The mass closure of 50 public schools is unprecedented.

Who decided?

This from a reader:

I am appalled at the lack of objectivity, fairness and independence that was brought to the table by the Commission on School Utilization, which conducted the study of school utilization and found, of course, that schools were underutilized. The Chicago Teachers Union has reported that this commission is staffed with those who have close ties to charter schools, including being housed in the same office space as the Civic Consulting Alliance, New Schools for Chicago and the Renaissance Schools Fund (all stalwarts for charter proliferation). Why has this not been investigated further?

Furthermore, the CTU reports (on their blog) the following ties between members of the commission and charter schools:

Frank Clark (chairman of the Commission): Noble Street’s Rowe-Clark campus is named for John Rowe and Frank Clark. Rowe is the chief executive officer of Exelon; Clark is the retired chief executive officer of Exelon subsidiary ComEd. (Rahm Emanuel was an advisor to the merger of Unicom and ComEd that created Exelon.) Rowe is the chairman of New Schools Chicago. Clark chairs the School Utilization Commission.

Phyllis Lockett is the president of New Schools for Chicago and a spokesperson for charter proliferation in Chicago. She is also on the board of the Civic Consulting Alliance.

Bruce Rauner is the on the Board of New Schools for Chicago, and a Noble Street campus is named after him. He has also proposed to buy 100 public schools and lease them back to charters and chairs the Education Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.

R. Eden Martin and Ty Fahner sit on the boards of both the Civic Consulting Alliance and New Schools for Chicago. Martin and Fahner have also served as president of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago. The Civic Committee’s 2003 report “Left Behind” became the blueprint for Renaissance 2010, the massive charter proliferation and school action program started under Mayor Richard M. Daley and continued under Mayor Emanuel. The Civic Consulting Alliance recommended that CPS hire Todd Babbitz as its new “Chief Transformation Officer,” even though Babbitz had never previously worked in education. Babbitz is charged with leading the district’s reconfiguration.

Why is the public not demanding a more independent commission?

Also, I recently saw some photos of the Crispus Attucks elementary school (on another blog-sorry if I shouldn’t have posted the link here!) that was shuttered in 2008 through school closings. It has now become a haven for gangs and other illegal activity. The last thing neighborhoods in crisis need is another abandoned building to harbor criminals. Shame on CPS for allowing this to happen in one of its properties!