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RAHMWATCH: The latest from Dunbar 'Career Academy' High School!... After decades of sabotaging and privatizing vocational eduction -- now called 'CTE' -- Chicago's mayor lies in claiming he is inventing construction trades voc ed at the South Side school that once pioneered it!...

The current Dunbar High School at 3000 S. King Drive in Chicago is called a "career academy." The name change, from "Dunbar Vocational High School," was done since the beginning of corporate "school reform" in Chicago. Corporate "reform" -- and mayoral control -- destroyed most of the school's vocational training programs during the early and mid-1990s, leaving the "shops wing" on the south side of the school vacant in most of its once legendary rooms, and ignoring the famous "Chicago Bungalow" that Dunbar construction trades students built and rebuilt for years until the programs were destroyed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his then schools "Chief Executive Officer" Paul G. Vallas. With the usual collaboration of U.S.Representative Bobby Rush and the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel engaged in one of the larger historical falsifications of his career, announcing on April 25, 2016, that the mayor and Chicago Public Schools are "pioneering" a construction trades program at Chicago's Dunbar "Vocational Career Academy" High School.

The only trouble with the main claim made by Rahm Emanuel is that Dunbar Vocational High School had been pioneering building trades and other vocational training on the South Side for years before Emanuel was even born. Furthermore, Dunbar had continued with one of the nation's foremost programs in building trades until the program was sabotaged during the early years of mayoral control and corporate "school reform" under then Mayor Richard M. Daley and then-schools "Chief Executive Officer" Paul G. Vallas.

The current Dunbar High School at 3000 S. King Drive in Chicago is called a "vocational career academy." The name change, from "Dunbar Vocational High School," was done since the beginning of corporate "school reform" in Chicago. Corporate "reform" -- and mayoral control -- destroyed most of the school's vocational training programs during the early and mid-1990s. The destruction, under the guise of promoting a thing called "Career Technical Education" (CTE), left the "shops wing" on the south side of the school vacant in most of its once legendary shop rooms.

The changes also ignored the famous "Chicago Bungalow" that Dunbar construction trades students built and rebuilt for years within the confines of the school itself. Such construction programs, and other vocational programs including one of the few aircraft repair and maintenance shops in any public school in the USA, were destroyed by former Mayor Richard M. Daley and his then schools "Chief Executive Officer" Paul G. Vallas. The destruction continued under Daley's successor, Rahm Emanuel (who took office in May 2011), and under Vallas's several successors, beginning with Arne Duncan (who went on to become U.S. Secretary of Education).

Although Dunbar was not the only Chicago school whose shop programs were gutted by corporate school reform during the past 30 years, it was one of the most dramatic because of its centrality to Chicago's South Side, the "Bronzeville" community. For years, Dunbar, along with Lindblom Technical High School, provided the greatest amount of vocational training to African American students who wanted to learn the trades. During those same years, many (not all) of the construction trades unions barred black people from their ranks.

But the destruction of Chicago's shops and "vocational education" were part of the overall plan to privatize shop training in Chicago (while, ironically, such programs were being expanded for Chicago's more affluent suburban neighbors). As the shops at schools like Lane Technical High School were closed, students were forced to take courses and enroll at private institutions like DeVry.

Between a press release which repeated the historical falsifications from Rahm Emanuel and a Sun-Times article which generally followed that press release, the official story is now that Chicago's mayor is "investing" in training programs to help Chicago's minority children learn skills that will enable them to enter into jobs.

The mayor's press release follows:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. April 25, 2016. CONTACT: Mayor’s Press Office, 312.744.3334

press@cityofchicago.org

MAYOR EMANUEL AND CPS ANNOUNCE DUNBAR HIGH SCHOOL TO ESTABLISH CITY’S FIRST COMPREHENSIVE TRADES PROGRAM.... Construction Trades Campus at Dunbar to Revitalize Trade Programming and Prepare Students for Careers in Construction Industries

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), the Chicago Building Trades and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) announced Dunbar Career Academy High School will establish a comprehensive citywide construction trades program in the 2016-17 school year. Due to increasing demand by employers for the skilled trades, the “Construction Trades Campus at Dunbar” is designed to create a model school focused on teaching students skills in the following industries: general construction; carpentry; heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC); welding; and electricity.

These investments will provide Chicago’s students greater choice in career paths and training that will set them on a path to the middle class.

“An investment in education is an investment in our future, and the new specialized trades school will teach our students competitive skills that are in high demand by businesses across the city and throughout the country,” said Mayor Emanuel. “I want to thank the Chicago Building Trades and Congressman Bobby Rush, who were instrumental in bringing these programs to Chicago’s students. By infusing our schools with strong partnerships like these, we can improve access to the middle class for our students, while signaling to employers the strength of our future workforce.”

Dunbar will expand its current career and technical education offerings to serve as a citywide hub for students to gain entry into the construction trades. The Construction Trades Campus at Dunbar will offer an intensive two-year option for students from schools throughout the city to attend daily classes that will provide them access to the construction trade industry and the requisite skills to pursue paths such as apprenticeships, post-secondary education, certification programs, or a living-wage job.

Mayor Emanuel and CPS worked closely with the Local School Council, community, Chicago Building Trades and Rep. Bobby Rush for several months to make the plan to create the new trade school a reality. The expansion returns Dunbar to its roots, which had a construction trade focus when it first opened in 1942.

“My commitment to Dunbar has been lifelong because I live in this neighborhood and I want to see the youth succeed. Dunbar high school students will now have an opportunity to gain the necessary skills to build a career in the trades and sustain a living,” said Rep. Rush. “This endeavor will serve as a model that highlights the impact of public-private partnership in shaping the lives of young people by offering them an alternative to what’s currently before them.”

In collaboration with experts in the trades, CPS will launch a new custom-made curriculum this fall to ensure that student learning aligns with industry demands and to prepare students for jobs that exist today. In the first year, the program will serve up to 120 students through a dual-cohort model, which will serve both Dunbar students and applicants from surrounding CPS high schools through a citywide application, with preference for students in the community.

“CPS is committed to strengthening our high schools citywide with programming that will prepare our students for the careers of the future, and we've been fortunate to work closely with Congressman Rush and the school community to make that vision a reality at Dunbar,” said CPS Chief Education Officer Dr. Janice K. Jackson. “We look forward to continuing to work with teachers, the community, and representatives from the trades as we infuse Dunbar—which has a history of educating students with construction skills—with new curriculum that will prepare students for the 21st century workforce.”

Students who complete the two-year cycle will develop foundational skills in a chosen pathway, authentic workplace experience, a portfolio of work in a specific field and an understanding of specific union application processes, while utilizing applied math and establishing a post-secondary plan.

To ensure students are exposed to modern professional practices, CPS is partnering with McCormick Place, construction firms and trade unions including the Regional Council of Carpenters, IBEW Local 134, IUOE Local 150, Laborers’ District Council, and Pipefitters’ Local 597, which will help guarantee the program is a relevant, useful introduction to the skilled trades. Additionally, Peoples Gas has committed to hosting students for a training program at their new training facility.

“The Chicago Building Trades are glad to continue working with Mayor Emanuel and CPS on encouraging more children from Chicago to get interested in the construction trades,” said Ralph Affrunti, President of the Chicago Building Trades.

"Training and apprenticeship programs are at the core of the Labor movement in the United States and here in Chicago," Jorge Ramirez, President of the Chicago Federation of Labor. "This new program at Dunbar High School will create a pipeline to the middle class for hundreds of CPS students who would not have been exposed to these careers otherwise. Individuals who complete this program will gain life-changing skills that will lead to greater opportunities after graduation, including access to stable, middle class jobs. It is a win-win for our students, our employers and our communities.‎"

CPS will work with Dunbar Principal Gerald Morrow and the school community to hire 15 interns to assist Dunbar as the school prepares to launch the new programming this fall. “This program is about the future of our children – it’s about getting an early start on the good jobs that are growing in our city, and making sure that our children have the same access to those jobs as the children in other neighborhoods,” said Principal Morrow.

Today’s announcement builds on a long list of investments by Mayor Emanuel to strengthen city high schools with curriculum, programs and opportunities that prepare students for the demands of 21st century college and career. Since taking office, the Mayor reformed city hiring processes to ensure that CPS graduates are allotted hiring preference for city jobs, and has created thousands of opportunities for Chicago’s students to harness jobs in construction industry, which continues to be one of the fastest growing sectors of the local economy.

CPS is now accepting applications for the construction programming at Dunbar for the upcoming school year. To learn more about construction trades pathways and to apply, please visit ChicagoBuilds.org

Ignored by most of the city's corporate media, the strange claims in the mayor's announcement became a "news" story in the Chicago Sun-Times. The Chicago Sun-Times article pushed mayor's version of reality in the face of a history the Sun-Times once knew (or should have known) in a lengthy story both in print and on line.

Dunbar H.S. to prepare students for jobs in construction trades, By Fran Spielman, Chicago Sun-Times... CHICAGO 04/25/2016, 11:21am...

Dunbar Vocational High School will return to its World War II roots — by preparing students for lucrative jobs in the construction trades that provide an alternative to gangs — under a mayoral plan unveiled Monday.

“If you graduate from high school and you have a tomorrow you’re thinking about, you’re not going to do something stupid today. If you’re in a gang, a lot of these kids don’t think they’re going to live to 24. A skill, an education, a training, gives you a tomorrow to live for,” Emanuel told a news conference at Dunbar, 3000 S. Martin Luther King Drive.

“The biggest piece of confronting violence is providing people opportunity and hope and having the trades in the schools will allow you to do that. . . . It’s not just the trades. If you want to run your own plumbing business. If you want to run your own home business in the sense of fix-up, you’ll have the skill set here to do that.”

Starting this fall, the vocational high school with a student body of 658 thats 97 percent African-American will be known as the “Construction Trades Campus at Dunbar.”

The “new school model” will serve as a “citywide hub” to prepare students for careers in building trades once closed to minorities: general construction, carpentry, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, welding and electricity.

Developed with building trades experts, Dunbar’s curriculum will be “custom-made” to align student learning with industry demands.

The first-year program will serve up to 120 students with a “dual cohort model” tailor-made to serve current Dunbar students and applicants from across the city. The citywide application will give “preference” to students in the surrounding community, officials said, without explaining the cost or how the nearly bankrupt Chicago Public Schools would finance the program.

A partnership with McCormick Place construction firms and trade unions — including the Regional Council of Carpenters, IBEW Local 134, the Laborers’ District Council and Pipefitters Local 597 — will ensure that students are “exposed to professional practices,” officials said.

“The Construction Trades Campus at Dunbar will offer an intensive, two-year option for students from schools throughout the city to attend daily classes that will provide them access to the construction trade industry and the requisite skills to pursue paths such as apprenticeships, post-secondary education, certification programs or a living-wage job,” according to a press release issued by the mayor’s office.

Emanuel was joined by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., in making the announcement at Dunbar. Rush endorsed Emanuel for re-election last year. Emanuel returned the favor, endorsing Rush over Ald. Howard Brookins (21st) in the March 15 Democratic primary.

“It was a dark day in our city . . . when the labor unions decided to move out of Chicago — out of Washburne Trade School — and move into the suburbs. And since that time, we’ve seen some of the results in our neighborhoods even today. That resulted, in part, from the fact that trades were no longer in Chicago,” Rush said.

Rush noted that Dunbar High School stands at the center of a building boom that includes a new DePaul basketball arena, the Obama presidential library and possible construction of the Lucas Museum on a site that now includes Lakeside Center along with a McCormick Place expansion to replace that demolished convention space.

“You have this high school in the midst of all this where students are preparing for their future and how that future would have in it so much hope if they have the requisite skills in the trades that will give them a better opportunity for employment,” Rush said.

“The other part of it will be the creation of small businesses,” he said. “We don’t want every graduate of this program to just be an employee. We can see plumbing businesses coming out of this program and carpentry businesses and welding businesses. The list is endless.”

Dunbar focused on the construction trades when it opened during World War II. It currently offers an array of career and technical education offerings.

Dunbar Vocational High School has a history of educating students for hands-on careers; this is an automotive mechanics class in 1968. | Sun-Times file photo

Dunbar Vocational High School has a history of educating students for hands-on careers. This is an automotive mechanics class in 1968. | Sun-Times file photo

The plan to return the high school “to its roots” is the product of months of negotiations between the Chicago Public Schools, the local school council, community leaders and building trade unions. Chief Education Officer Janice Jackson did not explain how the nearly bankrupt Chicago Public Schools would pay for the expansion.

In 2004, four city buildings inspectors — including the 19- and 23-year-old sons of Carpenters Union officials — resigned after being accused of falsifying their resumes.

The embarrassing incident did not sit well with minority aldermen and fueled talk of an “old boy’s network” that was keeping minorities out of the building trades — and apprenticeship programs out of Chicago.

The following year, a Builders Association of Chicago that once filed a federal lawsuit in a failed attempt to overturn the city’s landmark minority set-aside program did an abrupt about-face on the issue of minority hiring.

The group that represents large commercial construction companies forged a partnership with Dawson Technical Institute and three community organizations to place more minority apprentices in historically white building trades unions.

Specifically, the Builders Association agreed to hire up to 50 candidates a year from Dawson Tech and provide additional employment opportunities for candidates who complete community training programs, ultimately sponsoring all of them into trade union apprenticeships.

In addition, the Builders Association agreed to contribute $25,000 toward tools and transportation for minority apprentices.

For an organization that fought City Hall tooth and nail on the very same issue, it was a precedent-setting turnaround. So was a companion ordinance pushed through the City Council at that time that gives city contractors credits toward the company’s next bid on a city project in exchange for sponsoring Dawson graduates for apprenticeships.

On Monday, Emanuel was asked about a past for Chicago trade unions filled with nepotism, cronyism and racism.

“It’s a fair question to ask about the past. I can’t thank them enough for being part of building a different future,” the mayor said of the trade union leaders standing beside him.

During Emanuel’s 2015 re-election campaign, mayoral challenger Willie Wilson lashed out at Emanuel for accepting the endorsement of 15 trade unions with an “abysmal lack of diversity” in their ranks and a sorry history of “cronyism, racism and nepotism.”



Comments:

April 28, 2016 at 10:12 AM

By: Bob Busch

Voc and Tech high schools and their fine work

Simeon, Dunbar, Chicago Vocational (CVS), Cregier and Prosser were vocational schools. Lane, Lindblom and (for a time) Tilden were Tech schools. All were selective enrollment, but the Techs were much more selective. The difference was that a Vocational school was suppose to prepare a kid to get a job, and/or apprenticeship, while a Tech school got you ready for higher education -- like IIT, Cal Tech, or MIT. Another difference was that in a true Voc school, the “trade shops” were taught by journeyman or master tradesmen. Almost all the Black trade teachers at Simeon were Dunbar graduates. Those guys were an amazing group. One, a Tilden grad, piled up graphite blocks and was present when the first Atomic pile went live. Another built Tucker cars. Others built torpedoes for uncle Sam. Listening to the school Engineer, a submarine crewman and hearing him talk torpedoes was an education in itself. (Most Americans today don’t remember how difficult it was to perfect the torpedoes that finally helped win World War II. Most American torpedoes at the beginning of the war didn’t work as hoped and had to be redesigned!).

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