James Deanes, RIP

James Deanes, RIP

I'd like to confirm it more formally but the Austin Weekly News is reporting that former activist and CPS employee James Deanes died yesterday. Did you know or work with him, or have dealings with him when he was head of the office dealing with LSCs during the Vallas years? I've got lots of mixed feelings and so may you. Plus: Coverage of the Chatham anti-violence summit, WBEZ on truancy and composting, and national news.

James Deanes, former CPS official, Austin resident, dies Austin Weekly News: An architect of the Local School Council concept, Deanes retired from CPS last year but remained active in community and school issues, including the closing of nearly 50 schools last year.

Legendary Education Activist In Chicago, Chicago Public School Leader Chicago Now: Maybe the hard part of the educational activism of James Deanes and others that far too many of the activists after a while became employed by The Chicago Public Schools system in various positions and looked like the system swallowed up our once active community based educational leaders, for after so many of them got into the system, the grassroots organizations many of them led all but faded away for no new leadership sustained them.

More officials than solutions at Chatham anti-violence summit Chicago Sun-Times: Pat Quinn were there. So were Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis.

What the heck happened to Chicago's truancy officers? WBEZ: The truancy situation’s considered bad enough that Illinois lawmakers want recommendations of how to get more Chicago kids to show up at school.

SEIU Local 73 gives Mayor Rahm $25,000 Reader: I was sitting by a pond on a bright sunny day, watching the little ducks float around, when a friend texted to say: SEIU Local 73 donated 25 grand to Mayor Rahm. No way, I texted back.…

Chicago Schools' Deficit Nears A Billion As Costs Pop Investor's Business Daily: Chicago Public Schools (CPS) tapped reserves to close the fiscal 2014 budget gap and can't rely on any help from the state. With costs rising as revenues remain flat or even dwindle, the pension spike takes a long-simmering problem to a boil.

At the Hideout: Mitchell explains how pension theft is constitutional Klonsky: This time around it was Ben and Mick engaging soon-to-be State Rep. Will Guzzardi, Rep. Christian Mitchell, and AFSCME lobbyist Adrian Alexander. The trio found plenty of common ground in the sense that they were all under 30 and in many ways, represent the future of progressive Democratic politics in the state. Of course, that future isn't written yet.

CPS tries composting pilot program WBEZ: Still not sure why you should compost your food waste? Just ask a second grader at Blaine Elementary School in Lakeview.

Portage Park Elementary School Cellphone Tower to Be Demolished DNAinfo: In response to the outcry, Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett delayed the full implementation of the new system to head off another round of budget cuts at schools that had lower-than-projected enrollment.


NEA Aims to Revive Organizing as Membership Drops EdWeek: It has launched a Center for Organizing to provide tools and training, has put millions of dollars behind local affiliates' plans, and is pushing regional support staff to lead the charge

Big Brother: Meet the Parents Politico: A months-long review by POLITICO of student privacy issues, including dozens of interviews, found the parent privacy lobby gaining momentum — and catching big-data advocates off guard.

Ed. Dept. May Lack Tools to Evaluate Promise Neighborhoods, GAO Says PK12: The GAO report, released Wednesday, explains that the department requires grant winners to collect extensive data on things like individuals they serve, services they provide, and related outcomes, as well as report annually on multiple indicators. However, the department told GAO's investigators that it needs to conduct a systematic examination of the reliability and validity of the data to determine whether it will be able to use the data for an evaluation.


Six more charter schools approved to open in New York City in 2015 Chalkbeat: The schools received the sign-off on Wednesday from the SUNY Charter Schools Institute, one of two bodies that can authorize charter schools in New York state. They are chartered to open in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, and will serve more than 2,600 students when they reach full capacity.

Is Autonomy for All Schools the Next Wave of Reform for Boston? District Dossier: A new report argues for Boston education leaders to extend charter-like autonomy over hiring, budgeting, and curriculum to all of the city's 128 schools.

Wilson High principal comes out as gay at school’s Pride Day Washington Post: Wilson High School Principal Pete Cahall came out to his students as gay at a school-wide Pride Day event Tuesday, shaking as he said that he had “hid in the shadows for the last 50 years” but was inspired by his students to declare his sexual orientation openly.

Maxine Greene, Teacher and Educational Theorist, Dies at 96 NYT: Dr. Greene, of Teachers College, Columbia University, was a progressive public intellectual who promoted the arts as essential to learning and human development.

Tackling the High School Dropout Crisis, One Smoke Break at a Time WNYC:  At his last high school, Michael Liu cut class for weeks at a time. He'd duck out to smoke a cigarette or hang out with friends and he'd never make it back into the school. What did the teachers have to say about his truancy? “No one noticed,” says Liu.


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  • I knew James and I am sorry to hear that he passed. I wish James could have made a living without going to work for school/community relations over at CPS.

    In many ways he believed in local school councils, but in the role he had at CPS all he ended up doing for years and years was putting out fires. If James had been able to work for a more progressive school system I sure he would have been much happier. James always treated me with respect and even when things got heated he never stopped talking with me.

    Rod Estvan

  • thanks, rod -- anyone else?

    also: Did Robert, Gina, Kyle, Emma, and Natalia get into the schools they wanted? Watch WTTW's "Central Standard" and find out http://ht.ly/xGqhQ

  • Gage Park Students honor Fr. Michael Pfleger with human rights award | abc7chicago.com http://ht.ly/xGs68

  • more info about james' passing and services plus remembrances can be found on his FB page here:


  • James Deans was a true gentleman. With all that went on around him he remained true to his community. He treated everyone in a respectful manner, and was always very humble and polite. Rest well James. It is my pleasure to have worked with you at CPS.


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