by Don Washington on 2012/09/15
Mayor Emanuel is not interested in finding, providing or protecting adequate resources for Chicago school children. I can say this because as I’ve discovered and CPS admits it doesn’t have enough money to hire the adequate minimum number of teachers, counselors, social workers, psychologists, school nurses and I could go on but you get the point. CPS doesn’t have enough money to provide text books, materials and equipment for every kid in every class in CPS and it doesn’t have enough money to heat, cool clean or keep ceilings from falling on the heads of every child in every building that CPS owns. I know this because we are in a strike and his supporters reveal his values.
A day after the strike GOP Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney came out in support of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and against adequate resources for Chicago school children. They share a vision of a school system that reflects the market values of a school system designed to turn out consumers for a market system not citizens for a functioning democracy. I know this because neither one of them is interested in having a fully-funded and adequately resourced public school system but are willing to pour millions and perhaps even billions of guaranteed public dollars into the bottomless, private, corporate pockets. Where Mittens and Mayor Marmoset 1% intersect is a convergence of interests that is devoid of ethics.
What brings the two of them together is a worldview where moral bankruptcy meets political expediency and corporate greed. This is not about “reforming” public schools; it’s about destroying them and replacing them with something that defines the end of quality accessible education. The world Mr. Romney and Mayor Emanuel want is one where kids with disabilities are ignored, schools are more segregated than they were before 1954 and poor and the middle class parents subsidize the private school tuitions of wealthy families. They are in favor of a world where low-income children are trapped in under resourced and defunded public schools, while businessmen make piles of money from taxpayers to support a system that writes off larger and larger percentages of the children in the these systems. There is a convergence of interests that calls all minions of organized money to defend the looting of the public trust.
Famously Mayor Emanuel could care less about twenty-five percent of all the school kids in Chicago but what Mayor Emanuel and Mitt Romney do agree on is money. Charter schools are an investment worth millions… possibly billions. Some of our Mayor’s best friends and campaign investors are up to their fat money clips in profiteering. What these people and I use that word loosely see, is an endless market worth hundreds of millions in investment opportunities. After all we know all know how Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase are more interested the welfare of children than making more money than the CME Group could steal or lose in a day and that’s saying something. There is a convergence of interests that places the wants of immeasurably wealthy investors over the needs of poor and middle class school children and the society the investor class both feeds on and is made possible by.
It not surprising that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Mitt Romney would be on the side of Mammon; after all both of these men have built their careers and personal fortunes on profiting from either participating in vulture capitalism or being rewarded for making it possible. It’s equally unsurprising that thirty-three of our stalwart Aldermen are tripping over each other to audition for those same bottomless pockets. That might sound cynical, couldn’t they just be worried about kids and getting them back to school? Sure, Maldonado is one of those guys who doesn’t understand enough about how money works or what the issues are to get hoodwinked into signing on to said letter. But I refuse to believe that a guy as smart “progressive” Ald. Joe Moreno is an idiot who is unaware the actual stakes of this strike and the ramifications of charter expansion. It is a convergence of interests that redefines cynical when men like Ald. Joe Moreno and Ald. Joe Moore are for charters and against fully funding public schools.
As bad as all of the above is for the fate and future of public education, one of the cornerstones of a functioning democracy there is no curse in English, Elvish or Klingon for what the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times did, taking sides against the concept of public education and hiding behind children as they did so a whole two days into the strike. Classy move that, but the fact that our media friends are no longer even pretending to fairly cover the most important political, economic and moral event in 21st century Chicago, should not be lost on you. I have media friends, that I respect who will bridle at this and say that the editorial page is not indicative of their coverage and here’s the point… I want to believe them and I believe they believe such is the case but when the editors who decide the content of the pages of the paper openly declare their disdain for public education and gleefully predict its demise… what the reporters believe to be true is hardly relevant. It would be one thing if corporate school reform actually worked but since it does not work it is a convergence of interests that shames the Devil that thinking people continue to support such a discredited set of public policies.
Here is the long and short of it. We live in a country where an informed and educated populace is the key to a free, civil and functioning society. Here, in this country critically thinking citizens are essential to running a society that protects the shared interests of the commons against the selfish greed of market-driven individuals. We exist at a time when the First Amendment should be informing the public debate to help the public access the powerful not siding with the powerful to define and explain the new limits of the public’s capacity to protect the commons. But instead we’re here, at a point in time where a moneyed elite has transformed our political system into a weapon to steal resources from children in present and democracy in the future while the media cheers the whole sorry process on. It’s a convergence of interests that could be the death knell of democracy and certainly is a challenge to all people of democratic values and good heart. The arc of the universe bends towards justice because there is a convergence of interests that believes in a more just society and we are them.