Rahm Emanuel continues to push privatization at the ground breaking for the Noble Charter School 'ITW Campus'... Noble charter chief brags that this latest 'campus' will bring the total number of students to 10,000

Flanked by a number of charter school promoters in a special events tent that was smaller so that potential protesters from across the street could be excluded, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on the morning of January 31, 2013 presided over the groundbreaking for the latest "campus" of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, this one located one block from Prosser High School.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel spoke in a heated tent during the ceremonies the preceded the groundbreaking for the latest campus of the "Noble Network of Charter Schools" on January 31, 2014. The carefully scripted and staged media event included a refusal by the mayor to answer reporters' questions, and the exclusion of protesting community activists from the tent where the event was held. Seats in the tent were all reserved for charter school supporters and supporters of the mayor's privatization policies. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The carefully scripted media event began with the "Presentation of the Colors" by students from the Pritzker College Prep "campus" of the Noble charter schools, then went into a program of speakers that would give even the casual listener the scripts that are followed as the mayor and his allies continue the drive to increase Chicago's charter schools less than a year after on Emanuel's orders the Board of Education closed 49 of the city's real public elementary schools.

The mayor's media event began with Marine ROTC students from Noble "Pritzker Campus" presenting the colors while carrying rifles. On the left above is the mayor's bald spot. Substance photo by George N Schmidt.Following the presentation of the colors by students in Marine Corps uniforms and the singing of the national anthem, the program includes several speakers. Long-time Noble schools executive Thomas Mulder, who will be the "founding principal" of the new school, began the event by discussing the latest from Noble -- STEM. Mulder then introduced Kenyette Holmes, who was listed on the program as a "Belmont - Cragin resident and Noble parent.

Holmes read her remarks, telling the audience that when she was going to go to high school 20 years ago she "applied to Prosser but didn't get in..." and supposedly faced problems because she went to a neighborhood high school (which she didn't identify). She told the audience of more than 60 people that her own children have been saved from the same fate by being able to attend a Noble charter school.

The remarks by Holmes followed the typical salvation narrative utilized by charter school supporters, including both parents and former students. According to this version of reality, the real public schools would have ruined the children, but salvation came in the form of the charter school. Unlike most of the charter speakers during the past years, Holmes named Prosser High School as the school she had wanted to attend, but failed to say which terrible high schools she was apparently forced to attend when Prosser couldn't accept her.

Construction began on the charter school site even before the Chicago Board of Education voted at its January 22, 2014 meeting to approve the newest charter school. Despite claims by the mayor and the city's corporate media that the deal will result in "savings," the industrial site owned by ITW will go off the tax rolls, and those who made the "charitable donation" received a significant tax break. Like most of the charter school deals still spreading across the USA, privatization means profits, even if school improvement is more myth than reality. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.A group of parents from nearby Prieto Elementary School, which is already overcrowded less than five years after its opening, were kept in the back of the tent and not allowed to speak. Prieto has been demanding relief because of its overcrowding situation, while the Chicago Board of Education, at its January 22 meeting, voted to create the ITW "campus" of the Noble charter schools as a high school even thought there is no high school overcrowding problem in the area.

Following Holmes, Michael Milkie, the "Superintendent and CEO of Noble" told the crowd about the history of Noble charter schools, reminding everyone that Milkie had taught math in a Chicago public school prior to opening the first Noble Street Charter School in 1999. Milkie praised Mulder, who, he said, was the first person hired for administrative work after Milkie and his wife began the school.

After sharing some personal stories about his history with Noble Street charter schools, Milkie told the audience that with the addition of the ITW "campus" the total number of students in the Noble schools would exceed 10,000. He didn't mention that the combined income of Milkie and his wife, who is also a Noble administrator, exceeds that of the "Chief Executive Officer" of the city's entire public school system, which currently has more than 400,000 students (including charter students).

For the second time in less than two weeks, Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward) used a major media event with the TV cameras rolling to slander the local public schools of the West Side and praise the privatization work of charter schools. As usual, Mitts invoked God among others to protect her from her enemies, and spoke as if the children of the 37th Ward has no way to get a decent education until the charter schools entered. Mitts served as a member of the Prosser High School Local School Council for several years, but lately has been trashing Prosser as part of her speeches. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Alderman Emma Mitts of the 37th Ward resumed her attack on the public schools of the West Side with a rambling series of statements about how bad the public schools in the 37th Ward were and how she would now be able to tell parents that there was a real "choice" for them. Mitts noted that she had served on the Prosser High School Local School Council until the latest ward remaps took Prosser out of the 37th Ward. Mitts also continued invoking God as the reason why she has been promoting charter schools, and she defied her enemies to take her on.

Rahm Emanuel's remarks were the usual phrases in support of charter schools and "choice." CPS officials and people from the Mayor's Press Office did not provide copies of the mayor's remarks to this reporter or other members of the press. The announcement of the event was made at the last possible instant prior to the time, which was 10:30 a.m. The mayor continued promoting the "STEM" formulation, speaking as if the city's real public schools had never taught Science Technology Engineering and Math before Rahm Emanuel became mayor in 2011 and began uttering STEM talking points. The mayor also repeated the claim that there are not enough engineers in the USA as one of the reasons for the STEM privatization via Noble. Others who spoke included Scott Santi, present President and CEO of ITW, and Barbara Speer, whose husband David Speer will have the campus named after him.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel embraced Alderman Emma Mitts as he went to the podium to deliver his remarks on January 31, 2014. Because so much of Emanuel's policy regarding the public schools has been an attack on the city's African American community, he makes sure he hugs and rewards those African Americans who speak in praise of his privatization and other policies. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.The crowd included several charter school promoters, including representatives from DFER Illinois and Chicago Board of Education Vice President Jesse Ruiz, who a week before had voted to establish the school even after critics of the plan and the practices of Noble schools were exposed before the Board. Ruiz was not on the program for the January 31 event but cheered the mayor's remarks and those of Milkie. Although the speakers acted as if the creation of the new charter school across the street from Prosser High School was a completely free benefit to the city and its public schools (charters are part of the public schools, but deregulated), Emanuel and the Board (which was appointed by him) did not tell the public that two tax tricks actually cast a different light on the even. The industrial land at 5357 W. Grand Ave. was taxed until it becomes school land for the charter school, so the city and Board of Education (which gets about half of all property taxes) will be losing the property taxes from the site forever.

There was also no mention of the fact that this year's round of charter schools was supposed to relieve overcrowding -- but the new Noble school is a high school, and the nearby overcrowding is in the elementary schools.

The carefully selected crowd for the event and the carefully scripted remarks were both designed to obfuscate many recent facts. Although the Chicago Board of Education claimed that this year's expansion of charter schools was supposed to help "relieve overcrowding" on the city's Northwest Side and Southwest Side, the new Noble ITW "campus" is a high school -- and there are no overcrowded high schools within six miles of the site.

Although the event was kept secret from the community, which has opposed the school and the expansion of charter schools on the Northwest Side, a handful of parents and other activists from the overcrowded Prieto Elementary School, three blocks away, managed to get to the muddy site but were presented from entering the tent. Virtually all of the seats inside had been marked "Reserved" for supporters of the mayor, charter schools and privatization, such as Rebecca Nieves Huffman of Illinois DFER, who can be seen seated and smiling in the photo above. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. In fact, all of the real public schools within two miles of the Noble high school site -- Prosser, Schurz, Steinmetz, Kelvyn Park, Foreman, and North Grand -- have space for students, so it was clear to critics that the mayor and his corporate allies are simply using words to obfuscate their agenda. There is overcrowding in the elementary schools in the community, including the newly built Prieto Elementary School, which is three blocks from the site of the mayor's January 31 media event. But Rahm Emanuel and his entourage had no intention of talking about those inconvenient facts, any more than they wanted the public to know they were staging an event for the TV cameras on the last day of January. A group of parents from Prieto learned of the mayor's media event at the last minute, but were barely able to squeeze into the expensive tent that housed the mayor and his minions for the TV cameras.

The only alderman at the event was Emma Mitts, who once again attacked the city's real public schools while ignoring her own record of silence in the fact of more than a decade of attacks on the public schools. Other aldermen from the area were not even told of the event, only learning about it after it was over.


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