Rahm touts opening of schools, crazy numbers about 'attendance'

It's not that anything that is said by the leaders of public education in Chicago has any credibility with most people in the nation's third largest city, but every now and then Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel sprains his own shoulder patting himself on his own back at the expense of the city's children, teachers, and productive citizens.

The only reason for the opening of Chicago's more than 600 public schools (real and charter) during the hottest week in several years -- and during the last week of August, instead of after the Labor Day weekend -- was an accounting trickery. Rahm's handlers know that most of the kids will get an extra week of teaching (thanks to Chicago teachers, not to Rahm) if they are in school for the full week before Labor Day. Mathematically that means a high probability that test scores will go "up" a little bit as measured against the previous year.

What City Hall and the current leaders of the Board won't admit is that Chicago public school test scores went "up" at the highest rate in a decade -- because the teachers went on strike for seven schools days in September 2012. The standard measure of schools in the USA today (during the era of corporate mismanagement and "accountability") has been test scores. And twice in the past quarter century, Chicago student test scores had an amazing bump -- "up" -- following a teachers' strike. But since the power of the teachers (as measured through the Chicago Teachers Union) cannot be admitted as a key factor in corporate "school reform" that amazing bit of history continues to be ignored.

Early on the morning of August 31, 2013, Rahm's personal publicity office -- the "Mayor's Press Office" at Chicago's City Hall -- issued the following press release:


August 30, 2013


Mayor’s Press Office



"I congratulate all Chicagoans on a successful first week of school. The entire city came together to ensure our city's future leaders and innovators could focus on their studies, and we saw great attendance all week including 93.5 percent of students attending on the first day of school. I call on every Chicagoan to keep up the same effort, energy and enthusiasm every single day of this school year. What we saw this week on our Safe Passage routes and in our classrooms represents the best of Chicago. Our children are our future and I look forward to working with everyone to help them realize their tremendous potential.”

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