|Take the gangstas bowling: An endview
By Bernard Chapin
In the fall of 2004, I began writing a book which eventually became, Escape from Gangsta Island: A School's Progressive Decline. I published several rough drafts of the chapters (I apologize for their quality) online and received considerable feedback from readers; all of whom I now thank as their comments motivated me in one way or another. This week marks the book's official release and copies of it can be found on my publisher's website.
I finished it in October of 2005 without the help of an editor, so, despite my best efforts, there will be enough typographical errors in it to drive the average pedant into a frenzy and give them reason to torment the unlearned for decades to come. However, creating literary gold was not what I had in mind when I planned the endeavor. What I mainly wanted to do was document the way in which our corrupt school administration imploded a program of which I was most proud. The shadiness of our leaders went beyond the imagination of most listeners. They'd hear of the happenings at Eastlands and wait patiently for me to interject, "I'm just kidding," but, to their surprise, I never did.
The essential truth is not found in the idiosyncrasies of a crazed dog here or a crazed there. What's important to remember is that the bureaucrats and careerists overseeing our building were not even remotely concerned about the education our students received or about the fate of their longtime employees. They were bullet proof and without fear. Their sole desire was to keep things quiet so that nothing would interfere with their luxurious situation. The employees of the Eastlands Center made several successful attempts to inform the, highly sane, top-level district educrats above the shadow creeping over our program. Their response was to pretend they didn't hear anything at all. In their eyes, our school was Jorge's problem and that was the way they wanted it to remain.
As I concede in the narrative, the EC was not representative of the average American public school; however, the unaccountability of our Paladins is something intrinsic to any institution entirely under state control. Regardless of how the economy is doing, government employees still get paid and possess superlative job protection, and we know from a century of experience that a disregard for the opinions of the general public is a feature ubiquitous to socialist enterprises. Other than suffering, the word which best describes socialism is incompetence. If the Eastlands overlords had to answer to an engaged authority, then the "Chinoschina" would have never transpired.
As far as what has happened since the action ended in the summer of 2004, Steve Coolidge, one of the most endearing and entertaining characters of the tale, has had war formally declared upon him; although, Chin did grant him a single, and very deceptive, year of respite. She pulled off the syphilitic mother of all set ups by calling in the Department of Child and Family Services to investigate him-or, more accurately, to look into the way in which Steve broke up a fight. Although her report was proven unfounded, Ichada suspended Steve without pay until they heard back from DCFS. When Steve returned to work, he was embittered and exhausted. Only Bobbi Sue Chin would purposefully harass an employee into such a state.
As I remarked in the book, people with personality disorders succeed in making everyone crazy around them, and Chin is an excellent example of this truth as Jorge Ichada appears more irrational now then ever. Upon hearing of Mrs. Coolidge's efforts, Jorge stepped up his harassment of Steve. He began calling him at home and threatening him with termination if his mother didn't stop. Steve told him that he did not then, nor did he ever, have any control over his mother's activities. She did what she wanted to do-period. He offered to dial her private line for Jorge and put her on a conference call but the supervisor declined the offer. He then proceeded to tell Steve that if he dared to go before the school board to share his views that this too would result in termination.
Hopefully, the taxpayers will one day find out about the cesspool that negligence and maliciousness has made out of the Eastlands Center, but it will not be I who is the messenger. In the book itself, I took great pains to disguise all the bad guys (and girls). This was principally due to my being threatened with legal action. Although it seems that Jorge is aware of Escape from Gangsta Island. Supposedly, he sighed to a turncoat, "Yeah, I guess parts of his book are online."
Even though I won't be revealing his actual name, the real Jorge now loafs daily in an alien place as his dear White House is no more. He was transferred back to the main headquarters and the grand estate is but a memory. More astonishingly, the school itself, at least its physical foundation, will soon be kaput now that the former owners, whom our district rented the facility from, sold it to an entrepreneur who will erect-who knows what.
As for Bobbi Sue Chin, the principal's incompetence has become undeniable for the powers that be, and, rather than replace her or relegate her to the role of building greetor, they have decided to hire a second principal to do her job while she collects a check. No, it is not going to be yet another assistant principal, they'll keep Donna in that role, and their proposed solution to Chin's insanity will spread the responsibility a wee bit thinner. The Eastlands Center continues to be every bit the logical and libertarian nightmare it was in the years when I was there.
Lastly, in regards to legal proceedings and the NEA, Leo Arese's case was set to be heard before the Illinois Labor Board in December, but the district made him a settlement offer a month beforehand. He accepted it and the paperwork serves as proof of the wrongful way in which our administration dealt with its employees during the hellacious year that was 2003-2004. Whenever I tell NEA representatives about the shenanigans with Arese they giggle and say something to the effect of, "That's priceless. That's priceless. What idiots." Indeed. As for Sosnowski, she refused to settle. She wanted her day in court and she got it. She'll get plenty more in the future as nothing was decided that day. Sos reported that Ichada took the stand and lied endlessly. I'm not surprised, and neither will you be once you finish Gangsta.
Bernard Chapin is a writer living in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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