'Just kidding'?!!!... UNO now says that Hit List is published was just a 'WTF we have nothing else to do...'.... 'a promotional tool'...
More than a month after UNO, one of Chicago's major charter school organizations and close ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, published a list of schools it claimed were "underutilized," a news report says that UNO was sort of "just kidding." The story below was published in the Crusader newspapers.
Charter official says there is no schools closing list. By J. Coyden Palmer
A list of schools distributed by a charter school organization that has caused distress in the community because it is believed to be a list of CPS schools targeted for closing or consolidation is misleading. The Crusader has confirmed that the listing of 80 schools by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) was never released by the Chicago Public Schools and the source of the list said it was only being used as a promotional tool.
In their first public response to the issue, Ray Quintanilla, a spokesperson for UNO, said the list being circulated came from a brochure of an event the organization held on Oct. 2. UNO hosted a screening of the movie â€œWonâ€™t Back Down.â€ Quintanilla said after the movie there was a discussion period for about 400 attendees. He said the list was part of an exercise conducted after the screening and was in no way meant as anything official.
â€œWe put together some materials, in a standard yellow envelope with a couple pieces of paper inside,â€ Quintanilla explained. â€œOne of them was a printout of a list of schools that are the lowest performing schools according to CPSâ€™s own website. For the purpose of the discussion we picked 80 schools and said â€˜here are some of the lowest performing schools in Chicagoâ€™ by CPS standards.â€
Quintanilla said he and others at UNO are miffed that the innocence of the list has been turned into many believing UNO has an actual list of schools being targeted by CPS or other charter organizations. He said UNO does not have the authority or access to release such a list. Rebecca Carroll, spokesperson for CPS, told the Crusader from Spring- field recently that there is no list. Without blaming the organization for their event, she said the UNO list has caused â€œunnecessary distressâ€ in the community at a time when CPS and schools CEO Dr. Barbara Bennett-Boyd are trying to heal past wounds and move forward with what will be a difficult process.
â€œNo such list exists - it simply doesnâ€™t exist,â€ according to Carroll. â€œWe will not have a list until the commission on school utilization completes its work in March. I know that the CTU and others have been sending around that list that UNO has on hand - but itâ€™s a list of schools that has nothing to do with schools being closed, but has been passed off as such. Whatever we can do to help reinforce that this list is not a school action list would bring a tremendous amount of peace of mind to communities.â€
Frank Clark, chairperson of an independent commission put together by Byrd-Bennett to get community input on the sensitive matter, said emphatically on Nov. 26 there is no list. Clark and state Sen. Iris Martinez, who is also on the commission, said the issue has gotten so out of hand that people are now questioning the integrity of the commission.
â€œI have not seen nor has any other member of this commission seen any prescribed list of schools designated to be closed,â€ Clark said. â€œWe have no list. No one here has seen any list and if someone told me there was a list in the other room I would tell them to tear it up because it would serve no purpose here. The credibility of all of us is on line here. Weâ€™re all established people here and weâ€™ll all tell you the same thing; we have seen no list.â€
The Crusader contacted the Chicago Teachers Union for a response, but our calls were not returned before deadline. CPS is facing a billion dollar budget shortfall and the closings or consolidation of dozens of schools is something being researched.
Story Posted: 12/08/2012