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Mike Klonsky tells the sad story of a school in Chicago that lost its librarian to budget cuts. Some parents want to staff the library with volunteers, but the union objects to replacing professionals with volunteers. The irony in this case is that the school is named for a Chicago billionaire.
“The state’s schools have been operating without a school budget for the past two years. Gov. Rauner has been holding the budget hostage, hoping to leverage his signature for a pound of flesh, meaning a cut in retiree pensions, the elimination of teacher collective-bargaining rights, and more privatization of school services.
“There are currently hundreds of Chicago public schools operating without properly-staffed libraries, school nurses, special-ed paras or school social workers. Librarians are vital to the functioning of any school. If wealthy, mainly-whte suburban schools did away with librarians, replacing them with untrained, unpaid volunteers, there would be a parent revolt.
“Rachel Lessem, a member of the local school council at Pritzker, said each student used to have an hour of library a week, where they learned how to research, how to use databases and how to access other sources of information. The students had homework and grades in library as well
In Chicago’s two-tier, racially re-segregated school system, libraries and librarians are considered fluff, wasteful add-ons that are the first to go in times of crisis….”
“Another bit of irony… The school is named after the late Chicago billionaire A.N. Pritzker. The Pritzker family, owners of the Hyatt Hotel chain, is one of the city’s most powerful families and notoriously anti-union. Penny Pritzker, now Obama’s Commerce Secretary, was previously hand-picked by Rahm to sit on the school board. She voted for the mass school closings.
“The irony is that if the Pritzkers and the other city oligarchs paid their fair share of taxes, Pritzker Elementary would still have its librarian and then some.”