Chicago Closing schools Education Reform Emanuel Rahm

Julie Vassilatos: How Will Rahm Be Remembered? What Will His Legacy Be?

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Julie Vassilatos baked a cake to celebrate the announced retirement of Rahm Emanuel as mayor of Chicago. But she is laughing and crying. He wants to be remembered as “the education mayor.” Really. Stop laughing.

Here is his real legacy. Open the link to see the whole post plus lots of links:

The closure of 50 schools. This chaotic, criminal mess was why I started this blog. Here are the open letters to Barbara Byrd Bennett and the Chicago Tribune following the first school closure hearings that kicked everything off. Later I realized all those hearings were a sham, just part of a process the Broad Center recommends when a district undertakes mass school closings in order to cut costs. Such meetings are for people to “feel heard,” although no one ever responds or answers any questions or resolves anything. We sat through many rounds of these. Years later, still they go on. I was recently at a similar hearing concerning NTA, the majority-black, successful elementary school Rahm decided to hand over to majority-non-black South Loopers for a high school. That foreordained, futile vibe you get from these events is impossible to avoid, as all major decisions actually have already been made and no comments actually impact the outcomes.

The closure process was every bit as terrible as you can imagine–actually, probably worse, and I wrote about it obsessively in every possible way I could think of until the hour board of ed voted to shutter the schools (which they managed to do without even naming the schools the vote was intended to close).

Research undertaken since the closures has shown they did not improve anyone’s educational experience, they only caused a great deal of “institutional mourning” in children, that is to say, grief. And the board who enacted this policy was summarily dismissed after CEO Byrd-Bennett was nailed for corruption and the optics of their unquestioning approval became a bad look for Rahm.

Add to that the “decimation of school libraries.”

And add to that:

The near-death of Walter H. Dyett High School and the near-death of the Dyett Hunger Strikers. Again, 100% on Rahm. I wrote too many posts on this to link (but here’s the first). Disinvesting a school in a black neighborhood was certainly not new in Chicago with this mayor. But he brought this conflict to new heights. Rahm’s refusal to meet with members of the community, as well as utter shenanigans around Requests for Proposals for the school, as well as a Rahm-beholden alderman and yet more absurd community hearings, created not just an unjust situation, not just a PR nightmare, but also almost irrecoverable health crises for the Hunger Strikers, who went to this extreme measure in order to get a meeting with their mayor. Over 34 days he never met with them. Though the cost was terrible, Dyett remained open. Whatever Rahm’s agenda was here was never made clear, but he lost that round, and the community has a whole bunch of actual, real life heroes.

And don’t forget “the traumatization of children.”

Quite a record for one Mayor. The Education Mayor.

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