It’s Dire Straits For Chicago Public Schools

by Yesha Callahan

It's Dire Straits For Chicago Public Schools- 61 Set To Close

Over the last year, people have asked the question, “How do you fix what’s going on in Chicago?”. I’m convinced the people who run Chicago don’t want to fix the problem. When you take away access to simple necessities such as education and jobs, you end up with a city that lives and breathes violence.

Welcome to Chicago.

Yesterday, Chicago school officials announced that they planned to close 61 school buildings. That’s about 13 percent of the total number of schools in Chicago. Also, 6 other schools that have been labeled “low performing” will receive a total staff makeover.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the closures are necessary because too many Chicago Public School buildings are half-empty, with 403,000 students in a system that has seats for more than 500,000. Where most schools in major cities suffer from overcrowding, and a high student to teacher ratio, it seems that Chicago refuses to make the best out of a lack of crowding, in a way that could benefit their students.

Parents in the city feel that the school closures will put students in harms way, because of the redistricting that will potentially have them in the cross-fire of more gang violence.

One concerned grandparent expressed outrage at the closure of Overton Elementary School. Her children once attended the school, and now her grandchildren.

“It’s like a death in the family. It’s that sad,” she said. “Overton is a family school. These teachers are like aunties and uncles to my grandkids. We all take care of each other. We’ll never get that again.”

School officials say the closings are necessary because of the $1 billion deficit, and the cutbacks would save $560 million. At the same time, these closures will actually add an extra $233 million expense because of the enhanced security and the costs of redistricting students. The school closures will start at the end of the current school year, with 52 elementary schools closing, and another elementary school and high school over the next two years, in addition to 11 “co-locations”.

  • OhPuhleezee

    Once we stop portraying Blacks as the victims of everything that happens to them, the better the Black community will be. The schools that were closed were also schools that have been failing for many, many years. Overton is a horrible school. My children attended a magnet school out of the area but one day had to attend Overton when they missed their school bus. We were appalled. The at the attitudes of the students and teachers at the school upset me. The kids were behind and no seemed to have any enthusiasm for education. In Chicago, like nearly every other moderately sized city, you have options. The question is, why would these people choose to send their children to failing schools in the first place? Parents need to go back to understanding that they have a responsibility in their child’s education.

  • Dallas

    Parents want schools fixed not closed!

  • greendoondoon

    So you learned all of this from the ONE DAY your kids missed the bus and had to spend the day at Overton? You stayed all day there with your children?
    I’m a product of the CPS and my parents had enough time and money to educate me outside of our local area too. However, this is not an option for a lot of children and families. If you can’t get your child into a good school or even get your child to that school, then you lack options. All children should be able to walk to school and get a good education. People in the suburbs send their children to the local school unless they send them to Catholic school.
    Also, why are these schools failing? Is it because of the constant messing around with education? Is it because of lack of funding? That teachers are horribly overworked and are dealing with children with social and emotional problems? Dilapidated buildings?

    Yes, parents have a responsibility for their children’s education but the government has a responsibility to the parents.

  • The Other Jess

    Rahm Emmanuel is a money-grabbing crook, in cahoots with his criminal crony Bloomberg of New York and the failure from Detroit, Byrd-Bennett. They want to turn Chicago into the same educational cesspools as New York or Detroit. Emanuel only wants corporate-run charter schools in place for rich white kids, wants to bring more wealthy whites into the city, and move all the Blacks out to the suburbs to schools more mediocre than the ones they’re closing.

    I don’t know why some people voted for him. That’s what people get for getting caught up in Obama-fever and voting in anybody that was in his admin, rather than voting for the best candidate.

  • White Democrats Don’t Love You

    I thought the white liberal democrats loved black folks. lol See New York, Chicago and LA. When their are no white republicans to blame the white liberal democrats seem to always take their place.

  • Dysfuctional Homes

    The problem is not the schools. The proble is THE PARENTS! The problem is in the homes!

  • The Other Jess

    The problem is with the schools – the schools are underfunded, understaffed, and thus underutilized. The city would rather use its money to support charters than fix up the schools that already exist. You cannot blame the parents for the failure of the school system, and thus the schools. Not every child in public school has bad, uninvolved parents. But public education is just that – PUBLIC. Which means that everyone has a right to an education and everyone, regardless of status or class, is in the same school together – the unsupervised latchkey kid with the uncaring parent is sitting right next to the PTA mom’s kid. And guess what? Just because one kid may come from a bad parenting background, he/she still has the right to a decent education – thus the schools need to be up to par.

    Any country that sets out to have an educated populace is not expecting the masses to be model parents with model children – the education system should be in it to improve the outcomes of EVERY STUDENT who walks through those doors. Education is not only for those who come with “perfect” parents and a trust fund.

    If a child enters school “rough around the edges”, public education is supposed to refine and teach that kid enough basic skills to have the option to move forward and be successful in the next phase of life, whether it means going to college, starting a business or having the skills to secure a decent enough job to make a living.

  • OhPuhleezee

    Parents should make an effort to not send their kids to failing schools in the first place. Im all for a school being fixed, but why should I sacrifice my child and wait when sending them to a better school fixes that problem instantly?

  • OhPuhleezee

    The parents have the ultimate responsibility and if they know the neighborhood school is messed up they should make an effort to send their kids somewhere else. Chicago is full of options, including private schools. People can figure out how to buy their drinks, cigarettes, weaves, and AF1′s can also figure out how to pay for school if the free option isn’t up to par. One day of being there is all it takes. It’s not hard to see how a school is failing. Why are the parent’s of these kids looking the other way?

  • OhPuhleezee

    We have to stop letting them write Black people as victims in this narrative. The victim mentality makes parents believe they have no control of the situation, when in fact they have the ultimate control .A victim is what they want you to believe you are because it allows them to continue to use you as a pawn. The education of a child is the responsibility of the parent. Their first responsibility is to make sure they enroll their child into a decent school. A lot of these parents enrolled their kids into schools that were already failing when they got there. Regardless of what the school should be, or what the government should do, that is no excuse for sending your kid into a situation you know is bad.

  • OhPuhleezee

    I understand everything you’re saying, but I think its that type of thinking that leads to failing schools in the first place. We have to stop telling people that everything is the government’s fault and that a school should fix all the problems. If you take a kid that comes from a home that doesn’t value education and put them in the best school in the world that kid will probably still fail at school. All the money in the world wont help a culture that doesn’t value education, at home and/or at the school. I keep emphasizing the responsibility of the parent because at the end of the day the best schools are usually the ones with high parent involvement. A lot of the schools on the closing list were the same schools that CPS was paying to pick their kid’s report cards because less than 10% of them were showing up. We unfairly expect too much of our schools. Schools are meant to educate, but nowadays people expect them to feed, discipline, transport and counsel the kids on top of educating them and if the kid fails it’s everyone else’s fault except for the people whose actual job is it to feed, transport, and discipline the kids….their parent. That’s where we went wrong. Parents have to step up. We have to stop giving them excuses for the failure of their family. We’re not all equal and never will be, I think most Blacks know this and should play the game accordingly..

  • Rochelle

    Other jess I was with you until you wanted to blame the schools. Of course Chi town’s mayor is going to push the closure of public schools and opening “charter” schools owned by hedge fund managers and other rich guys. It puts money in the rich guys pockets. It is sad that black people fall for anything. Including these charter schools. They tried to put a Jewish and Asian charter school in the very affluent neighborhood I grew up in. The parents and schools board got together and put an end to that. First charters take money from public schools. The public schools in my old neighborhood were top notch, so there was no need for any charter. I say this because if the parents in these poor neighborhoods were informed, which it seems like they are just now getting informed, they would protest charters to no end.

    Solutions: Don’t close schools, open ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS, where they place problem children. Problem solved. Remove the problem children like they do in almost ALL affluent schools. The better schools systems always have alternative schools. But no Joe “Rich Man” wants to make money, so they push for the charters in urban areas because the people don’t know how the schools system works. If the wayward child can’t get into the charter, no problem they go to the failing public school. Doesn’t matter because when that child eventually gets into trouble with the law because of the failure of their PARENTS, Joe “Rich Man” get paid off of the privately owned juvi center and eventually the privately run prison system. It is all a carefully planned way to make the rich richer and black folks get duped again.

    It is not the schools fault. It is the rich man, stupid uninformed, uninvolved parents and school boards, and greedy politicians. Not the schools and not the teachers, because they have little say in the matter. Plus let me say this: Schools should not be relied on to teach children, even inner city kids everything. Parents wont teach kids about sex, school should, parent wont teach kids about drugs, school should, parents wont teach children manners, schools should. Where do the parents come in? Stop blaming the schools because there is only so much they can do for a child of a absent father and drug addicted mother. a homeless student, or a student of two active gang members. Get my drift? Schools can only do so much.

  • Rochelle

    “A situation you know is bad’ is one where a parent is living in a gang and drug infested area in the first place. Those are the only places that charters are needed. If the parents would have done some family planning they would have scraped together enough pennies to move their children to a better area that did not need charters in the first place. Ponder that.

  • Rochelle

    Parents should make and effort to aid in the development of the schools. Be on PTAs and assist the school boards. Don’t just sit and complain. Parents should make an effort to understand how the school system work and push for ALTERNATIVE public schools, not charters (like the protesters above). Oh pluze what have you done to help these horrible schools?

  • kc

    And we’ve found the self-hating black person! Do you honestly think the sum total of the hood goods you listed equals the $10,000/yr needed to send a child to a private school? Really?

  • OhPuhleezee

    I agree. That victim mentality keeps allowing people to use the BS excuse that they don’t have choices. Where you live and send your kids to school is a choice. I’m not advocating charters because a lot of them are no better than their public counterparts, but they are in fact an option. If parents don’t want to do that they can scrape together enough pennies and send their kid to private school. What you choose to spend your money on is a choice.

  • OhPuhleezee

    Wow, self-hating Black…really? Just because I believe parents need to take more responsibility. Dialogue is obviously needed because a great deal of the 30,000 kids these closings affect are Black. I don’t see how name calling adds to the dialogue.

    What people choose to spend their money on is a choice. There are tons of Private (independent, religious, etc.) schools in Chicago that cost no where near $10,000, and all of them have scholarships and payment plans. If you have a kid, and you know you don’t want them to go to the crappy school down the street then you do what you have to so they can go somewhere else.

  • OhPuhleezee

    What have I done to help these horrible schools? That question should be asked to the parents of the kids that attend these horrible schools.

    First let me say its not my responsibility to help these horrible schools. It’s the responsibility of the parents whose children attend these schools. If those parents were doing what they were supposed to do, chances are the schools wouldn’t have been horrible. My responsibility is ultimately to the children that I gave birth to. Their education and the schools they attend is where my focus lies. With that being said, This school closure plan is over 10 years in the making. I was volunteering and protesting with a local community organization about it way back when. People didn’t get involved back then because they felt it didnt directly effect them, and now that the sh*t has hit the fan they’re scrambling to get organized. I am also now studying to be a teacher. The program I’m in will place me in a “turnaround” school for at least 4 years. So, this is my contribution, even though as I stated earlier, I bear no responsibility to any of these horrible schools.

  • Liberals Don’t Love U


    The city of Detroit like Chicago spends one BILLION dollars a year for the education of about 83k kids a year, BILLION!!! Yet they have a 50-60% dropout rate! This its what’s going on (Billions for failure) in every majority black school system in this country! You’ve got kids (black kids) in third world countries academically outperforming these kids. Most of the black kids that graduate aren’t college material nor prepared for anything other than failure or a low skills jobs. We (black folks) are very close to becoming a PERMANENT UNDERCLASS. This (Democrats and Liberal Ideology) ain’t working and it ain’t worth fighting for

  • myblackfriendsays

    And the Detroit school system has dilapidated schools, but a nice, shiny and new school administration building. Coincidence? I think not…

  • greendoondoon

    Wonderful, intelligent and thoughtful comment.

  • victoria

    @ The Other Jess

    You stated, ”If a child enters school “rough around the edges”, public education is supposed to refine and teach that kid enough basic skills to have the option to move forward and be successful in the next phase of life, whether it means going to college, starting a business or having the skills to secure a decent enough job to make a living.”

    This is absolutely true. However, without the support from home, schools and children will not succeed. Poor behavior has to be eliminated and teachers and administrators must reclaim control of the schools.

    My first teaching job was at Ames Middle School on Chicago’s West Side, a gang-infested predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. To my amazement, I found so many parents just didn’t care, not only about their child’s education, but about their child’s well-being. This is something the govt cannot fix. Also, dealing with ill behavior takes up majority of classroom time. Too many students are rude, disrespectful, aggressive, and exhibit gang behavior in the classroom.

    Taking from my experience, Chicago schools will improve the moment parents put in 100%, security is stepped up, poor behavior is wiped out, and politics takes a back seat.

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