BOARDWATCH: Veteran teacher Tammie Vinson explicates the impact of closings on teachers, kids, communities and schools when the closings are a serial killing of communities -- and special education children are deprived of the services they need and are legally entitled to...

[Editor's Note: Once again, Substance's BOARDWATCH feature is publishing the remarks prepared and delivered by the speakers at the monthly meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. The meeting of November 19, 2014 saw more than 500 people present for the meeting. The meeting was held in the auditorium at Westinghouse High School, with 60 people signed up to speak. More would have signed up but the Board censors the number as well as the speakers with which Board members disagree. The following material was prepared by Tammie Vinson and provided to Substance by her. George N. Schmidt, Editor, Substance].

DePriest Special Education teacher Tammie Vinson told the Board about the problems faced by West Side schools due to closings and turnarounds, then outlined the needs of her severely handicapped students. Few of the Board members were paying attention (see the next photo), and none asked any questions. Substance photo by Nate Goldbaum.My name is Tammie Vinson I am a special education teacher at Oscar DePriest Elementary School. This is my seoncd year after being assigned when Robert Emmet was closed. My assignment to Emmet was made when after Mary McCleod Bethune was turned around [and turned over to AUSL]. After the turnaround failed Bethune was closed. I teach in a cluster program with 13 kindergarten, first and second graders. I have three-four students who due to their disability are not potty trained; ten of my students cannot communicate orally. Three have oral sensory needs that manifests in their putting stuff in the mouths, and five of my students are so emotionally sensitive that they yell, scream and roll around floor when frustrated

And three of them are runners. Imagine my day. My school is one of the Special Ed per pupil budgeting pilot schools. Because of this I have two aides, which I sure you think is a luxury. it's not. With the the social emotional and academic challenges these students have, more of their needs could be addressed if the support had been made available while they were younger. We have speech and occupational therapist in the building at least three days a week. But they have limited time to work with my babies because of their caseload. they are being told to service students with consulting minutes -- which means the role of service provider shifts to the teacher. How is this beneficial to the student? Our students are being denied access to service that are their right. These are not students who are just not being challenged by ineffective teacher. Substance's camera caught Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale during the dramatic remarks by teacher Tammie Vinson. Vitale alternates between autocratic indifference and monarchial rage when people from across Chicago try to bring the truth about the impacts of his policies on the children, teachers, and communities of Chicago to the monthly Board meetings. During the November 19, 2014 meeting, Vitale continually ordered the microphones shut off and ordered security staff to remove parents, teachers and children from the microphones while taking no notes and ignoring the pleas of working people from across Chicago who had the chance to attend a Board meeting in the evening for the first time in more than a decade. Substance photo by Nate Goldbaum.This budgeting system will not miraculously cure these "diverse learners".

The system we have now is causing professional people to question the integrity of the Board when we hear that all of these mandates and decisions are "for the kids." Really?? We are spending inordinate amounts of money on toxic loan debt, opening charter schools, and standardized tests. That money could be used to fully fund every neighborhood school equitably. It could be used to hire service providers -- and not pay money to outsidera to service our children. But you know this. And yet you continually make decisions that are not in the best interest the child.

The toxic loans debt alone is denying all CPS students access to the world class education our mayor says we have. Again. Really?! This Board has a responsibility to all students not just the select few. I often hear the question when discussing decisions of the Chicago Public Schools Board of Education. How do these people sleep at night?

Based on the amount of money that is being misappropriated, I'm sure you sleep well. But we all know what Karma is......


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