Schools Out for Summer


July 7, 2021 at 6:28 AM

By: whitfield

ODE TO OUR HEMESPHERE, by Chicago Poet Jerry Pendergast



Land of the rising sun

Land of the setting sun

Fu sang

Fu sang

Beautiful land

on a plateau

Did you Island hop

Cross the land bridge?

Did you come in leather boats?

to Iargalon?

Land beyond the sea

Other voices shout

Turtle Island

Turtle Island!

Abya Yala

Abya Yala!

Did you row and sail

The North or South Equatorial?

Follow the Warm Kamchanka?

to the land of the serpent bird, the bison herd

the deer, the caribu, the moose?

Land where the horse left and returned.


Have you

heard that the flesh,

the hides, bones, blood

of four leggeds

became food, shelter,

clothing, Instruments,

centuries before sustainable

became a fashionable term

Heard of tourists

Stepping off trains

shooting high powered rifles

Bison corpses rotting on the plains.


Land of wild grasses

Seeds, stalks

Scattered, planted

Became amaranth, maize.

Land of the jumping Salmon

Land of the pike, the Bass, the Trout

Land of garden tomatoes

Land of the Altiplano

Birthplace of potatoes.

Land of the Midnight Sun,

and long dark days

Land of equal darkness and Sunlight

Land where the hurricanes

rush the shore.

Sweep further inland

from cutting of trees

and loss of wetlands.

Land where tornadoes, cyclones

cut through the plains

Land of treaties

broken for oil, for gold.

Land where African mariners

brought Gosypium seeds

that married native.

Where African slaves

Picked the cotton without pay.

Land where the toucan bird

colors the trees and sky

Land where the Eagle soars

Land where the Vulture pounces

Are your eyes and ears open

to the songs, the calls

the soaring, gliding and landing

of the birds

whose ancestors flew over the hemisphere

when ancient seeds were scattered, planted?

When languages migrated within the continent?

When languages landed by sea?

July 14, 2021 at 4:37 PM

By: John Whitfield

Principal Charged

Former CPS Principal Hit with Federal Charges

Jason Meisner

and Tracy Swartz,

Chicago Tribune

A former Chicago Public Schools elementary school principal has been arrested on federal charges alleging a 7-year scheme to have employees file for overtime they didn’t work and kick back at least $200,000 to her.

Sarah Jackson Abedelal, 57, of Chicago, was arrested Wednesday and was arraigned in U.S. District Court on an indictment charging her with 10 counts of wire fraud. Abedelal made her court appearance via a telephone link and pleaded not guilty through her attorney, Steven Decker.

Abedelal was the principal of Brennemann Elementary School in the Buena Park neighborhood for about 12 years until 2019, when the CPS inspector general began investigating the alleged scheme.

According to the 18-page indictment, Abedelal and several administrative underlings at Brennemann, including the assistant principal, a clerk and a business manager, ran the scheme over a 7-year period beginning in 2012. None of the other administrators has been criminally charged, and they are not identified by name in the indictment.

Abedelal told employees that she would sign off on overtime that they never worked, and that the extra money they received would be used to pay legitimate school expenses incurred by the school, when she was actually using it for her own purposes, according to the charges.

Abedelal had the employees withdraw the unearned overtime in cash on the day their paychecks were deposited. She’d then meet with them individually in her office or classrooms to collect the cash, the indictment alleged.

To conceal the scheme, Abedelal allegedly used the cash to buy money orders at a currency exchange, which she then used to pay personal expenses, including the mortgage on her home, the indictment stated.

As part of the charges, prosecutors are seeking forfeiture of Abdelal’s four-bedroom home in the 6500 block of South Woodlawn Avenue, in the Woodlawn neighborhood, court records show.

Each count of wire fraud carries up to 20 years in prison if she is convicted.

CPS had no immediate comment Wednesday.

Brennemann, in the 4200 block of North Clarendon Avenue, serves just over 400 kindergarten through eighth grade students. The school’s motto is, “Where high standards and excellence are the expectations,” according to its website.

In 2017, Abedelal was picked for CPS’ Independent Schools Principal program, which allows “high-performing principals” to run their schools with less oversight from the central office and rewards them with additional independence to lead their schools.

At least 90 principals have been selected for the program, which launched in 2015 under former Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The charges against Abedelal marked yet another black eye for CPS, one of the nation’s largest school districts, which has been beset for years by mismanagement, and budget and labor woes.

Last year, a former top aide to district CEO Janice Jackson pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to the FBI about whether he passed secret bid information about a massive $1 billion custodial contract to an operative working for one of the bidders.

Pedro Soto, 45, who resigned as Jackson’s chief of staff before he was charged in August, is cooperating with investigators as he awaits sentencing.

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