May 26, 2014
Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced with much fanfare the construction of a new high school in Chicago: Obama College Prep. This, less than a year after Emanuel closed 50 schools in working class black neighborhoods of Chicago, supposedly to save money. And most neighborhood schools saw significant budget cuts this year. But suddenly there’s money for a new school – for downtown.
The new school will be a selective enrollment high school – so only students who test well will be admitted. And it will be located on the Near North Side, on the site of the mostly demolished Cabrini Green housing projects, where most of the black residents have been pushed out in the last 15 years. The school would be less than a mile from Walter Payton, another selective enrollment high school. Because of both testing and the neighborhood, the school will enroll more middle class students.
The money for the construction will come out of TIF funds, that is, property tax money that’s been diverted from the schools and other city services, to be used for the mayor’s pet projects.
Rahm wants this new school and Payton to try to attract more middle class people to live downtown. At the same time, by closing schools, he’s pushing poor black people out of the city. So we see Emanuel using the school system the way the capitalists are using the whole society – taking more from the working class, to turn around and give gifts to the wealthy.