With all of the problems the Chicago Public Schools face, you might think I’d find this little tussle just a silly sideshow:
After the initial sit-in last year, CPS agreed to the parents’ demand for a library and agreed to spare a nearby field house from demolition. However, the district said, the library would be built inside the school, not in the field house, as parents had asked.
Parents at the time accepted that plan, so long as the library was not constructed in newly rehabbed areas of the school. But as the district tried to begin construction of the $400,000 library last week, some parents, community agitators and leftist activists from across the city converged on the neighborhood, blocking construction crews from entering the school.
Protesters said a library inside the school would displace special education classes — an assertion CPS denies. Instead, the group asked the district to support an estimated $750,000 project to transform the run-down, one-story field house into a parent center and library. And the group recently added a new demand: That CPS pay part of the cost of the field house project.
It’s actually a perfect example of stupidity that makes actual changes in the District, or any district nearly impossible. I’m not that thrilled with Brizzard and do not see him as what the CPS needs. However, trying to extort the rehab of a field house out of a cash strapped district and blocking a library in a school is absurd and a perfect example of the kind of myopic view of activists less concerned with the District’s ability to concentrate on teaching and performance.
If you want neighborhood development the CPS may be a good partner, but it’s not a cash cow for pet projects.