Report from congressional town hall meeting on school closings

Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis host school closing forum

Congressmen Bobby Rush and Danny Davis host school closing forum

Great hearing today at the historic Quinn Chapel in Chicago. You can read my live tweets from the forum here. Many important points were made, much nauseating rhetoric from CPS staff. My presentation is below, but in addition I had to address the comment of “Chief Transformation Officer” Todd Babbitz who claimed that it was in the best interests of children that these closings happen all at once and on a large scale so that they don’t have to undergo multiple transitions over the years.


I asked for a show of hands of parents whose children have already been moved, and a lot of hands went up. So, this next transition just adds to the damage that has already been done. Now CPS is saying that it’s better to “rip the bandaid” all at once. But they have been doing that for years.

I ran out of time and did not say the other thing that really galled me about these people. They have NEVER YET kept any promise they have made to our children about these transitions, yet now they say that THIS TIME they will do right by the children as they take on many times the number of closings.

Unbelievable. Literally.

CReATE researchers explain that proposed 2013 closings will affect 46,000 children

CReATE researchers explain that proposed 2013 closings will affect 46,000 children


Testimony before the Congressional Hearing on School Closings

convened by Congressman Danny Davis and Congressman Bobby Rush

April 20, 2013 Chicago IL

by Julie Woestehoff

Executive Director, Parents United for Responsible Education

Co-founder and Member of the Board of Directors, Parents Across America


Good afternoon, Congressman Davis and Congressman Rush. Thank you for the invitation to speak at this important event.

I am here representing Parents United for Responsible Education, a 26-year-old parent-organized, parent-run advocacy group based in Chicago. PURE’s overall goal is to assure a high-quality education for all children. Our main strategy is to support active, informed, meaningful parent participation in the public schools.

 I am also representing a relatively new organization, Parents Across America, which is a national network of active parents who believe that parents’ voices must be a part of any discussion of issues affecting our children’s education. PAA currently has 47 chapters and affiliates in 25 states. The fact that PAA has grown so quickly is a reflection of the increasing level of concern American parents are feeling about what is happening to our children’s education.

 I think it’s important to put my comments about school closings into the context of the propaganda war being waged by corporate reformers against public education. As parent groups, PURE and PAA are offended by the way their rhetoric misuses and mis-characterizes parents’ interests.

 You know exactly what I’m talking about. Last year the U. S. House passed the “Empowering Parents Through Quality Charter Schools Act.” Thank you both, Congressman Rush and Congressman Davis, for listening to parents, and voting NO on this bill. More recently, ALEC-inspired “parent trigger” bills are being pushed in states across the country by astroturf groups like Stand for Children, with extensive funding from the Walton, Gates, and Broad foundations. These proposals take advantage of parents’ genuine concerns and frustrations, using them as just one more tool to fire teachers and other school staff and to close and privatize schools.

 These strategies do not reflect what most parents want, or what research shows actually works, which is a strong local school that has the resources it needs to educate children, and that includes parents as true partners in school improvement.

 I have attached the full Parents Across America position paper opposing mass school closings. I will highlight the key points of our position, beginning with the fact that this is a nationwide, not just a local Chicago phenomenon.

(For the rest of my statement, I summarized the position paper.)


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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.