Hit List pared down to 'only' 129 schools, says Barbara Byrd-Bennett... Latest 'Hit List' is almost exclusively composed of African American schools in poor communities

Chicago Public Schools officials, in carefully manipulate press briefings with selected TV reporters, released on February 13, 2013 what they called a pared down version of the 2013 list of schools to be considered for closing. The list is referred to by critics as the "2013 Hit List" of schools to be closed for alleged "underutilization." The announcement was made by a press release that was provided to Substance after some confusion on the part of CPS. The press release was later provided to the public on the CPS website (

In making her announcement, Byrd Bennett repeated the claim, widely challenged by CTU and independent and CTU researchers, that CPS is facing a "billion dollar deficit" and that the so-called "underutilization crisis" can save the system a large amount of money.

CPS officials made it clear that the new list is the last before Byrd-Bennett releases her final closing recommendations to be voted on by the Board of Education. By a change in state law that she requested, the CEO must release her final list of recommendations before March 31. She repeated on February 13 her statement that she does not know at this time how many schools will be on the final list.

A second round of community hearings began on the evening of February 13, a few hours after Byrd Bennett's announcements, in a church in the Austin community. The hearing was for the "Garfield Humboldt Network," which includes the Austin and Lawndale communities. The list released on February 13, shows that Austin has seven schools still on the list and North Lawndale, which is in the same network, has nine. The communities that stand to be hardest hit are the same neighborhoods that have experienced many previous closings and transformations, including charter openings (in public school buildings) and "turnarounds".

CPS has refused to hold a press conference on serious matters since Byrd Bennett became CEO in October 2012. The February 13, 2013 "presser" involved individual briefings for selected reporters, who were "invited" to the offices of the CEO at 125 S. Clark St. for appointments. Substance was not informed of the press events, but demanded to participate and, after some discussion, was provided with the information here by Barbara Byrd-Bennett and CPS communications officials.

THE OFFICIAL CPS PRESS RELEASE FOLLOWS HERE: Based On Community Feedback, CPS Releases Detailed Criteria to Help Guide Decisions on District’s Utilization Crisis Second Round of Phase II Community Meetings Begin Today, Parents and Community Members Urged to Attend

February 13, 2013

After reviewing feedback from community members collected by the independent Commission on School Utilization and recent Chicago Public Schools (CPS) community meetings, CPS Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett today released a detailed set of planning criteria to help address the District’s facilities and budget crisis.

The District faces a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year, while nearly half of CPS’ schools are underutilized, stretching resources thin and limiting the District’s ability to provide every student with a well-rounded and high-quality education. This set of criteria will help guide the process of identifying underutilized schools that will be combined with high-performing schools in order to free up resources to improve education across the District.

“As a former teacher and principal, I know that our limited education resources are spread much too thin,” said CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett. “By combining schools that lack sufficient numbers of students, we can redirect our limited resources to give all of our children the quality education they need and deserve to succeed.”

Of the 330 underutilized schools in CPS, 201 schools have been removed from consideration for closure after receiving community feedback collected by the Commission as well as by CPS over the last two weeks from more than 8,500 parents and community members who participated in one of 15 meetings held in each of its School Networks. While 129 schools remain under consideration, this is only a preliminary list and more schools are expected to be removed over the next several weeks as CPS continues to gather feedback from communities.

Additionally, the safety and security of students continues to be CEO Byrd-Bennett’s top priority. “I will not close any school where I don’t have confidence that children will have a safe and smooth transition at welcoming schools next fall,” she said. Byrd-Bennett promised to continue to engage parents, principals, faith and community leaders, the Chicago Police Department and her safety and security team before making any decisions on which underutilized schools may need to be closed.

Today’s release of this criteria comes in advance of a second round of community meetings that begin tonight to continue gathering feedback and guidance on how to most effectively address the District’s utilization crisis.

Currently, the District has space for over 511,000 students, but only 403,000 are enrolled. Nearly 140 schools are more than half empty. CEO Byrd-Bennett believes that CPS’s limited resources must be used wisely so the District can fully invest in all students and ensure that all schools can benefit from new technologies, playgrounds, libraries, music and art, counselors, nurses and air conditioning. She added that those investments are not possible if CPS continues to maintain half empty schools and crumbling buildings.

Last month, in response to the Commission on School Utilization’s interim report, CPS announced it would not consider high schools and high-performing Level 1 schools. Today, based on additional community feedback and additional commission recommendations from their interim report, CPS will remove from potential closure those schools meeting the following criteria

High schools

High performing, Level 1 schools

Schools in the process of adding grades that are expected to reach efficient utilization based on enrollment trends

Schools with greater than 600 students enrolled on 20th day of SY2012-13

Schools with a utilization rate of at least 70% in SY2012-13

Schools that have recently experienced a significant school action. This is defined as schools that have been a designated welcoming school in the last 3 years or were part of a co-location approved last year that went into effect this year

Schools that are “on the rise” - defined as meeting one or both of the following:

A. Level 2 schools that have gained enrollment over the last 3 years OR

B. Any schools that are “sustainable and improving performance”. These schools meet ALL of the following:

Greater than or equal to 300 students enrolled 20th day SY2012-13

Same or higher performance level for SY2011-12 as SY2010-11

ISAT composite meets / exceeds trend value that indicates increase in student proficiency

Students are performing at or above their peers in reading or math for each of the last 3 years

Schools that are isolated from nearby neighborhood elementary schools

Schools that are surrounded by schools that are at or near capacity and do not have space to welcome students

CEO Byrd-Bennett urged all members of the community to participate in this next round of community meetings to continue providing feedback needed before presenting final recommendations to the Board of Education later in March. To view the entire list and criteria, visit our website at

CTU RESPONSE Below here:

Today, February 13th, 2013, Barbara Byrd-Bennett released another revision of the mayor’s Hit List, targeting 129 schools for closure next year. This unprecedented attack targets only schools in Black and Latino neighborhoods — especially the ones in which resources are few. Over the years, charter schools have blanketed these same neighborhoods with marketing materials full of false promises to lure families. In an unsurprising move, every single politically-connected charter school once called “underutilized” has been cleared from the Hit List. All this amidst the growing scandal over UNO charter school patronage.

Not every CTU member’s school is on the Hit List — but the entire system of public schools in which every one of us works is targeted. In order to save it, we must insist that EVERY TARGETED SCHOOL MUST REMAIN OPEN.

CPS is currently holding “community hearings” underwritten by the Walton Family Foundation (Wal-Mart) to sell these school closings to the public. The public is not buying what the saboteurs and privatizers are selling. Thousands of parents, teachers and community members have attended these meetings to save our schools from closing. These parents aren't letting themselves be pitted against one another. They aren't begging for just their own schools to be spared, but are banding together to save ALL neighborhood public schools.

Teachers must join our parents, students and community members. Pledge to attend a community meeting.



COOK, Auburn Gresham

GRESHAM, Auburn Gresham

JACKSON, M, Auburn Gresham

MORGAN, Auburn Gresham

RYDER, Auburn Gresham

GREEN, Auburn Gresham



EMMET, Austin

KEY, Austin

LEWIS, Austin

MAY, Austin

MCNAIR, Austin

GRAHAM, Bridgeport - Chinatown

MCCLELLAN, Bridgeport - Chinatown

ATTUCKS, Bronzeville

BURKE, Bronzeville

CARTER, Bronzeville

DRAKE, Bronzeville

FULLER, Bronzeville

MAYO, Bronzeville

MOLLISON, Bronzeville

OVERTON, Bronzeville


ROBINSON, Bronzeville

WELLS, I, Bronzeville


WILLIAMS ES, Bronzeville

WOODSON, Bronzeville

HENDRICKS, Bronzeville

ASHE , Chatham

CLAREMONT, Chicago Lawn

ALTGELD, Englewood

BANNEKER Englewood

BONTEMPS Englewood

DAVIS, M Englewood

EARLE Englewood

GOODLOW Englewood


HINTON Englewood

HOLMES Englewood

LANGFORD Englewood

MAYS Englewood

O'TOOLE Englewood

STAGG Englewood

WOODS Englewood

DEWEY Englewood

LIBBY Englewood

PARKMAN Englewood

SHERMAN Englewood

YALE Englewood

LAWRENCE Far East Side

ALDRIDGE Far South Side

CARVER , G Far South Side

GOMPERS Far South Side

METCALFE Far South Side

OWENS Far South Side

PULLMAN Far South Side

SONGHAI Far South Side


WHISTLER Far South Side

FERNWOOD Far South Side

GARVEY Far South Side

HUGHES, L Far South Side

KOHN Far South Side

SHOOP Far South Side

BEIDLER Garfield - West Humboldt

BETHUNE Garfield - West Humboldt

CALHOUN Garfield - West Humboldt

DELANO Garfield - West Humboldt

ERICSON Garfield - West Humboldt

GARFIELD PARK Garfield - West Humboldt

GOLDBLATT Garfield - West Humboldt

MARCONI Garfield - West Humboldt

MELODY Garfield - West Humboldt

PICCOLO Garfield - West Humboldt

RYERSON Garfield - West Humboldt

TILTON Garfield - West Humboldt

WARD, L Garfield - West Humboldt

WEBSTER Garfield - West Humboldt

DUPREY Humboldt Park

LAFAYETTE Humboldt Park

VON HUMBOLDT Humboldt Park

CANTER Hyde Park


REAVIS Hyde Park

MANIERRE Lincoln Park



LOZANO, Near North

NEAR NORTH, Near North

PEABODY, Near North

BROWN, W, Near West

DETT,Near West


KING Near West


SMYTH Near West

CHALMERS North Lawndale

CROWN North Lawndale

HENSON North Lawndale

HERZL North Lawndale

HUGHES, C North Lawndale

LAWNDALE North Lawndale

MASON North Lawndale

PENN North Lawndale

POPE North Lawndale

JUNGMAN Pilsen - Little Village

PADEREWSKI Pilsen - Little Village

PILSEN Pilsen - Little Village


STEWART Ravenswood

STOCKTON Ravenswood

TRUMBULL Ravenswood


MADISON South Shore


O'KEEFFE South Shore

PARKSIDE South Shore

POWELL South Shore

REVERE South Shore

WARREN South Shore


FERMI Woodlawn

FISKE Woodlawn

ROSS Woodlawn

SEXTON Woodlawn

TILL Woodlawn



February 14, 2013 at 7:32 PM

By: Anthony Smith

'CTU draft a bill...' says Rep Will Davis...

Happy Valentines Day George!

On CLTV,minutes ago, 6:30pm, Will Davis of the 30th District said multiple times that the Chicago Teachers Union should draft a bill in regards to school closures, a moratorium on, etc.

So, what do you think?

Best wishes everyone,


February 15, 2013 at 3:00 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

'Draft a Bill?'... Illinois already has a law... Byrd Bennett and Rahm got it broken this year

While I agree that Chicago needs another law regarding facilities in the face of the current rampant absurdisms coming out of the CPS leadership at Clark St. the publicly financed and privately subsidized propagandists working for Rahm Emanuel up the street at LaSalle and Washington, and Chicago's corporate media, the fact is that Illinois already has a fairly good law regarding Chicago facilities. The same people who helped write and pass that law a few months ago approved the request by CPS to break it.

But Springfield agreed to break the law this year, thanks to the lies, as we've documented, by Barbara Byrd Bennett's crew and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The facilities law was in place during the first year of Rahm's Board and was followed. CPS held "hearings" (which I reported on) during October on the criteria for school changes for the 2011 - 2012 school year. Those hearings, which resulted in last year's "Turnaround" Hit List, were conducted under the leadership of two major CPS officials, "Chief Family and Community Engagement Officer" Jamiko Rose and "Chief Portfolio Officer" Oliver Sicat. Those hearings resulted in the publication of the 2012 Hit List by December 1, as required by the law at that time.

This year, the law was the same, except that it also required that CPS develop a ten-year facilities plan, to be submitted by CPS by January 1, 2013.

Behind a smokescreen of lies, CPS officials and Rahm Emanuel's people went to Springfield and asked for a one-year modification of that law. The Hit List, which was supposed to be published December 1, 2012, was postponed until March 31, 2013. The ten-year facilities plan, which was supposed to be published January 1, was postponed until June 1, 2013.

Members of the Illinois General Assembly has no good reason to defy the law that was in place, unless they believed the two lies that CPS officials this year touted to the media -- the "underutilization crisis" and the "billion dollar deficit."

Obviously those lies succeeded, and the result has been the circus of "hearings" during the past 60 days. First, the "Commission" held its hearings, and got an earful. Since January 1, when the Commission provided its report (without by the way, providing the public with transcripts of its hearings), amid great fanfare CPS announced some modifications in the absurd criteria for "underutilization" that had been presented by Barbara Byrd Bennett during the run up to the Springfield hysteria (and that's the only word that can be used to describe it).

The Chicago facilities panel, by the way, has continued meeting, although it is being ignored widely by the whores of Chicago's corporate media. It met, as we reported last week, Saturday, and extended its meeting to double the time because so many people turned out to testify. The facilities panel, a truly democratic body, has now a three year record of actually listening to the public and trying to provide a truly decent facilities plan for the nation's third largest school system.

The river of lies upon which the current circuses have been playing a sort of white water rafting game should never have gotten to the point where it could have changed a decent law and allowed the current monstrous events to be unfolding.

Whether Illinois needs another law is a later question. Years of struggle produced the current law. The illegalities and absurd claims of the Chicago Board of Education, the revolving door administrations at CPS (where have Jean Claude Brizard, Jamiko Rose, and Oliver Sicat disappeared to?...) and the churning of propaganda have brought us to this point.

What needs to be done, in the least, is for teachers and other citizens to unseat those politicians who voted in favor of the current violations of the law that was in place. The foremost among these has been State Senator Iris Martinez, without whose support, Rahm and Byrd-Bennett would never have gotten the "traction" to ram through the changes in deadlines, no matter how crazy their latest propaganda claims ("underutilization crisis," "billion dollar deficit") might have sounded halfway down the state.

A year ago, the main players foisting the 2012 Hit List on Chicago's teachers and children were Brizard, Rose, and Sicat.

This year, the main players foisting the 2013 Hit List on Chicago's teacher, families and children are Byrd-Bennett, Phillip Hampton (who a year ago was at City Hall but who now sits in Jamiko Rose's FACE place), and Todd Babbitz (the "Chicago Transformation Officer" appointed by CPS in July). They are joined, of course, the latest round of budget officials who cook the books to create the latest manufactured crisis. Of course, without their enabling media whores (some of whom I spent an hour with the other night at CPS, while they went along with the controlling of the Party Line from CPS on the Hit List press work), their current nonsense would not be possible.

As to what the CTU is doing in legislative action, anyone who is a union member can call the union and talk with one of the union's lobbyists, all of whom are now very well known in Springfield. But it may be that what is not needed is new law, but the willingness of the majority of lawmakers to enforce the existing laws, no matter how big the BIG LIE being told this year by CPS and Chicago's mayor.

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