CPS community hearings continue during week of February 11, 2013, as attempts to manipulate consent by Barbara Byrd Bennett continue... Byrd Bennett and the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education continue to be truant from the hearings
Chicago Public Schools continued its so-called "community engagement hearings" during the week of February 11, 2013, even as growing community opposition to the school closings escalated and additional questions arose about the police state tactics utilized by CPS officials and private contractors used at the hearings.
As the hearings continued, not one member of the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education had attended any of the hearings, nor had Barbara Byrd Bennett. Byrd Bennett had became "Chief Executive Officer" (at an annual salary of $250,000 per year) in October following the ouster by Mayor Rahm Emanuel of the first Emanuel-appointed CEO of CPS, Jean-Claude Brizard, after the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012.
Like Brizard, Byrd Bennett came to CPS from out of town with no teaching or administrative experience in Chicago. Therefore, her participation in the hearings was expected by many teachers, parents and community leaders to be her opportunity to learn the human realities of the schools that she has apparently been hired to destroy, much as she did while working in Detroit. (Most of the top officials of CPS -- and other city agencies -- are being imported by Emanuel from out of town. Jean Claude Brizard had been Superintendent of Rochester public schools prior to his May 2011 appointment by Emanuel; Barbara Byrd-Bennett had been helping destroy the public schools of Detroit when she was hired by Chicago, first as "Chief Education Officer", in April 2012. The majority of the officials now seated surrounding the members of the Board of Education at the Board's monthly meetings are not experienced CPS teachers, principals or administrators, but have apparently been hired because they view school reality as "data sets" and have a facility with Power Point versions of reality.
By the second full week of the hearings, CPS confusion was becoming more and more clear to thousands of members of the public, including teachers, parents, and students.
Can major public decisions -- in this case the decision to close more than 100 public schools -- be privatized? The hearings, which are being facilitated by the CPS "Network" "Chiefs of Schools", seem to be under the dual leadership of CPS Network officials, CPS central office officials, and private contractors whose duties and public mandates are unclear, but who have tried to "arrest" protesters during the hearings.
According to the press release on the hearings still located on the CPS website (www.cps.edu) on February 11, 2013:
CPS PRESS RELEASE (source: CPS website, www.cps.edu).
Chicago Public Schools (CPS) continues its community engagement efforts this week with six scheduled meetings to address its utilization crisis. Officials today encouraged parents and other members of school communities to attend meetings in their areas.
“Last week, we listened to the voices of more than two thousand CPS students, parents and teachers, as well as other members of local school communities,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “And we hope to hear from thousands more at meetings taking place this week.”
Meetings scheduled for this week are:
• 2/4/2013 Burnham Park 7:00-9:00pm St. Anselm Church, 6045 S. Michigan
• 2/5/2013 Garfield-Humboldt 7:00-9:00pm Mt. Vernon MB Church, 2622 W. Jackson
• 2/6/2013 Pershing 7:00-9:00pm Fuller Park Field House, 311 W. 45th St.
• 2/6/2013 Pilsen-Little Village 7:00-9:00pm Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western
• 2/7/2013 Skyway 7:00-9:00pm Our Lady of Peace Rectory, 7851 S. Jeffrey
• 2/9/2013 Rock Island 11:00-1:00pm Metropolitan Family Services, 235 W. 103rd St.
CPS is holding two meetings in each school network.
The first series of community meetings, which began last week, each include a presentation on data and metrics on all schools at the Network level, a public comment period and interactive discussions. Independent facilitators will be on hand to ensure that school communities are engaged in the discussion and have opportunities to provide their feedback. The second series of meetings, beginning February 13, are a follow-up conversation to the first series of meetings, and will include discussions about specific schools still under consideration at that time. This will allow communities to provide input and feedback on schools that remain on the table in their neighborhoods. While this list will not represent the final set of recommended schools that will go before the Chicago Board of Education, it will give communities the opportunity to give CPS crucial feedback on individual schools to better inform CEO Byrd-Bennett before she makes her final recommendations to the Board in March.
In January, CEO Byrd-Bennett announced that high-performing Level 1 schools and high schools are no longer being considered as part of this process and therefore will not be part of the discussion at these community meetings. She removed these schools from consideration in order to provide school communities with as many high-performing school options as possible and to address safety and concerns associated with including high schools in this process.
CEO Byrd-Bennett formed the independent Commission on School Utilization to gather data about the District’s utilization challenges and to engage school communities around how to best address them. After hearing from hundreds of parents and school community members at 10 public meetings, the Commission issued a series of recommendations to remove schools from consideration as part of this process, including taking high schools and high-performing Level 1 schools off the table. CEO Byrd-Bennett embraced both of these recommendations and she and her team are in the process of further defining and applying the Commission’s other recommendations, which will remove more schools from consideration as part of this process.
CPS is holding meetings related to school utilization as the District is facing a very real and daunting utilization crisis, due in large part to a significant population drop in Chicago over the last decade. Today, CPS serves 403,000 students, but has space for 511,000. Nearly 140 schools are more than half-empty and about 50 percent of all schools are underutilized. In the face of a $1 billion deficit next fiscal year, this utilization crisis is stretching the District’s limited resources much too thin. By addressing this crisis, CPS will be able to better redirect resources and invest in programs and supports that provide all children with a more well-rounded, high-quality education, such as new technology, playgrounds, libraries, AC, more nurses and counselors and art and music programs.
School communities are being notified of the community meetings via a variety of communication methods, including robo-calls, letters mailed home, by email, via cps.edu, on social media and at individual schools. A complete list of upcoming community meetings can be found below:
DATE NETWORK TIME LOCATION
2/4/2013 Burnham Park 7:00-9:00pm St. Anselm Church, 6045 S. Michigan
2/5/2013 Garfield-Humboldt 7:00-9:00pm Mt. Vernon MB Church, 2622 W. Jackson
2/6/2013 Pershing 7:00-9:00pm Fuller Park Field House, 311 W. 45th St.
2/6/2013 Pilsen-Little Village 7:00-9:00pm Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western
2/7/2013 Skyway 7:00-9:00pm Our Lady of Peace Rectory, 7851 S. Jeffrey
2/9/2013 Rock Island, 11:00-1:00pm, Metropolitan Family Services, 235 W. 103rd St. [Substance note: the actual address was 235 EAST 103rd St.)
2/11/2013, Fulton, 7:00-9:00pm, First Baptist Congregational Church, 1613 W. Washington
2/11/2013, Fullerton, 7:00-9:00pm Armitage Baptist Church, 2451 N. Kedzie
2/13/2013, Austin-North Lawndale 7:00-9:00pm Greater Galilee Baptist Church, 1308 S. Independence
2/14/2013, Lake Calumet, 7:00-9:00pm Olive Harvey College, 10001 S. Woodlawn
2/16/2013, Ravenswood-Ridge, 11:00-1:00pm, Truman College, 1145 W. Wilson
2/18/2013, Englewood-Gresham 7:00-9:00pm Liberation Christian Center, 6810 S. Ashland
2/19/2013 Burnham Park 7:00-9:00pm St. Anselm Church, 6045 S. Michigan
2/20/2013 Skyway 7:00-9:00pm South Shore Cultural Center, 7059 S. Shore Dr.
2/21/2013 Pershing 7:00-9:00pm Fuller Park Field House, 331 W. 45th St.
2/23/2013 O'Hare 11:00-1:00pm Wright College, 4300 N. Narragansett
2/25/2013 Rock Island 7:00-9:00pm Woodson Regional Library, 9525 S. Halsted
2/26/2013 Fulton 7:00-9:00pm First Baptist Congregational Church, 1613 W. Washington
2/27/2013 Garfield-Humboldt 7:00-9:00pm Mt. Vernon MB Church, 2622 W. Jackson
2/28/2013 Fullerton 7:00-9:00pm Armitage Baptist Church, 2451 N. Kedzie
3/2/2013 Midway 11:00-1:00pm Daley College, 7500 S. Pulaski
3/4/2013 Pilsen-Little Village 7:00-9:00pm Arturo Velasquez Institute, 2800 S. Western
Chicago Public Schools serves 403,000 students in 681 schools. It is the nation’s third-largest school district.