BOARDWATCH: Clark, Claypool and Rahm Emanuel's Board of Education continue to attack Chicago's real public schools, expand corrupt charter 'campuses' despite massive public outcry...

The members of the Chicago Board of Education and their bureaucrats rise to say the "Pledge of Allegiance" at the begining of each Board meeting, but their pledge is not to democracy and democratic principles, but to the 21st Century version of fascism personified by the reign of Rahm Emanuel in Chicago. Substance photo by David Vance.By the time the six members of the Chicago Board of Education came out of their closed session and voted to further expand the city's charter schools despite facing supposed budget problems, fewer students, and massive protests against the privatization agenda, few people paying attention to the Board's actions were surprised. It was the October 28, 2015 meeting of the Board of Education of the nation's third largest school system, and the Board members had done everything in their power to suppress the democratic wishes of the people of Chicago and silence their voices.

The Chicago Board of Education held its regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, October 28, 2015, at the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) Loop Office at 42 West Madison Street, Garden Level, in the Board Room. Board member Mark Furlong was absent. Board members who were present were Dominique Jordan Turner, Vice-President Jesse Ruiz, President Frank Clark, Dr. Mahalia A. Hines, Gail D. Ward, and Rev. Michael G. Garanzini, S. J. Also present were Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Forrest Claypool, Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson, and Cheryl Colson, Acting Chief Counsel. The so-called "good news" portion of the meeting was led by Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson. Nash Elementary School was being celebrated for achievement. Nash, which co-locates with a charter school, received a grant from a foundation. The principal of Nash presented the Board members with gifts from Nash.

Next, "Chief Executive Officer" Forrest Claypool spoke of the progress he claimed students were making in CPS. He also said that a "partnership with Springfield" was needed to overcome what he claims is the financial "crisis" facing the school system. He stated that he had met with principals around the city and he mentioned the slogan "Chicago Public Schools Matter," apparently a slogan cribbed from "Black Lives Matter" by CPS propagandists. Claypool added that there was a need for a more rigorous charter school accountability policy, ignoring the fact that from the beginning of the city's charter schools expansion CPS has supposedly had such a policy but had never really stopped charter school corruption.

Following Claypool's remarks, "Chief Education Officer" Janice Jackson described a policy recommendation on the Board agenda for more strictly evaluating Chicago's more than 100 charter schools and campuses. She said the lowest performing charter schools had been identified and a future report would be coming.

A Power Point presentation entitled "Charter Schools - a Quality Policy Presentation" was shown on a screen at the far end of the room. The Power Point was filled with single-spaced lines of information, but a copy of the presentation was not handed out to the members of the press. Jackson said there was a need to identify the needs of the charter schools and hold them accountable. She also claimed that the new policy would give a rigorous charter academic warning list. Ten charter schools are on the warning list. She added that, in a nutshell, the quality of the school is the standard regardless of the type of school.

[img=8754]CEO Claypool mentioned the new charter school proposals which had been received. He said that New Life Academy had an inadequate plan and monitoring. He also mentioned Stars Academy and other charter proposals which had been rejected.

Karen Ratliff, of "New Life Academy" proposed to be in the Grand Crossing community, claimed that the community wants a new charter school, Edison Learning, to co-locate inside Hirsch High School. She also claimed that the alderman and the residents support this. although there is no evidence that this statement is true, either. Compared with the treatment of Jennifer Biggs of "Raise Your Hand," the treatment of charter school supporters came into sharp contrast at this point. The Board simply allowed someone not even on the speakers' list to speak. Pastor John Hannah (above right) to speak after she finished. By contrast with charter school opponents, CPS officials and Board of Education members are trying to get charter school supporters on television and in front of the corporate media, while doing everything possible to keep critics and most of the public out. Substance photo by David Vance.Claypool then went on to say that he approved charter schools applications to expand the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) and Noble Street's application for a Southwest Side "campus." Claypool claimed that the reasons for these approvals were the School Quality Rating Policy (SQRP), local elected officials "approved", overcrowded high schools in the area, the parents want the charter school, Claypool claimed. He said that there are children who go to a Noble Street School in other areas who might attend the new "campus" once it's opened.

Chief Education Officer Jackson then introduced Hal Wood, who was to speak about charter schools being closed and the effect on students.

Board Vice President Ruiz added that a public and charter school collaboration, as was shown today with Nash and the charter school with which it co-locates, will help to bridge the divide between public and charter schools. Board member Mahalia Hines mentioned that such collaboration was talked about years ago but never initiated.

Hal Wood stated that the Board was reaching out to principals.

The Board then began a new attempt to answer critics who have noted that the Boardis undermining the public's right to attend and participate in the Board's monthly meetings. After the charter presentation, Board President Clark said that fifty people went to the Board website and got responses to their questions and concerns, forty-five met with board members in office meetings for fifteen-minute blocks of time. He added that others could do the same by calling 773-553-1600 to ask a question or request a meeting.

To the surprise of few people who have been examining the Board's policy of stifling public participation and public criticism during Board meetings, the Board announced that it will continue meeting at its downtown offices in the old Sears store, rather than in any of the city's large public schools. This came despite the availability of large spaces and free parking in public schools from one end of the city to the other.

Board Secretary Estela Beltran announced the November Board meeting will take place on Wednesday, November 18, at CPS headquarters at 42 West Madison Street. She said that sign-up to speak or observe will take place beginning Monday, November 9 at 8 a.m. and end at 5 p.m. on Friday, November 13 -- or "when all slots are filled."

Many in the audience laughed. For the October 28, 2015 Board of Education meeting, members of the public indicated all slots to speak at the board meeting were filled at 8:01 a.m. on Monday, October 19, and all slots to attend as an observer were filled by 8:03 a.m. The board allots 120 minutes for sixty speakers at two minutes apiece, but because the Board groups speakers on the same topic and because some people are no shows, public participation regularly ends before 120 minutes have passed. Board Secretary Beltran also presented the rules of participation. As would later become clear, critics of Board policies (especially the proposed charter expansion) would be cut off from speaking (if they had been able to sign up at all) while charter touts would receive extra time and at least one charter supporter who hadn't even signed up to speak was allowed to speak anyway!

Since no elected officials were present to speak, Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) Vice President Jesse Sharkey urged the Board to vote no on charter school expansion. He said funds were being devoted to charters while slashing funds for regular schools and pensions. He mentioned that charter schools receive extra funding from very wealthy individuals, such as Governor Rauner, Board President Frank Clark, and others. He spoke of the conflict of interest here and the mixing of duties of a public oversight board with politically connected interests. He also spoke of the consideration of indictments for such conflicts where they prove to be illegal, as has recently been the case with Chicago's public school leaders.

The first public participant to speak was Meghan Schmidt, of Chicago International Charter Schools (CISC), who supports this morning's recommendations and mentioned the good news about Nash. She affirmed her view that charter schools are public schools and that cooperation and collaboration help students to be high achievers.

Next, Lori Fink, from CICS Prairie in Roseland said there are four applications for every seat. The school has parents who were once students who are returning to enroll their children as students. She stated that charter schools are heroes in the community, not villains.

The next speaker from a Noble school said he has to commute 2 1/2 hours each day to get to his Noble school. He said students shouldn't have to travel hours each day to get to school. He added that low-level minorities do not have equal access to high quality schools.

Pam Witner, who identified herself as "a former teacher in Bucktown", said that she does not agree with her alderman on the charter school moratorium. She said Pulaski School parents are choosing other choices. She mentioned an inequitable distribution of what she calls "high quality schools". She asked the Board to approve the charter school proposals.

Jennifer Biggs, of Raise Your Hand (RYH) spoke against charter schools. Citing research by here group, she challenged the claims about "waiting lists" for charter schools. She said the five Noble "campuses" have vacant seats and asked why is there a need for more campuses, financed by public dollars. She stated that the BOE are fiscal stewards for the taxpayers of the city. She added that "children are being thrown to the wind for politics." She affirmed that a strong public school system is at the heart of a strong city. The microphone was removed before she finished her last few words.

Rashid Bell, of KIPP, supports the proposal for charter school expansion. He claimed that he was told he would not make it by his "fifth-grade teacher." He told the audience, ask me why I support KIPP. He said that KIPP supports students ten years after they leave the school. Fourteen supporters stood with him as he spoke.

Aundrea Robinson, a mother of two at a KIPP school, said her child did not do well at the (unnamed) neighborhood school and received all Fs. At Kipp the child started with a clean slate, now excels, and is going to Alabama State. Her child took violin classes in first grade and wants to play with the Chicago Symphony.

Linda Thisted, who identified herself as from "Women Gathering for Justice," spoke of unequal education in low-income neighborhoods. She said that those most likely to succeed at charters did so because non-performers were kicked out. Money was another

reason charters did well. She added that there is little accountability at charters. She said that the Board is outsourcing its core business.

Lucy Reece, of KIPP and Noble, said our children have been successful. Nine supporters stood with her. She sang the praises of charter schools and said she supports new charters.

Stephanie Basett, of CICS Prairie, said she came from Catholic schools herself, which she believes are like charter schools. She remarked that charter schools are like public schools, that there are no entrance requirements. She added, they say, "If it's not broken, don't fix it."... "Instead, I say, if it's working, don't try to stop it. Charter schools are public schools."

Gloria Munoz, of the Brighton Park community and a Noble alum who now teaches history at Noble, said that if the new Noble is approved, students would no longer face a lengthy commute and have high quality education options.

Jeannette Soto, of the southwest side Neighborhood Advisory Council (NAC), talked about conflicting directions and student selectivity at charters. She questioned how to get the track record of the charter school. She mentioned that there are five campuses that are still accepting students. She feels that in regard to community engagement, a large part of the community was left out. Then she was cut off.

Jelani McEwen spoke of protests outside the building. She said that Jones High School enrolled more students recently, Kenwood High School is turning students away, and three charters are all enrolling students. She added that today a vote on Obama Selective Enrollment (SE) High School will take place and that parents are asking for these schools.

Joshua Ivy spoke for charter parents when he said he believes in a high level of accountability for charter schools. He said, "Don't focus on politics, but on results." He also said, "If it works for kids, we should support it."

Patricia Brosnan of the Brighton Park neighborhood council spoke of the money going to Brighton Park schools and the students served at no cost to CPS. She remarked that we've been treated as outsiders and ignored. She stated that Noble School is not welcome. She added that with charter schools, regular schools lose enrollment and then

programs, which leads to less for CPS and more for charters. She concluded that public schools will be weaker. She asked the Board to vote no on charter school expansion.

Rakeesha Malone said she supports the Montessori program at Oglesby School. She mentioned that her son and daughter are excelling there, but that the program is not getting the help and recognition from the Board. She informed the Board, "My son will not have a second-grade teacher next year. What am I going to do?"

Nakia Terry, also of Oglesby Montessori for ten years now, said that parents toured Drummond and Suder yesterday and added that Drummond is well supported by CPS. She told the Board that we are coming and begging every month and I shouldn't have to be explaining Montessori schools to people who run it.

Andrew Broy, of Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS), spoke of the pending charter vote. He asked the Board to reject false objections between charter and regular schools. He asked the Board not to support all charter school applications, that some don't meet the standard, but he said, KIPP and Noble do. He added that the common complaint is that charters reduce resources for regular schools, but these are great schools that should be approved.

[img=8755]Karen Ratliff, of "New Life Academy" proposed to be in the Grand Crossing community, claimed that the community wants a new charter school, Edison Learning, to co-locate inside Hirsch High School. She also claimed that the alderman and the residents support this. Compared with the treatment of Jennifer Biggs of "Raise Your Hand," the treatment of charter school supporters came into sharp contrast at this point, as the Board simply allowed someone not even on the speakers' list to speak. Pastor John Hannah, who was not on the public participation list, claimed that Hirsch High School is "empty" and that Grand Crossing is a "dead zone." He added that he was a juvenile probation officer in the past and wants to help the community, which he claims can best be done by creating a new charter school in that part of town. He asked the Board to reconsider New Life Academy.

When Board Vice-President Ruiz spoke out to him, he did not seem to recognize where that voice was coming from all of a sudden, and remarked, "God, are you speaking?"

When he said he was looking for a partner "to dance with" in regard to the proposed New Life Academy, Board Member Dr. Hines told him he was looking in the wrong places, that she was the partner he needed "to dance with" regarding the school.

Mary Cooper, a grandparent of a child at CICS Wrightwood and Umani said her granddaughter was doing great and that the school had provided her with knowledge and skills. She spoke highly of the Wrightwood and said she supports the school and that Chicago parents deserve high quality schools.

Norma Garibay, a southwest side mother, said her son is on a wait list at Noble Charter Prep, two hours from their house. She said she wants a neighborhood school and southwest side students deserve Noble School.

Javier Medel, who said he is a life-long resident of the southwest side, wants Noble in the community. He stated that it is 11/2 hours to Noble now. He added that his son needs additional support and is doing exceptionally well now, after enrollment.

Carolina Vivera spoke in Spanish which was translated. Eleven supporters stood with her. She said she is a southwest side homeowner and the local school is overcrowded. She said her children are at a Noble School and that she advises other parents. She remarked that the community deserves a Noble School in the neighborhood and asked the Board to approve it. (Ample time was allowed for the translation of her words in Spanish.)

Angelina Martinez, also spoke in Spanish which was translated. She lives on the southwest side and has three children who attend Muchin College Prep. She said she supports the southwest Noble.

Jamal Cole, a Chatham resident, named the neighborhood options and said he is excited

about the options.

Maria Ordonez, of Shields School, said that the community does not want the southwest Noble School. She enumerated the ways CPS was failing to support the five pillars.

Eric Johnson, of Roscoe Village and Audubon School, said he wants choice for his children. He stated that he was in Humboldt Park several years ago and named various teacher wrongs. He left to find a better school option. He said that parents shouldn't have to move for high quality schools. He concluded that he doesn't agree with his alderman and the moratorium.

Michael Lathan, of the Brighton Park community, said he opposes the southwest Noble School. He stated that we don't need another high school, much less a charter school. He remarked that the children at Kelly High School are doing well and a charter would be too close to Kelly. He added that children don't want to go to charter schools.

Stephanie DeLeon, said she attended Kelly the last three years and is a senior now. She said that Kelly is amazing, but needs more resources. She stated that she is President of the Kelly Student Council and on the Student Local School Council (LSC). She remarked that we have enough schools, don't send resources to charter schools instead of Kelly. She added that it would be a huge step backwards if CPS continues to cut the budget.

Martin Ritter named donations by Noble to various entities plus other donations to charter schools. He was cut off.

Josh Radinsky said he grew up in the Austin community and is now a University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) professor and a parent. He said he was disturbed by the discussion one month ago by Markay Winston, the Chief Officer for the CPS Office of Diverse Learners Supporter Services (ODLSS) . He remarked that she left CPS in a hurry. He spoke of the inaccuracies and mistakes in her Special Ed report last month. He remarked that in other

situations, such inaccuracies and mistakes might lead to illegal actions. He feels it was poor judgment to talk of reduction of services and cut positions. He concluded that the process is broken.

Efran Raigoza said his daughter,Jennifer, wants to be a teacher. He supports Noble Schools and speaking as a business owner, said Noble will attract investment in the community. He asked the Board, "Don't deny this opportunity - approve it."

Chris Baehrend, a teacher at Chicago Acts Charter School, opposes charter school expansion and said such expansions are cannibalizing other charters. He said his school was established as an alternative school in 1974. He mentioned that online options are a problem and a privatization policy is being pursued by the Board. He asked the Board to say no to charter school expansion.

Gladys Lomeli, said she supports the Stars Charter School proposal. She cited many statistics and mentioned holistic education.

Diana Morquecho said she moved back to Chicago from Atlanta and didn't want her children to attend the school across from her home, which she attended, because of bad memories. She said that Rowe Elementary is now her children's school.

Vicky Enciso, a mother of four, supports Noble education. Thirteen supporters stood with her. She said she wants a southwest side Noble School. She stated that Noble is the #1 public charter school in the nation and she wants a Noble school at 47th and California.

Alejandro Sanchez, of Kelly High School in the Brighton Park community, said he does not support a new Noble School in the community. He stated that more resources and fewer cuts were needed at neighborhood schools. He added that students were motivating their own peers to take action against cuts. He remarked that Noble nearby would hinder programs. He wants the Board to oppose a southwest side Noble and said added that most who support Noble are not Brighton Park residents.

Oscar Cazalez, claimed he was of Kelly High School, but said that he supports Noble School. He said that parents should have that option. He said that he himself went to Noble Bulls.

Juanita Ariola, said that she is the proud parent of charter school students and wants a southwest side Noble School. She said that the moratorium takes away choice today and that charters are "darned if they do and darned if they don't."

At 12:49 p.m., public participation ended.

Board member Dr, Hines said she would like more information about Oglesby Montessori School. Chief Education Officer Jackson said all Montessori schools will be visited. She added that Liz Kirby has met with parents and will prepare a memo for the Board.

Board Vice-President Ruiz mentioned that the CPS website is available is Spanish and asked about conflicts for voting. Jose Alfonso de Hoyos-Acosta, who has become the new Chief Administrative Officer, answered. At CEO Claypool's request, said conflicts of interest must be disclosed.

After remarks by other Board members, Board President Clark said that he would recuse himself on the vote to add a campus to the "Noble Network of Charter Schools". As many have noted, Clark has been a long time supporter of Noble and has one of the "campuses" (Rowe - Clark) named after him and another Exelon executive. The Board then went into closed session.


November 19, 2015 at 12:14 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

CPS' stone-age countdown of speaker minutes

I'm sure this has been discussed before, but I just have to call out the BOE for their remarkably irrational way of counting down the two minutes for each speaker. The clock starts at 2:00 signifying the two minutes for the speaker. It immediately changes to 1:59 indicating a minute and 59 seconds left for the speaker. As the seconds count down, the 1:00 indicating a minute left suddenly changes to 59 indicating 59 seconds left and counting down. At 8 seconds, the secretary calls out time and the speaker is hustled off having been cheated of some of his/her time, even though because of the way the speakers are bundled together by topic, the full time for speakers is rarely used up. And once this clock hits zero, it rapidly starts building up again, going upward in seconds. Who devised this ridiculous time piece? Coundn't they have just shown 120 seconds and counted downward from there? But this is yet another--though small example of a design created by an agency who shows their incompetence at every turn.

November 19, 2015 at 12:17 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

thank you, Marybeth

In my previous comment, I didn't have room to thank Marybeth Foley for another very complete report of the Board's goings on. Thanks, Marybeth.

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