City Council 2010 'Hit List' hearings on Monday, February 22... Resolution for Moratorium on closings moves forward as questions arise regarding who's shoveling for Daley's 'Renaissance 2015'

The Chicago City Council will hold public hearings on the school closings next Monday, Feb. 22, 2010, at 1 p.m. at City Hall. The hearings, by the City Council Education Committee, will take place in the Council chambers on the second floor.

Alderman Latasha Thomas (above left) has announced that the Chicago City Council Education Committee (which she chairs) will hold hearings on this year's proposed school closings, phase outs, consolidations and turnarounds at City Hall on Monday, February 22, 2010. Thomas became chair of the City Council Education Committee in 2007, shortly before the above photograph was taken during the October 15, 2007 dedication of the Marine Military Academy at the Grant Elementary School on S. Campbell Ave. Above, Thomas is shoveling with Mayor Daley and others at the groundbreaking for the new, $40 million "campus" for the military academies located at the Adams and Western site. Left to right: Alderman Latasha Thomas; (then) Congressman Rahm Emmauel; Alderman James Balcer; Mayor Richard M. Daley; (then) Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan. Rahm Emmabuel was appointed White House Chief of Staff by Barack Obama following Obama's election, and Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. The public hearings — which will allow the public to directly address the Council's Education Committee — will be similar to hearings that have attracted 1,000s of people opposed to the Chicago Board of Education's proposal to close, turnaround, phase out or consolidate 14 public schools.

Aldermen Pat Dowell (3rd Ward) and Freddrenna Lyle (6th Ward) sponsored a resolution in the City Council last week that seeks a moratorium on school closings until more community input is generated.

According to Alderman Dowell's office, the public hearing, which will take place two days before the Board of Education trustees vote on the school closings, resulted from an outpouring of calls to Alderman Latasha Thomas, who chairs the City Council's Education Committee, to support the moratorium.

Part of the crowd of more than 200 people who attended the February 8 hearing on the proposed "turnaround" of Deneen Elementary School. In the foreground above is Alderman Freddrenna Lyle, who spoke forcefully against the proposed "turnaround" of two schools in her ward. By February 17, CPS CEO Ron Huberman had announced that he had rescinded the proposed "turnaround" of Gillespie Elementary, but that Deneen would still be subjected to an AUSL "turnaround." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.If the education committee votes in favor of the resolution after the public hearing, it should pass the City Council and send a strong message to the Mayor that his plan to close public schools as part of his Renaissance 2010 Plan be stopped.

"The Resolution is non-binding," said Robert Elchert, who works on education issues for Ald. Dowell. "But if it passes it shows solidarity (with the closing schools) and sends a unified statement."

The Board of Education has already held a series of meetings telling some schools that they will not be closed. Those schools include Mollison — which is in Ald. Dowell's ward, and Guggenheim — which is in Ald. Thomas's ward.

Media reports state more schools will be off the list.

Alderman Sandi Jackson (above, at microphone) spoke forcefully in opposition to the proposed "turnaround" of Bradwell Elementary School at the February 10 hearing on Bradwell, but CEO Ron Huberman left Bradwell on the AUSL turnaround list when he announced modifications to the 2010 Hit List on February 17. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.However, the fight continues. Deneen Elementary School — which is in Ald. Lyle's ward — will be holding a candlelight vigil at 5pm Thursday, Feb. 18 outside their school at 7257 S. State St. to protest a turnaround in which the entire staff — from teachers to cafeteria workers — are to be fired.

Immediately following the Denenn vigil, Phillips High School — which is also slated for a turnaround— will hold another public hearing at Apostolic Church at 3823 S. Indiana at 7 p.m. at the behest of Ald. Dowell. Both Deneen and Phillips are slated to be taken over by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which has done most of the Chicago turnarounds since 2006.

Unlike the hearing at the Board, the Phillips community will be able to focus their attention on the AUSL which is slated to run both Deneen Elementary and Phillips High School. As of February 17, AUSL is also slated to be in charge of the "turnaround" at Bradwell and Curtis elementary schools. Although Curtis Elementary School was originally on the list for closing, a February 17 announcement by school CEO Ron Huberman changed Curtis's fate to "turnaround" under AUSL.

Above, part of the crowd that attended the first of two hearings on the proposal to close Curtis Elementary School on January 28, 2010. By February 17, 2010, CPS CEO Ron Huberman had changed his proposal for Curtis Elementary School (32 E. 115th St.) from "closing" to AUSL "turnaround." Huberman switched his proposal to maintain this year's quota of AUSL turnaround schools after he removed Gillespie Elementary School from the turnaround list. During the fierce sessions at both the CPS and community hearings on Curtis, numerous people pointed out that Curtis feeds into the now notorious Fenger High School, whose "turnaround" in September 2009 led to the chaos at the school and indirectly to the September 24 murder of Fenger HIgh School junior Derrion Albert. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Ald. Lyle has been very critical of this privatization move to hand over the management of public schools to a private entity when the Board of Ed should be focused on providing the best education possible for its children. She said Deneen would get the same results as AUSL if they were provided the same resources.

"It's totally counterproductive to continue down this path to outsource education to do what we are mandated by law to do," Lyle said at the February 8 Deneen hearing. 

Final version of this article posted at at 3:00 a.m. on February 18, 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 18, 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.


February 18, 2010 at 7:25 PM

By: kugler

Good Story - Displaced Teacher

russo( posted a letter form a displaced Harper teacher talking about how their school was destroyed.

February 18, 2010 at 10:42 PM

By: Nora


Someone should also look into the ridiculous money that is spent on consultants to do the "leg work" for these schools. The New Teacher Project! That make explain a lot about why they are failing, these people REALLY have no urban education background!!! But they are making millions off of CPS...CPS is a HUGE cash cow for them!

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