Advertisement:

At The Board Meeting

Contributor Ben Strauss sends this description of yesterday's Board meeting:

The Board of Education carried

on Wednesday without Arne Duncan and Rufus Williams.

In their places, two new faces

with far different personalities gave the latest edition of the monthly

meetings a slightly different feel.

This was Huberman's second

Board meeting after having been hand picked to replace Duncan.

Again, he said next to nothing. Most of the time, his expression was tight-lipped and watchful.

The contrast with returning Board president Michael Scott couldn't have been stronger.

Contributor Ben Strauss sends this description of yesterday's Board meeting:

The Board of Education carried

on Wednesday without Arne Duncan and Rufus Williams.

In their places, two new faces

with far different personalities gave the latest edition of the monthly

meetings a slightly different feel.

This

was Huberman's second Board meeting after having been hand picked to

replace Duncan. Again, he said next to nothing. Most of the time, his

expression was tight-lipped and watchful.

The contrast with returning Board president Michael Scott couldn't have been stronger.

Scott arrived half an hour into

the meeting to a round of applause from the standing-room only crowd

on the fifth floor of CPS headquarters. First, he sat in the seat

to the right of Vice President Clare Muñana, who was occupying the

President’s seat. Then he took over his old seat and mediated much of the remainder

of the meeting.

With a friendly face, quick

wit and an ability to navigate prickly situations, Scott handled speakers adeptly.

At one point during the proceedings, Scott asked for a public show

of hands if people agreed with letting elected officials speak before

those who signed up early in the morning after there were complaints

about ordering.

“We can have an open debate

on how people to list people for public participation,” he promised.

He also assured “personal

time” to several speakers and recommended a student advisory board

be formed to give input on the Board’s major decisions.

It wasn't all smiles and applause, however.

Scott repeatedly leaned over

to his right to confer with Tariq Butt in what appeared to be efforts

to clarify items brought before the Board by parents, teachers and CPS

students.

He asked speakers form Bethune and Alain Locke

where their schools were located.

He wasn't shy about using his recent return to his own advantage:

"I didn’t move anyone around,” he said at one point. “I just got

here.”

Scott did produce one of the

only smiles from Huberman all morning. When confronted with a

parent’s complaint about bussing he cracked, “if there’s anything

Ron knows, it’s transportation.”

Following public participation,

the duo (along with the rest of the board) sat through a 27-minute presentation

from David Pickens.

“This is a very difficult

day,” he began.

“Don’t do it, David,”

shouted someone from the audience.

Pickens offered final recommendations on the school closings, turnarounds

and consolidations. Seven television cameras lined up along the

sidewall of the chambers to film his presentation.

Pickens referred to a Power Point slide show that was played on the dozen or so TVs mounted throughout

the room. Slides featured maps of the neighborhoods of the

designated schools’ neighborhoods, the schools appearing as red dots

on a pale yellow background. Other slides included graduation

rates, test scores, utilization percentages and bar graphs comparing

the schools to district averages.

Before members went into executive

session, Scott and Huberman met the media in a conference room.

They stood at the head of a long, polished wooden table in front of

microphones from all the city’s major news networks.

“Call (the closings, turnarounds

and consolidations) whatever you want, but how many of you would send

your kids to Fenger?” Scott asked. “One percent (graduation

rate), it’s just not right.”

Huberman jumped in when asked

why not wait to close some schools.

“A (moratorium) is the wrong

thing to do because it is unfair to make those kids in the low-performing

schools wait while we debate the research.”

After about ten minutes of

back and forth, the press conference was called to an end. Huberman

and Scott disappeared through a door leading to a back staircase.

The last thing seen was the lone patch of silver hair on Scott’s otherwise

dark-haired head.

Two hours later, the Board

unanimously approved Pickens’ recommendations on the 16 schools.

Filed under: 125 S. Clark Street

Leave a comment