Why Isn't Closing 129 Chicago Public Schools National News?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

It's an obvious question, with an easy answer. Our nation's bipartisan political elite have decided to privatize public education. They know the only way they can execute this deeply unpopular policy is to do it on the down-low, with a minimum of coverage, and no mention of the p-word, especially of growing civic resistance to it.

Why Isn't Closing 129 Chicago Public Schools National News?

A Black Agenda Radio Commentary by Bruce A. Dixon

If you don't live in Chicago you might not know that the CEO and the dozens of other six figure a year mayoral cronies who run the Chicago Public Schools want to close 129 public schools this year, more than a third of the city's total. It's not national news for the same reason that closing 40 public schools in Philadelphia last year wasn't national news, and massive school closings in the poorer neighborhoods of cities across the country is not news either.

It's not news because school closings and school privatization, the end game of the bipartisan policies the Obama administration, Wall Street, the US Chamber of Commerce, a host of right wing foundations and deep pockets and hordes of politicians in both parties from the president down are pushing down the throats of communities across the country, are deeply unpopular. The American people, and especially the parents, teachers, grandparents, and other residents of poorer neighborhoods where closings and privatization are happening emphatically don't want these things.

Even the word describing their policy, “privatization” is so vastly unpopular that they've taken it out of circulation altogether. The best way, our leaders imagine, to contain and curtail resistance to their deeply unpopular policies is to avoid naming them for what they are, to keep them on the down low, to not report on their implementation, and certainly to not cover any civic resistance to them.

Local elites in each city and school district concoct real or imaginary “crises” to which the solution is always firing more experienced teachers, hiring more temps in their place, instituting more high-stakes testing, closing more public schools and substituting more unaccountable (and often profitable) charter schools, frequently in the same buildings that once housed public schools. In Chicago the “crisis” is precipitated every year when the CPS (that's Chicago Public Schools – Chicago's never had an elected school board, they're all mayoral appointees) honchos announce the schools are in a billion dollar hole. The Chicago Teachers Union of course, took a look over the same books and revealed that despite the host of top $100,000 a year officials whose jobs never seem to be cut, the system was nine figures in the black, not ten in the red. Naturally, local and national media didn't report that either.

Chicago's teachers have done what those in New York, Houston, Dallas, L.A. and others have not, and spent their union dues funding outreach and collaboration with parents across the city, so neighborhood hearings on the school closings are packed to overflowing with outraged parents, indignant local business people, angry teachers and concerned students. If CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News gave the school closings and privatization story a fraction of the coverage they gave deceptive and dishonest pro-privatization movies like Waiting For Superman and Won't Back Down, the outrage against the move to privatize education would be unstoppable. The most coverage the wave of school closings have received lately was a misleading segment on Melissa Harris-Perry's weekly TV show on whether school closings were “racist” or not, with no examination of the how or why they happen or the growing resistance to them.

Oceans of ink and hot air have been expended claiming that “social media” would somehow take up the slack created by the disappearance of local news gathering organizations, and how these things can somehow fuel and sustain a wave of public outrage that can topple unjust authority and make the will of the people felt. But when it comes to the war of our elite waged to privatize public education, we haven't seen it yet.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Bruce Dixon. Find us on the web at www.blackagendareport.com.

Bruce A. Dixon is managing editor at Black Agenda Report. A longtime Chicagoan, he now lives in exile near Marietta GA, where he is a state committee member of the Georgia Green party and a partner in a tech firm. Contact him via this site's contact page, or at bruce.dixon(at)blackagendareport.com.



Wrong Word

Capitalism- That's the correct word.

Thanks BAR.

A word I like better

Although privatization is a word they now avoid, profitization is a word that better describes the ultimate goal. It's always about the money for them. Once the schools are "profitized", they will suddenly find lots of public money to fund their private schools.

Why Didn't You See This Coming

Lets take a second to realize how much money the Teachers strike cost the city.  Lets also consider all the benefits they will be receiving with non existent money: no healthcare increase (I don't even get healthcare at my job), must hire 600 teachers, pay increases & pension increases across the board.

Illinois, Chicago especial, is bankrupt and hemorrhaging money.  Of course there will be school closing because we now have the pay the teachers more of something we don't have.  

This is not a surprise nor is it an outrage.  

Teacher's Strike NOT Real Reason CPS is Closing 130 Schools

CPS has been closing schools in Chicago yrs before last yr's teachers strike & most of these schools scheduled to close this yr were already targeted for closing BEFORE last yr's teachers strike. Note these Reports: [The Chicago Tribune, Feb 16 2010: List of Chicago schools targeted for closing, overhaul under review - Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman is reviewing whether to reduce a list of 14 schools slated for closing or overhaul {See: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-02-16/news/ct-met-school-closing... } -&- CBS-News CHICAGO, 02/22/12: Members of the Chicago Board of Education voted on Feb. 22, 2012, to close seven public schools and impose “turnaround” plans at 10 others, meaning the staffs of those schools will be fired and replaced, but students will stay. This decision was made despite vehement objections from many parents, teachers and community members... [email protected]http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2012/02/22/parents-teachers-to-school-board-...} -&- The Chicago Tribune, Sept 11, 2012: Mayor's plan to close schools fuels union fears during teachers strikeEmanuel's administration would close 80 to 120 public schools and open many charter schools, sources say: Mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration is planing to close 80 to 120 public schools on the city's South and West Sides [= schools in Chicago's Black & Latino communities], bolstering concerns by striking Chicago teachers that more union jobs will be lost in an accelerating shift toward privately run charter schools... {http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-09-11/news/ct-met-teachers-strik... } -&- The Chicgo Sun-Times Sept 19, 2012- CPS Must Come Clean on School Closings: There are endless reasons why Chicago teachers say they went on strike. Pay, charter school growth, unfair evaluations, teacher recall, the over-use of standardized tests, the “privatization” of public education, poor teaching and learning conditions, anger toward Mayor Rahm Emanuel... But no reason was more pressing than the prospect of mass school closings in this city. The issue of school closings “undergirds just about everything,”... 'with as many 200 schools on the chopping block..'  says CTU Pres Karen Lewis. The Sun-Times has reported rumors of as many as 100 school closings, while the Chicago Tribune cites sources saying 80 to 120 schools will be targeted on the South and West Sides,,, City and schools officials adamantly deny these estimates, but refuse to offer a firm number...{IE: THEY LIED!]

These articles prove that your premise is wrong. One of the main reasons for last yr's teachers' strike was because of CPS' plan, already on the books, for massive closings of these 130 schools in mainly Black & Latino communities, NOT vice-versa [IE: the main reason CPS is closing all these schools is due to a modest hike in teachers' pay- IS FALSE].

FYI: This plan for massive CPS school closings comes straight out of  Obama's Sec of ED Arne Duncan's [& Obama's ex-chief of staff Mayor Rahmbo, & Duncan's predecessor as CPS 'CEO', now New Orleans School Chief, Paul Vallas'] RTTT play-book [= Milton's Friedman's Disaster Capitalism play-book]. FYI: Obama's Sec of ED Arne Duncan, made turn-arounds [= firing all teachers & staff &/or closing so-called 'failing' schools] a main-stay during his tenure as CPS' so-called 'CEO' [PS: Duncan wasn't even qualified to head CPS- he has NO formal training in education NOR Any classroom experience- at best he's only qualified to be a Jr Hi basketball coach / PE teacher]. 


PS-2: Surprise Surprise- 90% of the schools on Mayor Rahmbo {s}Hit-List are in Black communities & most of the rest are in Hispanic communities. IMO Rahmbo's regime doubled down on this decision when the teachers went on strike -BUT- He was planning massive school closing anyway- strike or no strike! IMO the teachers should strike again by the spring break, but this time refuse to return till Rahmbo & his ilk publicly rescind this plan for massive school closings!