Board adds privatization of recess and playground activities to massive privatization continuum... $34 million on March 26 Agenda

One month after voting to privatize what is left of custodial services, the Chicago Board of Education is poised, at its meeting of March 26, 2014, to privatize recess. A Board Report on the agenda for the March 26, 2014 meeting calls for the Board to hire two dozen outside agencies, all of them non-union and most anti-union, to provide various recess services. The vote to further privatize custodial services was taken at the Board meeting of February 26, 2014. Privatization of custodial work has begun in all schools that have unionized custodial workers as this report is written.

Board Report PR1 will privatize almost all of recess and before and after school activities, instead of hiring more teacher assistance to do that work.The Board report was on the public agenda, which became available, as required by law, 48 hours before the meeting. But like the February 26 meeting, the Board seems to be assuming that none of the unions representing the dwindling number of unionized workers working in the public schools of the third largest school system in the United States will oppose the elaboration of privatization.

The only union representative to speak against the privatization of the remaining custodial work at the February 26 Board meeting was Bill Iacullo, President of the Operating Engineers Union. Iacullo took issues with the bizarre claims presented in a Power Point supporting the privatization by Tim Cawley, but the Board members present (only five were present at the February 26 meeting) at that meeting ignored him and voted in favor of privatization without discussion or debate.

The March 26 proposal is filled with obscurant language that seems designed to mask the fact that several community organizations -- virtually all of them non - union -- are becoming contractors to provide "programs" during, before and after school which would traditionally be carried out by teachers and other professional and paraprofessional staff. Among the groups include in the list of vendors are Black Star, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, and others.

The Board Report states "Vendors will provide the services in the categories awarded..." There are four categories -- "Academic Acceleration and Intervention"; "Arts and Cultural Enrichment..."; "OST Health and Wellness..."; and "Recess Facilitation..." Supposedly, the non-professional and non union workers who do that work in each category will be trained somehow. According to the Board Report, "Professional Development: Refers to the provision on professional development to networks and schools to support the implementation of effective OST and/or recess programs that are linked to evidence-based curriculum models."

Although the Board has a residency requirement, five of the 43 vendors listed in the Board Report are from outside Chicago, and nothing in the Board Report requires the vendors to hire city or community residents. This comes during a month when hundreds of school custodians are being told they are losing their jobs following a vote at the Board's February meeting to privatize all custodial services, based on the unsubstantiated claim that the privatization will provide better cleaning services to the schools, save money, and reduce the burden on school principals. Most CPS custodial workers, all of whom are required by CPS policy to live in Chicago, live in the communities where they work.

The massive privatizations continuing at CPS began immediately following the inauguration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in May 2011 and his appointment of his first CPS "Chief Executive Officer" (Jean Claude Brizard) and the seven members of the Chicago Board of Education.


March 26, 2014 at 11:40 AM

By: John Kierig


Not a peep yet about the proposed \"school closing by another name\" of three more real public schools?\rOr is that waiting until next month?

March 27, 2014 at 7:35 AM

By: David R Stone

Good news in Board vote

There is good news buried in this Board of Ed vote to turn over some services to non-union organizations. One such agency listed in the article is the Logan Square Neighborhood Association, which has been fighting the Board's efforts to move Marine Military Academy High School into the Ames Middle School building.

LSNA runs a highly respected after-school program at Ames. If the Board vote means that LSNA will still be at Ames next year, this suggests that the community won at least a partial victory in the campaign to retain Ames as a neighborhood school, with its current unionized staff.

-David R. Stone, teacher at Ames


March 27, 2014 at 2:39 PM

By: John Kugler

Hush Money

nice how the Board has increased funds to community groups just in time for thew new election cycle!

Hard to say BoE is the bad guy when you get $$$$

March 28, 2014 at 1:58 AM

By: David R. Stone

Will Ames community be hushed?


There's reason to be cynical about the Board of Ed, and you may be right to assume it has ulterior motives when granting funds to community groups. But please don't automatically extend your cynicism to the community groups that receive the funds.

So far as I can see, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association is still raising a fuss about the Board's decision to move a military-themed high school into Ames Middle School.

Whether or not Marine Academy moves in, I hope LSNA remains active at Ames. The organization (which was involved in the fight to get Ames built in the first place) runs a great after-school program, plus a health clinic in the school building that is open to the community.

Money given to LSNA is money well spent. And at this point it's probably too late to buy back community support for the politicians who want to close neighborhood schools.

-David R. Stone, teacher at Ames

March 29, 2014 at 9:09 AM

By: Kimberly Bowsky

to kill unionization

I'm trying to not be bitter at some of the concessionary behavior of the last 20-or-so years that has led to the weakening of some of the unions with members in CPS. Only active rank-and-file participation within a union can stem the tide of the loss of job-security, benefits, and the mutual creation of resourced school climate for students. Notice that with the reduction of union membership in the CPS and in America, the reduction of the standard of living and the conditions for education increase. THESE facts are the data that are useful.

March 29, 2014 at 11:37 AM

By: GeorgeN. Schmidt

Substance protects confidential sources of news

Substance has had a straightforward policy since we began publication in 1975 - 76 that we protect confidential sources of news. According to that policy, the source of the information must be credible. If that information is used quoting a source (e.g., "a teacher who requested anonymity"), our reporter and the editor must both know the actual identity of the source. That way, our readers are assured that we stand behind the information, since the information -- not how we obtained it -- is what is important to the news we report and analyze. Unlike depictions of newsrooms in some Hollywood versions of reality ("The Wire," "All The Presidents Men"), no Substance reporter can submit a story based on an anonymous source without verifying it with the editor (who, this year, is this writer).

We can cite major examples of how important this policy has been, but here are a few:

-- in 1976, we reported that a Chicago elementary school teacher, Sheli Lulkin, had worked for years in a double life as a police confidential informant for the infamous "Red Squad." Our information had been confirmed by a confidential source we had to protect, but when we first reported the factually accurate story, Lulkin tried to utilize one minor factual mistake in the original story to debunk the entire story. Eventually, she was forced to admit to then Chicago Teachers Union President Robert M. Healey the truth of what we had reported, and was stripped of all her positions in the local, state and national unions. Anyone who wants a current update on the impact of the kinds of spying Lulkin was engaged in can ready "The Burglary," a chilling account of the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover.

-- In 1983 and subsequently, I reported in Substance "The Marva Collins Hoax," based at first on a source who had worked at Marva Collins's West Side Prep. At the time, corporate media as different as the Chicago Sun-Times and "60 Minutes" were running Marva's version of reality as she proclaimed (a) the failure of the public schools of Chicago based on her time as a substitute teacher at Delano on the West Side and (b) the fact that she had a "method" that worked to turn otherwise "failing" Black children into scholars. (That particular script has been followed since by Hollywood and Wall Street, but thanks to our expose Marva Collins was less likely to be feted in the mainstream corporate media).

-- Later in the 1980s, we reported (ultimately, a more than 60 articles, that former Deputy Supt. of Schools and friend of the Daley family James Moffat was a sexual predator who not only sexually exploited adults using his various postions and powers, but who also forced sex on students while he served as principal of Kelvyn Park High School. Again, our initial reporting was based on confidential sources, and we were called names because of it. Moffat's lawyers (who included Ann Burke, now on the Illinois Supreme Court) subpoenaed me to testify for the defense during the criminal trial because they wanted to try and reveal my sources for my early reporting. They failed to break the press shield we have in Illinois, and ultimately the Judge found Moffat guilty of more than 30 incidents involving five different victims at Kelvyn Park.

There were other examples, involving several Substance reporters.

When we are provided with documents, such as the 1999 CASE tests or, possibly, current high stakes tests, we verify their authenticity and then report on the stories that arise.

And it will continue to be that way.

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