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Di Leo: Schooling, Safety, and Reality in the Age of Covid

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By John F. Di Leo

The Chicago Public Schools have been closed for about a year now, but they finally got a deal.  Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles: they will finally return to the workplace, part time, for some early grades.  

Why the long delay?  Because the Chicago Teachers’ Union, like so many people across the country, have spent the past year primarily concerned about being “safe.” 

“Safe.”  Such an interesting word.  Its definition has been radically transformed, hasn’t it, in the twelve months since news began to leak out that the Chinese government was welding shut the doors and windows of Wuhan apartment buildings, sealing the fate of thousands of innocent victims, all from fear of the deadly new China Virus, known as the Wuhan Flu or Covid-19. 

The Chicago Teachers’ Union most recent battle tracked the progress of the lightning-fast delivery plan of the new vaccines (in a calendar made possible by President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, not that any Democrat will ever give him the credit). The CTU just didn’t want to go back to work until they had bumped their members and students ahead of everyone else in Chicago who was in line for vaccinations – ahead of the elderly, the immuno-compromised, folks with known comorbidities, healthcare workers – the CTU fought for months, maintaining that they shouldn’t have to go back to school until the Chicago Public Schools were “safe” for them again. 

But let’s think about that word, shall we? 

The China Virus is a terrible disease, even a fatal one, if you’re one of the very few people who gets a bad case.  It’s a horrible, painful, potentially lethal respiratory attack, for about half a hundredth of a percent of the population.  The average fatality from this disease, in most countries, has been people about 80 years of age.   

While there are exceptions, the vast majority of people of working age and school age who have had it have reported symptoms ranging from a minor cold to a very bad flu.  While it does kill some people of all ages, the number of people in the halls of the Chicago public schools who are statistically at serious risk of this disease are literally negligible. 

By contrast… 

Let’s ask a different question, perhaps a question that the CTU doesn’t want to address. 

If Covid-19 were to be completely vanquished tomorrow, would the Chicago public schools be considered “safe?” 

For generations, it has been common at many Chicago public schools for the police to be called on a daily basis to deal with violent crimes.  As recently as a decade ago, in school year 2011-2012, there were 3320 arrests of Chicago youths in the Chicago public schools.  (You will see them turn to more recent stats to make claims of improvement; only 651 were arrested in 2018-2019, but that’s because there’s no longer any point in arresting people whom States Attorney Kim Foxx will refuse to prosecute. It’s the prosecution that disappeared; not the crimes). 

The crimes at Chicago’s public schools include everything you’d expect: knifings, muggings, thefts, attempted murders and murders, molestation and rape, statutory rape, solicitation and hooking, hard drug possession and dealing.  Since most crimes go unreported, those arrest numbers are the tip of an iceberg several times as high. 

Who is at risk in these schools? Who are the victims of these crimes?  Again, it’s everyone you’d expect: victims include other students, the students’ parents and siblings, the teachers and subs, the administrators and facilities workers, the neighbors unfortunate enough to live nearby. 

This is the truth about the Chicago public schools.  No, not all of them. Some are relatively safe, and “only” need police visits once every week or two.  Others are veritable crime zones, needing a police presence around the clock. 

Why?  There are many causes for this nightmare, all of them well-known both throughout Chicago and across Illinois’ corrupt and ineffectual political landscape, these three being most responsible: 

 

  • The states attorney’s refusal to even allow many crimes to be prosecuted at all in Cook County. 
  • The Illinois criminal justice system’s longstanding refusal to lock up convicted criminals, doling out probation instead of prison time, offering early release to convicts at the drop of a hat. 
  • The status of Chicago, Cook County, and the state of Illinois as world-famous “sanctuary” zones, to which illegal aliens fly like homing pigeons on a daily basis.  Among these diverse crowds are numerous violent criminals, many of whom arrive already members of notorious foreign gangs, many of whom arrive unattached but soon join up, in the country’s most notorious taxpayer-funded gang recruiting stations, the Chicago Public Schools. 

 

Such a problem can’t be fixed overnight.  It has taken a century for the Chicago Public Schools to become the danger zone they are today. 

But the situation does raise a question, doesn’t it?   

How can it be that the CTU has been happy to go to work in a crime zone – or at least, to have the half of their members go to work in the worst half of the schools – for all these years before Covid ever hit?  Why didn’t they demand to be “safe,” then? 

The CTU never demanded that Chicago revoke its sanctuary city status to stop attracting foreign gang members. The CTU never demanded the overthrow of Kim Foxx, never demanded that she be replaced by someone who would work to lock up the thugs who turn their workplaces into deathtraps.  The CTU never demanded that the State of Illinois change its sentencing guidelines to mandate that violent criminals rot in prison instead of being released back into the neighborhoods to continue wreaking havoc with as short an interruption as possible. 

The CTU has happily put up with these conditions for years, conditions that any sane observer would have called out as infinitely more “unsafe” than a virus that primarily attacks completely different targets than the schools’ populations. 

Oh, the CTU holds press conferences and political rallies now and then, calling for an end to guns and knives, as if triggers pull themselves and knife handles drive their blades deep into the guts of nearby victims all on their own, without some vicious human directing their actions. 

No. The CTU doesn’t really care about safety, because if they did, they could hardly miss the fact that their members have always been infinitely safer almost anywhere but the Chicago public schools… long before any of them ever even heard of “Covid-19.” 

Like so many other members of the modern Leftist alliance, they have adopted a goal – “safety” – a craftily redefined term that from their lips rings as hollow as a con man calling for fairness, a serial killer calling for mercy, or a Chicago politician calling for honesty. 

Copyright 2021 John F Di Leo  

John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland based trade compliance and transportation trainer, writer, and actor.  His columns have been found in Illinois Review regularly since 2009.  A collection of his semi-fictional IR stories exploring the many common methods of vote fraud in America, The Tales of Little Pavel, is available on Amazon as either an eBook or paperback. 

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