CHICAGO, IL — Parent and teacher complaints about rats forced Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to “deep clean” Mollison Elementary School. Health inspectors failed the school on two more inspections, before the school finally passed. Mollison isn’t the only one. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) spokespeople pointed out that it is widespread and can be attributed to the privatization of janitorial services three years ago and the slashing of custodial staff.
The longstanding disinvestment by the city in its public schools provides the context for another problem. Now the city plans to shutter all four public high schools in Englewood, a process one student, speaking at a press conference, called “systematic and intentional.” She went on: “We have seen this before. We are done being played.”
Whether it is rats or school closures, the destruction of public education is indeed systematic. A mayor offers Amazon billions to locate its headquarters in Chicago but can’t find the money for school resources? There is no incentive to educate Chicago children for jobs that do not exist (even the anticipated Amazon jobs). Instead, public schools become cash conduits to private corporations like the giant janitorial corporation Aramark or graft-infused educational corporations like SUPES, scheduled to open a charter school.
Parents and students and teachers are fighting to make CPS end its contracts with the likes of Aramark, and end the expansion of charter schools. This is all part of the fight to take power away from the corporations, and, from the national level, guarantee that all schools have the resources they need.