All Over But The Shouting?

All Over But The Shouting?

Lots of coverage of yesterday’s CTU protest downtown — let’s be honest, folks, that’s mostly what it was — including a fun if crazy idea from CTU president Karen Lewis about sending parents and children (and teachers?) to their old closed schools on the first day of school next year.  Seriously?  There’s also some reaction from Emanuel about the accusation that the closings are racist — though the NPR story this morning quotes a South Side alderman pointing out that CPS overbuilt built in black neighborhoods to maintain school segregation. Scroll to the bottom for coverage of what happens next, which includes hearings, some possible adjustments to the list, and — fingers crossed– some signs of CPS improving academically.  If that doesn’t happen, there should be another protest — equally divided between the headquarters of CPS and CTU.


In Chicago, Dozens Arrested As They Protest School Closures NPR: “‘People have a right to the neighborhoods in which they live,’ [Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis] said. ‘Children have the right to a safe, nurturing, loving environment.’During the sit-in, crowds of people on the sidewalk and on northbound LaSalle continued to wave signs and chant ‘save our schools’ as some of the crowd sat down. “Police soon began making arrests, leading more than 50 people away one by one to a holding area outside a building just south of Washington Street.”

Crowds descend on downtown Chicago to protest school closings, more than 100 detained by police WBEZ:  A group including teacher union officials, parents, janitors, lunch ladies and ministers sat down in front of City Hall. Police asked each individual to leave. When they refused, police led them away.

Loop rally, march targeting CPS closings lead to 127 detained Chicago Tribune: Emanuel said he and Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett “met yesterday, and we’ll be meeting also as we do regularly, and go through now the implementation process that’s necessary to make sure that the 54 schools are ready and we are …

Protesters block downtown streets over school closings Sun Times: Thousands of protesters descended en masse onto Daley Plaza Wednesday before marching through the streets of the Loop to denounce a historic number of schools closing, mainly on Chicago’s South and West Sides. More than 100 were ticketed.

Massive Rally Held to Protest School Closings WTTW:  Hundreds of protesters marched in the Loop to protest proposed school closings. Elizabeth Brackett has the latest on the day’s events.

CTU marches against closings Catalyst: Valerie Nelson, who has two children at Lafayette Elementary in Humboldt Park, said she came to the rally because she is concerned closing the school will make her 6-year-old daughter who has autism “regress two years.”

Was Today’s Protest Futile? CPS Chatter: This protest was not a waste of time. When injustice is being done, you can stand silently or you can try and get your voice heard.  You hope that you can create a movement and that you stop this mayor from doing this again and you make mayors in other cities ask themselves if they want this fight with the teachers, parents, and students in their city.

School-Closing List Still in Flux, But Now in Board’s Hands, CPS Chief Says DNAI: CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said she can weather the protests — for as long as they last.

Emanuel: Time to move forward with school closings plan  Chicago Tribune: … whether he’s willing to negotiate before an expected final vote on school closings by the Board of Education in late May, Emanuel instead said he’s going to concentrate on working with Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to enact the plan.

Emanuel addresses race in Chicago school closure plan WBEZ:  Bishop Larry Trotter of Sweet Holy Spirit Church on 87th Street and South Chicago said he’s worried the closings will lead to an increase in crime and violence. He also said he worries about people who work in the schools losing their jobs. “I think they should go back to the drawing board to find another way to cut costs,” Trotter said. Trotter said about 20 pastors signed the letter, but a copy provided to the media did not include signatures.

After school closings, here’s what CPS needs to focus on Crain’s Chicago Business: With the recent news that Chicago Public Schools is planning to close 54 schools, the city is embarking on an unprecedented effort to reallocate resources among its more than 680 schools. The district has framed this as a matter of resources.

Teachers, parents march to protest planned closure of 54 Chicago schools: ‘This is not over’ Washington Post: At a rally before the march, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the closings “injustices” and said lawsuits are planned. Other speakers called for state and federal lawmakers to intervene.

CPS closings called a ‘land grab,’ but Emanuel’s done negotiating Sun Times: Calling it a “land grab” that puts children in danger, black ministers urged Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday to call off or dramatically scale back his plan to close 54 elementary school programs, but the mayor said he’s done negotiating and on to the “implementation” phase.

Emanuel wants ideas, not insults WLS: Wednesday, he was giving School CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett his full confidence. “I am interested in ideas, not insults. I’m interested in ideas that take a 44-percent graduation rate – that means that 56-percent of African-American kids, males, are not …


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  • Yesterday I took a look at the school transition plans for Wells and Mayo. It indicated that Wells, the lowest performing school will take over Mayo facility building to also become the welcoming school. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't the higher performing school be the welcoming school?? In this case the higher school Mayo will be closed so that the lower performing school can continue.

    I also looked at the scorecard for both schools on the CPS website: and noticed that Mayo had almost twice the number of students as Wells with also a higher percentage of students exceeding state standards. Again shouldn't the higher performing school be the receiving school? Wells has 0% of 8th graders exceeding state standards and Mayo has 5.1% Yesterday a CPS staff person told me that it is illegal for the lowest performing school to be the receiving school. Is this true?? If this is true then why are they planning to do this??

  • Is the mainstream news reporting this? Have you seen it anywhere?

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Mayo has excellent leadership, too. This decision makes no sense unless the Wells principal has an inside advantage of some sort. This is one to call out loud and clear. Any ideas how to rattle the cages at the board to change this around and make the better school the survivor in the closings?

  • The University of Chicago survey of CPS schools shows that Mayo is Partially Organized for Improvement, but that Wells didn't have a high enough survey return from students and teachers to provide any data at all.

    Looks like CPS made a mistake on this one and the schools should be reversed with Wells closing and Wells students going to the higher performing Mayo.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    Warning CTU teachers of schools not yet to close--these UC teacher and student surveys can be a death knell. READ the introduction to the UC teacher survey, it is clear on how results can be used against your school. UC gives their own survey to their own charters schools and they do quite well on it--surprise.

  • The number that CPS is referring people to for questions is "311", then they transfer you to CPS Transitions. The Chairman of the Bronzeville CAC is also on the LSC for Wells and I congratulated her a few days ago for Wells for finally getting a school building to call their own. They currently share with Phillips H.S. However yesterday in an idle moment I looked up the information. compared it and felt sorry for Mayo teachers and staff because CPS Community School's Initiative (CSI) Department was actively involved with Mayo's afterschool programs. They actually acquired grants for those programs. Mayo made sure their students got tutoring before play activities and from my own observation, they expect good behavior also during dismissal. My reason for calling CPS was to ask if it was a typo and I did not get my questions answered, However, I was brushed off.

  • In reply to Original Grandma:

    Mayo has a relatively new young principal who has been working his heart out, along with his teachers, to turn the school around. This is the thanks they get for all of that effort. It is a well-run school that has acquired innovative programs to improve student achievement.

  • In reply to district299reader:

    I agree with you District299reader!

  • In reply to Original Grandma:

    Thank you for calling this to everyone's attention, Original Grandma. I hope CPS takes note.

  • Alexander regarding your comment: "including a fun if crazy idea from CTU president Karen Lewis about sending parents and children (and teachers?) to their old closed schools on the first day of school next year." I heard that too and I have to say my mouth dropped open.

    I do think the CTU needs to clarify that comment. As a form of protest I can completely understand asking parents to bring their children to the closed schools the first day, and I can understand asking teachers and other staff who will effectively be laid off based on the provisions of the current CTU contract to show up at closed schools. But asking teachers who pursuant to the provisions of the contract are reassigned to a "welcoming school," to show up at the closed school could be grounds for charges of gross insubordination.

    I have a hard time believing President Lewis really wants to place reassigned teachers in that situation. I am not sure that statement was thought through completely before it was made. I also really have no idea how many teachers at closed schools are likely to be reassigned either based on the language of the contract.

    Rod Estvan

  • In reply to Rodestvan:

    Rather than "clarify" the statement, the CTU should just back off it. Granted, teachers would be at risk of being fired for insubordination should they show up at the wrong school. But even short of that, they wouldn't be paid for the day.

    Let's suppose that Lewis was directing the statement to parents and not teachers. Even this, however, has its drawbacks. What's the point of taking children to a locked-up building with no school workers? Further, staying away from the asigned school at the beginning of the school year puts teaching and support jobs at risk because of Chicago's 20-day position closing rule.

  • In reply to Danaidh:

    This idea seems a symbolic statement of offering (some) power to the powerless. There will be MANY teachers, aides, lunch ladies, etc. unemployed when their home school closes in June. There will be no job for them at the welcoming school as they will be jobless the first day of school. When I was laid off 2 Junes ago, I showed up the first week to my former school and volunteered anyway. I could not stand not greeting my students the first day of school.

  • Please double check the website. Wells ISAT composite score is higher than Mayo (albeit only by a few points) and they have higher value added reading and math. Both principals are new and young men who seem to be making a difference. Either will be a loss.

  • In reply to Educator:

    Thanks Educator, so the value added growth score is what CPS is looking zooming in on, along with the ISAT composite which they are a few points apart. More families also seem to be more attracted to Mayo in terms of student population. Maybe the afterschool programs are an attraction to the parents as well. Student enrollment is probably not a factor with Mayo having 411 and Wells 187. Obviously not! I do admit that I have never visited Wells and I do have an attachment to Mayo because I have monitored them over the years coupled with the fact that my daughter told me that several Mayo students attend her high school and all of them are very smart. Her comments hold weight with me because she is an an honor student and I have always valued her opinion. I suppose Wells could make the same claims of having some very bright students that have come through their school as well. I guess is some cases CPS has to plit hairs to determine which CPS Principal has to go. but my impression of the Mayo Principal is that he is a definite keeper.

  • Is mainstream media sniffing the data as a watchdog?

  • I am sorry to hear about the principal at Mayo. I am sure he will have a job asap given the huge shortage of principals all across the city. I do happen to know the principal at Wells and can say with total confidence, he is one of the best of the best. His love and commitment to students cannot be described. I am not saying the Mayo principal is not equally committed or caring. Just know that anywhere Ernesto Matias is, you have love, commitment and service that far exceeds even that of the most selfless people out there.

  • Unlikely that principals and assistant princpals of closing schools will have employment. They have no union. Once schools close by Board action, their contract is terminated. Hopefully, CPS will offer a pension buy-out to help them.

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