Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mayor Rahm's bananas about the longer school day

Posted By on 04.12.12 at 06:48 AM

If you recall, I valiantly tried to save Mayor Emanuel from the mess he got himself into when he unilaterally declared that, from here on out, the public school children of Chicago would have to wear their underwear on the outside of their clothes.

Whoops—wrong decree.

That's the one dictated by the nutcase dictator in Bananas, one of my favorite Woody Allen comedies.

In some ways, the underwear decree makes more sense than the one where Mayor Emanuel ordered all public school grammar children to spend another 105 minutes in the classroom each day. Even if they don't need that extra time, and many do not, as they’re already among the highest-achievers in the state.

And even if he offered nothing of substance to do with the extra time. Except for—shut up and read something! Since he shows no interest in funding art, music or drama with any of the hundreds of millions of dollars he's got stashed away in those TIF accounts.

And even though there’s no research anywhere that concludes that more unstructured classroom time—as opposed to purposeful classroom time—benefits anybody, other than the mayor’s PR campaign.

In which he'll be running for president on the platform that he's the tough-on-teachers mayor who made Chicago swallow a seven-hour school day!

And even though he pissed off pretty much every parent from Beverly to Sauganash and from South Deering to Rogers Park. They want to know why he'd force their kids to spend more time in a classroom without giving themselves something meaningful to do.

Except that aforementioned—shut up and read something!

All in all, the unfunded longer-school-day mandate may be the dumbest idea he's cooked up.

Except for raising your water sewer tax. And your property taxes. And wasting $50 whatever million on NATO. And giving $15 million to build a grocery store next to a grocery store in Greektown. And cutting the libraries. And closing the mental health clinics. And now—god help us all—coming up with the great Infrastructure Trust scam/scheme, which you can read all about right here.

Yo, Mayor Daley—all's forgiven.

Anyway, I tried to tell Mayor Emanuel that everything would be hunky dory if he cut back the school hours from seven and a half to six and a half hours and used the extra time to give kids recess. Provided he allocated money to pay for the recess, as opposed to making principals pay for it by cutting other programs.

Having done that, the mayor could go back to preparing his 2016 presidential campaign.

Which can't start soon enough, as far as most public school parents/teachers/principals/students are concerned.

But no . . .

On Tuesday, the mayor held a press conference to say he’s only cutting back the time to seven hours. And he’s not going to come up with any more money.

So, in effect, his grand plan for education remains: Shut up and read something! (Or, as the mayor probably puts it, shut the fuck up and read something!)

So his grand compromises amounts to dictating a slightly smaller unfunded mandate.

As we’re learning the hard way, this is a man who’s used to getting his way. And it kills him to have to back down.

Even if he’s backing down from a proposal as monumentally dumb as making every student everywhere spend more time in classroom without giving them anything to do.

Okay, let me try again. . .

Mr. Mayor, you can't treat the parents of Chicago like they're aldermen in your city council. They won't just roll over at your command. As they see it, the education of their children's at stake.

This fight's just getting started.

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