CPS school closures: It's all over but the weeping, and that wrenching feeling in the gut

It’s too late now.

It’s too late for this post. It’s too late to tell you about the march on Monday that my daughter and I went on.

It’s all over but the weeping, you know. This is the day of the CPS Board of Ed meeting, where six esteemed friends of Rahm Emanuel will approve his plan to shutter 54 public schools, or 53, or 50, and 40,000 children’s lives will be irrevocably altered.

CPS Board of Ed VP Jesse Ruiz says the decision is gut-wrenching to him. I was in Springfield yesterday and that’s what he said, said it in front of a bunch of state legislators who are earning their paychecks impressively and restoring my sense that the world may in fact be a sane place after all.

They didn’t buy what he was selling. Rep. Lilly asked why, at this, the 12th hour, am I still getting piles of information from my constituents who are angry and anxious and have not been a part of this process?

Jesse Ruiz is optimistic and cheerful. He is a man of good faith and misinformation. He says classes won’t be any larger than “the CPS limit” of 30 kids in the new cobbled-together Frankenschools, but we CPS parents know that many of our classes are already in the upper 30s to over 40 range and have been so for years. He talked of how square footage fits in to the utilization formula (it doesn’t, actually), he says special ed class sizes were taken into consideration (they weren’t). He says that though the sight of all the abandoned garages on some of the new walking routes is upsetting to him personally (the garages, he contends, will just have to be taken down), firefighters can help keep children safe (after all, firefighters do a lot of sitting around in front of the station).

(Yes, he said that.)

He said that thing about how CPS has listened to 20,000 parents, or is it 30,000. After the meeting I reminded him that we’re still waiting for the answers to our questions that John Price promised would be on the CPS website. All us parents. All the questions we asked. No, none were answered, ever. Not one. We were told we could call 311, though, so there’s that.

Rep. Pihos said she’s waited for 11 years for an answer to her question to CPS. Eleven years ago she wondered if CPS could tell her how many school bathrooms did not have running water.

That’s a long time to wait, but it’s shorter than forever, which is how long we’ll be waiting to hear the real explanations for these closures, or apologies for the ensuing chaos.

“This will be the shortest summer ever,” Ruiz crowed, using this fact to bolster his point that there won’t be an increase in drop-outs on account of the closings. I cringed when he said it just thinking about the short seven weeks CPS has to spend its millions on construction projects and transition projects and neighborhood garage-tearing-down projects in order to “do the closings right.”

By the time you read this, parents will be making a final push to keep schools open, and 125 S. Clark will be in a somewhat chaotic state under the weight of it, the pressure of thousands of people who have not been listened to or regarded, thousands and thousands of people who love their schools, thousands and thousands and thousands of people who are tired, so tired of being pushed around and ordered around and manipulated and misinformed.

People tired of being at the mercy and whim of a mayor who does not need them, who is content enough to be above the fray, whose money comes from both coasts and so who the hell cares what we think, he still has the money.

People tired of hearing ignorant sound bites about trapped children, and self-delusional righteous umbrage on behalf of children Rahm has neither seen nor heard, children and families who did not ask for and do not want his condescending manufactured pity.

People tired. Too tired, perhaps, even to weep.

And that wrenching feeling in the gut? That belongs to the six friends of Rahm Emanuel who make up the CPS Board of Education.

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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