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May 25, 2013 3:50 PM   Subscribe

Third-grader Asean Johnson schools Rahm Emmanuel on the mayor's plan for Chicago's public schools. (YT)

"I am nine years old and I am class president for my class at room 205 at Marcus Garvey School."

On the last day of the 3-day planned demonstration protesting Mayor Rahm Emmanue'ls plan to close 54 Chicago public schools (previously), 9-year old Asean Johnson walked on stage, and without any notes or planning, explained why he wants to save his school.



Interview with Asean after the protest.

DNAInfo.com Chicago visits with Asean and his mother, Shoniece Reynolds, at their home in Chicago, where Asean talks about what he wants to be when he grows up and the day he made his first speech.
posted by Room 641-A (37 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
What a wonderful and bright young man. I know that obviously the situation with the Chicago school closings is complicated, but this young man deserves an answer from his mayor.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:09 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


He has my vote.
posted by Jode at 4:20 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know if that amazing little guy had personally convinced Rahm or Barbara Byrd-Bennett, but Marcus Garvey was taken off the closing list shortly before the schoolboard voted. It will remain open.
I humbly submit my mentorship availablity if Asean decides to pursue his 3rd choice career as a scientist.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 4:22 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


Go kid go!

Here's another article about the school closings, from the Atlantic.
posted by subdee at 4:24 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


On the last day of the 3-day planned demonstration protesting Mayor Rahm Emmanue'ls plan to close 54 Chicago public schools 9-year old Asean Johnson walked on stage, and without any notes or planning, explained why he wants to save his school.
h
I had trouble hearing everything he said over the cheers of the crowd. He sure delivered inspiring rhetoric that could boost the energy of opponents of school closings, but I didn't hear his explanation of why he wants to save his school. Did he actually make an argument against school closing?
posted by layceepee at 4:33 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, no. Sorry, Asean. The world doesn't work that way.

I've made this point before: running a school is like running an aircraft carrier. It's big and complex, more than you realize. (Think about Child Nutrition Services, struggling to put out healthy meals on a tight budget. Think about Pupil Services, trying to help even the most disturbed children get an education. Think about the psychs, dealing with broken children. Think about the nurses, coping with every kind of child ailment. Think about the damn bus drivers, who just want to pick up their kids and get them to school safe.)

Running a school district is like running a fleet of aircraft carriers. On a budget.

My heart is with this little man. His speech hurt me. Guys like me, in the educational system, we chose to work here because we wanted to support the community. And it is hard, so goddam hard, to go to work every day, knowing that the community hates us despite everything we do.
posted by SPrintF at 4:34 PM on May 25, 2013 [25 favorites]


layceepee, watch the interview.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 4:39 PM on May 25, 2013


Ruining the lives of people in just one city must be a pretty big comedown after working for Obama. Poor Rahm. :(
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:41 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


"Almost all of the 54 schools targeted for closing serve primarily black and Latino students. All are in poor neighborhoods, affecting 30,000 students and 1,000 teachers."

http://www.alternet.org/are-chicago-school-closings-racist?paging=off
posted by whyareyouatriangle at 4:48 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


running an aircraft carrier. It's big and complex, more than you realize

I found his arguments showed a complex analysis, actually, especially looking at the speech as well as the follow up interview.

1. he has a safety concern -- moving to another school, he feels, puts kids at risk because of some kind of conflict between the kids in the two areas

2. His school already has science and computer labs, and infrastructure that would go to waste, and he isn't convinced he will have better resources at the new school.

3. those making the decision have not been to his school to see what impact they are having with this decision

4. the policy is being implemented in a way that disproportionally affects the black community.
posted by chapps at 4:58 PM on May 25, 2013 [16 favorites]


I was just reading this profile of Jerry Brown, which is pretty fawning, but it contained this quote about "school reform" I thought was pretty brilliant:
He rattled off a list of decade-by-decade fads and gimmicks for “saving” America’s struggling school system, most recently No Child Left Behind and the “teacher accountability” movement. “The question you have to ask yourself is, if teacher accountability is really the whole key, how can it be that from Comenius”—a 17th-century European pioneer in education—“through John Dewey and Horace Mann, and going back to the Greeks, every­body missed this secret, and we figured it out just now? I’m skeptical of that—and of you, and Washington, and myself.” This was the “civilizational” outlook Nathan Gardels was referring to. Then, the practicality: “The world is so rich and diverse, and there is this technocratic imperative to impose rules, by small minds.” I realize that on the page this could look airy or pompous. In real conversation, Brown gives a convincing impression of weighing thoughts and evidence as he goes.
And of course the "close failing schools" is an extension of the 'teacher accountability' movement, holding the entire school accountable for the poverty that surrounds them.
I've made this point before: running a school is like running an aircraft carrier. It's big and complex, more than you realize.
Please. If you fuck up running an aircraft carrier your nuclear reactor melts down, irradiates the crew, and leaves you stranded and/or at the bottom of the ocean. You would probably have to fuck up pretty hard, but that scenario is within the set of possible outcomes.

A school is nowhere near that complex. If you fuck up a school, kids get a slightly worse education then they maybe otherwise would have gotten, or you waste money on unnecessary projects. Like most social organizations, a school works well as long as most of the people involved use reasonable judgment. Teachers do what teachers do, and administrators need to deal with teachers who don't.

It's nothing at all like managing a complex technical system where catastrophe can strike if certain abstruse technical things aren't done properly.

Look at the deepwater horizon situation, for example - regulations weren't followed because in several cases people responsible for various failsafe systems were under pressure and made the 'common sense' decision to sacrifice their failsafe in the name of expediency (So, for example they continued to drill when the pressure was too high because the blowout preventer would stop it, and they ignored the blowout preventer problems because it was assumed drilling would stop if the pressure was too high)

Or look at the fukushima disaster, they shut down the reactor because of the damage leaving them with no power, they couldn't use their generators since they'd been washed out to sea, along with the power lines. If they'd had generators on the roof they might have been able to save the plant.

A school is just a building and a bunch of people talking to each other, and basically nothing dangerous is done (maybe PE?). It's not a 'fragile' system. And let's keep it real here, it's not that complex at all. You have maybe a couple hundred to a couple thousand kids, some teachers, and you have to schedule the kids once a semester, manage the teachers, purchase appropriate supplies, and arrange for building maintenance.

It's also a situation where half-baked theories are used to justify whatever, and if they're inaccurate nothing obviously bad happens right away.
posted by delmoi at 5:42 PM on May 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


And let's keep it real here, it's not that complex at all. You have maybe a couple hundred to a couple thousand kids, some teachers, and you have to schedule the kids once a semester, manage the teachers, purchase appropriate supplies, and arrange for building maintenance.

Oh, is that all. Gee, I wonder why it hasn't been utterly figured out yet, given how obvious it all is. Perhaps, just perhaps, it has something to do with the fact that you're dealing with "maybe a couple hundred to a couple thousand" independent human beings that you have very little control over, some to many of whom will have serious emotional, financial, physical or social issues that have a profound effect on what they can do during the six to seven hours a day you have to teach them.

Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that you have to "manage the teachers," which of course isn't the easiest thing in the world either, especially given that you don't have enough to pay them what they're worth because nobody wants to raise their local property tax because if they do, that'll depress revenues anyway because no one will want to live in a high-tax city.

Or perhaps, in that "arrang[ing] for building maintenance," you also have to deal with the fact that you don't have enough money for that either, to the point that most of the schools in Chicago (to use this example) don't even have air conditioning.

I've been in military organizations that were spread out over multiple continents. I've run staffs that included speakers of half a dozen different languages. I've lived in Baghdad, and not the nice part of Baghdad. I've had command authority over my fellow human beings in a war zone. And I would not bet any amount of money on my ability to run a single school in Chicago, because I am acutely aware that I have no idea how difficult it is.

tl;dr: "What's the easiest job in the world? Yours. What's the hardest job in the world? Mine. Funny thing is, it works no matter who I talk to."
posted by Etrigan at 5:58 PM on May 25, 2013 [26 favorites]


"Almost all of the 54 schools targeted for closing serve primarily black and Latino students. All are in poor neighborhoods, affecting 30,000 students and 1,000 teachers."

Only 7% of CPS pupils are white.

I don't know the overall SES of the population of CPS students but my guess is that also wouldn't be high.

However, why is it a must to close the schools to reduce the city's deficit when on the same day they announce a $330 million dollar basketball arena for the DePaul Blue Demons getting public funding and tax breaks?
posted by srboisvert at 6:03 PM on May 25, 2013 [10 favorites]


Oh, is that all. Gee, I wonder why it hasn't been utterly figured out yet, given how obvious it all is.
What do you mean? How to run a school? It seems obvious that has been figured out. People do it successfully all the time.
dealing with "maybe a couple hundred to a couple thousand" independent human beings that you have very little control over,
They have plenty of control, and the kids refuse to do what you say you can kick them out if they're big enough disruption.
some to many of whom will have serious emotional, financial, physical or social issues that have a profound effect on what they can do during the six to seven hours a day you have to teach them.
*shrug*. The original comparison was between running an aircraft carrier and running a school, if you happen to fail those students it doesn't change the fact that you're still "running a school". That's mainly a resource issue anyway, either you have the money to hire the right people to manage that, or you don't. That's not a question of skill or intelligence, it's a question of money.
Or perhaps it has to do with the fact that you have to "manage the teachers," which of course isn't the easiest thing in the world either, especially given that you don't have enough to pay them what they're worth because nobody wants to raise their local property tax because if they do, that'll depress revenues anyway because no one will want to live in a high-tax city.
Teacher salaries and taxes/budgets aren't set at the individual school level, they're outside the scope of "running a school"
Or perhaps, in that "arrang[ing] for building maintenance," you also have to deal with the fact that you don't have enough money for that either, to the point that most of the schools in Chicago (to use this example) don't even have air conditioning.
Not having an adequate budget is obviously going to make the maintance part more difficult. But again, that's a resource problem not a skill problem. You can't run an aircraft carrier without the proper funding either.
tl;dr: "What's the easiest job in the world? Yours. What's the hardest job in the world? Mine. Funny thing is, it works no matter who I talk to."
You think I'm the captain of an aircraft carrier?

___

The original point I was responding too was some guy saying we should ignore what this kid has to say, or that it wasn't really relevant because running a school is as difficult as running an aircraft carrier. My point was that it's not anywhere near as difficult and thus it might be reasonable to listen to what this kid has to say. I certainly think running a school is simple enough that a smart 9 year old might have something of value to contribute. On the other hand I wouldn't really expect a 9 year to be able to contribute meaningfully to the topic aircraft carrier cybernetics

So which is it, should we ignore this kid on the topic of schools, or expect him to have much to say about running an aircraft carrier? Or perhaps they actually differ?
posted by delmoi at 6:30 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a world of difference between pointing out that running a school isn't as complex as running an aircraft carrier and dismissively saying that running a school is "not that complex at all".
posted by Etrigan at 6:39 PM on May 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


So which is it, should we ignore this kid on the topic of schools

Mmmm... yeah, probably.

As much as I like the thoughts of children, there's a pretty good reason we don't rely on them to decide complicated policy. Even when they are unusually articulate.

Sure, he gave reasons for not closing his school. But his reasons don't comprise a very convincing argument to me. Of course, he's only a cute 9 year old. I wouldn't expect much of a convincing argument from a 9 year old. Maybe Rahm Emmanuel really is just a mean, racist guy. But none of these clips actually convince me of that.

Perhaps he would be more convincing if the video clips had puppies.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:44 PM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


There really isn't much Chicago can do. Its sales tax is already over 10% and the Cook County heavy state government has already doubled the income tax. Every dime more of cuts and revenue could be more than consumed by the yawning public employee pension deficits. Measured dollars spent per unit of quality output (say of kids with skilled blue collar jobs or college degrees 5 years post their expected HS graduation date) the system is already one of the most spectacularly expensive anywhere.
posted by MattD at 6:46 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is such a silly, silly argument. Both sides are being willfully obtuse about the actual numbers.

I pointed out in a previous thread that these school closures are nowhere close to being the catastrophe that some people have expressed it to be.

There are 23,290 teachers in CPS. There are 404,151 students. That's a 17-to-1 ratio overall. Closing 50 schools and firing 1,000 teachers (four percent) will result in an 18-to-1 ratio.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:06 PM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


> There really isn't much Chicago can do.

Well, if you can't take care of your children, you really might as well give up. You're saying, "Things are fucked now, and we're going to also make sure that we'll be fucked for the next two generations."

In a country that wasn't Hell-bent on self-destruction, the Federal government would step in.

There's another issue here too - people act like these issues "just happened" out of magic. That's bullshit - this city has systematically been looted by corrupt government after corrupt government. The parking meters ripoff is just one of the latest ripoffs of an unending series of ripoffs that have led inexorably to the place we are now. Even the pension issues can be traced back to the government's systematic inadequate financian of municipal pensions over decades.

It's extremely convenient for the government to pretend that these budget shortages "just happened" - but it means no one ever has to face the music. No one ever takes responsibility, yet the people who took the easy way out for decades are as responsible for the damage being done to children right now just as surely as someone who drops a bowling ball from a skyscraper is responsible for someone killed below.

> Perhaps he would be more convincing if the video clips had puppies.

Words fail me.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:12 PM on May 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Closing 50 schools and firing 1,000 teachers (four percent) will result in an 18-to-1 ratio.

I very much doubt that CPS classrooms are uniformly clustered around that mean. What you said is a bit like taking the average income of everyone in the US, multibillionnaires included, and saying that on average, American people make a ton of money.
posted by Nomyte at 7:17 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


The schools that are being closed are those that have falling enrollment. Of course this is happening primarily in the black community. Blacks are leaving the gang warzones in droves, which, of course, is a warzone precisely because the police and city officials have put little to no resistance in stopping the drug cartels. They'll arrest street level pushers but the drugs and guns come to the city through upper channels. You want to stop the drugs coming into the city you go after the banks that are laundering the cartel money and you bust the kingpins, but we dont do that because those kinds of people can afford congressmen.

The result of all this is that we'll have black communities become deserted and we'll have areas of blight where no one will live for a generation. Rather than clean up the city and encourage emigration into these under utilized school districts it's easier to just rip the schools out and have the communities die.

Whatever. No one wants the blacks in Chicago anyway. They're just gangbangers and hoods.

Right?
posted by ishrinkmajeans at 7:36 PM on May 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


When I was in public school, we never had air conditioning till I went to senior high.

I live in the South.

It's nice to have but not one hundred percent necessary.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:56 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


But his reasons don't comprise a very convincing argument to me. Of course, he's only a cute 9 year old.
No one is going to support a policy that negatively impacts them personally, whether they're a 3rd grader or an aircraft carrier captain. The main point I was making was simply the idea that running a school is some hypercomplex system equivalent to running an aircraft carrier, and something only elite experts could possibly figure out is a bit hyperbolic. Education policy is something that's easy to understand.
There are 23,290 teachers in CPS. There are 404,151 students. That's a 17-to-1 ratio overall. Closing 50 schools and firing 1,000 teachers (four percent) will result in an 18-to-1 ratio.
Only if teachers and students are evenly distributed, which is unlikely. Students need to go to schools near them, which means if, for example the students are distributed to the 4 nearest schools each neighboring school's population increases by 25%, so a 17-1 ratio would go to a 21-1 ratio. But that doesn't tell you anything about class sizes, which are probably higher then the raw ratio given special ed, high school electives, etc.
Well, if you can't take care of your children, you really might as well give up. You're saying, "Things are fucked now, and we're going to also make sure that we'll be fucked for the next two generations."
Chicago teachers already make a lot more then most teachers in the country, from what I recall, the average teacher there makes. The median salary is $68k, and the mean is $74k. Rahm was trying to lower salaries earlier, and that resulted in a strike.
When I was in public school, we never had air conditioning till I went to senior high.

I live in the South.

It's nice to have but not one hundred percent necessary.
Hmm. I think that being overly hot would make it difficult to concentrate, but if schools are out for the summer anyway, it's only going to be something that has an impact in early fall/late spring.
posted by delmoi at 8:17 PM on May 25, 2013


It's not clear that closing 48 schools and rejiggering another 13 will close the budget gap, or that students moved from one school to another school will have better outcomes. There's a report about it here.

There was very little consultation with any of the teachers, students, administrators or communities that are going to be affected by the school closings. On top of that, there's plenty of reasons why schools shouldn't be run like corporations, e.g. with "flexible supply linked to demand" and "performance-based incentives" for teachers and administrators. It takes a lot of time and resources to build a new school and most teachers improve their skills over time, as well. Suddenly closing this many schools at once seems wreckless - once they're gone, you can't get them back.
posted by subdee at 8:23 PM on May 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


But his reasons don't comprise a very convincing argument to me. Of course, he's only a cute 9 year old. I wouldn't expect much of a convincing argument from a 9 year old.

In all fairness, a lot of people would say that Rahm Emanuel, the Northwestern- and Sarah Lawrence-educated mayor of the third-largest city in the United States and the former Chief of Staff to the powerful man in the world who has spent the last 30 years wheeling, dealing, and negotiating politics at the highest levels of government and power, hasn't made much of a convincing argument for his ideas, either.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:00 PM on May 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


This may sound mean, but I remember what it was like to be a kid, and I think it's a good policy to never listen to the political views of anyone under about 18-20. Kids are so, so easily coached into any kind of view by someone they respect. Smart kids can even understand the concepts of what they are being coached and extrapolate the views and hold conversations about them. However, they haven't had the opportunity to live independently of their mentors and learn to think independently. A lot of people's political (and philosophical, etc.) views swing wildly in their early twenties as they become more independent of their upbringing.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:41 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]






They'll arrest street level pushers but the drugs and guns come to the city through upper channels. You want to stop the drugs coming into the city you go after the banks that are laundering the cartel money and you bust the kingpins,

It's my understanding, via Chicago public radio and other media here, that the epidemic of violence currently is due to how effective the CPD were at putting away high level people in the 90s and early 2000s. There's little hierarchy left and its very young people staking out territory abandoned when the bigs went to prison.

That's a 17-to-1 ratio overall. Closing 50 schools and firing 1,000 teachers (four percent) will result in an 18-to-1 ratio.

This is anecdotal, but my upstairs neighbor was a CPS teacher until very recently. She had 37 kids in her fourth grade class.
posted by MarvinTheCat at 11:04 PM on May 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


Public education is one of those areas where I find it hard to like what anybody's been doing or saying over the last couple of decades. Don't get me wrong: I sometimes abhorred the public school system when I was in it. I watched socioeconomic issues wreck the lives of kids I loved--kids whom many of the adults around me had begun writing off as hopeless before they were even in middle school because of who their parents were and because they were poor. I saw (and in some cases participated in) acts of cruelty and brutality, delinquency, literal insanity (for example, the crazy English teacher in middle school who once welcomed us to class with the warning "Shhh! They're listening!!" scrawled on the blackboard, jerking his thumb in the direction of the intercom speaker from the school's PA system, which he fervently believed and frequently explained was being used to spy on him; the same teacher who was in the news the next year over charges he'd made sexual advances toward several female students, one of whom was a former girlfriend of mine), drug abuse and worse.

And yet, the vast majority of the teachers and faculty I encountered over the years were dedicated, caring, resourceful and reasonably effective at educating and socializing kids. Most of the problems I saw were the result of outside world problems--problems originating in the culture of the society the kids were being brought up in--interfering in the process. For more than a few kids I knew, school was the safest most stable thing in their lives, as much as they rebelled against it.

I really wish this sustained assault on the public school systems would stop already. America pioneered and championed public education early in its history, and we're still reaping the benefits in countless ways we too often take for granted--from near universal literacy to broader social cohesion. It's sad to see that even many Democrats and self-identifying liberals don't seem to appreciate how vitally important it is that we defend not only education in general, but the public education system more particularly. We need more kids in public schools, not fewer. When everyone's kids are in public schools, everyone's got an incentive to make that system work and to work together to fix the failing schools instead of simply leaving them behind and writing them off as someone else's problem. Public education promotes a shared sense of social responsibility and of belonging to a common society. We need more schools, more teachers everywhere, and they shouldn't ever be forced to go begging for handouts or to make do with budgets that make it crystal clear to students and teachers alike that funding public schools is now viewed as a costly burden ideally avoided rather than a moral obligation that contributes to the common cause of building up and sustaining one of our most important public institutions. I hope more and more people start listening to voices like Asean's that challenge us to come together to build public schools up. It should be seen as a privelege to live in a society that calls upon everyone to help build and sustain such a system. Those constantly urging us to be stingy and ungrateful about education, while simultaneously offering only alternatives that ignore the fundamental public interests at stake have said more than enough already.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:38 PM on May 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


This may sound mean, but I remember what it was like to be a kid, and I think it's a good policy to never listen to the political views of anyone under about 18-20. Kids are so, so easily coached into any kind of view by someone they respect. Smart kids can even understand the concepts of what they are being coached and extrapolate the views and hold conversations about them.
This differs from 95% of the population how?
They'll arrest street level pushers but the drugs and guns come to the city through upper channels. You want to stop the drugs coming into the city you go after the banks that are laundering the cartel money and you bust the kingpins,
Or more realistically, they'll never stop the drugs, no matter what they try.

(Other then extreme measures like mandatory universal testing, which are unlikely to see broad support any time soon -- actually shutting down the cartels will just open a space for new entrants, and actually increases violence as those new entrants fight for turf.)
posted by delmoi at 11:52 PM on May 25, 2013 [1 favorite]


In all fairness, a lot of people would say that Rahm Emanuel, the Northwestern- and Sarah Lawrence-educated mayor of the third-largest city in the United States and the former Chief of Staff to the powerful man in the world who has spent the last 30 years wheeling, dealing, and negotiating politics at the highest levels of government and power, hasn't made much of a convincing argument for his ideas, either.

Emmanuel's ineptitude isn't the issue. I'd say the CPS or even public schools in general aren't the issue, despite the apparent irresistability of hammering over the issues all over again. The story here is about an unusually articulate child.

I generally take a dim view of displaying kids as spokespersons. The appeal is made on the power of cuteness. No doubt Asean is smart, articulate and cute kid. But I'm skeptical he's doing much more than repeating the talking points he's been given. This sort of thing isn't entirely unheard of. Jonathan Krohn carved out a small career giving confident conservative speeches to fawning audiences, before making news again last year when he explained how that career as a conservative celebrity had developed as a young person. Marjoe Gortner made a decent living for his parents as a child, preaching fire and brimstone like a seasoned veteran at a remarkably young age for eagerly accepting crowds.

Using kids in this manner has all kinds of "gawww" factor. But it's kind of a shitty way to shore up an argument. Even with the best of intentions and arguments, it's hard for this spectacle to not dumb down the whole process in one way or another. It appears Asean is very much being used as a toy in the cause of Chicago's public schools.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:08 AM on May 26, 2013 [6 favorites]


The story here is about an unusually articulate child.

Well, for you, maybe. For me the articulate child is the hook, but "the story here" is the school closings. subdee's link to the Atlantic is good for pointing out the way these decisions are being made and announced as done deals with zero input from the folks being affected:

Dewey Elementary, another southside elementary school, is not being closed, but it is being "turned around," which means that all of its staff, from principals to janitors, will be fired, and new staff hired. According to Colleen McKinley, a third-grade teacher at Dewey, the news of the turnaround was presented as a done deal at a 7:30 staff meeting; neither teachers nor the community had any input. When a parent group circulated a petition, 80% of parents signed, every single one of them agreeing that they did not want the school to be turned around, or for the current staff to be let go. McKinley was particularly concerned about the turnaround because, like Attucks, Dewey has a significant homeless population. "[C]afeteria workers, janitors, security guards, and teacher aides will lose their jobs," McKinley said. "This means that the Dewey children will lose numerous stable, nurturing adults who know them well and support their learning. The job losses will further destabilize the Englewood neighborhood. "

And this, about one of the schools being closed, is an eye-opener:

Crispus Attucks, for example, is a southside elementary school that is being phased out over two years....Attucks has one of the largest homeless populations in the city: An astonishing 48% of its student body is homeless. Given the chaotic nature of life outside of school for these kids, you'd think that CPS would want to provide a stable school environment. Instead, Attucks has been repeatedly targeted for closure and disruption. In 2004, it was a receiving school for the shuttered Raymond Elementary. In 2008, the then-building was abandoned with virtually no community input or information sessions, and the school was moved 12 blocks south. Many of the students who made that move will now be shifting again to Beethoven Elementary, a school that itself has a large homeless population. How all of this can possibly be in the interest of Attucks's students is unclear.
posted by mediareport at 9:16 AM on May 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


One also shouldn't forget that these 'necessary closures' are coming right on the the heels of a successful strike by the teachers' union with lots of public support that made Rahm and the city council look pretty bad. A big chunk of this process is probably motivated by Chicago Democratic Party Machine political payback.
posted by srboisvert at 10:36 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


"In all fairness, a lot of people would say that Rahm Emanuel, the Northwestern- and Sarah Lawrence-educated mayor of the third-largest city in the United States and the former Chief of Staff to the powerful man in the world who has spent the last 30 years wheeling, dealing, and negotiating politics at the highest levels of government and power, hasn't made much of a convincing argument for his ideas, either."
"Emmanuel's ineptitude isn't the issue. "

You said you didn't expect much from a 9-year old. Neither would I, especially compared to someone with Rahm Emanuel's experience. Which was kind of the point. To me, Asean's confidence, composure, oratory skills, maturity level, ambition, vocabulary, and interest in politics and government made him an exceptional enough 9-year old to justify an FPP. You may not agree with that decison.

I generally take a dim view of displaying kids as spokespersons. The appeal is made on the power of cuteness. No doubt Asean is smart, articulate and cute kid. But I'm skeptical he's doing much more than repeating the talking points he's been given.

I agree completely with the first part of this statement, which is why I didn't just make this a SLYT to the speech. After seeing the two interviews I felt he was more than just a cute-but-clueless kid holding a sign at protest or a rube who was parroting talking points. YMMV:
"I think, if I could be a good class president I might could be a good president of the United States. [...] If basketball and football careers don't work, I will have president, lawyer, and scientist for back-up plans. Maybe Mayor of Chicago."
Marjoe Gortner made a decent living for his parents as a child, preaching fire and brimstone like a seasoned veteran at a remarkably young age for eagerly accepting crowds.

Even if Asean was told what to say, this comparison is extreme and melodramatic, not to mention the inference of malfeasance of some sort on the part of Asean and his mother.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:57 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to announce plans to build a $300 million, 12,000-seat arena for DePaul University . . . dum-dum- dum (suspense) . . . at McCormick Place.
...
But forget that. Guess who will have to cough up about $100  million to build the thing for the private Catholic university of 25,000, through bonds and the usual sneak attacks of wallet-siphonage — Yes! Taxpayers! Ta-dah!
So I guess the budget was not the issue.
posted by delmoi at 9:16 AM on May 27, 2013


They'll arrest street level pushers but the drugs and guns come to the city through upper channels. You want to stop the drugs coming into the city you go after the banks that are laundering the cartel money and you bust the kingpins,

No, you want to end the drug war. That is the only way to keep drug money out of the hands of criminals.
posted by spaltavian at 10:53 AM on May 27, 2013


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