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Suffer the Children: Thoughts on the Warders and Their Charges

Daniel J. Kelley 28 May 2010 3 Comments

The well traveled road to hell is said to be paved with good intentions.

My personal inclination is to qualify that opinion and to suggest that it may be more correct to say that it is just as likely to be paved with inefficient and wasteful government programs enacted by politicians who claimed that their legislation was intended to benefit the children. Whenever a preening politico begins posturing about caring for the children, watch out and hold on to your wallet for dear life!

Janet Reno, the inept Attorney General of the United States during the scandal plagued Clinton Administration, attempted to justify the deadly raid upon the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas as being warranted because the Department of Justice had received credible reports of possible child abuse occurring there. Reno had a personal history of bungling child abuse investigations dating back to her time as a prosecutor in Florida. Call me a cynic, but the thought of innocent children being incinerated during the combat assault upon the religious cult did not seem to be an appropriate response designed to protect the children to me.

Closer to home, in a less extreme show of political force, members of the Chicago Teachers Union marched on City Hall and obstructed downtown traffic to protest proposed spending cuts and anticipated increases in classroom sizes in the Chicago Public Schools. In my opinion, this demonstration seemed especially arrogant and selfish. Where was the spirit of shared sacrifice during a time when austerity ought to be the first order of the day? The Chicago Board of Education proposed adding five students to each classroom. This would create an average class size of thirty-five students per room.

The CTU is not alone in its insistence upon higher taxes and no budget or job cuts. One of the banes of modern existence is being on the receiving end of an e-mail blast. I have been teaching occasional classes at community colleges on a part-time, adjunct basis, which may or may not qualify me to be the leader of American republic if the current incumbent is any example. Excuse the digression. In any event, by virtue of this employment, I have been the beneficiary of e-mail blasts from one of the two statewide teacher’s unions. The unions seldom bother to differentiate between higher education instructors and K-12 teachers, where the overwhelming majority of their members are employed. Their message to all members is identical: contact your state senator and state representatives and tell them you demand higher taxes to fund more education programs.

Truthfully, as much as I value education, I have little or no sympathy for those union officials who are seeking to profiteer while posing as the defenders of school children.
In some, but not all, of the elementary and high school districts, the recent graduates that I have encountered have received abysmal instruction. At our community colleges, many students are not capable of performing college level work and have to enroll in remedial classes to improve upon skills that they should have acquired in high school from their well paid teachers.

Illinois is in a fiscal crisis and the leaders of the teacher’s unions want more money regardless of the consequences. At the same time, they steadfastly balk at being held accountable for the results that they have or have not achieved in terms of student outcomes.

Many decades ago, an earlier generation of public school teachers struggled to continue holding classes without have received their salaries. During the Great Depression, the Chicago Board of Education lacked sufficient funds to meet its payroll obligations and teachers had to accept payment in largely worthless scrip. Newspaper accounts described some undernourished teachers collapsing of exhaustion while trying to hold their classes.

It is worth noting that during this period, Chicago’s public schools were graduating a high proportion of exceedingly well educated students. I was once familiar with two men who had both attended Lane Technical High School (which was named in honor of the former Chicago School superintendent, Albert G. Lane) immediately before and during the Great Depression. The first Lane Tech graduate, Frank Nicolaus held several patents and was able to be employed in local industries for the remainder of his career on the strength of his high school diploma. The other individual, Henry Mikolajczyk, continued his studies and became a licensed architect. He suggested that many of the high school faculty members were sufficiently well educated to have been on college and university faculties, but for the straitened circumstances of the Depression era. He felt that he had received a college quality education while attending high school. Lane has the distinction of having more alumni with doctoral degrees than any other high school in America.

Mikolajczyk was able to skip one day of school in September of 1934 with 9,000 of his classmates who marched from Wrigley Field to the new Lane Tech campus at Addison Street and Western Avenue in a celebratory parade. The new school replaced the original Lane Tech High School on Division Street. Many Lane students were excited by the promotion of their former classmate, Phil Cavarretta, to the roster of the Chicago Cubs that same summer after less than a full year in the minor leagues. Cavarretta actually left Lane Tech before graduating in order to earn some money playing baseball to help his parents. Within a year, the player manager of the Cubs, Charlie Grimm, yielded his regular first place position to Cavarretta and the Cubs won the National League pennant before dropping the 1935 World Series to Detroit.

To return to my original point, increasing taxation to spend more money is not necessarily the solution to the problems of the public schools. It strikes me as exceedingly selfish for the teacher unions to demand higher taxes while exempting themselves from any austerity measures applicable to other government departments.

I once had the opportunity to attend a union assembly meeting where members of the Illinois Education Association lustily applauded US Senator Richard J. Durbin (D-IL). I was somewhat shocked inasmuch as I considered such a performance to be an almost impossible act. Durbin shamelessly pandered to the audience while praising the presidential candidacy of his junior colleague, then US Senator Barack Obama. During the same conference, a resolution was debated concerning the position of the union in terms of teachers refusing to report the presence of illegal aliens in their classrooms. In actuality, this was not a surprising topic for such a conclave.

One dirty little secret that the politicians, the education bureaucrats and teacher union officials do not like discussing publicly is the fact that without the presence of the children of illegal immigrants, we would in all likelihood be closing public schools throughout the country. The native born population has had fewer children on the whole than previous generations. Thanks to an ill considered US Supreme Court decision and an uncontrolled border, however, American public schools are busily enrolling non-citizens as students. The economic meltdown in the State of California is closely tied to the consequences of this misguided policy.

Johnny may not be able to read nor write, but his school district still demands more of your money, no questions asked.

Daniel J. Kelley is a contributor to “The Chicago Daily Observer.”

3 Comments »

  • Charles Saunders said:

    Mr. Kelly,

    Well said. Logic eludes the education system and the Teacher union influence with its prurient material demands taint an otherwise noble profession. Parents no longer support or trust the public school system and that system has been wrenched from their control by ignorant miscreants.

    Thank you for coming to my law school graduation party on Saturday. It was good seeing you.

    As usual, your insight and common sense carry the day.

  • Winter said:

    buen trabajo, Mónica!! en serio, estoy muy de acuerdo con Agnes, no hay mayor placer que dar con padres adequados para niños ne!tiseadosc! Desde el equipo de Asociación Anida, te deseamos mucha suerte, Agnes!

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