Archives for category: Chicago

Who stands up for the neediest, most vulnerable children in Chicago? Not Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Not the Mayor’s hand picked Board of Education. Not the Superintendent Forrest Claypool, who imposed what he himself calls “unconscionable” cuts to special education.

Who stands up for the children? Educators.

Principal Troy LaRaviere (who was previously warned by CPS about speaking out too much) describes here the principals’ revolt, and the CPS officials’ sneaky effort to announce the cuts in a Friday afternoon (when they would get minimal media attention), with only one day to appeal.

If this what reformers stand for? Hurting defenseless children?

LaRaviere writes:

“Whenever I try to take a break from writing about CPS to focus on other aspects of my professional and personal life, CPS officials do something so profoundly unethical, incompetent and/or corrupt that my conscience calls me to pick up the pen once more. This time, they’ve targeted special education students. Obscured in the latest round of CPS budget cuts is an unprecedented move to cut legally required special education services. Educators are often asked if a school based budget cut will affect students. The answer is always “yes.” Each person in a school provides a service to a group of students. When CPS decides to cut the dollars that fund a school-based position they are, in effect, taking the service away from students.

“One district official was quoted in the Sun-Times stating, “CPS continues to work with our principals to prepare for these adjustments.”

“Adjustments” is CPS’ latest euphemism for cuts to student services. If they keep it up, they’re going to “adjust” students out of their education entirely. CEO Forrest Claypool often repeats a talking point that the cuts CPS will “have to make” are “unconscionable.” If one thinks the cuts are “unconscionable” then one does not give those cuts a false euphamistic name like “right-sizing.” Yes, that’s the actual term they use to describe their efforts to reduce services to special education students. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, CPS took an additional $13.3 million worth of services from CPS students with their latest “adjustments.” The article includes a spreadsheet detailing the cuts to schools across Chicago. For example, Ogden school lost five special education teachers and three special education assistants, while Austin High School lost two teachers and four assistants.

“Chicago’s mayor and CPS officials often cite the need to “sacrifice” in order to “save money” as a justification for such cuts. However, all too often CPS and City Hall pretend not to see opportunities to save money by making those who can most afford it sacrifice. Instead they turn their avaricious eyes toward those who can least afford it: our students. They didn’t make the banks that swindled CPS out of $100 million sacrifice by suing them to recoup their losses; they prefer to make students sacrifice by increasing their class sizes. They didn’t makes SUPES Academy sacrifice by denying the organization a $20 million no-bid contract; they prefer to make students suffer by cutting their sports programs. They didn’t make the scores of basement dwelling for-profit charter school management organizations suffer (88% of charters are in the bottom half of CPS performance in student reading growth); instead they took funds used to provide programming for students in more successful neighborhood schools. They didn’t make Aramark and Sodexo Magic (an Emanuel campaign contributor) suffer by canceling their custodial management contracts when they failed to keep schools clean; CPS and City Hall prefer instead to make special education students sacrifice by cutting their legally required educational services.”

Where are the lawyers?

Mike Klonsky reports that Chicago Public Schools is cutting special education.

“Our autocrat at City Hall appears bent on dismembering special education in Chicago by a thousand cuts. SpEd took its first major deep cut over the summer eliminating 500 positions at CPS. More cuts announced late Friday mean approximately 160 schools would lose special education teachers, while 184 would lose aides.”

Let the lawsuits begin. There is a federal law to protect children with disabilities.

Troy LaRaviere is a prominent elementary school principal in Chicago. He has been outspoken in his opposition to Rahm Emanuel’s budget-cutting and his preference for privately managed charters. He is on the honor roll of this blog for his courage and articulate support of the children and educators of the Windy City.

He recently spoke at the Chicago Club and titled his address, “A Love Letter to Chicago’s Teachers.”

Much to his surprise, he received an anonymous love letter from a teacher. She was deeply inspired by his speech.

Her letter to Troy begins like this:

I’ve been reading and listening to your love letter over and over the last few weeks. Your passion is contagious. Your sweet words, hard and true, light the darkness in my heart; the light I had forgotten. Although, your words I hold dear to my heart…I cannot leave my man (CPS). He provides for me…without him…I don’t know how I would be able to feed my kids. Yes, he is abusive…He constantly threatens to quit me. He reminds me annually that I can be easily replaced by someone younger, cheaper and less experienced. He doesn’t respect me…in fact he constantly belittles me with tests that constantly change and evaluations that are subjective and punitive…as if I haven’t proven that I am worthy or good enough despite the years that I have sacrificed for our relationship. He sends people to check up on me in hopes of catching me doing wrong.

Troy says he is a shy man by nature, but clearly he was moved by this letter. You can bet he will fight even harder now for justice and equity and respect for the city’s teachers, parents, and children.

At 3:30 pm EST–less than one hour—Robin Hiller of the Network for Public Education will interview Jitu Brown, one of the hunger strikers at Dyett High School in Chicago. Jitu is a member of the board of NPE.

Robin has a regular radio show in Tucson.

The hunger strike has ended!

Learn what happened.

Contact: Madison Donzis,, 210.488.6220

Nearly 300 Call on Chicago Mayor to Implement Green Technology Proposal for Dyett High School Immediately

Educators, Academics, and More From Across the Country Issue Letter to Rahm Emanuel on 26th Day of Hunger Strike

** See the Letter Here: **

Amidst the hunger strike crisis in Chicago over the fate of Dyett High School, almost 300 educators, researchers, academics, and community groups nationwide have issued a letter to Rahm Emanuel urging him to invest in the Coalition’s Global Leadership and Green Technology plan for the school. The groups and individuals applaud the decision to open Dyett as an open-enrollment school, but believe more needs to be done.

See the letter here:

The education advocates call on Emanuel to take the following next steps:

A curricular emphasis on green technology and to include “Green Technology” in the name of the school,

The involvement of members of the Coalition to Revitalize Dyett High School on the design team and in the selection of the principal,

An elected and fully empowered Local School Council.

“Not only is it absolutely crucial that Dyett re-open under the Coalition’s proposal, it is imperative to set a precedent for transformative community schools nationwide by ensuring that these strikers, along with students, parents, teachers and community members are engaged in an all-inclusive decision-making process,” said Keron Blair, Director of AROS.

“Though the hunger strikers have successfully fought for open-enrollment at Dyett, they are continuing to fast and stand firm in their demand for the Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology plan. Had members of the community been actively included in the initial planning stages for the school, they would not have to now endure day 26 of their hunger strike.

“We have got to do what needs to be done to bring these folks home to their children and families. We won’t give up until Rahm Emanuel does what is right for the school, and does it now.”

Yesterday, the 15 hunger strikers visited the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) headquarters demanding a meeting with Forrest Claypool to begin the planning for the new Dyett High School.


The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools (AROS) is a national community/labor table of organizations of parents, students, teachers and community members who are fighting for the public schools our children deserve.

Mike Klonsky passes on the Chicago chatter.

For example, J.C. Brizard bombed in Rochester and Chicago. But he’s a Broadie so he landed on his feet.

Julie Vassilatos explains what the Dyett hunger strike is about and why the 12 protestors are not giving up.

She also shows who stood with the superintendent of schools (not the Dyett 12) and who is funding them. Follow the money. Would you be surprised to learn that the people at Claypool’s side took money from the notorious Stand for Children, from Hedge funders at Democrats for Education Reform, and from the billionaire Eli Broad, who wants to privatize public schools?

“We are in every neighborhood in Chicago. We are many, and we stand with the Fight for Dyett because we believe in democracy, neighborhoods, public schools, and local community. We are of every color and every demographic. We are everywhere.

“There are, certainly, some who do not stand with the Fight for Dyett.

“They also do not stand for democratic schools, local autonomy, or elected school boards.

“They also do not oppose privatization, test-and-punish curricula, school closings, community disinvestment, unprofessional teaching staff, or manipulations and machinations of powers outside of the community upon the community and against its will.

“And these people were standing with Forrest Claypool on Thursday afternoon at the press conference where CPS declared that they had resolved the Dyett crisis.”

“Oh–you say–but–but those people at that press conference, they were–weren’t they?–black–all of them. They were black community leaders. Weren’t they? Isn’t that what the newspapers said? They would know all about the fight facing Dyett, and all public schools everywhere–right?

“Oh, they do.

“But all those people standing up there–like props–all of them have fought against their own communities, and with good reason.

“They receive large amounts of money from the very sources of the destruction of our public schools.

“Today we’ll just take the politicians that flanked Forrest.

“State Representative Christian Mitchell. He has received $127,000 from Stand for Children and $34,000 from Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), both of which are organizations dedicated to forwarding the purposes of corporate education control. He has received $12,800 from Noble Network Board Member David Weinberg (who in turn has given $10,500 to DFER, $10,000 to Stand for Children, and $10,000 to Stand for Children PAC), and $10,000 from Eli Broad, two prominent, and spectacularly wealthy, generals in the corporate ed control army.

“Just saying.

“Will Burns, who continues to insist he is and always has been for Dyett, has managed to stand in the way of the community’s every move to keep its school. Burns has received $1690 from DFER, $2,500 from the Illinois Network of Charter Schools, $7,900 from Noble Network Board member John Rowe (who has in turn given $10K to Stand for Children), $21,500 from Noble Network Board member Weinberg, and more than $51,000 from Rahm’s campaign. In addition, in May he was given the plum of chairing the Education Committee with its budget of more than $200K. Furthermore, while he has received no money from Stand for Children himself, oddly enough he has contributed over $17K to them. He’s received small campaign donations from for CPS Board of Ed members David Vitale and Andrea Zopp as well, which seems to me personally inappropriate, although it is surely legal.”

Which side are you on?

Mike Klonsky reports the latest news from Chicago.

Rahm Emanuel said that Dyett would re-open as an open-enrollment high school. This was his way of thumbing his nose at the hunger strikers, whose proposal called for a school whose theme was green technology and global leadership.

The community leaders want a voice. They will continue their hunger strike.

They are proof positive that real change happens when people act and do and put their bodies on the line.

Rahm and Andrew backed off today. Or maybe they didn’t.

Rahm decided that Dyett High School re-open as an open-enrollment school. Cuomo said the Common Core and the testing were badly bungled by the State Education Department (John King), and he needs a commission to review the mess that he (Cuomo) made.

Bear in mind that Cuomo has no constitutional authority for education. He does not appoint the state Board of Regents (the legislature does) or the state commissioner (the Regents do).

Did Rahm really back down? Did Cuomo?

Ask the experts.

Here is Mike Klonsky in Chicago.

Here is Peter Greene, calling hoax.

The Dyett hunger strike goes on. Rahm may or not be softening his opposition to giving the community the open-enrollment public school it wants.

Randi Weingarten is taking two hunger strikers to DC, either to give a letter to Arne or meet him.

Mike Klonsky reminds us that Arne ended a hunger strike when he first became school superintendent in Chicago.

What wil he do now?


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