"Emptiness In Their Eyes"

On an NBC "Rock Center" segment Rahm Emanuel admits to not being sure he can change the world view and outlook of kids in high-poverty neighborhoods:

Overall I thought the segment was pretty superficial.  The truly messy, petty, personal nature of the fight over the extended day got glossed over, even as the bow-tied interviewer Harry Smith made winking allusions to Emanuel's temper. The "real" Emanuel and Lewis were nowhere to be seen.


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  • Thanks for posting. For the record, none of the cities that he mentions have a 7.5 hour day. A few have small portions of their district with a 7.5-8hr day but none have the whole district on this schedule. I wonder if he understands all the deficits in the school day in Chicago and the need to make substanstive changes to the existing schedule and not just lengthen what we have.

  • Superficial? Kind of what you'd expect for any 5-minute feature. Nonetheless, I thought Rahm came through as quite sincere and genuine. It was a puff piece, but it was also very flattering to him. There was no attempt to explore the issue of longer school day. It was just a promise he made on the campaign trail.

    IIRC he also promised to close/consolidate 150+ under-enrolled schools. Watch out.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    Sincere? I can't say what cheese best describes him: Pantysgawn, Gevrik, Feta, Caprino, Munster,Parmesan, Asiago, String, Pasteurized Process, Powdered, Head….Sincere? What kind of cheese is Sincere?

  • 52 Mission Stare.

    So the mayor saw sadness in the kids eyes, wonder what were in the teachers eyes ? I know what he saw was not sadness but a reflection of the experiences far too many
    Kids have had to endure in their short lives. The sadness will turn to hate and intolerance as these youngsters grow up and realize how life has screwed them .Finally the stare will turn to the gaze of a predator when the damaged kids of Chicago try to get there’s using the only way they know, violence and cunning.
    The stare of some teachers is different, it is a kind of detached expression that can look right through you without seeing you, a sort of defensive gesture that deflects the pain of what they have gone through and a pipeline right to the soul.
    As my fingers go over the keys on this gray November dawn my mind is not here its at Simeon the morning Bengi died. Or remembering the gut fear you get starring down the barrel of a gun, or the anger we felt when there would be no paycheck for Christmas in 1979. But the real culprit is the hopelessness and isolation fighting the forces of ignorance on one side and a stupid heartless corrupt bureaucracy on the other try to break your sprite. Those are just a few of the thousands of situations a teacher keeps inside them.99.9 percent of people just can’t believe it is that
    bad they are right, it is worst.

  • You're still crying about missing a paycheck in 1979? I know people in private industry that have missed months and months of pay checks. Maybe the look in your eye is one from being spoiled from a comfortable career?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Far from crying it is just a memory of bygone days. I would like to address
    The last poster. If private industry were so good why are we in such sad shape?
    I realize that you want to make us all look like crybabies but look in the mirror. We have fought Gangster D’s Gaylord’s Stones, and a host of other criminal enterprises while working for a far more vicious enemy. Do you think your snide remarks bother me? Perhaps you can get one of these cushy jobs, I recommend Gage Park High School it might change your mind but I am sure it will scare the hell out of you.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    We still have people stupid enough to think that teaching is comfortable?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    You know people in private industry who have missed "months and months" of pay checks? And this is what you want for teachers? And who are these people who missed months and months of paychecks? Your employees?

  • I work at Gage Park and its whiners like you that ruin everyone's morale. Appreciate what you have and realize plenty would trade their place with you. Just ask the displaced teachers from schools that have been closed. Your bygone days are what we're all trying to correct due to generations of underserved children who are now our student's parents. Sorry your job isn't as cushy as it used to be but no ones job is as cushy as it used to be but teaching is still one of the most stable professions available. Focus on correcting the present instead of crying about what you lost, because what you lost is what others never had.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Dear Hotspur

    If you really teach at Gage Park I feel sorry for you. Just think
    It will never get any better .

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    "but teaching is still one of the most stable professions available”

    Really? That’s why teachers get the stress in May. That’s why there are so many teachers pounding the cement just trying to find a position.

    If it is so stable why is it that the general public has such distain and no respect for teachers what so ever? If it is so stable, why are the budget cuts in school districts including laying off teachers in large quantities?

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    one reason the public disdains teachers is because you don't get it, you don't realize how good you have it. There are private industry people that have been unemployeed for years and they have missed pay checks but teachers get months of vacation and still get paychecks. Nice gig. Quit compaining about your job or you'll cause more of the public to hate you.

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    what the public genuinely likes is entertainment: sex, beer, fast cars, football, baseball, basketball, shopping and having friends agree with them, no matter how ill informed their opinion…what they do not like is thinking - and who can blame them - thinking requires effort

    Education requires effort, sacrifice and discipline - teachers demand of their students those qualities…people will never like teachers for those two reasons alone…all other reasons are an excuse to displace contempt - grow up teacher-hater - just because your fifth grade teacher put you in the naughty chair because you were stealing johnny's pencil doesn't mean you have to hold on to it for the rest of your life….

  • In reply to Anonymous:

    Rahm saw 'emptiness' in their eyes? They must have got a glimpse of his soul

  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Anonymous:

    I get both sides of it:
    I know full well what a wonderful job I have. I love working with students, and I have a job that matters.

    I also know full well that I have one of the most stressful jobs in existence and that few could handle it. I know because I get to meet a lot of the great ex-teachers for whom it was too much.

    And that's what bothers me--that it's never the kids. It's the bureaucrats and terrible bosses--many are good, but all it takes is one to make someone's profession a living hell and have them leave forever.

    The difference is that unlike business if they do "just find another job", the children suffer. So I wish the public would stop displacing disdain on teachers and focus their critique on the real damage being done to children in the system.

  • Rahm saw sadness in their eyes? Maybe they know what he has in store for them

  • Of course Rahm saw sadness in their eyes…they were looking directly at him…and hope is not what they were looking at

  • He saw emptiness in their eyes? they must have been reading his education policy manual...

  • Since Rahm took office, the number of homeless children has risen by 16% in Chicago …lucky for them that Rahm is enforcing his new Curfew laws…now kids under 12 have to be homeless or under a bridge by 8:30 p.m. Just another Rahm 'value-added'.

    When Rahm saw emptiness in their eyes - they must have been looking at the space where there home used to be…

  • come december first, chicago kids can enjoy the benefits of being homeless and school less

  • From Seth Lavin's Chicago School Wonks:


    My mom texted me earlier this week to say “Rahm’s on TV talking about kids with dead eyes.” She was referring to an NBC video, linked in this Huffpo piece, which says:

    “Emanuel also told Smith about the city's deeper challenges that will be much more difficult to address: children growing up with "emptiness in their eyes" in some parts of the city.”


    “Reaching a child who has the flicker of life snuffed out? That’s daunting. These other things, we can handle,” Emanuel said. "That to me is what gives you pause…and I think I can say this since it’s not one of my strong suits, that’s what humbles you.”

    On the one hand… I like hearing Rahm acknowledge something isn’t a “strong suit” and I’m glad he’s admitting what a lot of us figured out pretty quick—the children who live in high-need parts of our city are foreign to our new Mayor.

    On the other hand... it’s almost physically painful for me to read: “a child who has the flicker of life snuffed out.” That’s just not how kids work, Mr. Mayor. The kids he’s referring to—the ones who live in high-crime areas, attend failing schools and deal with all sorts of things children should never have to deal with—they’re just as much people as everyone else is, just as vividly alive as the rest of us. Anyone who knows kids like the kids he’s talking about knows that (and I mean knows them as people, not data sets or photo props).

    True, there are kids out there in our city bearing the burden of hardships I cannot imagine—but they’re still kids. They read books. They collect Tech Decks. They buy candy. They do their homework. They’re proud when they solve problems. They’re happy when their schools are safe, teachers are nice and when they know their schoolwork’s meaningful and relevant to their futures. Their eyes are full of life. They are full of life. That’s a big part of why we’re all working so hard to make schools better, right?

    It’s the fact that Chicago’s children deal with what they deal with without the flicker of life being snuffed out that makes a Mayor’s schools agenda so important. Rahm has to know that. If he doesn’t why should teachers trust or follow him? Why should parents? Why should kids?

    Get to know some of children you're talking about, Mr. Mayor. It’ll make this all a lot easier for all of us.

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