The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago Schools:
Filth for Children, Profit for Aramark

Sep 15, 2014

Chicago Public Schools privatized the management of custodial services for the entire school system last spring. Aramark, a huge multinational corporation, won a 260 million dollar contract. They sold the board on the idea, saying schools would be cleaner, for less money. What a crock. No, less than six months later, hundreds of principals and even more teachers protest that their schools are filthier. No wonder – Aramark laid off hundreds of custodians – though the exact number is not clear.

Aramark has also shifted custodians around, moving some with decades of experience in their school. This itself has a negative impact: custodians are often key members of the school community. They know details for each room and each teacher, some serve as informal counselors, some coach. So the privatization disrupts the school community at the same time it leaves the schools filthy. At Kelly High School, one of the largest in the city, there’s a bathroom that is now cleaned only once a week – imagine how bad it looks at the end of the week!

Aggravating the problem, each Aramark “manager” is responsible for 20 or so schools – so the manager is rarely in any individual school building. An elementary principal explains: “For something as simple as making sure the air-conditioning is regulated, you have to make ten phone calls and send five emails before anything gets done.” She said, “You can’t just simply go to your engineer and say I need this done because then they have this whole new system and they have to put it in the computer and they have to call their FM and they have to get it approved, and then we have to get three quotes.”

This further destruction of the schools providing education for workers’ children should come as no surprise – the corporate vultures want to get every bit of money they can out of the school system. The politicians who run the system are only too happy to let them.