Alderman Pat Dowell calls meeting about Phillips High School 'Turnaround' for Thursday, February 18... Meeting will take questions, rather than evade them

Chicago's Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell has scheduled a community meeting for Thursday, February 18, at 7:00 p.m. to discuss Chicago Board of Education plans to subject the historic Phillips High School to so-called "turnaround." On January 19, CPS Chief Executive Officer Ron Huberman announced that he wanted Phillips to go through what CPS calls "turnaround" (a process of the failed procedure called "reconstitution" under state law).

Two of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education, Peggy Davis (above left) and Alberto Carrero (above right) attended the February 1, 2010 hearing regarding the proposed "turnaround" of Phillips High School. Davis was awake through most of the hearing, although neither Davis nor Carrero has ever asked a critical question about "turnaround" or any other Board policy to radically change schools, voting to approve all of the proposed changes (including the unproven "turnarounds") during the seven years they were being recommended by former CEO Arne Duncan and in 2009, when new CEO Ron Huberman recommended his first list. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Huberman wants to turn Phillips over to the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which would fire all school staff and bring in a new staff supposedly trained in the latest sure-fire teaching and learning methods. AUSL is currently running "turnaround" at Orr High School with negligible results (other than massive doses of public relations and marketing). AUSL has also been given contracts for "turnaround" at Chicago elementary schools, and has claimed remarkable success at each of them, despite the fact that the claims have never been subjected to independent verification by reputable scholars and amount to little more than media hype and marketing claims. On January 19, 2010, in answer to a Substance reporter's question, Huberman told a press conference that each "turnaround" school receives an extra $1 million for its first year of operations.

A hearing was held on Huberman's proposal for Phillips High School at CPS headquarters on February 1, 2010. At that hearing, CPS procedure refused to allow teachers, students, parents or community leaders to ask any questions, as CPS officials read from prepared scripts for 45 minutes before the hearing officer allowed one hour and fifteen minutes of testimony from more than 100 people who attended the hearing. The hearing adjourned abruptly after two hours, even though there were others who wished to speak and dozens who had questions that had not been answered.

Huberman's version of "underperformance" has not been subjected to public review since it was approved by the Chicago Board of Education without discussion or debate at the Board's December 16, 2010 meeting. The hearing officer took the testimony of Board officials at the February 1 hearing without asking how they were qualified to speak on such complex matters of statistics and educational policy. None of the Board of Education's four "witnesses" was sworn in, subjected to cross examination, or asked to present their qualifications for their presentations. All read carefully from pre-prepared texts.

One of the most controversial aspects of the claim by Huberman and his staff that Phillips is "underperforming" when in fact Phillips, like most other general high schools in Chicago, has been drained of potential talent for more than a decade. In addition to expanding nearby "college prep" regular public high schools (such as Jones and King), the Daley administration has forced the public schools to expand the number of charter schools in the area around Phillips. As a result, Phillips became what Chicago Teachers Union President Marilyn Stewart has been calling a "default" school. "Default" schools, especially at the high school level, are those that remain as true public schools, taking any child who lives in the school's area. As the college prep and charter high schools have expanded around Phillips, there have been fewer and fewer students with high test scores attending Phillips. Ron Huberman was not at the February 1 Phillips High School hearing and has not been willing to discuss his controversial "Performance Management" system since he first began imposing it on Chicago's schools in September, or since its latest iteration was approved by the Board in December 2010. Rumor has been that the Performance Management system being used by CPS since Huberman took over is in fact a system developed by the Dell Computer Corporation for management systems in general, an "off the shelf" computer application that requires the purchase of Dell computers for its implementation. Dowell's announcement follows:

Community Meeting on the Future of Phillips High School

Citing years of underperformance, CPS has proposed that Phillips High School become a turnaround school to be managed by the Academy of Urban School Leadership (AUSL). Turnaround strategies have a profound impact on both the school and the community as both the school staff and the local governance structures such as LSCs are reconstituted. Since Phillips High School is one of only two neighborhood high schools in the Third Ward, it is important for us to understand the proposed changes and how that could impact the teachers, parents, students, and the Third Ward community-at-large. We hope to see you there! Where: Apostolic Faith Church (3823 S. Indiana) When: Thursday, February 18, 2010, 7pm What: Join Third Ward Alderman Pat Dowell, community organizations, parents, teachers, and residents to learn more about CPS and AUSL's plans for Phillips High School, ask questions, and raise concerns. 

Final version of this article posted at at 3:00 a.m. on February 17, 2010. EDITOR'S NOTE ON REPUBLICATION USE. This is copyrighted content, news and analysis prepared and published by the staff and supporters of Substance (the print monthly) and Substance News Service ( Both are publications of Substance, Inc. Chicago, Illinois. The final edited version of this article and the accompanying graphics were posted at www.substance February 17, 2010, 3:00 a.m. CDT. If you choose to reproduce this article in whole or in part, or any of the graphical material included with it, please give full credit to SubstanceNews as follows: Copyright © 2010 Substance, Inc., Please provide Substance with a copy of any reproductions of this material and we will let you know our terms. Alternatively, please make a donation or take out a subscription to the print edition of Substance (see red button to the right). We are asking all of our readers to either subscribe to the print edition of Substance (a bargain at $16 per year) or make a donation. Both options are available on the right side of our Home Page. For further information, feel free to call us at our office at 773-725-7502. Collegial groups and teachers using this material for class use should simply inform us of the extent of your usage. Anyone utilizing this material for commercial purposes is in violation of U.S. and other international copyright laws. Copyright 2010 Substance, Inc. all rights reserved. 


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