by Ben Joravsky
As I see it, he's fighting battles on four or five—hard to keep count—fronts.
Let's try to tally them.
He's got parents from the south and west sides mad at him for closing their schools, even though pretty much the only people who showed up to support the closings were paid "protesters."
One more time—wake up, everybody!
He's got parents in Beverly and Mount Greenwood up in arms over his half-baked plan to force an unfunded mandate down their throats with the longer day.
That's the one where he makes kids stay in class longer but doesn't provide any money to give them something constructive to do.
It's more like—shut up and read something!
By the way, at today's school board meeting 19th Ward alderman Matt O'Shea showed up to voice his support with the parents. Good for you, alderman—it's never too late to take a stand.
Message to north-side aldermen Scott Waguespack, Ameya Pawar, Tom Tunney, and Michele Smith, just to name a few: if O'Shea can do it, so can you. Parents in your wards like the unfunded-longer-school-day mandate about as much as they liked it when the mayor cut the libraries.
Whoops—you voted for that.
Who else is upset over how Mayor Emanuel runs the schools?
Well, the teachers who are perpetually upset as the mayor pushes on with efforts to make them work longer for less while selling off the system to his favorite charters—all part of his curious experiment in public education, where he tries to get kids to learn more by making their teachers miserable.
And, finally, there are the irate legislators in Springfield, who are upset cause the mayor's school front man—CEO Jean-Claude Brizard—recently missed their hearing on school closings. Good story by Jim Broadway in Catalyst about that.
These are the same legislators who did Emanuel's bidding last year by passing the notorious Senate Bill #7—SB7, for short. That's the one where they attempted to improve low-scoring schools in low-income communities by compromising teacher tenure rights everywhere, including wealthy suburbs, where the kids were scoring off the charts.
Which is a little like a doctor taking out a kidney cause he doesn't know what to do about the heart.
I'd call it the decade's dumbest piece of legislation, if it wasn't for the multi-million dollar tax break the legislators gave to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, one of the wealthiest group of traders in the universe. Here's the short version on that.
Wait, wait, this just in: Parents on the southeast side are starting to rise up angry against the longer day unfunded mandate, too.
You know, when all is said and done, Mayor Emanuel may do more to bring this city together than any person since Michael Jordan.
Ultimately, this predicament is all the fault of our city's enlightened electorate, who saw fit to overwhelming elect a man who knew nothing about public schools in Chicago, except that other people send their kids to them.
Heckuva job, voters—as President Bush might put it.
My bet is that the mayor's going to have to back down. Look for him to call some of these factions into the back rooms—where all the good stuff happens—to cut some deals.
Then the real fun will be watching him apply the spin.