Board Sabotage of Julian High School Continues

A significant turnout is expected on Thursday evening, April 23, when the Julian High School Local School Council meets to its first public meeting since Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ron Huberman abruptly removed the principal late in the afternoon of April 3, the day Spring Vacation began for the school system.

Although the Julian High School Local School Council has been abruptly called into meetings by officials of the Chicago Public Schools since the April 3 action, the April 23 LSC meeting is expected to draw a larger number of people, as more questions come out of the Julian purge than answers.

Chicago's Percy Julian High School has been undermined for the past several years by CPS policies. Recently, a rumor began spreading at the school that CEO Ron Huberman was planning to cut between 10 and 20 teaching positions this Spring, even though the school expect enrollment to increase significantly in the 2009-2010 school year. The destabilization of Julian High School by former CEO Arne Duncan was one of the main reasons why most of the people at Julian considered Duncan's tears over the murder of Julian students hypocritical. Those who have watched the school's staffing policies closely describe what Duncan did as "sabotage." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Among the many mysteries generated by the removal of the former principal is a question about the staffing for the 2009-2010 school year. Most teachers and staff at Julian have concluded that the CPS administration has been sabotaging the school for the past three years by shorting staff in August and September, forcing the school to justify its staffing as late as md-October, and then blaming the schools for the problems -- both academic and disciplinary -- that arise once the sabotage has taken effect. For the last three years, the administration of former CEO Arne Duncan has ensured that Julian begins every school year with instability, specifically fewer teachers than the school needs for all of its programs and its students.

This instability, which the majority of members of the Julian community have been referring to as "sabotage" by the Duncan administration, appears poised to continue under Duncan's successor, Ron Huberman. Informed sources at the school have told Substance that the Huberman administration is planning to reduce teachers -- for the fourth year in a row -- once summer has begun, then force the school to over overcrowded classes and partly filled programs during the crucial opening weeks of the 2009-2010 school year. This pattern, which was begun under Huberman's predecessor, Arne Duncan (now U.S. Secretary of Education) has destabilized the school.

The plans by Huberman to cut between 10 and 20 teachers before the beginning of the next school year stands as a rumor while Julian is posed to holt a tragic anniversary, one which is bound to draw as much media attention as the removal of the principal. On May 10, Julian will commemorate the date of the murder of Julian student Blair Holt, who was gunned down on a 103rd St. bus on his way home from school on May 10, 2007.

While the "Body Count" of Chicago Public Schools students murdered this school year continues to grow, none of those creating media events around the growing number of gang-related teenage deaths looks behind the stories to how the remaining public schools in Chicago are being sabotaged by the city administration. The sabotage not only consists in short staffing at the beginning of each school year, but also the constant denigration of general high school teachers at schools like Julian, where "low" test scores are created by the centralized destabilization.

Julian parents and teachers expect the school's problems to increase next school year, thanks to a February decision by the Chicago Board of Education to "reconstitute" nearby Fenger High School. The effective closing of Fenger will dump another large group of low-scoring and sometimes dangerous students on to Julian and other general high schools. Despite the fact that CPS claims that the reconstitution process (which has been proved wrong in every valid study since the process was first used in Chicago and other cities in the mid-1990s) retains the "same" students at reconstituted high schools, at every school that has been reconstituted in the past three years, the management organizations taking over the schools have dumped the most difficult students. This combines with the same dumping by the charter schools, which select their students by a combination of massive paperwork and a "lottery." Last year, Harper High School and Orr High School were reconstituted in a process called (in Chicago) "turnaround." At both schools hundreds of students, the most difficult, were screened out before the school year began. Those who remained in high school at all were then "dumped" on nearby general high schools, like Julian. The Board of Education then, in turn, scapegoats the general high schools for their "failure" as measured by low test scores and other problems (including gang problems). 


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