by Don Washington on 2012/02/24
“The privatization of the public school system is such a radical idea that it must be gradually done.” – Milton Friedman
Almost a year from the day his campaign investors purchased the office of Mayor of Chicago for Rahm Emanuel he delivered a substantial return on their venture capital down payment in the form of a substantial slice of the CPS budget and total control of the CPS Board to hand out almost ALL of that budget. Dropping $12 million private dollars into a campaign to get a fat $5.1 billion dollar budget in public dollars is the kind of piracy common to Wall Street bankers, Pay Day Lenders and Private Equity Privateers. This describes the leadership of the CPS Board; Penny Pritzker, David Vitale and Tim Cawley; powers Rahm Emanuel’s Marmoset Machine’s political operations and from where and defines the billionaire “school reformer philanthropists” like Martin Klondyke.
The 7-0 vote to close Guggenheim, Price, Lathrop and Reed elementary schools and Best Practice, Crane and Dyett high schools was not about ignoring the will of the activists, parents and students or about the struggle between CPS and the community. It’s bigger than that. The 7-0 vote to “turn around” Casals, Fuller, Herzl, Marquette, Piccolo, Stagg, Wendell Smith and Woodson South elementary schools, plus Chicago Vocational and Tilden high schools has nothing to do with improving public schools or delivering quality education to children. It’s about opening markets for trusted friends not educating anyone.
The brilliant minds that are David Vitale and Jesse Ruiz, men whose professional lives are nexus points of corporate greed, crony capitalism, have naught to do with anything educational. There are pet rocks who know more about matters educational than these two men, Penny Pritzker, Rahm Emanuel or J.C. Brizard. What they do know about is profit and not just any kind of profit the kind of profit that has wrecked and is continuing to wreck our economy. They know about things like credit default swaps, derivatives, mortgaged backed securities, managing assets from bankruptcy estates, leveraged buyouts, the corporate side of labor law, mergers and acquisitions… the worst kinds of people crushing, casino capitalism.
The 7-0 vote when looked at through the lens of education makes no sense at all. Giving the AUSL control of any school with the expectation that it is going to educate children is like wrapping yourself in a steak and expecting starving wolverines are not going to eat you… it’s not gonna happen. The 7-0 vote when looked at through the lens of a corporate raider laying hold of valuable public assets it makes a kind of fundamental law of physics sense. Water’s wet, objects fall at the same rate of speed and the financial sector wants control of any source of money it can funnel into any scheme to create profit. You can look for altruism all you want in the tiny hearts that comprise the corporate reformers who have done real damage to the life chances of poor children all over Chicago than Godzilla has done to Tokyo.
This is nothing more than a high-end robbery. All the discussion around test scores, data driven analysis, merit pay, top down control of schools, dress codes, zero-tolerance, push out rates, dropout rates and teacher tenure are the equivalent of ninja dust to blind us while these people secure a $5.1 billion dollar market. This market, like all markets run by people who value profits over the welfare of people or the delivery of a service, will cut costs and corners and will seek to drive down overhead to increase returns. We already know what that’s going to mean. There will be students who will be pushed out of the system to boost test scores. Every effort you can imagine will be used to eliminate unions and drive down teacher wages. There will be overcrowding in the remaining schools that have to take the students that are pushed out. There will be more school closings and more transfers of schools to privately run held “non-profit” entities because that’s the mechanism that moves piles of money from the public coffers into the private silk-lined pockets of men like Martin Klondyke.
When Rahm says it’s hard to watch kids captured in a system that is failing is hard he’s not lying he’s just misspeaking. What he meant to say is that it’s hard to watch kids captured in a system that is failing that no one is making money from. I know that when I say these things people respond with nonsense like AUSL is a non-profit organization or charter schools are public schools but nothing they are doing has been proven to improve schools. The best performing schools in Chicago, America and the world have unionized teachers, parental/community involvement, smaller class-sizes to make more supportive, personalized and relevant learning possible, teacher development/enrichment, adequate equipment, student/educator resources and infrastructure like libraries and clean facilities.
It’s not rocket science but it costs money to sustain, support and maintain that kind of system. And why should you when it’s so much easier to blame teachers for not being able to overcome the ravages of poverty, racism and income disparity? I mean, why actually do the hard work and make the real investment it would take to restore our school system when it’s easier to starve public schools of resources and give them their competitors? The obvious answer is that education is not on the minds of the powers that be… and how could it be when there’s $5.1 billion dollars in public resources to put in the hands of Wall Street bankers? I mean it’s only fair that they should be paid to educate the very children their economic system is rigged to create, right?