Bradwell hearing finishes 2010 Hit List hearings with a bang... Chicago's African American schools are fighting back harder than ever after years of lies and attacks from the Daley administration and CPS officials

As usual, more than 200 people were sitting in the Chicago Board of Education meeting room to protest the plans by America's most powerful mayor to close another school.

As usual, the majority of those people protesting were African Americans, from the city that had given America and the world the first African American President of the United States of America.

Part of the crowd that turned out to protest the plans by the Chicago Board of Education to subject Bradwell Elementary School to "turnaround" during the hearing held at CPS headquarters on February 10, 2010 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:45 p.m. Every speaker including Alderman Sandi Jackson opposed the Board's plan to turnaround the school and refuted every piece of data utilized by the Board to claim the school had "failed." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.As usual, the school being called a "failure" and under attack by corporate America under Chicago's version of "school reform" was trying to serve as a public school in a place that the official eyes of America are averted from: the vast ghettos where the poor children left behind by the global economy are still trying to breathe the hope that supposedly is the birthright of every child in the promised land.

A poem came to mind as the protests began again: "Whatever happens to a dream deferred?..."

The people were polite as one by one they got up and refuted every lie that was told about them and their schools by the pinstripe lynch mob assembled by corporate America to oversee another dozen or so Chicago public schools closed down for "failure."

Part of the case for the "turnaround" of Bradwell Elementary School was narrated by former "Area Instructional Officer" Delaina Little (above left). Little claimed Bradwell had "failed." Speaker after speaker charged that Little and the school's former principal, Yvonne James, had sabotaged Bradwell, and that Little's testimony against Bradwell was the height of hypocrisy. Seated behind Little during the hearing was Chicago Board of Education member Peggy Davis, who has voted in favor of every closing, consolidation, turnaround, and charterization proposed by the "CEO" of CPS since Renaissance 2010 was begun by Mayor Daley in 2004. Seated at the far right in the above photograph is Edward Wong, a lawyer working for the Board. Wong narrated the Board's supposed case against Bradwell. The hearing did not allow questions or cross examination of the "witnesses" who described the Board's 'case' against the school. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. But on the night of February 10, 2010, as the people of Bradwell protested, something had changed in Chicago. For two full weeks, night after night, the people who elected Barack Obama and joined that "hope" that had so long been dashed were shouting and chanting: "No! Not one more school. Not one more child. Not one more lie..."

Even though Chicago's corporate media had averted its eyes from the growing spectacle for a full two weeks, Chicago has risen up. Between January 28 and February 10, more than 3,000 people had gotten themselves downtown to the inconvenient and expensive location of the Chicago Board of Education to protest this year's "Hit List" — another 14 schools to be closed, privatized, phased out, or "turnaround" as part of Chicago's ongoing version of "school reform."

Only in 2010 the Chicago Plan had become the model for the USA, and so every lie that was being refuted by thousands of men, women and children in Chicago had to be covered up by corporate America is the lie was to be spread across the USA by the Obama administration and by Arne Duncan's "Race to the Top" corporate "school reform" plan for the USA.

On February 10, 2010, as the night began, it was cleared that the former neighbors of Arne Duncan and Barack Obama from Chicago's vast South Side were no longer going to take it.

By the time the last of more than 250 teachers, parents, students, and community leaders (including one of the most famous names in Chicago politics, Alderman Sandi Jackson, wife of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.) returned to their cars or boarded the yellow school bus that took them back to the South Side following the 14th hearing on the Chicago Board of Education's annual "Hit List", everyone except Chicago's rulers and its corporate media knew that a major change had taken place. People were hugging, singing, and smiling after what should have been a major humiliation for the men, women and children of Myra Bradwell Elementary School — the school had joined the list of those declared a "failure" by Chicago's rulers and had been slated for "turnaround."

Bradwell, located at 7736 S. Burnham Ave., sits in the middle of what once once a thriving part of Chicago's "Black Metropolis," the far South Side where unionized working class and middle class men and women bought their homes and made lives of hope for themselves and their families in the years following the "Great Migration" that began during World War II.

Any number of blocks in the area could be slated for something historic. A mile to the east of Bradwell sits the home of Michell Robinson, a girl who grew up black in the same communities, graduated from public schools (Bryn Mawr Elementary; Whitney Young High School) and who now lives 800 miles east of Bradwell in The White House. First Lady Michelle Obama 30 years ago could have been any of the children sitting at the headquarters of CPS on the cold and snowy February night when hundreds descended upon the Chicago Board of Education to demand "Enough! This ends now!"

But the blocks around Bradwell today are no longer middle class, thanks to the people who have turned to the "global economy" to fix everything and instead have destroyed the lives of millions of hard working people like that parents, students and teachers of Bradwell in the process. Foreclosures have eaten away at the dreams of mothers and fathers, while children are often lured by street gangs who can fill their pockets with wads of 20, 50 and 100-dollar bills by day's end in a community where men and women once made the steel that defeated fascism as much as the courage of the soldiers who used it during World War II.

But today the steel mill that was once on 79th St. a few blocks from Bradwell is a vast prairie of open space, toxic despite the claims of developers that the land underneath what used to be the rolling mill of the U.S. Steel Southworks plant can be retrieved and made environmentally safe for uses other than the processing of iron ore into sheets of steel.


February 16, 2010 at 7:48 AM

By: Meg Collins

teacher @ Bradwell

Thank you for this article. We truly have not given up even though everything around us seems to be giving up and calling it "improvement for the children".

February 19, 2010 at 6:58 PM

By: Theresa Daniels

retired teacher

This is such a powerfully written article. Thanks, George.

February 19, 2010 at 7:44 PM

By: bob


Just as a matter if information the PACT link from

This site was blocked at school.

February 19, 2010 at 8:01 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Blocking is a First Amendment violation... Is CPS demanding another expensive legal lesson?

We've been hearing more and more nonsense about how First Class and other systems at CPS are being patrolled by CyberCensors in the CPS Law Department, but we have to know specifics (school; computers; system; etc.) before we take legal action on this. As we've reported, Substance won the right to sell Substance in all Chicago public schools through 1980 federal court decision.

We posted a story about all that after Marilyn Stewart and Ron Huberman teamed up to strip teachers of their First Amendment rights back in December. You can read it by copying and pasting the following URL§ion=Article

Or just go to Substance "back issues" and browse December 2009 (there was lots of cool stuff).

So, in 1791 we got the right to read stuff and newspapers via the First Amendment.

In 1980, Substance affirmed that right for Chicago teachers despite the costly attempts by the Chicago Board of Education to curtail those rights.

And now in 2010 it sounds like we'll have to go back and do the same thing. The nice thing about now, in terms of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and other stuff like that is that CPS will have to pay our lawyers when we win. But they really don't care about using their more than 40 lawyers to break the law and violate the Constitution as long as they are spending our money on "their" lawyers. Do they?


That same right is the right of teachers to read Substance in a non-disruptive manner in their schools. That now includes the cyberspace edition of Substance, which you are reading here.

As soon as we know the specifics and have the basic information (including those "Acceptable Use" notices that are unsigned coming out of the overstaffed and undercompetent Department of Law) we'll talk first to CPS about getting back into the good graces of the Bill of Rights and, if necessary, redo what we were forced to so 30 years ago.

Meanwhile, we hope you'll let all your friends know that Ron Huberman is censoring political activity to help elect Marilyn Stewart president of the Chicago Teachers Union. Or are we missing something?

February 21, 2010 at 2:03 PM

By: Suzette Boyd


Thank you for getting the message across to all who will read and listen to the facts about what is really happening to Bradwell students, community, and dedicated staff members. The pictures and powerful words says it all...............!

February 21, 2010 at 2:19 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Bradwell's truths, Chicago's lies

We are, as you know, a small low-budget news service and monthly newspaper. There is much more to tell about the Bradwell (and Deneen, Phillips, Marshall, and Curtis stories in 2010, with others going back through this entire century).

For starters, we are going to report and amplify the fact that virtually all of the Chicago public schools subjected to "turnaround" (and most subjected to charterization) by Arne Duncan and (now) Ron Huberman served Chicago's African American communities, in some of America's most economically ravished areas. It wasn't the teachers who hurt those children, their families, and their communities, but those — black, white, and other — who rule the USA today and become wealthy and powerful off the misery of others.

As you may know, this story goes back to Arne Duncan's attacks on Williams Elementary and Dodge Elementary in 2002 (and to a lesser extent, to the destruction of Jones and other schools in the late 1990s when Paul Vallas was Richard M. Daley's attack dog against public schools).

The story moves forward through Daley and Duncan's destruction of Austin, Calumet, Collins, Englewood, Fenger and Harper high schools — with the collaboration of individuals like Rev. Jesse Jackson and outfits like that corporate lapdog, Operation PU$H — through charterization and "turnaround." It continues now with this year's "turnaround" targets.

This should have been stopped years ago, but now's as good a time as any, but power yields nothing without struggle, as the man said a long long time ago. it will be stopped now, even if it involves calling out every traitor in the community and rewriting every history book that ignores the facts in favor of these perennial lies.

The facts about Chicago are getting around the nation as this breathtaking combination of mendacity, hypocrisy, greed and venality goes national as "Race To The Top."

Bradwell is not alone, as your colleague can tell you Bunche was not four years ago or Williams eight. Last year it was Johnson, Dulles, Bethune, and Fenger. Before that, Orr and Harper (and others). And so on. Sometimes it just takes more time for our side to get organized and articulate, in some cases with quiet people summoning up the courage to speak the truth and stand for it.

We have to be patient, as those who came before us taught us, but never deviate from the truth, no matter what the price others set on their endorsements of Chicago's ugly lies.

All we have to do is look at the photographs of those children from that hearing on February 10 to keep us going. Then, the courageous teachers and principal. With that we can ring out when we hear "Lift Every Voice and Sign", or hear someone recite "If We Must Die" or Langston Hughes's "Raisin in the Sun" poem during this special month...

This time every year, I reread Langston Hughes's poem "Good Morning, Stalingrad" and read some of those terrible numbers from nearly 70 years ago. It's to remind myself that what we are asked to do is nothing compared to the sacrifices others had to make.

As to the hypocrites who have made the Daley destructions of much of Chicago's children possible, their places in history are assured.

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