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Monday News Roundup

Monday News Roundup

A mish-mosh of education stories to start the day - perhaps more will show up later. Topics include closings, what to do with empty school buildings, test taking protests, UNO, a Meeks editorial, and a Zorn essay. Oh, there's an interview with Henry Bienen on what it's like to serve on the Board.  More to come.  Let us know if you see anything interesting or good. 

Lewis: Emanuel, CPS Can't Be Trusted On School Closing Promises CBS Local: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports CPS Chief Executive OfficerBarbara Byrd-Bennett has vowed students relocated because of closing schools will end up at better ones.

CPS may find school buildings difficult to sell Chicago Tribune: When Chicago Public Schools put the former Mulligan School in Lincoln Park up for sale in January, dozens of developers expressed interest in turning it into residential, office or hotel space.

Students want to boycott state test WBEZ: A district spokeswoman said there was some confusion at Gage Park and other high schools about the number of credits needed to be eligible to take the test—11 or 14. The spokeswoman said it is 11 and at Gage Park, there are currently 23 students in their third year who don’t meet that standard.

UNO deal helped its VP’s brother build company Sun Times: Rodrigo d’Escoto’s Reflection Window Co. had a “very slow” first few years. That changed with the hel of a state-funded, charter-school construction deal the Chicago company landed from the United Neighborhood Organization while d’Escoto’s brother, former Daley administration transportation commissioner Miguel d’Escoto, was a top UNO executive.

Henry Bienen on the Ups and Downs of Serving on the CPS Board Chicagomag: He answered all my questions except when I asked him whether CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett seemed to have a stronger hand on the tiller and more independence from the Mayor than did her predecessor Jean-Claude Brizard.

CPS Closings Would Push Some Schools Over Capacity, Data Shows DNAI: Nine more schools could balloon over 100 percent capacity, but CPS says some class sizes would drop.

CPS School Closings: 'Unjust and Dangerous,' Ald. Fioretti Tells Panel DNAI: "There is no way ... to heal these neighborhoods" by closing schools, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush said.

James Meeks: How to save a lost generation of black males Tribune: It's going to take a focused, integrative, intentional effort by lawmakers, pastors and church folk, community leaders and educators to stem the tide of violence robbing our city of its bright future.

After 6 decades, Mom hangs up the red pen Tribune (Zorn): Nearly 60 years after she first stood in front of a classroom, my mother will retire from teaching Tuesday.

Filed under: Daily News Roundup

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  • Fascinating interview with Dr. Bienen by Carol Felsenthal. I thought Dr. Bienen actually provided a perspective on how he thought a CPS Board member should function. It's a perspective I am not in agreement with at all, it's a hands off approach. Note the following responses:

    CF: How did you happen to be at the Lincoln Park High School meeting?
    HB: CPS school board members have been and are going to attend a number of these community meetings on mergers and closings. I was asked to attend.
    CF: Will you be visiting Manierre?
    HB: I don’t freelance. Any visit would have to be organized through the CPS board. I’m scheduled to go to a couple of schools but not that one. I suppose I could if I insisted…. I think the schools I’m visiting are on the South Side, not the North Side. I don’t yet have the names of those schools.
    CF: Mayor Emanuel has seemed to say that the list of 54 schools to be closed is a done deal; that these decisions, despite hearings, will not be reversed. Is it your sense that some of the decisions to close particular schools could be reversed?
    HB: The school board has to vote on every closing. It hasn’t done that yet. Yes, in theory certainly it’s possible. It’s not impossible. I'd be surprised if there were lots of changes.
    CF: Could you imagine that you personally would vote against closing a particular school?
    HB: I could envision it if I thought I had good information and was persuaded. [After the Monday meeting] I reported to CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and I reported to the secretary and the president of the board what I heard. I did get satisfactory answers by talking to those [CPS] people.... I told them if they wanted to send me to Manierre I’d go, but they have me going somewhere else.

    What is clear here is that Dr. Bienen feels he has no obligation to verify what Dr. Bennett told him about the movement of Manierre students by actually going to the school, visiting the receiving school and talking with the staff of both schools.

    As a Board member he has vast oversight authority in relation to CPS schools, in fact he may actually have subpoena power.
    105 ILCS 5/Art. 34 the section of the school code that deals with the CPS Board states this " the General Assembly intends to lodge with the board of education key powers in limited areas related to district-wide policy, so that the board of education supports school-level governance and improvement and carries out functions that can be performed more efficiently through centralized action."

    Yet Dr. Bienen believes that if he did a follow up visit to Manierre or the receiving schools based on his own need for additional information it would constitute "freelancing" and any school visit by him would have to be "organized through the CPS board." But Dr. Bienen is part of the school board and in fact there was never a formal vote by the Board members that he should go to the Manierre public information meeting to begin with.

    As a political scientist Dr. Bienen I am sure is profoundly aware of the role of legislative bodies in relation to oversight the executive body. His comments completely undercut any concept of legislative enquiry into the functions of the executive body of a school district. It comes down apparently to being a team player, which he also was when he was on the Bear Stearns Board during the time it made its disastrous investments that destroyed that firm. But as Dr. Bienen stated in the interview he was "not sure what the connection is between Bear Stearns and a public school board would be," apparently he does not want to grasp the connection.

    Rod Estvan

  • It's beyond "hands-off." It's checked out and dialing it in. Hope he did better for NU.

  • Maybe even criminal, if not in fact, in spirit.

  • Ah, yeeeah. From Catalyst: "Other than saying he's 'positively inclined' toward charter schools and admitting to be a 'social friend' of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the interview isn't that revealing."

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