Chicago Tonight (February 9) shows shallowness of CPS defense of turnaround, while Brizard again ducks out of facing his critics

For those who didn't get the chance to see it when it was on WTTW Channel 11 on Chicago Tonight on February 9, 2012, the discussion between CPS's Noemi Donoso ("Chief Education Officer") and Chicago Teachers Union's Jackson Potter should prove entertaining. As usual, CPS refuses to offer Chief Executive Officer Jean-Claude Brizard for any public accountability for the policies to which he signs his name, but as the show showed, Donoso is no more able to defend CPS positions that Brizard would have been. Once she gets beyond the clichés and talking points, she runs out of facts quickly, then lurches back to her talking points.

One of the claims made by CPS "Chief Education Officer" Noemi Donoso (above, arms folded, to the right of Jean Claude Brizard) on the Febtuary 9, 2012 Chicago Tonight show was that CPS officials had "met with" parents and others from the schools on the 2012 turnaround Hit List. Donoso neglected to mention that those parents were carefully selected, and that the majority of parents and local school council members at those schools were excluded from Donoso's meetings, some barred physically by CPS security. Donoso was not challenged about the turnaround of the "preacher patronage" and "Rent A Protest" people at the hearings on January 6 and January 20, 2012, although she was well aware of it. Above, on August 25, 2011, Donoso sat with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Jane-Claude Brizard, Police Supt. Gerry McCarthy, and Rev. Roosevelt Watkins as Brizard and Emanuel began organizing the preacher patronage that was deployed on behalf of the "Longer School Day" during the subsequent weeks, and which went public during January 2012 at the hearings on closings and turnarounds. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The basis for the Chicago Tonight discussion was the recent (highly controversial) report from the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research that claimed the "turnarounds" in Chicago have (sort of) worked for some elementary schools but have not worked at all for the high schools. In the face of the facts in the report (which leaves out most of the history and almost all of the research on "Reconstitution", which is the reality of what Chicago calls "turnarounds" in deference to Chicago's corporate branding obsessions), Donoso cannot articulate any clear reason for CPS to do turnaround, and goes flat when Potter outlines two of the most important facts in the current debate: First, that AUSL and the turnarounds get much more money and resources than the existing schools; second, that parents and others in the communiites have overwhelmingly rejected this year's ten proposed "turnaround."

A nice touch comes when AUSL is first brought up, and WTTW has to admit that Martin Koldyke, who founded AUSL and has pushed the corporate model for school reform in Chicago for more than 20 years, is a director at WTTW. Although WTTW noted that Koldyke is on its board, they hastened to add that he was also a funder of the "Golden Apple" awards — but left out the fact that he served for more than five years as chairman of the Chicago School Finance Authority and during those years hired one of the most reactionary pundits in American education (Chester Finn, then of Vanderbilt University, and currently of the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation) to be Chicago's official "school reform consultant").

So far, there is no complete transcript available from the session.

The URL, for those who cannot get a hotlink, is:


February 13, 2012 at 11:00 PM

By: Jim Vail


Two things stuck out listening to this Chicago Tonite Broadcast - 1) Donoso said a bunch of the schools on probation, like 20% maybe, got a lot more money (and Jackson asked her more than AUSL, and she said yes) and 2) Donoso said that not many parents showed up at the hearings on school turnarounds.

Considering the overwhelming evidence against Turnaround, she didn't do half bad. Of course, one has to thank Channel 11 for framing it that way, not allowing Jackson Potter to focus on the points that don't add up in turnaround's favor, and we all know there are many.

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