CORE, GEM expect 700 for January 9 'Education Summit' at Chicago's Malcolm X College

In a January 7 media advisory (reprinted in its entirety here) CORE and GEM have announced that they expect 700 people for their Education Summit at Chicago's Malcolm X College on January 9, 2010.

One of the panels at the January 10, 2009, event at Malcolm X College featured displaced public and charter school teachers discussing what had happened to them. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.GEM, the Grassroots Education Movement and CORE, the Caucus Of Rank-and-file Educators

MEDIA ADVISORY, January 7, 2009

Contacts: Liz Brown (773/606-4876)

Kenzo Shibata: 312/296-0124

National Press: Julie Woestehoff, PURE, National Press: 773-538-1135 (Thurs/Friday); 773-715-3989 (Saturday only)

Further info at

Hundreds Expected at Education Summit to Support Alternative to Renaissance 2010; CORE Teachers Union Election Slate to be Announced

Part of the crowd that CORE reported as 500 people at Malcolm X College on January 9, 2009. The Malcolm X event kicked off a two-month series of protests and hearings responding to the Chicago Board of Education's announcement that it planned to close 22 schools in 2009. When the protests were over, CPS closed (or changed in a variety of ways) 16 of the schools that had been on the 'Hit List" (as opponents characterized it) announced by Schools CEO Ron Huberman in January 2009. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Who: Some 700 parents, teachers, students and community members are expected at an Education Summit co-sponsored by the Grassroots Education Movement and the Caucus of Rank and File Educators

What: The Education Summit's first hour will offer

· an overview of the alternative to CPS's failed Renaissance 2010 (R2010) program by parents of Fenger High School students

· comments from schools in danger of closure/turnaround/consolidation by CPS.

On January 10, 2009, CTU President Marilyn Stewart (second from right above) joined CORE co-chair Jackson Potter (right above) on the opening panel of the Malcolm X event. There was no indication that Stewart was planning to participate in the 2010 event, and recent actions by the CTU leadership — including a legal ploy to keep Potter from running for union office — have strained relations. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. · an announcement of the CORE slate for the May 2010 Chicago Teachers Union election,

· a call for participants to run in the April 2010 local school council election on the GEM platform,

Where: Malcolm X College, second floor cafeteria, 1900 W. Jackson Blvd. Parking off of Jackson.

When: Saturday, January 9, 2010 from 10 to 11 am.

Why: Mayor Daley just stated that he wants R2010 to go on forever. We say ENOUGH. R2010 has failed. It leaves a legacy of violence, of children and communities without schools, a fragmented system of resource-starved neighborhood schools, and low-performing charter and other novelty schools, all resulting in a bleaker future for all of our children.

The tragedy at Fenger High School epitomizes this failure. Unfortunately, Arne Duncan is trying to take this failed “Chicago model” nationwide as U.S. Secretary of Education. 500 people attended the January 2009 GEM/CORE Education Summit. Since then we’ve gained members, built resistance to and slowed R2010, created an effective, democratic alternative to improving neighborhood schools, and CORE has slated candidates for the May CTU election. The 2010 GEM/CORE Education Summit is the kick-off of our 2010 campaign for real change in the Chicago Public Schools and for public education across the U. S.

# # #

With the crowd in the background, a table occupied by members of KOCO (Kenwood Oakland Community Organization) took part in the January 10, 2009 event at Maclcolm X College. One of the speakers at the event was Jitu Brown (wearing hat), who has led KOCO protests against Renaissance 2010 since before the official "Renaissance 2010" plan of Mayor Daley was announced in 2004. The closing of schools south of Chicago's Loop and the widespread privatization of schools in Chicago's African American community began with a program called the "Mid South Plan" at the turn of the century and was gaining force by 2002, when Arne Duncan announced the first closings of "failing" schools. KOCO is one of the few community organizations that defied Mayor Daley to survive. So-called "targeted philanthropy" has caused the bankruptcy of many of the community groups that once dotted Chicago, as funding has been cut off for everyone except those supporting the mayor and the official policies of Chicago's ruling class. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The GEM Coalition is made up of the AFS Committee, Blocks Together, Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators, Chicago Parents Union, Designs for Change, Kenwood-Oakland Community Organization, Pilsen Alliance, Parents United for Responsible Education, South Side United LSC Federation, and Teachers for Social Justice. Our associate members include Chicago Youth Initiating Change, Gender Just, and Substance Newspaper.

GEM is committed to democratic principles in the governance, pedagogy, and culture of our public schools. GEM believes that every child has a constitutional civil and human right to a high quality, equitably funded, public education based on participatory democratic principles, community empowerment, a challenging, comprehensive and enriched curriculum, respect for cultural diversity, and Universal Human Rights. GEM believes that education should prepare students to deeply understand the roots of inequality and be prepared to act to change the world.

On the even of the January 10, 2010 event, with the snows falling as heavily as they were on January 9, 2009, several things had changed.

Despite repeated statements by the Chicago Board of Education that its annual list of schools slated for closings (and other radical changes, including turnarounds) would be made on january 8, 2010, no list had been provided to the public as of the beginning of the school day on January 9, 2010. Following CEO Ron Huberman's presentation to the Chicago Board of Education outlining the criteria for closing this school year, Substance repeatedly requested a list of all Chicago public schools that qualified for closing under the criteria Huberman had announced. Despite repeated requests and a lengthy discussion with Huberman's publicity chief, Monique Bond, as of Substance press time on January 9, 2009, no such list had been provided to the public. Based on the criteria outline in the December 16, 2009, Power Point presentation by Huberman to the Chicago Board of Education, approximately 200 Chicago elementary schools (virtually all of them in the hardest hit poverty areas of the inner city) and as many as 40 high schools (possibly including every remaining general public high school in Chicago) could be closed.

CORE leaders suspected that Huberman was holding back on providing the public with the full list of the schools he was going to close in 2010 until after the Malcolm X event. CORE co-chair Jackson Potter told a January 6 CORE meeting that he and others were suspecting that Huberman would not announce the 2010 Hit List until after the Malcolm X event.

Substance editor George N. Schmidt (above right) began organizing against the Amendatory Act while he was an active duty high school teacher and union delegate at Bowen High School in 1995. Substance published the complete text of the Amendatory Act in 1995 and warned teachers in Chicago that the Act was designed to take away their rights and privatize public services, beginning with those who used to be called "career service" workers. In 1999, Chicago school CEO Paul Valas (supported by Mayor Daley) ordered a $1 million lawsuit against Schmidt and Substance following the publication in the January - February 1999 edition of Substance of the laughable CASE (Chicago Academic Standards Examinations). It its lawsuit, the Board claimed the CASE tests were protected by a government "copyright." Schmidt was subsequently fired and blacklisted from teaching by the Daley administration, but the Board refused to allow its "copyright infringement" case to go before a jury, finally reducing to zero its lurid million dollar claims against Schmidt and Substance on the eve of trial on the amount of damages Substance owed. The most complete narrative of the first three years of the litigation is a chronology by Sharon Schmidt that can be found at
on the "old" Subsance Website ( At the January 2009 Malcolm X meeting, Schmidt warned teachers and community leaders that if they didn't reject the use of standardized tests as a measure of school and student success, their efforts would be weakened, if not undermined completely. Substance photo by Daniel Schmidt.
The Malcolm X event will apparently no include the current leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union, either. On January 10, 2009, CTU President Marilyn Stewart appeared on one of the panels with Jackson Potter and others. Stewart also publicized the event to union delegates and brought a sizable contingent of CTU staffers and members of her United Progressive Caucus (UPC) to the 2009 event. There was no indication that the CTU was doing any organizing for the January 9, 2010 event, and the CTU Web site ( made no mention of the Malcolm X event as late as January 8, 2010. The preliminary agenda for the event, circulated by CORE and GEM, does not include any of the union's current officers as speakers.

Apparently, Marilyn Stewart has also withdrawn the CTU from GEM. During January, February and March 2009, Stewart and other CTU leaders attended GEM meetings regularly, sometimes on the coldest nights of January. Substance has not been able to determine when Stewart withdrew from the coalition, and Stewart herself has not made any public statements about the question.

In January 2009, members of other CTU caucuses also participated in the event. Former CTU president Deborah Lynch was active from the floor. Members of the (then) Coalition for a Strong Democratic Union (CSDU) had called for a boycott of the event, telling their members that Malcolm X 2009 would strengthen Marilyn Stewart within the union. At the time, Stewart had just succeeded in getting her vice president, Ted Dallas, removed from the union, and was trying to force out the elected treasurer of the union, Linda Porter, with legal threats. Porter refused to resign and later announced that she was running for president against Stewart. The CSDU (now called "Caucus for a Strong Democratic Union") has made no mention of the Malcolm X event on its Web site (

One of the fundamental issues that was discussed briefly during the 2009 event was the role of standardized test scores in the undermining of public schools, first in Chicago and later elsewhere. At the time of the January 2009 Malcolm X meeting, Arne Duncan had just been appointed U.S. Secretary of Education and the "Race to the Top" had not been announced. During one of the panels, I reported to people that the attempt to make any claims based on so-called "standardized" tests had been fatal to those who resisted the attacks on public schools, both in Chicago and elsewhere, because the tests were always weighted against the poor and the teachers and schools that serve the poor. The only solution is the abolition of the use of standardized tests for so called "accountability."

A lengthy history of Substance's role in the resistance to high-stakes testing is available at the "old" Substance Web site at

The debate over how to deal with standardized tests and so-called "data driven management" continues into the second decade of the 21st Century. 


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