BOARDWATCH: Chicago Board of Education meeting of June 24, 2015 highlighted by suppression of public participation and further touting of charter schools expansion.... CTU Financial Secretary pulled from microphone on Vitale's orders while speaking listing the Board's latest wasteful expenses...

Incoming Board members Doninique Turner (left) and Mark Furlong (right) sat in at the Board meeting but can't vote until the July 22 meeting. They were appointed to the Board without any public advertisement or input by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to fill the seats vacated by Andrea Zopp and Deborah Quazzo. Substance photo by George N Schmidt.Once again, the Chicago Board of Education (BOE) held its regular monthly meeting in a South Side side neighborhood community on Wednesday, June 24, 2015. The meeting at the spacious campus of Gwendolyn Brooks College Prep High School, at 250 E. 111th Street, was also scheduled in the late afternoon so more people could participate. The building and campus had previously been Mendel Catholic High School, and a hundreds years ago, "Pullman Technical." It was the second time in a year that the Board met in the community, rather than at its downtown offices. Last November, the Board meeting was held at Westinghouse College Prep on the West Side.

As individuals drove into the east and west parking lots from 111th Street, they were greeted by protesters shouting, "Jack''s got to go. No more corruption at the Board." After this reporter questioned them about what or who Jack was, it was determined that they meant Jack Elsey, "Chief Officer for Innovation and Incubation", who had been brought to Chicago by former Chief Education Officer (CEO) Barbara Byrd-Bennett. Elsey has been responsible for the explanations for charter school expansion since his arrival in Chicago, although there was no explanation as to why the protesters were singling out one bureaucrat, when all know that the Board votes to approve each recommended expansion, including those on the agenda for the June 24 meeting. A press conference was also being held on the north lawn prior to the meeting.

The meeting was held in the auditorium with seating for 450 people. Media without cameras were relegated to the last two rows of the auditorium, the farthest area from the

stage. Most of the seats in the auditorium were filled at the time the meeting began. Later, the seats began to empty out as groups who had spoken and supported speakers left before the end of the meeting. A review of the "Public Participation" sign-in sheet showed that the majority of those who had signed up to speak were there to speak on behalf of two charter schools. As usual, and as has been reported at Substance earlier, the Board froze the number of people who could sign in at 60, even though a count at the meeting showed that once again fewer than 20 people actually spoke.

Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale was photographed with two of the Board's most expensive bureaucrats before the beginning of the June 24, 2015 Board meeting. Above, left to right, David Vitale, "Chief of Staff to the Board of Education" Abigayil Joseph and "Chief Communications Officer" Bill McCaffrey. Substance photo by David Vance.The meeting began at 4:45 p.m. with the Pledge to the Flag and the National Anthem sung by Natasha Marshall.

Board President David Vitale introduced new Board members Gail Ward, former teacher, principal and Department Leader, Mark Furlong, former BMO Harris President, who would not be voting today, Dominique Jordan Turner, President and CEO of Chicago Scholars Foundation. Vitale said that Reverend Michael Garanzini, former president and now chancellor of Loyola University, who was not at Wednesday's meeting because he was in New York. Principal Dionde Weaver of Brooks College Prep was also introduced.

The terms of four Board members end next week (June 30, 2015): Henry Bienen, Andrea Zopp, and Deborah Quazzo and Dr. Carlos Azcoitia. Three of those were absent from Wednesday's meeting. The only lame duck present was Carlos Azcoitia. At July's Board meeting, the four new Board members will be seated. David Vitale, Jesse Ruiz and Mahalia Hines remain members of the Board.

As usual, Mahalia Hines hectored some of the citizens protesting Board of Education policies with her usual lecture on good manners. Hines has become one of the most notorious members of the Board, as her votes are always cast against the wishes and interests of the city's minority communities, while she later then preaches about how she is part of the "South Side" and an educator from "her" community. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt.Present then at Wednesday's meeting were Mark Furlong, Dominique Jordan Turner, Mahalia Hines, Board President David Vitale, Gail Ward, Carlos Azcoitia, Interim CEO Jesse Ruiz, and Chief Counsel James Bebley.

Continuing the Board's version of reality, Interim CEO Ruiz stated that Brooks High School had the "largest increase in scores in any school in CPS." A video about Brooks was then shown highlighting two teachers from Brooks: Allison Gillick, an English teacher, and Laura Boyle, a science teacher. They said that learning was stressed over grades at Brooks and that every student takes one Advanced Placement (AP) course per school year.

After this, a vocal performance was given by two students who had also performed this same selection for the King and Queen of the Netherlands a few weeks ago. Three students from Brooks also spoke about "Green" projects.

Prior to the beginning of the "Public Participation" (those who signed up to speak under the Board's 60-person limit) portion of the June 24, 2015 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, the Board President allowed additional groups to speak to the Board. One of those was the "Far South Side CAC", whose main speaker was Joyce Chapman. As Chapman was speaking, members of her group marched to the front of the stage under they smiling gaze of Board Secretary Estela Beltran (above right). The group stood across the front without being corrected for the entire presentation by Chapman's group. A few minutes later, Beltran announced that because of "security" and "fire" regulations, nobody was allowed to line up in front of the Board during the regular public part of the regular "Public Participation." Substance photo by David Vance.After praising Brooks, Interim CEO Ruiz then gave a brief speech about what he said was the "unfair" pension payment that was due soon from the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) to the Chicago Teachers Pension Fund (CTPF). He also contrasted the amount of pension money ($3.4 billion dollars) the state gives to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) which covers suburban and downstate teachers compared to the much lower amount ($62 million) the state gives to CTPF. Ignoring an agenda that would further expand charter schools and other privatization costs, Ruiz continued the Board's focus on the "pension crisis." He claimed that the $634 million pension payment due soon could be spent in classrooms and repeated the Chicago talking point if the state funded the CPS pensions at the same rate as the TRS pensions things would be OK. He also said that CPS was at a "crossroads" and that something needs to be done this legislative session.

The Board then heard and viewed four Power Point presentations, all of which were delivered by officers who had never taught in Chicago's public schools.

The reports following Ruiz's remarks came from Annette Gurley (Chief Officer of Teaching and Learning), Markay Winston, (Chief Officer for Diverse Learners), Leslie Bowler (Nutrition Support Services), and Jadine Chou (Chief Safety and Security Officer), Each gave a Power Point presentation.

The Board of Education members were arrayed on stage at Brooks High School on June 24, 2015. Above, left to right: Mahalia Hines, David Vitale, Carlos Azcoitia, and Gail Ward. Substance photo by David Vance.Annette Gurley continued to push the Common Core. She told the meeting about the need for "math instructional materials aligned to Common Core Standards". She said that four private vendors will supply materials: Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill, Pearson, and It's About Time. She said that individual schools are not being mandated to purchase these materials but that the materials must be paid with school-based funds.

Markay Winston, whose office was renamed "diverse learners" from "special education support services," followed Gurley. Winston claimed that the Board has a "shortage" of nurses and clinicians. Winston noted the recommendation on the Board Agenda for the the hiring of outside vendors to fill what is supposedly the gap. Three recommendations were made regarding the supposed shortage of school nurses, school-based therapy people, and others. The Board will hire more outside vendors rather than its own workers to do these jobs, Winston reported.

Leslie Bowler then talked about the Aramark food contract and recommended renewal of the contract. According to Bowler, "We are satisfied with Aramark." One of the positives of Aramark's food performance is that Aramark "is moving from frozen plates to fresh plates." Bowler noted that the Board is now serving free lunch (and other meals) to all students, claiming that the federal government, not CPS is paying. The result is that the children of the millionaires from the Gold Coast who attend Ogden, Payton and some other schools are now getting free meals at Chicago's public schools.

The Power Point presentation on the "Safe Passage" program claimed without providing any data that there have been "zero serious incidents" along "Safe Passage" routes since CPS began the program in 2012. The Power Point, presented by CPS chief officer, security and safety Jadine Chou, was presented as part of the June 24, 2015 meeting and goes into the official record, with no Board members asking any critical questions about Chou's ridiculous claims.The chief of security, Jadine Chou, presented a Power Point which seemed to claim that there was no violence in Chicago schools because of "Safe Passage." Chou's Power Point noted the "zero serious incidents" in the Safe Passage program since the program was launched in 2012 partly in response to community complaints that violence would increase because of the closing of 50 schools. None of the Board members asked any critical questions about the bureaucrat's Power Point versions of current events and Chicago realities.

Because the projection screen required darkness for contrast, Board members sat in the dark until the Power-Point presentations had ended.

Board President Vitale then repeated his monthly statement that office hour appointments are available for meeting with Board members, and that anyone can get one by calling 773-553-1600.

An announcement was made by the Board's Secretary, Estela Beltran, that the July 2015 Board meeting will be held at 42 West Madison on July 22. Sign-up to speak will take place from 8 a.m. July 13 to 5 p.m. July 17 or until all slots are filled.

David Vitale then utilized a claim about the Chicago Teachers Union to provide a group of Board supporters with extra time to speak. Vitale said that because Jackson Potter of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) had expressed an interest in hearing from community members at this meeting, the Board was going to recognize some "community leaders" to speak (even though those people had not signed up for Public Participation). As a result, Joyce Chapman, Ronnie Davis, and Trina Parker were recognized to take the floor, and Chapman was allowed to provide the Board with an array of her supporters before the Board Secretary declared that such an action was a security risk and a supposed fire hazard.

Joyce Chapman introduced herself as from the "Far South Community Action Council". She said she was a member of that group, ignoring the fact that the Board no longer has "CACs" (they have been reorganized as "Neighborhood Action Councils" or NACs). Chapman then began a litany of praise for certain controversial administrators and activities. Chapman singled out Philip Hampton, who is the "Chief Officer" for the office of "Family and Community Engagement" (FACE) and Taylor Elementary School principal Truesdale, who has lost more union grievances than any other principal in the region. Other community members who spoke were a spokesperson from the Metropolitan Family Services, a woman named Miriam Morales (whose group was not made clear) who spoke in Spanish, and Pastor Del Valle of Christian Fellowship Church in South Chicago. Community achievements and statistics were quoted as facts.

Illinois State Representative Elgie R. Sims Jr. was introduced and spoke. Sims quoted Frederick Douglass, "It's easier to build strong children than repair broken men." He went on to thank the Office of Family and Community Engagement (FACE). He mentioned the engagement of law makers in the issues of concern to them, parents, and families. He asked the Board to "work with us."

Next, Tenth Ward Alderman Sue Garza told everyone "Welcome to the Great South Side." She is now representing the10th ward. She noted that the 10th is the farthest south in the city, and called it "the forgotten ward." She talked about her personal odyssey, noting that that she started in CPS as a lunchroom worker before CPS privatized those jobs, by making grilled cheese and salads at South Shore High School. She then got her bachelor's degree and became a teacher. She said she was the first woman alderman in the 10th ward, noting that she had spent 22 years working at Jane Addams Elementary on the southeast side, but adding that because she went to the school she had actually been with it for more than 40 years.

She then got to her main point. She gave the Board a letter from former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to former 10th Ward alderman John Pope regarding the staffing of the new school being built in the ward. Garza asked that the school stay a neighborhood school and not become a charter school. She also asked that as changes are made and kids are districted to the new school, that the teachers be allowed to follow their students to the students' new school. She invited the Board to come back to the 10th ward and said "I'll take you all out for something to eat."

There was a bit of South Sideism at that point. Board members Mahalia Hines and Jesse Ruiz (Interim CEO) mentioned that they lived on the south side, and David Vitale lives in the University of Chicago Hyde Park-Kenwood area.

Before Public Participation began, the final elected official speaker was from the Chicago Teachers Union. Unlike the "community leaders" chosen by the Board on the suggestion of Jackson Potter, the CTU officer who spoke was viciously limited to less than the full two minutes.

After giving almost ten minutes to Joyce Chapman and the "Community Action Council" (CAC) from the far South Side, Board Secretary Estala Baltran (above, during the June 24, 2015 Board meeting) called time on Chicago Teachers Union Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle after Mayle had been speaking as a representative of the union for less than two full minutes. Beltran began bellowing "Time! Time!" when Mayle continued listing all of the lies and privatization expenses on the Board's agenda for the meeting until David Vitale signaled the Board's security people to yank the microphone from the hands of the diminutive Mayle. Substance photo by George N. Schmidt. CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle repeated the union's charges about the city and CPS being "broke on purpose." Much of what Mayle said was a criticism of the expensive privatization and other plans on the agenda for that Board meeting. Citing the earlier Power Point by Markey Winston of OODLES indicating that CPS was expanding privatization of special education services, Mayle charged that "the dire needs of the most vulnerable students were ignored."

Mayle went on to note that she had come from the bargaining table to the Board meeting, and that the rest of the bargaining team was still at work. She criticized the Board, noting that today the Board members were being asked to expand three charter schools and vote for additional privatization. She asked the Board, "please don't rob Peter to pay Paul." She said that money was being spent on Aramark, while schools get filthy and Aramark gets filthy rich.

Mayle reminded everyone that the current teachers' contract expires in one week. She added that if conditions are improved, there won't be a shortage of nurses and clinicians. She also spoke of toxic financial swaps and the $700 million Tax Increment Financing (TIF) surplus that could be returned to the schools. Rather than let her finish her remarks, Vitale signalled security at this point, and the mic was snatched from the union officers while people shouted, "Let her talk!"

Finally "Public Participation" began. Board Secretary Estela Beltran explained the rules regarding the two-minute speaking limit during public participation. There was another new rule (one that hadn't been in place for Joyce Chapman). Beltran announced that people who wished to support speakers had to stand at their seats rather than come down to the front to stand with the speaker. Beltran said this was because of a lack of room in front of the stage and some security and fire hazard issues that had not existed a few minutes earlier.

On result was that those standing (many at times, especially when charter school propagandists were speaking) blocked the view of the speaker for those sitting behind the standees. This included virtually all reporters who had followed the Board's orders and sat in the very back of the large auditorium.

Jackson Potter, CTU, was the first listed public participant but was not present. He was not the only "no show" -- more than half those who signed up as part of the maximum of 60 speakers did not speak, either because they were not there (like Potter) or because they had been combined by Beltran into a handful of speakers on any specific topic.

The first to speak then was Susan Skibell, whose son is a student at Noble Academy. She said that at the neighborhood school her son attended, he did not have an "opportunity to be successful" because the neighborhood school was "too big." She told the Board that her son had failed every class for all three semesters at the neighborhood school. Then came Noble. According to Skibell, her son then succeeded at Noble. A large contingent of Noble people were at the Board meeting, as usual. Many of them stood at their seats in support of this speaker. They then began to snap their fingers to show support for the speaker and the message about the Noble miracle.

Adedoja Aofolajuwonlo, of the Noble Network of Charter Schools, said he was a graduate of Noble "Bulls College Prep". He spoke of his experience there and asked the Board to "say yes to Noble." Supporters stood and snapped their fingers, and some cheered.

The Noble testimonials continued. Tracey Gibson-Jackson of "Golder College Prep" said her child could not get into Lincoln Park High School because, she seemed to say, it is too large. Or Walter Payton College Prep because it is a selective enrollment school. (Supporters snapping fingers were heard at this point.) She said asked her child about the fact that uniforms were required and demerits were part of the Noble charter school reality, and was told that this was okay. She said that her child's grades improved every year. She stated that she supports the relocation of the school.

Noble wasn't the only charter school on the June 24 agenda. Another charter school supporter spoke next. Sylvia Garcia, who has a fourth grader on the southwest side, spoke in support of the transition of the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) Charter School Network (UCSN). She said that at "USCN" academics and discipline were a priority.

Also supporting the USCN transition was Lucia Luna who spoke in translated Spanish. She said that she was a mother of three students at a charter school and shared her experiences. She added that parents can learn yoga, art, and get a GED at the


Neighborhood school supporter Nicole Demakis, of Parent 4 Teachers, came next and asked for a moratorium on charter schools. She asked for less paperwork for teachers and told of schools with no libraries, no playgrounds, no toilet paper and a lack of cleanliness. She said the Board had declined an invitation to a forum on May 19.

Pauline Lipman, of the University of Illinois Chicago (UIC), spoke of Teachers for Social Justice and said that the city and CPS are at a crossroads. She said that closing schools had destabilized the communities where they were closed. She mentioned toxic swaps and the Board's refusal to pay into the pension fund, since 1995. She said that the

Board crisis was of its own making. She added that we need to strengthen public education, strengthen neighborhood schools such as Dyett High School, and have an elected school board.

Speaking also of the future of Dyett High School was Jeanette Smith on the Local School Council (LSC) at Mollison School. She asked, "Why can't we keep the only community neighborhood high school in a black neighborhood?" She requested that the Board "put children first."

Supporting her was Irene Robinson, of Overton School and also of Mollison School. She stated, We want to keep our last remaining high school." She added, "These are our children." and that our children's education was crushed after we trusted you. She concluded, "All children have a right to a high quality education, not just some."

Next, Jitu Brown, of the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (KOCO) told everyone, "Welcome to the southside." He mentioned that he went to Wendell Smith School. Regarding the "Coalition to Revitalize Dyett," he asked the Board, "What more

should we have to do?" He corrected the Board, saying "We're not activists, we organizers," noting that his group had organized hundreds of people around the Dyett plans. He also noted angrily that as taxpayers, "it should not be our responsibility to write a plan for schools." He asked why on one side of town, when parents show interest they are welcomed, while on the other side they are arrested.

Like Kristine Mayle, Brown was cut off. Then someone from the audience shouted, "Answer the question." He added, "Treat us as well as Lincoln Park. We have a right to good neighborhood schools." There followed a heated exchange during which Board member Mahalia Hines repeated a usual refrain from her, claiming that the members of the public were being rude. Many in the audience noted that every vote by Hines to undermine the city's real public schools, including her vote to close the 50 schools in May 2013, was taken after thousands of people had protested against the Board's plans and noted the inequality between the power of the Board members and the burdens placed on most people in the city's communities by the Board's actions.

Another supporter of neighborhood schools, Wendy Katten, a parent and a member of Raise Your Hand, talked about the pension payment coming up and the lack of pension payments over a 20 year time period. She said some TIFs do not meet the definition of a TIF and we need to stop new non-essential charter expansion. She added, "No one puts an addition on their house wen they can't pay the heating bill." She noted the exorbitant fees the Board is paying for test prep consultants, among other examples of their wasteful spending even as they speak about fiscal crises.

Jeff Jenkins, a parent who is on the LSC at Coonley Elementary, expressed concern about the impact of charter schools on our CPS schools. He said, "In our community, we support our neighborhood schools." Jenkins said that Noble had rescinded the proposal for his community and Intrinsic (which was still trying to open a "campus" in Bowmanville north of Amundsen High School) should do the same. He asked the Board to vote down this proposal.

Paula Sanchez, a parent at Gallistel School and Jane Addams School, said her group is fully in support of teachers and staff being able to follow their students to new schools. She said they are valuable assets to the community. She mentioned that the location of the school on Indianapolis Boulevard is a safety concern.

Jose Garza, an LSC chairperson at Gallistel, said that the location of the new school is a possible problem because of heavy traffic, and environmental contamination of the site is a problem, too. He stressed that the community does not want a charter and does want input into the principal selection process. He added, "Please stop privatizing public


Back to charter schools, Evan Smith, of Washington Park Chicago International School Network (CICS), told the Board he is a second grade teacher at that CICS "campus." He said that he had noticed "erratic behavior" from his students and upon investigation discovered that that behavior was the result of gunshots were near the school. His said that his second grade students were at a "first grade reading level" with he began teaching them in second grade, and that he had chosen to remain with the same group of children. He said he moved to third grade with his students, who, he claims, have grown "two achievement years in one."

Christopher Yamaya, with "Just Harvest" and Gale Elementary School, said the school was forced to make choices when the school's children should get what they needed for their education. Computer labs? Libraries? He implored CPS to fund sustainable schools. He added that the only failure was to not allow children to expand their minds. He invited the Board to "come join us."

Nelson Soza, of the Pilsen Alliance, said it's okay to make money and asked why get money with money that should go to children. He wanted to know why Board President Vitale was still president of the board after voting for the Supes contract. He asked, "Why don't you quit? Do banking. Why don't you go home? Just quit!" Regarding Safe Passage, he asked, "How many kids have died this year?" He repeated, "If you have any dignity, quit now."

Brendon Dunlap, of the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, thanked those who supported him when he was homeless. He said that he was the first in his family to graduate and go to college. Then he spoke of the transportation money that was provided to homeless students as a lifesaver. Noting that in many cases the money was not available to the homeless children, he asked that CPS make a clear policy that a homeless student has a right to compensation and would receive it when it is needed.

Jahmal Cole, of the Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS), said he supports the relocation of Noble Academy and mentioned statistics. He said this is not a fight between charters and neighborhood schools. He concluded, "As charter schools grow, all schools rise."

Despite the fact that Board Secretary Estela Beltran (above right) called "Time!" against KOCO's Jitu Brown, Brown refused to yield the microphone, and CPS security were unable to push him away from the center of the meeting. Brown challenged Board member Mahlia Hines about Hines's betrayal of the Bronzeville community and Hines's doubletalk regarding the future of Dyett. Hines bregan to argue back and forth with Brown and others. As usual, she also said that her critics were being "rude" despite the fact that since she was appointed to the Board by Rahm Emanuel in 2011 Hines has voted for every attack on the schools in what she calls her "community", including the infamous plan to close 50 of the city's real public schools in May 2013. Hines has also voted in favor of every expansion of the city's charter schools, while never once uttering a criticism of their hypocrisy and cynical claims. Substance photo by David Vance.Cathy Dale, of King College Prep High School, spoke in favor of green technology at Dyett High School. She then reported the disrespect shown by the Board, and after asking a question of the Board, was met with dead silence from all Board members. Because she said her name had been mentioned, Dr. Hines then started to remark about the disrespect shown to the Board just because no one answered the question. She suggested that the speaker make an office appointment to speak with her about this. Ms. Dale said that the question was meant for all the Board members, not just Dr. Hines.

Shango Johnson, of the Montessori School in Englewood, asked the Board to give the help the school needs. He said his son was not growing up the way his dad did. He mentioned that the school in Englewood was now up to fourth grade and the community needs the help of the Board.

The principal of Schurz High School, Daniel Kramer, was shut down as he began to explain to the Board meeting that the Board's charter schools policy has nothing to do with the original innovation goals of charter schools. He knew, as he began explaining to the Board before the microphone was grabbed away from him: He began his own career at a charter school! Instead of his story getting on TV from the meeting, he, like CTU Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle, was told to sit down and shut up. Substance photo by David Vance.Daniel Kramer, principal of Carl Schurz High School, spoke of the negative impact of charter schools on neighborhood schools and asked the Board to stop expanding the charters. He cited statistics and programs that were succeeding at Schurz. He mentioned that the in-school suspension program had been closed because it wasn't needed any longer, and that next year the in-school suspension room would be used for a dance program. He also told of the large program for autistic students. He spoke of the beauty and challenge of the neighborhood school and said charters were originally meant to be incubators of innovation. When he began to tell the Board that he had begun his career at a charter school, he was abruptly cut off and, like others who had been cut off, was unable to finish making his points to the Board at the public meeting. Byron Sigcho, of Jungman Elementary, told about how charters began expanding under Mayor Emanuel. He stated that privatization doesn't work anywhere. He remarked that education is now an industry, not a right. He added that the swaps, etc., have got to go. He supported the push for an elected school board.

Jose Caraballo, a Communities United leader, mentioned that restorative justice helped regarding violence, but he said the program was taken away because of budget cuts. He spoke of the Dreamers program where teachers help undocumented students go to college. He made mention of the $l.l billion crisis and asked, "Does it make sense to open more schools when you can't even maintain the ones you have?"

After public participation ended, Board member Dr. Azcoitia wanted to know about the timeline for the three proposals for Dyett High School.

Interim CEO Ruiz said the matter will come before the Board in August.

Dr. Hines said she thought there was a policy for carfare for homeless students and asked for feedback.

Once again, Board President Vitale reminded everyone that "Just because someone stated something here doesn't make it a fact. This is not the place to respond to every claim that comes to public participation." He then invited Daniel Kramer, principal of Schurz High School down to the Board, while ignoring Kramer's request that the Board not continue expanding charter school "networks".

After this, Dr. Hines made the motion allowing the Board to go into closed session.


June 27, 2015 at 6:05 PM

By: David R. Stone

'Bullet points' at the Board, an irony?

Maybe the people at the Board of Education arent exactly lying, just obfuscating with carefully chosen, misleading language.

The PowerPoint about school safety claims: since relaunch of the program in 2012, zero serious incidents along a staffed Safe Passage route." This could be interpreted to mean that if there is a route without a serious incident just a single one, anywhere in the city, the statement is technically true.

It is ironic that in a city so well known for violence that it is sometimes called Chiraq, Chicago bureaucrats choose to communicate using PowerPoint presentations, where supporting details are called bullet points.

July 2, 2015 at 3:12 AM

By: Theresa D. Daniels

Brooks's undersized auditorium

I'm surprised that the auditorium at Brooks H.S. has an only 450-person capacity. At Carver H.S., we had an 800-person capacity and this auditorium did not look smaller. I wonder why Brooks would have such a small auditorium if the reported capacity is the case. Was Brooks picked by the Board for a meeting in a community setting because the auditorium capacity was so small? Just surprised about this. Wonderful coverage here.

July 2, 2015 at 9:34 AM

By: David R. Stone

Englewood's small auditoruim

No surprise that "the Board" chose Urban Prep's Englewood "campus" for its meeting, since it was not the Board of Education but the board of directors of the Urban Prep charter school organization. The Englewood school is their original building.

They did try to limit public participation (e.g., announcing the venue only two days before the meeting), but the auditorium was large enough. I estimated the crowd at about 200 people, and the auditorium has a capacity of about 400.

The building (which replaced an earlier, elegant Englewood High School that had to be torn down because the Board of Ed for years failed to spend money to maintain the structure) was built in the early 1960s, I believe.

I taught there some 15 years ago when it was a "real" (not charter) school called Englewood Tech Prep. The old timers who were there told me that at the time it was built, there was a fad for small schools within larger school buildings, so the architects were told that the auditorium only needed to be large enough to hold one grade level at a time (one-quarter of the student body). When we had schoolwide assemblies, they were in the gym.

July 2, 2015 at 11:20 AM

By: David R. Stone

Oops, wrong meeting

Sorry, I didn't pay attention to which meeting Theresa Daniels was writing about. She was writing about the Board of Ed meeting at Brooks College Prep, not the Urban Prep charter school's union-busting meeting at Englewood.

My explanation of why the auditorium is so small may apply at a number of schools, but Brooks has a different history. The building started as Pullman school when Pullman was a company-owned factory town, then became a parochial school, and later took on its current form as a CPS selective enrollment high school. In all those guises, it would have made sense to have a larger auditorium.

July 3, 2015 at 2:00 PM

By: Marybeth Foley

Capacity of Auditorium

Individuals with press passes were given a map of the auditorium at Brooks. I counted the seats on the map. The map showed about 450 seats. Provided the map is accurate, the count is accurate.

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