Red in a blue city

Sometimes I like to drop my own little personal bomb. I call it the R-bomb. I can scatter crowds with it. I can get people to sputter profanity right into my face–that is, when they can formulate words at all. Here in Hyde Park, I can still shock just about everyone with with my not-so-secret-anymore.

I’m a Republican. A small splash of red in a very blue neighborhood in a very blue city.

We have our little ways, we Republicans. We’re tired of bad government and big government and inefficient government. We think everything should be simpler, priorities pared way down, less money spent, fewer oppressive rules. We hate being manipulated by special interests and their demands.

Because of this, Republicans are totally all in with the privatization thing. Privatization fixes all of the above. Saves us from too much government spending, saves us from government excess and inefficiency. It just plain saves us!

Privatization solves so many problems. It can help us control public unions with their power grabs and endless feeding at the public trough. It can make everything more efficient, and cheaper, and humming like a well-oiled machine.  It raises up our best leaders: if you can run a business well, you can excel at anything, anything at all.

So obviously this philosophy has implications for, well, everything we do, promote, and advocate. Especially the public sector. We’re totally sick of the public sector. They can’t do anything right. Ever. At least that’s what we say over and over.

Schools. They’re the public sector. You know. Public education. It’s something we’re all supposed to pay for somehow–even folks who don’t have kids! With our taxes. We’re supposed to fund these terrible, union controlled schools–with our taxes? As if we don’t already have high enough taxes!

Republicans have a better idea. Privatize it!

Republicans can solve all the problems faced by the public schools. Even the problems here in Chicago–which are considerable! There’s that huge budget issue, right? Okay, so it’s not nearly as big of an issue as CPS told us at first, even they say so on their own books, but hey, you got a budget problem, we can fix it. Privatize. And school quality? So, maybe they’re not quite as terrible as we’ve been told, but really, we know they can be so much better if we just bring in business leaders to lead the schools. What do educators know anyway?

We’ve got this whole thing solved. There’s this great manual which outlines just the way to do it. And it works! We’ve seen it work–to perfection, just about, in Michigan–just this week.

So what does the manual tell us? To reach our goal of privatization of the schools, you just have to follow the steps. First, you declare a catastrophic financial emergency. Then, you declare that schools are underutilized. Then you hold lots and lots of public “hearings,” as in “we hear you, public,” because it’s kind of traumatic for folks to face the impending changes if they’ve been addicted to public sector coddling their whole life. People need to feel like they have a voice and that their opinion counts, then they might not get as balky.

Anyway once those hearings are out of the way (and you really don’t actually need to listen to the people), your path is free and clear to start shutting down schools. Everyone reads daily about the catastrophic finances, everyone really gets that schools need to close down, and even those few balky parents will be on board soon enough, they’re just a little confused. Finally, you make way for lots of charters to move in, and the privatization steps are complete.

It really works like a charm. It’s in the manual.

It’s important, while you follow the steps, to constantly reinforce that characteristically red ideal that privatizing will fix the problems. And you have to talk a lot about the children. Because–and this is the best part of the whole thing, and folks could really misunderstand if you aren’t kind of delicate about this–some of us stand to make a lot of money off this.

Let me tell you, there are some awesome money-making ideas out there, even beyond stuffing the district with charters. Charter schools make money for folks because they get government dollars to build and run what is essentially a private school. Then there’s the testing companies–wow! Testing companies have nowhere to go but up–what with standardized testing becoming more and more the core of every curriculum in every grade (it’s how we show, by the way, that schools and teachers are failing). Then there’s awesome stuff to sell to schools and districts and entire state boards of ed, exciting technology innovations–everything from calculators to handheld devices that can take the place of teachers. It’s a whole field just ripe for harvest. And the very best for last–the testing and the technology creates and collects data. This is truly an unimaginable cash cow, but we don’t really need to go into it here. Just trust me on this one. And try to buy some stock in anything Gates or Rupert Murdoch, because Lord knows they know the market possibilities and are already on top of them.

Michigan, like I mentioned above, has been in the news this week. Not only have they had extensive Republican management of the school situation there, in one special district they’ve gone even further and just shut the whole damn thing down, fired the teachers, closed the schools, sent the kids home. Now there’s a place that’s ripe for privatization. Or maybe, just skip it altogether. One less thing to spend money on.

I’m telling you, Chicago, the best fix for the public schools is a Republican fix. Next time, elect the right mayor–a red mayor! And just think of the possibilities if we could get this thing going in the White House. Red, for our blue city, and for so much more.

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