Philadelphia calls for moratorium on school closings prior to D.C. hearings on Duncan's closing record while resistance grows in New York, Detroit, and Chicago

As the time draws near for what may be dramatic hearings at the U.S. Department of Education revealing the failure of the "Chicago Plan" for corporate school reform, the Philadelphia City Council has joined the chorus of critics of the current approach. "On Thursday, January 24th, 2013, the Philadelphia City Council voted 14-2 in favor of a nonbinding resolution put forward by the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), calling for a one-year moratorium on school closings," a press release (see below) stated.

Local, state and national leaders of corporate school reform lined up under the U.S. Department of Education banner at Chicago's Schurz High School on September 9, 2011, one year before the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012. Arne Duncan (second from left above) was at the time riding high with his heavily propagandized "Race To The Top" program and the fatuous talking points and banalities for which he had become famous during his eight years as CEO of Chicago's public schools. At the 2011 event above, Duncan was completing a bus tour of the Midwest promoting the Ed Department's slogan "Education and the Economy, Investing in our Future," as if the neoliberal program of corporate school reform was more than treason to the 200 year tradition of public education in the USA. Above, left to right, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who betrayed the teachers who elected him by becoming a mouthpiece for neoliberal corporate school reform; Duncan, who pioneered many of the school closings and other privatization attacks on real public schools during his years in Chicago; Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who was on a mendacious campaign for a "Longer School Day" based on falsified data about Chicago's schools; and Robin Steans, the millionaire heiress who heads the corporate reform group called "Advance Illinois," a group that is regularly quoted on behalf of corporate programs in the corporate media. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. Activists are also opposing this year's closing agendas in Detroit, New York City, and Chicago. The use of the closing of real public schools to promote the expansion of charter schools was begun in Chicago during the years (2001 - 2009) when Arne Duncan served as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools. The so-called "Chicago Plan," (which includes "Race To The Top") has since January 2009 been exported around the USA as part of the program of the U.S. Department of Education. It is heavily weighted in favor of using test scores to bash teachers in urban public schools and to expand anti-union charter schools in urban areas. The most devastated city in terms of the elimination of real public schools and the expansion of charters is New Orleans, where only a minority of the schools are real public schools, and where the charters get to cherry pick and cream their students, leaving the "worst" for the real public schools.

A similar attack on public schools and the Detroit Federation of Teachers has been taking place in Detroit. Chicago's mayor Rahm Emanuel hired former Detroit schools executive Barbara Byrd Bennett in March 2012 for Chicago, and made her "Chief Executive Officer" in October 2012, following his firing of his first CEO, former Rochester schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard. Byrd-Bennett is currently talking about closing 100 or the city's remaining real public schools, claiming that the city is facing a "utilization crisis." Union and community researchers have challenged every claim made by Byrd-Bennett and Emanual's publicists, refuting all of them. The Chicago Teachers Union has also published two reports in the past year (both available on the union's website, demonstrating that Chicago's children have been deprived of educational opportunity by comparison with the suburbs ("The Schools Chicago's Students Deserve") and that Chicago's school closings have primarily targeted schools in low income minority communities ("The Black and White of Chicago School Closings....").

Since Duncan was appointed U.S. Secretary of Education by President Barack Obama in January 2009, Chicago has had four schools chiefs. In Chicago, the post of "General Superintendent of Schools" was eliminated when mayoral control began in 1995, and the top job in the school system has been "Chief Executive Officer." Duncan, his predecessor Paul G. Vallas, and his successors all shared on thing in common: Not one had ever served as a classroom teacher or principal in a Chicago public school. Duncan's immediately successor as "CEO" was Ron Huberman, a police officer. After Huberman, the Interim CEO was Terry Mazany, head of the Chicago Community Trust. When Rahm Emanuel was elected mayor in 2011, he appointed Jean-Claude Brizard, who had been the superintendent of the Rochester public schools, as CEO. After the September 2012 Chicago Teachers Strike, Emanuel fired Brizard (awarding him a golden parachute the size of which has not yet been publicly revealed) and appointed former Detroit schools executive Barbara Byrd Bennett as CEO of CPS. Byrd Bennet is currently overseeing the nation's third largest school system and pushing two claims that researchers have proved false: that the school system has an "underutilizaton crisis" and that the school system has a "fiscal crisis" facing a "deficit" of one billion dollars.


Philadelphia Leads Nation With Approval of Moratorium On School Closings & Debates Heat Up In Detroit, New York and Across the Country In Anticipation of Hearing

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Laurie R. Glenn, Phone: 773.704.7246, E-mail:


WHAT: In the wake of publicity about the upcoming community hearing before Arne Duncan (in attendance for early portion of hearing)and the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday, January 29th, 2013, voices across the country are taking notice of the growing national movement and accelerating debates and actions to address the devastating impact and civil rights violations resulting from the unchecked closings and turnarounds of schools serving predominantly low-income students of color.

On Thursday, January 24th, 2013, the Philadelphia City Council voted 14-2 in favor of a nonbinding resolution put forward by the Philadelphia Coalition Advocating for Public Schools (PCAPS), calling for a one-year moratorium on school closings. Debate also heated up in New York City as representatives took the issue to the state capitol and an announcement was made this week that the Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights has launched a probe into the Title VI Civil Rights complaint in Detroit.

Cities who have filed Title VI Civil Rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights citing the closing of schools and the criteria and methods for administering those actions as discriminatory toward low-income, minority communities include: Chicago, New York, Detroit, Newark, Washington D.C., Philadelphia and Ambler, Pa. Additional cities preparing to file complaints include: Oakland, Calif.; Los Angeles; New Orleans and Boston.

Students, parents and advocacy representatives from 18 major United States cities impacted by neglectful school actions will testify at the hearing and demand the Department of Education place a moratorium on school closings until a new process can be implemented nationally, implement a sustainable, community-driven school improvement process as national policy, and provide a meeting with President Obama so that he may hear directly from his constituents about the devastating impact and civil rights violations.

WHO: Approximately 500 students, parents and community representatives representing 18 cities across the country will attend the hearing including: Ambler, Pa.; Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Chicago; Cleveland; Detroit; District of Columbia; Eupora, Miss.; Hartford, Conn.; Kansas City, Mo.; Los Angeles; Newark; New Orleans; New York; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; and Wichita, Kan.


WHERE: Community Hearing & Rally

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

2:00 p.m. - 3:55 p.m. EST

U.S. Department of Education

400 Maryland Ave. SW

Washington, DC 20202

Candlelight Vigil

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

5:00 p.m. EST

Martin Luther King Memorial

1964 Independence Ave. SW

Washington, DC 20024

WHY: As the national hearing approaches,cities across the country are stepping up actions to address the negative impact of school closings on low-income students of color.



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