by Ben Joravsky
If you recall, the issue was what to do with the existing building at 606 S. State now that CPS is putting the finishing touches on a new $120 million building just to the south. The new school building will open in the fall.
As you may know from seeing the news, Mayor Rahm has decided to spend a few million more to build a walkway connecting the two buildings, enabling Jones to add more high-scoring students from across the city.
In contrast, Alderman Robert Fioretti and many local residents had been pressing the mayor to turn the old building into a neighborhood high school open to students—higher scorers, low scorers and everyone in between—from the surrounding communities.
Here, read all about it.
The mayor says he wants to keep Jones as largely a restricted-enrollment school in order to give more options to Chicagoans so they won't run to the suburbs when their kids become high schoolers.
That's fine, says Fioretti, but what about all the students—middle-class or not—who live in and around the South Loop but aren't high test scorers?
At this point, let's do a survey . . .
How many of you think Mayor Rahm made his decision because (1) educationally speaking, he really thought it was the right thing to do or (2) he wanted to stick it to Fioretti for opposing him on so many City Council votes?
Alderman Fioretti—I urge you to look on the bright side. Thanks to the community protests, at least the mayor didn't demolish the old building and sell it to developers or turn it over to one of his beloved charter schools.
At his press conference, Mayor Rahm claimed he fell in love with Jones from the moment he visited it last fall. "I said,'B, why are we tearing this building down?' the mayor said. 'Parents want their kids to be in a great school that offers a phenomenal education. The notion that this is scheduled for the ball to come and rip it down makes no sense at all. We decided to not only keep it open, but to open it up and enlarge the freshman class coming in each year for the next four years.'"
I see the mayor's comments will require an explanation . . .
First, note how he deftly phrases things so he's the savior who saved the building from being demolished as opposed to the guy who was all set to tear it down in the first place.
Second, as to the "B" he was addressing in his narrative—the mayor has a habit of giving nicknames to the officials he hires to run the school system.
Now, I love nicknames as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure why the mayor limits the nicknames to school officials. You don't, for instance, see him referring to police chief Garry McCarthy as Big Mac.
In case you're wondering, the "B" in question is Barbara Byrd-Bennett, CEO of the Chicago Public Schools.
Originally, the mayor nicknamed her B-3. As you can see, he's reduced it to "B." If this keeps up, he'll eventually get it down to E, thus saving himself the wear and tear of that initial consonant.
Anyway . . .
I hope Alderman Fioretti and the locals keep up the fight for a neighborhood high school. If nothing else, it's good to keep the mayor on his toes.