Hearings put in new locations... 'Rock Island' and 'Englewood' hearings to larger spaces.... Byrd Bennett and Board members continue to be truant from the hearings, while impassioned parents are misled into believing that the 'Board' is sitting in front of them

Late on Friday February 15, 2013, the CPS Office of Communications issued another revision of the schedule of "hearings" for the coming week, modifying (again) the schedule that CPS still has officially on the Board of Education's website ( He hearings have been tumultuous for weeks, as thousands of people turn out to oppose the claims that CPS schools are "underutilized" and that the school system is facing a "billion dollar deficit." Both claims have been refuted by research based on facts, but continue as CPS talking points.

CPS still hasn't explained why the hearings are not being held in Chicago public schools, most of which have large auditoriums, but speculation has begun that the hearings being held in churches are a form of patronage.

Substance reporters who have attended and covered most of the hearings also note that the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education and CEO Barbara Byrd Bennett are not attending the hearings, as if they were frightened of the communities they claim to be "listening" to. At the hearings, parents, students, teachers and others talk to the be-suited people sitting in the front as if those people were members of the "Board of Education." No one from CPS has informed the people speaking that the "Board" members and the top official for the school system are not there, and that no transcript of the hearings is being kept so that the members of the Board will vote on the basis of a "summary" report (which some people believe have already been written).

The CPs press release states as follows:

WHO: Residents of Englewood-Gresham and Rock Island Networks

WHAT: Announcing the change to larger venues at Englewood-Gresham and Rock Island community engagement meetings to accommodate more participants.

WHERE: Englewood/Gresham School Network, Monday, February 18 at 7 p.m., AFC Center (in the auditorium), 7859 S. Ashland Ave.

Rock Island School Network, Monday, February 25 at 7 p.m., Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 1257 West 111th Street

About Community Meetings: CPS is holding meetings as part of a rigorous community engagement process related to the District’s daunting utilization crisis, due in large part to a significant population decline over the last decade. Today, CPS serves 403,000 students, but has space for 511,000. Nearly 140 schools are more than half-empty and about 50 percent of all schools are underutilized. In the face of a $1 billion deficit next fiscal year, this utilization crisis is stretching the District’s limited resources much too thin. By addressing this crisis, CPS will be able to better redirect resources toward programs and supports that provide all children with a well-rounded, high-quality education, such as new technology, playgrounds, libraries, AC, more nurses and counselors and art and music programs.



February 19, 2013 at 12:39 AM

By: Danny van Over

O'Hare network hearings

The hit list released last week shows no schools from the O'Hare network. Is the meeting scheduled for Saturday, February 23rd still on, and is there any point in attending?

February 19, 2013 at 2:36 AM

By: George N. Schmidt

Attending the O'Hare hearing Saturday

As of the night of February 18 - 19, the O'Hare Network hearing was still on. While it is true that there are no "underutilized" public schools from the O'Hare Network left on the HIt List, the divide-and-conquer strategy of the Board will report to the "overcrowded" O'Hare Network schools that the only way CPS can relieve our overcrowding (I live in O'Hare Network and my two sons attend a school here) is to support the closing of those expensive "underutilized" schools. It's also a kind of a racist ploy, which we discussed at Saturday's Substance meeting, since it's likely that CPS officials will be using that "if THEM didn't get to have those half-empty schools we could do something for OUR children..." In Chicago, everyone knows who the THEM of the THOSE PEOPLE are.

Of course, the fact is that CPS has been wasting hundreds of millions of dollars each year depriving real public schools of facilities money.

Of course, it's also a fact that CPS has refused to follow the law and provide the public with the ten-year facilities master plan that is required so that CPS and Chicago can actually review the demographics and not simply allow clout to reign, as it has.

Here's a cool fact.

Over the past 15 years, since the Jones conversion began, CPS has spent more money on creating the "New Jones College Prep" than on relieving overcrowding in all of the (currently called) "O'Hare Network." CPS wasted tens of millions of dollars buying property from Congress to Polk for the "New Jones," then couldn't use the property between Congress and Harrison (that's now a condo; clout on that one too... since CPS transferred the property...) and while diddling around with the new building (finally at State and Polk) was sending the Jones kids up to the VACANT Near North Career Magnet High School building two miles away up on Clybourn.


Since mayoral control, the CPS facilities program has been a wasteful mess of clout, control, and divide and conquer. (I'm not even here going to talk about the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted on the charter school conversations -- fix up the building and then "rent" it to a charter operator for a dollar a year... How's that for a bargain and a half...)...

People in the O'Hare Network last got directly screwed when the racists in the far northwest side sliver evicted Edison Gifted from its facility (it was the only school up there with black kids...) and sent the school down to the overcrowded Albany Park Middle School block (Albany Park, Hibbard, Edison Gifted in one two-black stretch). The difference between years past and now is that most of our neighbors up here in the "O'Hare Network" know that Rahm's boys and girls -- and the Seven Dwarfs on the Board this moment -- are not interested in ANY public schools, or any public school children. Their job is to privatize as much as possible as soon as possible behind this smokescreen of the double-edged lie we've exposed:

LIE NUMBER ONE: The "Underutilization Crisis" using phony "data."

LIE NUMBER TWO: The "Billion Dollar Deficit" using phony financial numbers (overestimate expenses, underestimate revenues -- BINGO, another huge "deficit" that disappears when the books are audited 18 months later).

One last thing making me tempted to go to "O'Hare" Saturday. It's always fun to watch who is sitting at the head table playing "Board." As you know, not one member of the Board of Education has been to one of the hearings. Nor has Barbara Byrd Bennett.

So the question every night and weekend is:

WTF are those people in the suits sitting in front of everyone? (Note that they don't have name tags or signs indicating who they are because most of them are middle level bureaucrats with as much reason to be playing BOARD OF EDUCATION members as if CPS had recruited the extras for this dumb show from the Mickey Mouse Club...

February 20, 2013 at 12:42 PM

By: Daniel Williams

O'Hare Network Meeting


I strongly urge you to attend the O'Hare network meeting. I live in Edison Park and have been attending every meeting I can get to when I'm not working. Unfortunately I cannot go on Saturday since I work that day.

I highly recommend going because the Board should hear from everyone in the city, even if no schools are listed for being closed.

Most importantly, just because none of the O'Hare schools are not on the closing list does NOT mean they are exempt from turnaround, co-location or another action.

Since the O'Hare network boasts some of the strongest performing schools in CPS, I would say go to the hearing and let the Board know that Chicago stands behind quality and accessible neighborhood schools in every area.

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:

4 + 1 =