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Friday, March 22, 2013

Sad Day in Education

54 Schools Closing in Chicago. That was what hit me when I woke up this morning and picked up the local paper. It had been talked about extensively for months but there it was, in black and white. What followed as I read the list of all the schools being closed was a sick feeling in my stomach. Now, some would wonder why this affects me at all. My highschool aged son is in one of the best schools in the State and my two younger sons are homeschooled. Well, I am product of that school system, and it pains me to watch how it has declined year after year. The fact that the schools being closed are in some of the poorest and most gang infested neighborhoods in the city saddens me. These students already have to walk through dangerous areas to get to school. I understand that the school system here is strapped for cash. A Billion dollars in the hole (due to mismanagement of funds for decades if you ask me).I also understand that there are a lot of schools that need to be closed to save money because they are under-utilized and in need of expensive repairs. I am just not sure closing 54 of them at the same time is the best plan. This will directly affect 30,000 students and leave 1,000 teachers without work. I can just imagine the panic in the parents that have to now figure out if their children will be safe in a new environment,with new teachers and possibly new friends. I wondered to myself if this wasn't just a way to get more students away from CPS and into the non-unionized Charter Schools that our mayor loves so dearly. But, they aren't fairing any better that the Public schools and some of them need to be closed themselves. It was stated that every student affected will be transferred to a school that is close in proximity to their former school and that is also a higher performing school. I will have to do some research on that. Because, looking at the test scores there only a handful of public schools here really doing well and they are definitely not the ones accepting these students. Let me say this. Every child deserves a good education, and for far too long Chicago's schools have basically been a system of "Haves and Have Nots". The best schools get the resources and the others don't. If you live in better neighborhoods and can test well you get a better education. If you don't test well enough to get into a "good" school, then you are subjected to exactly what they are facing now. Massive school closings, political infighting, under-informed parents, nervous students, teachers and a bad taste left in the mouths of many. To say I can't wait for my high-schooler to be done with CPS is an understatement. I hope that the "powers at be" know what their doing. Because from where I am sitting, it just seems like more empty promises being made and more students possibly falling through the cracks. I sincerely hope that is not the case this time.

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