Archives for category: Closing schools

Never in U.S. history has a local school board–or any other board, appointed or elected–chosen to close 49 public schools.


That’s what the Chicago Public Schools did yesterday.

Thousands of parents, students, and teachers objected, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his puppet board didn’t care.

Yesterday was a day of infamy in Chicago and in the history of American education.

School boards exist to protect, improve, and support public schools, not to kill them.

The New York Times has written about this story and twice said that the school closings were the largest “in recent memory.” The Times wrote this despite my telling them–twice–that these were the largest mass closure ever. I wish the reporters would explain whose “memory” they were relying on. Just yesterday I explained in an email that no public school district had ever closed 49 schools at one time. On this issue, the “Times” is not the newspaper of record but the newspaper of “recent memory.”

Why does it matter? The phraseology removes the truly historic destruction that Rahm Emanuel is inflicting on children and schools in his city. He is wantonly destroying public education. He is punishing the teachers’ union for daring to strike last fall. He will open more charter schools, staffed by non-union teachers, to pick up the kids who lost their neighborhood schools. Some of them will be named for the equity investors who fund his campaigns.

Rahm and his friends will laugh about the way he displaced 40,000 kids.

Jim Morgan writes about the NECAP, the New England Comprehensive Assessment Program that RI Commissioner Gist defends and the Providence Student Union oppose, and reflects on the tragedy of Central Falls High School, which Superintendent Frances Gallo and State Commissioner Deborah Gist threatened to close in 2010:

“I teach in a district adjacent to Central Falls. CFHS has always been a school with excellent teachers trying their best to help an economically underprivileged ELL population of students to do their best. What Gist and Gallo did to those educators and their students is a travesty that will never be forgotten or forgiven in Rhode Island.

“CFHS’s test scores are always at or near the bottom of NECAP rankings. Most of the kids there are poor, many miss a great deal of school travelling back and forth between Rhode Island and other places such as Puerto Rico and Columbia, and speak English as a second language.

“The NECAP school rankings in RI mirror socio-economic rank almost perfectly, with Central Falls, the two Pawtucket high schools and the three non-magnet Providence high schools always at the bottom. The wealthy communities of Barrington and East Greenwich, and the Providence magnet school Classical–and the newspapers never bother to explain that Classical is a selective magnet school–are always at the top. To be a good teacher in RI, according to the powers that be, is to be hired by a wealthy district.

“I’m not sure how CFHS is doing. I hope students and teachers there are recovering from the damage inflicted on them in the name of politics.”

The NYC public is tired of Mayor Bloomberg’s policies of testing, school closings, and privatization. But for 12 years he has had the constant support of the city’s three major newspapers.

The editorialists have supported and cheered him at every turn.

But WOW, today the Néw York Times has an editorial today that agrees that the critics have a point. Will wonders never cease?!

The other papers regularly insist that any dissent from the mayor’s policies–no matter how ruinous to students they may be–comes from the teachers union or from paid shills for the union. The tabloids are quite certain that parents don’t have brains or ideas of their own.

The irony is that the tabloids continue to lambaste the quality of the schools despite the fact that Mayor Bloomberg has had total control of them for 11 years. If children don’t pass tests, the mayor is accountable. How do citizens hold our billionaire mayor accountable? As he once memorably said, you can always boo him at parades.

Here is an excerpt from the Times’ startling editorial:

“But after 12 years, this mayor’s ideas are due for a counterargument. The critiques the candidates are offering hardly shock the conscience, and their complaints about the Bloomberg administration can be heard from teachers and parents in any school in the city.

“The school system has indeed gone overboard in relying on standardized testing. Tests need to be a means to the end of better instruction, not the pedagogical obsession they have become. Yes, Mr. Bloomberg has shown disdain for consultation, as in his rush to close underperforming schools without the full and meaningful involvement of affected communities.

“The system needs to strengthen neighborhoods’ connection to schools and reconnect with parents who feel shut out. And while charter schools can be a path to excellence, they can also cause problems. Shoehorning them into existing school buildings over local objections can alienate parents and reinforce among students a harmful sense of being separate and unequal.”

Clayton Christiansen loves disruption.

He loves the idea that almost everything familiar to us will die and be replaced by competition.

Many corporate reformers swear by him. They think disruption is creative.

I wish they would get out of our lives and make money selling something other than disruption.

WBEZ, the NPR station in Chicago has been doing outstanding investigative reporting on the Chicago Public Schools. The reporters, Becky Vevea and Linda Lutton, dig for facts and do their own analysis instead of reporting the press releases from CPS.

In this story, they do a fact-check on the city’s plan to close dozens of public schools.

The facts and the claims don’t coincide.

Wouldn’t it be great if every city had investigative journalists like them?

The school district of Buena Vista, Michigan, is out of money. The schools are closed for the year. The district will offer “skills camp” to students.

The state of Michigan, which has a responsibility to provide a free public education to all children, has abandoned the students and their schools. The town and the schools are predominantly poor nd black. The town once thrived but started to die when the automobile industry collapsed. Nw those left behind have been betrayed by Governor Snyder.

The Congressman who represents Buena Vista is upset:

“The students of Buena Vista have a constitutional right to an education and deserve the same educational opportunities as other Michigan children, and that means being in a classroom full-time to complete their school year,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democratic congressman who represents Buena Vista, on Monday. “I do not believe that a voluntary camp amounts to a proper education for the children of Buena Vista.”

Crazy Crawfish here writes a brilliant post about The Great Accountability Scam.

He is writing about Louisiana and the Recovery School District, but what he describes applies with equal force to every “reform” scheme in every state and even to Race to the Top.

What he explains is the destructive and failed theory of action that is the very heart of the corporate reform movement.

It goes like this: use test scores to fire teachers, fire principals, close schools, and shatter communities. Create a swath of destruction that falls hardest on poor children, their families and communities. Cover your tracks by declaring success where none exists.

His prime example in this case is Louisiana’s Recovery School District. It has been recognized in the media as a national model, but it is a failed experiment that has benefited its promoters, not students.

RSD is a prime exemplar of the Great Accountability Scam.

Here are his concluding thoughts (but open and read it all):

“What if all these resources we spent taking over school districts, firing teachers, and displacing children were used instead to improve the schools in which they already reside – dozens of these schools now lay shuttered and vacant statewide while the children are bussed to campuses clear across their communities. This is done to disguise how poorly we’ve served these children while we hope taking their temperature over and over and telling them to “get better” will finally work. What if instead of just testing children and holding them “accountable” we held ourselves accountable as a society and worked to improve their plight? All this testing and test prep is not helping our students catch up, and it may actually be bringing everyone else down as well. In Louisiana to disguise this fact John White has changed the “grading scale” and intends to change it yet again next year and every year we continue to employ him. John White will guarantee the scores go up, for what they’re worth, but our students will eventually tire of teachers just taking their temperatures when they show up for school, and who could blame them?

“Kill the RSD, and hand the schools back over to their communities where they belong. The RSD experiment we’ve forced on our children has failed, and miserably so. Instead of spending all that excess funding on bringing in out of state charters and temporary teachers, train the teachers we have, provide funding for universal pre-kindergarten, afterschool programs, restore music and the arts and provide tutors and recruit mentors from the community for children. There are thousands of people just waiting to help, if the state will back off and return to a support role instead of the tyrant it has become under Paul Pastorek and John White. Teachers are trying, but they can’t tackle this task alone.

“I suppose it comes down to whether you want a solution or simply someone to blame. Bobby Jindal just wants a talking point for his futile presidential aspirations; John White wants to help out-of-state vendors, so they can hook him up for a lifetime of perks and positions once he leaves Louisiana. If you are a citizen of this state, if you care about the students, the children, the teachers, your fellow citizens, our way of life and our future, then you need to kick these guys out and take back our schools. Kill the RSD and rescue our teachers and students before it’s too late.

“It’s about time we held our failing leaders responsible. RSD has been in place for almost 7 years and has mostly all new students, and every year it is vying for worst district in the state with two to three times the resources. In my book that deserves an F- and the creators of it should be held accountable.

Buena Vista schools in Michigan shut down abruptly in the face of a fiscal crisis, even though the teachers in the district offered to work for free.

There is no indication that Governor Rick Snyder will do anything to help the district.

In most states, the state government is responsible to be sure that all children have access to public education. Apparently not in Michigan.

Students are worried that they won’t graduate, won’t have a degree. What will happen to them?

The mostly black, mostly poor district was stranded when the auto industry folded.

A fourth-grade teacher asked a plaintive question:

“It’s truly unbelievable that we cannot educate our children,” she said. “So many people have fought and died in this country for the right for all children to go to school together. We’ve gone backwards in time.”

This just in from the Chicago Teachers Union, which is fighting to preserve public education in that city. The mass closure of 54 public schools is unprecedented in American history.


May 9, 2013 312/329-6250

Thousands prepare for a three-day march against school closings as Chicago’s mayor continues his assault on working-class people under the guise of education reform

CHICAGO – As the city braces itself for the largest assault on public education in the country, thousands of parents, students, teachers, clergy, citizens and community leaders are preparing for a “long march” against school closings on May 18, 19 and 20. Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis said the non-violent demonstration is necessary because “we have a mayor who refuses to listen to reason, research and logic,” in his campaign to destroy 54 school communities which will impact about 50,000 children.

The 30-plus mile march is themed, “Our City. Our Schools. Our Voice,” and will include simultaneous routes from the West and South sides of the city. Protestors intend to walk each day past many of the 54 school communities slated for closure and their efforts will culminate in a mass demonstration downtown. It is sponsored by the CTU, the Grassroots Education Movement, SEIU Local 1, Unite Here Local 1 and Chicago PEACE, an interdenominational coalition of clergy leaders from across the city. Donations are pouring in from across the country.

“Despite the testimony of thousands of parents, teachers and people who work and live in the school communities impacted, Rahm Emanuel is dedicated to entering the history books as having destroyed the most public schools in one year than anyone,” Lewis said. “He refuses to listen to independent hearing officers, law enforcement officials, educators, researchers, parents and the students themselves. We have no choice but to use the power of organizing and direct action to engage in what will be a long fight to restore sanity to our school district.”

The march kicks off at 10:00 a.m. on May 18 on the South Side at Jesse Owens Elementary School, 12450 S. State St., and on the near West Side at Jean de Lafayette Elementary School, 2714 W. Augusta Blvd.

“School closings hurt children academically and the mayor’s plan will also put thousands of students’ safety at risk and many public school employees may lose their jobs,” Lewis said. “We must do whatever is necessary to stop this assault on the working class and the poor. Instead of just getting angry we must organize. Tell Emanuel, the Board, the school CEO and their corporate sponsors that this is our city, these are our schools and we will use our voice to fight for justice.”

Independent hearing officers reviewed the Chicago Public Schools’ list of 54 slated closings and have recommended removing 14 from the list saying those schools don’t meet the state standards and are in violation of the law. The mayor’s hand-picked Chicago Board of Education will vote on the issue on Wednesday, May 22. Shortly thereafter, a massive voter registration drive will commence throughout the city.


This is an astonishing story.

In 2002, Arne Duncan began his infamous policy of shutting down schools in Chicago with low test scores.

Among the schools he closed was Dodge.

Dodge parents were outraged that their school was handed over to a private turnaround operator, but Duncan assured them it was for the best.

Fast forward to 2008, when President-elect Obama announced that he had picked Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education.

The event was held at Dodge Renaissance Academy, which the President praised as a “perfect example” of a turnaround school, an exemplar of Duncan’s great success.

Sadly, Chicago Public Schools is now closing Dodge Renaissance Academy as a failing school, along with Williams, another of Duncan’s “turnaround” schools.

What do you think this does to the children, the parents, and the community?

When is it okay to say that it is better to help struggling schools than to close them?


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