Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has come under fire for, among other things, embracing education reform and privatization of school services. Unfortunately, when it comes to the basic health of students, not so much embracing (probably a good thing if they’re sick; boldface mine):
On Saturday, a handful of parents of pre-kindergarten students packed yellow rubber gloves and spray bottles of vinegar and baking soda solution and headed to Suder Montessori Elementary Magnet School, 2022 W. Washington Blvd., on the Near West Side, where they spent the morning cleaning their children’s washrooms.
The parents felt they didn’t have a choice: Upon entering the bathrooms, they found pools of day-old urine on the floor, feces smeared on the walls and clogged, stinking toilet bowls. In the past few weeks, the school had an E. coli outbreak, and more than half of the kindergarten students missed school because of various illnesses, including a stomach bug, diarrhea or vomiting, said Michelle Burgess, head of the school’s parent-teacher association.
“These are preschoolers. They go to the bathroom and miss. The boys play in the urinals. And sometimes can’t get to the toilet fast enough. It’s understandable,” said Angela Morales, the parent of two children who attend the school. “But they need to clean. We can’t have our kids be in this filth.”
Parents claim the unsanitary bathroom conditions, overflowing garbage cans and soiled napping cots are the result of inadequate custodial care following the Chicago Board of Education’s decision last spring to award multimillion-dollar custodial management contracts to two firms, Aramark and SodexoMAGIC….
“This is where our kids come to learn, where they spend their day,” she said. “It’s all horrible. Just horrible.”
Keep in mind, this is a magnet school. This is supposed to be a cut above a regular public school. Instead, they are suffering from the same kind of diseases that regularly affect poor children in developing countries.
I’m guessing Rahm’s kids went to schools where the floors weren’t covered with piss and shit.
This isn’t a problem confined to Chicago. Philadelphia’s public schools–which were taken over by the state a decade ago in the name of education reform–are also disgusting. The sentence “Perhaps the most stunning images are pictures of children’s building blocks covered with mouse droppings” kind of stays with you.
A good starting point for education reform would be to ensure that every child has a clean and safe school–one that doesn’t inflict gastrointestinal disease on the children. Maybe equalizing school budgets–and taking into consideration the extra needs poor districts have when doing so–would be a good place to start.
Or we can bash teachers unions. YMMV.