A Love Letter to Chicago Public Schools

I don't call myself the Fool for CPS for no reason.

I don't write this blog just because.

I don't have a broken heart over nothing.

All these things are because I love our public schools. I love public education. I love Chicago.

Really? you ask. All this cranking, this obnoxious commentary in this blog--this is a labor of love? Well what do I love, exactly?

I love the school where a parent finds free used tennis balls and puts them on the feet of all the chairs in the classroom of a special needs child who is noise-sensitive.

I love the school where the parents plan a classroom baby shower for a teacher--who teaches all the way to the end of the year, mere days before her due date--and the kids all paint onesies for the baby at the shower.

I love the teacher who recognizes one certain child's particular interest and designs a unit around it, that all the kids can join in, learn from, and love.

I love the teacher who teaches kids to sew, knit, and quilt, and creates massive collaborative works of their art that the children will never forget producing.

I love the teacher who plans and produces a poetry slam that gives an opportunity to a deaf child to stand up in front of a crowd and recite a poem of her own creation.

I love the community that can pull off, year after year, joyful international celebrations of its families many heritages, giving kids and families an opportunity to show off their culture through food, dance, and singing.

I love the classrooms where the teachers set it up so big kids can spend time reading with the little kids in younger grades, those new readers who may not be entirely confident in their reading yet.

I love the social workers and counselors who take the time to pay attention to what individual kids need--implementing small lunch groups, peace circles, game times--whatever it takes to engage every kid who comes into their sphere of influence.

I love the principals who stand up for their school, for their teachers, for their students, insisting on high standards while knowing that real learning is multifaceted and might not be best reflected in test scores alone.

I love the principals who support and cheer on all kinds of kids in all kinds of programs, whether they are the flashy sports stars or the less-flashy musicians, chess players, math team, and choirs.

I love the third grade CPS unit all over the city that immerses kids in Chicago history, and all the different takes on that, culminating in a trolley ride to all the sites they've studied throughout the year.

I love the teachers who spend their own money on books, arts supplies, paper, supplemental materials to create inviting, stimulating classrooms. The teachers who have a class pet, and teach their children how to care for animals. The teachers who do what they can to meet the needs of kids who can't afford field trips, winter coats, or school supplies. The teachers who work to engage every kind of kid that comes into their classrooms.

I love the small communities, the hundreds of them, that are created in neighborhoods all over our city, based around a brick building filled with diverse families and hardworking teachers. Anchors in our city of neighborhoods.

I'll say it again: I love Chicago Public Schools. I know some of you feel the same way about your neighborhood school.

That's why I do what I do. And that's why I hope, day after day, like some lovelorn, moony-eyed fool, that those who shape policy for CPS, those who lead it, will one day love these schools--and their teachers, principals, and students too--in a way that is apparent, evident, or discernible in any way at all.

If you want a better Chicago Public Schools system please like my Facebook page and join me there for more discussion. You can also follow me on twitter @foolforcps.

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