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Whittier Elementary Thu Jun 30 2011

Whittier Update: Two Stories

A story on the on-going fight over the Whittier fieldhouse (La Casita) at the Tribune relays the Chicago Public Schools line that they are being frustrated by left wing ideologues who keep changing their demands, while a piece at the RedEye (by GB contributor Yana Kunichoff) looks at the money involved as they relate to the parents' demands:

$1.4 million: allocated to Whittier by Ald. Danny Solis (25th) from the Tax Increment Financing funding.

$364,000: The money from the $1.4 million TIF fund allocated first to demolish, then renovate the field house.

$564,000: The total amount of money raised to build a new, green field house

$750: Prize money awarded to the Whittier Parents Committee by the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) for the environmentally friendly design of the proposed La Casita.

Priceless?: More than 50 people came out last Friday at 5 a.m. to block the planned construction of the library in the school building instead of the field house and halted the construction for the day.

Reminiscent of the first Mayor Daley blaming all civil disorder on "outside agitators," the Tribune article casts the Board of Education as helpless in the face of irrational leftists:

"As a result of your continued opposition in allowing us access to the school, we have no other choice than to cancel construction of the library project this summer," Chicago schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard said Wednesday in a letter to the Whittier Parents Committee.

The weeklong delay in construction cost the cash-strapped district about $150,000, Chicago Public Schools officials said. And the protest group's ever-shifting demands have frustrated district leaders....Some have questioned who is behind the Whittier Parents Committee. Last week, seven mothers were among 30 protesters, who included members of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Who are the "some"? The article doesn't say, but I'm fairly certain it is "Someone at Brizard's office who said something like, 'Can we talk off the record?' and then said, 'Some people are wondering if this is all just a bunch of communists. For more on this, call Phil Mullins at UNO, which is now an appendage to the Mayor's office.'"

It's interesting for example that the article quotes Phil Mullins, considered by some to be the real powerbroker at UNO (who are the some? Oh, you know, just "some") and not its titular head, Juan Rangel. Rangel, of course, was among the first local backers of Rahm Emanuel and co-chaired his campaign. Which they may have had to mention had they quoted him.

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Moe / June 30, 2011 11:06 PM

Seems the parents have won new improvements in the school. They won some battles but may lose the war? The special education argument does not hold water since there are two classrooms for special education. There are no students that are disabled physically. Seems they are also making up demands on the fly.

Chris / July 1, 2011 9:37 PM


If you were the mother of a child with disabilities, and the neighborhood school has steps to get to the first floor or higher, would that school be the first school that you'd consider? If the school had a lift or some other device to assist physically disabled students to go to the different floors, then a parent could send his/her child to the neighborhood school. So the fact that there no disabled students is common sense, since the school is not accessible to those with physical disabilities.

MOE, and unless you have a space allocation chart for all the classrooms in the Whittier School, I think that I would base my opinions on someone with idea on how things are in the school.

Full disclosure: I am involved in the parent and community effort at Whittier. I saw a letter on Monday evening where the CPS CEO stated that a room that was "unused" was used for special education services, but that there will not be a loss of space for special education students (because the room was technically "unused," I suppose?).

Oscar Lopez / July 3, 2011 10:15 AM

Could not the library have been built in the school and the fight to continue the renovation continued? Time will tell if that was a misstep?

Oscar Lopez / July 3, 2011 10:56 AM

It seems that children with severe disabilities would require additional resources that the school it seems does not have. If you are working with the Parent Committee, I imagine you have had serious conversations with the special education department or teachers within Whittier School in regards to their capacity to take on additional responsibilities. So, all the students will be without a library starting in September because of "mystery" disabled students.

Chris / July 3, 2011 2:57 PM


There are two groups: physically handicapped and special education students. They are not one group, but two separate groups. A student with a physical issue can learn and achieve, so such a student may not need special education services. And a student who needs special education services does not need modifications to the school in order to attend. Oscar, when you understand these facts, perhaps there can be a productive exchange.

And, Oscar, just to provide you with information, the school, like all neighborhood public schools, has to receive students, those who require special education services and those that do not. Whittier does not need additional resources to provide these services, but if there was a library built in the building, the students who receive special education services would have been without a room. CPS seemed to have not counted the room where small group or one-on-one sessions took place the previous academic year because it was considered "unused." CPS stated that there would have been two rooms for special education services if the library was built, yet CPS never provided the exact room number or the square footage of the room that would have replaced the "unused" room. It was assumed that the room was going to be the teachers lounge or that services would take place in the hall or in the classroom.

I think that the moral of the story is that when parents write a letter to the CPS administration, that it is probably best to discuss the issue with parents and the local school council (which opposed the library being built in the school).

Oscar / July 3, 2011 5:16 PM

The truth still stands that the children will be without a library come Fall.

Chris / July 5, 2011 2:11 PM

Yes, Oscar, Whittier will be without a library because the CPS Mazany and the new CPS administrations would not talk with the Whittier Parents Committee about their issues.

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