Rahm Emanuel wants to privatize public education as much and as fast as he can. Aside from closing down 50 schools in one fell swoop, the mayor privatized custodial services to two companies for $340 million over three years, promising cleaner schools and cost savings.
But, as reported by Catalyst, a respected journal that covers education in Chicago, principals complain that their schools are filthy and rodent-infested. The corporations have promised to improve.
Sarah Karp of Catalyst wrote, in an article titled “Dirty Schools Now the Norm Since Privatizing Custodians: Principals”:
“The $340 million privatization of the district’s custodial services has led to filthier buildings and fewer custodians, while forcing principals to take time away from instruction to make sure that their school is clean.
“That is the finding from a survey done by AAPPLE, the new activist arm of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association.”
The leader of AAPPLE, principal Troy LaRiviere, is an outspoken defender of Chicago’s public schools and its students.
Valerie Strauss summarizes responses from principals to the new arrangement:
“Principals reported serious problems with rodents, roaches and other bugs, filthy floors, overflowing garbage bins, filthy toilets, missing supplies such as toilet paper and soap, and broken furniture — issues they said they didn’t have before. Now, many said, they spend a lot of time trying to clean their buildings.”
One of the companies, Aramark, announced recently that it would lay off 476 custodians, 20% of the custodial workforce. This may improve its profits but is likely to worsen its services.