Springtime for poor people in Chicago | Bleader

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Springtime for poor people in Chicago

Posted By on 04.10.13 at 02:23 PM

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Concerned King Elementary School parents and supporters walk from King Elementary to Jensen Elementary, highlighting potentially dangerous areas and streets children may encounter on their walk to school.
  • Jessica Koscielniak/Sun-Times
  • Concerned King Elementary School parents and supporters walk from King Elementary to Jensen Elementary, highlighting potentially dangerous areas and streets children may encounter on their walk to school.
When I got home yesterday from one of the protest marches over the school closings, I had a chance to hear Mayor's Emanuel's latest explanation as to why he's closing 54 schools.

He says he's doing it for the poor people.

It's part of a legacy of caring for the less fortunate that he got from his parents, who in turn got it from such great leaders as Martin Luther King Jr.

Man. It's bad enough that the mayor's got to turn the lives of over 40,000 kids upside down while firing scores of teachers, principals, and other school workers and shuttering schools in economically devastated communities that are already hanging on by a thread.

But now he's got to bring in Dr. King.

What's next, Mr. Mayor—claiming you got the idea to close the mental health clinics from Mother Teresa?

Back to yesterday's protest march . . .

It was joined by Alderman Robert Fioretti (2nd), who generally votes against the mayor's really dumb ideas, and Alderman Jason Ervin (28th), who, alas, generally votes for them.

I'll give Alderman Ervin credit for this. Apparently, he has a breaking point—unlike some aldermen who would probably remain loyal to the mayor even if he sold their wards to Indiana.

The point of the march was to show how far and through what horrendous conditions some grammar students will walk if the mayor closes their current school, King elementary, and sends them to Jensen elementary.

Let me tell you—it's no joke. Jensen's about a half mile west of King. So children who live on the eastern edge of the King district will have to walk at least a mile to get to Jensen.

That's a walk past vacant lots. Boarded-up buildings. Huge swaths of trash-filled land. Ominous-looking guys on the corner. And so forth.

Halfway way through the walk a cold rain started to fall, and Alderman Ervin put a towel over his head. That gave me a chance to tease him about how much he looked like John Thompson, the old Georgetown basketball coach.

So all was not lost.

It's part of the "Walk the Walk" demonstration, organized by the Raise Your Hand Coalition, Blocks Together, and Save Our Neighborhood Schools and intended to shame the mayor into changing his mind.

Good luck with that one. My bet is that the board of education will cheerfully give the mayor whatever he wants. The only mystery being whether they will feel compelled to denigrate Dr. King's name while doing so.

As the mayor's brother Ezekiel Emanuel recently put it, "Rahm will win. Rahm always does win."

In this case the mayor apparently believes that the secret to educational success is to force kids to move from underutilized schools into overcrowded ones.

On the other hand, the mayor's promised to channel some of the money saved from closing schools into installing air conditioners into receiving schools. Because apparently there's just not enough money in Chicago to install air-conditioning, keep schools open, and dole out $29.5 million to developers in River North.

Another thing the mayor said is that he's has to close the schools because the "status quo" isn't working.

That's funny. His explanation sounds like the status quo of mayoral explanations.

As I recall, Mayor Daley I built the high-rise projects to help the poor. Then Mayor Daley II tore them down to help the poor. And now Mayor Emanuel's closing the schools to help the poor.

Damn, poor people sure got it good in Chicago. Considering it all, I'm surprised rich people aren't trying to get in on all the fun.

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