WBEZ | O'Toole Elementary School http://www.wbez.org/tags/otoole-elementary-school Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en School strike: The great disconnect http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/school-strike-great-disconnect-102338 <p><p>O&rsquo;Toole Elementary School sits on a quiet, sun-drenched block in Englewood on the first day of Chicago&#39;s teachers strike. Little tufts of grass poke through the concrete lots on which cars and kids are usually found. On the drive up Seely Avenue, maybe one-third of the houses are boarded up. In one abandoned apartment building a couple of blocks away, the boards are torn from the windows, the lock on a door is gone. A can of Coke rests on a window sill.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/strike%20signs%20AP.jpg" style="height: 208px; width: 300px; float: left; " title="Signs from the Chicago Teachers Union strike. (AP)" />More than 400 kids go to <a href="http://www.cps.edu/Schools/Pages/school.aspx?id=610108">O&rsquo;Toole</a>, almost all of them black, almost all of them low-income; about ten percent are special education students. O&#39;Toole is a neighborhood Math &amp; Science Initiative School but it&rsquo;s also on probation. For all the lead-up to Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s new recess initiative, O&rsquo;Toole is woefully and clearly unprepared.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&rsquo;t have a gate around the building,&rdquo; said one of the striking teachers. &ldquo;How are you going to keep the little kids in? We don&rsquo;t have playground equipment. For the younger kids, you need monkey bars, you need equipment. For the older kids, you need a basketball hoop, tennis court &mdash; something for them to do.&rdquo;</p><p>The playground equipment was removed by a former principal, explains another teacher, because neighborhood men would gather on it at night and drink.</p><p>&ldquo;Now they just sit and drink on the concrete,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Had the kids come back to school on time, they would have spent their recess under the watchful eye of school staff milling around outside.</p><p>And this spare scene &mdash; the empty school, the bare ungated yard, the red-eyed neighborhood man warily watching the teachers and sipping from a bottle in a bag at 10:30 in the morning &mdash; is the great disconnect between downtown, where the policies are dreamed up, and down on the ground, where they have to be implemented.</p><p>Something, you know, as simple as recess.</p></p> Tue, 11 Sep 2012 10:30:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/achy-obejas/2012-09/school-strike-great-disconnect-102338