Ward and precinct politics as usual in Chicago's South Side at Brooks High School

"It's the 'Beale - Brown Athletic Prep Center' — BBAPC for short," retired Chicago high school history teacher Hubert Jackson told Substance. "I just suggested to Mr. Scott that he get rid of the false advertising and stop disrespecting the name of Gwendolyn Brooks, admit the facts out there on 111th St., and give the school its true name."

On June 24, 2009, retired Brooks High School history teacher Hubert Jackson addressed the Chicago Board of Education about the situation at Brooks and the mob action that thwarted the June 9 LSC meeting. Board President Michael Scott tried to shrug off the extraordinary report which he had received, and at one point tried to criticize the speakers for airing the dirty laundry of "our people" in public. Scott has ensured that Chicago's 50 aldermen receive preferential treatment from the Board of Education, even when it means that the Board goes along with patronage and other requests which clearly, as at Brooks, give rise to unprofessional realities — or, worse, outright corruption. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Hubert Jackson had first made the "Beale - Brown APC" suggestion at the June 24, 2009, meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Jackson had been speaking of the Gwendolyn Brooks High School and the conflicts there for more than a year. The conflicts at Brooks had been dramatic, but since they were a form of black-on-black politics known to Chicagoans but masqued from much of the rest of the USA (especially in the "post-racial" era proclaimed by the corporate media), the news hadn't leaked out beyond the confines of Chicago's public schools. The most recent conflict took place on June 9. That day, a group of people — apparently organized by the local alderman — was able to create such a ruckus that the Brooks High School Local School Council was unable to meet and LSC members felt threatened physically. In Chicago, an LSC governs many things at a local school, much the same as a school board governs a one-school town's schools elsewhere in the USA.

Baseball, basketball, and Chicago-style political patronage...

Like many of Chicago's 50 aldermen, Anthony Beale of the 9th Ward on the city's far South Side makes sure that everyone in the ward knows who is responsible for projects. The sign above was photographed in May 2007 across 111th St. from Brooks High School, where the Chicago Park District was completing a major project in a public park. Beale was accused of organizing what amounted to a mob to prevent the June 9, 2009 meeting of the Brooks High School Local School Council and of treating the schools in his ward as sources of patronage and political clout. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.At least some of the problems at Brooks involve a conflict between one perception of what should be the high school's sports program and the school's ostensible academic college prep focus. Several years ago, Alderman Beale, in whose ward Brooks sits, wanted a different baseball coach for the high school that he planned to have his son attend.

Beale is well known (and in some places respected) for his baseball fanaticism. And on Chicago's South Side (home to the White Sox), baseball is serious business and serious politics. During his election campaign and since, Barack Obama has from time to time worn a Chicago White Sox cap. Obama's White Sox cap — as opposed to a Cubs cap — symbolizes a South Side, working class culture and a division along class and racial lines that still cuts across Chicago. In Chicago (unlike New York, where Obama's main opponent Hillary Clinton was caught trying to be a fan of both the Mets and the Yankees so as not to offend and lose votes), the Sox cap makes a statement a bit more pronounced that can be summarized here.

So baseball has been an issue at Brooks High School. Years ago, Alderman Beale tried to get a principal to hire a baseball coach of his choosing, and when the principal refused to do so, Beale's people won a local election and made the principal's job much much more difficult.

The real problems at Brooks actually go deeper to the core of Chicago politics, to the complex history of Chicago almost embodied in the community in which Brooks sits. These conflicts also go to the realities of racial politics in the USA in this supposedly "post racial" era. In the communities around Brooks High School, history is alive — a history of white supremacy, American and Chicago style, of industrialization and de-industrialization, or the myth of the "global economy" for the majority of working class people from the South Side — and of the promise of sports and the history of white supremacy in Chicago sports.

It's always been a lot more complex along 111th St. in Chicago than some fatuous narrative of good guys and bad guys might offer on, say, the Oprah show.

'Somebody's gonna kick his _____ ass!"

Two weeks before the June 24 Board of Education meeting at which Hubert Jackson and Shun Haynes spoke out, on June 9, 2009, parents and teachers from Brooks experienced another tawdry confrontation between the forces of the local alderman — Anthony Beale — and other supporters of the school's controversial principal — Dushaun Brown — and the elected members of the Brooks Local School Council.

On June 9, 2009, Shun Haynes (above, speaking to the Chicago Board of Education on June 24) was still the duly elected president of the Brooks High School Local School Council. But a mob organized by Alderman Anthony Beale in support of the school's principal, Dushaun Brown, prevented the LSC from meeting, claiming that the parents whose children had graduated the previous Friday were no longer eligible to be on the LSC. Despite a letter from the Board of Education's chief attorney stating that graduates were still students until the end of the school year (June 12, 2009, for the 2008-2009 school year), Beale's version of reality prevailed on 111th St. on June 9. The result was that the LSC was unable to complete its evaluation of the principal and was unable to name its successors for the spots which would soon become vacant. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The conflict between Beale and his hand-picked principal, on the one hand, and the majority of the school's teachers and parents, on the other hand, has been unfolding at Brooks since a couple of years after the death of the former Illinois Poet Laureate, after whom the school is now named. Gwendolyn Brooks, a product of Chicago's South Side, would have recognized the lines that were being drawn, since she was the bard of the streets of Chicago. Like the new First Lady of the USA, Michelle Obama (who emerged into prominence from a very political South Side family much like those on both sides of the current conflicts at Brooks High School), Gwendolyn Brooks would have recognized the players immediately, whether they were playing their assigned roles in 1959 or today.

In terms of its history, Gwendolyn Brooks High School has all of the conflicting realities of Chicago in the raw. Some are actually chiseled into the stonework above the school's main entrance.

LSC interrupted on a key date

On June 9, 2009, according to teachers and parents, Alderman Antony Beale had packed the LSC meeting with a group of screaming people, many of them his precinct captains and other supporters.[ For those who don't know what a precinct captain is in Chicago politics, there are now Wikipedia and Google to help. At the street level — especially on election day — precinct captains are very important people (as Michelle Obama can attest)].

With the help of Chicago Public Schools officials, Beale prevented the LSC from meeting by staging what amounted to a small riot and threatening the people on the LSC.

Amid threats, the "Beale Brown people" stopped a legal public meeting from taking place. Among other things, Beale's people forced the elected parent president of the LSC to get a police escort to his car following the meeting.

Despite the claim that Chicago's corporate "school reform" measures have improved the schools, under Mayor Richard M. Daley (above, second from left) Chicago's schools have actually been returned to political patronage and corruption not seen since the days of the last Great Depression during the 1930s. Between 1930 and 1945, the links between Chicago's City Hall, the aldermen of the city's wards, and the public schools became so corrupt that textbook contracts were being controlled by the Mafia (then a major power in the city's First Ward). As a result, in 1945 the entire Chicago school system was threatened with decertification. Following a massive cleanup, patronage receded until the 1990s, when Mayor Richard M. Daley was given dictatorial control over the city's schools. By 2009, when former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan (above left) became U.S. Secretary of Education, Chicago's City Hall and the city's 50 aldermen had power over many contracts, and enormous power at the local school level. On a regular basis, the mayor and school officials appear at functions with powerful aldermen, such as the September 2008 media event (above) at which school officials stood with Alderman Ike Carothers (above, third from left) a few months before Carothers was indicated by federal authorities. The other two people in the above photograph at "Chief Education Officer" Barbara Eason Watkins (at microphone) and "Chief Accountability Officer" Ginger Reynolds (far right). Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Like the officials of the Chicago Board of Education, the local police commander allowed Beale and his supporters to get away with it, at least on June 9.

This is the Chicago about which Gwendolyn Brooks wrote. How little is has really changed, despite all the sanctimonious rhetoric of the past year or two, has been evident not only at the street level at Brooks on the evening of June 9, 2009, but at a "higher level" when the Chicago Board of Education met two weeks later.

A very Chicago question

Should a public high school be subjected to the patronage claims of a very powerful alderman — even in Chicago?

The verbal (and near physical) attack on the parents on the Brooks LSC on June 9 highlights the way in which Chicago's widely publicized "school reform", under which the mayor has been given dictatorial control over the third largest school system in the USA, has actually been a major step backward for the quality of the city's public schools.

By opening the schools to massive privatization and patronage behind a smokescreen of "reform," the Daley years (which began in 1995 with the passage of the Illinois Amendatory Act which gave the mayor the power to appoint a school board and a "Chief Executive Officer") have been a reversion to the days of the last Great Depression, when patronage and City Hall politics in Chicago created such massive scandals that there was a national threat to decertify the entire public school system.

For Brooks High School (as this story will call it from now on) that's been the question since a highly regarded principal died suddenly in February 2006. The principal was Pamela Dyson, and according to many teachers, the cause of death could have been called "political pressure."

Between 2006 and 2009, the stories from Brooks have been almost completely covered up in Chicago's corporate media. The cover up persists to this day despite consistent efforts over three years on the part of parents, teachers, and students at Brooks to get the problems identified and solved. More than a half dozen presentations to the Chicago Board of Education have failed to solve the growing problems at Brooks.

Current events and thug life at a Local School Council meeting

On June 24, 2009, former Brooks history teacher Hubert Jackson was describing, perhaps better than most people could possibly realize, the two souls of Chicago's "Black Metropolis," as they are embodied in the year 2009 in a large number of Chicago's public schools.

Some would also say that these conflicting realities are also embodied in 2009 in Chicago's conflicted versions of public schooling's future in the United States of America. Brooks isn't just any public high school.

May 23, 2006. The corporate school reform of the past decade in Chicago and in Illinois has led to a level of political interference in the public schools of Chicago that had not been seen in the city since the end of World War II. Some of the political machinations lead to scenes that remind informed citizens of why Chicago became home to the famous Second City comedy troop. For example, three years ago, then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (above left) responded to a threat from Illinois State Senator James Meeks (above at microphone) to run for governor on a "school reform" platform. To keep Meeks out of the 2006 race, Blagojevich came up with a plan to increase school funding in Illinois by privatizing the Illinois State Lottery. One of those who was required to appear at the press conference announcing the privatization plan was Chicago Schools Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan (above right). Once Meeks was safely out of the 2006 governor's race and Blagojevich was re-elected, there was no further talk about the privatization of the lottery or reform of the state's scandalous approach to funding its public schools. While Chicago's corporate media have focused for the past six months on the corruption of Illinois politics — and Blagojevich is now under indictment for trying to get a million dollars in exchange for Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat — the corruption of Chicago politics and its impact on the city's schools is off-limits to Chicago's corporate media. According to the official narrative, Illinois government is very very corrupt, and Chicago has corrupt aldermen and other officials, but Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley is not corrupt, and Daley's "reforms" in the public schools have been kept above the sordid politics that has made the city and state a national punch line. Most close observers of Chicago politics plant Meeks, who operates a mega-church in the 9th Ward, as one of the sponsors and mentors of Alderman Anthony Beale. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Brooks is located in and still serves the historic Pullman community in which President Barack Obama worked in as a "community organizer" during the years before he went to Harvard Law School and began his rise in Chicago politics. Barack Obama wrote extensively about those experiences in "Dreams from My Father," the best selling book that helped identify Obama to the world.

Brooks High School is one of a group of elite (selective enrollment) academic magnet public high schools. Depending upon the year and the criteria, there are either nine of eleven of them at this point.

The creation of the academic magnet college prep high schools was part of a major expansion of magnet high schools launched by Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley during the years after 1995. That year was when Daley first took over the city's school system and launched America's "mayor control" model of school governance in 1995.

Brooks is also named after Gwendolyn Brooks, the first African American poet to win a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, and the once Poet Laureate of Illinois.

But that's getting a bit ahead of a story that begins at the Chicago Board of Education's June 24, 2009, regular meeting with a brief presentation from one Chicago teacher and one Chicago parent.

Democracy, dictatorship, or Chicago-style patronage?

On June 24, 2009, the "Public Participation" agenda for the Chicago Board of Education included two speakers on the subject "Brooks... " which to most people present in Chicago meant "Gwendolyn Brooks Academic Magnet College Prep High School."

One (listed as #15) was Hubert Jackson Jr., who described himself as "Brooks faculty/retired..." The second (listed as #30) was Shun Haynes, who didn't describe himself, but listed the topic of his address as "Brooks LSC."

On June 24, 2009, once again, Hubert Jackson was speaking to the Chicago Board of Education about conflicts at Brooks. For the sixth or seventh time in three years, someone from Brooks was trying to get the Board of Education to do something about the scandalous corruptions that have beset Brooks since the death of a beloved principal and her replacement five years ago with a principal who had no high school experience — but who was loyal to one of Chicago's most powerful (but least known) aldermen.

As Hubert Jackson spoke, Board of Education President Michael Scott at first smirked from time to time. Observers felt Scott was trying to avoid showing the anger he might well have felt about the fact the a number of what he called "our people" — i.e., African Americans in Chicago — were bringing the dirty linen of Chicago ward and precinct politics into the public eye again.

Michael Scott may have been right to try the Chicago-style cover-up for the past three years. The Brooks saga reveals more about how Chicago's much praised corporate "school reform" has actually been carried out at the 'grass roots' level in the years since the Illinois General Assembly turned the city's public schools over to Mayor Richard M. Daley and a succession of CEOs, all of whom had no educational experience but the blessings of City Hall instead. Despite the claims, now being made across the USA, that City Hall in a place like Chicago should run the public schools, the actual Chicago experience shows that the traditional wisdom in Chicago — keep City Hall and ward politics out of the public schools — was best.

Chicago City Hall Politics as a "Model for the Nation"?

The latest problem at Brooks resulted from the alderman's packing of the Local School Council meeting of June 9, 2009.

According to Hubert Jackson and Shun Haynes, who also spoke at the Board, the meeting was packed. The principal and the principal's supporters from the alderman's office apparently didn't want the LSC to meet one last time during the school year. When people arrived for the LSC meeting, there were "about 50 people there," according to Haynes, and the disruption began immediately.

"We were unable to begin the agenda," Shun Haynes told Substance. Haynes has been serving as LSC president. His daughter graduated from Books on June 6, but the official date for the end of the school year was June 12. The LSC was determined to have one last meeting.

Descriptions of what happened next from various sources all indicate that a form of mob rule prevailed. A "community member" — who goes locally by the name of "Butta" — tried to bring his chair to the table where the LSC members were sitting, then disrupted the meeting when Haynes asked him to return to the audience.

Finally, the LSC members dispersed. According to Haynes, "Butta", a supporter of the principal and the alderman, threatened him. "Butta" was joined by two others. The threat resulted in Haynes requesting that the police escort him to his car. "That was a good idea, since there was a small crowd outside the building jeering, too," Haynes told Substance.

Hubert Jackson told Substance that he also heard the threats against the LSC president. "It was just straight street stuff," Jackson said. "I'm gonna kick his M____ F___ A__."

Brooks not always that way

How and why did it come to this?

The story of Gwendolyn Brooks High School is a story of the tensions across Chicago between the political agendas of local politicians and the educational agendas of the majority of parents, teachers, and students. To acknowledge the whole story of how Brooks went from being the hope of a community to being the punch line of a joke would also expose how completely Chicago's public schools are riddled with political patronage — precinct and ward politics the likes of which Chicago had not seen since the last Great Depression.

And all the while, this is going on while Chicago is supposedly showing the rest of the USA how to do a lofty version of corporate "school reform" and to celebrate the diversity which brought the USA its first African-American President, Barack Obama.

Ironically (for those who don't appreciate Chicago politics; predictably for those who do), the story even involves two beloved American sports — basketball and baseball — and a community where the President of the United States supposedly did "community organizing" during some of the days he wrote about in the memoir "Dreams from My Father."

If "Dreams from My Father" helped bring Barack Obama, fame, sympathy, and, some would say, the most powerful elected office in the most powerful democracy in the history of the planet, then part of the back story is how politics are actually played out in the schools of the same community where a young Barack Obama learned the lessons of political hardball, Chicago style.

A look down the street to the other soul of Chicago's South Side: Gwendolyn Brooks

Brooks College Prep High School is not just any school. While many Chicago public high schools today carry the names of long forgotten local officials (and many elementary schools still carry the names of the Union Civil War generals who were still alive and famous during the years of the city's great expansion when the schools named after them were built), some schools reflect other patterns of Chicago life.

This is especially true on the city's South Side, where the vast expansion of the Black Belt from the 1940s, through the 1970s created what one writer called the "Black Metropolis" and what some real estate entrepreneurs are trying to promote now as communities with names like "Bronzeville."

According to the poet's biography series, Gwendolyn Brooks was part of another soul of the South Side. "Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded, much-honored poet, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress — the first black woman to hold that position — and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks's works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor George E. Kent, "a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s."

The family of Gwendolyn Brooks moved to Chicago when she was young. Her father was a janitor (who had once hoped to become a doctor). Her mother was a schoolteacher and pianist. "They were supportive of their daughter's passion for reading and writing," the biography goes on. "Brooks was thirteen when her first published poem, 'Eventide,' appeared in American Childhood; by the time she was seventeen she was publishing poems frequently in the Chicago Defender..." The first collection of poems, A Street in Bronzeville, reflected her years working for the NAACP and her Chicago roots.

"Her poems in A Street in Bronzeville and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Annie Allen were 'devoted to small, carefully cerebrated, terse portraits of the Black urban poor, commented Richard K. Barksdale in Modern Black Poets: A Collection of Critical Essays," the biography went on.

"Brooks once described her style as 'folksy narrative,' but she varied her forms, using free verse, sonnets, and other models..."

Her work began to receive critical attention after A Street in Bronzeville. "In Annie Allen, which follows the experiences of a black girl as she grows into adulthood, Brooks deals further with social issues, especially the role of women," a biography goes on. "[She] experimented with her poetry, with one section of the book being an epic poem, 'The Anniad'—a play on The Aeneid. Langston Hughes, in a review of Annie Allen for Voices, remarked that 'the people and poems in Gwendolyn Brooks' book are alive, reaching, and very much of today...'" Brooks's Pulitzer Prize and honors came in later years, but she always remained a Chicagoan and close to her Chicago roots.

Cutting corners for star athletes or demanding rigor for the next generation of Gwendolyn Brookses?

The story poses the simple question that nobody who has lived or worked in Chicago's massive segregated black ghettos can escape. Given the odds, what's the best thing to do for these kids?

And it isn't as simple as some corporate slogan, even if that slogan comes out of the mouth of a very privileged guy who is now serving as U.S. Secretary of Education who sometimes plays basketball with the President of the United States of America.

Roots extend to before Chicago's 'Black Metropolis'

Almost obscured in the stone work above the main entrance to Brooks College Prep High School in 2009 are the word "Pullman Free School of Manual Training." The main building on the Brooks "campus" was erected by Chicago multi-millionaire industrialist George Pullman, who also created the company town nearby. Like many utopian visionaries of the 19th Century, Pullman believed devoutly in two things: capitalism and education. His benevolent version of capitalism brought into being the company town called "Pullman" by the 1890s, housing for those who worked in the vast factories that created the famous Pullman Sleeping Cars of the great railroad era in the USA and elsewhere.

But all those beliefs crashed in 1894, when a previous collapse of capitalism into its regular business cycle forced Pullman almost into bankruptcy, and then showed to his workers, many of whom believed the benevolent stories, the fangs of predatory capitalism. When Pullman announced that many of his workers were being laid off (and evicted from their homes in the company town), the greatest strike of the 1890s began.

George M. Pullman was the inventor and manufacturer of the railroad sleeping car. At the beginning of his career, Mr. Pullman built and developed the town of Pullman, Illinois, for his employees and their families. In his will, Mr. Pullman provided for the building and endowment of a “free school of manual training for the benefit of the children of persons living or employed at Pullman.”

According to one description:

"The Pullman Free School of Manual Training opened in September 1915, and became widely recognized for the excellence of its program and for its service to the Pullman-Roseland community in Chicago. After 35 years, the school was forced to close because its endowment was no longer sufficient to support the rising cost of operation. The assets of the school were used to establish the George M. Pullman Educational Foundation, chartered in 1949. Through scholarship aid for higher education, the Foundation seeks to fulfill Mr. Pullman’s wish to provide educational opportunities for deserving young persons who would otherwise be unable to afford them..."

Thwarting a meeting based on dubious claims

In its most simple form, the thwarting of the June 9 LSC meeting was simple. A mob prevented the elected body from meeting, while the local police commander looked on. According to Beale's supporters, the reason was that the LSC President, Shun Haynes, was ineligible to serve because his daughter had graduated from Brooks.

But in an email icommunicated to Parents, LSC members and other CPS representatives as her "final communication in my role as the LSC Secretary", LSC member Cynthia Glen Cotton devoted pages to explaining how the law worked, and how the parents whose children had graduated were still eligible, on June 9 and until June 12, to be the Brooks LSC. "You will see, from reviewing the attached email from the Director of LSC Relations, Mr. Jose Alvarez, which is supported by the General Counsel for CPS, Pat Rocks, that the indeed, the June 9th Regular LSC Meeting, was NOT an illegal meeting!" Ms. Glen Cotton wrote.

"I further state that Alderman Beale and his group of miscreants deliberately coordinated this stunt in a plot to disrupt the final activities of this council. This notice is to also inform those aligning and supporting such deviant behavior that the business at hand, completing Dr. Brown’s evaluation and replacing outgoing members was only delayed, not defeated. Given this interruption was aided by the miscommunication within LSC Relations office as to the intent of use for this information, this letter also serves as a formal request to the LSC Relations executives to extend any deadlines impacted by these actions..."

Basically, the Beale faction which prevented the meeting knew that if the meeting did not take place, the members of the LSC would not be able to do two things that Beale wanted to stop. First, they could not complete the evaluation of their controversial principal, and second, they could not name their successors (for those whose children had graduated).

"Perhaps, Alderman Beale did not fully understand the full breath of 105 ILCS 5/34-2.1(r)(1) of the Illinois School Code, given that he chose to use this as a reason to interrupt the council proceedings," she wrote. "I cannot speculate on his motives, but we as a council have had the unfortunate situation of being disrespected by Alderman Beale in a public forum in prior meetings (as the minutes so reflect from 10/14/08 and 5/12/09)," she noted.

Ms. Glenn Cotton's e-mail continued: "... a number of municipal codes and/or state statutes were violated by the group of hooligans who disrupted the meeting: 1. 720 ILCS 5/12-1(a)[M] – Assault – several LSC members and audience participants heard threats being leveled at the members for simply performing duly elected duties. Although we typically do not go about referring to ourselves as the Honorable Chair, Vice chair, Secretary, St. At Arms, etc of the LSC, we are indeed elected officers of the state of Illinois and as such threats against us are a serious offense, that may result in greater than misdemeanor penalties should members wish to proceed to filing charges. The fact that these crimes were committed in the presence of several police officers and CPS Security team members present makes this even more serious matter that may well have rippling effects beyond the close of the aborted meeting..."

The e-mail also charges that the alderman and those who supported him June 9 were in violation of the municipal code as it defines disorderly conduct: "2. 8-4-010(M.C.C) Disorderly Conduct – clearly the actions of these individuals were meant to disrupt the proceedings. One would think that an Alderman would want to steer clear of such conduct at all costs..." Ms. Glenn Cotton wrote.

"3. 8-4-020(M.C.C) Inciting Riots – while disturbing the peace is bad enough, verbal assaults and threats, the continued jeering from the crowd also further exacerbated and heightened the unrest in the room and seemed to give license to other individuals to behave just as unprofessionally," she continued. "Consequently the meeting was cut short due to the escalating behavior that was unchecked by Dr. Brown as the Principal of the school, the police or CPS none of whom made any effort, to attempt to quiet the individuals breaching parliamentary procedures and causing unrest. This is also made more problematic by the fact that at least one member of the audience causing the problem was a former LSC board member, who you would think knows that his actions were out of line. These individuals have been identified by name and council members are determining next steps with regard to whether formal charges will be filed or not! It is unfortunate that things have been allowed to fester and ultimately get to this point. This summary is also a challenge to the executives at CPS to investigate fully the situation at Brooks. To the fair and open minded parents, those who truly want to see forward progress and accountability, who are concerned about your child's future, and on behalf of most of the council, I take this opportunity to personally apologize:

· I apologize that you had to witness such discord,

· I apologize that the safety of council members has been threatened, simply for doing what is required by CPS LSC Operations procedures,

· I apologize that despite a room full of police and security, and the principal (the leader of the school),order could not be restored sufficient to proceed with the operations posted for the June 9th meeting,

· I apologize that despite having at team of organized, professional and talented council members, we were not able to make the progress we envisioned as we came into council. One of our primary goals was to “HELP” make Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep a better institution of learning, not take over the Principal’s responsibilities as has been stated to us several times. Our hands have been tied by a concerted and deliberate lack of cooperation by Dr. Brown, advised by Alderman Beale, (in my opinion).

· I apologize that the prior councils so failed to adhere to the rules of LSC Operations by failing to document records correctly, not perform an evaluation of the principal, never question expenditures and budget allocations, thereby showing a total lack of accountability and compliance to LSC rules, such that any questions raised or other attempt to monitor areas of operation within the administration that were required by LSC Operations procedures, were viewed as negative, unfair and a plot toward the remove Dr. Brown as principal.

Not speaking for others on the council, but at the onset of my taking office, this was not my intention. My expectations were that I execute the requirements of the office to which I was elected and objectively evaluate Dr. Brown’s performance against the 7 Standards of Principal Evaluation.

After a year of watching what has gone on at that school, and certainly after the lack of leadership shown on June 9th, I do take this opportunity to state that it is now my feeling that Dr. Brown should be removed as principal of Gwendolyn Brooks. Perhaps Alderman Beale should move his office into the building…

· Finally, I apologize for what may happen to some of the children who attend Brooks if changes are not made! While many will continue to excel based on parental influence and the caliber of the student that they are, others will fall by the way side.

A perfect example of this is illustrated by the fact that there were several seniors who in fact did not graduate! Despite the LSC signing off on $10,000 of funding for tutoring. Given the significance of a senior not graduating, one would think that these students would be required to participate in tutoring or whatever it took to ensure graduation after making it successfully to the senior class and to ensure completion of the school’s program. · · Excellence ONLY comes about by visionary leadership, supported and sustained by involved parents. If you as parents are do not demand better of the current administration, and press for excellence not just mediocrity, it is the children who will suffer. The following summary in my opinion are indicators that the school ‘s foundation is crumbling….

Serious complaints about how the school has been performing

At the conclusion of her e-mail, Ms. Glenn Cotton cites a number of academic problems at Brooks:

o Average ACT of 21 when the competitive scholarship worthy score is currently 24, and rising. Many larger schools have this as a minimal entrance score,

o Loss of competitive programs and scholarship opportunities.. (Law Program, partnerships with University of Chicago, etc)

o Scholarship loses due to failure of counseling office to mail student packages in time

o Being ranked, almost at the bottom (King lowest) among Selective enrollment schools when we used to be growing rivals to Whitney Young

o Increased incidents of violence on campus (fights, rumors of students having sex in the build, etc)

o Continued exodus of caring and concerned and certified teachers who have had enough of working under Dr. Brown’s brand of administration and leave or who are forced out due to lack of alliance with the current administrations methodology of management (Do what I say or you are out!, this is my school!) o Repeated lack of compliance to rules, borderline unethical behavior, etc, etc, etc,

o Again, It is the children who will ultimately be effected. Even with these challenges, Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep is in better shape in some ways than others in the area and there are excellent teachers and staff caught in the middle of trying to do a good job and being caught up in the combination of poor leadership and political interference; But being better does not equal best. The memo continues: That may be enough for some of you as parents, but if you want more, if you want better, YOU as parents have to challenge the status quo to take a more active stand. I am but one person, and I rest comfortably in knowing I have done my level best to raise the bar of performance for LSC secretaries. I have attempted to open doors of communication by suggesting improvements to communicate to parents, generated comprehensive newsletters, forwarded information to the PTA alias and LSC parent aliases, when I came across information that I felt was helpful to everyone. I know that personally, I have taken ACTION to improve things in my role as Parent Rep on this council and as I step away from this council, I do so proud of my work and I move on to use my many talents in ways that are more fruitful and appreciated.


Brooks parents were legally members of the LSC on June 9

Ms. Glenn Cotton's memo quotes at length from an opinion rendered by the Chicago Board of Education's chief lawyer, Patrick Rocks, that the members of the LSC whose children had graduated were still legally parents of students at Brooks on June 9. The actual end of those children's high school was the official last day of school, June 12, 2009.

The entire disruption by the Beale faction -- supported by the principal and the police commander -- was based on the claim that the children had graduated a week earlier, and that therefore the parents were not longer legally "parents" and entitled to serve on the LSC.

The Board's lawyer clarified earlier that Beale and his supporters were wrong:

"...As noted on the Board’s calendar, the Board permits schools to hold graduation ceremonies prior to the end of the school year. Board diplomas, however, indicate the date of graduation is the last day of the semester. Schools that hold graduation ceremonies prior to the last day of the school year often do not program classes or other activities for graduating eighth grade or senior students on the remaining days of the school year. Because those students remain enrolled in the school until the end of the semester, students who do not attend school after the graduation ceremony are marked as absent and unexcused in the IMPACT system..." (memo from Patrick Rocks, Chief Counsel, Chicago Board of Education). 

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