Reuters notes Hit List fight, while Chicago corporate media ignore many of the most important details...

While Chicago's corporate media continue to misreport or ignore the main issues facing the teachers in Chicago's public schools, international media are not missing some of the bigger stories. On November 4, 2012, The Chicago Sun-Times had a brief story that ten teachers and community leaders had been arrested outside Emanuel's City Hall office Friday night. The Tribune ignored the stories completely, recently having repeated the latest "empty seats" nonsense pushed into the public by CPS. According to recent Tribune articles, CPS has 200,000, or maybe it's 100,000, or maybe -- who cares, the editorial motto there is "If they say it, we print it"... -- supposedly "empty seats." But it took until Monday, November 5, for confusion and ludicrous to reach their usual vapid levels with the Sun-Times editorially praising the latest CPS CEO (Barbara Byrd Bennett) for showing the CPS incompetence by asking for a four-month "moratorium" on publishing the Hit List.

The law requires hearings on criteria for the HIt List in November, followed by the publication of the Hit List December 1. CPS has known about the law since the last became law three years ago, yet the daily newspapers in Chicago are acting as if each time CPS puts in a "new" CEO the world has to stop, take a deep breath, and give deference just because the latest evidence of expensive incompetence is out and about.

Others are watching more closely.

Reuters reports the following:

Chicago's Emanuel faces new clash with teachers on school closings. By Mary Wisniewski | Reuters – Fri, 2 Nov, 2012

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is headed for another clash in coming months with unionized teachers over whether to close dozens of schools, after a bitter teachers strike temporarily shut down the nation's third largest public school district in September.

Facing a December 1 deadline to issue a proposed list of schools to be closed, new Chicago Public Schools chief executive Barbara Byrd-Bennett on Friday asked the state legislature for a four-month delay until March 31.

She said time was needed for a "rigorous, transparent and open dialogue" with school parents, teachers and other.

Feelings are still raw after the first Chicago teachers strike in 25 years drew national attention to the city's dispute over education reform.

Chicago teachers and some parents complain that Emanuel's administration has ignored their concerns.

Chicago has seen a 20 percent surge in the number of murders this year, and people in crime ravaged neighborhoods worry that closing schools might force students to cross gang boundaries and increase urban violence.

More than 200 people, including teachers union members, parents of Chicago school students and other activists, rallied against school closings at Emanuel's office on Friday, and some staged a sit-in nearby.

Urban school districts around the country are grappling with the same issue of closing schools, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Washington, according to a study last year on school closings by the Pew Charitable Trust.

In a statement on Friday, Byrd-Bennett acknowledged the delay was requested to repair a rift with some in the community.

"Our goal is to give the community the respect they deserve in this process, rebuild trust with CPS (Chicago Public Schools) and create a path for right-sizing our district," she said.

But the union said it wants a halt to school closing rather than extending the deadline.

"We have called for a moratorium on all school actions until we have an analysis of the devastating impact these actions have on our students and neighborhoods," said Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis in a statement.

Emanuel said that, in the wake of the strike settlement, the district needs to have a more effective education plan.

"We have more buildings, chairs, tables and desks than we have students in our district," he said in a statement.


The Chicago Tribune has reported that school district officials are considering closing up to 120 schools next year, or about 17 percent of schools in the 400,0000-student district. The district said there is no list of targeted schools.

Enrollment in Chicago Public Schools has fallen nearly 20 percent in the last decade, mainly because of population declines in poor neighborhoods.

Some 140 schools are half-empty, according to the district. The union said 86 Chicago public schools have closed in the past decade, but the district could not confirm that number.

At the heart of the dispute is the expansion of charter schools, which are publicly funded but most are non-union.

The teachers union has complained they undermine public education and force more community schools to close. Their academic performance record compared with community schools is mixed, according to national studies.

Chicago now has 103 charter or "contract" schools, some run by philanthropists, which account for 12 percent of students. There are plans by supporters for 60 more charter schools over the next five years, according to the district and the union.

A powerful U.S. education movement is pushing charter schools. Emanuel and U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, a former Chicago schools chief, argue that schools performing poorly in academics should either be closed permanently, reopened with new principals and teachers, or converted to charter schools run by non-union personnel.

Teachers say they want more resources put into neighborhood public schools to help them succeed.

One Chicago school that has already been marked for a gradual closing is Dyett High School on the city's South Side. The school's academic standing is low, with a graduation rate of 33.7 percent in 2011 compared with 57.5 percent for Chicago public schools on average and a national rate of 75 percent.

But Kitesha Reggs, whose daughter attends Dyett, said the school lacks needed resources such as up-to-date books or enough computers. Reggs said that once Dyett closes, students may have to travel far for an alternative.

"It's just a safety issue," Reggs said. "They should be in their own neighborhood."

School district spokeswoman Becky Carroll said that for this year, academic criteria would not be used to determine school closings.

(Reporting By Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Greg McCune and Todd Eastham)


November 8, 2012 at 12:30 PM

By: Valerie F.Leonard

UNO helping BBB create Hit List?

Speaking of hit lists, I understand that Juan Rangel, UNO and other charter operators have been working very closely with CPS to identify schools that could be closed, turned around, etc. The sad part is, BBB and CPS publicly state the fact that there is no list, no decisions have been made, and the like. Here is a copy of a letter that UNO distributed to attendees of a private showing of Won't Back Down, encouraging them to join advocacy efforts to get a parent trigger law in Illinois. How is it that CPS can claim to be working with the communities on the issue of school closures, when they provide information and access to charter operators while keeping their own Community Advisory Councils and other community groups in the dark? Here is a link to an infographic urging the public to reject parent trigger laws.

November 9, 2012 at 7:10 PM

By: Anthony Smith

Flawed School Report Cards

What I find interesting about the school report cards is that the data is flawed. It is something that CPS can't and won't explain.

Additionally: schools that are not on IMPACT can report whatever they like regarding data, thus, perhaps, making themselves look so much better on paper than they actually are.

I would ask SUBSTANCE to please investigate this since we are being compared to these schools on the cover of each report card with a number and color code assigned to each neighborhood school. Parents can look at the picture and quickly figure out which neighborhood school is flunking or doing okay or well. And the data is flawed, seriously flawed. SO what are we to do?

November 10, 2012 at 7:12 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Board lies demand elected school board, interim accountability and transparency

The Board of Education has been lying about itself and its various privatization and "reform" projects since Mayor Richard M. Daley took control of the school system in 1995. A year after he appointed the first "School Reform Board of Trustees" following the passage of the Amendatory Act of 1995, and appointed Gery Chico and Paul Vallas to run the schools along with the seven-member "reform" Board, Daley went to Washington D.C and gave a speech to the National Press Club that was one big lie. Daley told the nation's reporters that his new reform board had "ended social promotion" and began turning around the city's failing school system thanks to the business models and business leaders that were now in power.

Actually, the main business leader in power was the commissar for the newly formed Illinois Business Roundtable, Norman Bobins, then President of LaSalle Bank. Neither Gery Chico (who had been a political lawyer his entire career) nor Paul Vallas had any business experience (although Vallas claimed that some time helping run a family restaurant in Palos Park qualified for that). The "business model" actually consisted in a drive to break the unions, privatize as much as possible, and claim anything they could as a "gain." The lies of Chicago were exported across the cities of the USA, in some cases with the collaboration of the unions (including the Chicago Teachers Union, whose president, Tom Reece, stated that the Daley Board was the best CTU had ever worked with).

The 17 year history of corporate school reform in Chicago sows only one thing. Every claim is a lie, from the budget "deficits" to the "gains" on various tests (which have been changed for the past two decades, each time the gainings run out).

While the elected school board won't end the lies, it will at least end this generation of lies, and perhaps enable some of those who have long been publishing the truth to publish the books exposing the lies -- and liars, from Chico and Vallas to Brizard and Byrd-Bennett -- for future generations. Meanwhile, any citizen can stand before the school board and demand that one of another lie be stopped. But since the liars are in power and have been since the "business model" and mayoral control were put into power, only unseating their models and their ideology will begin to reverse this decade, which, to quote a poet, the "low dishonest decade..."

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:

1 + 5 =