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Daley Thu Jan 07 2010
The Sun-Times published this editorial imploring Chicagoans to hold Chicago Public Schools CEO Ron Huberman's feet to the fire when it comes to his promises to fix the CPS.
The editors describe the new patches that Huberman promises to affix to the failed CPS practice of school turnarounds. "Turnarounds" are a CPS program where the Board of Education fires the entire staff at a school when test scores are too low. Due to the fact that these students are sent to other schools with low test scores, Huberman promises to ensure that these students have the opportunity to attend "substantially better" schools. To prevent repeats of the horrific beating death of Derrion Albert, the former CTA boss makes a nebulous promise of "safe passage" for students who have to travel further to go to neighborhood schools. This is often a problem when schools are closed and reopened as select enrollment or magnet schools, which is a key component of the Mayor's "Renaissance 2010" program.
Not once does Huberman mention that maybe the policies added no value to the lives of these students and exacerbated violence in schools because they are simply lousy policies. There is no reason to fix these experiments when it is clear that they do not work.
Huberman may have his share of critics but the problem is not Huberman. The author of the piece concedes,
[former CPS CEO and current Secretary of Eduation Arne] Duncan promised "better" schools, too, but most kids actually were transferred to schools that were only marginally better. A recent University of Chicago study found that between 2001 and 2006 most kids went from one low-performing school to another.
Huberman, Duncan, Vallas...CEO is completely irrelevant. Vallas was Daley's money guy on the fifth floor. Duncan was a former chief-of-staff to hizzoner, Huberman was with the CPD and the CTA before he was installed into his position.
Since the passage of the 1995 Amendatory Act, the Illinois state statute that gave the Mayor of Chicago control of the CPS, the person in charge of the schools no longer needed any teaching or educational administration credentials. The only qualification for the job is to serve at the pleasure of the Mayor of the Chicago.
They Mayor does not give an illusion of a democratic process. Recently, the Sun-Times ran an article quoting Daley's plans for the Chicago Public Schools.
"We'll always continue," Daley told a group of educators and reporters at a news conference. "I hope there's a chapter two [of Renaissance 2010], a chapter three, a chapter four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10."
That is why until this law is repealed this law, real effective change cannot be made in the CPS. The schools will continue to be run by managers, and sound educational policy will be dismissed.
Not only does the Amendatory Act stifle any ideas outside of the mayor's policy preferences, it stifles the voice of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU). Some of the most egregious planks of this law were included in section 4.5, which limited the issues for which the CTU can bargain.
These were not just bread-and-butter pay issues. Under 4.5, the CTU cannot bargain over class size, which is one factor that research says is a component for student success.
It should be surprising that the Union did not intensely lobby against this law. However, at the time the Union was led by Tom Reece's United Progressive Caucus (UPC), the same group that anointed Marilyn Stewart and the recently-thwarted Ted Dallas as the number one and two leaders of the largest Union local in the city of Chicago. Tom Reece was known for the phrase "the only strikes I want to see are in a bowling alley."
There is a caucus within the Chicago Teachers Union that is willing to go on record calling for a complete repeal of the Amendatory Act and is fighting the UPC's give-aways to the fifth floor. CORE-The Caucus of Rank-and-File Educators is running a slate of candidates in the May CTU election.
CORE will announce their slate at the CORE/Grassroots Education Movement Educational Summit this Saturday, January 9th. The event will include an overview of the alternative to CPS's failed Renaissance 2010 program by parents of Fenger High School students, a speak-out session from schools in danger of closure/turnaround/consolidation by CPS, and a call for participants to run in the April 2010 local school council election on the GEM platform. CORE hopes that this event will bear some concrete alternatives to the fifteen years of cyclical slash-and-burn "reforms" from the fifth floor.
The event will take place at Malcolm X College (1900 W. Van Buren), starting at 10:00 AM.
Disclosure-I am the Communications Secretary for CORE.