The CPS Babysitting Club | Bleader

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The CPS Babysitting Club

Posted By on 03.27.12 at 03:31 PM

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Not the job of teachers or coaches
  • Stuart Miles/
  • Not the job of teachers or coaches
On Thursday I return to Hyde Park for a meeting in a church on Woodlawn Avenue.

Only this time I’m not here to talk about marijuana. I’m here to hear other people discuss Mayor Emanuel’s proposed longer school day.

Reefer one day, education the next—I cover the waterfront, people.

I wind up at a church for a meeting convened by the Raise Your Hand Coalition—whose leaders probably know more about Mayor Emanuel's longer day than Mayor Emanuel himself.

Which is probably not that hard, since, as we’re coming to learn, our mayor’s not really into the fine details of any of his plans.

Many people in the church are laying out the most obvious flaw in this one. It’s an unfunded mandate from the mayor, requiring local schools to do more things without giving them the money to do those things. So in reality, they're being asked to do more with less—again.

Man, if the federal government tried this with Mayor Emanuel, he'd be howling mad.

Like a lot of people in this church basement.

At one point, a woman makes a very insightful observation.

She says—and I paraphrase—that some parents, particularly working ones, will welcome the longer day, whether it's funded or not.

Because the more time their kids spend in a classroom, the less time they'll have to worry about what to do with those kids while they're at work.

In other words, schools as babysitters.

As a former grammar school basketball coach, I'm familiar with this concept.

By the way, I also coached flag football, track, and cross-country. None of them very well. Thus proving the adage that you can do one thing well or a lot of things not so well.

Actually, I'm not sure that's an old adage. If it’s not, it should be.

I used to run after-school practices from about 3 to 5 PM. Always had parents picking up their kids a little late. Of course, I had to wait—can't just leave the kid on the sidewalk.

You'd see the parents, sheepishly walking up to the school, mumbling an excuse about the bus being late.

The worse offender was a woman, who usually kept me waiting at least an hour before she showed up to get her two sons, who ran on the track team.

She wouldn't even get out of the car. Just pulled up to the front of the school and sent a smaller brother to the doorway to call out: "Hurry up—mom's waiting!"

You know—'cause no one likes to be kept waiting.

Well, one day, one of my fellow coaches—a math teacher we'll call KJ—said "enough!"

“Ben,” he told me. “You're too easy on parents. You can’t let them push you around!”

So after the next practice, he stood on the sidewalk waiting for this parent. As soon as she drove up—late as always— he pounced. He walked over to her car and tapped on the driver's-side window, making her roll it down.

Then he let her have it good . . .

This is no day-care service.

And . . .

We're not your babysitters.

And . . .

If you can't pick your babies up on time, then they can't play on the team.

And so forth . . .

By the way, KJ's now a principal—obviously, the man was born to call the shots.

Funny thing happened. That woman got her act together and somehow managed to show up on time so her sons got to stay on the track team.

You could say it was a happy ending. Except her kids weren't very fast. Plus, they were kind of annoying. To tell you the truth, having them around was more trouble than it was worth.

KJ's right—I was too easy on the parents and the kids. No wonder my teams lost so much. But that's another story.

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