'How many 'underutilized desks' are needed to park a wheel chair?... Tribune publication of CPS Hit List reveals illegalities and frauds in current push to close more schools
Despite the fact that Chicago Public Schools top officials, on orders of CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett, went on strike against the law by failing to hold hearings on the proposed school closings for the 2012 - 2012 school year, the Illinois Senate (unanimously) and the Illinois House (by a large majority) voted on November 28, 2012, to give CPS officials an additional four months to propose school closings. The legislators also gave the school system an additional six months to provide the public with the draft of a ten-year facilities plan to end the chaos and confusion in CPS's management of its vast properties, most of which are public school buildings.
But the publication of the only list so far made available to the public — a list which CPS officials claim is not official — shows that the current claims that CPS has "surplus seats" ignores almost all the realities of the city's schools and communities — and especially the realities facing the school system's most vulnerable children, children with severe handicaps.
On November 27, 2012, the Chicago Tribune published a list of 127 public schools, most of them real public schools (not charters) which, the Tribune told its readers, were severely underutilized. Despite the fact that Chicago Teachers Union officials have said that the list was not provided by them, the Tribune cited, as the "Source" for the list, "Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Teachers Union."
But the list itself reveals how inhuman the supposed criteria for the "underutilization" claim are, and the inhumanity can be seen within the first two dozen "elementary" schools listed. Anyone familiar with Chicago's public schools reading the elementary list from "Aldridge" through "Cook" would see that three of those first 24 schools serve some of the city's handicapped children — two of them serving the most handicapped (those in wheelchairs and special transportation apparatuses).
Yet the discussion to date has been about "empty seats" without any consideration about anyone with special needs. The question then is how CPS accounts for the space taken up by wheelchairs and carrying apparatuses utilized by and for children with severe disabilities. And CPS nowhere even notes that this is a problem, let alone that the Hit List provides a solution.