Italians, Poles Fight CPS Plan To End Columbus, Pulaski Holidays

CHICAGO (STMW) — End the holiday treatment for Pulaski Day and Columbus Day at Chicago Public Schools?

Polish and Italian civic leaders say the proposed change in the school calendar backed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel is “a slap in the face.”

“It’s ironic that while the river flows green we hear the news,” Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans president emeritus Dominic DiFrisco said on St. Patrick’s Day. “It’s very disheartening. This is part of an ongoing campaign to diminish ethnic recognition in the city. … We’re not marching in the street, yet. We may.”

Gary Kenzer, executive director of the Polish American Association, said the proposed holiday changes show “the Polish contribution to Chicago is less than primary in the city’s eyes.

“It’s shocking and disappointing considering that the mayor was elected to congress from a district with one of the largest Polish concentrations in the area,” Kenzer said. “To have the City of Chicago say that this is not a considerable holiday for kids to be off school is a bit of a slap in the face.”

For Italian-American Chicagoans, the proposed change also undercuts the legacy of one of their own — late U.S. Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.). Annunzio, who was known on Capitol Hill as “Mr. Ethnic,” led the push to honor Italian explorer Christopher Columbus with a national holiday.

“It’s reprehensible. Columbus Day wasn’t exactly something that came casually,” said Oscar D’Angelo, the self-proclaimed “Mayor of Little Italy.”

“Frank Annunzio worked hard for that. One great hero we have and they try to take it away from us.”

The proposed changes to the school calendar — which would make good on Emanuel’s campaign promise to extend the school day and school year — were influenced by a report by Voice Ideas Vision and Action, an “independent organization” of more than 600 educators.

The state board of education allows schools to require attendance on holidays honoring Pulaski, Columbus, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln and Veterans. CPS brass decided not to eliminate days off for Veteran’s Day and holidays honoring Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. — national heroes with closely tied to Illinois and Chicago, CPS spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said.

Columbus and Pulaski, not so much.

“The mayor honors and respects the contribution of Italian and Polish-Americans made to the city, but the new schedule is about the children of Chicago,” Emanuel spokeswoman Jenny Hoyle said. “The important thing about the schedule is it gives students the best opportunity to learn and achieve.”

CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll said city schools plan to dedicate classroom time educating students about the history of Pulaski and Columbus on the former holiday, as well as provide more instruction in other subjects including math, science and reading.

D’Angelo said Chicagoans of Italian and Polish descent deserve better.

“I think we can walk and chew gum at the same time,” said D’Angelo, once a powerful ally and friend of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. “I don’t think this is an either or situation. We can find the methodology to do both. Rahm is an inventive fellow. He’s quick. I’m sure he can figure it out.”

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • THEE Yard Ape

    Can you just imagine IF martin luther king day was on this list??

    • German Leprechaun

      Why, there’d be RIOTS on da west side, YO!!!

  • Me

    I never understood Pulaski Day anyway. Only Illinois does it…not even Poland.

  • slippery

    it is a GREAT idea ! just another day for all the city workers and teacher to get a day off with pay, does anyone of these morons realize how much debt the city has ? i say get rid of all holidays except for the big 6 (x-mas, easter, 4july labor,memorial and thankgiving ) if you want off on the other days take a personal day and if you dont like it try working in the private sector where there is accountability, something that people that get there check from tax payers wouldnt know anything about !

    • Roberta Waker

      @slippery. Great idea. With those days off there is no discrimination and no racism involved, except Christmas is for the Christians and Easter is for the Christians. So, maybe Thanksgiving, July 4th , Labor Day and Memorial Day are still ok? Oh well, four out of six ain’t bad. Of course the Hispanic community will still want to celebrate their days – then what will we do? If we celebrated these days for many years, we should continue to celebrate them; unless we stop celebrating everything.

  • slippery

    if anyone knows there history they would know that pulaski almost lost the war for america, every time he got on the horse he was facing the wrong way .

    • Smarterthanyou

      Your an idiot Pulaski Created a strong cavalry modeled off of the Polish Hussars who were very successful and the best cavalry men in all of Europe. So quit with the Polish jokes because the difference between Irish immigrants and Polish immigrants is this. The Irish were brought here as criminals in handcuffs to colonize the new world. The Polish were not criminals and came here because of there own free will and worked hard. I bet you wouldn’t say anything to a bunch of Polish people.

  • Time to grow up

    Prayer, taken out of schools, Pledge of allegiance ” God remove”. Merry Christmas replace with ” Happy Holidays”. Look at a women for more than 3 seconds ” sexual Harassment. And so on…

    Now let’s remove holidays! End of America as we know it. Let’s try to go to any other country and try what these people do and see what happen. We will be kick out so fast before we can say “HI”.

  • Rebecca

    looks to me that since most of us don’t know what Pulaski day signifies, we should make sure our children attend school and learn why.
    I too never heard of it until we moved into Chicago and it’s suburbs. It’s not a state holiday and as for Christman and Easter it is called winter holiday and teacher conference in my district. In fact I drove school bus for years for a private school that honored only Thanksgiving and Friday after, Christmas Eve, Christmas day, New Years Eve, New Years day. We had school on Good Friday and all historic holidays. There are many ethnic days we have school and if you want your child to be home, you only need call them in and tell why. The School must honor your beliefs.
    The kids need to stay in school. Parents work and don’t get the days off and have to arange sitting or take the day off themselves. We can’t afford the luxury any longer of useless holidays.
    As for the comment about the news breaking on St. Paddy’s day. It’s not a day that is honored by being off school, so throw that one out.
    An Irish lass

  • Silver

    Let’s start with all nationalities having just one parade, instead of multiple like the Irish and spanish. That would save a few bucks. We have days off and the majority of the people do not understand or care about the meaning of the holiday. The kids are safer in school (in Chicago)than on the street for holidays that no one cares about. Sorry to upset the irish (4 parades) and the spanish(stop counting after 5).

    • Ha!

      People do not understand or choose to be ignorant and not understand. What is of importance or should be of importance has been replaced with video games, gangs, violence, disrespect for human lives and our own family histories!! Oh and I forgot, a lack of discipline from parents. People choose to become parents!! So they then need to choose how to figure out what to do with their children when school is not in session. Not all schooling and education can be done in schools. PARENTS are, or SHOULD BE, the first and most important educators to their children!! So many “PARENTS” are still children themselves. Lack of education among students comes from a lack of education in their homes. Who is held accountable for that?? Hmmm???? A day off here and there for children is not going to kill them or make them any less educated. Let’s be real here!!

      • LMJ

        SO TRUE!!! People again looking for school to be a baby sitter! Again 10 more days of school ans 90 extra minutes is NOT going to change a child;s learning habits or for that matter learn more, when some of that time is an increased lunch and recess.Also what about us parents who actually want to spend time with our children??

    • Rebecca

      Well you don’t know your facts very well, because the Irish parades are on Weekends. No Irish man takes a day off work to walk in a parade. I know this because my men walk in those parades.
      An Irish lass

      • Silver

        All these parades tax city services, police,fire streets and sans. Please do not tell me that these parades pay the city for city services. Tax payers flip for this.

  • CPS Plans to End Columbus, Pulaski Day Met with Opposition | SPOTLIGHTR

    […] of Education gives edifice districts curb over whether they order students to listen collection on the holidays honoring Columbus, patriarch Lincoln, Pulaski, Martin theologist King Jr. and Veterans, additional […]

  • James

    Columbus is more important than king. If you give a day off for king you should do it for columbus.

    • Jim

      Exactly! Columbus was more notable than MLK was. If King could see his people on the south and west sides of the city, he would roll over in his grave!

      • Ha!


  • oh brother

    Not all schools get Columbus Day or Pulaski Day off. My rational is, if it’s not a federal holiday, you don’t get school off. All of the people complaining probably are not sending their kids to CPS, but to the big 4 private schools for guys(Mt. Carmel, St. Rita, Brother Rice, and De La Salle) and the big 2 private schools for girls (Mother McAuley and Notre Dame for Girls). They’re afraid that is CPS does away with those holidays that the private schools will do the same.

    People need to be happy with what the got. In Indiana, the state dept of education pulled all half days at schools, thus making all of them start in mid-August. Sooner or later, they will take away all vacation days in order to keep up with the rest of the world.

    • Me

      I agree, though since the schools are still technically State driven (regardless of what DC has tried to do over the past 20ish years), then it should be based on State holidays…with a standard schedule.

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