by Don Washington on 2012/04/10
One thing you can always count on is that most parents will move mountains to protect, support and secure opportunities for their children. The Chicago Parents for Quality Education (CPQE) are such a group. Yesterday they released a white paper called: The Best Education of the Just the Longest. Clearly not a great step forward in marketing but so incredibly clear and spot on you know that that the Emanuel Administration and the editorial board at the Chicago Tribune could not possibly have understood it as it was written in a language they do not understand… truth.
The white paper gets at what anyone not motivated by corporate greed or in possession of the reasoning skills of a very drunken monkey instinctively knows about education, more and quality are two different things. That before you do more of anything you should know that whatever you’re doing is actually effective. The CPQE lays out what the Mayor Emanuel has to already know about his misguided public policy. It does so with the kind of crystal clear intensity that only someone with a real dog in the fight or in this case, the education of their children.
The paper points out that CPS lacks the resources to even support the hours of operations it already has because it faces a floating deficit of between $600 to $700 million dollars. The fact that CPS doesn’t actually know what that number is should tell you a great deal about how good they are at anything but that’s another story for another day. The CPQE makes it clear that cutting resources in a resource starved system to stretch them even thinner isn’t just borrowing from Peter to pay Paul or doing more with less; it’s making children and teachers into a shared sacrifice. A school system that lacks libraries, social workers, school nurses and decent facilities needs a lot of things before it starts expands. This is a little like running a marathon right before heart surgery. You know, a bad idea with terrible but predictable consequences. The white paper also points out what is already missing from a quality education, (You know things like physical education, arts education, recess, social studies, civics… yes I said civics and applied technology to name a few.) and so expanding the inadequate is clearly cause to doubt a policy maker’s sanity.
What all of us with or without children should be paying attention to here is that the CPQE is the proper reaction to an Administration and City Council that is not interested in listening to them or their concerns. The CPQE isn’t just railing against the Emanuel Administration like they are a collection of vampires, no they are getting together and crafting solutions drawn from actual knowledge and functioning public policy. They are also not just sitting back and complaining as if nothing matters they are getting directly involved in the hard parts of democracy: information, education, challenge, accountability, action and conflict. The world does not get better by complaining and voting or choosing not to complain or vote it gets better by engagement and confrontation.
Power accedes nothing to the powerless and the CPQE is building power. Its membership spans the city crossing the barriers of class and race that many aldermen and definitely Mayor Emanuel count on to keep us divided and them comfortably able to ignore the concerns of ordinary people. The CPQE understands its issue and translates it to the public in plain English. CPS already doesn’t provide adequate service in many cases and until it addresses its systematic short comings and comes up with more resources it has no business expanding anything. Finally research demonstrates that everything they are telling you is at best inconclusive guess work and at worst a pack of straight up fabrication and lies. The CPQE is another reaction of the body politic to a sickness in our political system. I think of them as anti-bodies to deadly public policy pathogens and the city needs more groups like it on more subject than just education.
One of the most alarming things about common sense to people like our Mayor and his campaign investors is that it exposes chicanery and rank dishonesty in a way that causes them to go into barely ethical and borderline illegal behavior almost immediately. You remember using CPS contractors, to hire homeless folks, to stand up for their questionable public schools agenda; while preventing activists without children from entering public meetings. In fact Mr. Brizard is already out “astro-turfing” the longer school day with parents who are desperate and susceptible to the snake oil he and Mayor Emanuel know they are selling them. You wait and see how many of them will be on hand to say great things abou this revolutionary idea. Expect the Emanuel Administration to do everything in its power to pry the CPQE and its member organizations apart and if you have a kid in a CPS school or care about education get off the bench and get into the fight alongside them. Good work so far Chicago Parents for Quality Education, you are Champions of the City and we sure as hell need you because as my grandmother said: “We’re all in this together, whether we know it or not.”