Deadly violence goes back decades for CPS children... as Substance has reported for decades, first in print and for a decade in print and on line

While every new death of a student from a Chicago public school is a new tragedy and a new opportunity for the city's corporate media to report on the grief of families and communities. the tragedies might also provide us with a moment to reflect and ask why Chicago is the center of such violence. How can it be that in 2013 Chicago is reading the same headlines we read in 2003, or in 1993, or in 1983? While Chicago has some of the most strict gun control laws in the USA, as was most recently noted in a January 30 front page story in The New York Times (see at the bottom below), Chicago has also been suffering from the violent deaths of young people for half a century.

Simeon High School basketball player Ben Wilson (above) was murdered in 1984 in the same gang violence that continues in 2013. Wilson, who was a good guy and a star and "prospect" is still remembered, while the more than 2,000 other young people who have been murdered across Chicago in the years since -- most with guns as a result of gang violence -- are largely in the "What Was Her Name?" file. Photo by Chicago Tribune.Rather than suggest the special local reasons at this point, while the city is still in mourning over another murder of another student, let's share a few of the many articles and analyses we have published.

But before we do that, let's also suggest that Chicago and Illinois have the most toxic drug gang problem in the USA, and that problem exists because of the racist policies of the "one percent" who run things in Chicago. Anyone who has Internet access can Google the major Chicago street gang "nations" (People and Folks) and then read in detail how those "nations" are organized into smaller gangs that date back to the 1950s and 1960s. The question for Chicago and Illinois, however, is why those gangs are still powerful -- or more so -- in the 21st Century than they were in the middle of the 20th.

And the answer to that question will provide some of the most powerful arguments against school closings in 2013, and the context of the community disruptions caused by the closings going back more than ten years now in Chicago.

In Substance News' continued coverage of the conditions in Chicago Public schools, below are three reports. One is from March 2012; another from April 2010; and the other from December 2006. All were reporting on the drug gang violence in and around the Chicago public schools. Because the online editions of Substance only began in 2002, we can't go back before then on line, but Substance's coverage in print does.


Circa April 2010 - Violence in Chicago today is not an accident — nor is it a sign of the economic times. It it can be directly tied to the privatization and deregulation schemes of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Arne Duncan and Ron Huberman.

The murder of [Fenger High School student] Derrion Albert — videotaped on a cell phone and broadcast around the globe via You Tube -- exposed the daily violence that youth are subjected to in Chicago. Just in the last few days on Chicago streets there were 41 people shot, with four dead in 26 hours of violence this before the summer has yet to begin.

How does this relate to CPS policy? Mass school closings slated for next year that include immediate cancellation of after school sports programs and thousands of educational staff layoffs are sure to compound the destabilization of already impoverished neighborhoods and urban youth that are losing their last place of comfort and safety. The increases in violence among urban youth and gangs is not sporadic or unpredictable but rather a reaction to the policies of privatization and gentrification as witnessed in Chicago.

Chicago Schools Blood Bath Continues

By John Kugler

Chris Wormely, 17, was fatally stabbed by a schoolmate at AMIkids Infinity high school, 10211 S. Crandon on the far Southside of Chicago. Another student was also stabbed and is hospitalized in critical condition. The school were the student got stabbed to death was a private contractor not a regular school operated by certified union teachers and staff. The student’s mother clearly indicates that the boy did not want to attend the school but was forced to go to the school get services which were cut two years ago by CPS brass.

“He wanted to go back to Lawrence Hall,” Charmayne Prince Wormely’s mother, said. “He said all the kids did at that [new] school was gangbang. He actually had a new red coat that he stopped wearing and would just wear a grey hoodie in the winter because he didn’t want any conflict out there if he wore that color.”

In a separate Incident on the same day March 1, 2012, at a Northside school, Kilmer Elementary, a new principal running the school is accused of physically assaulting three students. Students are saying that the tossed them against a wall and filing cabinets, loosening one of the students teeth, which eventually fell out during lunch break.

"He just grabbed me by my neck and threw me to the file cabinet," said Quinton Brown, one of the students told Channel 7 news.

According to parents, the principal is new. Many say he is well liked and are withholding judgment until they know the truth. The parents of the children who say they were abused are also taking a wait-and-see attitude, although, most of them have already filed police reports.

"He (the principal) choked me really hard, he put pressure on it and then he threw my head into the wall and my tooth, it came loose right here," Ken Elmore Jr. told another news channel.

Then early in the week on February 28, 2012 it was reported that a 13-year-old was raped on the way to school near 59th and Wood. The neighborhood where this girl was raped is a man-made wasteland of abandoned buildings, drug dealers and prostitutes This is ground zero of the sub-prime schemes that Rahm Emmanuel was was named to the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) by President Clinton in 2000. His position earned him at least $320,000, including later stock sales. He was not assigned to any of the board's working committees, and the Board met no more than six times per year.

During Rahm's time on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities. The Obama Administration rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act to review Freddie Mac board minutes and correspondence during Emanuel's time as a director.

Substance has now been covering the violence in Chicago Public Schools for over 30 years but it has not gotten as bad as in recent years as the direct result of privatization schemes for the 1% that forcefully displace students and teachers. Chicago Public Schools' policies create conditions for violence and murder. Now it is worse since no one in the top 100 leadership positions in CPS has any long term experience teaching or living in the City of Chicago. In fact many of the top administrators in CPS do not even hold any Illinois credentials to be teaching students.

I am re-posting this diary due to the importance of historical knowledge in the resistance to the tyranny of the 1%. Millionaire Mayor Emanuel is attempting to force the closing and turnaround of 17 schools this year. Despite data, demographics, alternative plans, crony connections revealed and union busting tactics uncovered mayor 1% is still full steam ahead.

This is a history lesson for mayor 1% and all his carpetbaggers, but mostly it is to help remind people what turnarounds are all about: death and destruction.

Bloody Days in Chicago

Violence in Chicago today is not an accident nor is it a sign of the economic times; it can be directly tied to the privatization and deregulation schemes of Mayor Richard M. Daley, Arne Duncan and Ron Huberman. The murder of Derrion Albert broadcast around the globe exposed the daily violence that youth are subjected to in Chicago. Just in the last few days on Chicago streets there were 41 people shot, with four dead in 26 hours of violence this before the summer has yet to begin. Mass school closings slated for next year that include immediate cancellation of after school sports programs and thousands of educational staff layoffs are sure to compound the destabilization of already impoverished neighborhoods and urban youth that are losing their last place of comfort and safety. The increases in violence among urban youth and gangs is not sporadic or unpredictable but rather a reaction to the policies of privatization and gentrification as witnessed in Chicago.

In a new documentary, The Interrupters, airing on the PBS program Frontline this past week follows the daily of three Violence Interrupters who try to protect their Chicago communities from the violence they once employed. The cycle of violence and its causes are examined and interpreted throw the eyes of ex-gang members who are now working to stop violence in Chicago neighbor hoods. In watching the film the same struggles that public school teachers face every day in class in the most at risk schools in Chicago. One of the most interesting parts of the movie is when the organization Cease Fire is having a group meeting discussing the Derrion Albert murder.

In a room full of experts on street violence the blame was squarely put on Chicago Public Schools for forcing the conditions that exacerbated gang and interpersonal tension across neighborhoods when students had no free choice to attend a neighbor hood school. Instead students had to travel long disturbances through opposing gang turfs to get to an open enrollment public school. In a shortened clip blame was squarely put on the decisions to close Carver High school and converting it to a military school with selective enrollment thereby forcing students to find another school to attend. The closest school to attend was miles away across gang turf. That school was Fenger High School that was recently turned around by the school board.

The turnaround meant that veteran staff were all fired and replaced with new staff who did not know the history of the area nor the rivalries between students. As seen in the clip it is clear that the responsibility of Derrion Albert’s murder is on the decision of the Chicago Board of education to close schools and fire staff without first involving the community and experts who understand the history of Chicago.

Here is the link to the shorten clip

Here is the link to the entire documentary

The following documents the manipulation of data and the news media to continue the privatization policies that Arne Duncan, current U. S. Secretary of Education now is forcing on the entire nation. The following is an article from Substance News 2006, the only news organization in Chicago that focuses its investigations and reporting entirely on public education issues with added updated reports and multi-media on violence in the Chicago Public Schools.

Bloody days increase in Chicago’s general high schools

Despite intense efforts by public relations staff at the Chicago Board of Education and the some of the editors at Chicago’s daily newspapers, increasing gang violence in Chicago’s general high schools couldn’t be completely ignored during the opening months of the 2006-2007 school year.

But even the most attentive public citizen would have had difficulty figuring out what was true from the conflicting reports provided by public schools officials, the Chicago Police Department,and the major media.

By November 2006, the main story line, repeated by the school board's public relations staff and repeated as news from the front page of the Chicago Tribune,was that things were better as far as violence went in the city’s public schools.

“Student arrests drop” proclaimed a page one Tribune headline on November 14. The lengthy story left the impression that an alleged reduction in violence at Steinmetz High School (3030N. Mobile) was real and was the result of new programs which focused on social work rather than arrests of students— even those who had committed violent crimes in the school.

Less than two months earlier, on September 27, 2006, the Chicago Board of Education approved a Board Report that showed something which many thought demonstrated the opposite.

A great deal of security information was buried in a routine motion(Board Report 06-0927-PR24) approving the continuation of payments of millions of dollars for Chicago Police Department services inside and around the public schools. The September 27 Board Report included the following statement: “During the period from January 1,2006 — June 30, 2006, there were 5,508 physical arrests in and around schools made, 27,899 student school absentees found, and 20 guns recovered.”

Ignoring the “20 guns recovered”during one six month period, Chicago school officials and the Tribune reported less than two months later that things were better inside and around Chicago's schools. What had happened? The Duncan administration holds schools and teachers to a very strict“standard,” and has closed more schools than at any time in history for “failure” and “under performance” always as measured solely by scores on multiple-choice standardized tests. Yet in many matters regarding administrative performance in Chicago, there is no standard at all.

Administrators are allowed to practice a selectivity of standards and data that amounts to cherry picking both data and the criteria used to evaluate them. The result is always to show the school system’s central administration— and Mayor Richard M. Daley — in the best possible light.

In 2005, a reduction in the number of guns confiscated in and around Chicago schools was the criterion for proclaiming that the school system was improving in school security. It had been the Tribune, in a January 2, 2005, article, that utilized gun confiscations as a measure of how safe the schools were becoming.

“Schools report good gun news —just 1 student found with one this year” the January 2, 2005, Tribune headline read.

The 2005 article claimed that gun confiscations had decreased significantly from a high in 1994 and into the 2000's. The January 2005 report implied that the number of guns confiscated in the public schools was a very good measure of the safety in the schools. The article listed the school at which the one gun had been discovered inside the building: Phillips High School. The article also noted that guns were found near two other high schools (Chicago Agricultural and Hancock) and that a fourth gun had been confiscated from a security guard.

At its September 27, 2006 monthly meeting, the Chicago Board of Education was told that 20 guns had been confiscated during the six month period between January 1, 2006 and June 30, 2006. There was no discussion of the report during the Board meeting. Nor did the other media report that gun confiscations in Chicago’s public schools had increased by either 500 percent or 2000 percent in a little over one year (Substance reported the issue in an October editorial).

On December 1, 2006, the CPS communications department issue a press release reminding reporters that on December 4, CEO Arne Duncan would be delivering his annual “State of the Schools” address to the City Club of Chicago at a luncheon at Maggiono’s Restaurant on Grand Ave. in Chicago.

According to the press release announcing the event, Duncan’s speech was to “tell a City Club audience that improving public education is “Chicago’s greatest civic achievement.” The press release, which arrived as Substance was on deadline [a complete report on the event will be published in the January Substance], also stated:“Duncan will highlight a series of accomplishments since Mayor Daley took over the school in 1995...”

One of those achievements, according to Duncan, has been “Reducing violence in the schools.”

At the time Mayor Daley was given control over Chicago’s public schools in July 1995, Arne Duncan was playing professional basketball in Australia. His information regarding the accomplishments he reports for the schools since Daley took over is based on materials provided to him by others— not on information he acquired himself while working in the schools (which he never did).

Despite the fact that Duncan has been CEO of the massive school system since July 2001, he has never developed a method of reporting “school violence”that would enable him to make a claim that the Daley administration has reduced violence in the schools. The current situation is an example of the problem analysts confront when trying to match the claims of the Board of Education's publicists and their speech writers with the realities in the schools. Duncan reports the data that makes the administration's claims look good, but there has been no standard for reporting and analyzing trends and problems, despite the fact that massive amounts of information are available from disparate sources.

Contrary to the reports in the Tribune and claims made to the City Club by Arne Duncan, there is little or no evidence that violence has decreased in Chicago’s schools during the past decade, and a growing body of evidence that violence —especially gang violence— has increased dramatically since Duncan became CEO and Daley’s “Renaissance2010” policy was put into place. But since the increase in violence has been in a small percentage of the schools, the overall trends have been misleading.

The reason why public confusion is possible, as the accompanying suspension data show, is that the Duncan administration has systematically concentrated the most dangerous high school students in a smaller and smaller number of schools — generally the city’s“general” high schools which are required to take any student who resides within a certain area.

Beginning in 2002, a series of changes allowed the Duncan administration to effectively sabotage the general high schools. Although the destruction of Lucy Flower Vocational High School (which became “small schools”)began before Arne Duncan was appointed CEO and Michael Scott Board President in July 2001, the pattern was set by the fate of Flower.

In 2002, the approval of a plan to convert DuSable High School (at 49th and Wabash) into “small schools” combined with the conversion of King High School into a “College Prep” high school forced students into Phillips, Tilden and Kenwood high schools. All three experienced additional problems, but the most dramatic were at Phillips, where rival gangs clashed in the school’s hallways despite the fact that the Board of Education’s Office of School Security and Safety was located in the Phillips building.

By 2004, the pattern was being repeated at other schools. When told of the problems at Phillips, Board President Michael Scott visited Phillips and himself witnessed the problems. Instead of working with the Chicago Teachers Union and others to solve the growing security problems that were created by his policies, however, Scott adopted a policy of scapegoating the general high schools, closing them amidst a media barrage about “dangerous conditions”and academic “failure.”

Prior to 2004,the closing of the general high schools (and the shifting of students into adjacent schools) was accomplished through the vehicle of“conversion” to small schools. In 2004,the script was changed dramatically. I know because I was there. By April 2004,the Chicago Teachers Union, under the leadership of Deborah Lynch, who was then president, had established a Bureau of School Security and Safety. The job of the bureau was to deal directly with the problems of the city’s violent schools. Working on the model established in New York City, the CTU leadership decided that the first activities would be directed at those schools which had the greatest amount of violence,usually gang related.

As director of school security and safety, I helped organize a conference in April 2004 involving nearly 100 schools and representatives from the major agencies that deal with youth crime and violence. These included the Chicago Police Department, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, CPS,and several schools. The conference was considered a success, due in a large part to the cooperation of all the agencies,which knew that the problems in the minority of Chicago schools that had them were severe and required immediate attention.

Two of those schools — Calumet and Austin high schools — were cooperating fully with both the union and all of the other agencies. At Calumet High School, the school had identified the most violent student offenders and had run a check on home addresses, among other things. One result of that project, which we had planned to replicate, was that Calumet was able to learn that two of its most violent students were actually residents of a nearby suburb,not Chicago residents at all. The school’s problems lessened dramatically once those students were removed from the school.

Similar projects were taking place at Austin High School, and I was regularly visiting two dozen other schools that faced serious violence, in-Continued from Page Five including a number of elementary schools.

With the cooperation of the schools’ administrations, teachers, and parents, we arranged for people from Austin and Calumet to describe their problems to Michael Scott and others from the administration. We believed,wrongly it turned out, that we had begun working on a cooperative plan to confront school crime and violence in those places where it was most severe. Calumet High School CTU Delegate Tim Galloway (since retired) joined us at a meeting in the Board’s offices. At the meeting were Michael Scott and representatives of various departments.

Less than two months later, I first heard, from teachers at Austin and Calumet, that we had been “betrayed”by Duncan and Scott. Instead of working on a comprehensive plan to deal with the violence in those schools,Duncan was going to proposed the closing of the schools because of the violence that we had helped identify!

In June 2004, two events took place which sealed the fate of Austin and Calumet high schools and projected the future for the city’s general high schools. First,Mayor Daley announced his “Renaissance 2010” plan. It was based on a right wing report drafted by Eden Martin and published by the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club. According to Martin, a radical conservative who opposes urban public schools as “failures” and supports “choice” and“free market” alternatives, charter schools and other schools have to be publicly funded to break the cycle of failure in urban schools.

In 2004, Eden Martin’s radical right wing attack on public schools became Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley's “Renaissance 2010” plan. Under the plan, which was unveiled by Daley in a lengthy speech to the Civic Committee, Chicago was to create “100 new schools” by 2010.

Following Daley’s lead,Duncan and Scott quickly reacted. Although Calumet and Austin were not“failing” academically at the time (they were in the middle of the general high schools, as measured by standardized test scores over a reasonable number of years), Duncan declared that the schools were dangerous and would stop accepting 9th graders in September 2004.

At intense public hearings in June 2004, students, teachers, parents and others from both Calumet and Austin opposed the closings. Notably, LSC members from the schools that were slated to receive the 9th graders who would be forced out of Calumet and Austin also protested, noting that gang problems were likely to result if the changes went through.

I helped organize the responses to the proposal at the hearings that were held, but such hearings are actually kangaroo courts, since they are convened to affirm the conclusions already reached by the CEO. [In June 2004, Deborah Lynch lost her bid for a second term as CTU President. Upon taking office in August 2004, Marilyn Stewart, Lynch’s successor, fired me and had her staff discard the materials that had been assembled by the bureau of school security and safety at the CTU. It wasn’t until nearly a year later that Stewart realized that she had a major problem in the schools and appointed a “coordinator”of school security and safety].

By late 2004, it was clear that the problem was widespread across the south side and the west side. Austin and Calumet were closed to 9th graders in September 2004, and heck (or worse) broke loose in the schools that received those of the students who were able to attend other schools. (CPS never admits that when such changes are made, a large percentage of the students simply disappear, which is what happened in this case).

Within a year after the closing of Austin and Calumet to 9th graders,teachers, parents, and students from more than a dozen schools were appearing monthly at the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education reporting the increase in gang problems and violence at schools as far away from the sending schools as Clemente and Wells high schools (on the north side) and Harlan and Hyde Park high schools (on the south side).

Under pressure from the mayor to create the “100new schools” announced with “Renaissance 2010,” instead of admitting that the closing of 9thgrade at Austin and Calumet had spilled major problems into the general high schools across the city, Duncan and Scott continued closing the general high schools. In January 2005, under the pretext of saving children from “academic failure”, Duncan announced he was going to close Englewood High School to 9th graders. Despite warnings that the problems seen at the schools that had received the “spillover” from Austin and Calumet would be worsened when Englewood was closed, Duncan persisted, delivering the by then cliché talking points about how he had a responsibility to “make the tough decisions”and save the children from another“round of failure.” When teachers and community leaders challenged the characterization of their schools,while others warned of what would happen when the schools were closed, Duncan simply forged ahead. At every step, he lined up community leaders and others who gave support to his programs(often rewarded for it).

Englewood was closed to 9thgraders in September 2005, and things got worse in the receiving schools.

By 2006, the program was moving ahead despite all evidence of the danger it was posing. Even a dramatic series of charges by the Chicago Teachers Union (published in stories that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times) focusing on the impact of the closings on Hyde Park and Wells high schools did little good. In January 2006, Duncan announced that he was closing Collins High School, at 1313 S. Sacramento on the west side by ending the acceptance of 9th graders into the school. The impact of the Collins closing is now being felt at schools across the west side. Just as Collins had been destabilized by the closing of Austin and the creation of charter schools which skimmed many of the better students, now the schools adjacent to Collins were facing the same pinch.

By the time the Board provided Substance with its suspension data for the 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 school years, the patterns that first became clear in the first years of the Duncan administration were obvious for anyone familiar with the city.

While all of the high schools generally had a few problems, the greatest problems were concentrated in fewer than 20 general high schools. Where these problems have escalated during

the past four years, the specific causes of the escalation can be easily identified as the disruptive impact of the Board of Education’s “Renaissance 2010” policies.

Not only does “Renaissance2010” close (and later, give away to charter schools) existing public schools, but it also creates a new group of elites schools which reject the most deprived and often dangerous students. As a result,those students are being concentrated more and more intensely in the city’s remaining general high schools.

Since 2004, the Board of Education has been allowed by the public and most of the media, as well as by powerful political and community leaders, to get away with what amounts to a program that undermines, sabotages and destabilizes the city’s general high schools, while allowing more middle class families to put their children in the city’s magnet high schools or the growing number of “College Prep” high schools.

The resulting dangers in the general high schools cannot be characterized as an “unintended consequence”of the policies of the Daley and Duncan administrations. On the contrary, they are the result of these policies, and have been predicted by LSC members, by teachers, by this reporter, and most recently by the leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union, which as an institution was already on the record in opposition to the closing of 9th grades in the general high schools as early as 2004, although it took the current leadership of the union until March 2006 to confront the problem publicly (again) on behalf of the union.

While there are a few random examples of high schools in Chicago where gang violence and other problems are spinning out of control independently of the central planning that has sabotaged the general high schools in the interests of “Renaissance 2010”, these are exceptions. (One notable one is Lincoln Park High School, where the escalating problems with security seem to stem from the unique problems created by the school’s administration and its arbitrary policies and personnel practices; at this point in history, Lincoln Park is more dangerous than it should be. Schools where politics interfere with an even-handed administration of discipline are in for trouble...).

It is likely that the forces driving “Renaissance 2010” will cause Arne Duncan to announce another high school targeted for closing in the next three months. If that school turns out to be Clemente, which has faced some of the most extreme problems, no one will be surprised. If it turns out to be any of the other 20 general high schools which have borne the brunt of Duncan’s policies, there should be a major outcry across the city.

By George Schmidt

Original Article Published December 2006

Two Import Reports on that predicted the violence that killed Derrion Albert and another the substantiated the fact that privatization of public education destabilized communities can be found at the links below;

Students As Collateral Damage?

A Preliminary Study Of Renaissance 2010 School Closings In The Midsouth (2007)

Chicago’s Democratically-Led Elementary Schools Far Out-Perform Chicago’s

Turnaround Schools’ Yet Turnaround Schools Receive Lavish Extra Resources (2012)