I attended a community meeting a few day ago and I left feeling disappointed, empty, frustrated and marginalized. Once again we speak up after the fact and are rarely consulted before a decision is made that will have a far reaching impact. Enter the spin doctors whose main role is to make the bad news palatable.
You might wonder what I am speaking about. Well the wind is out of my sails, once again we are not operating on a level playing field as usual and this issue like so many others will be a dot on someone’s screen five years from now. Excuse me a minute while I gather my wits and try to convey to you, the reader, my utter disappointment at the turn of events.
I think this is an issue for the people’s court. Let me present my case. This is a problem that a check and good marketing could solve. Yes a check and an individual adept at marketing in the new age. The problem is seven Catholic schools are closing in the Chicago Archdiocese. Oops, I meant to use the terminology of the spin doctor. Her word was merging. I perceive this as a problem because it is about choice. Some people prefer to provide a private education to their children for innumerable reasons. There is no point in listing them except to say the Chicago Public School system still needs a lot of work to offer the kind of education that helps all children become competitive and ready for further education at elite facilities.
I probably should give the disclaimer now. I am an alumna of the school and a product of sixteen years of Catholic education additionally next year there was a family plan to send the third generation to the same school. That position will no longer be available to my family and many others. The information presented to answer the question why was that low enrollment, facility structural issues, and the monumental debt incurred over the last six years to the Archdiocese made it a prudent decision to merge. That word leaves a bad taste on my palate.
As I sat and listened to parents, grandparents, community activist and others I was saddened because I could not write a check for two million dollars to save the school that shaped my moral compass. Yet a man goes on the internet and ask for money to make potato salad and receives fifty thousand dollars in donations to make potato salad. A good marketing/ business student might have gone to this site to solicit some benevolent individual to support a worthy cause. Now I ask you, members of the peoples” court is this a practical solution to prevent the merger? The most difficult part to comprehend is that this is not occurring in Englewood or Lawndale. Hold your breath and take a seat. This problem is being faced in the Chatham community. Yes the middle class enclave of upwardly mobile people for fifty years. Well the community demographics have changed as well as the socio economics in Chatham. You might ask what happened. The answer is all sorts of things from suburban flight to lost employment, retirement, faulty second mortgages, and increasing violence by groups of individuals. As a child growing up in this community the streets were clean, safe, and well maintained. Now the elders have been forced to hide within their respective homes in fear.
The housing market crash along with short sales and flipping changed the residents of the area. From State Street to Cottage Grove along the 79th street corridor it is as blighted as the west side after the riots. There are any number of businesses’ trying to eke out a living however by and large the area needs serious revamping. The fate of the school was sealed by people who work downtown and live in more affluent areas. They suits crunched the numbers, reviewed the debt structure, looked at enrollments and decided that a merger was the only solution. Now I ask you was this process inclusive or democratic. I think not. According to the suits it is not open for discussion or modification. Suits lack empathy compassion and they are not into warm fuzziness
It is devastating that as a community and a people we failed to be prepared when the opportunity presented itself to salvage a long standing community cornerstone. Those individuals collaborating on the merging deserve support rather than criticism as they are only trying to play the hand dealt. If the peoples’ court has any helpful advice please hit me up at In the meantime does anyone have a phone number for Melody or George Lucas ?