Archives for category: Emanuel, Rahm

In Chicago, hunger strikers sat in front of Dyett High School, demanding that Mayor Emanuel keep the school open.

They wanted an open enrollment neighborhood high school, and Dyett was the last one in the city.

Not only is the school open, the city spent $14 million to renovate it. It reopened as an arts-themed neighborhood high school.

Total victory for our friend Jitu Brown and his steadfast, courageous allies.

Jitu would be the first to say that he does not deserve credit or recognition. But he was there every day. He led. The hunger strikers won.

Jitu Brown hereby joins the honor roll of this blog. I am happy to say that he is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education.

Xian Franzinger Barrett is a passionate teacher of middle school students in Chicago. He just received his layoff notice, the third in six years. He is one of more than 1,000 educators who were laid off. As a teacher, he does his best, but the people who run the school system–namely, Mayor Rahm Emanuel–seem to be incapable of stabilizing its finances. This doesn’t happen in affluent suburbs. It happens all too often in big-city districts, where the kids are mostly black and brown, and their parents lack political power.

Xian is a member of the board of the Network for Public Education, and I have gotten to know him since we launched in 2012. I can attest to his love for his profession and his students. Mayor Emanuel wants to put a stop to that.

Friends tried to console him but Xian writes:

But oppression is not an accident; it is a centuries-long design.

That is the only explanation for a Chicago where my students who have already lost parents to Immigration and Customs Enforcement have to persevere through more cuts in school funding, and the mayor who covered up the murder of one of their peers before he was re-elected sits comfortably in office. It’s the only way to explain a Chicago where an eighteen-year-old lies dead and those who were paid to protect him revel in paid administrative leave.

Oppression is the only way to describe the reason why I sit jobless, surrounded by piles of published student work from brilliant teaching and learning in a class I was asked to teach, while those who mismanaged the funds of the district collect their checks and continue to wield power over our students. We can’t shrug this off and persevere. To paraphrase Angela Davis, we cannot continue to accept what we cannot change, we must change what we cannot accept.

Xian is a fighter. He won’t quit. He will be there long after Rahm Emanuel has gone and been forgotten.

Mike Klonsky updates readers on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s ongoing efforts to destroy public education in Chicago.

There is plenty of money for “network leaders,” who oversee principals. There is plenty of money for charter school expansion.

But the Mayor and his hand-picked board have ordered layoffs of 1,000 public school staff, including nearly 500 teachers, many of them tenured.

Last week, we learned that CPS chief Forrest Claypool was funneling big contracts to his Jenner & Block law firm pals.

On Wednesday, CPS announced it was maintaining and expanding it’s network of high-paid, mid-level regional managers called network chiefs. They’re the enforcers who give school principals marching orders and ride herd over clusters of neighborhood schools.

On Thursday, we learned that more privately run charter schools will be opening, including a new $27 million charter that’s part of the development around the newly-planned Obama Library in Kenwood. The goal is to give a boost to the real estate market and promote gentrification on the city’s south side.

Today, Rahm/Claypool pulled the trigger on nearly 1,000 CPS teachers and staff. That includes 494 teachers — including 256 tenured teachers. The layoffs broke down this way: 302 high school teachers and 192 elementary school teachers for a total of 494; and 352 high school support personnel and 140 elementary school support personnel, for a total of 492.

Obviously, charter schools are NOT public schools. Only teachers in public schools were laid off.

What a disgrace!

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Chicago is experiencing an exodus of experienced principals.

Forty-two Chicago Public Schools principals resigned this year, the most since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office.

And 23 principals, out of about 515 total, decided to retire, a number somewhat higher than the last several years. The 65 school leaders departing this past school year saw more budget cuts, including unprecedented cuts midyear. Since 2011, the next highest number was 37 resignations in 2014. In 2012, only 13 departed, but 96 retired that year.

Mayor Emanuel has made his contempt for public schools clear, as well as his preference for privately managed, non-union charter schools.

CPS’ chief education officer Janice Jackson acknowledged the financial pressures, saying, “Our principals and teachers are leaving for jobs where their district doesn’t have to take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the classroom to fund their pensions.”

Ousted CPS principal Troy LaRaviere, who recently took office as head of the Chicago Principals and Administrators Association, said the pressure has been building for years.

“It’s the cumulative effects of being consistently under the weight of a district that finds one way after another to undermine the efforts [principals] put forth on behalf of their students,” he said. “Our ability to do our job depends on resources, and they take more of them away every year impairing our ability to do our job more and more.”

Until Thursday, when a temporary state budget was finally approved, principals were bracing themselves for cuts to their school budget of 26 percent on average. That was on top of cuts earlier in the school year to special education and warnings to stockpile cash so CPS could afford $676 million toward teacher pensions. They still don’t have budgets for September — and won’t for at least another week.

In recent years, the district privatized school cleaning, taking away principals’ power to manage janitors in their buildings. CPS shuttered a record 50 neighborhood schools. Budgets were cut sharply the same summer that former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett pushed a $20 million no-bid contract for principal training that participants immediately denounced as shoddy.

Mayor Emanuel is effectively driving the public schools and their personnel into the ground. He is a poor steward of public education. What public responsibility is greater than the education of the city’s children?

Juan Rangel, a political activist in Chicago, created the city’s largest charter chain, called UNO. Rangel was co-chairman of Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in 2011, when he first ran for mayor. UNO was an amazing cash cow. It collected $280 million over five years from the state. Governor Pat Quinn and House Speaker Mike Madigan took care of UNO, giving it a grant of $98 million to expand, a staggering amount for a single charter chain. Meanwhile, UNO fired its for-profit management firm and took charge of its operations, claiming 10% of all revenues for itself. None of UNO’s activities were monitored by anyone. Conflict of interest rules covered public schools, but not UNO.

Here is the ultimate nonpartisan article summing up the rise and fall of UNO and Juan Rangel. Here is my short summary of that brilliant article.

Once UNO won $98 million from the state, many friends and relatives got a piece of the action:

As the Sun-Times would reveal in February 2013, a long line of contractors, plumbers, electricians, security firms, and consultants tied to many of the VIPs on UNO’s organizational chart got a piece of the action. Rangel spelled out in tax documents and in later bond disclosures that the construction firm d’Escoto Inc.—owned by former UNO board member Federico d’Escoto, the brother of Miguel d’Escoto—was the owner’s representative on three projects funded by the grant. Another d’Escoto brother, Rodrigo, was paid $10 million for glass subcontracts for UNO’s two Soccer Academies and a third school in the Northwest Side neighborhood of Halewood.

The vendor lists were peppered with other familiar names: a $101,000 plumbing contract awarded to the sister of Victor Reyes, UNO’s lobbyist, who helped secure the state grant; a $1.7 million electrical contract given to a firm co-owned by one of Ed Burke’s precinct captains; tens of thousands in security contracts to Citywide Security, a firm that had given money to Danny Solis, and to Aguila Security, managed by the brother of Rep. Edward Acevedo, who voted for the $98 million for UNO.

As the scandals broke into public view, thanks to the enterprising reporting of the Chicago Sun-Times, Rangel resigned in December 2013.

Fred Klonsky writes about the consequences for Rangel. The SEC fined Rangel $10,000 while he admitted no wrong-doing. He is allowed to pay it off at $2,500 per quarter.

Klonsky writes in incredulity:

When he resigned from UNO he received a severance package of nearly a quarter million bucks.

$2500 a quarter?

That probably equals his lunch tab.

When Rangel ran UNO it was reported by the Sun-Times as having spent more than $60,000 for restaurants on his American Express “business platinum” card including thousand dollar tabs at Gene & Georgetti, the Chicago steak house.

The Chicago Teachers Union plans a protest rally tomorrow, calling on Mayor Emanuel to fight for funding for the public schools. The schools face an intolerable 39% budget cut because of the failure of the city and state to fund them.

CTU to protest Mayor Emanuel’s refusal to stabilize Chicago Public Schools on Wednesday

CHICAGO—The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) has turned an imposed Chicago Public Schools (CPS) furlough day into a “fight back” day and will lead a series of demonstrations throughout the Loop on Wednesday, June 22. The Union, parents, students, education justice activists and others are calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago City Council and other lawmakers to fund public schools and implement a series of measures that will lead to long-term sustainability of the district.

Last month, the CTU released details of a $502 million CPS revenue recovery package and called on Emanuel and the City Council to stabilize the district. The Union said this act of “self-help” will ensure lawmakers in Springfield that local leaders are fully committed to restoring funding to our schools.

The following is for planning purposes:


Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey & CTU Members
8:30 a.m.
United Center Protest @ Willis Tower

Chicago Teachers Union Financial Secretary Kristine Mayle & CTU Members
8:30 a.m.
Chicago Board of Education Protest/Elected School Board
42 W. Madison

Chicago Teachers Union Recording Secretary Michael Brunson & CTU Members
9:30 a.m. Civilian Police Accountability Council Protest/Elected Police Board
City Hall, 121 N. Lasalle

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis & CTU Members
11:00 a.m.
All Member, Parent & Community Rally/Speak Out @ JR Thompson Center
Wednesday, June 22, 2016

When Rahm Emanuel became mayor of Chicago, he had one big idea to reform the schools and increase student achievement: a longer school day. His model, writes Mike Klonsky, was Houston. Rahm claimed that students in Houston got a total of three more years of instruction because of the longer school day.


But what’s this?,  asks Mike. The wealthy suburban districts outside Chicago are shortening their school day.


“The plan aims to reduce stress and let students get more sleep for the students who attend schools in six suburbs. The plan also proposes to ease up on the amount of homework.
“We’ve come to the decision that our kids are more than a standardized test score. We want them to be well rounded global citizens who can contribute in a meaningful way,” said District 214 Superintendent David Schuler. — ABC7 News”


Maybe Rahm’s model should be the suburbs, not Houston.


A few weeks ago, Troy LaRaviere was removed as principal of Blaine Elementary School by officials at the Chicago Public Schools headquarters. He had previously been warned about his boldness in criticizing the school system and Mayor Rahm Emanuel. LaRaviere openly campaigned for Emanuel’s opponent, Chuy Garcia, and for Bernie Sanders.


In this post, LaRaviere explains how and why he was removed from his school.


It reads like the latest issue of “True Detective.”


It exemplifies the thuggery that is often called “the Chicago Way.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he had nothing to do with the “removal” or “reassignment” of Blaine Elementary School’s award-winning principal Troy LaRaviere.


Apparently the Mayor forgot that he controls the Chicago public school system. He appoints every member of the Board of Education. He chooses the Superintendent of schools.


The parents of Blaine are outraged. They can’t believe their principal was taken away mid-semester.


Troy LaRaviere wrote several posts that appeared on this blog. For his courage, I placed him on the honor roll of this blog. Read any his posts and you will see why the powers that be had to silence him. See here.  Or here.


He is fearless and outspoken. In Rahm Emanuel’s town, those qualities get you punished. Removed. Reassigned to nowhere.

Rick Perlstein is a brilliant writer who usually writes about national politics. Since he lives in Chicago, he couldn’t help but notice the hostile takeover of the public schools by a small, interconnected corporate elite. He applies his journalistic and scholarly skills to unraveling this sordid story.

He begins with a story about an educator who was recently “reassigned” (fired) by the Mayor’s school board.

Perlstein writes:

“This past September, an award-winning Chicago Public Schools principal named Troy LaRaviere published a post on his blog that began, “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.”

“What had Principal LaRaviere going this time? We’ll get there eventually. But first we have to back up and survey what brought the Chicago Public Schools to this calamitous pass in the first place. It’s hard to know where to begin. Though when it comes to the failings of America’s institutions you can rarely go wrong by looking to the plutocrats.

“Travel back with me, then, to July of 2003, when the Education Committee of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago — comprised of the chairman of the board of McDonald’s, the CEOs of Exelon Energy and the Chicago Board Options Exchange, two top executives of the same Fortune 500 manufacturing firm, two partners at top international corporate law firms, one founder of an investment bank, one of a mutual fund, and the CEO of a $220.1 billion asset-management fund: twelve men, all but one of them white — published “Left Behind: Student Achievement in Chicago’s Public Schools.”

“Chicago’s schools were in pathetic shape, these captains of industry explained: only 36 percent of eleventh graders met or exceeded state reading standards, only 26 percent reached math standards, only 22 percent were up to snuff in science, and 40 percent had by then dropped out.

“They found hope, however, in a new kind of educational institution called a “charter school” — “publicly-funded but independent, innovative schools that operate with greater flexibility and give parents whose children attend failing schools an option they do not have.”

“At that point Chicago had fifteen charters. The seven that were high schools scored an average of 17 percent higher on Illinois’ relatively new benchmark, the Prairie State Achievement Exam, said the report. Their graduation rates were 12 percent higher, attendance rates 8 percent higher, and dropouts 9 percent lower.

“So if a little was good, more must be better — right?

“Chicago should have at least 100 charter schools,” the Education Committee concluded. “These would be new schools, operating outside the established school system and free of many of the bureaucratic or union-imposed constraints that now limit the flexibility of regular public schools.”

“The problem was a school system that “responds more to politics and pressures from the school unions than to community or parental demands for quality,” and a municipal government that worries more about “avoiding labor discord and maintaining the political support of teachers and their labor unions than with advancing the education of children.”

Charters, though — poof! — possessed the magic power to make all the bad stuff disappear, because they bottled the stuff that made America great: “Competition — which is the engine of American productivity generally.” But how might schools, like convenience stores, compete? Just measure student performance, and close the schools that “underperform.” The 103-page report thus deployed the word “data” forty-five times, “score,” “scored,” or “scoring” 60 times — and “test,” “tested,” and “testing,” or “exam” and “examination,” some 1.47573 times per page.

“And, since these were the behind-the-scenes barons who veritably ran the city, it wasn’t even a year before the Chicago Public Schools headquarters on 125 S. Clark St. announced the “Renaissance 2010” initiative to close eighty traditional public schools and open precisely one hundred charters by 2010.

“Lo, like pedagogical kudzu, the charters came forth: forty-six of them, with names like “Infinity Math, Science, and Technology High School,” “Rickover Naval Academy High School,” “Aspira Charter School,” and “DuSable Leadership Academy of Betty Shabazz International Charter School.” Although, funny thing, rather than resembling the plucky, innovative — “flexible” — startups the rhetoric promised, the schools that flourished looked like factories stamped out by central planning. The skills most rewarded by Chicago’s charter boom became corporate marketing, regulatory capture, and outright graft.

“Left Behind” singled out one “stand out school”: the Noble Street Charter High School. Following the Renaissance 2010 report, Noble Street metastasized into the “Noble Network.” They opened sixteen schools, many named after the businesspeople who funded them, like Pritzker College Prep, Rauner College Prep, Rowe-Clark College Prep. (John Rowe and Frank Clark are both executives of the energy company Exelon, formed in a merger brokered by Rahm Emanuel in his investment banker days; Rowe was a member of the committee that authored “Left Behind” and also a member of the Noble Network’s board of directors.)

“Indeed, Noble runs just the kind of schools you’d expect to be sponsored by industrialists: their students are underprivileged waifs in uniforms who are fined for minor disciplinary infractions. The network is “founded,” its promotional materials promise, “on many of the same entrepreneurial principles that have built successful businesses — strong leadership, meaningful use of data, and a high degree of accountability.”

This is a well-written story of arrogance, greed, corruption, and deceit.

It is reassuring to see the Chicago story breaking out of the education media and into broader political discourse. The article “follows the money,” which is necessary these days. The character who is missing in this drama is Arne Duncan, who launched “Renaissance 2010,” which was a dismal failure. Why was he selected as Secretary of Education? Why was he allowed to impose the Chicago model on the nation? The public schools needed help and they were plundered. They became a plaything for Chicago’s elite. No one seemed to think about the children.