First ('Turnaround') phase of 2012 school closing 'Hit List' released, while Rahm and Brizard hold dog and pony show to tout AUSL's marketing claims to corporate media

The first iteration of the infamous Chicago "Hit List" of schools to be closed, phased out, transitioned, or tunraounded (yes, that's a verb in Chicago) was released on November 29, 2011, with the remainder of the list required by law to be released on December 1. The first part of the list, the schools to face "turnaround", included ten schools. According to CPS, the schools on the "turnaround" list have "failed," and need to be saved immediately through turnaround. Six of the schools on the turnaround list will be turned over to AUSL, the private "Academy for Urban School Leadership," while the remaining four will be turned around under the Chicago Board of Education's "Turnaround Office."

Two more inner city high schools — Chicago Vocational and Tilden — and eight elementary schools will be added to Chicago’s Hit List of supposedly “failed” public schools subjected to corporate “turnaround” by February 2012, if the new CPS administration is allowed to continue the failed “turnaround” policy that began under former Mayor Richard M. Daley and former schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan.

According to a CPS press release and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, ten schools will face "turnaround" by the beginning of the 2012 - 2013 school year.

The high schools facing turnaround are:

-- Chicago Vocational, 2100 E. 87th St.

-- Tilden, 4747 S. Union.

The elementary schools facing turnaround are:

-- Casals, 3501 W. Potomac -- Fuller, 4214 S. St. Lawrence

-- Herzl, 3711 W. Douglass Blvd.

-- Marquette, 6550 S. Richmond

-- Piccolo, 1040 N. Keeler

-- Smith (Wendell), 744 E. 103rd

-- Stagg, 7424 S. Morgan

-- Woodson South, 4414 S. Evans

With the November 29, 2011, announcement of the 2012 list of schools facing “turnaround,” the policy is now the policy of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard.

“Turnaround” is a policy attacking teachers, principals, and other school workers because of low test scores — and other factors of American poverty — that result in seriously challenged schools in Chicago and other places where American poverty is acute.

On November 28, 2011, teachers at Chicago Vocational and Tilden high schools, along with the staffs of eight inner city elementary schools, were told that their schools are being subjected to “turnaround.” Although the schools will be able to make their cases at two hearings in the community and one hearing at CPS headquarters at 125 S. Clark St. The hearings have to be scheduled 30 days after the announcement of the Hit List, according to the new Chicago Facilities Law, which was passed by the Illinois General Assembly in April 2011 and signed by Governor Pat Quinn over the objections of Rahm Emanuel, who reportedly lobbied fiercely against it.

CPS executives are already talking about the Hit List as a “done deal,” just as their predecessors did four years ago when a different list of schools (under a different school board, different CEO, and different mayor) was announced.

The high schools facing turnaround are:

-- Chicago Vocational, 2100 E. 87th St.

-- Tilden, 4747 S. Union.

The elementary schools facing turnaround are:

-- Casals, 3501 W. Potomac -- Fuller, 4214 S. St. Lawrence

-- Herzl, 3711 W. Douglass Blvd.

-- Marquette, 6550 S. Richmond

-- Piccolo, 1040 N. Keeler

-- Smith (Wendell), 744 E. 103rd

-- Stagg, 7424 S. Morgan

-- Woodson South, 4414 S. Evans

Both of the high schools and two of the elementary schools (Smith and Woodson South) will be subjected to turnaround by the Board of Education. The other six will be turnarounded by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), which has been contracting for failed turnaround activities at Chicago schools since 2007 and is now being hailed by the Obama administration as the model for the nation.

In 2012, “Turnaround” in Chicago means that the Board of Education fires all the current workers at a school (from principal to the janitors and lunchroom staff) and replaces them with new people, supposedly trained in the latest methods of successful inner city teaching and immune from the “culture of failure” which is supposedly the reason why the veterans at the schools are unable to raise the test scores of inner city children to the levels of their middle class peers in Chicago and the suburbs. Failure, in Chicago and by the definitions exported from Chicago to the U.S. Department of Education under Arne Duncan, is not caused by the vicious conditions of poverty facing millions of children in the USA, but by their public school principals, teachers, and lunchroom workers.

The response of the schools and their communities has been loud, with all of them planning to protest the designations and fight the potential firing of their staffs under the failed “turnaround” program. But much also looms for the future. If Rahm Emanuel and his corporate backers have their way, by the time Emanuel’s four-year term as Mayor of Chicago is over in 2015, the Chicago public schools will be a memory. Emanuel wants to close at least 140 real public schools, replacing them with charter schools and corporate “turnaround,” in what union and community leaders see as the corporate privatization and union busting agenda. A city and school system that barely survived Arne Duncan and former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s “Renaissance 2010” attack on public schools is now confronted with Renaissance 2010 on steroids, Rahm Emanuel’s drive to privatize and de-unionize everything to do with public education in Chicago.

But in 2011 and 2012, more than ever before in recent history, an even larger mass movement is organizing to greet — and thwart — the corporate agenda to privatize and destroy public education in America’s cities. The Chicago Teachers Union will meet on November 30, and its leaders are expected to propose a massive organizing drive to oppose all the turnarounds. CTU and its allies across the city are hosting a “Teach-In” on December 3 at King High School, and an overnight protest is being organized against the attacks on public education for December 13, the night before the December 14 school board meeting. Chicago’s corporate “school reform” elitists invented the “turnaround” attack on real public schools, the Chicago Boys exported that attack to the U.S. Department of Education via Arne Duncan and his team, and back home in Chicago, the evidence has proved that the entire project of school closings and turnarounds was a failure — except as a way of destroying and privatizing public schools. A complete 15-year history of this sorry tale will be available at by January 1, 2012 as part of Substance’s contribution to the great debate now unfolding in Chicago.

Meanwhile, thanks to the passage by the Illinois General Assembly of the Chicago School Facilities Act (known also as SB 630), Chicago’s teachers, students, parents, schools and communities finally have some additional leverage to push back against the plans to destroy more public schools. This year, CPS was forced to make the Hit List public by December 1. Three hearings must be held at each school. All of these will be scheduled for January and February 2012. The Board is expected to vote on the recommended closings and turnarounds at its February 22, 2012 meeting. The actions being planned by the Chicago Teachers Union and its allies in December 2011 are the first part of that push back. The most important of those actions are:

-- December 3, 2011. Teach-In at King High School 4445 S. Drexel Blvd, Chicago, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

-- December 13 – 14, 2011. The monthly meeting of the “one percent” Chicago Board of Education at 125 S. Clark St. in Chicago.

Union officials also plan meetings with the staffs of all of the schools facing “turnaround” and are working with community groups across the city to block the continuation of the failed policy, which was begun under the administration of former CEO Arne Duncan and former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s “Renaissance 2012” program. It is now being expanded under CEO Jean-Claude Brizard and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The plan pushed by Rahm Emanuel is the latest iteration of the program of the people now known, thanks to the “Occupy” movements and years of quiet organizing by thousands of people in Chicago and elsewhere, as the “one percent.” It has been Class War for the past decade or more against urban public schools and teachers. Before and after his election, Emanuel made it clear that he would try to privatize Chicago’s public schools, establish as many lucrative charter schools as possible, ignore the achievements and challenges of the city’s real public schools, and use all of the power that wealth and privilege have given him (both personally, politically, and across the media and elsewhere) to destroy public education as America has know it since the beginning and replace it with an “Atlas Shrugged” version of market economics that has failed everywhere but which still has the power to push its agenda. But today the fight back is stronger than ever. Joined by a growing coalition of community organizations, the 30,000-member Chicago Teachers Union will host a “Teach In” against the proposed closings of more real Chicago public schools two days after the Board of Education announces its 2012 “Hit List” of schools slated for termination. The Hit List will be published on December 1, 2011, if the Board follows the new state facilities law (which was SB 630 when it passed the Illinois Senate last April and was signed into law).

The CTU Teach-In will be held on December 3, 2011, the Saturday after the Hit List becomes public. The Teach-In will be held at Martin Luther King Jr. High School, 4445 S. Drexel Blvd. in Chicago, beginning at 10:00 a.m. The union and the groups are demanding that no additional schools be closed and privatized in Chicago.

The demand that no schools be closed (or otherwise reorganized) in 2012 will result in a major confrontation between the teachers and the community, on the one hand, and Mayor Rahm Emanual and his hand-picked corporate Board of Education and the school system’s top administrators, on the other. For nearly a year, Emenual has repeated every lie about Chicago’s public schools, from the “Waiting for Superman” talking points to a number of absurd claims, including a statement that the “best high schools” in Chicago were all charter schools.

But corporate Chicago and its mayor have already indicated that they plan to go further than even before. Emanuel has told colleagues privately that he intends to close 140 more schools during his four-year term, and has been bragging that he can utilize the city’s corporate media against the teachers and their allies at any time. Emanuel’s appointed school administration, under the controversial “Chief Executive Officer” Jean-Claude Brizard (whom Emanuel refers to as “J.C.” despite growing criticism) has been trying to assemble its own cadre of supporters for the closings, working through millions of dollars in new appointed bureaucrats to turn out support for the mayor at various events (in a program Substance has dubbed “Rent A Protest”).

On November 23, 2011, the day before Thanksgiving, the Chicago Teachers Union issued the following press release:

“Chicago Teachers Union’s Community Board to host Teach-In on School Closings Set on Saturday, December 3rd... Organizers prepare to save under-resourced neighborhood schools

“CHICAGO – Labor leaders, educators and activists will conduct a free, teach-in on Chicago Public School (CPS) closings and work to train parents and community groups on how to save endangered neighborhood schools from closure or privatization. A Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Teach-In, to be held at King College Prep High School, 4445 S. Drexel, on Saturday, December 3rd at 10 a.m., will also present a history of CPS school closings, consolidations and turnarounds and illustrate its impact on impoverished communities.

“The workshop is co-sponsored by Teachers For Social Justice, Action Now, Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO), Grassroots Collaborative and Albany Park Neighborhood Council, members of CTU’s Community Board.

“The teach-in will provide training in various areas including non-violent direct action; developing community models for school improvement; creating action plans to protect neighborhood schools; utilizing Board of Education action research and power analysis; and, strengthening and creating community-based school governance in under-resourced schools. Hundreds of people are expected to attend.

“CPS must announce its list of “school actions” by December 1st, having earlier said that 42 percent of its schools are on academic probation. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen GJ Lewis said that fact sets the stage for an unprecedented number of school actions. CTU has criticized the Board’s School Action Guidelines for school closings and consolidations finding that the new policy does not help improve student achievement and will not help the District reach its goal of providing “quality” schools in every community. Lewis said it will only widen the achievement gap among poor students of color.

“Despite nearly 20 years of autonomous mayoral control, little has been done to improve the structural inequality in Chicago schools, which disproportionately harm children of color and the poor. CTU and its Community Board proposes a better, District-wide reform model that makes all schools function more, not less, like the best schools in our nation and world.

“Since 2004 and with no basis in research, CPS has closed nearly 100 schools, most of them in African American and Latino communities. The destruction of so many neighborhood schools was a result of Renaissance 2010, a plan that sought to close public schools with elected local school councils and unionized staff and replace them with 100 new schools, two-thirds of which are non-union and without independent, community governance. A partial CTU analysis of the problems with the closings as policies is available at the following URL:…”

As the attacks on public education and the Chicago Teachers Union from City Hall and the corporate elite in Chicago have escalated since Emanuel’s inauguration in May 2011, the unions have been coming together more and more. Following a claim by Emanuel that he was “working well” with the unions, the following letter went to the Chicago Sun-Times:

“Emanuel picks fights with unions, Letters to the Editor, November 23, 2011

“Unfortunately, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s claim in the Nov. 20 Sun-Times that he is “working well with Chicago’s unions” is not supported by facts. To the contrary, Emanuel has needlessly picked fights with city unions, refusing to negotiate in good faith or respond to offers of cooperation.

“Rather than valuing the contributions that teachers, firefighters, nurses, librarians, police officers, bus drivers and other public servants make to keep Chicago working, he has consistently sought to scapegoat these men and women for the city’s problems. Sun-Times editorials have rightly criticized Emanuel and his administration for “trying to bully” and “blame workers” with “spin and mockery.”

“More to the point, Emanuel’s record doesn’t support his assertion that he sides with “hardworking middle-class families who pay the tax bills” — not with his 2012 budget plan that cuts jobs and public services while reducing corporate taxes and imposing regressive fees on working people. He will shorten library hours, close police stations and neighborhood health clinics, potentially lengthen emergency response times and eliminate hundreds of jobs amid historic unemployment.

At the same time, Emanuel’s budget will give big corporations a $20 million-a-year break by eliminating the “head tax.” It makes no effort to reform TIF districts that sap revenue from schools, public safety and other services. And it comes as Emanuel says his top priorities for state legislation are cutting taxes for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and cutting modest pensions for public servants.

“It’s ironic that Emanuel’s statements came on a day he campaigned for President Barack Obama. The president’s record is one of fighting to save safety net programs and protect public jobs while pushing rich people and big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes. Mayor Emanuel’s priorities look a lot more like those of the president’s anti-union, budget-slashing, protect-the-wealthy political opponents.

Michael Shields, president, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 Chicago

Karen Lewis, president, Chicago Teachers Union

Henry Bayer, executive director, AFSCME Council 31

Jorge Ramirez, president, Chicago Federation of Labor”

Under the new leadership of Karen Lewis and CORE, the Chicago Teachers Union has been much more actively mobilizing against the closings, even before the Hit List is announced. The organizing that is expected to escalate in December, January and February was already taking place in September, October and November. Much of the work is now being reported regularly at Substance ( and on the expanded Chicago Teachers Union website (

A Thanksgiving (November 24, 2011) notice on the CTU website ( announced some of the work that had been done in November 2011:

“CTU mobilizes members, parents and community to fight school closings

“We have much to be thankful for this holiday season even though November has been a challenging month for CTU members, officers, and staff as we organize to fix — not close — neighborhood schools. We fanned out to meetings on the new school closings criteria, community events on improving struggling schools, and charter school hearings.

“On November 8th, over 50 CTU members living in the 36th ward flooded a meeting for a proposed UNO charter in the ward. Our presence forced UNO CEO Juan Rangel to go on the defensive. UNO bused in supporters from outside the community to defend its organization, which has ties to the mayor’s office and has been called the new version of the clout-heavy Hispanic Democratic Organization. UNO charters have spread like wildfire through the City’s southwest side where they have a reputation for terrible working conditions for their teachers and exaggerating claims of school success.

“Last week our members and parent allies showed up in force at two hearings about the new CPS school action policy that is designed to close, turnaround and consolidate over 130 schools over the next two years. Read CTU’s analysis of the policy here. We spoke truth to power and showed how students, parents, and educators know more about the conditions of our schools than CPS bureaucrats like “Portfolio Manager” Oliver Sicat who knew very little about how the district has neglected its neighborhood schools. [The URL for the CTU analysis is:

“We are also working with community partners on ways to fix our schools. On November 16, 2011 the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) hosted en event at Dyett High School were they, along with Logan Square Neighborhood Association, Brighton Park Neighborhood Council, and Action Now presented a holistic, community-based approach to school improvement as opposed to simply closing schools.

“The closing list will become public December 1st. Hearings will commence and CPS will be trying to work its annual end-run around the community to close schools. If you have a stake in the health of our public schools, please plan to attend CTU’s Teach-In on School Closings December 3rd at King College Prep High School — 4445 S. Drexel Blvd.

“Taking back our schools and our communities is hard work, but we can do it if we work together: students, parents, and educators.”

The community groups have also been organizing to present alternative proposals to the Board of Education, all of which are being ignored. On November 22, 2011, a number of groups met on the South Side to announce their proposals. The meeting was largely ignored in Chicago’s corporate media, with the New York Times (through the corporate “Chicago News Coop”) deciding instead to promote Oliver Sicat, the new CPS “Chief Portfolio Officer”, reprising his resume and talking points without blushing in a November 26 article.

With activities taking place on a daily basis, Substance will be reporting them at the Substance website, referring people to the Chicago Teachers Union website, and working to provide context and analysis in the monthly print edition of Substance.



November 29, 2011


Mayor’s Press Office

(312) 744-3334

Mayor Emanuel and CPS CEO Brizard Announce More Chicago Turnaround Schools to Boost Academic Success and Student Performance for Students Across Chicago

Six of 10 proposed turnarounds to be managed by Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) next year, whose students’ academic gains on the ISAT were more than double that of the district last year

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) CEO Jean-Claude Brizard met today with parents of students in turnaround schools led by the Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL) to discuss their experiences in transitioning their children from an underperforming school to a turnaround school. CPS has proposed 10 new turnaround schools serving 5,800 students for the 2012-2013 school year including a record six schools to be managed by AUSL.

“Every child in Chicago deserves to have access to a world-class education, to compete and win in tomorrow’s economy, but too many schools in our communities are not giving students the tools they need,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Turnarounds across Chicago are driving immediate results for students - with the right school culture, leadership and staff these children can succeed.”

Currently 123,000 students in CPS attend low-performing schools and just 7.9% of CPS high school juniors tested as college-ready in the 2010-2011 school year. Turnarounds change under-performing CPS schools by completely overhauling them and investing in critical academic supports without moving students to another school. This model has been proven to increase student academic growth and put students on the path toward college readiness.

Parents from five AUSL turnaround schools joined Emanuel and Brizard at Morton School of Excellence to share their experiences and discuss the academic progress of their children under the AUSL Turnaround model. Morton has achieved significant academic growth since becoming a turnaround in 2008, earning a 33 percentage point increase in students meeting or exceeding state standards on the ISAT.

“Schools are the cornerstones of communities, but when our schools fail our children we have to stand up and make a change. We must put the academic needs of our students first before they fall any farther behind,” said CPS CEO Brizard.

The turnaround strategy at CPS began in 2006 with the conversion of Sherman Elementary School by AUSL. Since then, AUSL has developed a strong overall track record of increasing student academic achievement within its 12 turnaround schools. Academic growth for AUSL students (8%) was more than twice that of the district average (3.8%) on the 2011 ISAT composite.

AUSL Turnarounds build successful students because of two critical investments: a top-to-bottom school transformation and comprehensive teacher training that prepares teachers to tackle the challenges of growing student achievement within low-performing schools. Students return in the fall to a school that is re-built around an entirely new culture of success.

AUSL makes critical investments both in training teachers and in the academic supports students receive. Last summer, Mayor Emanuel announced that CPS would double its investment in AUSL teacher training academies from seven to 14 over the next two years, which will add 200 teachers into the system that are specially trained to teach in low performing schools. Teachers receive intensive training at these academies to better equip them for effectively impacting student academic growth in some of the district’s most chronically underperforming schools.

AUSL would be designated to implement the turnaround strategy at six of the schools serving nearly 3,200 students:

· Pablo Casals Elementary School, 3501 W. Potomac Avenue, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

· Melville W. Fuller Elementary School, 4214 S. Saint Lawrence Avenue, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

· Theodore Herzl Elementary School, 3711 W. Douglas Boulevard, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

· Marquette Elementary School, 6550 S. Richmond Street, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

· Brian Piccolo Elementary Specialty School, 1040 N. Keeler Avenue, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

· Amos Alonzo Stagg Elementary School, 7424 S. Morgan Street, which has been on academic probation for 5 consecutive years.

AUSL sets aggressive, transparent goals for schools, teams and students. By providing a wide range of rigorous courses, after school programs and interventions that help students catch up, students build the skills they need to succeed in high school and college. Supports provided through the AUSL turnaround models include:

Intervention and tutoring services for students who need extra support in reading and math;

Systems in place to increase student attendance, decrease serious misconduct and increase student satisfaction;

Advanced data systems and testing aligned with rigorous academic standards to help staff identify struggling students early and give them help they need to get back on track;

After-school programs to give students access to additional instruction time to further accelerate student achievement;

High-quality instruction including Common Core State Standards to ensure rigorous instructional program that gives students knowledge and skills needed to be ready for college and career;

In-house training for aspiring teachers that gives teachers strategies and tools needed to address diverse needs of students in transitioning schools;

Extensive extracurricular enhancements including fine arts and athletics to facilitate more well-rounded learning;

Teacher collaboration across subjects to maximize student learning and ensure students are not falling behind in any area;

Relentless efforts to recruit, retain, and motivate high-quality staff;

Provide evidence-based social-emotional programming; and

Full time social worker to provide one on one counseling.

Under the proposal, the CPS Office of School Improvement would implement the turnaround strategy at four other schools serving 2,650 students including:

· Chicago Vocational Career Academy (CVCA) High School, 2100 E. 87th Street, which has been on academic probation for 10 consecutive years.

· Edward Tilden Career Community Academy High School, 4747 S. Union Avenue, which has been on academic probation for eight consecutive years.

· Wendell Smith Elementary School, 744 E. 103rd Street, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

· Carter G. Woodson South Elementary School, 4414 S. Evans Avenue, which has been on academic probation for five consecutive years.

More information on the School Actions process can be found at the CPS website by visiting CPS staff also will be available to answer parent questions at the school and through the CPS Quality Schools Hotline at 773-553-5020.


November 30, 2011 at 4:05 PM

By: Bob Busch

What is in a word


I remember that word as a dance where the girls asked the boys. That is of course ancient history, but don’t be fooled.

The listed schools are those in the turnabout category what about

schools being phased out ? the list will get larger but the meaning is the same.

Blame the teachers .

November 2, 2012 at 10:33 PM

By: Hugo gonzalez

The last comment

Bob Busch I do not agree with your closing statement blame the teachers. I am SICK of everybody just blaming teachers. People who have never been a teacher find it easy just to blame. Instead we should try supporting teachers instead of blaming them and shutting down schools. We all have a voice dont waste it.

March 18, 2013 at 9:50 PM

By: Aden Cooks

Which schools to close?

I say close simone not Wendell Smith

March 19, 2013 at 1:36 AM

By: Kimberly Bowsky

Enough schools have already been closed

I know this article was re-released to remind us of the trend of closings and turnarounds. A comment was written that said to close one school in favor of another. Enough schools have been closed. In this system, people are convinced that there is a finite pot of resources, and that one group or one school is denied them because another groups exists. That's the trick of corporatism: to make you think that you have to fight someone else like crabs in a barrel for a slice of a pie that the bosses are doling out. I don't win because you lose; we both lose because the system refuses to fight for sustainable education.

Blacks and Latinos are pitted against each other for this reason, which is why it seems that UNO is for one constituency and AUSL is for another. But traditional public education is FOR EVERYONE EQUALLY. We just don't get funded equitably. Union-protected education workers have fought consistently for resources and quality policy. We shouldn't be cheerleading for ourselves at the expense of our children or our working brothers or sisters. On March 27th, we can fight for our schools to stay open--together.

August 1, 2014 at 9:36 PM

By: gerald jones

cvs closing

I attended CVS from 1958 to 1962 and they were the best years. It was sad when I found out that the school was closed and all that history gone. Yes, times did change and I believe it was the students that caused the problem in not maintaining the level the state required. The teachers we had we great and dedicated in their teaching especially in the shops. It was there that many of us gain knowledge in the different crafts that allowed us to make something of ourselves. Nothing is given freely, you earn it through education. So good by to a great school CVS.

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