SUBSCRIPT: Emanuel uses segregated anti-union charter UNO school as model? Call for home visits, longer school year

In a June 23, 2011, media event, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasted no time in adding to his public support for the anti-union and segregated (few or no black allowed) UNO charter school system. On June 23, Emanuel promoted UNO (again) by appearing for a special media event at the UNO Marquez School to tell Chicago's corporate media that he wants to force teachers in Chicago's real public schools to work longer hours every day, longer days every school year, and to make visits to children's homes.

With massive support from local, state and federal politicians, UNO CEO Juan Rangal (above at podium) has been able to create a charter school with more than a dozen campuses in Chicago while engaging in anti-union work and excluding most African American children from the UNO schools. Above, at the November 2010 fundraising anniversary event for UNO at Chicago's Union Station, then candidate Rahm Emanuel (fourth from right) was seated alongside UNO officials and politicians including Mayor Richard M. Daley (obscured behind the podium above) and controversial alderman Danny Solis (second from right). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.During the event, Emanuel and Brizard heard from the usual members of the cast the reporters are coming to expect from such activities on the part of a mayor who is earning the nickname "Hollywood" because of his love of staged, carefully scripted "spontaneous" public events that become news in the city's corporate press.

Once again, Emanuel repeated talking points he has been making since his campaign for mayor. During his discussion of what he claims is the need for a longer school year, Emanuel always cites the half-truth "statistic" about the Houston public schools, claiming, depending upon when you listen to him, that during their years in school, Houston children either receive "three years" or "four years" more instruction time than children in Chicago.

After Emanuel was caught in that lie by Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, he stopped using it except during carefully scripted and controlled events, like the one at UNO. As Lewis pointed out, because of closed campus a majority of Chicago elementary schools have a school days that ends with the teacher lunch hour at 2:00 in the afternoon. High schools in Chicago — and many elementary schools — are not on "closed campus." Union officials have also pointed out that the supposed success of the Houston schools does not extend to the majority of its students. In a particular irony given that the UNO charter schools discriminate against African American children (of which there are very few in the UNO charter schools in Chicago), the union has noted that in Houston the drop out rate among English language learners (the majority of whom in Houston are Mexican or Mexican-American) is more than 50 percent.

Until reporters from media other than Substance and Reader challenge Emanuel's scripts and talking points what critics are calling his "Little Lies with the Big Lie Inside" are likely to continue.

Below is the City Hall press release that came out about the event:


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard joined United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) CEO Juan Rangel at Marquez School today to meet with parents, teachers and students to discuss the positive impact of a longer school day with additional instructional time.

“We need to provide our children with the quality education they deserve,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Lengthening the school day and year at the Chicago Public Schools will give our students the tools they need to excel in school and succeed in a modern economy.”

“The quantity of instruction can mean the difference between a high school dropout and a college graduate,” stated CPS CEO Jean Claude Brizard. “As Mayor Emanuel has attested, a Chicago student's peer in Houston will receive the equivalent of four additional years of instruction by the time he or she graduates from high school. It is unacceptable for our students to face this sort of disadvantage.”

Longer school days and years already exist in some of Chicago’s most effective charter schools, such as Marquez School, which is one of the UNO charter schools. Additional instructional time will give Chicago’s students the education and skills they need to achieve in the classroom and beyond.

During the roundtable discussion at today’s event, Sylvia Garcia, the parent of a fifth grader at Marquez, was adamant: "Longer school days and years keep our kids in a safe environment while learning. Plus, we live in a global economy; more instructional time gives our kids the ability to succeed."

Emily Wilson, a kindergarten teacher at UNO’s Rufino Tamayo School, gave her perspective on teaching during a longer school day: “We do what's best for our kids,” she said. “Longer school days are a practical decision. We are here to prepare our kids to be better citizens and to acquire knowledge.”

Seventh grader Lonnie Wilson spoke up to say, “Longer school days give kids who need extra help more time for it. They also give kids the opportunity for educational and personality growth.” Fifth grader Andrea Martinez enthusiastically added, “Longer school days mean more learning time, which helps kids succeed.”

Mayor Emanuel praised school administrators, principals and teachers throughout the UNO school system for their efforts on behalf of students.

“We cannot afford to deny students days, weeks and years of opportunity,” said Mayor Emanuel.


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