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The race for City Hall

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.

Community groups: Inspector General should investigate closings

A coalition of parent and community groups called on outside help Tuesday to try to put the brakes on massive school closings, which they fear even large, well-organized opposition won’t be able to stop.

In a complaint to the CPS Inspector General and cc’d to the Illinois Attorney General, Parents 4 Teachers (a group that CPS says has been organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, which is adamantly opposed to closings) charged that the school closing process is wrought with “employee misconduct,” conflicts of interest and misinformation.

“We want CPS to be held [accountable by] an independent body, to shine a light on what is going on,” said Erica Clark, a member of the coalition. It is unclear whether the Inspector General would launch an investigation.

CPS has said that school closings are necessary because the district “has too many empty classrooms and too few students to fill them,” spokeswoman Robyn Ziegler said in a statement.  “This is stretching our limited resources too thin and depriving children of critical investments such as air conditioning, playgrounds, technology and computers, library, art and music.” Closing schools would give the district more resources to provide a better education at the remaining schools, CPS says.

The complaint charges that CPS is closing traditional neighborhood schools in order to privatize public education by expanding charter schools. “We have come to the conclusion that it is the motive,” Clark said.

At a press conference on Tuesday, parents and community activists from several organizations stood together to announce the filing of the complaint. Clark pointed out that many came from schools that are not in danger of being closed. “Everyone understands that what everyone wants is a good neighborhood school,” she said.

CPS recently approved four charters, but CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has sought to separate the two issues. She promised that this year, unlike previous years, vacant CPS buildings would not be converted to charter schools.

Nationally, a new Pew Charitable Trust study found that about 40 percent of closed schools in 12 cities were later converted to charters

On Wednesday, Byrd-Bennett is expected to release a more finite list of schools she is looking at closing. Her final recommendations must be published by March 31, after which official public hearings will be held. Then, at the April Board of Education meeting, members will vote on Byrd-Bennett’s recommendations.

Suspicions of political, charter ties

CPS has embarked on a community engagement process that entails meetings held by the district’s hand-picked School Utilization Commission; 28 more will be conducted by CPS. At meetings already held, hundreds, and sometimes close to a thousand, parents and community activists have shown up to voice their opposition to closing neighborhood schools. Meetings have been moved to bigger venues and CPS officials have in some cases abandoned their agenda so that everyone could speak.

Some activists are suspicious of the School Utilization Commission because it is staffed by the Civic Consulting Alliance, a politically-connected group that brings business expertise to government and is housed in the same office as New Schools for Chicago, which provides start-up funds for charter schools and has some of the same board members as the Alliance.

Also, CPS got a $478,000 grant from the pro-charter Walton Family Foundation to undertake the community engagement process—a move that CPS is quick to note was meant to save costs.

According to Ziegler, the Walton grant “allowed CPS to avoid using any taxpayer dollars in order to engage parents in this conversation at the front end of this process and allow them to have a voice in the critical decisions that need to be made to address this crisis.” 

The complaint also makes note of the district’s school utilization formula, which has come under fire from schools and parents. In the fall, Raise Your Hand, a parent organization, came out with a study that claimed the district’s utilization formula is inaccurate and exaggerates the number of empty schools.

According to CPS, some 330 schools are underutilized and about 140 are half empty.

The complaint says that Byrd-Bennett and School Utilization Commission Chairman Frank Clark have acknowledged that the CPS formula is faulty. “At recent CPS public hearings, district personnel have distributed charts, by network area, reporting the utilization rates of each school based on the original, unchanged CPS formula, which the CEO noted was flawed nearly three months ago,” according to the complaint.

At the community meetings, CPS officials emphasize that CPS is facing a projected $1 billion budget deficit, implying that the shortfall is the reason schools must be closed. Yet, the complaint says that an internal memo proves that district officials know that cost savings could be minimal, if any. Another national Pew study found minimal savings for closing schools.


Sarah Simmons wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

schedule of announcement and hearings

If a final list is released on 3/31 and hearing process takes place between then and the announcement of final decision at April Board of Education meeting on April 24, then that gives a little over 3 weeks for public hearing process. Pretty sure this is illegal or it should be.

Northside wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


If they say they are going to close April are you going to move students, teachers, and all the materials between June 18th and Aug 18th? That's two months to move the equivelent of probabaly 10 suburban school districts???

Joe Ames wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closings

If Cps does not come up with the $1billion , then the state is going to take over all the schools. It will not belong to Cps anymore. So they had better shore up with the $1billion that they owe or there won't have to be any decisions. If buildings are empty; they should be closed. Students need to bunched together to save. It is going to be done and afterwards there will be a better picture and a better Cps. For staff that has been left intact; you will be able to survive. Just in a different way. But these are trying times and all over the U.S. and in school districts abroad this is what is happening. Education need a renovation. The city schools have been just fattening up staffs pockets when some environments were not under a lot of pressure. Some have just been making easy money. It will be harder now. Things are about to change. This is a sweep. And in the long run it will help the pension. Many veterans will simply leave. The young ones will work a while and leave.A lot of each kind won't make it. The kids will stay the same. So it is time for Cps workers to share in the brunt. It is going to happen/ And Principal evaluation is a plus. It weeds out some and help students excel against Principals who have not been very helpful.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

there are many excelelnt principals in CPS--this new evaluation

process willchase them away. it is being done to them, not with them.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


The pricipals will chase away the teachers and then cps will chase them away....we need to stick together!! i say we give each other full marks ...then let cps figure it out...if EVERY school refused to take NWEA and ISAT we could all take back control.....and do some good old fashion sit ins !!!

Fact Checker wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Parents 4 Teachers is not organized by the CTU

I worked with many volunteers from Parents 4 Teachers (P4T) over the summer on the elected school board campaign. While P4T supported the CTU strike and the two groups agree on many issues, to say that P4T was organized by the CTU doesn't seem accurate in any way. P4T volunteers I met were all current or former CPS parents - one was a retired teacher. These are people who are interested in improving schools through community and parent involvement - not through top-down mayoral dictate.

Did CPS offer any evidence that P4T is connected to the CTU? If not, I think that allegation could have been left out of the article.

George N. Schmidt wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Catalyst BS reporting -- again

At least it's clear that Catalyst's "reporting" is as biased as its funding comes from the corporate "school reform" fan club.

Take this unattributed quotation from the story above:

"A coalition of parent and community groups called on outside help Tuesday to try to put the brakes on massive school closings, which they fear even large, well-organized opposition won’t be able to stop.

"In a complaint to the CPS Inspector General and cc’d to the Illinois Attorney General, Parents 4 Teachers (a group that CPS says has been organized by the Chicago Teachers Union, which is adamantly opposed to closings) charged that the school closing process is wrought with “employee misconduct,” conflicts of interest and misinformation..."

After missing most of the hearings to date, Catalyst pulls up to cover the story about the parent groups' opposition by repeating the CPS party line. Next thing you know, Catalyst will be quoting (again) some professors who have no research basis for their quotability...

Well, that's enough for one morning. The story above is puerile, basically CPS propaganda, proving once again that Catalyst's "independent" reporting is a fraud and that Catalyst is simply another outlet for ruling class propaganda. At least that pays well, as Catalyst's donors list shows.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

how is that "unattributed"?

how is that "unattributed"? It's a quote from the complaint.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

The number of parents

The number of parents speaking out against their own self-interest at these meetings is amazing. Coming from a good place, I realize, but what they don't realize is that the CTU is leading us down an uninformed path. By refusing to accept ANY school closures the Union demonstrates to whom they are beholden...their dues paying members who do not (understandably) want to lose their jobs. For some of us it's about the 400,000 children in the system. If the school is not full, if it is not performing, it should be closed and the children moved to a higher performing school. Period.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

As one great Chicago reporter

As one great Chicago reporter once said to me, 'CPS ALWAYS says that a grass roots group is just a front for the CTU.' That's how you know the group is legit.

CPS has never mentioned that DFER or SfC is just a well-funded front for Gates, Broad, Walton, and Duncan/Obama/Emanuel, has it? That's how you know they are.

Thanks Catalyst for reporting this CPS rumor! You clarified everything.

Joan Staples wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closings

Mr. Ames, How do you know that the information on the debt and underutilized schools being presented by CPS is accurate? You have made claims about staff at CPS being "fattened". Which staff? Basically, a number of claims were made in your comment without the evidence. I retired from CPS in 1993, before the mayoral takeover, so I do not know from the inside what is happening, but I subscribe to publications that provide much information, and talk to both current teachers, parents, and community folks. I don't think we are getting all the facts, and the media, such as the Tribune, do not seem to be doing my investigative reporting.

Grandma wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School Closing List

Channel 7 mentioned news about the School Closing List at 4:00 p.m. today.

Grandma wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago
Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Anonymous, You are Right aout the CTU

The strategies that the CTU is using is to amass power for the CTU and the union. As in the case of closing schools, individual teachers will and have been sacrificed to move the union agenda forward. What did the teachers get from the strike? NOTHING! They made Lewis a celebrity, which is all they wanted because they had already given up most of what they had when their president slipped away, allowed the legislators to convince her to impose a ban on lobbying the membership, ( don't tell your HOUSE of DELEGATES what you are doing or the deal is off) So t
hey sat her down alone and stole almost every right and protection that the CTU had for it's members. Then she comes back and says, I am sorry, I didn't read the bill, In her words, "I F--ed" UP" (EXCUSE ME)!

Also, why did the CTU wait almost 3 years after their caucus filing an EEOC charge in 2010 on behalf of teachers teaching in turn-arounds. More African American teachers have been fired under the CORE? LEWIS team than any other union president in the history of the CTU. (NOW GEORGE AND THE CORE PEOPLE WILL JUMP IN AND START ATTACKING ME He needs his paycheck so I'll forgive him in advance).

The CTU REFUSED to filed this lawsuit on behalf of African American teachers stating that "We can't just protect or defend one group" Now they can . They can because their is an election in MAY. They want to stay at the union. Most of them are new teachers and are afraid to go back into the classroom and do the hard job of teaching. Anyway, I know they'll be just as glad as CPS is when these veteran African American teachers are fired! Take it from me, I KNOW!


Carmen Rodriguez wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Disappointed but not surprised

I'm disappointed but not surprised to see the lack of real perspective or substance in the commentary here, or in the discussion at large, surrounding school closings. Why aren't we focused on 1. affected children and families; 2 affected neighborhooods and communities; 3. affected economies, micro and macro; 4. affected commercial and tax interests? All of these areas and more are impacted when schools close and children are moved and families follow. Does the City of Chicago not have reasonable, sensible people involved in comprehensive and long-term planning? Doesn't the public have any of these people any more? We spend so much time shouting at one another about who's a front for who, we forget to keep the important issues in front. Sad.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Terrible - Don't be fooled, Teachers!

Karen Lewis is a power hungry, reality-denying, fact-spinning, fear-mongering, offensive and cruddy leader of thousands of excellent Chicago teachers. What a shame.

Don wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Affected children and families?

How is moving to a different school in the same neighborhood a family tragedy?
It's difficult to look at the high density of current elementary schools and believe students are being asked to give up anything fundamentally important with the proposed changes.
I do hope they're picking the right schools, and doing real planning for the SPED kids.

Roy Mac wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Anyone who refuses to accept

Anyone who refuses to accept even a single school closure is not looking out for childrens' needs. It's ABSURD for our school district to keep half and less full buildings open at such a cost when, as Don points out, they have agreed to move children to a school near where they live AND higher performing than the one they left.

It's jarring for a school to close, there is emotion here and rightly so, but sometimes the right thing to do hurts. But it's still right.

Here's to hoping CPS is doing this the most fair possible way, and keeping kids' interests above anyone else's.

Rosita Chatonda wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


You obviously don't know me if you are referring to me. I am at every BOE meeting, at the utilization hearings testifying.. I am aware of the the substantive issues you are talking about. However, when you say "WE " who are you referring to? I am not a member of CTU anymore. However, I am a member of my community. They have an agenda that is not working for 1/3 of their teachers. To ask teachers to remain in solidarity with a union that has not protected their rights, I will not do.Just like I speak out against how CPS is harming our communities. Also, The CORE/ CTU has kicked out attacked, maligned, sued, lied on and stabbed in the back anyone that does not agree 100% with their agenda.I just got a call last night from 2 former CTU district supervisors and an Executive Board member who were removed from their positions because the CORE/ CTU team saw their names on my Facebook page??????? CRAZY! I advocate for Real community voice.

Fact Checker wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

School closings do destroy communities

Did you see this WBEZ report about CPS school closings over the past decade.

The school closings are almost all in low income African American and Latino neighborhoods. Kids leave one school that's rated as low performing and get put into a school with similarly low performance on CPS measures. Most closed school buildings and "turned around" schools get turned over to private organizations such as UNO and AUSL which generally don't perform better than the schools they replace.

What is the point of closures? Is CPS doing this for the kids? Is CPS really doing it because of the budget? I think not. It's all about closing neighborhood schools and turning them over to private management... not because that management is better, but because the mayor is sees political gain in doing this. Who is paying for the management consultants who are running the CPS community hearings? The pro-charter, pro-voucher Walton Foundation. Google UNO Charter chicago and read some of the articles about Juan Rangel - the CEO of our largest charter chain and the corruption, operating deficit, and massive corporate debt. None of the articles I read about the corruption mention that Juan Rangel was also Rahm's campaign co-chair.

Rahm forced the longer day on our kids and triggered the CTU strike for political reasons - he's expanding charters and closing neighborhood schools for political reasons. Don't think this is about the kids when it comes to Rahm.

I don't think there would be an uproar about closing or consolidating a handfull of truly underutilized or redundant schools, but that's not what this is. Rahm is talking about closing 20% of neighborhood schools while opening around 60 new charter schools in the next few years. The CPS utilization numbers are bogus - Check out the Apples to Apples/ Raise Your Hand Coalition debunking of the CPS numbers - It turns out that overcrowding is a problem in CPS... but are they doing anything about that?

Also, it does matter when CPS falsely accuses a parent group of being a front for the union. Many people (wrongly) see the union as a teamster-style group that only cares about wages and benefits... while there are problems in any large organization, the CORE leadership has done a great job of shifting the union toward a more social justice and student centered direction. The strike was about class size and inappropriate uses of standardized testing... it was about social workers and other supports for students... and of course it was against a 20% increase in teacher time on the clock which would have resulted in an 18% hourly pay cut.

The IG should investigate the closings. The newspapers and the IG should investigate Rahm's connection to Rangel and UNOs nepotism and no-bid contracts. I know there has been one freedom of information act request for the data CPS used to decide to increase the school day and year... CPS says there is no data available about how they made that unilateral decision. What's worse? CPS making the decision with no real data or CPS hiding the data they did use?

northside wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


My school has 30 kids per room .....i bet if you took the u of c lab school or all of naperville schools, they too would be underutilized per cps calculations. In fact, we could probably stuff all of Illinois students in Chicago style, we could close half of Illinois schools. I wouldn't be so trusting of them. have you ever worked for cps?

northside wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago


LEWIS was democratically voted in and was eligible run for her office. On the other hand Rahm, who got his lawyers to force his eligibility is the real tyrant.

George N. Schmidt wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Historical fact, Rosita's lies... and others' delusional claims


I usually don't join in the absurdist exchange with some people's versions of history. It's like trying to talk with those crazy people who wander through the "L" cars muttering or screaming. Watch your wallet, be ready for quick moves... or move to the next car.

But since one person commnenting here has decided to attack me personally and by name (yes, I do consulting work for CTU, and am proud to have helped develop the research capacity of the union as part of the team that Karen Lewis leads) I'll take on here and now (and just this one time) the craziness of Rosita Chatonda's version of history, viz:

"More African American teachers have been fired under the CORE? LEWIS team than any other union president in the history of the CTU..." (Rosita, above and at numerous times over the past year or more...).

That's a question of fact and history.

Karen Lewis has been president of the CTU since July 1, 2010. Prior to that, the CTU presidents were Marilyn Stewart (August 1, 2004 - June 30, 2010) and Deborah Lynch (July 1, 2001 - July 31, 2004, when she finally left the CTU offices), and Tom Reece (January 1994 through June 30, 2001). Schools were closed (or "reconstituted," etc.) during the terms of each of those CTU presidents. All did some opposings of the Board's actions, with Reece doing the least. And more teachers (and other staff) lost their jobs by those Board actions during each of those three administrations than have lost jobs since July 1, 2010.

As a matter of fact, since July 1, 2010, CPS has seen the smallest number of teachers (of all backgrounds -- the firings have not just been African Americans, despite the racist rants of some propagandists, although African American teachers have been the majority) terminated since the school closings and transformations began.

Historically, CPS began "Reconstitution" in 1997 when Paul Vallas was CEO and mayoral control had just begun. At that time, CPS officials were targeting "failing" schools (as defined by low test scores). The majority of the schools on those years' Hit Lists were in poor and minority communities (as everyone knows, low test scores correlate with family income, so when you go after "failure" as measured by test scores, you target low income public schools).

Whether the union president was Tom Reece (who lost to Deborah Lynch in 2001), Debbie Lynch, or Marilyn Stewart, whenever schools were targeted for "closing" or other changes (the alphabet soup of titles for those thinges included "Renaissance," "Reconstitution," "Reengineering," and (one of my favorites) "Interventions" the union faced the challenge of opposing what was claimed to be "best" for the children. After all, how can we leave our children in "failing" schools. The CPS leader who developed these propaganda points to their sharpest point was Arne Duncan, who was singled out for his "courage" by the city's ruling class (and the editorialists at the various media).

Each closing was based on the claim that a school was "failing" because the standardized test scores of the children were low. The language evolved, pioneered in Chicago, to the "underperformance" nonsense that has been exported as national policy since Arne Duncan went to Washington in January 2009.

We could review the 1990s and early 21st Century, but I've only allocated an hour for this lesson in fact versus fantasy, reality versus delusion.

The first Hit List that was proposed since the Lewis administration took office (July 2010) was possible in January 2011. But that year, when Terry Mazany was CEO of CPS, there was no Hit List.


Nada. Whatever locution you choose.

Mazany, who served as "interim CEO" from November 2010 (when Ron Huberman left after having proclaimed his undying commitment to CPS) until May 2011 (when Rahm Emanuel's Board of Education and Jean-Claude Brizard arrived in power).

It was only in January 2012, when Rahm Emanuel's Board of Education and his first CEO (Brizard; now we have Barbara Byrd Bennett; I won't even speculate about how much churning will take place by this time next year...) was firmly in place, that the 2012 Hit List -- most of which were "turnarounds" -- was published, hearings held, and Hit List approved by CPS. The actual Board Actions can be found at CPS in the reports from the February 2012 Board meeting. By that time, the administration of Karen Lewis at CTU had led or assisted in the greatest oppositions to the Hit Lists in history, including the famous "Mic Check" at the December 2011 Board meeting.

Those are facts of history, which we reported more accurately and in more detail at Substance than any other Chicago news services. Just as we had been reporting those facts going back to the hearings attacking the Englewood High School teachers at the time of the first Paul Vallas "reconstitution" in 1997! And it was easy enough, because we were reporting all that all the time, for us to know who was actually there in opposition to those attacks -- and who came later.

The publication came after the criteria were developed in hearings in October and November 2011, and the hearings on the "turnarounds", phase outs, co-locations, and closings were held in January and February 2012.

The massive protests -- un[precedented in their size, scope, and research basis -- against those actions were organized at the local school level, city-wide, and with the support of the Chicago Teachers Union's organizing department, the leaders, and the members of the union.

The union's leaders spoke out against the proposed actions at every hearing, and at the meetings of the Board of Education. To claim that CTU allowed the "largest number..." of losses of the jobs of African American teachers is absurd, based on the history, as is the equal libelous implication that the CTU leadership since July 2010 has been doing "nothing" (or "little").

At its February 2012 Board of Education meeting, the Board voted, without real discussion or debate, to "turnaround" nine schools. Subsequently, the majority of the staff at those schools were removed from their jobs either by the new AUSL school administrations or by the CPS turnaround people. Officially, the teachers and other staff in those schools had the right to apply for their jobs, but in reality, turnaround means that the vast majority of those staff -- and this is not just the teachers -- are going to lose their jobs.

In addition to the "turnarounds" of 2012, the Board voted to close five schools based on what this year would be called "underutilization." Finally, the Board voted to phase out two high schools (Dyett and Crane), a process which will eventually result in teachers (and other staff) losing their jobs. And the Board voted to "co-locate" two charter schools inside existing public schools (that had said they didn't want their new guests).

That is what the Board has actually done since the current leadership of the Chicago Teachers Union took office in July 2010. No closings in January 2011 (when Terry Mazany) was interim CEO.

Massive protests, organized in part by the CTU, in 2012.

Even larger protests, organized across the city and organized in part by the CTU, in late 2012 and so far in 2013. Plus, by 2012 and 2013 the CTU has a larger and more powerful presence in Springfield and at the Chicago City Council, despite the powers arrayed against the union.

So let's review, since this is a lesson in fact, not an exercise in hysterical racist claims.

While the majority of those schools on the Hit List in 2012 were segregated schools serving low income African American children, not all of them were.

And at none of those schools were ALL the staff African Americans.

The actual tragedies were equal opportunity, despite the hysterical claims of those who choose to ignore history. And a fact of the history of all these actions is that the majority of the African American school workers who lost their jobs (and had their lives ruined) as a result of these various machinations -- going back to 1997 under Paul Vallas's "Reconstitution" -- were staffs in the lunchrooms, engineering and custodial crews of those schools.

Generally, the teaching staffs in those schools were more diverse than the crews of unionized workers who cleaned and maintained the buildings and prepared and served the food.

The result of CPS policies (which have shifted in pretext over the years) has been that whenever the schools were purged, whether by phase outs (like Austin and Calumet high schools where I organized and led the opposition at the June 2004 hearings while I was working for a previous CTU administration), closings (Bunche and dozens of others, most of which were eventually given away to charter operators), or "turnarounds" (which are actually "reconstitutions" under Illinois law, as the Board Reports show to anyone who goes back and reviews what actually happens) teachers and administrators of all races lost their jobs.

-- Not just African American teachers, as some agitators have been claiming (and trying to build organizations on the basis of those false claims).

The actual facts of history will never matter to people who want to color their versions of reality to their biases, whatever those biases may be. And for those teachers who lost their jobs (remember again: teachers weren't the only ones who suffered from the Hit Lists), to hear the claim that the purges by CPS over the past 17 years were only aimed at "African American teachers" brings on some anger (and I've talked with teachers from all groups who have suffered those indignities, including those who found other work and those whose lives were, in some cases, destroyed by these actions). We have also covered these predations based on the facts of Chicago in Substance for the past two decades, both during the times I have worked for the CTU (as director of security under Debbie Lynch; as a consultant today) and at all other times.

The absurd claim that the administration of Karen Lewis (July 2010 to date...) has overseen a situation in which "... more African American teachers have been fired under the CORE LEWIS team than any other union president in the history of the CTU..." is, as I began this with, an absurdity. The kind of lie that when repeated has to lead back to the liar, once the facts are clear. Whether the lies are repeated by CPS administrators (the "billion dollar deficit" is signal right now), by the corporate union busting media, or by some fringe grouplets really doesn't change the facts.

The supporters of George W. Bush are not the only people in this country who can claim that they don't have to live in a "reality based" world. Remember when Bush's Neocons claimed they were creating their own worlds out of... whatever.

But for those of us who will be facing the realities of the next three months as CPS moves forward with its 2013 Hit List, anyone who attacks those who have been leading and organizing the real fight in the real world of real Chicago against these attacks -- whether the "turnarounds" of 2012 or the whatevers of 2013 -- based on lies and half truths, has more explaining to do than can be done in a series of comments on a website.

But it's an election season in the Chicago Teachers Union, and like the strike in September, the union's democracy will ultimately be tallied following the votes on May 17. Not all of the people who are slandering the current leadership of the CTU will be voting that day -- just those who are members of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Paulette Lane wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Inspector General Should Investigate

The Inspector General does ned to investigate school closing because one half of our neighborhood elementary school is on the school closing list. I feel like CPS wants to tackle it's fiscal crisis by further destabilizing African American Communities.

RE: Concern about Comments made by CPS Administration Tim Cawley at the 11/26/12 Utilization

Tim Cawley: “Barack Obama said providing help and choice is the right thing to do. We want to provide the possibility for these students with limited resources.”

It was stated in the hearing that Barbara Byrd Bennett indicated that there was a $1 billion dollar budget deficit and Tim Cawley shared the following comments; “We have “Declining Revenue and Rising Expenses, the Outlook is “Enormous Deficits”. We’ve used up reserves” and expenses will skyrocket due to Pension Costs, In “2013 Budget and beyond there is a discontinuity in Revenue & Expenses, we used 100% of the Fund Balance to cover $432 million in deficits, leaving a zero Fund Balance, Our Revenue is not affected by the expansion of Charters. Some of the Administration Expense is covered with Discretionary State Aid. “

Tim Cawley also mentioned the following about slides 4-6 in his presentation; In 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, only one time fixes help with the budget deficits along with the help that Springfield provides. Also for the 2014 Budget they expect the huge decline that occurred in Fiscal 2012 to continue to stay that way.

Tim Cawley also went on to say that Charter and Alternative Schools make up 9% of the total budget with 12% of the students attending those schools. He said “We think those schools are funded fairly because there are other expenses that also apply. CPS will not have less money because we are funded the same way. We would just be moving expense money from one area; District Run Schools, to another area; Running Charter Schools and our Revenue would be the same.” “Special Education Costs and Pensions are an enormous in expense.” “ In old schools boilers fail and roofs are failing and Bond Holders make payments thru Debt Service to cover repairs.”

Concern: Charters Schools actually receive less funding, not equitable funding. In a Chicago Catalyst
article called “Charter School Succeeding on Almost Every Measure” by Andrew Broy on
August 17, 2010, it stated the following;

“As you acknowledge in your article, however, charter schools have never been equitably funded in our city. A 2010 national study showed that charter schools in Chicago receive $2,020 less per pupil from public sources than comparable public schools. This means that the average charter school class of 30 students is funded at $60,600 less than a similar public school. Even when foundation and philanthropic revenue is included, the per pupil gap remains $1,309, or $39,270 per class. The remedy should be for the district to fund charter schools equitably and to make charter school facilities access a priority. In an era where Chicago is planning to cut charter school reimbursement 6 percent while funding a 4 percent increase in teacher salaries on top of step increases.”
In a Chicago Catalyst article called “A Catalyst Analysis finds that Many Charters Operate with
Deficits and Depend Heavily on Private money to Stay Afloat” by Sarah Karp August, 2010,
It shared the following information; “Catalyst’s analysis found that half of charters have run deficits in recent years. Two-thirds of charters could not cover core expenses without private money. A third of charters look to foundations, corporations and rich individuals to fill more than 20 percent of their budgets. Yet CPS officials and national experts say that to be considered financially sound, charter schools should be able to cover general operating costs solely with public money. If they raise private cash, it should be just for extras. Both charter advocates and opponents agree that the situation is troublesome and raises questions about the long-term viability of these schools. Advocates say inequitable funding is the root of the problem. Charter schools are forced to rely on private funding because they receive less public money than traditional schools, says Larry Maloney of Aspire Consulting Company in Washington D.C., one of the authors of the Ball State study.

“The question is, are we intentionally setting up charter schools to fail?” Maloney asks. Chicago’s charters face potential cuts in public money this year because of the district’s budget shortfall.

“I think the charter school system was always built on a house of cards, and once the economy took a dive, it would crumble,” says Jackson Potter, a staunch opponent and co-chair of CORE (Caucus of Rank and File Educators), a faction of the Chicago Teachers Union whose leader, Karen Lewis, is the new union president.

Charters “have to be held accountable,” Potter says. “Parents need to know if their child’s school is about to implode.”

Concern: CPS Expansion of Charters are forcing minority families into a more unstable school situation.

First CPS built brand new schools thru the “Modern schools Across Chicago Program” to build the majority of brand new schools in white communities. This is an unfair advantage since white families only make up about 9% of the student population. Most of the highly selective schools which require a huge investment in resources are also unequally stacked in predominantly white communities to make sure that the majority of these students receive a stellar education. Their teachers receive the highest salaries because they can recruit the top students across the City of Chicago thru selective enrollment and our families dream of attending their schools because our tax dollars are drained from our communities to give them more than their fair share of resources. We had $38,000,0000 of our TIF dollars taken to build The National Teachers Academy, a school outside our community that will obviously have the support of CPS for ongoing maintenance costs. Meanwhile, practically every elementary school in our area is on the school closing list in Douglas. This is after CPS has used our community as a dumping ground for at risk students across the City of Chicago as we pleaded with them to allow our schools that were performing to flourish and have stability. Many of our schools have also been neglected in terms of removing environmental hazards as our tax dollars were sent for new school construction outside our community. Unhealthy schools for our community has been the norm as we pay around $6,000 in property taxes and watch our schools destabilized repeatedly over the years as Charters and at risk alternative high schools were allowed to start-up in our community, leaving no options for homeowners. I drove my children to Skinner, Andrew Jackson, Whitney Young Academic Center, then to Whitney Young High School, and Jones College Prep. Thank God the opportunity, but not for the three car accidents that I experienced from people hitting me who were on cell phones. My preference would have been to have the same options in my own community and we did ask, but were denied. I am not a proponent of Charters.

Fact: It is a fact that Charters were designed for the weakest students in CPS and Alternative Schools
were designed for the children who are not just special education students but one’s who are also
dropouts that may also be in and out of the criminal justice system.

Fact: CPS has decided to tackle the Budget problem by not subtracting from the communities that have
been given the most resources; that is newly constructed buildings like the $125,000,000 Jones
College Prep., that was built using TIF from other communities and will soon get another
$13,000,000 in TIF for the old building as it has in the past. However, CPS has decided to shutter
communities that have been starving the entire time that CPS was issuing out resources. For years
I have asked CPS to remove the friable asbestos from schools in my community. For years I have
asked CPS to stop using our schools as receiving schools for NCLB because it was destroying any
upward trends in academic performance. I even explained in the past how bringing the wrong
culture of students into our elementary neighborhood school, resulted in a child being sexually
molested! Now it seems the madness that has plaqued our community in the past,will begin again.

Fact: CPS has allowed Charters to start-up in buildings that had environmental hazards like asbestos
that causes a form of cancer that is incurable (mesothelioma). Therefore CPS has most likely been
auctioning off CPS building to not be liable for the health of these students who are at risk of
illnesses due to environmental hazards.

Charter school’s to me, seem to be more vulnerable to funding cut’s than traditional public schools. Does a traditional public school have to worry about funding cuts at the drop of a hat? Minority children are already at an unfair disadvantage and CPS wants to compromise them further by forcing many into Charters. CPS wants to shed the majority of minority children from traditional CPS schools to accommodate teacher pensions by shedding special education students and minority students into the Charter Schools. This seems to be the plan to strengthen traditional schools academically and fiscally but on the necks of African American students and it does not seem to matter if you have an accelerated or gifted and talented child.

What CPS is really doing is shedding their problem into the Charter School System and using the academic shortfall of the Charter School students to justify giving Charters less financial resources. CPS plans to thrust our community children into a deprived school system in Charters; Great for traditional CPS teacher salaries, future pensions and stronger future CPS Budgets for traditional schools, but more of a fiscal crisis and the shuttering of African American families that will be in predominantly Charter Schools by force. This is what it looks like to me. Seems to me that a separate and unequal school system is being formulated and let’s not forget that many Charters also do not have libraries, playgrounds along with the ever present danger of environmental hazards from old school buildings. Yes, the Inspector General should o some investigating!!

Paulette Lane wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Inspector General Should Investigate

Correction: "The Inspector General does need to investigate school closings because one half of our neighborhood elementary school is on the school closing list."

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

You have an interesting

You have an interesting contention. Anything by Andrew Broy, however, who runs a ccharter industry association, is bound to be biased. And unfortunately, sometimes news reports are slanted in the direction of interest of the donors.

And I think we all have seen where CPS uses charters as a way to funnel tax dollars to the politically connected, without any oversight by the public, time and time again.

Family members without any experience in constructino can suddenly form a company and get millions in contracts to build a charter school, for example. The charter vice president resigns, and -- who knows? -- maybe goes to work for one of his brothers' construction companies.

Companies like Apple, K-12, Inc. or Rocketship Charter can sell their software to charters and no one will see the expenses.

There is no public oversight of hundreds of millions of dollars. And Andrew Broy wants more.

Cheaper Education for Minority Families wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Charters Do Receive Less Funding

Charters should not be forced on any community who does not want them and they do receive less money than traditional public schools. I spoke with a state representative Soto at a Chicago Educational Taskforce meeting in the past who confirmed that Charters receive less funding than traditional public schools.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

Would like to see numbers, to

Would like to see numbers, to see what the distinction is.

But some charter chains do get additional millions from the state. And many get a large part of their budget from wealthy philanthropists.

So some may spend more per-pupil in the end.

And, always, less oversight.

Anonymous wrote 1 year 47 weeks ago

the news and politicians

If sears or motorola syas they will layoff 1000 or 2000 workers, politicians, jesse jacson, quinn all cry their crocodile tears. However, when 1000s of teachers are on the chopping block, no one seems to care. I have seen 100s of headlines that say 128 schools will close, but not one that mentions the teachers who will lose their jobs. In fact 100s of teachers who were given political satisfactories will be literally blackballed from education. We are humans one fights for us. We are not rich....what about my kids and wife. Most of us voted for obama at ctu
, he now has turned his back on us. He has been relected he is free to speak. 1000s of his homtown teachers are going to lose thier jobs. I dont believe for a moment that we will be rehired.He almost seems to revel in it all. How can we even be judged with all this turmoil...4 new principals and 4 new ceos in my career. My present principal is like a robot spewing the latest eduspeak .....yet has zero compassion.....scary place cps

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