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Jobs and schools promise to be top issues in next year’s city elections. The mayor’s education agenda faces its toughest test in the African-American communities that gave him strong support in 2011.

School closing meetings: Week 1

This is how CPS officials envisioned the 28 community meetings on school closings taking place this month: First, a 45-minute PowerPoint presentation with details in each area, showing how many schools are underutilized and low-achieving, followed by the now-familiar refrain about CPS’ looming deficit and limited resources being spread too thin.

Finally, the crowd would disperse into breakout sessions to share with independent facilitators the strengths and weaknesses of their schools, plus suggestions about how to make the transitions to new schools less painful.

In reality, this is the scenario: A CPS official tells the throngs of people in attendance that public comment will start immediately and that each speaker will only have two minutes to speak. Then, for the next hour, parents, teachers, principals and even some children make impassioned pleas to keep their schools open.

At the end of the meeting at Olive-Harvey College on Wednesday, Chief of Schools Denise Little got up and tried to reassure the suspicious crowd that she was listening. She noted that she wanted the pictures that attendees from DuBois School brought, showing their dilapidated buildings, and said she will remember, among other things, that White Elementary is the only other school located in the area.

Eventually, the attendees reluctantly retreated into breakout sessions. The media is not allowed in these sessions, but, from interviews, it appears that people continued to make the case to keep their schools open and refused to broach the topic of transition.

Taquia Hylton, principal of West Pullman School, says people in her overflow breakout session told facilitators that they don’t see how they will get around safety issues, should they try to move students.


Anonymous wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Loran and Walton Family Foundation connection

Loran Marketing Group is heavily funded by the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart). Quite obvious why they wouldn't say who funded them....

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

The closing law should not have been changed

Sarah Karp‘s article along with the twitter reports provides a reasonable picture of these closing meetings one of which I attended. The presumption of the closing meetings is of course that because of the district’s fiscal problems these closures have to occur and in addition the students in low enrollment schools get less educational benefits than those students being educated in schools operating closer to capacity.

Neither of these foundational premises are being accepted by the majority of families potentially impacted by closures, by teachers in these schools, the CTU, and in fact some of the educational reporters that cover education in Chicago. This has created a situation where CPS is going forward with meetings in a context of a credibility crisis, a crisis that the CEO acknowledged when she took over the position. There also seems to have been a presumption on the part of the CEO that having an extended public discussion of closures would somehow create a mantel of democracy around the process and that has proven to be a major mistake.

CPS would have been far better off following the original law and not seeking this pointless extended closure discussion. If an actual closure list had been presented back in December we would all be better off and the discussions would be reality based. The independent Commission could have examined not just process, but actual schools to be closed.

I don’t totally blame CPS and even the Mayor for this; I blame the Illinois General Assembly for agreeing to the amendment to change the time frame for decision-making. In particular I blame Reprehensive Soto to a degree for not defending her own legislation and collapsing in the face of pressure brought on her by the House leadership. I was in Springfield when the change was run through the Executive Committee and not one legislator came forward to defend a law that they had passed. In fact if opponents of the law change who came from Chicago hadn't staged an uprising there would have been no opposition speakers to the bill at all.

But in Springfield when legislators perceive themselves to be in a minority there is an institutional tendency to seek compromise to avoid outright defeat. In this situation Rep Soto and a few others tagged on an additional amendment to the legislation extending the time frame that effectively sounded good but does little. So here we sit.

Rod Estvan

Northside wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

My Question

When is CPS going to have to face Illinois by Illinois Congress or Govenor, under OATH? The people need to know what is going on...not a power point dog and pony show!

Rod Estvan wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

face the same people that allowed this?

Why after what took place in Springfield last session anyone would believe that there would be any meaningful face off between either the Governor that signed the bill or the Assembly that approved the bill changing the December date for a closure list is a mystery to me.

Rod Estvan

Anonymous wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago


I suppose National government is useless too since the Obama inspired this mess!!!

Anonymous wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Truman College Meeting

Principals are being reprimanded by the network chiefs because the crowd shouted over the CPS presentation. Principals were told to muzzle their people.

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