MEDIA WATCH: Corporate 'reporters' coverage April 15, 2013 of CTU press conference... Most coverage ignores facts reported about Guggenheim school

Although the main news story on April 15, 2013 was the Wrigley Field deal -- until the explosions at the Boston Marathon -- the corporate media did send a full team of reporters to cover the press conference hosted by the Chicago Teachers Union. The CTU was releasing a report on the hypocrisy of the school closings, and a reiteration of the analysis that showed the racism of the current listing of 54 schools to close.

Reporters who covered the April 15, 2013 press conference at the Chicago Teachers Union included (left to right, seated front above): Lauren Fitzpatrick (Chicago Sun-Times); Sarah Karp (Catalyst); Linda Lutton (WBEZ radio); and Norine Allah-Ahmed (Chicago Tribune). Standing above them is Michael Harrington of the Chicago Teachers Union. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.CHICAGO SUN TIMES BELOW HERE:

CTU president launches effort to oust Rahm, BY LAUREN FITZPATRICK AND FRAN SPIELMAN Staff Reporters April 15, 2013 5:55PM

Karen Lewis speaking during a press conference at the Chicago Teacher's Union headquarters April 14, 2013. The teacher's union release a study "A Tale of Two Schools: The Human Story Behind the Destructive School Actions in Chicago," which highlighted the impact of school closings at Simon Guggenheim Elementary and Jacob Beidler Elementary. Jessica Koscielniak ~

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis isn't waiting for 2015 to try to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whom she blames for closing a historic number of public schools, she said Monday, announcing an aggressive campaign to train his possible replacement.

"If the mayor and his handpicked corporate school board will not listen to us, then we must find those who will," Lewis said.


Teachers union to seek ouster of mayor, other officials By Noreen S. Ahmed-Ullah, Tribune reporter. 9:07 p.m. CDT, April 15, 2013

Stymied in its efforts to stop the city from closing scores of schools, the Chicago Teachers Union on Monday said it will turn its attention to a voter registration campaign and efforts to oust Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other elected officials.

Asked at a news conference if she would consider a run for mayor, CTU President Karen Lewis quickly and loudly said, "No. Thank you." But then she added, "Not yet."

In addition to targeting Emanuel, union officials said they will be looking for candidates to replace aldermen and members of the Illinois General Assembly who "have failed to listen to the voices of thousands of parents, educators, students, school employees and activists."

The union said it will provide "boot camps" for candidates, fund political campaigns through its political action committee and canvass neighborhoods on behalf of its candidates.

Although Chicago Public Schools continues to hold hearings on school closings, Emanuel has said the time for negotiations is over. On Monday, CPS announced that public hearings for each of the schools facing closing this year will begin at its central office Tuesday. The Board of Education is expected to vote May 22 on the plan to close 53 elementary schools and one high school program.

"The mayor has said, 'No more negotiations,'" Lewis said Monday. "Board members have been trotted out to parrot CPS talking points as if they have already voted on the matter. There is no democracy here. These hearings, most likely sham events, are designed to provide therapy to people impacted by their decisions.

"So, if the mayor and his hand-picked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will."

Lewis said the union's additional political efforts will begin May 23, the day after the school board is expected to vote on closings.

The CTU, whose leadership is up for election May 17, has fought the district's plan to close schools for months.

The union led a downtown rally last month and has conducted a bus tour for elected officials to showcase neighborhoods hit hard by school closings over the past few years. Those tours also served to put a spotlight on the longer and potentially more dangerous walks many students will be forced to take after their schools close.

Elizabeth Brackett of WTTW TV asked Karen Lewis whether it was legal for the union to support political candidates. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The closings will be accompanied by job losses, another concern of the union's. Only tenured teachers who score well on their evaluations can move with their students to a receiving school should a position open up. Many teachers whose schools are closing have expressed doubt about whether they will have a job next fall.

Lewis announced the effort during a news conference on the release of a new CTU report that looked at the outcomes from a school that was closed last year, Guggenheim Elementary in Englewood, and from another school that was saved from being shut down two years ago, Beidler Elementary in East Garfield Park.

The report questioned the district's ability to pull off so many closings, saying CPS in the past "mishandled" the transition of students, especially the homeless student population at Guggenheim.

After Guggenheim was shut down, only 37 percent of the school's nongraduating students went to the designated receiving school, according to the CTU report. About 19 percent dropped out, left the district or have not been accounted for by CPS, the report stated.


Chicago Teachers Union vows to make school closings political. Union president Karen Lewis says a “voter education campaign” will add 100,000 new voters to Chicago’s rolls.. April 15, 2013. By: Linda Lutton

Angry over school a proposal that would close down an unprecedented number of schools, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis Monday vowed to launch a “comprehensive and aggressive political action campaign” with the ultimate goal of defeating Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local elected officials supportive of school closings.

“If the mayor and his hand-picked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will,” Lewis said.

Lewis said union members would continue to oppose the closings through hearings and protests “until the board rubber stamps this plan on May 22, and on May 23 we’re going right back in the streets.”

The union says it wants to put a minimum of 100,000 new voters on Chicago’s rolls. Lewis says union organizers will go door to door in neighborhoods where schools are closing and where teachers are losing jobs “due to this administration.”

The union also plans to increase donations to its political action committee and vet potential candidates.

Lewis called the dozens of public hearings being held by the district “most likely sham events” and said they’re “designed to provide therapy to people impacted by their decisions.”

The union released an analysis today — Lewis referred to it as an “autopsy” — of Guggenheim Elementary, which was closed last year.

The union says Guggenheim was neglected, with overcrowded classrooms and just two working computers in the library. Advocates say once the proposal to shut down the school was announced, the principal improperly tried to push homeless children to transfer. Once Guggenheim was closed, only 37 percent of students went to the designated CPS receiving school. Catalyst-Chicago has reported that CPS has lost track of 23 Guggenheim kids, and cannot say where they ended up. The union says other schools live in fear of being shut down.

Reporters say the district had trouble closing four schools last year, now it’s trying to close 54.

Chicago Public Schools spokesman Dave Miranda says the district is taking a new approach this year.

“Unlike in the past, CPS will work aggressively and proactively to reach parents at all sending schools to encourage them to enroll their children in their dedicated higher-performing welcoming schools," he said. "We want to ensure that students can benefit from the additional investments that will be made in welcoming schools for the fall.”

A spokeswoman for the mayor said this is "simply not the time for politics." "Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a plan for Chicago Public Schools, with Mayor Emanuel's support, that finally puts our children first," the spokeswoman said.

Photo ID: Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. On April 15, 2013, Lewis vowed to launch a “comprehensive and aggressive political action campaign” against supporters of school closures.



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