Monday, May 27, 2013

Chicago Closes 50 Schools in 1 Minute; TFA Will Pick Up the Pieces

[A bright, inspiring figure in the sad events of the school closings and popular reaction last week is the 9 year old student, Asean Johnson, speaking in defense of his school --watch this video. A great speech from a very well-spoken young man; a leader today and likely in the future. Some adults hosting him on network TV need to get over getting the giggles when a 9 year old speaks as astutely as a 29 year old.]

The sad, sad story in Chicago yesterday. Across America, we mourn for Chicago and what the CPS is doing to its schools.

The link to Karen Lewis, Chicago Teachers Union president's statement on the occasion of the school closings.
From democraticunderground, May 23, 2013:
"In less time than it takes to boil an egg" Chicago closes 50 schools.
From the Chicago Sun-Times (May 22):

CPS makes history, closing scores of schools in less time than it takes to boil an egg

History was made in Chicago Wednesday in about 90 seconds, but most of the folks who witnessed firsthand the death of a record 50 Chicago Public Schools didn’t even realize it.

Rather than list the names of the doomed elementary schools, the Board of Education took a single group vote on most of the closings that will affect some 27,000 children. The board secretary read out the numbers assigned to each resolution and asked for the vote.

But onlookers didn’t even get that, as the board president resorted to parliamentary maneuver to speed the process along.

“Madam Secretary, if there are no objections from my fellow board members, please apply the last favorable roll call,” Board President David Vitale said, referring to the previous vote of six ayes and 0 nays. And with that, the bulk of the history — 49 of the 50 schools closed — was made in a unanimous sweep.

Tone deaf to the audience:
(From Mike Klonsky's Small Talk blog:)

Columnist Mark Brown

In the end, the board was so tone deaf to its audience that on the crucial vote that closed most of the schools, they used the parliamentary maneuver of adopting the previous favorable roll call — instead of taking the extra 30 seconds to each say “yes” once more. The average person in attendance didn’t even know the closings had been approved until it was over. -- "CPS closings vote shows it’s time for an elected school board"

Sports writer Dave Zirin

It all starts with the person who seems committed to win the current spirited competition as the most loathsome person in American political life: Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The same Mayor overseeing the closing of fifty-four schools and six community mental health clinics under the justification of a “budgetary crisis” has announced that the city will be handing over more than $100 million to DePaul University for a new basketball arena. -- The Nation
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And this post on who gains from the losses during the school closures:
TFA to expand in Chicago areas where many schools were closed, quality teachers laid off.

It's hard to imagine that a record number of school closings in Chicago is so obviously opening the way for Teach for America to take over those areas.

From Katie Osgood at The Chalk Face blog:

Teach for America Has Gone Too Far

But TFA’s recent actions have sent me over the edge. Last night, on twitter, I was appalled to watch tweets fly by about a very fancy, very expensive fundraising dinner taking place in Chicago’s swanky Drake Hotel. As a union-supporter, I am used to the dirty old union halls, folding chairs, sometimes church basements, and maybe a bag of Cheetos for eats, if you’re lucky. I can barely imagine the sort of people who pay $10,000 for a table. Ok, I CAN imagine. They are the same people we must battle everyday in the EdReform Wars.

....Guess which neighborhoods TFA is targeting for their expansion? The very same communities being traumatized by the largest single number of school closings in the history of America. TFA is poised to profit dramatically from the misfortune of hundreds of teachers and thousands of students.

And how TFA has rationalized this expansion to themselves, or anyone else, is beyond me. CPS has told schools they must be closed due to “underutilization” (A suspect claim at best). They say Chicago has too few kids and too many schools, including too many teachers/staff. Due to a supposed budget shortfall of $1 billion dollars (also HIGHLY suspect), CPS says schools must be consolidated. Let me say that again, CPS is telling us that we have essentially too many teachers and buildings in the system.

And TFA wants to go into those communities after mass layoffs–where many quality veteran teachers will be displaced and many may not be rehired, teachers who fought side-by-side with the students and parents of the schools, teachers loved by the community–and offer them uncertified, poorly-trained novices many of whom have never even been to the Midwest, much less know the varied individual neighborhoods of Chicago. It’s like TFA is kicking these communities while they are down. “I know your school was just robbed from you, despite your loud, relentless, justified protest, but here are some uncertified, severely undertrained non-educators who won’t stick around long. We at TFA don’t think your kids deserve properly trained teachers dedicated long-term to your community any more than you deserve the choice of democratic neighborhood schools.”

That is truly insulting to the career teachers who are losing their jobs, to the parents and students who are losing their community schools.

TFA needs to stop thinking their group is superior to experienced teachers. Some Democratic leaders I know need to speak out about the way they are moving into communities when schools are closed.

From 2012 another condescending move by TFA toward public school teachers.

While the budget picture looks no more pleasant than it has in past years, Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources Jacqueline Ellis said the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, a Raleigh-based nonprofit, has offered to cover the $3,000-per-teacher placement fee that TFA would have charged the district for the 15 teachers.

The positions that TFA teachers would fill are among 21 made available by retirements, resignations and transfers.

.."The 15 teachers primarily would be placed in math, science and exceptional children's classes -- all of which can be difficult to fill, especially in a low-performing school like Neal. TFA would also like to offer training to traditionally trained teachers who are already at the school.

They wanted to "train" veteran teachers to think that all kids can succeed. The hubris is overwhelming.

A big piece of Neal's program would be the training for veteran teachers - it's all about changing the mind-set of teachers to believe that every student can succeed, Lakis said. He said TFA is still working out the framework for the training program..."