160 schools in Chicago do not have a school library.
The nation's third largest school district has also been in the news lately for the controversial decision to close 50 public schools.
Homicide rates in Chicago -- particularly in certain pockets of the city -- continue to be some of the highest in the nation.
Child poverty rates -- disproportionately affecting the city's minority children -- are on the rise, with 8 in 10 Chicago students qualifying for free or reduced lunch.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said that the district's $1 billion dollar deficit made the decision to shutter schools the city's only option. Meanwhile, in the same breath Emanuel allocated $55 million in tax payer dollars, funds specifically meant to subsidize community development projects, to help pay for a new 10,000 seat basketball arena for DePaul University, a private university with tuition at over $30,000 per year.
Because of the school closings, many displaced children will be crossing contentious gang-controlled territories to attend their new schools this fall. It is so dangerous that the city has had to set up a Safe Passage Program that has adults stationed along particularly unsafe school routes, ready to call police when the inevitable violence erupts. Experts argue that the risk children are being placed in is extreme and irresponsible, and, needless to say, that these decisions in no way foster academic success.
Whittier Elementary School is one of the 160 schools in Chicago lacking a library. It is located in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino, high-poverty Chicago neighborhood. Late Friday, a demolition crew arrived unannounced to bulldoze what had been serving as the neighborhood library (with over 2,500 donated books) and community center. La Casita provided computer courses, ESL, sewing, folkloric dance, and other classes to community residents.
Some in the gathering crowd were arrested as protesters shouted "Not bulldozers, books," and managed to stop the destruction of the community center on Friday evening. However, this was only for a few hours. Early Saturday morning, La Casita del Pueblo was nothing but rubble as onlookers watched the building being leveled.
As Emanuel starves the city's public schools, many say he is deliberately opening the door to increased school privatization. As the city takes resources away from the poorest communities and funnels them to private institutions, it becomes more and more evident that poor children are the biggest obstacle to Chicago's success.
Rahm Emanuel's administration has been considering unconventional weapons in their battle against children. While unmanned drones have been used almost exclusively to bomb brown people -- including brown children -- overseas, there is a consensus that they might have a place dotting the city's skyline and targeting brown people right here.
A city spokesperson said, "Chicago aims to be a model for the nation. We are willing to take calculated risks in order to ensure prosperity. Sometimes this means ruffling a few feathers. Unmanned drones are a 21st century answer to a 21st century problem. Rather than sending a whole demolition crew to destroy a community center, a library, a school or a soup kitchen, we can utilize the sophisticated and precise locating systems on these machines to level whole neighborhoods while ensuring that our more affluent areas are spared. If we can get past the initial outrage, we are looking at the future."
Your handsome and humble servant --
NOTE: This piece is satirical. Some quotations are fabrications for the purpose of satire.