Since I didn’t see this at —

Published online 21 August 2015.

— I figured I would give it some press.  My source of information is a Facebook profile, so I can’t say I’m surprised that my topic for today hasn’t gotten a ton of publicity.  Here is the most recent report I can find through a meager Google search.

I’ve noticed from the Bernie Sanders/ Black Lives Matter debacle around here that you’re all into “educating” each other.  Does anyone here, especially those of you from Chicago, want to “educate” me about this event?

Black Schools Matter – Chicago Protestors Go on Hunger Strike to Save Their Last Neighborhood School

OK so what summarizes this piece most directly?

If the Emanuel administration has its way, this mostly black community will have to choose between sending their children to a failing charter school or a failing public school run by a private company – all while the neighborhood’s historic Walter H. Dyett High School is closed.Nat King Cole, Dinah Washington, Red Fox and Bo Diddley are all alumni of Dyett.

Why close such a vibrant connection to the community’s proud past?

The unelected Board of Education voted in 2012 to phase out the school because of low standardized test scores and dropping graduation rates.

So OK, I’m not from Chicago, and so I don’t know the local context of this material.  But here’s what I know about “school reform” as it is generally being practiced upon America, including the people of Chicago:

Everyone in America should know by now what the standardized test scores are for.  The most important correlation to understand is the one between the test scores and the income levels of the students’ parents — it’s a 70% correlation more or less.  So by the rules of Race to the Top, they close down the schools with the lowest test scores, which will almost always be the ones with the lowest-income students.  Accompanying these closures has been a general blaming of teachers for poor test scores, which in no instance has been based on research.  When they close down the schools, what opens up in their place are charter schools.  The charter school scam is pretty clear at this point: unionized teachers are fired, cheap teachers are hired, and corporations scoop up the difference as profit.  Diane Ravitch:

Public educations represents a $500-$700 billion a year opportunity to big business and hedge funds. They’re going after it with the help of ALEC, the Koch brothers and Barack Obama.

There might be a few good charter schools here and there in America, but those can be pretty easily distinguished from the headlong rush into charter school development that is part and parcel of present-day “school reform.”  Do they have valid pedagogical reasons for doing what they do?  Do they pay their teachers well?

And as for the graduation rates of the students, it’s really no wonder that students born to lower-class parents do less well than students born to upper-class parents, and it’s been no secret since Annette Lareau published Unequal Childhoods — the lower-class parents simply don’t have the time to keep their children well-trained in the “do well in school” competition, because they’re too busy earning a living.

If the government really cared about the parents of children attending  lower-class schools, it would enact a series of measures to improve the economic standing of the lower-class parents.  But that’s not what’s happening.  What’s happening is that the schools are being starved of money, privatized, and the remainder of this money is being handed to test-prep manufacturers and charter school corporations.  So… hunger strike.  At least in Chicago.

OK, so “educate” me about why the tests are so important, why charter schools are totally kewl, why TFA is so bitchen, why Arne Duncan is the kiddies’ hero, and why we don’t need to fix the schools by doing something about the economic well-being of the poorest parents.

Educate me as to why the hunger strikers are wasting their time and their livelihoods.  It’s your turn.


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