School closings and teacher firings: Chicago pioneers what will soon be a national NCLB tragedy... The ugly failure of the Daley Dictatorship

The most important national Resistance story in this issue of Substance is the report on Chicago that begins on Page Thirty-Two and stretches across much of this newspaper. Break the news to the rest of the country. If you think the testing was hearbreaking, wait until they start closing schools like they have in Chicago.

For more than a decade, the “CEO Model” of “Urban School Reform” has proclaimed that dictatorship under a big city mayor will reform the schools. The underlying racism of this claim has rarely been disputed. The “CEO model” is brought in by corporate plutocrats after a softening up process of “scandals” hyped by a corporate media. Chicago was the pioneer in this. Illinois placed Chicago’s massive public school system — the third largest in the USA — under the dictatorial control of Mayor Richard M. Daley in 1995 with the passage of the “Amendatory Act.”

The evidence is now in. The dictatorship has failed. For the poorest children, thing are worse. For the middle class, little has changed. For a small elite, things are probably much better. But the purpose of public schools is not to serve a wealthy minority, but to serve all the people. If all the people include “the least of my brethren” (as one parent reminded the Chicago Board of Education at its October 2007 meeting), then the past 12 years in Chicago have been a nasty failure.

It’s time to replace dictatorship with democracy. Chicago needs an elected school board, and we need to apologize to the rest of the USA about the fraud Chicago has perpetrated on other cities that adopted the “Chicago model.”

The latter half of the 1990s was a period of great wealth and extravagant waste in the USA. A great opportunity to create equity and justice in Chicago’s public schools has been squandered in terribly undemocratic projects, not the least of which were deregulation and privatization (which still continue under “Renaissance 2010”).

As we began to report in this series in the November 2007 Substance, Chicago has already pioneered many of the ugliest policies that will soon go national unless No Child Left Behind is abolished now.

Chicago’s school closing policies, most dramatically as a result of “Renaissance 2010”, is in fact a massive privatization of public wealth. 


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