Changes At UNO

Today's education news:  UNO makes contracting changes.  Protests against closings --  and charters. The First Lady and Arne Duncan were here -- school violence will be at least mentioned at the State of the Union speech.

CITY HALL

UNO charter school network won’t contract with exec’s brother, for now Sun Times: Facing mounting criticism for paying insiders with state construction grant money, the leader of the United Neighborhood Organization said Sunday the charter school network would at least temporarily stop doing business with a brother of UNO’s No. 2 executive.

Illinois' odd couple: Emanuel and Quinn Crain's Chicago Business: Despite picking a fight with the Chicago Teachers Union that bruised him up, the mayor has done some really smart things, particularly in the economic-development area. Mr. Quinn, too, has his accomplishments.

Editorial: A do-over on accountability for UNO charter-school contracting Chicago Sun-Times: That's the most charitable conclusion to be reached from a recent Sun-Times investigation that revealed how millions of dollars the group received from the state to build charter schools went to four contractors owned by family members of UNO's ...

The View From Sunday Tim Furman: Rogers Park Neighbors For Public Schools is on the march, growing so fast I can hardly keep up with it.  At the end of today's meeting I realized we had organizational activities every night this week, which means my dogs will be very, very unhappy by Friday night.

CLOSINGS

CPS parents make pre-emptive push to keep Logan Square school open Tribune: Bundled up against the biting cold on a recent evening, parents of students at Brentano Elementary Math and Science Academy knocked on doors and collected signatures in an effort to keep their school open.

Chicago Middle-School Students Berate Officials: 'Don't Close Our Schools!' In These Times: Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is in the process of recruiting a retired Marine with experience negotiating prisoner exchanges in Kosovo to help students transition safely to their new schools. The symbolism was not lost on some ...

School Closings a Civil-Rights Issue, Activist Jitu Brown Tells Feds DNAI: Jitu Brown is leading a national effort to fight school closings on civil-rights grounds.

Fuzzy Math: The Chicago Public Schools Budget Crisis Truth-Out: When CPS chief Barbara Byrd Bennett accepted her utilization commission's call for taking high school closings off the table, the potential savings from school closings was significantly reduced, says Dwayne Truss, organizer of the Save Our Schools.

VIOLENCE & SAFETY

Obama’s Chicago trip to spotlight failure of Emanuel, McCarthy to curb gun violence Sun Times: President Barack Obama’s visit to Chicago on Friday will shine a brighter spotlight on the failure of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Chief Garry McCarthy to curb gun violence in his hometown. Hadiya’s mother, Cleopatra Pendleton, will a guest at Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night in D.C.

Hadiya Pendleton funeral: 'Beloved angel' ... 'More precious than rubies' Tribune: Slain teen Hadiya Pendleton was remembered today as a laughing youth who brought love and happiness to all her family and friends. Despite the heavy security because of the attendance of first lady Michelle Obama and other dignitaries, Hadiya's funeral...

First lady among hundreds mourning slain Chicago girl Reuters: The national debate over gun violence took a highly personal turn for first lady Michelle Obama when a Chicago girl was slain near Obama's family home just days after she performed at the presidential inauguration in Washington. The first lady and top federal, state and city officials joined hundreds of mourners on Saturday at the funeral of Hadiya Pendleton, 15, who was ...

12-year-old accused of robbing peer UPI:  Chicago police said they have taken a 12-year-old student into custody after he allegedly used a replica gun to rob a 13-year-old classmate of $5.

TEACHERS

Disappearing acts: The decline of black teachers AustinTalks: My new role with the Chicago Teachers Union provided me a front row seat on how devastating these policies are to black teachers. Octavia Sansing-Rhodes, a black teacher at Herzl, brought an inspired culturally competent pedagogy to her classroom.

Plan afoot to bring arts education to every CPS student nwitimes: Chicago Public Schools plans to name an arts liaison in every school by March, fulfilling one of the benchmarks of the CPS Arts Education Plan. Mario Rossero, department of arts education director, said during a Thursday panel discussion.

MISC

Why can neighborhoods change so drastically from block to block? WBEZ: Marya Lucas moved to Chicago's Old Town neighborhood not long ago and couldn't help but notice how different life is on either side of North Avenue, around Sedgewick Street. It made her wonder what factors lead to neighborhoods changing so drastically in the span of a block. WBEZ's Natalie Moore will be investigating. If you know of a spot in the Chicago region where life is radically different from one block to the next, comment below or get our attention on Twitter: @WBEZCuriousCity.

CPS official is the choice to lead Wisconsin school district Tribune: "It's committed to providing quality education for all students, and, on a critical note, it's just a great place for me to raise my own family." Barbara Byrd-Bennett, the chief of Chicago Public Schools, released a statement congratulating Cheatham.

 

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  • Changes at Due's, too. Both owned by Bostonians.

  • Misc: Maya is apparently not old enough to remember that Cabrini Green was across the street. The only mystery was why people were willing to gentrify near an infamous housing project on the North Side, while property surrounding the former ones on the South Side are basically bombed empty lots, as reflected in the gerrymandered aldermanic and congressional districts, and, in this context, the huge number of schools supposedly on the chopping block being on the South Side (along with the West).

    I wondered how Oak Park could survive next to the ghetto, but apparently (from the Percy Julian story), that took a lot of strife.

  • Today's Sun Times story on UNO agreeing to eliminate d’Escoto Inc., owned by a brother of Miguel d’Escoto who is UNO's No. 2 executive, from its contractors for state funded UNO school construction projects is the first smart thing UNO has done since PURE came out with its story on the state earmark for UNO. But is it too little too late?

    UNO is totally on the corruption radar screen now so ultimately if there were any informal agreements with UNO for contractors to fund Silvana Tabares in her run for the General Assembly eventually they will come to light. If this did happen and UNO gets wacked for it, Juan Rangel in an odd way has the right to be hot about this. Because returning favors is a way of life in Illinois, so UNO gets wacked for what took place in Chicago and Illinois for years. But sour grapes aside, Rangel brought some of this one himself and UNO about being so in your face about taking care of your own within your own ethnic group. In fact in the past he made public statements about how the Daley family took care of their own, but neither d’Escoto nor Mr. Rangel have risen to the level of power amassed by the Daley family in Chicago.

    The biggest loser in all of this will be other charter operators who too would have liked to received funding to build new schools instead of taking over Catholic schools that are in various states of disrepair or closed CPS schools that might be located in depopulated communities. This whole affair could potentially weaken any possibility of charter schools getting through the Assembly a bill for equal funding they have been calling for. There is a video of the charter schools rally for increased fund at http://incschools.org/incs_videos/58752259
    Even though the Mayor is arguing for greater compliance for UNO capital projects, both the Mayor and Governor were major backers of UNO getting the capital grant that is now being questioned as can be seen graphically in this photo http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-emcharter0120120923143138,0,6548822.photo

    Rod Estvan

  • UNO... Schools as a tool for political power
    As a former UNO employee, I can tell you that it is well known that UNO schools are mainly for Hispanics. The reason is purely practical. Juan Rangel stated at several staff meetings (shockingly and with no apparent squeamishness) that he is in the business of schools because schools are a means to political power. If you give someone's child a good education, they will be loyal to you. He wants to build a political base within the Hispanic community so that is where he opens schools and who he targets to attend them. It's not about providing quality education options, it is about building a political base.
    I worked at the one UNO school that did have a significant African American population, and it was a constant message to teachers that the black kids were bringing down our scores. African American students were routinely pushed out of the school. In fact an African American "dean" was employed for that specific purpose — convincing black parents that the school wasn't a good fit for their kid.

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