MEDIA WATCH: RAUNER, PLUTOCRATS PURGE THE PRESS... Rosalind Rossi purged... Sun-Times owners purging newsroom of knowledge of CPS history and ruling class's decades-long school closing lies and dirty tricks

Chicago Sun-Times Education Reporter Rosalind Rossi (above right covering the August 29, 2012 press conference at the Chicago Teachers Union) was purged by the Sun-Times owners from the education beat in December 2012 so that the reporting on education would not contradict the lies being spread by Bruce Rauner and other Sun-Times owners. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. How many people in Chicago remember that in November 2004, four months after Mayor Richard M. Daley announced "Renaissance 2010", that the Chicago Board of Education promised a complete and transparent public review before schools would be closed under the mayor's new plan? How many remember that in November 2004, eight years ago, CPS leaders also established a Web site so that there could be maximum public input before they closed schools on orders from the city's mayor based on a plan by the city's corporate elite?

Eight years later, in November 2012, the same line about "transparency" and openness (complete with a Web site dedicated to the closings) is once again front page news.

In 2004, the news was about the plans of Board of Education President Michael Scott and Chief Executive Officer Arne Duncan to make what they called the "hard choices" and close "failing schools" — after, of course, listening to everyone.

In 2012, the news is about the plans of Board of Education President David Vitale and Chief Executive Officer Barbara Byrd Bennett to make what they called the "hard choices" and close "underutilized schools" — after, of course, listening to everyone. There have been three Board presidents since Michael Scott went bankrupt and supposedly committed suicide after Chicago's plans for hosting the 2016 Olympics collapsed — Clara Munana, Mary Richardson Lowry, and David Vitale.

And CPS is now on its third (or fourth, depending upon whether you count an "interim") "Chief Executive Officer" since Arne Duncan promulgated Renaissance 2010 from 2004 through 2008 (and then went to Washington D.C, to push the Chicago Plan on the entire nation).

Duncan's successors as CEO have been Ron Huberman (2009 -2011), Terry Mazany (2011), Jean-Claude Brizard 2011- 2012), and Barbara Byrd Bennett (2012). Each of the Board presidents and all of the CEOs have repeated their talking points faithfully — and some would say cynically — as if no one in Chicago is paying attention. And within three months, Byrd Bennett has added more than two million dollars worth of new bureaucrats to the CPS bureaucracy, all the while talking over and over about how the public schools are "broke" and how austerity demands that "underutilized" schools be closed.

The record exists, unless Chicago gets complete amnesia — and not only in Substance. A handful of reporters have periodically reported what's been happening in Chicago's public schools and lifted the large verbose rocks under which the truths beyond the official lies can be found.

And that may explain why Chicago's corporate owners are purging the city's newsrooms of the last possible vestiges of people who actually know and understand the complex workings of the city's public schools — and the last versions of "transparency" that were trotted out as propaganda while schools were purged. The Chicago Sun-Times is now owned by a group of millionaires and billionaires including Bruce Rauner, and anyone who believes the newsrooms of the city will remain even a tad factual hasn't been paying attention.

But the scene being played out in Chicago in December 2012 could have been lifted from the famous fifth season of the HBO fiction, "The Wire." That final season depicted how the corrupt owners of Baltimore's newspapers ensured that real news reporting by beat reporters who knew what they were dong and had sources who trusted them were being eliminated by corporate propagandists who cared little about reporting and very much about touting the Party Line as if they were reporting from the 1936 Olympics on behalf of the Triumph of the Will.

The Chicago Sun-Times -- under its latest owners, who include billionaire Bruce Rauner -- has purged its reportorial ranks of one of the few reporters who actually had some in depth knowledge of the Chicago Public Schools. Rosalind Rossi has been transferred to the "transportation" beat just in time to cover the imposition of two-way bicycle lanes on Dearborn St. by Rauner's buddy Rahm Emanuel. Henceforth, the Sun-Times will be safe from covering CPS news by anyone who knows the history and the insides of the nation's third largest school system.

In November 2004, the Sun-Times reported that Chicago Public Schools had established a website to assure the public of "transparency" in the upcoming debate on school closings. That year was the debut of "Renaissance 2010", Mayor Daley's plan for massive school closings and the privatization of public buildings through charterization. At the time, Rossi was quoting the corrupt Board of Education President Michael Scott on how the public was going to be respected during the process of undermining the city's real public schools, during the administration of Arne Duncan as CPS "Chief Executive Officer." Even though Rossi reported many stories from the management point of view, here knowledge of the history of corporate "school reform", going all the way back to the "Reconstitution" of schools like Englewood High School (1997). Rossi was capable of drawing on both institutional memory of CPS history and sources that the Sun-Times doesn't want to utilize now that it will be a shameless propagandist for Barbara Byrd Bennett and Rahm Emanuel's latest "Renaissance." Published with this article here (see below, in italics) is a 2004 analysis Rossi did at the onset of "Renaissance 2010." Renaissance 2010 was the Daley administration's plan to close real public schools and replace them, often in the same buildings, with soon-to-be-failing charter schools. Just as Daley's plans were transparent to many from the beginning in 2004, so the Barbara Byrd Bennett school closing "Commission" in 2012 would easily be seen as "Deja Vu all over again..."

Ironically, the same week that the Sun-Times confirmed that its most knowledgeable education reporter had been purged, billionaire Bruce Rauner began his career as a Sun-Times pundit, debuting on December 21 with a column on the value of "Right To Work" laws.

Probably one of the dangers posed by Rossi to the Bruce Rauner version of "news" can be seen in the November 18, 2004 article, written by Rossi, reprinted in the graphic with this article. The text is below here. Note that Barbara Byrd Bennet and David Vitale are in 2012 doing precisely the same thing that Arne Duncan and Michael Scott were doing in 2004 to push the first round of massive school closings and privatizations under the guise of "Renaissance 2010." Readers know that "Renaissance 2010," which was announced in a June 2004 speech by Richard M. Daley to the Civic Committe of the Commercial Club, was actually drafted by Eden Martin of the Civic Committee in a 2003 report entitled "Still Left Behind." "Still Left Behind," the ruling class's version of the problems of public education in Chicago, provided the blueprint for "Renaissance 2010," which was virtually dictated to the city's political and education leadership by the corporate leadership. In 2004, Eden Martin was chairman of the Civic Committee's education committee.

In 2012, Bruce Rauner is chairman of the Civic Committee's education committee. But in 2004 Eden Martin did not own the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2012, Bruce Rauner owns the Sun-Times.

Which Chicago public schools need ‘Rebirth’? Web site taking suggestions, but critics call it ‘charade’, Chicago Sun-Times November 18, 2004, By Rosalind Rossi, Education Reporter

When is it time to pull the plug on a chronically low-scoring school?

Chicago public school officials Wednesday sought input on that very question by unveiling a Web site where residents can go to offer criteria they think should be used to pick 70 troubled schools for “rebirth” under Mayor Daley’s Renaissance 2010 initiative.

Chicago Sun-Times reporter Rosalind Rossi covering the famous "Mic Check" meeting of the Chicago Board of Education on December 14, 2011. Rossi is seated in front of Ardouthus McDowell (who is standing in the yellow jacket, reading the mic check), who began the "mic check", Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Critics immediately derided the Web survey as a “charade” that could easily be manipulated by the Board of Education. But Board President Michael Scott said it was part of a new effort to be “transparent” about one of the toughest calls school officials face. “We’re really interested in the question, ‘How bad does something have to be before we consider changing it?’ Scott said. “Then years – is that long enough?”

Scott promised a “very public and open civic discussion” of how the system should target up to 70 scools for closure over the next six years. The move follows repeated complaints that community residents have been shut out of all Renaissance 2010 decision making. Not all responses may be public

Board staff will gather Web input from www,ren201.cps, and tabulate the results, Scott said, although he wasn’t sure if they would make every Web response public. Town hall meetings will be held on the topic. Based on all that input, the new closure criteria and a list of targeted schools should be released by the end of January.

However, Derrick Harris of the North Lawndale Local School Council Federation said the people most likely to be affected by closings – low income minorities – are least likely to have computers or know how to get on the Web and fill out the form.

“This demonstrates once again Chicago public schools’ insensitivity to the issues of real people,” Harris said. Without public disclosure of all Web comment, he said the system could easily “mischaracterize” the Web results and turn the whole Web input into a “charade.”

Peter Cunningham, top Chicago Board of Education spokesman, said residents can call 773-553-1000 and have a copy of the Web form mailed to them, or they can pick it up from their local library or alderman and mail it in.

“Do they want to work with us or just criticize?” Cunningham said. “Does Derrick Harris want to distribute some of these forms? We’ll give him some. Does he want to host a meeting? Give us a call.”

3 new small schools at Du Sable

Also Wednesday, Board members approved a plan to put three new small schools into Du Sable High School: the Daniel Hale Williams Prep School of Medicine, which aims to get minority seventh through 12th graders interested in careers in medicine; the DuSable Leadership Academy, which will be a high school extension of the Betty Shabazz elementary charter school; and the Bronzeville Scholastic Institute.

Board members approved a plan to pay National Waste Services up to $4.2 million a year to pick up school waste, now that the city canceled school pickups to save money. School Operations Chief Sean Murphy said the new trash contract will only cost the system up to $2.4 million a year In addition, Murphy said, the system hopes to reduce the tab f


December 24, 2012 at 5:10 PM

By: Jay Rehak

Everyone should stop buying the Sun-Times and the Tribune.

As Mike Royko famously noted, "no self-respecting fish would be caught dead wrapped up" in either the Sun-Times or the Tribune. Beyond reporting sports scores accurately, neither of those publications can be trusted to report the news fairly or accurately. As a collective citizenry, let's move into the 21st Century and find other sources for news beyond the pet projects and mouthpieces of billionaires.

December 24, 2012 at 9:16 PM

By: Anthony Smith

Real News Sources

Many of my neighbors, all of my friends, and many of colleagues have stopped their subscriptions/buying the Sun Times and the Chicago Tribune.

We should support real news sources like Substance, The Reader, MSNBC, etc.

The Sun Times and Chicago Tribune are no longer relevant on many levels.

Once we were glad to support them, even when they occasionally differed in opinion from ours. Once we were glad to utilize them in our classrooms to showcase good solid news reporting. Once we encouraged our students, neighbors, and friends to buy these papers.

Now that they are owned by and controlled by elitists with an agenda (remember Hearst anyone?) and they think they know best and have all the correct answers, and they no longer allow any other opinions, well they serve the purpose of the FEW.

And as any Star Trek fan can tell you, Spock said it best when he said: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

So, George, Amen on your commentary and history lesson, and Jay, I second the motion.

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