UNSAFE PASSAGES AND RAHM'S CYNICAL PATRONAGE... Will you take a bullet for Rahm for ten bucks an hour?

Having been outside a Chicago public schools on more than one occasion when the gang bangers were using live ammunition (my job for several years include "security coordinator" at Bowen High School, 2710 E. 89th St.) in daytime, I speak with some experience about the realities which the Emanuel administration is trying to force poor people to confront on the cheap. With the hype (and some lucrative sub-contracting patronage) building as school approaches, the question arises:

"Would you take a bullet for ten bucks an hour and no medical benefits?"

Because that's the fundamental question that faces Chicago now that all the Hollywood-style nonsense had poured forth. It's been going on since the Emanuel administration, about a year ago, decided to orchestrate the expensive closing of 50 of the city's real public schools in order to do Year Two of the mayor's disconnected but widely hyped plans for the public schools. Like the Longer School Day (of the 2011 - 2012 school year, with Jean-Claude Brizard as CEO of CPS), the "underutilization crisis" and forced closings (of the 2012 - 2013 school year, with Barbara Byrd Bennet as CEO of CPS) without regard to the delicate street-level worlds in which many of Chicago's poorest families live is beginning to crash tragically into reality, Chicago style.

Before the end of January, CPS was putting up signs all over the city saying "Safe Passage." As of the middle of August, those signs had not yet been used for target practice, but the areas supposedly marked "Safe Passage" were clearly not -- and not just at night.

On the night of August 18, shots fired from the area of Sumner Elementary School (4320 W. Fifth Ave. on the West Side) injured a seven-year-old boy who was bringing a bicycle into his home. The Safe Passage signs were clearly visible along the block.

On the evening of August 19, while the day was still bright, shots fired in Uptown injured several people. The Safe Passage signs were clearly visible along the block.

But part of the back story of the whole Safe Passage thing is that CPS and the mayor are taking advantage of some of the poorest people in the city, asking them to possible take a bullet for Rahm without medical insurance.

When I was working on gang security (in addition to teaching English) at Bowen High School, we made sure that every security person had both a real full-time job, with security and medical benefits. On several occasions, we were outside the building when "Shots fired!" echoed over the police radios. The gangs were using live ammunition near a Chicago school on a Chicago street.

The full story of "Safe Passage" is yet to be told, but the foreshadowing is already being narrated. Whether those of us in the press will report the full story, in context, when the body count begins to mount remains to be seen.


The Safe Passage signs were clearly visible along the block.

Five Wounded in Shooting Along Uptown 'Safe Passage' Route

By DNAinfo Staff on August 19, 2013 1:17pm | Updated on August 20, 2013 6:31am


Five Shot in Uptown

UPTOWN — A shooting that left five men wounded, four critically, happened along a Chicago Public Schools "safe passage" route Monday evening.

The shooting happened just before 6 p.m. Monday near Uptown Baptist Church, in the 4500 block of Sheridan Road, officials said.

The bloody crime scene was in the middle of a "Safe Passage" route where students from the shuttered Stewart School will walk to get to nearby Brenneman Elementary starting next week.

Police originally said one of the five victims, all men, was killed. But early Tuesday morning, police said the man who was reported to be dead was actually in critical condition at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Three others victims were in serious to critical condition, and another man was in good condition, authorities said.

"Bout 20 shots fired outside church during Monday night meal. 5 people shot. 1 dead. Blood pools at church steps. Pray for us," tweeted the Rev. Michael Allen, head pastor at Uptown Baptist Church, 1011 W. Wilson Ave.

"A few of us went outside to see what happened," Allen said in a phone interview. "We found several people on the ground bleeding profusely, and they were screaming."

Neighborhood resident Kelsey Blankenship, 19, said she was outside during the shooting.

"I didn't hear the shots until I hit the corner. Then I heard the screaming," Blankenship said.

The man who initially was reported dead was shot in the head, Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said.

Another man was hit in the leg multiple times, while another was shot in his back, Langford said. The third victim who suffered critical injuries was shot in his arm and abdomen.

The fifth victim was shot in his hand and was in good condition.

The five victims were taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston and Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Langford said.

After the shooting, Kenston Rider, a manager at a nearby Starbucks on 4600 N. Magnolia St., said a man ran into his store and tried to lock himself in the women's restroom.

"He ran into our store and tried locking himself in the bathroom. Shortly later there were about a dozen cops telling him to get out," Rider said. "Nobody was hurt in the store. It was scary there for a second."

Police did not immediately confirm that account or say whether anyone was in custody.

On Monday night, blood could still be seen on the sidewalk at the southwest corner of Wilson Avenue and Sheridan Road. A bus shelter was shattered. At least 18 shell casings were on the ground. Witnesses at the scene said they saw a white car near the shooting, although police did not confirm that.

Blakenship referred to three of the victims as "brothers" because they were raised in the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services system.

Allen said he didn't know any of the victims.

Allen said his church sits near the border of three gang territories. The church has security cameras that might have caught footage of the shooting, the pastor said.

"We have a slogan we adopted many years ago for this very purpose: 'Get out of our seats and into the streets,' " Allen said.

Last week the church led a prayer vigil calling for an end of violence near area schools, he said.

Before the CPS board voted to close Stewart, a hearing officer recommended that the school stay open. Neighborhood parents and activists also said they feared violent clashes between students — or on the streets of Uptown.

"I can tell you from personal experience, from student's mouths to my ears, that they are afraid to go [to Brenneman]," Stewart music teacher Reggie Spears said in May.

Hearing officer Judge Charles R. Winkler agreed.

"Will an understaffed Chicago Police Department be able to provide enough officers to assist the Stewart children?" Winkler wrote. " Will CPS hire a private security company to furnish properly trained personnel?"

Allen said Monday's shooting will result in a redoubling of the church's anti-violence work.

Neighbor Donte Mearon, 35, stood outside the Uptown Baptist Church Tuesday morning and snapped a photo of the scene with his camera.

"Oh man, I had to come by and see what's happening in the neighborhood. I drive my bike past here two, three times a day. You know, this is my normal route."

The visual artist said he's lived in the general area for about a decade.

"I could have been running by; my girlfriend could have been running by," he said. "What would you do if someone started shooting? Would you get on the ground? Would you take off? What would you do? So that's kind of like things we have to think about now, the tactics."

In other incidents Monday:

• In South Shore, a 20-year-old man and a 15-year-old boy both suffered leg wounds in a shooting at 6:50 p.m. in the 7100 block of South Clyde Avenue, police said. The man was sent to Jackson Park Hospital; the boy went to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

• A 15-year-old boy was shot in Roseland, police said. The teen was struck in his leg about 12:15 p.m. in the 11000 block of South Parnell Avenue, said Officer Jose Estrada, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. The boy was in stable condition and was being transferred to an area hospital Monday afternoon.


August 21, 2013 at 10:59 AM

By: Elizabeth McGregor

More CPS Hypocrisy-PAT Non-Renewals

Dear George,

In light of what has been happening throughout the corrupt system of CPS, I wanted to provide more information that has not been given any focus these past few months.

In early May, during “teacher appreciation” week, there were hundreds of PATs called into their administrators’ offices and told they were being non-renewed.

Their letters stated: “The reason for your non-renewal is that you are not on track to achieve proficiency as a teacher by the end of this school year…accordingly, your non-renewal will become final on the date you receive your summative rating…if your summative rating is proficient or better, you will be reinstated provided your position is still available…”

These teachers were informed they were not proficient even though not all REACH components were completed, nor in many cases, were they even implemented appropriately. This new evaluation system being touted as a positive collaboration between teachers and administrators has been nothing but punitive and demeaning. It has become another form of punishment for teachers throughout the system, especially PATs who were guinea pigs for another one of CPS’s inabilities to implement anything in a purposeful way.

Summative ratings were to be available in early August. The Union informed members that the dates would be August 9-16th. It is now the beginning of the new school year and once again, CPS has shown its unprofessional, tactless ways it treats its employees. REACH ratings have been continuously postponed. The Union informed their members that CPS has delayed ratings for PATs:

Chicago Public Schools has delayed the dissemination of SY 2012-2013 summative ratings for all teachers. The CTU will communicate the new date that SY 2012-2013 summative ratings will be available for all teachers to view on the new Reflect & Learn System (RLS) as soon as that date is finalized. (Teachers can log on to RLS using their existing CPS username and password at teachers will be able to access their SY 2012-2013 rating summary, but only ratings for Probationary Assigned Teachers (PATs) will count. Only PATs who receive "unsatisfactory" ratings for SY 2012-2013 may appeal their rating.

Teachers also received emails via their CPS accounts:

Dear Teacher,

I know you are anticipating receipt of your 2012-13 school year REACHstudents evaluation in mid-August. It will be complete in another 2 to 4 weeks.

The first year of REACHstudents has been both rewarding and challenging. In the reward column, we have seen unprecedented collaboration between teachers and administration in having professional exchanges to improve student learning. Student performance reflects that tremendous effort. We hope to build on that in year 2.

At the same time, 2012-13 was a building year for the REACHstudents system, which required great efforts to establish rules and to create quality checks that ensure that the system gives accurate and useful information to teachers that is delivered clearly and helpfully. We have taken great pains to get teacher feedback on the best way to present final evaluations, underlying data and other essential rating information. We are also now taking the time to do appropriate quality checks on data and rule applications to ensure fidelity to our evaluation plan and accuracy of data.

Unfortunately, these efforts have taken a little more time than we initially anticipated, but we believe the added time is well-spent. We know that you are anxious to receive your first year rating for many reasons and we are anxious to get them to you.

We appreciate your patience. Please continue to look to this e-mail for your information regarding your evaluation.


Paulette Poncelet

Executive Director Educator Effectiveness

So the question remains for these teachers:

Are they still CPS employees, since their non-renewals are technically not final? Do they get to fight for their jobs in 2-4 weeks? Do they get to remove their replacements a month or so into the school year? What will the Union do to back these teachers?

Feel free to contact me for any needed proof or documentation,

Elizabeth McGregor

August 24, 2013 at 4:37 PM

By: Patricia Breckenridge

Welcoming school hiring

I went on a mislead that welcoming school principals were at 320 N. Elizabeth for finalizing the hiring process, and it was almost as though they knew I wasn't to be hired and didn't have hire papers (race and age maybe). After I waited about 15-20 minutes and the line was finished they (about 4 or 5 clerks) didn't ask if they could help me. When I did get help I was sent to a woman who dialed her cell phone in front of my face and wouldn't help me, so I said excuse me a few times to another woman who ignored me at first and then she referred me to her supervisor. The supervisor told me that there was a cut off time of 11:45 am, it was about 12:15 pm. I told her I had been waiting for about 15-20 minutes. She said I should have signed in, but there wasn't anyone signing anyone in when I entered before 12 noon. I asked who made the cut off time and she said that I was suppose to sign in and I didn't. I told her that the workers saw me standing here when the line was finished and no one assisted me. She said they had been working until 11:30 pm last night and that is why there was a cut off time and that they were not usually open on Saturday. I asked about Michael... and one of the workers said his full name of Michael Davis. She said he passed away about two years ago, 2011 (he processed my hire papers for Reinstated PAT in 2006). I immediately thought of Michael Scott who died in 2009 during these vicious attacks on minority and veteran teachers. Michael Davis processed my hire papers and by he end of the year my position number was changed to put me in an off tenure track position and laid-off. I can't make a correlation between the two deaths because one was dismissed by suicide and the other was dismissed by illness, but I'd hate to think that these men lost their lives trying to help protect teacher's jobs. Then, the supervisor said there was no hiring there and their the back office for after the employees are hired. I asked her for a phone number and she said there was no phone number. She said that they will start back again tomorrow morning at 5:00 am. I did manage to put in a address correction and phone number correction for for substitute teaching assignments.

Thanks again for your time with displaced teachers Pat G.

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