there.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s kids attend University of Chicago’s Laboratory Schools. CPS Chief Executive Forrest Claypool‘s kids go to Francis W. Parker in Lincoln Park. Gov. Bruce Rauner’s six kids are grown.
Which isn’t to say they don’t have skin in the game.
Even if they weren’t politicians, they’d have a serious stake in the future success (or failure) of the children in school today — public or private, city or suburban. We all do. They will grow up to be the doctors and nurses we trust with our health, the teachers we trust with our children, the first responders we trust with our safety, the engineers we trust with our dwellings. And so on.
But I wish these leaders weren’t dealing in abstractions. I wish CPS wasn’t, to them, just a failing behemoth.
I wish they were getting the sort of emails I get from my kids’ elementary school each week.
The emails urging us to pledge big for the upcoming Boosterthon, where kids earn money for running laps around the gym; this year we’re hoping to fund laptops for the school’s 12 middle school classrooms. The emails thanking us for our fall fundraising, which allowed volunteers to paint the school’s hallways and bathrooms over winter break.
But also, far more important, the notes that make us a community.
The weekly updates about the girls basketball games and the eighth-graders’ upcoming trip to Washington, D.C. The announcement about Beta Club’s bake sale to help fight human trafficking, and the invitation to enroll our kids in knitting club, run by the school’s delightful librarian.
The notes like the one I just received from my son’s first-grade teacher, letting us know about two February field trips to nearby museums and Friday’s equally exciting jaunt to the neighboring kindergarten classroom for “read aloud like an expert.”
“We will be showing off our fantastic reading skills to the kindergartners this Friday!” she wrote. “Ask your child to show you some of the strategies and habits they’re practicing to read aloud like an expert. A few include marking important parts, explaining key words and adding feeling to our reading.”
Reading, I might add, is something my son had zero interest in before this lovely teacher (and the aforementioned librarian) came into his life. That he now happily considers himself an expert brings tears to my eyes.
I wish these leaders were dropping their kids at Kiss ‘n’ Go in the morning, where parent volunteers stand outside in subzero temperatures, torrential downpours, blazing heat, you name it, to help little bodies out of their parents’ cars and into their school buildings.
I wish they were dropping them off on the morning last year when the Kiss ‘n’ Go volunteers were replaced by school administrators handing out bagels and coffee to all of the parents. Parent Appreciation Day, they called it.
I wish the leaders saw this stuff. I wish they saw the successes. I wish they saw the tireless dedication and the bone-deep desire for a bright future that drives the teachers, the parents, the kids.
Maybe it wouldn’t make a difference. We’re broke — as a state, as a city, as a school district. Bills are past due, and we have no money to pay them. Something — a lot of things — have to give.
Maybe, though, it would change the rhetoric a bit.
Maybe Rauner and Emanuel would pause before launching into the hissy fits that sound more like siblings explaining a broken lamp — “He threw the ball!” “He was supposed to catch it!” “You threw it too high!” “You suck at catching!” “You suck at throwing!” “You suck at everything!” “You suck worse!” — than grown-ups trusted to serve their constituents.
Maybe Rauner and his ilk wouldn’t be so quick to push for bankruptcy, which spells certain doom, according to those in the know.
“I think everyone looking at (bankruptcy) definitely sees it as a last resort, because they could dramatically lower teacher pay,” Mike Griffith, a school finance strategist with the Education Commission of the States, told the Tribune. “They could force you to close a lot of schools, to sell those buildings, to do many steps that people would be reluctant to do.”
Particularly, I think, if they had a better idea who they were doing it to.