The New York Times Wants to Fire Most of America's Black Teachers!... Duncan's selection of 'failing' schools led to 42 all-black segregated Chicago schools just before he left town

Readers of The New York Times woke up again on the morning of June 22, 2009, to find that the Times was featuring another major story about Arne Duncan. Since Duncan's first appearances in America's Newspaper of Record in December 2008, not a month has passed without The Times providing Duncan with another forum for his slanted views on how the public schools of the United States of America should be, in his words, "reformed."

Above, some of those attending the February 10, 2009, hearing to speak out against the proposal of the Chief Executive Officer of Chicago's public schools to "turnaround" Chicago's Fenger High School. "Turnaround" in Chicago has meant firing the entire staff of a school. The teachers and other staff at all of the schools proposed for "turnaround" in 2008 and 2009 by Arne Duncan were majority African American. The students at those schools were all African American. No mention has been made in the mainstream corporate media in Chicago or in The New York Times about the fact that "turnaround" in Chicago has meant firing Black teachers who continued to teach in some of the most tragic communities and schools in the USA -- all completely segregated and Black -- until the white people currently running Chicago's schools (and now the U.S. Department of Education) declared those schools "failures." Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.So even though the June 22, 2009, article (by reporter Sam Dillon, who did a hagiographic Page One piece about Chicago's so-called "Turnaround" program earlier in June) was about the problems Duncan is facing with charter schools (most of them do not outperform regular public schools; many are simply terrible, according to a recent Stanford University study), Dillon (and The Times) once again gets in the fact that Arne Duncan has told the USA that one of the objectives of the "reform" of public education under President Barack Obama is the elimination of 5,000 "failing" public schools. In the June 22 piece, The Times allows Duncan to elaborate on what Chicagoans who know Duncan best are calling "Arne's Fantasy 5,000".

According to Duncan, the 5,000 "worst" schools in the USA are turnarounded (in Chicago, that's been a verb for the past couple of years), and 5,000 new principals are brought in to save the day.

Shifting criteria and dishonest data precision

Above, On Febuary 11, 2009, the Chicago Board of Education's "Chief Officer for Research, Evaluation and Accountability", Ginger Reynolds (left, looking up) testified against the teachers of Fenger High School at the hearing with helped result in Fenger being subjected to "turnaround." Reynolds presented that case against the Fenger teachers and principal without reference to the context of the social, racial and economic turmoil facing the majority of children attending the school. She had previously distilled the Board's case against the Fenger teachers into four "criteria." Each of the criteria was then presented on a Power Point chart. Reynolds, a public policy major, has continued a tradition under Mayor Richard M. Daley within which the Chicago Board of Education's chiefs of "research" are not published researchers who have subjected their work to peer review. Most have not even bothered to be members of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), which is the premier group in the world for educational researchers and professors. The criteria used against Fenger High School in 2009 were different from the criteria used against Harper and Orr high schools in 2008, so the school was also deprived of the ability to plan to solve the problems based on the previous year's criteria. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.One of the things that has surprised even the most jaded critics of Chicago's schools' administration during the past 15 years has been the inconsistency with which "turnaround" and other attacks on schools is based.

Substance published the following article in February 2009, and it's time to reprint it here:

Officials of the Chicago Public Schools have quietly made public a list of 42 elementary schools that they say could have been targeted for so-called "turnaround" this school year. In addition, Substance has learned that the majority of the remaining general high schools in Chicago (schools that serve the general populations, anybody who walks in the door and lives in the community) also meet most of the "criteria" for "turnaround."

Under CPS guidelines, "turnaround" is actually the process known to the rest of the nation as "reconstitution." Under "reconstitution" the entire staff of a supposedly "failing" school is fired, and a new staff, supposedly trained in better teaching methods, is brought in to replace those who have "failed."

What has not been noted in the carefully scripted hearings aimed at condemning the teachers and other staff at the schools on trial this year for failure is that two federal laws governing how schools and children are supposed to be treated are being carefully ignored as Chicago goes through its annual ritual of reconstitutions. The laws? The first are federal desegregation laws that go back to the famous 1954 case in Brown v. Board of Education. The second are federal laws and court decisions governing the treatment of students with disabilities. In Chicago, both are governed by federal consent decrees, both of which are still being monitored by federal judges. The desegregation consent decree governing Chicago was put into place in 1980 after Chicago mayors tried for more than 20 years to claim the city hadn't segregated itself or its public schools. The special education consent decree, under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been in place since the mid-1990s under the "Corey H" decision. The federal desegregation consent decree is currently being monitored by U.S. District Judge Charles Kocoras. The Corey H consent decree is being overseen by U.S. District Judge Charles Gettleman. Despite the long list of legal precedents cited by CPS officials at each of the hearings calling for the reconstitution of the schools, neither federal law or consent decree is noted, either by CPS officials or the hearing officers who are hearing the cases. In the view of many observers, this is not an accident. Instead of being examples of the failures of the teachers, parents, principals and students at the schools targeted this year for reconstitution, the schools -- and dozens of others -- are examples of the fact that Chicago remains the nation's most viciously segregated city.

Also, Chicago has systematically deprived children with disabilities of their right to public education in the least restrictive environment. As long as CPS officials and their hearings officers are allowed to ignore federal law, the current reality will continue. The list of elementary schools that have "failed" according to this year's CPS criteria includes two schools -- the so-called "Sherman School of Excellence" and the so-called "Harvard School of Excellence" -- that are currently managed by the "Academy for Urban School Leadership" (AUSL). AUSL is currently slated to receive more schools for "turnaround" after hearings that are taking place this month and a vote by the Chicago Board of Education on February 25. The full article will be available in the print issue of Substance.

Forty-two elementary schools could have faced 'turnaround'. Five do.

This school year, five Chicago public elementary schools have been targeted for reconstitution (which in Chicago is termed 'turnaround' using the corporate jargon currently in vogue. All five of those schools meet what CPS officials call the 'turnaround criteria' based on low test scores.

But the five schools -- and the remaining 37 schools on the list that CPS officials say could have been targeted for 'turnaround' -- meet another criteria as well.

All of them are located in the heart of Chicago's ruthlessly segregated ghettos.

All of the students at the majority of the schools are African American. The vast majority of those students have been living in heart breaking poverty since long before the current economic crisis hit the middle classes and the wealthy.

And the majority of the teachers who teach in those schools are viewed in the community as sources of stability and continuity that does not exist in most other parts of the lives of these children, all of whom are victims of the most segregated city in the United States of America -- Chicago.

Thirty years ago, the existence of these schools -- and their problems scoring well on so-called 'standardized' tests -- would have been utilized as evidence that Chicago segregates its public schools in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. That decision ruled that racial segregation in public schools was inherently unequal.

But in 2009 in Chicago, the problems faced by these same schools are considered -- in the eyes of those who run CPS -- as proof that the teachers and other staff at the schools should be fired and replaced with teachers who are supposedly experts in new methods of teaching and can, in the jargon of corporate Chicago, 'turnaround' the schools.

Forty-two of Chicago's most segregated elementary schools listed as being 'turnaround' candidates. Black teachers and staff face firing for teaching the children of the poor in the largest ghettos in the USA

The following is the list of the 42 Chicago elementary schools that could have been subjected to reconstitution this school year under the three criteria outlined by the Chicago Board of Education's Chief Executive Officer during the early February hearings on the proposed reconstitution (known locally as 'turnaround') of Bethune, Dulles, Holmes, Johnson and Yale elementary schools. All of the schools are located in the heart of the city's vast south side and west side segregated black ghettos or on the border with a nearby Latino barrio.

The list below includes each school's name, followed by the address (in parenthesis), followed by the total number of students attending the school this school year, followed by the percentage of students who are African-American.

Segregated African American Elementary Schools which could have faced reconstitution at the end of the 2008-2009 school year based on the Chicago Board of Education's three "turnaround" criteria


1. Bass (1140 W. 66th St. 60621); 508 total students; 99.8 percent African American students.

2. Bethune (3030 W. Arthington 60612); 353 total students; 99.4 percent African American.

3. Bontemps (1241 W. 58th St. 60636); 393 total students; 98.7 percent African-American.

4. Bradwell (7736 S. Burnham 60649); 770 students; 99.9 percent African American.

5. Brunson (932 N. Central Ave. 60651); 806 students; 96.4 percent African American. 6. Copernicus (6010 S. Throop 60636); 346 students; 99.4 percent African American

7. Curtis (32 E. 115th St. 60628); 470 students; 97.7 percent African American

8. Doolittle (535 E. 35th St. 60616); 431 students; 99.1 percent African American.

9. Dulles (6311 S. Calumet 60637); 429 students; 99.8 percent African American.

10. Dumas (6650 S. Ellis 60637); 382 students; 99 percent African American.

11. Earle (6121 S. Hermitage 60636); 394 students; 100 percent African American.

12. Fermi (1415 E. 70th St. 60637); 239 students; 98.7 percent African American

13. Fuller (4214 S. St. Lawrence 60653); 283 students; 99.6 percent African American

14. Fulton (5300 S. Hermitage 60609); 654 students; 82.3 percent African American; 17.5 percent Hispanic American.

15. Harvard (7252 S. Harvard 60620); 519 students; 98.7 percent African American

16. Henderson (5650 S. Wolcott 60636); 461 students; 98.7 percent African American.

17. Hinton 644 W. 71st St. 60621 421 99 percent African-American.

18. Holmes (955 W. Garfield Blvd. 60621); 462 students; 99.6 99 percent African-American.

19. Howe (720 N. Lorel 60644); 540 students; 99.4 99 percent African-American.

20. Johnson (1420 S. Albany 60623) 281 students; 99.3 99 percent African-American.

21. Kershaw (6450 S. Lowe 60621); 273 students; 98.9 99 percent African-American.

22. Key (517 N. Parkside 60644); 389 students; 98.5 99 percent African-American.

23. Lathrop (1440 S. Christiana 60623); 322 99.1 99 percent African-American.

24. Lavizzo (138 W. 109th St. 60628); 506 students; 98.6 99 percent African-American.

25. Lewis (1431 N. Leamington 60651); 813 students; 86.1 99 percent African-American; 13.5 percent Latino (110 students who are minorities but are not black).

26. Libby (5300 S. Loomis 60609); 569 students; 92.8 99 percent African-American; 7.2 percent students who are Latino (41 students who are minorities but not black). 27. May (512 S. Lavergne 60644); 588 students; 98.8 99 percent African-American.

28. McKay (6901 S. Fairfield 60629); 1,052 students; 89 99 percent African-American; 11.1 percent Latino (116 students who are minorities but not black). 29. Medill (1301 W. 14th St. 60608); 147 students; 100 99 percent African-American.

30. Morton (431 N. Troy 60612); 284 students; 94.7 99 percent African-American.

31. Nash (4837 W. Erie 60644); 584 students; 99.1 99 percent African-American.

[img=288]32. O'Keefe (6940 S. Merrill 60649); 675 students; 100 99 percent African-American. 33. Park Manor (7037 S. Rhodes 60637); 378 students; 99.7 99 percent African-American.

34. Parkman (245 W. 51st St. 60609); 156 students; 87.8 99 percent African-American; 11.5 percent other minorities (18 students this school year). 35. Reed (6350 S. Stewart 60621); 297 students; 100 99 percent African-American.

36. Ross (6059 S. Wabash 60637); 411 students; 100 99 percent African-American.

37. Schiller (640 W. Scott 60610); 190 students; 99.5 99 percent African-American.

38. Sherman (1000 W. 52nd St. 60609); 584 students; 99.1 99 percent African-American.

39. Smyth (1059 W. 13th St, 60608); 592 students; 98 99 percent African-American.

40. Wentworth (6950 S. Sangamon 60621); 427 students; 98.6 99 percent African-American.

41. West Pullman (11941 S. Parnell 60628); 424 99.5 99 percent African-American.

42. Yale (7025 S. Princeton 60621); 294 students; 99.7 99 percent African-American.

Total 19,097 students in the 42 schools that could have faced 'turnaround'

97.7 percent African American

This list consists of Chicago public elementary schools (42) that could have been subjected to 'turnaround' at the end of the 2008-2009 school year because of 'academic failure.'

List of Schools: Provided to Substance by Department of Research, Evaluation and Accountability February 6, 2009 (not available on the CPS website; request fulfilled under the Freedom of Information Act by Ginger Reynolds, Office of Research, Evaluation and Accountability, Chicago Public Schools.

Racial and membership data: Chicago Public Schools, Racial Ethnic Survey as of October 31, 2008 (available on the CPS website). 


Add your own comment (all fields are necessary)

Substance readers:

You must give your first name and last name under "Name" when you post a comment at We are not operating a blog and do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous comments. Our readers deserve to know who is commenting, just as they deserve to know the source of our news reports and analysis.

Please respect this, and also provide us with an accurate e-mail address.

Thank you,

The Editors of Substance

Your Name

Your Email

What's your comment about?

Your Comment

Please answer this to prove you're not a robot:

3 + 1 =