For years preceding Obama's presidential first term, the man who was the power behind Barack Obama, the guy who wielded the big stick was Rahm Emanuel. If there was a tough or dirty job that had to be done, you called on Rahm. He'd fall on his sword if need be to protect the once and future president. It was no surprise that when PBO was sworn in, his chief of staff, the man once again with the power, was the same Rahm Emanuel.
After a successful launch of the presidency (as successful as could be expected under the circumstances), Emanuel took his bat and ball and went home to stake out a larger personal power base -- the mayor's seat in his hometown Chicago. He wasn't a carpetbagger like Scott Brown moving from Massachusetts to New Hampshire. No, in this case, Rahm is a real Chicagoan. And he had enough of Washington. He yearned to go back home to Chitown and toss his hat into the political arena there. As a native son, he knew the problems of the city and politics. He also knew where many of the bodies were buried -- even those that were still warm. He waltzed to a very large victory.
So it's no surprise that at the midway point of his first term, the Mayor would be feeling some heat. Even the best intentioned politician in the country's third largest city can't please all the people all the time. But who would have predicted his biggest, loudest and most outspoken opposition would come from a nine year old black boy from the ghetto? The issue that could bring down the mayor was going to be the closing of schools. Republicans take note. Here's a Democrat who wants to tamper with education and might very well lose his job. If the GOP insists on education cuts, this could happen to you.
With just hours until the fate of school closings is known in the third-largest district in the nation, students have joined their parents and teachers in protest and raised their voices in opposition to the mass shutter.
Heralded as the future mayor of Chicago in the year 2025, 9-year-old Asean Johnson, has spoken at school board meetings and hearings, and fired up a crowd of hundreds in a protest against school closings Monday that concluded three days of marches on the city’s South and West sides.
“I wanted to be there to support my school and for the other schools that are closing, because really, I think that no school should be closing,” he told the Grio.
If this kid, Asean Johnson is any indication of both the potential of students in this school district and the need to keep the Chicago schools open, it's never been more evident. Emanuel not only has a financial problem on his hands, he has a budding opposition candidate (Asean Johnson) for his political office when he becomes of legal age.
The largest criteria for closing the targeted schools is test performance. And Asean's school rates lower than the average. Yet look at the product of that test result driven policy. Because this boy's school doesn't make the test driven grade, students like him are going to be forced from their neighborhood and crowded into already burgeoning schools, risking safety and their home life.
Not surprisingly, after this public speech, his school has been spared. But there's still a major problem everywhere else that uses test scores as the main basis for keeping schools open. Maybe it's time to look at the way kids are taught and provide the proper funding to raise education levels. The answers are not is closing schools or raising test scores. It's in finding out how to motivate, cultivate and produce more Asean Johnson's in all of our neighborhoods.
Asean Johnson certainly put it succinctly to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel:
“We are not toys. We are not going down without a fight.”