Archives for category: Emanuel, Rahm

Paul Horton is a history instructor in the University High School at the University of Chicago Lab Schools. This post explains the Obama administration’s love for charters and its disdain for public schools.

Martin Nesbitt is the President’s best friend, and close associate of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who provided much of the start-up capital for Parking Spot, a very successful off airport parking company that Mr. Nesbitt directed for several years before Ms. Pritzker sold the company. Nesbitt and Pritzker also are invested in the Noble Charter Schools chain in Chicago. In the last year, Mr. Nesbitt has created an investment firm called the Vistria Group that seeks, in part, to bundle capital for Charter School investment.

Mr. Nesbitt grew up in Columbus, Ohio and credits the discipline he acquired at the private Columbus Academy for helping him deal with the violence, drug use, and the social dislocation that surrounded him growing up in a tough neighborhood. He sees the Noble Charter Schools as a vehicle to instill discipline in inner city youth. Like the President, he grew up, for the most part without a present father. They both see themselves as self made men and view charter schools as a potential path to success for inner city youth. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-21/business/ct-biz-0121-executive-profile-nesbitt-20130121_1_martin-nesbitt-michelle-obama-penny-pritzker)

Mr. Nesbitt and the President are basketball addicts. They play as much as they can and talk basketball incessantly. They, of course share this addiction with Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education and Craig Robinson, former Oregon State coach and Michelle Obama’s brother. Mr. Nesbitt sponsors and participates in three on three basketball tournaments all over the country.

During his first campaign, the President narrowed his friendship group, forcing long time friends Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi out of their social circles in response to attacks from the right concerning Mr. Ayers’s political past and from AIPAC on Professor Khalidi’s advocacy for Palestine and criticism of American Middle East Policy.

In Chicago, Mr. Nesbitt was the President of the Chicago Housing Authority in the late 90s where he worked with Rahm Emanuel and other power brokers to create public-private partnerships that created housing on Chicago’s south and west sides to replace the drug and crime ridden behemoth projects, the Robert Taylor Homes (see Gang Leader for a Day) and Cabrini Green.

The Commercial Club of Chicago worked with CHA to re envision the development of mid south and near west sides. A subcommittee created the “Renaissance 2010″ plan that sought to create mixed income housing in these area that was open to former project residents who worked thirty hours a week. “The Renaissance 2010″ plan resulted in heavy real estate investment in these areas and the creation of charter schools were seen as essential to attracting young urban professionals into these areas.

So the connection between real estate developers who speculate on land and building investment and the push for charter schools is very strong. Chicago real estate moguls lead by Bruce Rauner, the Republican nominee for Illinois governor, and the Crown family drive much of the Chicago push to close public schools to expand the charter sector. Indeed, the Commercial Club of Chicago, known as “the billionaires club” on the streets of Chicago, drives the Education policy of the mayor and funds, through connections with the Joyce Foundation (the Director of the Joyce Foundation sits on board of the Commercial Club) funds education “research” (non peer-reviewed) that is printed on the editorial pages of the Chicago Tribune to legitimate public school closings.

This pattern of connection between real estate developers, the creation of and public-private partnerships to build low density mixed income housing in impoverished neighborhoods, and the drive to close public schools and open charter schools has been chronicled in powerful detail by Education theorist and sociologist Pauline Lipman. I have addressed these issues in more detail in an Education Week piece, “Why Obama’s Education Policies will not Change and why ‘Change is Hard.'”

Mr. Nesbitt and Mayor Emanuel are the leading political actors who have orchestrated and executed public policy for the interests of the Commercial Club. Their chief supporters need the value of the land that they bought in gentrifying neighborhoods to increase. They see charter schools as a key magnet to attract middle class professionals back into neighborhoods within a three to four mile radius of downtown on the south and west sides.

The process appears to be working for developers on the near west side with the construction of a massive shopping mall, the sales of condos that were intended to be mixed income to middle and upper middle class white and black professionals, and the plans to build a new selective enrollment “Barack Obama High” smack dab in the middle of the former Cabrini Green.

The gentrification scheme of developers, however, is clearly not working in Bronzeville, on the near south side. According to a recent Harvard study that received some attention on NPR, real estate values in the mId south and Bronzeville areas on the south side is slowed by perceptions of violence. According to this study, white urban professionals are more likely to move into Latino areas like Humbolt Park and Pilsen.

To date, Mr. Nesbitt’s friends are scared to death about their investments in Chicago’s mid south and Bronzeville areas, explaining why this area has been targeted for several rounds of public school closings and charter school openings.

The take away from this piece is that many of the people who provided the funds to transform Mr. Obama into a viable national candidate after he passed the litmus test of Iowa are associated with the Commercial Club of Chicago were heavily invested in real estate speculation and building charter schools as a way to increase the value of property purchased by investors. All of this is couched in the language of making Chicago a global city and creating school choice for parents.

At the national level, Democrats for Education Reform stepped into the discussion over schools in exchange for raising money for Democratic campaigns that was needed to counteract the impact of the Citizens United decision.

The reason why those closest to the President are strong supporters of RTTT and charters is because they are connected to south and west side real estate investment in Chicago and bad press for public schools in the form of low test scores will create the pretext and legitimation for more investment and funding of charter schools that will lead to rising condo sales, condo values, and land values. Once values rise and more middle class professionals move into these areas, commercial shopping and retail investment will do its work to increase the value of real estate.

That the President’s best buddy, should attempt to capitalize on on charter school investment after playing a role in the shaping of the President’s education policy, is either the hallmark of a “free enterprise system” or more grease to the wheels of yet another episode of crony capitalism excreted by the proximity to power of buddies helping each other out.

I taught Mr. Nesbitt’s two oldest children and I have communicated my disappointments about the Obama administrations education policies to him.

I told Mr. Nesbitt several times that the Democratic party would pay a price for creating education policies that did not serve the interests of the majority of parents, students, teachers, and administrators.

He told me that “teachers do not deserve the amount of money that they make,” “that their salaries should be reduced,” and that they deserve no respect for sacrificing other career paths to answer the calling of teaching.

He seemed more concerned about reducing teacher’s salaries to create a profit margin for investors than about the impact the disruptive policies of school closings would have on human communities.

I recently sent him a note that explained to him that the majority of 3.7 million teachers in this country are very upset with policies that denigrate teachers, students, parents and communities for political gain.

For an administration that pretends to care about the disappearance of the middle class and rising income inequality, its lack of support for teachers and public schools is astounding. We have heard nothing from this administration when democratic state representatives all over the country threaten to steal pensions that were not adequately funded due to political incompetence and a willingness to pay political cronies rather than pension funds.

We now see an attack on due process for teachers gaining political support from both parties and the billionaires who will benefit from the destruction of public unions. The attack on due process rights for teacher unions will set precedents for attacks on due process rights for other unions.

Scarcely 12% of Americans belong to unions and real wages in the United States have declined as union membership has declined.

The curtain has been pulled back, and most Americans can see now who are pulling the levers. The Democratic Party no longer supports the working people of this country. it serves the commercial clubs in every major American city, Wall Street bundlers, and plutocrats all over the world.

Mr. Nesbitt, the 3.7 million teachers in this country will not be fooled by staged meetings between a few teachers in the White House, listening to a few BadAss Teachers at the DoEd, or calling for a congress of teachers. WE know that this is political posturing in advance of November elections.

Your administration has disrespected us, our communities, and our families. How stupid do you think we are? Your policies are an attack on our self-respect.

Unless you instruct Senators Harkins and Durbin to defund NLRB and RTTT, fire Arne Duncan, and begin pursuing a new path, very few of us will support you in November.

We know that your billionaire friends will profit from their investments only if you pursue policies that create more charter schools. We know that you and your friends are betting on Pearson and Microsoft stock.

Your blatant disrespect for students, teachers, parents, and school communities will cost you the upcoming election.

You are blinded by greed and ignorance.

The Chicago Tribune’s poll of voters‘ views of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s school policies showed very low approval for the Mayor. The mayoral election is in February 2015, and it appears that education is Rahm’s weak spot. He favors charter schools and shut down nearly 50 public schools in one fell swoop, an act unprecedented in American history. He has fought bitterly with the Chicago Teachers Union over school funding. It is not working well for him politically, the poll shows.

“Asked about Emanuel’s handling of public schools, 65 percent disapproved, 26 percent approved and 10 percent had no opinion. The latest findings show a shift of 5 percentage points toward disapproval from a Tribune poll in May 2013 — just before a vote by the school board to shut nearly 50 public schools.

“While dissatisfaction with the mayor on education crossed racial lines, it was more intense among African-American voters. Critics contend black neighborhoods were disproportionately targeted for school closings. Fully 77 percent of black voters disapproved of Emanuel’s handling of the city’s schools while only 14 percent approved.”

“Among parents of children in Chicago Public Schools — about one-fifth of those taking part in the survey — nearly 4 out of 5 disapproved of the mayor’s handling of public education while only 19 percent approved. But even those without children in the public schools disapproved at a 62 percent rate, while only 27 percent approved.

“Emanuel’s approach on charters versus neighborhood schools was roundly criticized by voters: 72 percent disagreed with that approach, compared with 18 percent who agreed. African-American voters most severely opposed the policy — at 83 percent — while only 10 percent agreed with Emanuel. Nearly 8 in 10 parents of CPS children also were opposed, as well as 75 percent of female voters, 69 percent of men and 63 percent of whites.”

“Little more than 15 months ago, more than one-third of Chicago voters did not choose a side between Emanuel and the union. The latest poll finds that the bulk of those voters have opted to side with the union: 62 percent, up from 41 percent in May 2013. A total of 23 percent sided with Emanuel, up from 19 percent more than a year ago. Only 7 percent opted to choose neither the union nor the mayor in the new poll.”

The Tribune has been a vocal critic of the CTU. Friday afternoon is traditionally the time to release stories to get minimum attention.

The conclusion to be drawn from this poll is that Rahm is in big trouble because of his hostility to public schools and his devotion to privatization.

Michael Klonsky covered the crucial Board of Education meeting about the budget for Chicago schools and says it demonstrated why mayoral control is a failure.

The board decided that one way to deal with the fiscal crisis is to hire more press secretaries!

“The budget once again cuts funding for neighborhood schools and programs serving kids with special needs, while funneling millions more into the pockets of privately-run charter school operators. It was passed by the mayor’s hand-picked minions (at least by those who showed up) of bobble-heads despite loud protests from the gallery of angry parents and school activists.”

Mike quotes George Schmidt, who wrote:

“George Schmidt does a good job of calling out no-show board members.
Considering that they only have to perform that public duty one day a month, and at a location conventient to their downtown offices, the seven members of the Board have seemed since the year began to be alternating “days off” so that they don’t have to listen to the public criticisms of their hypocrisies and craven subservience to the mayor’s privatization programs. And so it was on what is arguably the most important meeting of the year, July 23, 2014. That was the meeting at which the Board was to approve its annual budget. Deborah Quazzo, the millionaire financial planner, was missing, just as Andrea Zopp, Henry Bienen and Mahalia Hines had been during the previous months.”

Mayoral control makes a mockery of democracy, especially when the Board is run by the mayor’s pals and parents are disregarded.

A recent poll shows that if Chicago’s mayoral election were held now, union leader Karen Lewis would beat Rahm Emanuel.

“If the mayoral election were held today, the lightning rod union leader who was the architect behind a 2012 teachers’ strike would beat Emanuel by 9 percentage points in a head-to-head contest, the survey found.

“Lewis was leading Emanuel 45 percent to 36 percent with 18 percent of the likely voters undecided.

“And Emanuel could face an even steeper hill if he faces Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, long considered his most formidable challenger.

“A head-to-head contest found Preckwinkle romping Emanuel by a stunning 24 points.

“Preckwinkle dominated with 55 percent of those surveyed. Emanuel notched just under 31 percent.”

Smart politicians understand that the appearance of reform is even better than real reform. Chicago Democrats have learned that lesson and turned it into an art form.

Here is an article from the Chicago Tribune that makes the point–not about schools but about crime and police. In education,”reform” means closing schools, shutting down libraries, and replacing experienced teachers with newcomers.

“Chicago Democrats a protected species on the national stage”

John Kass

July 9, 2014

Prominent Chicago Democrats have had an easy time with the national media for decades — as easy as shaking a ring of keys to distract an anxious child in church.

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley rode a bicycle in photo ops and put a few plants on the roof of City Hall, leading the national news networks to cast him as the “green” mayor, not as the absolute boss of a broken and corrupt political system that piled debt on the city and drained its future for the benefit of the insiders.

President Barack Obama appeared on the late-night talk shows as the mystical healer of America’s broken politics, not as some untested suit who held the hand of now-imprisoned bagman Tony Rezko while learning to cross Chicago’s political streets.

And Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former chief of staff?

He hangs with Jimmy Fallon and they tell jokes about jumping into a freezing Lake Michigan. Emanuel is as cool and practiced a media manipulator as the fictional Frank Underwood in “House of Cards.”

But a headline of 82 people shot in Chicago in 84 hours is embarrassing to the mayor, particularly for a mayor who sees the fifth floor of City Hall as a mere stop on the road to his national political destiny.

So he held a news conference on the Far South Side this week, a familiar exercise, full of the necessary archetypes:

Wise neighborhood matrons flanking the mayor and nodding their heads in agreement. Grieving families in support, better there at his side than out on the street asking angry questions.

They talked of the need for everyone to step up to face the crisis, from community leaders to parents, federal officials, judges — everyone except, of course, the mayor of Chicago.

And he avoided the overriding question, again and again: When are we going to hire more police officers?

“Now, a lot of people will say, ‘Where were the police? What were the police doing?’ That’s a fair question, but not the only question,” the mayor said.

“Where are the parents? Where is the community? Where are the gun laws? Where are the national leaders, so we don’t have the guns of Cook County, Indiana and downstate Illinois flowing into the city?”

Rattle those keys, Mr. Mayor.

A TV reporter asked him about tired police officers who’ve been working overtime because he won’t hire more. Another reporter asked why New York and Los Angeles have lower homicide rates than Chicago.

“Well, thank you (for) your question,” Rahm said, launching into a diatribe on gun laws, rather than on police staffing.

He’s good at shaking keys. And some analysts bought his talking points, agreeing with City Hall that talking of police manpower was just too easy.

Too easy? What else is left? A miracle?

According to city data, overall Police Department staffing was about 12,250 at the start of this year, down almost 900 officers from the end of 2009. The Rahmfather has been hiring police, but not at a fast enough rate to keep up with attrition.

Just about every police officer I’ve talked to feels overworked and tired. They’re worn thin. Morale is down. That’s what month after month of overtime can do.

On Wednesday, Pat Camden, spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police in Chicago, wasn’t receptive to the mayor’s policies during an interview with me and Lauren Cohn on WLS-AM 890.

“It would have been nice to hear the mayor saying, ‘Where were the police? The police are out there doing their job, and if I had more police maybe we wouldn’t have had so many shootings.’ But that’s not the way he operates,” Camden said.

There’s always money to be found when the politicians want to find it.

Some $50 million has been set aside for yet another monument to a Daley, a park named for the former mayor’s late wife. And there’s about $600 million or so for a lakefront project that includes a new athletic venue for DePaul University, although the Bulls and Blackhawks offered the use of the United Center rent-free.

And just before his last election, Gov. Pat Quinn found $54.5 million in state cash for a violence-reduction program now being investigated by the feds as a possible political slush fund.

There are not enough good-paying jobs on the predominantly African-American South and West sides. But there seems to be plenty of political cash to toss around.

Meanwhile, Democrats are encouraging waves of unskilled labor from south of the border to compete for what few low-skilled jobs still exist.

Families already savaged by decades of dependency on government programs continue to dissolve. Violence reigns. The giant street gangs have broken up into small and viperous neighborhood cliques.

Many children aren’t allowed outside. I remember a detective telling me that for such children, it’s like the “Hunger Games” out there.

But the political class in charge for decade after decade after decade — the Chicago Democrats — isn’t ever held to account nationally.

When seen in the national news, they’re about as green as forest ferns. Or they’re all about soothing old political scars and healing divisions.

Or they’re hip and they know Hollywood and can jump into icy lakes with late-night TV personalities.

All they have to do is rattle the keys, misdirect, smile and turn on the charm.

jskass@tribune.com

NEWS RELEASE
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin
June 26, 2014 312/329-6250

EMANUEL CONTINUES ASSAULT ON CITY’S TEACHERS

CHICAGO—Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) President Karen Lewis released the following statement regarding today’s announcement of 1,150 teacher and school support staff layoffs by Chicago Public Schools (CPS):

“The decision by the mayor and his handpicked Board of Education to lay off 1,150 teachers and school support staff today in yet another brutal attack on public education in Chicago is bitterly disappointing and an example of the continued destruction and decimation of neighborhood schools. In a little over a year, CPS student-based budgeting has led to the removal of close to 5,000 teachers, teacher assistants, librarians, paraprofessionals and school-related personnel (PSRPs), technology coordinators and instructional aides from classrooms as severe cuts cause principals to make the difficult decisions that the district cannot. This loss of teachers and staff will directly impact the quality of instruction offered in our schools, and is unnecessary and shameful for a district that claims to provide a high-quality education for its students.

“With this latest round of layoffs— the fourth time in the past five years in which we have seen summer layoffs in excess of 1,000—and the hundreds of positions lost at the three schools slated for turnaround this year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his Board continue their war on our educators by doing nothing to salvage school budgets other than forcing principals to terminate valued teachers and staff.

“Of the 1,150 layoffs announced today, 550 are teachers and 600 are Educational Support Personnel (ESP). Approximately 250 of these ESPs are Chicago Teachers Union PSRPs. The layoffs stem from the low level of per-pupil funding which CPS Central Office set for schools, meaning that all over the city, principals are being forced, for example, to choose between keeping a veteran teacher and keeping a program library. Current budgets are so low that schools can’t keep both.

“While the district claims that most of the cuts are due to drops in enrollment, there are an ever-increasing number of charter schools siphoning students out of public schools and contributing to a system of dysfunction and instability that leads parents to seek other options for their children. The situation serves to underscore the unacceptably low level of funding that Chicago’s neighborhood schools receive, as every time teachers and other staff are cut, it is harder for schools to serve communities, and the teachers who remain have to shoulder more and more of the burden.

“This decision further demonstrates the disdain for public education and the lack of leadership and vision for the city from our mayor and his handpicked Board. Do we want “Star Wars” museums or public, neighborhood schools? Do we want presidential libraries or librarians for every child?”

###

This post by Ken Previti directed me to a hugely important story that I had missed.

David Sirota of Pando and Ben Joravsky of The Chicago Reader unearthed a story of money, politics , and greed that is startling.

The headline is that Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s top donor bought a big bloc of stock in Marriott hotels shortly before Marriott won a very lucrative contract from the city. The deeper story is about the web of money and contracts that makes buddies of all the movers and shakers in Chicago. This is a city that claimed it had to close 50 public schools and that pensions were too much to bear.

Yet Chicago has a program called TIF (Tax Increment Financing) that allows the mayor to spend vast amounts of money: “As previously reported by Pando and the Reader, TIF is a program in which Chicago annually diverts roughly $500 million in property taxes–paid in the name of schools, parks, police, etc.–into bank accounts largely controlled by the mayor. The money is supposed to be used to subsidize development in blighted communities that are so poor they would receive no development—but for the TIF.”

This, Emanuel was able to award a coveted contract to Marriott. “After all, the company will be running one of America’s largest hotels next to America’s largest convention center – and doing so with massive taxpayer subsidies, but without having to pay to construct the hotel and without having to pay property taxes.”

“Keep in mind–TIFs divert property tax dollars from public schools that are so dead broke many of them can’t afford to buy basic supplies, like toilet paper. Moreover, the mayor is earmarking money to build the Marriott at the very moment he says he has to jack up property taxes and cut payments to pensioners because the city can’t afford to make good on its pension obligations.

“In short, the city claims it doesn’t have money for its school children or retirees, but it somehow has plenty of cash to enrich a hotel corporation – one that just so happens to be part owned by the hedge fund of the mayor’s largest contributors.”

So is this a story about schools? Yes, indeed. When a city closes public schools because it has a deficit but gives generously to finance a luxury hotel that won’t have to pay taxes, this is a story about public officials who don’t care about schools, education, or children.

NEWS RELEASE
FOR EMBARGOED RELEASE CONTACT: Stephanie Gadlin
Midnight, May 21, 2014 312/329-6250

New CTU report analyzes massive public school closings on one-year anniversary
“Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago” examines myriad of CPS’s Broken Promises

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) released today a report on the state of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) one year after the Board of Education (BOE) voted to close 49 elementary schools and one high school program, the largest, one-time school closing action in U.S. history and a decision made in the wake of massive opposition and protests throughout the city of Chicago.

The study, titled “Twelve Months Later: The Impact of School Closings in Chicago,” looks at what happened as a result of the mass school closings of 2013, and answers such questions as: Were CPS promises for receiving schools kept? How much money was saved? Did resources increase at affected schools? Have services increased for special education students at consolidated schools.

On May 22, 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s handpicked BOE shuttered 50 neighborhood school communities, “turned around” five schools and co-located 17 others. Faced with widespread opposition to this action, CPS promised hundreds of millions of dollars in capital improvements and transition supports for schools receiving students from closed schools. CTU examination of the evidence has found, however, that promises made to receiving schools were hollow in many cases and only partially fulfilled in others. Among the findings:

· Receiving schools are still disproportionately under-resourced compared to other elementary schools.
· Students were moved to schools with libraries, but funds weren’t available to hire librarians. Just 38% of receiving schools have librarians on staff, whereas across CPS, 55% of elementary schools have librarians.
· Computer labs were upgraded at receiving schools but only one-fifth of these schools have technology teachers.
· CPS touted iPads for all receiving-school students, but included few related professional learning opportunities for teachers.
· CPS spent millions on large-scale programmatic changes at 30 elementary schools, but the success and continued funding of STEM and IB programs remain to be seen.

“Shuttering our schools was touted as a hard and difficult choice by the mayor and the Board, but this was the easy, draconian choice,” said CTU President Karen GJ Lewis. “Parents, teachers, and the public demanded resources and supports for these education communities. Sadly, by making promises that remain unfulfilled, these schools and the students they serve have been dealt yet another blow—from failed policy to broken promises.”

For this report, the CTU interviewed teachers from seven of the receiving schools to gather information about the fulfilment of CPS promises. Additionally, researchers reviewed CPS material on the school closures, operating and capital budget documents, position files, vacancy reports, class size data, and other public data.

###

Troy LaRavierre, principal of Blaine Elementary school, one of the highest performing schools in the city, decided he had had enough. He wrote a candid letter to the Chicago Sun-Times blasting the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose political interference and disrespect were unprecedented in his career.

This is a man of courage. He won’t be silenced, not by Rahm Emanuel or anyone else who demands that he betray the best interests of the children in his care. No, he is not a “hero” like the billionaires pumping millions into the destruction of public education. He is the real thing.

He wrote to the Chicago Sun-Times:

#################

“Since 2011, CPS principals and teachers have experienced unprecedented political burdens. Early on, teachers felt publicly maligned and disrespected by the mayor, leading to the historic strike of 2012.

“While publicly praising principals in speeches and with awards, behind the scenes this administration has disregarded principals’ knowledge and experience. They have ignored and even suppressed principals’ voices in order to push City Hall’s political agenda for Chicago’s schools.

“The administration’s interaction with principals is often insulting. During the debate over the longer school day, some principals questioned its merits. CPS officials were then dispatched to tell the principals their opinions didn’t matter. “You are Board employees,” a central office official told a room full of principals at a meeting, “and when you speak, your comments must be in line with the Board’s agenda.” He instructed us to have an “elevator speech” supporting the longer day ready at a moment’s notice. We were told that if Emanuel and the press walked into our schools, we’d better be prepared to list the benefits of his longer day. In a move that further humiliated principals, they were called on at random to give their elevator speeches at subsequent principal meetings.

“Shortly afterward, CPS slashed school budgets, voted to close 50 schools and made disingenuous statements about the slashed budget giving more “autonomy” to principals. They insinuated these cuts would have little effect on classrooms. I spoke up to give Chicagoans a factual assessment of the effects of these cuts. A reporter from WBEZ Radio recorded a statement I delivered at City Hall in July 2013 and posted it on the station’s website. It became one of the station’s most downloaded audio files.

“Several months later, I spoke about overcrowded schools on WYCC television. A few hours before filming, I emailed CPS officials to inform them. Later that afternoon — unaware the show had already been taped — those officials told me not to appear because I did not have permission. On the subject of whether I had the right to speak as a private citizen, CPS said I should wait to receive clarity. After more than two months I’m still waiting for “clarity” from CPS on my right to speak.

“Recently, during a break at a training session, a few principals gathered to discuss what they could not say publicly. They expressed concerns about the impact of Emanuel’s effort to cut teacher pensions on our ability to recruit talented people into the teaching profession. They questioned unfunded mandates that pull resources from classrooms, and condemned CPS’ expenditure of over $20 million on Supes Academy — an organization the CEO of CPS once worked for — to provide principal training, a training that principals agreed was among the worst they’d experienced.

“Principal after principal expressed legitimate concerns that none felt safe expressing publicly. Finally, I spoke.

“This administration gets away with this because we let them. We are the professionals. Yet, we allow political interests to dominate the public conversation about what’s good for the children in our schools. Every time these officials misinform the public about the impact of their policies, we need to follow them with a press conference of our own to set the record straight.”

“Those who responded expressed concerns about being harassed, fired or receiving a poor evaluation. Principals sat paralyzed by fear of what might happen if they simply voiced the truth. One of them asked me plainly, “Aren’t you afraid of losing your job?” The question awakened a memory:

“General Quarters! General Quarters! All hands, man your battle stations!”

“In 1989, when I was in the Navy, I was stationed onboard an aircraft carrier and accustomed to hearing the “General Quarters” battle readiness exercise. However, on January 4 of that year, it came with a sobering declaration: “This is not a drill.”

“Our ship had entered the Gulf of Sidra near Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, and crossed Gaddafi’s “Line of Death.” Two Libyan warplanes were headed our way. Fortunately, our F-14 fighter jet pilots were able to shoot the warplanes down. Our captain later praised the pilots and ship’s crew for our willingness to risk our lives to preserve American freedoms.

“So when people ask me, “Aren’t you afraid of losing your job if you speak out?” this is my answer: I did not travel across an ocean and risk my life to defend American freedoms only to return and relinquish those freedoms to an elected official and his appointed board of education.”

Bill Ruthhart, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, reviewed hundreds of emails about CNN’s “Chicagoland” and discovered that the “documentary” was an infomercial for controversial Mayor Rahm Emanuel. CNN honored him at the very time that he took the historically unprecedented step of closing 50 public schools. CNN has no shame.

He writes:

“If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.

“More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.

“Producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel’s visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.

“City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience.

“The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor “as the star that he really is.”

“Creator and executive producer Marc Levin made a pitch to the mayor’s office last May as Emanuel’s hand-picked school board was two days away from a vote to close nearly 50 schools.”

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