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Op-Ed Thu Apr 24 2014

A New President Obama School, Even Though CPS Closed 50 Schools Last Year

Chicago Public Schools - Children First CPS

By David Stieber

Chicago Public Schools just announced that it will build a new high school and name it after our current president, Barack Obama.

This announcement of the building of a new high school is about a year after the announcement by the unelected, mayorally appointed CPS Board of Education to close the most schools in the history of the United States amidst massive community protests.

This announcement also comes about one month after this same board of education agreed to give themselves $5 million to buy brand new furniture for their new offices.

This announcement comes one day after the puppe– I mean, the handpicked school board agreed to fire every adult (teachers, principals, engineers, lunch workers, security, and custodians) in three elementary schools amidst community protests.

The new selective enrollment high school will be located on the North Side of the city, which is nowhere close to where nearly all the 53 closed or "turn around" schools are located.

Kevin Coval, one of Chicago's great poets, wrote an article for titled "Rahm Emanuel's Chicago, a tale of two cities." In it he stated, "One white [city], one black [city]. One for the rich, one for the poor. One for private schools, one for closed schools. A new Chicago for the saved and the damned. Gold coast heavens and low-end hells. It's biblical, binary."

This is not an exaggeration by Coval we all are watching this mayor blatantly create two cities. Emanuel and his pal Barbara Byrd-Bennett attempt to use fancy buzzwords like "rigor," "quality seats," "world class," and "21st century" to make their actions seem justified, but be real they do not care about kids.

I do not care if Byrd-Bennett happens to be black. She does not care about lower income black kids in this city no matter what she claims, and neither does our mayor. How can the students at the high school I work at in Englewood be receiving a "world class" education when we went without basic sanitary necessities like soap in the boy's bathroom for five weeks? How are my kids getting a "world class" education when we lost three teaching, one administrative, and three security positions this year due to budget cuts?

All Emanuel and Byrd-Bennett care about is how to make profit off of lower income brown and black children while giving more opportunities to affluent mostly white families. They build charters (which perform no better than public schools) on the South and West sides, but build new public schools or find money for public schools like Jones downtown and Payton on the North Side.

CPS is firing every adult at three schools and turning those schools over to privately run AUSL to re-staff the very same buildings. Not at all coincidentally, the president of the unelected school board, David Vitale, served as the chairman of AUSL until 2011.

What Emanuel, Byrd-Bennett, and prominent members of the appointed school board like Vitale, Andrea Zopp and Jesse Ruiz are doing to our city is attempting to maximize their profits at the expense of lower income people of color. Even though some of these school board members are black and Latino and represent organizations such as the Urban League, they have sold out their own people and everyone in this city who values transparency and Democracy.

I'm well aware of the fact that me being white and calling out prominent black and Latino leaders is problematic, but damn, what they are doing is downright criminal and I hope one day that all the "leaders"of CPS and especially Rahm Emanuel are found to be guilty of crimes against humanity.

My Englewood students wrote about "Mr. Wreck It Rahm" and the blueprint that these "leaders" are unleashing on our city in their now-famous poem with nearly 60,000 views on YouTube:

Step one: Take away our schools

 Step Two: Put them out their home

 Lastly: Destroy it all and

 Deny Deny Deny

But remember, to always keep a straight face when you lie!

Try to pour the cheap paint over our eyes while stealing dollars from under our mattresses

 There's not enough? Close their schools

 But he's building a new DePaul stadium

Using our TIF funds to Transform the South Loop into the Promised Land of redevelopment

 and some river walk

 of course downtown

The paint is starting to streak.

Building a new Chicago or extending a new lie!

 How can a city so in debt blueprint something so expensive?

Emanuel's plan is simple. Create a new dual Chicago: one well resourced and another Chicago underfunded to be experimented on with charters and privatization schemes. One Chicago safe with lowering crime rates and another Chicago that is not even safe on Easter Sunday.

Yet for the mayor to continue make this plan a reality he has to make everyone believe that certain neighborhoods or areas of the city are better than others. He has to convince people on the North Side that people in Englewood (or insert any other South or West Side neighborhood) are lazy, dangerous, and don't want to improve their neighborhood. By getting people to believe the stereotypes about huge areas in this city, it allows him to keep doing what he has been doing, which like Kevin Coval said is creating two Chicagos.


David Stieber is a father, husband, CPS teacher of History. Dave is passionately committed to promoting and improving urban public education, while simultaneously improving the lives of his students. He earned his masters in Urban Education Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Chicago. You can follow Dave on Twitter at D_Stieber.

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