Archives for category: Closing schools

The best reporting on the historic closure of dozens of Chicago public schools was in the Sun-Times. It provided a human face to a public tragedy.

Most moving were the scenes at schools listed for closure.

The board voted enmasse. It didn’t even take time to name the schools it killed.

The decision was rendered unless time than it takes to boil an egg.

And there was this:

“One of the speakers lugged out of board chambers by CPS security was Erica Clark, a CPS parent and member Parents 4 Teachers. She used her two minutes time to recite, alphabetically, a litany of the schools on the chopping block: “Altgeld is my school, Armstrong is my school, Attucks is my school.”

“Her microphone was cut off as she reached “Pope”. She sat on the floor and continued: “Songhai is my school”. As security guards picked her up and carried her out, protesters called out with her: “Every school is my school.”

Even as Rahm Emanuel says he has no money for schools, none at all, the cupboard is bare….. He somehow managed to find $55 million to build a private basketball stadium. Now, this is a mayor with priorities!

One guess.

The Chicago Tribune would have advised American troops to lay down their arms when defeat seemed certain. They would have advised appeasement in the 1930s. This is an editorial board that cares not a whit for 40,000 children (not their children, after all) or for public education.

The Chicago Tribune editorial board is composed of Quislings. This is their advice to teachers:

May 22, 2013

When a vast tornado ripped into an Oklahoma elementary school, some teachers threw themselves on top of their students to shield them. They put their students’ lives before their own.

Some quick-thinking teachers huddled children into a bathroom. Though the roof blew off the school, the kids survived.

Some teachers were the first rescuers to pull surviving kids from the rubble, to comfort them, to keep them safe.

We’re sure we’ll hear more stirring stories about Oklahoma teachers who kept calm and protected their students during Monday’s tragedy. Guiding and protecting children is what teachers do. Not just in Oklahoma. Everywhere.

Parents who send their kids off to school every morning take a leap of faith: They trust that a teacher will care for their child with passion, with dedication, with patience and love. Parents place great value on their teachers, and with good reason.

We point this out on a day when the Chicago public school system will make a gut-wrenching decision. The school board is set to vote Wednesday on whether to close 53 elementary schools. Chicago teachers and parents have been protesting, trying to save those schools.

No one revels in closing a school. Chicago faces this decision because of some undeniable facts. The number of students has declined. That decline has been concentrated in lower-income neighborhoods. Chicago has a school infrastructure designed to support more students than it has enrolled. Chicago has to put its money toward the education of students in full, thriving schools. Money spent to light, heat and maintain half-empty school buildings is not money focused on educating children.

After months of planning, months of debate, the school board members will make a tough, emotional decision Wednesday.

They may spare a handful of the schools, based on the reports of arbitrators who questioned the efficacy of closing some schools. But barring a last-minute change of direction, most of the schools will be closed. That will be the right decision. Students won’t be served by pushing off these decisions, by continuing to misdirect education dollars.

And that brings us back to the teachers.

They have fought intensely against these closings. They’ll continue to challenge the board’s decision in federal court.

But their complete cooperation in the months ahead will be essential to ensuring a safe, successful transition for their students. Many teachers will follow kids to new buildings. Those charged with shepherding kids safely to school will depend on teachers to help, to speak up if they see dangers.

The teachers may not agree with every closing or any closing. But it will be up to them to make this work.

And far beyond that: The teachers will be key to restoring Chicago’s focus on building a much better public school system, on graduating students who are prepared to succeed in college and the workplace.

That can’t be achieved if Chicago’s teachers fight every effort at reform, if they are in a perpetual war against those who lead Chicago’s public schools.

Teachers, be heroes.

Copyright © 2013 Chicago Tribune Company, LLC

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.”


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