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Board and principals stall on reducing class sizes, while some schools add non-teaching staff

It's November 1, 2013. School began the day after Labor Day for the children, and many faced an unprecedented increase in class sizes because of the new "Student-Based Budgeting." As usual, any program promoted by the current Chicago public schools administration as "good for the children" is the opposite. The best way to translate the monthly reports by Barbara Byrd Bennet (the latest "Chief Executive Officer" of the nation's third largest school system) into English is to parse every claim into its opposite.

Above, the latest "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago Public Schools recommended that the Board of Education close 49 of the city's real public schools at the Board's May 22, 2013 meeting (when this photograph was taken). Barbara Byrd Bennett devoted her entire first school year in office to following the orders of Mayor Rahm Emanuel that she close 50 of the city's real public schools. The fanfare around the closings, which lasted eight months, was merely a smokescreen behind which the pre-ordainted work of prviatization and union busting was taking place. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Take the claim that so-called "Student-Based Budgeting" was going to make things better for the schools. Translated, that means "worse for teachers and students." And that's precisely what has happened in the majority (not all, see below) of Chicago's real public schools since the third major attack on the city's real public schools began with the inauguration of Rahm Emanuel in May 2011. First year, it was the "Longer School Day," accompanied regularly with a symphony of claims, all baseless, that Chicago had the shortest school day in the USA (Rahm, as usual, lied, leaving out the high schools and ignoring the closed campus realities of most elementary schools). Accompanied by the paid protesters organized by Rahm's publicity friends, the Longer School Day campaign dominated the public discussion during the 2011 - 2012 school year, with virtually every real problem ignored.

With the interruption caused by the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012, the Emanual administration in the 2012 - 2013 school year launched another Big Lie -- the "underutilization crisis." That drumbeat went on for the year. This time, the mercenaries were not the paid protesters, but a handful of hacks who served, under former Com Ed CEO Frank Clark, on the "commission" that held all those hearings. Since virtually everyone who testified at the hearings challenged both the plan and the facts of the "underutilization" claims, once again the administration resorted to simple lies. Barbara Byrd Bennett, who had been made CEO of CPS after Rahm dumped Jean-Claude Brizard, carried the program on the "underutilization crisis" through the 2012 - 2013 school year and with a straight face told the Board on May 22, 2013, that after careful consideration she was recommending that the Board close 50 of the city's real public schools (more or less). Amazingly to nobody, that number -- CLOSE 50 SCHOOLS! -- was precisely what sources inside City Hall had said Rahm was demanding in October, after the strike was over.

So now it's the 2013 - 2014 school year, and once again a new "crisis" demands a new solution, once again one that penalizes teachers, undermines the city's real public schools, and hurts the families who are still choosing, overwhelmingly, to send our children (this reporter has two) to the city's real public schools.



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