Singing the Chicago Public School Blues
By Jim Vail
I often shake my head and wonder about how much the public schools have changed over the years.
What do I remember from my days in grammar school? I remember running out of class at full speed to the playground for recess. That was Number 1!
I remember climbing the ropes, doing summersaults and running around during gym class. That was every day!
I remember the art teacher telling us how precious her 'junk' was to create wonderful artistic masterpieces out of little knick-knacks with glue and glitter and whatnot.
I remember gathering around the piano in kindergarten and singing songs all day long.
That was school in the eyes of a student!
Of course, I learned to read and write and do arithmetic and now have a Masters degree in elementary education.
But today I look around the public schools in the city and see that all that is being reversed.
Many of our schools do not have an art or music class. How is this possible?
The children have gym class once a week. Let me repeat that - Once a Week! You sit in a desk for how much longer with our longer school day and only have gym class once a week in elementary school? If you're lucky. How about the schools like ours where they are constantly repairing the roof and gym is in the classroom.
Thank God we at least have recess. But again, if you don't have full use of your gymnasium, or an outside playlot, then kids are once again sitting, not running around like they should be.
Today the focus is on tests. Standardized tests. High stakes tests.
And less on being children, and enjoying life. Learning to appreciate the beauty of life through art and music. Developing not only the mind, but the body as well, through physical education and sports.
Sports? The Chicago Public Schools eliminated the elementary sports program. I didn't think in my 13 plus years teaching in Chicago they would actually do this, but they did.
Believe me, the people who run the public schools today will not stop there.
It is a business to destroy public education and the joy of children and implement their plans to privatize education and make money.
If we don't fight this, then believe me, it will only get worse.
And school, as it is becoming more and more, will turn the beauty of children's dreams into a nightmare.