Sections:

Article

Black and Latino legislators call for moratorium on Chicago school closings

In a dramatic press conference on March 11, 2013, leaders of the Black Caucus and Latino Caucus of the Illinois General Assembly stood with members of the Chicago City Council at the State of Illinois building in Chicago to demand that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's seven-member Board of Education call a moratorium on school closings in Chicago.

Members of the Illinois General Assembly Black Caucus and Latino Caucus, joined by some members of the Chicago City Council, announced at a March 11, 2013 press conference that they were opposing the plans by Chicago Public Schools and Mayor Rahm Emanuel to close dozens of Chicago's public schools. At their press conference the senators and representatives displayed photographs taken by Nate Goldbaum of the Chicago Teachers Union inside what was once the Crispus Attucks Elementary School one week earlier.The call comes two weeks before Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett, who came to Chicago a year ago after performing similar duties in Detroit, is scheduled to release what critics are calling the "2013 Hit List" of schools to be closed.

“We’re not going to sit back and say, ‘OK, Mayor Rahm Emanuel do what you want to do, how you want to do it, when you want to do it at our expense. It’s OK with us.’ Not on this issue. Not on our watch,” State Rep. Ken Dunkin, chairman of the Illinois General Assembly’s Black Caucus, told a sparsely attended press conference at his offices in the State of Illinois building.

Rep. Cynthia Soto, who chairs the Latino Caucus, reminded the group that the Board of Education is required by law to produce a ten-year facilities master plan. The original date for the submission of the Master Plan was January 1, 2013, but Mayor Emanuel and Barbara Byrd Bennett, the most recent CEO of CPS, got the lawmakers to agree to a postponement of both the 2013 Hit List and the ten-year master plan. Byrd Bennett claimed, despite the evidence from the 2011 - 2012 school year (when CPS had complied with the laws) that CPS was not able to produce either the guidelines for the 2013 Hit List or the Master Plan. With the help of some lawmakers, including State Senator Iris Martinez, the lawmakers gave the mayor and Byrd-Bennett the extension they requested.

Most critics at the time noted that the entire thing was to stall to the detriment of the families who would be affected by the closings. The deadline for applying to the city's selective enrollment and magnet elementary and high schools was in December 2012. Many viewed the postponement of the deadline as just another way of forcing many families into making the "choice" of charter schools, which would, despite the claims that they have massive "waiting lists", be recruiting children from the schools facing closings.

The melodramatic work of the "Commission" on school closings, which was appointed by Byrd-Bennett and approved by Mayor Emanuel, gave an aura of legitimacy to the stalling. But the machinations -- and outright rudeness -- of the Commission and its members immediately increased the mobilization in opposition to any closings. The time delay also gave more people a chance to examine the absurd guidelines under which Byrd Bennett, whose staff came mostly from outside Chicago, was determining how schools were to be judged "underutilized" or "overcrowded."

Despite Byrd Bennett's claims that no closing would be held for five years following the 2013 Hit List, no one with ties to the city's public schools believes she will still be in Chicago more than a year from now. Both Byrd Bennett and her new group of senior staff were vetted for Chicago by the Broad Foundation, and Byrd Bennett's script on the closings -- including the claims that there is an "underutilization crisis" -- was revealed to have been contained in a handbook prepared by the Broad Foundation four years before Byrd Bennett arrived in Chicago.

While heated hearings were taking place across Chicago, organized by the so-called "Networks" into which the city's public schools are currently divided, the legal body established by the General Assembly, the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force (CEFTF) continued to meet. In stark contrast to the Network hearings, which like the Commission hearings tried to manipulate consent and exclude as many people as possible, the CEFTF hearings were open to the public, and the members of the Task Force listened to everyone who appeared and wanted to speak.

The most extreme examples of the otherworldly realm of the current CPS leadership came when Byrd Bennett announced that an original "list" of 300 "underutilized" schools had been reduced to a semi-final list of only 129 schools. By then, all charter schools had been removed from the list, as well as high schools, leaving only real public elementary schools, virtually all concentrated in the African American communities of the South Side and West Side.



Comments:

March 12, 2013 at 11:44 AM

By: Kathy Jacobs

Breaking News

Apparently Hell has frozen over.

May 19, 2013 at 8:22 AM

By: Ray Henry

Exposing of wrong and unfair acts in chicago

WE MUST REMOVE ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE BLACK AND LATINO CAUCUS. THEY ARE NOT ONLY DISCRIMINATING AGAINST THE PARENTS BUT OUR CHILDREN. WHY PUT OUR CHILDREN IN THE MIDDLE OF THESE UNFAIR ACTS THAT TAKE AWAY FROM THEIR FUTURES.

SO SAD! BUT THE FUNNY THING ABOUT IT? ALL IS THEY ARE HIDING BEHIND THIS UNFAIR SCHOOL BOARD AND OUR WASTE OF TIME ONLY FOUR YEAR MAYOR EXPOSING THE CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL WHO WILL SURELY BE REMOVED FROM ALL SAY SO IN CHICAGO.

I HAVE PROOF THAT THE UNEMPLOYMENT OFFICE IS REPORTING FALSE BENEFIT CLAIMS TO THE IRS, SOCIAL SECURITY FORGING DOCUMENT'S, CHILD SUPPORT OVER CHARGING CITIZEN'S WHO PAY'S SUPPORT. I ALSO CAN PROVIDE PROOF COMED NICOR AND OTHER'S IS ACCEPTING GOVERNMENT MONEY AND NOT GIVING CREDIT TO CUSTOMERS! WHEN WE VOTE THE REP'S,LAWMAKER'S,ALDERMAN,CONGRESSMAN, THE PEOPLE WHO TRUST IN THEIR BOSSES SHOULD BE MOVED TOP PEOPLE,MANAGER'S,SUPERVISOR'S AND LEAD'S! WE DO HAVE SOME GOOD STATE WORKER'S, BUT NOT ENOUGH, THAT WHEN CHANGE WILL COME AND FAIRNESS BEGAN'S!!!

Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at substancenews.net. We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

1 + 1 =