Schmidt Speaks: Crime & Violence In CPS

Here's another commentary from George Schmidt, entitled "Why is Chicago covering up crime and violence in Chicago's public schools?

"While there was a great deal of hand wringing (and even a summit of sorts by the President of the United States) about school violence after a rash of shootings in schools earlier this fall, most of the problems in Chicago the past month have been covered up."

Click below to read the entire column.

"While there was a great deal of hand wringing (and even a summit of
sorts by the President of the United States) about school violence
after a rash of shootings in schools, most of the problems in Chicago
the past month have been covered up."


"Here is a sampling:

"At the September meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, the Board (as
usual, without discussion or debate) passed a resolution approving spending $4
million to purchase police services for six months. Buried in the resolution
(but on the public agenda for anyone to read) was the following admission:
"During the period from January 1, 2006 - June 30, 2006, there were 5,508 physical
arrests in and around schools made, 27,899 student school absentees found, and
20 guns recovered..."

"Less than two years ago, the Tribune was quoting Arne Duncan and hyping a
reduction in the number of guns in CPS schools in an article (January 5, 2005)
headlined: "School report good gun news..." and noting the fact that in the
previous six months (prior to January 5, 2005) only one gun had been recovered in
a Chicago public school. Arne Duncan was quoted in January 2005 about how the
word was out not to bring guns to schools, but nothing in September or October
2006 about why guns in schools had increased by 2,000 percent since he was
quoted earlier about the reduction.

"Partly as a result of the high schools closings and conversions to exclusive
charter schools on the west side (Collins, Austin) and South Side (Englewood,
Calumet), gang violence continues to increase in the schools -- and be
generally covered up by CPS and the Chicago media.

"While the gang outbursts at Marshall and Bogan high schools in September and
early October were in the news (generally, one paragraph in the Metro briefs),
similar problems at Harper (one student killed), Crane (ongoing), Englewood
(Homecoming) and other high schools were covered up. As predicted three years
ago, the closing of high schools like Calumet and Austin sends students to
other schools, with bad results.

"At the October 25 Chicago Board of Education meeting, First Ward Alderman
Manny Flores noted that security is still a problem at Wells High School (which
was in the news last winter because of the impact of the Austin closing on its
gang situation) and at Clemente High School (both in Flores's ward). A parent
from Harper High School (6520 S. Wood St.) noted the increasing violence at
Harper (where are Rev. Sen. Meeks and Jesse Jackson on this?) partly because of
the fragmenting of the Disciples street gang, a faction of which has a major
presence within the school itself (including, according to the parent, in
school sports). The situation at Harper was brought before the October 25 Chicago
Board of Education meeting by Harper parent (and LSC member) Paul Collins.

"Things are, if anything, worse in the elementary schools. While the high
schools have Chicago police (paid for by CPS, not out of the Chicago city budget)
and some security, the elementary schools have been forced to provide their
own security (out of poverty funds in many cases) or do with little or none.
Often, if one person is out (or in court), the elementary school is without

"At the October 25 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education, a parent
(Terence Gadsden) LSC member from Penn Elementary School (1616 S. Avers) asked the
Board to provide more security for the school because of the problems of local
gangs and drug dealers.

"On October 6, a "parent" entered Melody Elementary School (412 S. Keeler),
stole teacher purses from a number of classrooms, used one teacher's car keys to
steal the car, drove around the neighborhood and pulled the same scam at two
other schools, then abandoned the car a few blocks from where it was stolen.
CPS and Chicago police finally put out information after the first day of
thefts was over, so when the (dumb) thief tried to run the scam a second time the
following Tuesday (October 10) he was caught at Ericson (3600 W. 5th).

"More than two years ago, as I've testified to before the City Council
Education Committee, the Chicago Teachers Union predicted the increase in violence
and gang problems that would result from the closing of high schools (at that
time, Austin and Calumet; since, Englewood and Collins). On June 12, 2004, at
10:00 a.m. (Calumet) and 2:00 p.m. (Austin), I testified on behalf of the
Chicago Teachers Union, where I was at the time director of school security and
safety. We warned that the closing of Austin and Calumet would result in increased
violence at the receiving schools. The same warning could have been issued in
2005, when Englewood was closed, and in 2006, when Collins was closed.
Instead, the media generally hailed the closings as necessary "toughness" because
the schools were slandered as "failing."

"This school year, the problems of violence are worse and earlier than in the
past three years. In many cases, they are the direct result of the disruption
of the city's poorest communities by school closings under "Renaissance 2010."
The additional pressures on west side elementary schools caused by the
closings of Frasier and Morse elementary schools is added to the community pressure
caused by the closing of Collins High School. On the south side, the pressures
caused by the Calumet and Englewood closings continue to hammer schools as
far east as Hyde Park and as far west (now) as Bogan.

"Problems are festering or growing at every general high school on the west
and south sides right now. And the cause of the increase in those problems, this
year and for the last three school years, has been the school closing and
"Renaissance" policies of CPS.

"Since these results were predicted from the beginning of school closings and the transfer of buildings to private charter schools, it's time that someone brought action against CPS when a child is hurt, or worse. CPS was placed on notice about the result of these policies as early as April 2003 (especially regarding the closing of Williams and Dodge schools). CPS has been on notice about the impacts since."

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