Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Sky is Falling fallacy

If you read current education news or live n Illinois, you might think the sky is falling. A recent article and event (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-rally-march-in-loop-today-against-cps-closings-20130327,0,7975177.story) of Chicago closing 54 schools has caused rallies, uprising, and a social media explosion. Fury has erupted, panic, the figurative sky is falling in Chicago. Well, maybe. I will address the major thematic comments I have encountered; feel free to form you own opinions.
Copyright AP news

The Good, Bad, and Ugly...the viewpoints and common ideas of those favoring the rally....

Education is a right!

Actually, I agree in theory. Everyone has the right to an education. Fact. However; do the protesters think these children will not have a school to attend? Compulsory education laws mandate that the children of  Chicago attend school until age 16, and there must be options of a free and fair education. Therefore, it isn't like these children will be stranded, forgotten, their educational rights revoked.

They are closing primarily black schools!

Perhaps..I have not checked the list of schools to the census records, but much of South and West Chicago is predomnatly black. However, the schools are closing due to low enrollment; for example, a school with, say, 24 teachers and 680 students would mean a class average of 30 students per class. If suddenly, due to students moving, dropping out, etc the school enrollment drops to 400, the school will have to rid of some of the 24 teachers- usually ridding of those without tenure. Let's say 20 remain. Class size is averaged at 20, and to keep the lights and heat on for 24 classrooms (or even 20) with only 20 students (think: only 20 students' worth of income for the school) means a budget shortfall. Somehow, something must be done, and school closures are a last ditch effort. 
    And is CPS targetting the blacks, causing class or racial inequality by shutting these schools? It will cause some tension but there is likely reason behind the closures. Either they opened too many schools in a population boom or hopes thereof, or, relatedly, populations are shifting and either the youth are leaving the area, leaving CPS (for charter, private, or home schools) or birth rates and family sizes are declining in these neighborhoods. Of course, I haven't seen this brought up.
     Lastly, sure they could even it out a little and close a North Chicago school or two, but if that school has 680 students and 24 teachers, they are not facing declining student enrollment and budget shortfalls, so why close an at-capacity school?
  Here is a brief actual statistic; About 30,000 children will be moved. Schools are currently equipped to accommodate 511,000 students; enrollment now is 403,000. I just scaled it down a bit to better comprehend it at a per-school level

My kids will have to walk to school, through bad neighborhoods

Okay I can kind of sympathize. But if the neighborhoods are bad, work to implement change. Find a way for your child to get to school without walking through "gang ridden" neighborhoods. Unite as a community. Rally to CPS for school busing. Create community. Everyone wins! Or, just home school but  do know this is not an option for everyone. But if you want decent education and safety for your children, do everything in your power to make it happen. They are YOUR children, not the schools' or states'.

But Teachers will lose their jobs!

Again, fact. I agree. However, when a factory slows production, is it economically wise to keep all the employees? No. Is it kind and sweet and caring? No. These are teacher's incomes, livelihoods, well beings at stake. Trust me...having been pink slipped twice, I know how it is. But c'est la vie . No one yet has invented a magc wand to be able to afford every teacher their jobs.

The Threat of the Union

The Union s threatening to sue if schools are closed. First, if they have enough money to sue CPS and Mayor Emmanuel, shouldn't they have the funds to keep a school open, or bus kids across neighborhoods, or save jobs or something? If they can waste money in court trying to "save education" how about they put the money to direct immediate use in the classroom, where change can really be apparent?  If they sue and succeed, these schools will remain open but unfunded, jeopardizing jobs, curriculum, safety, and the right to an education. So it seems counter productive.

So sad...now evil corporations will be in charge of education

What they mean is "corporate takeover" via charter schools. However, think of this: CPS and all public schools must purchase textbooks, often from large publishing corporations. They take tests managed by large corporations. Their personal data is stored via large IT corporations. Msny special funds such as a "Coca-Cola gym" is funded by a corporation. So how is a charter really any worse? They just make it transparent so the corporation in charge is more obvious.
     Also how is a corporate owned school any better or worse than a government run one? Both operate nearly the same way and follow state (and soon to be federal) standards and law such as NCLB. They all have the same basic recipe.

But charters will come in!

Yes, as mentioned in the last blurb above. But are charters pure evil? I used to think of them as the golden ticket, but really they are no different than public schools....statistically similar demographics and test scores, you know, the things that apparently matter. The only "bad" part is, most are not unionized and most have at-will employees. They can, in many states,  tell students to find alternate placement if the charter is not a good "fit". They cannot, in many states, go in the red financially. The biggest percieved threats of the anti-charter crowds are the "evil corporation" crowds, or the "union or bust" crowd (as in this rally, with SEIU present), or the "they (charters) took our jobs and our kids and now we're underfunded. Those kids and money are ours, ours, ours!" crowd.

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