Mayor Responds Re: Race

Mayor Responds Re: Race

There's not much news -- other than Emanuel's response to the racial critique of the school closing process.

But there's lots of heated views (including from the Tribune editorial page).


School closings hardest on African-Americans because of population shifts, mayor says Sun Times: “For the last decade that this has been around, four months out of every year, we as a city freeze up and we have a fight. We take our eye off the ball."

Mayor Denies Discrimination In School Closing Plans CBS2: He said he doesn’t think it’s an example of discrimination that most schools being targeted for closing at the end of this school year have mostly black populations. “There has been a big change in the city over the last decade, so what I want to make sure is that we as a city [are] making sure that every child has access to high-quality education,” he said. “We have to make changes to achieve that.”


Fewer schools will mean larger classes and more controversy for CPS Tribune (Zorn): The first logical problem with CPS' position is that such moves, by design, stand to increase class sizes at the better-performing schools and harm student achievement.

Engaging communities and counting classrooms Newstips: If the “community engagement” hearings recently held by CPS were intended to rebuild broken trust, as Barbara Byrd-Bennett has said, they might be counted as the first failure of a long season.

Shabazz students perplexed by school closure WBEZ:  It’s the day after the Chicago Board of Education voted to shut down the South Side charter school, in a rare four-to-two vote. Board members Mahalia Hines and Andrea Zopp voted against the closure.

And now, the decision Tribune (editorial): The commission didn't say which schools should close. Nor did it say that CPS should stop at 80. The Board of Education will make the final draw based on Byrd-Bennett's recommendations.

Time for CPS parents to step in Tribune (letter): But that's an inconvenient truth for Chicago Public Schools officials as they push ahead with plans to close up to 80 elementary schools said to be underutilized, and to transfer the affected students to nearby, better-performing schools.

CTU Releases Unflattering Pics Showing Remnants Of Closed School Progress IL: Recent photos from the former Crispus Attucks Elementary School reveal a deteriorated building with litter and gang graffiti. Closed in 2008, the Bronzeville campus, at 3813 South Dearborn Street, sits empty.


Quinn's proposed budget squeezes educators Tribune: After cutting staff and programs, increasing class sizes and raising fees, struggling school districts are facing a possible new budget squeeze: another steep drop in state education aid.

It's hitting the fan in Philly Small Talk:  If you think you and Chicago pols can close 80 schools this year and walk away unscathed, you're mistaken. Last week's poll ratings have you at 2% strongly favoring your policies. Don't even look at the polls after that next school is closed.

Teacher Pension Bill Passes CPS Chatter:  George and the Substance gang are tremendous.  DNAInfo has been a godsend even if it is owned by the Rickets Family.  WBEZ and even the Sun-Times have shown that they can do good reporting on education too occasionally.  You have to dig for the good information, but it’s out there like it hasn’t been in a long time.


Bullets Crash Through Window of Packed First Grade Classroom DNAI: None of the 27 kids in the Joplin Elementary classroom was hit when the bullets struck this week

Yo-Yo Ma serenades Swift Elementary Specialty School community ChicagoTalks: Grammy award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed for students at Swift Elementary Specialty School in Edgewater on Monday morning to encourage education through music. Hundreds of students, faculty and parents got to see and hear Ma perform.  Ma captivated his young audience using sound and imagination.


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  • This is on u Brabara/Rahm-Can't say you know nothing about this-shame:

  • Here is the post we all should read
    Hello my name is Leslie Leon. I am an 18 year old senior at Gage Park High School on Chicago Southwest side. I was born in Chicago, Illinois but raised in Imlay city, Michigan. My parents only wanted the best for my family, therefore we moved to Michigan for a safer life. My parents decided to move back to my hometown in 2010. My life took a whole "U" turn. Everything was different, I couldn't adjust to it. Before Gage Park I used to love going to school eager to learn and make the most out of my high school life. Coming to Gage Park I slowly started to feel fear to go to school because of the surroundings. It wasn't until this year that I began to feel alarmed being inside the school. I don't like this feeling. When I walk through the halls I have to constantly watch my back. This is something I shouldn't be feeling and this problem has a solution. No student should ever feel terror in a learning environment. We, the students, need to be heard that we fear for our safety and something should be done.

    On this Tuesday, March 5, dozens of other Gage Park seniors and I were sitting in a test room forced to stay there for a voluntary test most of us refused to take. Sitting there made me want to get up in front of the class and inform every single one of the few students who were trying to take the test that we were being lied to. As the proctor and our administrators tried to bully us into taking this "voluntary" test, all I kept thinking was "do they really think we are that dumb?" The word that hung in my mind was "unfair". I wanted to return to my regular classroom and learn. I felt the pangs of hunger grow in my stomach. I my head down and I waited for time to pass by to finally leave that testing room, but in my heart, I knew it was the right thing--it is right to resist people who are treating us badly.
    I thought student safety was supposed to be every school's first priority. This year at Gage, it feels like a total afterthought. We have had multiple "lockdowns" after not having any for years. Police have been summoned to the building in response to a fight without weapons, and they brought M-4 assault rifles they pointed at our classmates. Six teachers have been assaulted this year. Like most years, we have lost classmates to community violence. But this year, the school did not even acknowledge their lives at all. It was like they were nothing.Most recently, it's been almost impossible to learn these past two weeks in Gage Park as we sit in a culture of fear. There have been 2 "incidents"--as the school has called them and the school refused to inform the school community until well after the incidents were covered in the local media. On February 20, 2013, a 15 year-old girl with a learning disability was allegedly coerced into performing a sex act in the music room. Both male alleged perpetrators were held in lieu of $350,000 bail for aggravated criminal sexual assault. Neither the parents nor the students were informed about this incident. The next week on February 26, 2013 the second "incident" occurred. Another girl was sexually assaulted in the girls' washroom, due to lack of security on the second floor; two guys went in and fondled her. Again, no one was informed not even the teachers. In fact, the young woman was told to "keep it quiet" and her parents were not informed. She told a female staff member who encouraged her to get help for the situation. When she contacted authorities, the event was covered on the news and that was how the most of the community found out about it. Two days after the assault, parents received automated phone calls and a letter was sent home explaining next-to-nothing except that an "incident had occurred".

    Every student deserves to know critical information about their own safety and no one should be denied support after being attacked in a ploy to cover up the attack. This is not right.
    Many rumors have grown about the students who were attacked. The silence of the administration keeps us from having positive conversations that would help prevent people from blaming the victims.

    Angered by this several students have begun circulating a petition about student safety that already has almost 20% of the students signing it.

    While the school showed no concern towards students' safety, they instead were concerned about testing. They constantly talk about our need to raise test scores. This week we were forced to attend a test called the NAEP. Sixty plus students from the senior class were chosen at random to take the test, and multiple message were sent to students to encourage students to take the test, while no student was informed about the reason why or really given a true choice to take it despite it being optional. Those chosen were bribed with two movie discount passes and one-and-a-half service learning hours for graduation despite there being no learning or benefit for the community and the head of service learning saying that the hours would not count because the test is not a real service learning activity.

    So we acted. We talked to other seniors and got them to wear black and taught them about how they didn't have to take the test. We told them that this wasn't a service learning opportunity, and that the NAEP scores might be used against schools like ours. We talked through texting and social media.

    On the day of the test, we were called out of class to attend the test. Some of my classmates refused to come. We went to the location and we told the test proctor that we didn't want to take the test and asked if we could return to our regular classes. She said, "No" and just told us to go into the testing rooms and sit down. Once we got settled, she explained the rules (no talking, no cell phone, etc). There was a student who asked about the service hours and how many we were going to receive, but the lady never answered it. All she said was "I'll get to that in a minute." at the end of the test people who participated got one hour and a half of service hours. We came to a conclusion that she probably never answered the questions because it would only give us another reason to not take the test therefore she hid the information from us and try to get around the situation. What was more important: being honest to us and helping us make our own decisions or pushing us to take the test at all costs.

    There was one student in the testing room who actually was trying on the test. Six students just circled any answer, guessing throughout the whole test. One student just drew on the booklet. The rest of us just sat there waiting for the test to be over since we were not allowed to return to class. I was asked why I wasn't taking the test and I simply said "Because you can't get service learning hours for taking a test." The proctor replied, "Yes, you can. The federal government is paying for all this and they give you the hours." I ended up sitting for 95 minutes.

    When we spoke to students in the other testing room, they had been treated even worse. An administrative staffer was blackmailing and threatening the students, "If you do not cooperate, activities like prom and senior luncheon may be terminated." She also said that she would no longer do any "favors" for any students. Students who refused loudly were kicked out of the exam area, only for school administration to have a ten to fifteen minute long talk which ended with them coming back in to have to take the test.

    When the test was over, we were finally allowed to return to our classes, but the students who took the test were called down to eat lunch ordered from Subway paid for by the school. The students who boycotted who had already missed their lunch had to go without food. We have heard that we may miss more classes on Friday as they attempt to force this voluntary test on us again.

    Gage Park's main priority should be the students' safety instead of making 60 students take an unnecessary test or trying to raise other test scores. No student or staff should feel fear when coming to school. School should be a place where students should be able to learn in a safe environment! Our lives are worth more than test scores.

    Update: Yesterday, 100 students, including the authors of this post, walked out of classes and went to demand action at the Local School Council meeting. I will provide details when they become available.

    Leslie Leon and Yoseling Cueto are Seniors at Gage Park High School on Chicago's South Side.

  • I wonder what the rest of the year will look like in the underutilized schools on the final hit list? When a school is told on March 31 it will close at the end of the year how will that school deal with the jump in absenteeism for students and teacher? Do you think there will be a rise in violence at these schools? Student and teacher apathy? Will the board provide support to those kids who will be traumatised? A closed and shuttered school is just more territory being relinquished to the gangs of a neighborhood.

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