You Tube links to some speeches from hearing on proposed closing of Prescott Elementary School, February 3, 2010

While Substance prepares a longer article on two of the three hearings on schools closings (etc.) that we held by the Chicago Public Schools on February 3, 2010 (Tilton/Marconi at Clark St.; Prescott at Clark St.; Guggenheim at Guggenheim) we're offer the beginnings of our You Tube coverage as well.

Many of those representing the Board of Education were surprised when the Prescott hearing drew more than 200 people, filling the Board chambers and with standing room only. Prescott only has 197 students this school year (officially), but many of those who attended brought their young children, whom they said wanted to attend Prescott and would if the school weren't closed.

John Kugler Testifies About CPS Lies


Alderman Waguespack Tesifies to Save Prescott


Principal Erin Roche Defends Prescott ">

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February 4, 2010 at 9:44 PM

By: Ravenswood teacher

It's a shame

Ihave to say, as someone who witness the temporary destruction of Ravenswood under Erin Roche's leadership, that it is difficult to know that this community is also being destroyed by him. There is no mistake that what he did at both Ravenswood and Prescott are both contributing factors to this unfortunate school closing.

I am not for Prescott closing. As a matter of fact, I have a couple of friends and colleagues who used to work with me at Ravenswood who are going through this closing with Erin Roche at Prescott. I certainly don't want to see either of my friends become part of that large pool of displaced teachers that continues to get bigger by the day.

With that said, I truly believe that Erin Roche is one of the major reasons that Prescott was chosen for closing. I also have to admit, sadly, that I can't help but feel a bit of justification at the fact that FINALLY Erin Roche is experiencing what it feels like to be "flagged" as one of his unwanted teachers he's trying to push out the door.

I feel sincere empathy for Prescott; however, Erin Roche does not deserve to have a school. He has already ruined 2 school. Enough is enough.

February 4, 2010 at 10:00 PM

By: Tom Edwards


Dear Ravenswood Teacher,

Though your comments are no doubt sincere, they are without documentation and provide no support for your claims. Rather than supporting Mr. Roche's "flagging", perhaps specific complaints about his performance should be addressed.

Also, rather than expressing shadenfreude at his unfortunate situation, perhaps support for the other faculty that work at Prescott, along with constructive suggestions might be helpful.

Otherwise, your comments come off as vindictive, petty and personal.

February 4, 2010 at 10:22 PM

By: disagree Tom

leadership is the issue here

it is not shadenfreude--Roche dies not know what he is doing--he is out of hie league here. New Leaders and he has failed. He leaves negativity in his wake. Would you go to a surgeon to operate on your prostate who had a summer program, but wait, he was trained as a lawyer too. No you would not. Ravenswood teacher makes good and true statements. Who knows what the LSC was promised at Prescott to hire him, since NLNS wanst a perfect record, but the bottom line, the children lost at both schools while he was there.

February 4, 2010 at 10:50 PM

By: Tom Edwards

Re: leadership is the issue here

Thanks for your comments, did not address mine. "Roche dies (sic) not know what he is doing--he is out of hie (sic) league here. New Leaders and he has failed." A verb in the second sentence would be helpful. I have no idea what you mean in either of those comments. Again...nothing specific, just a general attack. "He leaves negativity in his wake." Again, specifics, please. "Would you go to a surgeon to operate on your prostate who had a summer program, but wait, he was trained as a lawyer too. No you would not." Once again, I have no idea what that means, and your comments are referential to a specific incident or event. Please elaborate. Otherwise, your comments are meaningless. "Who knows what the LSC was promised at Prescott to hire him, since NLNS wanst (sic) a perfect record, but the bottom line, the children lost at both schools while he was there." AGAIN broad generalizations and no specific criticisms. It sounds to me like you're carrying a vendetta against this principal and have nothing to offer other than vitriol and your personal feelings. (Both of) your arguments would be more persuasive if you could provide evidence of falling students\' scores and falling enrollment. If you can't document *objective* issues with his leadership, (both of) you come off as nothing but people who have an agenda other than the well being of the students.

February 4, 2010 at 10:51 PM

By: Ravenswood Teacher

Thank you disagree Tom and let me break it down for you

Evidence??? Let me tell you some of the EVIDENCE that I have that directly speaks to Erin Roche's inability to lead a school.

1) A recent warning resolution was given to Roche. Obviously the Board's investigations have led them to discipline this "leader".

2)At Ravenswood, the IGs office came and took 3 years worth of documents when a transition audit showed SEVERAL irregularities.

3) Within a couple of months of the new administration at Ravenswood, 6 teachers ratings were resinded from the rating Roche had given them back to their original rating. Why? Because in a RATING year, he ONLY observed and rated these 6 teachers. He didn't even bother observing the other teachers. He simply gave them a non-rating. Because he unfairly "targeted" only these 6 teachers, the law department had the new principal resind these ratings. How do I know??? Because I was one of those teachers.

4) When the State came in to audit our special ed and LRE plan, we were completely out of compliance. The State gave schools money to train staff on special ed topics. Our school received $68,000. We had obvious restrictions on this money. Throughout the next 2 years, under Roche's "leadership" we had over $40,000 go missing. NO training was given to our staff on special ed. During one year that we were audited on this money, it was found that Roche "misappropriated" this money and our SCHOOL had to pay the State back this money. To this date, our school still has to pay back the money that Roche misappropriated around this.

5) When the new administration walked into the building, we were also seriously out of compliance with bilingual educaion. We had been given 3 positions to be used for bilingual students only. Roche used to forget about our bilingual students. Instead of giving our bilingual students their rightful services, he chose to use 2 of the 3 positions for regular ed classroom teacher positions. Only 1 staff member was designated to give our bilingual education students services. 1 person was responsible for both ESL services and native language instruction services for over 100 students. Consequently, if you look at our special ed roster and compare it to our bilingual roster they are nearly identical. Why? Because our students who were supposed to be transitioning to English got NO support and their language issue turned into a "learning disability" look alike. Wonderful for our bilingual students,eh?

6) The self-made excel spreadsheets that were provided to the LSC on a monthly basis (instead of the actual budget sheets from the system that principals use to actually look up the budget) were TOTALLY different. At the first LSC meeting with the new administration, the new principal took Roche's spreadsheet and had the LSC compare it to the ACTUAL budget. There were over 20 discrepencies. Some MAJOR!!!

Here is just a SMALL sampling of some of the things this "great leader" did at Ravenswood. It is no wonder why Roche got a warning resolution! My guess is that it is directly because of some of these specific examples I am sharing from his time at Ravenswood.

Does this satisfy you? Am I bitter, of course. Does he deserve to be a pricipal at any school? Absolutely not!

February 5, 2010 at 12:35 AM

By: The Rochettes

LSC budget spreadsheets

Ravenswood Teacher:

You hit it on the dot! I am shocked to read that spreadsheets were given to the LSC at Ravenswood instead of the actual budget lines.

The LSC spreadsheets instead of the actual budget lines are an interesting take. I never thought of this take on things. How interesting!

I am shocked that a principal would not give the actual budget line copies to the LSC. Again, I find it hard to believe that a principal would not give the governing body (LSC) the actual line by line budgets? How does the LSC monitor this? Did this really happen at Ravenswood?

I wonder, what was the LSC at Prescott given under Mr. Roche's stay? Were his cheerleading squad--on the LSC, given actual line by line budgets or his spreadsheets? Inquiring minds want to know. Does anyone know how the general public can access the school's actual budget?

February 5, 2010 at 5:16 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Clarity and courage in

Substancenews is not a blog. In situations like this, I would prefer that everyone who comments did so in his or her own name and not hiding behind the fig leaf of "anonymous". That said, we are going to honor the conventions here, as elsewhere, because they exist. But I would urge everyone who wants to comment here about Prescott to consider why in the world they would want to remain anonymous at this point.

I spoke during the Prescott hearing the other night, reminding the odious teachers who spoke that it was their asses that had been thrown under the bus by CPS, because, for reasons only they can explain, they got up, one after the other, and demanded that CPS throw some other school under the bus!

It was truly an unbelievable performance in the face of professional death and "Performance Management." One teacher proclaimed that since there were more than 200 schools with "lower scores" than Prescott, those schools should be closed first. In other words, throw someone else under the bus -- instead of demanding that the bus be stopped.

The Board's decision to issue that Warning Resolution against Erin Roche was in the context (as I reported here exclusively) of the largest number of Warning Resolutions ever issued against CPS principals. From what I can tell, CPS is trying to replace anyone with actual experience with managers with no experience in the classroom, no knowledge of Chicago, and absolutely no commitment to Chicago's public schools. Half the CAOs testifying at the hearings are outsider mercenaries, no better for public education than Blackwater was for national security. Mercenaries are whores.

Given the fact that CPS is now being run by MBAs, CTAs, and OAAs (Outside Administrative Assholes, the new Chief Area Officers minted by the Broad Foundation and others, with the encouragement of the U.S. Department of Education under Arne Duncan), it's time for people who care about Chicago's schools and children to stand up and demand -- in their own names -- that this madness be stopped.

Not that someone else become the latest victim of the madness.

My suggestion at the Prescott hearing was a moratorium of two years on all this nonsense. There was support in the Illinois General Assembly for that last year, but it was diluted. There is now support in the Chicago City Council for it. Only a complete independent audit and investigation of what's been going on in Chicago will reveal the depth of corruption in the school closings, privatizations, turnaroundizations, and all the other attacks on public education.

Instead we get cowards sniping anonymously via blogs and teachers playing "Good Teacher - Bad Teacher" while their own lives are on the line.

It's not unprecedented in history, but it's not edifying, either. Look up "Judenrat." ("Rat" in this context does not mean "rat").

My father, who served with the 44th Division and walked from France to Austria between 1944 and 1945 with some very serious people trying to kill him most of the way, made me pay attention to certain kinds of hypocrisy, and how they allow evil to proceed. In Europe they had the "Judenrat" (you can Google it and get a translation, either from Yiddish or German).

At least Erin Roche, the majority of Prescott's current teachers, and the parents stood up in their own names and defended their school. At least those Buffies, self-centered as their version of solidarity may be, gave their names during the Prescott hearings. (A lot of these young individualistic teacher saviors seem to have developed their fantasies from reading too much Ayn Rand and watching too many iterations of Buffy Vampire Slayer...). But at least they are standing up to the MBAs, CTAs, and CAAs.

How about everyone standing up with them now?

In the first person, not behind some tree or rhetorical fig leaf?

This is the year to stop this nonsense. But we're not going to stop it unless everyone stands together for a moratorium NOW. No more "Good Teacher Bad Teacher."

And no more anonymous.

I'm not going to cut anonymous blogging from here. It's the convention, cowardly as it may be. But everyone who blogs had better leave us their real e-mail address, because any address that doesn't check back to a real human blogger will see the "comment" deleted. By me. Within one day.

Chicago is in the present mess because of cowards. Now that the USA is being sentenced to the Chicago Plan, we owe a lot to get this out as we should have years ago.

End of rant. Sorry for taking up so much of your time.

February 5, 2010 at 1:18 PM

By: Ravenswood teacher

I'm ananymous because I know too much

George, I appreciate your rant; however, CPS is not a forgiving system. As you see above, I have some very specific information about what Erin did at our school. If I were to give my name, I would probably be pursued for telling too much. Unfortunately, this is how this system works. I appreciate for forum to tell others of my experiences, anonymous or not. I don't really care how you feel about me or other anomyous bloggers. Let's face it. Without your anomyous bloggers on this site, there would be the same 15-20 people posting over and over. You don't want to delete the anomyous blogger because you know that this is a way that gives you more hits on this site. Let's just call a spade a spade. If you were in it simply for the integrity of the people standing up and only posting under their names, you wouldn't allow anyone to post unless they use their names. This is not the case so choose what it is you want and stop judging those who don't follow by your unwritten rules. If it bothers you so much, don't post the postings of those who don't use their own names.

Regardless if I give my name or not, it doesn't change the fact that Erin Roche (as you have also reported several stories on the injustices he has done to teachers) is not fit to lead a school. You can't have it both ways. You have also reported in your stories (more than once) that you have tried to reach him for comment on some of the things he did at Prescott last year (taking out a handicap ramp while school was still in session) and he refused to take your calls. Now you defend him? I think hypocracy is a two way street.

Enough about my rant; however, as the editor of this, George, you are only too quick to give your constant opinion. This is mine.

February 5, 2010 at 5:33 PM

By: well tom--there are some facts for you

Only since he is a new leader

does Roche still exist. A warning resolution for ALL the wrongs above? ANY other principal NOT from NL, would have been removed! It is who you know, not how wrong and bad your peformance is. Roche should have to pay back the money he misappropriated-poor students, hero teachers.

February 6, 2010 at 4:56 AM

By: George's rant



Ranting and raving due to bloggers not putting their names is childish. We want information. I could care less if a person puts their real name or not.

Just so you know, i have recommended substance news to all my colleages and to people not associated with teaching.

Not that it matters to you, bou lost a commenter and future subscriber. Honestly, your ranting about a name is not appealing nor is it professional. I thought you were above that.

February 6, 2010 at 5:25 AM

By: kugler

shoe on the other foot

in defense of george you should come out and see every hearing like he has done and listen to every lie and distortion of the truth in the face the the very people that are about to be destroyed. blog with your name and get used to george and substance we are the only one in town covering all the hearings and closings.

I have video and audio of every hearing. no one else does except the Board. so anyone that wants to know what was really said and put into the record can request this information from substance and no one else.

listening to all that corruption makes me angry but when i post my videos, articles and talk to the people at the hearings it makes it all worth it.

come out to

PUSH Headquarters for a planning meeting

When: Saturday, February 6th, 12 noon

Where: 2nd floor Conference Room, Operation Push 930 East 50th Street

February 6, 2010 at 11:01 AM

By: Ravenswood teacher

To Kugler:


While I appreciate your attempt to pick up the sword and defend your boss at substance, I think George is a big enough guy to do that himself. He certainly doesn't have a problem telling off those who post here if he doesn't agree with them.

It still doesn't address the fact that George's journalism may be with the best of intentions (he is very dedicated about being at all of the CPS news events and stories, there's no denying that) but what bothers me about this situation (and look back at George's stories on this and you'll see I'm telling you the truth) is that he criticizes and defends the same people as it suits him. There is not consistency to his views, but that's because he never looks at stories from an objective point of view. In his story about the abserdities about what Erin was doing to teachers, just last year, George cut Erin with a knife. Now, less than a year later, he defends Erin because it is regard to a school closing???? This is the SAME guy who brought this school to this point and now he suddenly is a noble "leader"? Come on. I am done commenting back and forth about this. It does no good, considering I am not trying to say that Prescott doesn't deserve to stay open. As I have already stated, I have friends who are going through this and I feel deeply for their pain. It could be any of us next. STILL, Erin has done horrible things at both of his schools. It is FACT and it is DOCUMENTED. Everything I told you above has been DOCUMENTED.

All I am saying is that posting anonaymous shouldn't be a source of this frustration and consistency in reporting would be fantastic!

February 6, 2010 at 1:44 PM

By: Anonymous for a reason

Bravo Ravenswood Teacher!

I am only an observer here, but I have followed the Prescott story closely. It is clear CPS would rather close the school down than have to remove a CONTRACT principal.

There is no concern for students or teachers, this is just the easiest way to get rid of Mr. Roche.

February 6, 2010 at 2:27 PM

By: does NOT get rid of Mr. Roche

he will have 6 months of pay

If prescott is closed, Roche will get 6 months pay to find a job. He is a new leader, they will assure he gets another position, just like they did when he screwed with Ravenswood. The students and teachers lose again, but he will not lose a thing.

February 6, 2010 at 3:07 PM

By: soloflyer

The Anonymous Thing

I received an email from George a few weeks ago checking up to see if I was a "real" person and scolding me for my cowardice. I told him that I am, indeed, a coward about posting my name here. Just taking care of too many dang people right now to feel the wrath of CPS revenge. I do appreciate the fine writing and activism of both George and Kugler.

Maybe the saying is true...

There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.

February 6, 2010 at 5:26 PM

By: kugler

first step to freeedom

Once I use my real name it becomes a matter of record.

It is refreshing in two respects:

1) Morally and Psychologically I free myself of the burdens of destructive and negative actions that I have no control over but now do not have to cover up because I am fearful "something bad" will happen to me.

2) Legally there is a little known whistle blower law in the school code that protects school related employees against any and all retaliatory and discriminatory acts against me.

When I document and bring to light transgressions against children and adults as the result of illicit activity of Board of Ed agents it not only helps those affected but also myself.

Did either of these ideas protect me from job loss and negative damage to my family and career? No. What they have done for me is give me the tools to make a difference. The legal remedy is not one that will happen quickly, but need I remind people the record in court of the Board of Ed and the Union for that matter is pretty dismal (they lose most of their cases especially discrimination and retaliation cases are settled out of court).

When I use my name I document each instance. When the board or union take any negative action against me, I document the incident thereby building my case against those that feel it is alright to harm children and break the law.

If you want to do a story and have the documents to prove what we will put down on paper, I will do two things for anyone that wants to stay anonymous:

1) Put it under my name

2) See what agencies can be contacted for proper adjudication of the matters in question.

For the record in protecting Prescott School, my focus was on the staff and children that will be negatively impacted by this closure. School closures and displacement of staff have profound long lasting consequences for those that endure the traumatic experience.

If you want to do a story and have the documents to prove what we will put down on paper, I will do two things for you: put it under my name and see what agencies can be contacted for proper adjudication of the matters in question.

John Kugler


PS george can handle himself.

watch the video from last night

February 6, 2010 at 6:33 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

How old is "old"?

I'm old enough to collect Social Security and within two years of Medicare.

Just how "old" is old in this context?

My Daddy taught me long before it was a country song that if you don't stand to something you'll fall for anything. When he was on "graves registration" with the 44th Infantry Division, ETO, 1944 - 1945, the only people who wound up anonymous were those they couldn't find anything left of. When I asked him what that was like, he said he'd rather not talk about it at all. Once, after a few beers, he said "After artillery there were times when you didn't find enough of a man to put in a shot glass..."

They still had to figure out how to put a name to every casualty so that next of kin had the word. Most of the time, though, he was an 11B, but he said because he could type fast, when things got really bad he got to do "registration."

None of those men (and women) could be anonymous. To this day we owe then a lot. I figure the more fear our tyrants can pour into people's souls, the longer their tyrannies will last...

February 6, 2010 at 7:37 PM

By: soloflyer

How Old is Old -- Part Deux

Sticking to WWII analogies, the French Resistance in Vichy France would have been non-existant had they not insisted on anonymity amony their ranks. I suppose there is a time and a place for all people to choose when and where to make their stand...and it can be in a multitude of ways. Vive la difference!

February 6, 2010 at 9:08 PM

By: Bob

Going Live

For a long time I blogged under the name 1.04 that all changed when two of

My Bogan students got murdered three days apart last June.I got so pissed

to hell with it. Then I began under my real name which is Robert, but Bob

sounded better so now is what I use..

My point is that I have been on both sides.It does not matter to me what

Name a person uses as long as the information they report is true. Going

Live didn’t change anything about what I write. But I am 63 today and

A 41 year vet who could pull the plug at will, circumstances are quite

Different for someone younger that has an entire career to go before

Retirement. I feel calling somebody out for not using their real name

Could seriously hinder the flow of information posted on this truly

Unique, and irreplaceable educational asset. George, you more than most

Know the venom the Board can inject into a person. Let the nameless

Remain so, for the good of us all.

Deep Throat and two reporters brought down a corrupt president, But

Without that anonymous source where would Watergate have gone?

February 7, 2010 at 2:13 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Never burned a source

We've always known the difference between anonymous off-the-record sources and other realities. In 35 years, Substance has never burned an off-the-record source. Our rule is that the reporter and the editor have to know (and be able to contact) the source. When we got a report that CTU had hired a scab (1987 strike) as a legislative coordinator, and the CTU paperwork from the scab trials had "disappeared," the reporter had to send me to an actual teacher (by then retired) with whom I could talk who ID'd the scab.

The fine line between anonymous blogging and simply ducking is always going to be problematic. I'm aware of the necessity of creative identifications back in Europe back in the day. The Red Orchestra and the Maquis are both examples. Same same the Vietnamese (one of the top people in Time magazine's Saigon bureau; people all the way up to the Presidential Palace; etc.). Heck. There are probably people still saving some files on Chicago anti-war activists Laura DelVecchio, Jim McCoy, or Neil Flanigan from those days.

I'll stay away from these Comment comments for a couple of weeks. Those who get extreme will hear from me on the side. We'll see what shakes after our February print edition is out and in the mails.

February 7, 2010 at 11:12 AM

By: Margaret Wilson

retired teacher/case manager/parent

I have been on both sides too--posting anonymously and under my own name. I'm retired so I don't have much to lose anymore but there were many times during my career that I had to decide whether to let things ride or have the courage to step forward. I think blogging under a different name is fine but if you want things to change then you need to be willing to at least have some people like George or another reporter know your name so they can verify the truth for a story. All reporters will protect your privacy but otherwise things will remain the same and all that will happen is that it will remain on this site. Please think about it.

February 7, 2010 at 11:49 AM

By: Ravenswood teacher

George knows who I am because of my emails

I have exhausted this conversation; however, I am going to make one more statement about this and then I am done with this conversation. George does know who I am. My email hasn't changed. If this is about being able to contact the source, it's done. My email hasn't changed through all of my postings, so if the editor needs to check a source, there's no problem.

I'm glad to see that so many of you agree that posting anonamyous shouldn't be a reason for chastizing another.

February 7, 2010 at 3:43 PM




February 7, 2010 at 9:49 PM

By: Anonymous for a reason

Stay Anonymous

Al- I respect your opinion, but sometimes people do have to remain anonymous. Some of these tyranical dicataors, called principals, will stop at nothing to purge their staff of anyone who slightly disagrees with him / her. RETALIATION is alive and well. I have witnessed this happen to good teachers at my school. There is little the CTU can do to protect teachers. Principals are protected by their CONTRACTS, area office, central office,and of course, the OUTLAW department. I don't really follow Zeta,but I will say this: some teachers feel persecuted because they ARE persecuted. I've seen it happen at my school. I would not sign my name--I have a family to support, I've already been harrassed enough.

February 8, 2010 at 4:50 AM

By: jonsie

me too

sorry, George, if you don't want to show my comments because I'm afraid of repercussions, I understand but so should you.

I was a delegate for over twenty years, and often was the only one to stand up for my colleagues. for health reasons i resigned a few years ago but mentored the many delegates since. years ago being a delegate was a protection in itself. The Union would be there for you.

It changed in the '90's. It seemed like CPS was determining the make up of the House, especially under Reese, although the field reps were pretty supportive.

With Lynch, we didn't get the support from the field reps but we could call her or one of the other officers and staff (like you) and get good results.

But since Stewart stole the office with the help of the AFT and CPS, even the UPC delegates have been axed. The inner circle has gotten smaller and smaller.

No one is safe. If that sounds really paranoid, well, you kn ow what's going on.

That's why this election is so important. If Stewart gets in again, the union is dead and all these caucuses need to focus on the one enemy and stop trying to pick off each other.

I need three more years and can't risk losing my job (who's going to hire a 60ish teacher?) or my pension. Unfortunately a lot of others are in the same boat.

My hope is for Lynch to get elected and hire the best of the other caucuses and be ready to fight on day 1. If that happens i'll tell you who I am.

February 8, 2010 at 8:02 AM

By: xian from CORE

I empathize, but have one request...

I fully understand--we all have different life circumstances. That's the beautiful thing about the union--our contract (is supposed to anyway) protects us regardless.

Some people cannot use their names at this time. I understand that. I'd merely ask us all to respect those who do and strive to get to a place where we can. The dangerous spot is when out of insecurity we attempt to justify our own life decisions by denigrating the nobleness of others'. After all, only courageous confrontation of evil has ever vanquished it, and sometimes the cost is high. If we all wait for others to pay it, we'll be dealing with the evil for a long time.

Many of us in CORE have been confronting CPS and our union leadership constantly. Some of us without tenure or any job protection whatsoever.

Some of us have lost jobs, a few of us appear to be blacklisted. But we continue to do right by teachers at whatever cost.

Isn't this who you would want running the union? The people who will fight courageously for those of us who feel they cannot at this time? The people who are tacking a extra 4 hours on to our days to study the budget and the contract to ensure that we won't be steamrolled in contract negotiations or the media like the last administrations have?

Vote CORE in May. It's the just thing, but more than that it's the best thing for every teacher in the city of Chicago.

February 9, 2010 at 11:09 AM

By: Jean Schwab


I understand why people do not want to use their names, it will draw attention to themselves and their situation. I spoke out often,using my own name, and now I miss my school,students and fellow staff members. I know that I have lots more to offer them and can't do it now. When so many people are losing their jobs, this is not a good time to express yourself. I don't care if people use their names anymore, as long as Substance knows who they are, it doesn't matter. Hopefully, the environment within the CTU and schools will change and people will feel free to express themselves without fear. People can express themselves by voting in new officers to the CTU. Then maybe some of the damage can be "turned-around, phased-out or reconstructed" so it benefits staff, students and their families. Whoever wins this election will have loads of work to do!I appreciate the work that Debbie and PACT have done through the years, Unfortunately, too many people swallowed the excuses for non-action made by Stewart and her group, so if I could vote, I would vote for CORE.

ps - I like reading Zeta's opinions, I think about them and then develop my own insights.

February 18, 2010 at 10:36 PM

By: Tom Edwards

Trying to reformat

Apologies - formatting got screwed up - I cut and pasted from my Mac. If this is still screwed up, please excuse the double post.


Sorry, I've been out of the loop for a while, so I have not responded to your comments. Let me (as an outsider - I have no affiliation with CPS - I am just a concerned citizen) try to address some of your criticisms. I can't address them all, because, as an outsider, not employed by CPS, I am not privy to much of the insider information that you are.

"1) A recent warning resolution was given to Roche. Obviously the Board's investigations have led them to discipline this "leader"."

What was in the resolution? Is a "warning resolution" a disciplinary action, or is it an admonishment to change behaviors? I don't know about CPS, but in my line of work, "discipline" means suspension, loss of pay, or demotion. Did any of those occur? If not, then it is not disciplinary, but only a remark by the Board that Mr. Roche should change his actions.

"2)At Ravenswood, the IGs office came and took 3 years worth of documents when a transition audit showed SEVERAL irregularities."

And the results of the Inspector General's office was....? Allegation without substantiation on your part. If you wish to make them, state, EXPLICITLY, what the IG's investigation showed. That's why the press uses the term "alleged." Innocent until proven guilty, you know. Has he been shown to be guilty of irregularities? If so, what?

"3) Within a couple of months of the new administration at Ravenswood, 6 teachers ratings were resinded from the rating Roche had given them back to their original rating. Why? Because in a RATING year, he ONLY observed and rated these 6 teachers. He didn't even bother observing the other teachers. He simply gave them a non-rating. Because he unfairly "targeted" only these 6 teachers, the law department had the new principal resind these ratings. How do I know??? Because I was one of those teachers."

Aha! So *you* were one of the teachers that was "unfairly" treated and evaluated. I'm pleased that you, at last, come forth and explain what your issue with this man is.

There's other things in your (comprehensive) post that point to what you consider to be Mr. Roche's being unfit to lead Prescott.


You miss the big picture.

It's not about you, and it's not about him.

It's not about your perceived injustices, and it's not about his alleged incompetence.

It's about the kids.

Again: It's about the kids. Not about you, not about Mr. Roche, and not about CPS. It's about the kids. This discussion has been hijacked by personal vendettas and disagreements and it misses the bigger and more important picture.

The question is this: Should Prescott be closed because of what several teachers perceive as being an incompetent leader? Should the growing vibrant neighborhood that Prescott be denied a safe, diverse and exciting place for its children because of what some (with a personal agenda) consider to be failed leadership? I hate to sound trite, but "Baby and Bathwater" comes to mind.

If Mr. Roche is not fit to lead (and you have not shown me that he is - you have only shown me your own biases), then he should be removed.

But that's not the goal of the school. Removing a school's leadership because some perceive it as being not capable is one thing. Closing the entire school is (or should be) entirely another. Let Mr. Roche stand up to the scrutiny of his peers and his superiors. Let the board make its decisions regarding *him* on his merits and weaknesses.

Let Prescott stand up to the scrutiny of the board using the same standards - merits and weaknesses - keeping in mind, the goal is not to remove people, the goal is not to save money, the goal is not vindictiveness.

The goal is the education of the children of the neighborhood served by the school. If the school closes, will that goal be met?

Or, is the goal political and vindictive (as "Anonymous for a Reason" pointed out)?

It is, after all, the Chicago way.

February 19, 2010 at 4:11 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Prescott is not alone. Solidarity time.

Having watched the Hit List evolve since Arne Duncan first created it (with the connivance of the Chicago Tribune's editors, who hailed him as a "hero" after he unveiled the first one in 2002), I've covered virtually all of the "hearings" since. And at Substance we've also assembled as much of the record of these hyped and hypocritical events as possible, going all the way back.

Generally, the schools that get on the Hit List each year are facing privatization or some other fierce corporate "reform." Someone wants the building. Whether it's Morse elementary school on the west side (now the overhyped and underperforming "Polaris Charter") or Ralph Bunche on the south side (now the Providence St. Mel's charter school that locks its playlot to the children of the community) the story is the same. Forms of privatization and the deprivation of public education to a community.

Each year for the past three years (one and a half of them Duncan; one and a half Huberman), there has to be one "white" (i.e. not completely segregated and black/Latino) school on the Hit List. Last year it was Hamilton (which escaped destruction) this year, Prescott. Otherwise the racial biases rampant today from the Daley administration would be obvious even to a north shore, multi-millionaire Tribune Board member (and charter cheerleader).

So this year, Prescott got the nod to be the 'White' sacrifice. Thirteen of the 14 schools on the 2010 hit list have virtually not one white child in them. Prescott is the cover to keep many from noticing how racist this whole Daley program has been, whether in its Vallas, Duncan, or Huberman iteration.

So what does Prescott do? Silly stuff — albeit with great passion. Instead of standing in solidarity with the other schools on the Hit List, however, Prescott opted to demand privileges. Not just one speaker, but several at the February 3 hearing at Clark St. demanded that CPS throw somebody else under the bus! As I noted when I spoke that evening (in favor of Prescott staying open, but not in favor of those obnoxious utterances from speaker after speaker — parents and teachers both — earlier that evening), Prescott deserves to remain open...

But not so someone else can't be dumped into the icy waters of Huberman's version of corporate "school reform"!

Prescott may nave noticed that for all their craving of official recognition, the only media that covered their plight this year (just as we covered their predations last year) is substancenews. Accurately, and at some cost in time, money and energy. Going back to the first year of this nonsense, we've established something of a record at our "old" site ( and at our "new" site. Given our budget, we're very proud of that. Unlike the two major daily newspapers in Chicago, Substance is not in bankruptcy, either financially or ethically, like the Sun-Times and Tribune. This is just additional proof. But, we digress...

While Prescott turned out a huge number of people in support for its cause on February 3 (Clark St.) and February 6 (counting the Saturday community hearing, more than 700 total, for a school with roughly 200 students), Prescott was the only school where people spoke against the closing by telling CPS to close somebody else. As some of the young 'un would put it in texting mode: WTF!!??

It was a "Titanic" kind of moment — the scramble to the lifeboats, shoving everyone else out of the way. I was really glad my young sons (CPS all, one heading in, one out, one current) had brought back "Titanic" at the same time we had to add "Avatar" to our list. But I digress...

To quote John Donne, via Hemingway,

No Prescott is an island...

As a result of the growing sense that we're all in this together — and the refusal of teachers to continue playing "Good Teacher/Bad Teacher" or "Good School/Bad School" — we've been able to document a huge outpouring of mutual support this year among the schools on the Hit List. While many of the other schools have been supporting one another (last night, February 18, Guggenheim was supporting Deneen; many supported Phillips on the same night), Prescott has managed to sustain a breathtaking sense of privilege in the face of a death sentence from the hypocrites who run Chicago and its privatizing public schools system.

Between now and next Wednesday, when the Board meets to cast the final vote on these matters, Prescott's supporters have the chance to change their tune and praxis. We'll be covering what everyone says and does accurately, as we have. Two instances of covering Prescott's fight the past three weeks are available here -- and only here -- in all Chicago media.

It would be a lot easier if the people who are trying to defend Prescott today didn't persist in their "Titanic" mode, but so far... We're not seeing them at Deneen or at the Phillips community hearing last night. Such exclusivity gives one the impression that the Prescott people want to convince their critics that they are afraid to venture south of Fullerton, and that they smugly view themselves as "better" than their fellow public schools citizens.

Better to fight for enough lifeboats than to try and push everybody out of your way when the ship is sinking. But so far, neither Prescott nor its alderman have given us any reason to report other than as we have.

Monday is the City Council hearing. Wednesday the Board meeting. Every protest between now and then will be reported here (and, as you may have noticed regarding Chicago's venal corporate media, no where else).

Where there's life, there's hope. The editors and staff of Substance don't want any real public schools to be closed this school year, or for several years into the future. The reason is that history — a full eight years of it going back to April 2002 when Arne Duncan and Michael Scott destroyed Dodge, Terrell and Williams — shows that the current CPS leadership, under Mayor Daley, is not interested in improving the city's public schools, but has been trying to privatize as many of our public buildings as possible — treating the children, teachers, and community the same way we've been treating with the parking meters and so many other similar examples.

It took me way too long to write these words, but I'm leaving them up. Yesterday, three schools had events protesting current CPS policy and the lies of the Huberman (Daley) administration: Montefiore, Deneen, and Phillips. Hopefully next time we cover those events we'll see some of the smug staff, parents, and community leaders from Prescott showing that they've finally realized what's really going on...

February 19, 2010 at 7:38 AM

By: Tom Edwards


George, thank you for your comments. I find them interesting, particularly with respect to the political implications and machinations that are going on. As I said at the end of my post, "It's the Chicago way." And, as I said at the beginning, I am not aware of a lot of the politics. You opened my eyes.

I would like address the "us vs. them" issue however. I was at the Saturday morning hearing, and I do not recall a chorus or people saying "close them, but not us!" Now, I may be getting a bit feeble in my old age, but I think I would have remembered such an outcry.

I heard something different. What I heard was there are *other* schools with similar enrollments, similar demographics, similar issues that are *not* targeted for closing. The question, obviously, is "Why *us*, and not them?" Granted, it may sound similar, but the intent is different, if you listen between the lines.

Out of the 60 or so people who spoke, the majority - the VAST majority - spoke to issues other than what you brought up. They spoke about the neighborhood, and how it has revitalized. They spoke about their pre-k children that they want to send to Prescott and won't be able to. They spoke about the dedication and enthusiasm of the staff.

When I walked out of that meeting, I certainly didn't get a feel of people scrambling for lifeboats, pushing others out of the way. I got the feeling that there should be more lifeboats built.

I particularly find your last comment interesting. You decry the "us vs them" mentality that you perceived at that meeting, and then engage in exactly that behavior by calling the community leaders, staff, and worst of all, families of the Prescott School "smug."

February 19, 2010 at 8:32 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Two meetings. Saturday tune changed.

There were two hearings. As Marilyn Stewart and I discussed, the tune of the teachers and others from Prescott changed from the Clark St. meeting (Wednesday, February 3) to the meeting at the school that Saturday (Saturday, February 6). That's good.

There are two significant meetings in the next five days. Monday, City Council's Education Committee wants to hear from everyone about these issues. That's at 1:00 at City Hall, second floor. Wednesday, the Board of Education will meet to vote on Huberman's recommendations, one of which, unless he changes again, will be to close Prescott.

(Giving the Prescott building away to some charter school will be done a year from now, or at some later time; that's how they do it; ask Bunche or Morse or Collins or ... well, you get the picture...).

(Or maybe... They are planning to give the building away to some real estate developer, iike the did with the old Thomas School — now the "School House Condos on Janssen and Belden, I believe — in which case you won't hear anything until the construction crews arrive to make full use of those plaster walls, oak fixtures, and maple floors)...

We'll see. A sense of history (which doesn't have to go all the way back 100 years to when the Titanic was engineered to have the fewest lifeboats and an alloy rivet -- to save money...

February 19, 2010 at 12:16 PM

By: Jennifer Lister

LSC Secretary and Prescott Parents founder

I have sat idly by for the past 12 months while you publically crucify Prescott for our attempts to provide a viable public school option for the students and the community. The name of the game here is the kids and all the banter and rhetoric that you put forth simply distracts from the true issue at hand – improving a public school so that all kids can learn and grow. We are not the enemy here, George and I would contend that you are doing more harm than good when you report “facts” that lack substance and support.

We are a team of parents and community that is just trying to make a difference for the children in our community. We are not throwing other schools under the bus as you have reported and as Tom Edwards has defended, and we fully understand and appreciate the plight of all other schools going through this same debacle despite your personal feelings on the matter.

I refuse to dignify any further criticisms that you will inevitably make and will not engage in further dialogue as you will spin it to fabricate a good story. There is a story here George, I agree with you but it is not about the efforts to save Prescott. It is about CPS revising their policy on school closures and not victimizing further schools. Our efforts need to be directed at CPS not on the individual schools working diligently to preserve their existence.

February 19, 2010 at 10:29 PM

By: Tom Edwards

The real point

Thank you, Jennifer, for your comments. This seems to me to be a political battle. I see disgruntled teachers upset with what they perceive as being ineffective leadership. Your comments echo mine - this is not about saving Prescott, it's about a deeply seated agenda that has nothing, nothing to do with education or the future of our kids.

I doubt that anyone in any position to make a difference is reading these messages, but, in the off chance that they are, I would urge them to look at the facts that were presented at the community meeting two Saturdays ago, and to remember what the mission of the board of the Chicago Public Schools is: education. It's mission is not to close schools in order to punish what some claim (not convincingly, I might add) ineffective leadership AT A DIFFERENT SCHOOL - there are other ways to do that. I have yet to read a complaint about ineffective leadership at Prescott. Why do you think that is? Perhaps it's not the leadership that's the problem.

Besides the faculty, the ones who are being punished are the children, their families, and the community.

February 20, 2010 at 10:07 PM

By: m


"improving a public school so that all kids can learn and grow"

Oh Jenn!

Except the ones with disabilities and those who are minorities, right?

I mean, for the love of god, how are they suppose to get up the stairs now dear?

You dug your own grave. Once Roche is gone, they'll slap another name on it and it will be your shiny new school all over again- Don't worry your pretty little head over it.

February 20, 2010 at 11:34 PM

By: Tom Edwards

re: please

"Don't worry your pretty little head over it."

Now there's a nice way to engage in what should be a serious discussion.

February 21, 2010 at 3:44 PM

By: m

Do your own research Tom

So now the community is finally requesting to have a "serious discussion" about Prescott? Where were you last school year when the teachers were begging to have a "serious discussion" over the issues in the school regarding special education and veteran staff flushing involving bogus cautionay notices? When the LSC spent most of their time meeting with the principal at starbucks to problem-solve how to stall the next formal LSC meeting? To hold off on the discussions, remember?

Your right Tom, you don't know the inside info of this situation or the way CPS works. And your right...if the board were willing to admit that it's Erin Roche they want out, Prescott wouldn't be in this mess. It has been about the children... If Lister and Roche paid attention, they would have picked up on the fact that under performing teachers could have been let go regardless. But policy has to be followed, and they felt as if it didn't apply to them.

You say that your confused as to the reason why Roche received a warning resolution. Why don't you do your own research then? Are you trying to convey that it was some kind of mix-up? A little slap on the wrist to make a few changes?

I was being nice using the "pretty little head" statement, by the way. Maybe I should have said "flighty little head", in that she should have known better after breaking so many policy rules while trying to play the game. Last year, while I was speaking with an administrator from downtown about Prescott and inquired as to when the board was going to step in and reprimand Roche, the person told me "Please! They won't bother. They'll just throw the school on a closing list so he will go quietly and the new leaders image remains untarnished. Then, they will just re-open it." That was last March. Hmmm. Guess the person was psychic.

If you actually think that they won't re-open Prescott, your foolish. Burley is already busting at the seams and isn't going to be able to squeeze more kids in if the boundary increases. I'm sure Agassiz is no better on space.

As for throwing "the baby out with the bathwater", it was the teachers who ended up going down with Roche's ship.

Lister's kid can go to Burley now, and she should read the union handbook before she gets involved with another LSC.

February 21, 2010 at 6:45 PM

By: Tom Edwards

Doing research

m...thank you for your comments:

"Why don't you do your own research then?"

Believe me, I tried, but got nowhere. Google this: erin roche warning principal school

You'll find an approved resolution, but nothing about why the warning was issued, for what time period, or even for which school.

You'll find it here:

"And your (sic) right...if the board were willing to admit that it's Erin Roche they want out, Prescott wouldn't be in this mess. It has been about the children... If Lister and Roche paid attention, they would have picked up on the fact that under performing teachers could have been let go regardless. "

So, why doesn't the board just let Roche go? If he's such a problem, and again, help me, I have no way of finding out whether he is or not - it must be in some super-secret file at CPS - why doesn't the BoE deal with *him* rather than closing the school? I have great sympathy for the staff and families affected by this potential closure - you seem to have .... not so much. You've been rallying the troops to close the school to punish (what you believe) is ineffective leadership. As I said earlier, you're missing the point.

So, answer for me a very simple question: Do you think that Prescott should be closed, or not? If so, why - other than the leadership? If not, why not?

I look forward to your response.

Oh, and "Maybe I should have said "flighty little head"" once again doesn't go anywhere in serious discussion about the future of schools and students. Personal attacks don't diminish the person attacked...

February 21, 2010 at 8:03 PM

By: xian

Save Prescott and ALL the teachers

Prescott should be saved. Roche should be removed. All of the great teachers driven out should be returned. The special education program should be restored. The school should stop bragging about "improving" as a mask for demographic shift.

February 21, 2010 at 9:06 PM

By: m

to tom

\"You\'ve been rallying the troops to close the school to punish (what you believe) is ineffective leadership.\"\r\rDid I miss something here, Tom? Where in my post did I state that Prescott should close? What rally did I go to? \r\rI stated that Lister and Roche should not be SURPRISED in the least. Do I think Prescott should close? Not at all. I think that Prescott should be turned over to a new principal and that the board should come clean and let the public in on the discussions that they have been having about Roche behind closed doors. But as I said, they won\'t dare do that because he is a \"New Leaders\" principal, and that will give the program a bad rap. And the \"New Leaders\" are associated with the turn-around schools that Huberman and Daley are trying to market. It\'s not rocket science, Tom...\r\rPrescott is needed in the community due to the over-crowding of the other area schools, and rumor has it, the school WILL be put to good use. The board just needs a principal who is willing to play by the rules.

February 21, 2010 at 9:53 PM

By: Tom Edwards

To M

Thanks for clarifying your position, M. Although you never called for Prescott's closing outright, your criticisms of the leadership certainly made me, and probably others, think that you were in favor of the school's closing.

I am all for openness regarding the administration and leadership of any organization that is funded by taxpayer funds, and I agree that it should be a public process.

As I said when I started posting here, I am very much an outsider, so I don't know about what rules were broken, and I am more than willing to be educated.

In the meantime, as I said, throwing the baby out with the bathwater is silly - and you and I agree that the school serves its community and neighborhood well and should keep its doors open.

Now, with the guillotine about to fall, how does that get done?

Thank you.

February 21, 2010 at 10:12 PM

By: m

to Tom


Your guess is as good as mine on that one.

February 22, 2010 at 12:20 AM

By: ADVOCATE for special needs children

what are you thinking Jen?


You claim to be a proponent for the children. I have two questions for you to answer as an LSC parent are founder of Prescott Parents:

1. As an LSC member how could you allow the principal to close a program for students with special needs (TMH program)--it was not closed by CPS--it was closed by the principal. Do you realize the potential negative impact it has on those special needs children - to force those children to attend schools in an unfamiliar setting or further away from their area? In my opinoin, and as an ADVOCATE FOR SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN, there was not any sound logical reason to close this program.

2. Again, I tend to disagree with your statement about improving the conditions at Prescott--under Mr. Martinez and the principals before him, NEVER was Prescott in the lime-light and more importantly, it was NEVER put on any hit list for closure. Mr. Martinez kept the enrollment somewhat stable. Was it in the Principal target goal to increase enrollment the first year? Did enrollment increase? What is the enrollment at Prescott (DO NOT INCLUDE PRE K--IT DOESN'T COUNT). Moreover, scores were up with Mr. Martinez.

What did you do as a Prescott LSC member to look at things objectively? How many GOOD teachers with proven ISAT scores and track record left? Many that left were highly regarded by the parents? I wonder Did you as an LSC parent--at the time VICE PRESIDENT interview any teachers to see why they were leaving? I know if I was on a board (LSC) i would be questioning the turnover. Isn't there a human resource person on your board and a Prescott Parent? Did she question this? I realize when administration changes there is a minor influx of staff--but most of the entire staff change? Think, Jen, Think!

REMEMBER, as an LSC member and Secretary this term and VICE PRESIDENT last term, it is your fiduciary responsibility to ensure the needs of ALL students are met. More importantly, tell me what did you or any other member on the LSC do to prevent the closing of the TMH (special needs program) at Prescott. Tell me WHAT DID YOU DO? Did you question his team why? Also, did you question why gym was cut to a half time position and Art changed to FULL time? Aren't we in a crisis with concerns of obesity with our youth today? And do you have any explanation why the veteran teacher was displaced and replaced with another teacher? I bet I already know the answer to those questions!

I hope you don't take this personally, but, i want you to see the viewpoint clear and from the other side of the fence. I hope you can learn something from this and maybe then you will learn. Yes, hopefully you will learn. I know I have learned from this and very sad to see any school close; but, i think in the needs of the community, it should close and reopen as a CHARTER school.

That is what this community needs!

February 22, 2010 at 12:56 AM

By: Garth Liebhaber

Charter Schools Don't Serve Students With Special Needs

Dear Advocate for Special Needs Children,

I was surprised by your last paragraph, about the Prescott building being given to a charter school operator. Charter schools are notorious for neglecting students with special needs, in particular behavioral problems. One of my new students said he enjoyed being at Octavio Paz [an UNO charter school] because they kicked out all the "bad kids". Charter schools follow the profit motive which follows the path of least resistance. That's what makes the river crooked, especially here in Chicago. Charter schools don't like to hire additional special education teachers — they leave the "difficult" students to us teachers in the real public schools.

February 22, 2010 at 5:47 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Let's See All the Data from the Charter Schools

Garth and others,

The problem with discussing charters and how little they do to help special needs children is that the data of the charter schools is not readily available to the public. Because the Board of Education has allowed these public schools to act as quasi-private schools, the charters have been able to hide behind their "private" status. What is needed is a full examination of all records of charter schools. Attendance rates; special education students; test scores; discipline rates; teacher turnover rates; teacher salaries; adminstrative turnover rates; adminstrator salaries to name a few. All of this would help everyone understand more clearly what is happening. That is exactly why charter schools hold on so tightly to their data; their "success" claims don't hold up to honest scrutiny.

As it currently stands, by keeping people in the dark on these issues, charters can make any claims they want (and they do this quite freely) and the rest of the world is simply supposed to believe them.

Before another dime is spent on the charter schools, the citizens of Chicago need to demand a full accounting of the charter school expenditures and charter school records as listed above. Anything less than full disclosure is misleading.

In an era of Data driven management, it is ironic and clearly wrong that the charter schools are able to withhold such data from the people who fund them, the people of Chicago.

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