Emanuel's media Blitzkreig against Chicago Teachers Union fails as only 13 schools go with 'Longer School Day'... Brizard team gets an 'F' on 'Longer School Day' campaign... As schools enter fourth week, Brizard's 'team' sports a Won-Lost record that makes Cubs hundreds-year World Champs

Despite enormous pressure on many Chicago Public Schools principals and teachers from the administration of Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard and a media blitz that ignored the massive problems — from oversized classes to more than 160 elementary schools without regular libraries — the public schools administration of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel failed in its efforts to outflank the Chicago Teachers Union, go directly to the union's members with small financial rewards, and launch its "Longer School Day" blitz in September 2011.

One of the many publicity stunts that provided media impetus for Mayor Rahm Emanuel's attempt to force Chicago teachers to vote for a contract waiver was the September 9, 2011, visit of former Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan (now U.S. Secretary of Education) to Chicago. During Duncan's visit to Schurz High School, above, everyone clapped as the current CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard, spoke. Earlier, Duncan had proclaimed in the press that the short Chicago school day was a scandal. Duncan neglected to explain why if it were such a major scandal he didn't get the day longer during the two contracts negotiated by his administration (in 2003 and 2007). When asked during the event above by Substance why he didn't get the longer school day during his eight years as Chicago CPS CEO, Duncan repeated the answer "We were unsuccessful..." He refused to discuss why he allowed a generation of Chicago school children to suffer under what is now supposedly an unconscionably brief school day. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.As of the opening of the school day on September 23, 2011, the CPS website's section devoted to promoting the Longer School Day (called the "Pioneers" by CPS) listed 13 elementary schools whose teachers had ostensibly voted in favor of the program pushed by the mayor.

Of those, half were schools whose teachers were especially vulnerable to threats by the administration, including three schools (Bethune, Howe and Morton) under "turnaround" and managed by the lucrative Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL).

What percentage of Chicago elementary schools are promoting the mayor's "Longer School Day" program? That depends on who is trying to give accurate numbers.

The fight for the "Longer School Day" never involved the city's high schools, because the high school day was not subject to the kind of disinformation campaign launched by the mayor during his election campaign and escalated throughout the summer of 2011. But even with the city's elementary schools, there are problems. Jean-Claude Brizard's administration doesn't seem to know how many public elementary schools are in Chicago's massive system this school year. This is important because it indicates how many schools could have voted for the waiver.

And until the public knows the number of possible schools in this very public media event, how can anyone calculate the "Won-Lost" percentage of the two sides?

Members of the Brizard administration have been unable to tell the press or public precisely how many elementary schools Chicago has, but the number is probably between 480 and 500. At times, CPS spokesman Becky Carroll has said "487," but that's not clear.

The reason for the confusion about the number of eligible schools is that CPS no longer provides itself, let alone the public, with a coherent directory of the public schools in the city. The only directory publicly available for the past several years has been the "Calendar" produced by the system.

But this year, the official calendar has been reduced to an almost unreadable size and printing quality, and it is not even completely the work of CPS. The official calendar comes to the public courtesy of Peoples Gas, which "sponsored" it. As a result, it is filled with Peoples Gas propaganda, to an almost laughable degree. It's worth the digression here. Take "September 2011." For every month, Peoples Gas, on the official Chicago Public Schools calendar, offers a "safety tip." September 2011 was not just any month in the USA when safety was concerned. It was the tenth anniversary, after all, of the attack on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania by terrorists.

So what is the September 2011 "Safety Tip" from Chicago's public schools? Furnace filters. The following is from the September 2011 official calendar of the nation's third largest school system. "MONTHLY SAFETY TIP: Prepare for a safe winter. Have your furnace or boiler checked by a licensed qualified technician and clean or replace the furnace filter as necessary during the heating season."

That's the official calendar produced and distributed to more than 400,000 students and teachers by the Brizard administration.

According to the CPS "calendar", at the beginning of the 2011 - 2012 school year, CPS had 219 regular public elementary schools on "Track E" (Schools that begin classes in August) and 261 regular public elementary schools on the "Regular Track" (schools that begin classes in September). But the total number does not include charter schools (which are almost all non union schools in Chicago) or other unusual types of elementary schools ("contract" schools), so the total number of eligible elementary schools is not precise. CPS high schools, whose calendar has not been subjected to the propaganda attack from Chicago's mayor and corporate media, are also not counted in the current Longer School Day events.

To read Chicago's corporate media in September 2011, the average citizen would think the only problem facing Chicago's massive school system was the failure of the 30,000 members of the Chicago Teachers Union to knuckle under to the mayor's demand for his version of the "Longer School Day." Ignoring the more than 160 elementary school without libraries, widespread oversized classes, and the need for major reorganizations in more than 100 schools within the next three weeks, Chicago was supposed to be mesmerized by an almost Hollywood style script that limited the scope of public discussion of the opening of schools to the carefully orchestrated agenda set by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Between September 2, 2011 and September 23, 2011, 13 Chicago elementary schools had voted on waivers to implement a "longer school day" during the 2011 - 2012 Chicago school year. Those schools are:

BETHUNE: Mary McLeod Bethune Elementary

BROWN (W). William H Brown Elementary School

DISNEY II: Disney II Magnet Elementary School

FISKE: John Fiske Elementary School

HOWE: Julia Ward Howe Elementary School of Excellence

MAYS. Benjamin E Mays Elementary Academy

MELODY. Genevieve Melody Elementary School

MONTEFIORE: Moses Montefiore Special Elementary School

MORTON: Morton School of Excellence

NASH: Henry H Nash Elementary School

SEXTON: Austin O. Sexton Elementary School

SKINNER NORTH. Skinner North Elementary School

STEM: STEM Magnet Academy

A close examination of the listing of schools provided by the Chicago Public Schools on its newly launched "Pioneers" website shows that the vast majority of the city's nearly 500 truly public elementary schools ignored or rejected the pressures from the central office to become (as one principal put it) the "Mayor's Pet School". Additionally, of the schools that did ostensibly vote in favor of the waiver, the majority are either new schools or turnaround schools whose newly hired teaching and other staffs could have been subjected to great pressures because of their tenuous status.

Three of the schools (out of thirteen) that voted "Yes" on the waiver that was provided to the schools by the Brizard administration are "Turnaround" schools under the control of the "Academy for Urban School Leadership" (AUSL). The AUSL, one of the favored projects of both Chicago's City Hall and the U.S. Department of Education, has been receiving millions of dollars to subject schools in Chicago that are supposedly "failing" to "turnaround." In Turnaround, the entire staff of a school is usually fired by the AUSL turnaround experts and a new staff, supposedly trained in the superior teaching methods and ideology necessary to truly succeed in a tough urban environment (some seem to chant the mantra "All children can learn..." from dawn to dusk as if veteran Chicago public school teachers didn't already know that...) is brought in. Generally, the new "turnaround" staff is very young and either completely inexperienced or almost so. The AUSL turnaround program, whose name is based on corporate America's claims about certain types of reorganizations (that don't always work in the corporate world), has been highly lucrative for AUSL, but has not been proved in any of the more than 20 schools the group has been given since Turnaround (and its predecessors) was begun by former Chicago CEO Arne Duncan in 2003 and since.

The three AUSL schools that voted for waivers are:




A number of the other schools that ostensibly held valid votes to subject themselves to the waivers for the Longer School Day are effectively turnaround sites. Disney II, Skinner North, and STEM are virtually new schools, each less than three years old (and one, only opened this month) with relatively new staffs. STEM, converted at the site of the old Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, held its first classes on September 6, 2011, the day Mayor Rahm Emanuel used the school as the site of a major publicity stunt (utilizing the school's children as extras) promoting the Longer School Day. Discussions with dozens of teachers and union delegates at schools across the city has begun to reveal that teachers and principals are resisting the enormous pressure being placed on them to hold successful waiver votes to improve the numbers being touted by the Brizard and Emanuel administrations. In most cases, schools where the staff will vote in large (or unanimous) numbers against the proposed waivers are not taking votes at all.

Both Rahm Emanuel and Jean-Claude Brizard like to refer to their administrations as "teams".

If the CPS were a baseball team, at the present time their Won-Lost record would place them so far back that they would make the Chicago Cubs look like perennial World Champions. The percentage of Chicago elementary schools voting in favor of the mayor's version of the "Longer School Day" is presently around one percent.


September 23, 2011 at 4:12 PM

By: Rod Estvan

A defeat for CPS on wavier votes or the first phase?

It would be good to recall that schools can also opt for longer school days starting in January, so to take up George's baseball metaphor with another one from Yogi Berra: it ain't over till it's over. Yet another way to look at this is that the waiver votes are the precursor to the fight over the contract for FY 13 and beyond.

In that fight CPS having SB7 is like facing a combined pitching rotation of the 1998 Atlanta Braves that included Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine with the 1954 Cleveland Indians that included Early Wynn, and Bob Feller. The CTU faces a real uphill struggle, but it has survived what the Chicago Defender called in an editorial the other day a real attempt to break the union.

Rod Estvan

September 28, 2011 at 8:38 AM

By: Valerie Willuweit

longer days

In the past, AUSL schools have paid their teachers 20 percent more than regular schools because of their longer day. Why? Because they knew it was the right thing to do. How could you ask teachers to stay longer and yet not compensate them? We are not missionary workers. It disgusts me that we even have to defend ourselves against this.

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