Thursday, March 28, 2013

What to do with Chicago's Abandonned Schools

Assuming that CPS goes ahead with their planned school actions, there will be nearly 60 abandoned schools located mostly in Chicago's poorest neighborhoods.   In previous mass closings, the cities wound up losing a lot of money on the schools, which soon became abandoned and derelict.  Even The Chicago Tribune has called for the city to sell these buildings to charter schools, but the city has so far refused.  Fortunately, there is a way for the city to re-purpose these buildings.

Let's face it, research shows that students who are involved in actions like these have a much higher rate of dropping out and that is only going to give them a higher rate of incarceration as adults.   Since many of these kids are already growing up in a high crime neighborhood, most of them are probably going to wind up in prison.

Chicago has the chance here to become to incarceration what Silicon Valley is to micro chips.  Best of all, the private prison industry is growing almost as fast as the charter school movement hence our politicians will still have a steady source of campaign dollars. 

Now don't get me wrong, there is going to be some initial costs.  Unlike Chicago Public Schools, prisons need libraries and places for the inmates to exercise.  There will be a need for cells and fences and watch towers, but if we're looking for a tiny cramped space that can serve as a place to punish the worst offenders by placing them in isolation, most schools have a space like this.  It's usually used for special education classes.

The children are our future and if we can't nurture them and educate them, our society still needs to profit off them.   It's time to move Chicago into the future as incarceration capital of the world.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

We're giving CPS a "B+" on School Action Plans

With CPSmaking the courageous decision to close 54 schools - we wanted to dig in, look at the schools, and see if the outcomes were in line with the position we announced last fall calling for CPS to abuse students this year and get it out of their system.

Below is our press release on our position. We think the plan merits a "B+".

Bottom line, while CPS is heading in the right direction, there is always room for improvement and plenty more schools to close.  Take a look! Do you agree? Because if you don't, you obviously don't care about the city's children.  Isn't it time you started caring about the city's children?  What a selfish jerk you are.


CHICAGO – Last Stand for Children First Illinois, a membership organization representing over a half dozen parents from across the city and hundreds of members of the Chicago Board of Trade, The Rauner 2014 campaign, and the Civic Federation of Chicago, has been closely monitoring Chicago Public Schools as CPS grapples with balancing its fiscal crisis and the staggering need to improve the quality of education that it delivers. Last Stand for Children First Illinois members are adamant that, above all else, improving student academic opportunities should be the single most important objective of CPS.

On Thursday, CPS announced its list of schools that it proposes to close or consolidate at the end of the current school year. Last Stand for Children First Illinois has analyzed this list to assess whether students impacted by school actions will be moved to a better academic environment next fall.

Overall, we give CPS a “B+” grade. While many of the proposed actions offer students significantly better access to schools with higher test scores, all will provide students with access to free laptops and ponies. Our Analysis used the following tenets. Each school that provided students an opportunity to get much needed exercise by dodging gang crossfire received 4 points (or an “A”). Those that eliminate one of the few places of stability from children's lives and thus teach them the important Zen lesson of avoiding attachments received 3 points (or a “B”). For actions that did neither of these things, we still gave the schools 2 points (or an “C”) for providing children of the neighborhood a fun abandoned building to play in.  If there was co-location as a result of the action that would allow students to witness a huge discrepancy in resources with a charter school, these schools received a bonus point because they will allow students to experience first hand the class tensions we enjoy every week watching Downton Abbey.

As an organization, we have a long history of evaluating things.   We received some notoriety last year when we gave the Cubs playoff chances a B.  This year, we rated Chris Brown as a "C+" boyfriend.

“Every child, regardless of where he or she lives, deserves fresh air and a chance at exercise.  What better exercise than dodging gang crossfire.  The addition of giving students an IPad so they would have something worth stealing was brilliant,” said Monica Caldwell, Chicago Director of Last Stand for Children First Illinois. Caldwell continued, “Many of these receiving schools have that secret sauce that poor children need to succeed and my own children will never taste, thank God. We also urge Rahm Emanuel to continue to authentically engage parents in the education process from Utah.”

CPS’s school actions are part of series of measures that CPS has undertaken in recent years to improve Chicago’s school system.   It is truly amazing how much the Chicago Public Schools continue to keep improving. Last Stand for Children First Illinois will continue to educate and empower billionaires to advocate for policies that will improve public education in Chicago even more.

# # #

Last Stand for Children First Illinois empowers parents to become civically engaged, but we can't do it without parents.   I mean really, we're getting tired of  having the same old parent talk to the media and agree with us on Facebook.  We fight for smart education policies that put the interests of billionaires first. Learn more about us at

Mister Emanuel's Opus

If you've ever seen Mr. Holland's Opus, you will remember the amazing moment at the end of the movie when many of Mr. Holland's former students reunite to play the symphony he wrote, but never got to really do much with because he was too busy teaching his students and helping them in their lives.

I can only imagine when these Lafayette School students become adults and reunite to thank Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel for closing their school and providing them with much greater educational opportunities.  One can't help, but feel sorry for these kids who don't even have woodwinds and must rely almost entirely on strings and one drum to make their music. 

Lafayette School is just one of 54 schools that the Chicago Public Schools are planning to close.  Lafayette's Illinois School Report Card shows just what a colossal failure it is.  With 98% of the student population living in poverty, should they really be learning the upright bass?  Why not teach these students instruments that they could play on street corners and help their families out?  It seems to me fine arts money could be better used on more affluent students in the first place.

Mayor Emanuel has never visited Lafayette School nor have any School Board members, but they must have done their homework shutting down this school and making these students go to a new school 10 blocks away.  It may even be a good chance for the 166 students at the school with special needs to learn some life skills.  Now, if only the parents would stop complaining and start letting the Mayor do what's best for their kids.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Controversial Video Game Draws Mayoral Ire

The Mayors of New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago have called on video game manufacturer Satan's Child Games to pull School Closing Fight from store shelves for it's over the top violence and depiction of urban life.

The controversial game manufacturer first caught the public's eye with Evil Bus Driver, a game where you tried to crash into buses filled with helpless orphans and force them off the road.  However, according to Philadelphia's Mayor Nutter, this time the game company has "gone too far."

In School Closing Fight, players take the part of either a hardened criminal or a public school student who is forced to cross into their territory because their neighborhood school has been closed.   The student gains points for survival, while the hardened criminal earns points by removing the students' IPads from their backpacks.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was outraged saying, "The idea that students would be given an IPad and then sent out into these deplorable and violent streets is obsurd.  A game that would encourage people to play the part of somebody who attacks students to get their IPads is disgusting."

New York Mayor Bloomberg announced that he would seek legislation to ban the video game, which "features an unacceptable level of violence."

We at Last Stand for Children First usually agree with these three great city mayors, but this seems like a big deal for a video game.  I mean it is just a game, right?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Chicago Public Schools Promise to Give Every Student at Closed Schools a Pony

Despite a reported 1 billion dollar debt, the Chicago Public Schools announced that all students at closing students would be given their very own pony.   District officials vowed to pick up the tab of approximately $2,500 per student for the ponies.

“Our research shows that children--particularly small children--love ponies.   We also have to consider that many children will have to travel further to their receiving schools.  Also, many of these students have seen absolutely no stability in relationships they've formed with people” said school CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in a press release issued shortly after midnight.

District officials said they'll pay for the investments by "redirecting resources from underutilized" schools, which will be closed. But a 2011 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts revealed that many districts that have closed schools have realized few savings in the initial years because of significant costs to mothball closed buildings, transition students, move equipment and add upgrades to receiving schools. The average annual savings in the short run, according to study, were well under $1 million per school.

"Students can name their own pony Twilight or Princess or Sparkles or whatever they want, though we're going to discourage students from naming their ponies anything like Persepolis," Said Byrd-Bennett, "I think this shows that CPS has been thinking of our students all along."

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chicago Public Schools Protect Students from Dangers of Reading

After the Chicago Public Schools wisely called for schools to round up the graphic novel Persepolis from its libraries and classrooms for presumed future burning, it was immediately criticized by the Chicago Teachers Union and Liberal Mouthpiece Kristine Mayle who said, "We are surprised ‘Persepolis: A Story of Childhood’ would be banned by the Chicago Public School (CPS) system.  The only place we’ve heard of this book being banned is in Iran. We understand why the district would be afraid of a book like this-- at a time when they are closing schools--because it’s about questioning authority, class structures, racism and gender issues. There’s even a part in the book where they are talking about blocking access to education. So we can see why the school district would be alarmed about students learning about these principles."

I'm sorry, but looking in the page above, I just don't see any similarities to CPS at all.