Chicago now the most militarized public school system in the USA...
Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emmanuel, and Arne Duncan verbally attack 'Naysayers'
and anti-war protesters at dedication of Chicago 'Marine Military Academy'
public high school
CHICAGO. OCTOBER 15, 2007. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley used the opportunity of the dedication of the nation's first Marine Corps military academy public high school to attack critics of militarization of the Chicago public schools during the 11:00 a.m. dedication ceremony at the former Grant Elementary School at 145 S. Campbell in Chicago today.
Speaking to an audience of more than 200 students in U.S. Marine Corps uniforms, parents, and active duty Marines and soldiers, Daley praised Chicago for expanding the military programs, which have been a hallmark of his regime.
"And I say to the naysayers," Daley intoned after presenting the audience with statistics which he claimed showed the success of Chicago's military programs, "that this is not a recruitment effort. This is to education and give our
young people bigger opportunities."
In both his actual remarks and in press materials, Daley itemized what he claimed were the accomplishments of the military schools in Chicago. The mayor joined school and United States Marine officials to formally commission the
Chicago Public Schools’ new "Marine Military Math and Science Academy" at the Grant Campus, 145 S. Campbell. The main building on the site was once the Ulysses Grant Elementary School, which the mayor's school board had closed three years ago.
"The [Marine] academy opened this fall as part of the Mayor’s Renaissance 2010 initiative and is the first public Marine Military Academy High School in the nation," the mayor's press release said. The school currently serves about 130 ninth-graders. Its enrollment is expected to climb to about 550 students over the next three years.
"Our challenge is to create a school system that meets the needs of every child in every school by offering a range of school options and opportunities in every neighborhood of Chicago," Daley continued, returning to his text. "This
new military academy is a perfect example – offering a program that teaches leadership and discipline while preparing kids for college through an enhanced math and science curriculum."
As he has on other occasions, Daley proclaimed that the military programs in Chicago's public schools have been a success, and rather than trying to rebut critics who have charged that Chicago has the most militarized public school
system in the USA, Daley praised that fact. "Military academies have proven to be a successful model for the Chicago Public Schools and they are in high demand amongst students," the mayor said. "More than half of the graduating JROTC seniors pursue further educational studies. For the 2007 school year, 7,500 students applied for 700 freshmen seats at CPS five military academies. In addition, the attendance and dropout rates in military high schools and ROTC programs are also better than the system as a whole. For example, attendance rates were three percent higher for military academies during the last school year."
Daley also added his usual comments about how the city's military programs are preparing students for the "global economy."
"We’re very excited to have this new educational option on the City’s West Side," he said. "It is the first public Marine Military Academy High School in the nation — and one of only five military academies in the city. In addition,
by offering an enhanced math and science curriculum, this school will produce graduates who can perform the jobs of the global economy — something that is critical to the future of our city."
According to media materials distributed by the Mayor's Press Office, the "Marine Military Math and Science Academy" has also partnered with Argonne National Laboratories, which will provide internship opportunities for students and professional development training courses for teachers. Additionally, the school will also house the "NASA Lab" which gives students the opportunity to learn about space travel and utilize equipment such as a flight simulator and a wind tunnel.
Daley was praised for his courage and vision by U.S. Rep. Rahm Emmanuel (D. Illinois 5th Congressional District).
Emmanuel said that he had been warned by Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan that he would be sticking his neck out if he supported Duncan's request for federal funds to open the Marine Military Academy, which becomes the fifth military high school in Chicago. Emmanuel said that Duncan told him about the heated protests against the opening of the Rickover Naval Academy at Chicago's Senn High School.
Emmanuel said that he fully supported the expansion of the military programs in Chicago's public schools. He also joked that an extra $500,000 in federal funds that he brought to Chicago for the Marine Military Academy came from an "earmark" that was supported by Republicans.
Chicago Schools CEO Arne Duncan also spoke. "We’re extremely pleased to have a great new option here at the Marine Military Academy for our families on the West Side and across the city," Duncan added. "We’ve combined a rigorous college-prep curriculum with the order and structure of a military academy to create a high quality high school that gives its students the skills they need to excel in college and the discipline that will help them throughout their entire life."
The opening of the Marine Military Academy, which has 130 students this school year, brings to five the total number of military high schools in Chicago's public schools system. The other military academies are Bronzeville Military Academy (Army); Carver Military Academy (Army); Phoenix Military Academy (Army); and the Rickover Naval Academy (Navy).
At a press conference a week before the opening of the Marine Military Academy, Duncan announced that the Chicago Board of Education would be opening an Air Force Military Academy High School at a site yet to be determined at the beginning of the 2008-2009 school year.
According to Duncan, Daley and Emmanuel, the military academies are providing Chicago public high school students with "college preparatory" options they would not otherwise have had. All of the speakers claimed that the existence of what they call a "waiting list" for spots in the military schools is proof that the schools are widely supported by the public.
Daley also told the audience that the Chicago Board of Education was currently sponsoring an $8 million renovation of the old Grant Elementary School. The building currently houses both the Phoenix (Army) Military High School and the Marine Military High School.
Following the "commissioning ceremony", Daley, Emmanuel, Duncan and others broke ground for a new complex that will expand the site of the two West Side Military schools to encompass the two square block area extending east from the Grant school building all the way to Western Ave. A map on display at the ground breaking showed that the military schools and related facilities will eventually fill the entire area bordered by Monroe St., Adams St., Western Ave, and Campbell. According to Daley, the project is being paid for by the State of Illinois Facilities Fund.
Material provided by the mayor's press office stated: "Following the commissioning, a brief groundbreaking was held outside the school to commemorate the start a multi-million expansion of the Grant Campus, which houses the Marine and Phoenix military academies. It will include a new gym, locker rooms, military supply rooms, pool, fitness center, daycare center and community center. Chicago Public Schools and the Illinois Facilities Fund are funding the expansion, which is expected to be completed in phases during the next few years."
At press time, Substance had not been provided with a copy of Daley's prepared remarks, despite a request to the Mayor's Press Secretary, Jacqueline Heard.
The archives of Substance newspaper on the Web include the most comprehensive series of articles outlining the ongoing protests against the militarization of Chicago's public schools during the last five years.
Substance newspaper's current Website is at www.substancenews.net. Articles published in Substance since September 2006 detail monthly protests that have been brought to the meetings of the Chicago Board of Education against the militarization of Chicago's public schools. Other materials opposing the militarization of Chicago's public schools have appeared in the Substance "Letters" pages. Substance has also reported that the President of the Chicago Board of Education, Rufus Williams, who claims to be a personal friend and former employee of Oprah Winfrey, has begun calling CPS security to remove anti-war speakers from school board meetings.
These materials (September 2006 to September 2007) can be found in each issue of Substance at www.substancenews.net
Complete stories covering the massive deployment of military schools in Chicago have been published in past issues of Substance as well.
Substance has covered the protests against the militarization of Senn High School in Chicago since September 2004, when the protests began with massive student and teacher actions like "Hands around Senn." These can be found at www.substancenews.com
December 2004 ("Senn High School 'Naval Academy' approved...)
January 2005 ("Mayoral Megalomania", the origins of the "Renaissance 2010"
program of which the military schools are now a part)
March 2005. ("Massive protests continue: Four more schools closed under
May 2005 ("The right wing is pushing military academies")
June 2005 ("Senn Tomorrow task force"; "Rickover military academy drops
anchor at Chicago's Senn High School"; "Air Force Academy cleared for landing at
Englewood High School")
September 2005 ("Camp Casey, Crawford, and the Symbols of War")
October 2005 ("Mayor, minions sabotaging Chicago's remaining public high
November 2005 ("Duncanian duplicity")
December 2005 ("Martial law at Senn High School: the Rickover Dedication")
Beginning with the December 2005 issue, Substance is available in PDF format. It takes a great deal of time to do the downloads, but the complete Rickover dedication story includes photographs of the militarized lockdown on the day of the dedication which were never published anywhere else.