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BOARDWATCH: Education Facilities Task Force Report issues devastating critique of CPS school closings and other facilities actions and policies over the past three years

The President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, Clarice Berry, presented the report of the education facilities task force to the June 25, 2014 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, while most of the Board members and the six-figure executives arrayed around the Board ignored both Berry and the critique she was bringing to the public. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.It was barely reported in Chicago's corporate media, and then in one case with a talking point quotation from a City Hall flack. But the report of the Chicago Education Facilities Task Force (CEFTF) that became public after being presented to the June 25, 2014 Chicago Board of Education meeting is a systematic and devastating critique of the hypocrisy and malevolence of the current school board and Barbara Byrd Bennett. The central focus of the report, the executive summary of which is reported below, is the closings of 49 schools by a May 22, 2013 vote of the Board of Education. But the general critique of the tyrannical manner in which the Board is handling the city's most vulnerable communities needs to be published, read, and shared widely.

The task force report was presented to the Board members and executive staff at the June 25 2014 meeting. In a forceful speech to the Board, Clarice Berry, President of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association (CPAAA) challenged the Board with the facts of the report. None of the Board members responded to the critiques that were in front of them, nor did they ask "Chief Executive Officer" Barbara Byrd Bennett about any of the specific criticisms made in the report. Many of the Board executives sitting at the Board meeting devoted themselves to their cell phones, texting, and perhaps even "Angry Birds" during Berry's presentation.

Although the report traces the work of the committee all the way back to its inception in 2009 during former Mayor Richard M. Daley's "Renaissance 2010" program, its primary focus this year is the school actions done by the Chicago Board of Education appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel oin 2011 and under the latest "Chief Executive Officer," Barbara Byrd Bennett, who took office in October 2012 following the Chicago Teachers Strike of 2012 and Emanuel's downgrading and then firing of his first CPS CEO, Jean-Claude Brizard. Byrd Bennett almost immediately embarked on what many are calling the "second phase" of the Emanuel administration's attack on the city's remaining public schools by requesting and receiving a delay in publishing the list of schools to be closed in 2013. She also established a complicated hearing process which uncovered almost unanimous opposition to her proposed closings.

Nearly 30,000 people appeared at the various hearings and other events between December 2012 and March 2013, almost all opposed to the proposals.

Despite this overwhelming opposition from the communities across Chicago, the Board of Education proceeded to vote (on May 22, 2013) to close 49 of the city's real public schools. As early as October 2012, word from reliable sources across Chicago was that Emanuel was demanding the closure of 50 schools, so many viewed the hearings and other activities as a charade to mask the mayor's continued attacks on the public schools.

The Executive Summary states the following: "Since 2012 alone, CPS has closed 52 neighborhood public schools, 47 of them at the end of the 2013 school year while phasing out 5 more; and has implemented 15 Turnarounds (a restructuring under which the principal and all teachers and adult staff in a school are fired and replaced), with more under consideration..."

The report also notes that Emanuel's school board and CEO have eliminated the largest number of real public schools in the history of the United States, while expanding charter schools at a rapid pace.

The cover of the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force report "Executive Summary". The Executive Summary was 17 pages long.EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE REPORT BELOW HERE:



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