Posts Tagged ‘Mayor Emanuel’

Today’s lesson for Mayor Rahm: Doing something is not the same as doing the right thing

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Rahm2Regarding closing up to 50 Chicago schools, Mayor Emanuel said that “Not doing anything and allowing 56 percent of African American male adolescents to drop out would be a political concern to me.”

We’re not asking the Mayor to do nothing. And we agree with him that past school leadership decisions have led to severely under-resourced schools in some of our most under-resourced communities.

But the right answer to one set of bad decisions is not another bad decision. Report after report show the folly of the mayor’s mass school closings plan. We have learned that the closed schools are mostly on a par with the receiving schools academically and in terms of maintenance costs. Mental health professionals have stated that CPS transition planning is inadequate to meet students’ emotional needs. Substantial money will not be saved. Student safety is a rising threat. The massive instability from 50 school closings is much more likely to increase, not decrease the drop out rate of African-American males and all other affected students.

Here’s what the mayor ought to be doing if he really cares about the students more than he cares about being a drum major for the corporate reform movement. He ought to be putting his considerable fund-raising and get-it-done energies into supporting the schools we have rather than shutting them down and replacing them with more mediocre charter schools. He ought to stop fighting the people who do the hard work of education every day. He ought to put aside his misplaced confidence in his own ideas about what’s best for other people’s children, and open his mind to the rich knowledge and experience of those who have actually walked the walk.

That would really be something.

PSAT for 12-11-12: Make merry! Watch and share new CTU cartoon satire of corporate reformers

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

The Chicago Teachers’ Union has done it again! They have gifted us yet another sharp tool for our public school support kit. This time it’s a spot-on satirical cartoon skewering on Chicago’s corporate reformers. Dangling at the end of the lampoon are some of PURE’s favorite goofballs: Penny Pritzker, Bruce Rauner, Robin Steans, Stand for Children, and, of course, Mr Secret Sauce himself, Mayor Emanuel.

Rauner isn’t taking it well (fat cats hate to be made fun of). Fuming to the Sun-Times, Rauner said, “To be lectured by a leader of a failed union who protects a failed school system would be laughable if it were not so sad. These union leaders are a joke, just not a funny one.”


CPS called the video “mean-spirited.” OK, more mean-spirited than closing schools and sending students to worse alternatives? Not tracking these students as promised? Flunking students based on one test score when the test is not designed for that purpose, and when flunking usually hurts more than it helps? Ignoring a state-mandated facilities committee that had gone a long way towards holding CPS and the city accountable for their unfair funding decisions, then replacing it with a “commission” that claims it will truly this time trust us listen to the community, as it holds last-minute pseudo-hearings in churches run by Mayoral pals? More mean-spirited that that?

It’s just a cartoon, folks. Watch it, share it, enjoy it. We need the laugh. Be merry!


PSAT for 11-27-12: Push back on closing extension this morning!

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Pressure is mounting on the Illinois General Assembly not to go along with Mayor Emanuel’s ill-conceived request to push back the school closing announcement until March 31 and allow CPS to close up to 120 schools with little time for families, communities, and school staff to prepare for the massive upheaval this will cause.

Right now, this morning, you need to contact your state senator and state rep and ask them to vote NO on any extension of the closing announcement deadline. We support a school closing  moratorium NOW, not next year after too much damage has been done. We support the recommendations of the Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, which was put in place by the General Assembly, and whose members will be in Springfield today to speak on behalf of our schools and our children, along with representatives from Raise Your Hand and others.

Those of us who can’t be there in person must be there in spirit by reaching out now before the 1 pm hearing! Support our schools!

Call your state senator and state representative at his/her home or Springfield office, or use this handy CTU form to send an e-mail now!

Mayor wants to stop the school closing beatings – after this year

Monday, November 26th, 2012

At a City Club luncheon today, CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett announced that Mayor Emanuel wants a 5-year school closing moratorium, but only after a massive closing program this year.

The Sun-Times reports:

Byrd-Bennett said Mayor Rahm Emanuel recognizes that Chicago Public Schools has made “too many piecemeal decisions’’ over the years concerning its school buildings. The result, Byrd-Bennett said, has been “unnecessary disruption to students, parents and schools across our city.’’ In a statement, Emanuel said, “In the past, there has been too much uncertainty around changes to our schools: year after year, Chicago Public Schools did not do an adequate job of engaging communities in these critical decisions, and year after year students, families and communities were left wondering of what was to come. That ends this year.”

Five reasons why a 5-year school closing moratorium – next year – is a stupid, desperate move.

1) If chaotic, disorganized closings are such a bad idea, stop doing it now. It sounds as if the mayor is saying, “I promise to stop beating you after I get in this last round of punches.” Never a good bet.

2) The Chicago public school community has no reason to trust any CPS leader. ” ‘I will personally commit to ensuring that this is a commitment CPS keeps,’ Byrd-Bennett told the Sun-Times said.” Right. The woman has been on the job for a couple of months and is the fifth CPS CEO in five years. Her commitment is not exactly reassuring.

3) The budget argument does not meet the research or common sense test. Underutilization was not even mentioned as a reason for school closings last year – did it just happen over this past summer? And research shows that school closures are not the cost savings that districts often claim they will be. A report on closures in 6 cities found that “Districts saved little money just from closing school buildings…and closure-related new costs cut further into districts’ savings….”

4) Parents are not falling for it, Mr Mayor. The idea that Byrd-Bennett’s new appointed commission will suddenly involve the community in a meaningful way is laughable. “In a statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that with a commission appointed by Chicago (sic) Byrd-Bennett parents will be more involved in any proposed changes to the district this year.” We’ve heard that empty promise too many times before to believe it now. The legally-constituted Chicago Educational Facilities Task Force, which has been investigating school closures for two years, found that CPS has failed to involve the public meaningfully and to follow state law with respect to school closings. Why would we trust a bogus commission that was clearly set up to circumvent the state process and fake community involvement?

5) Our children need stability NOW, not starting next year. CPS has failed utterly to keep its promises to follow the students whose schools were closed in past years and to supply them with needed support and resources. It’s time to start focusing on these students now, to stop harming more students, and to focus back on our neighborhood schools, working with their local school councils, and strengthening the core of the Chicago Public School system.

Will Illinois outlaw Noble’s “secret sauce??

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

Feb. 13, 2012 press conference on Noble fines

According to this article by Jim Broadway in today’s Catalyst, Senator Willie Delgado passed an amendment out of the Senate Education Committee last Wednesday which would essentially outlaw the fines Noble Street Charter Network charges its students for disciplinary infractions. Here’s what the amendment says:

"Section 5. The School Code is amended by adding Section 527A-5.5 as follows:  (105 ILCS 5/27A-5.5 new)  Sec. 27A-5.5. Student discipline; fines prohibited. A charter school may not impose a fine or other financial penalty 9on a student as a disciplinary measure.

The amended bill, SB 637, passed out of the Senate Education Committee on a 6-4 vote.

The recent media firestorm created by PURE, VOYCE, and the Advancement Project about Noble’s discipline policy, which Mayor Rahm Emanuel called it’s “secret sauce,” had a clear impact on several Senators:

Delgado explained to the committee that he knows Milkie well, respects him as an educator and is impressed by the successes. But, he said, “We just disagree about this policy.” Many constituents have complained to him about the fines, he said, and asserted that he “could have filled the hearing room” with opponents of the policy.

He also referred to recent media accounts in which students and parents decried Noble’s policy.

No public school is allowed by law to charge such fees, Delgado pointed out, and no research has generated findings that such “financial punishment” has beneficial effects.

“I don’t want to micromanage,” he added, “but we see a problem.”

Committee members Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Maywood) and Sen. Iris Martinez (D-Chicago) joined Delgado in vigorous opposition to the fines. “I have also heard many complaints,” Lightford told Milkie.

She agreed that Noble Street has achieved exceptional educational success, but “I just don’t know if [charging fines] is the right thing to do.”

….Martinez also told of hearing complaints about Noble’s fines, and she had a complaint of her own. Noble parents had called her in support of the policy after Delgado filed his amendment on March 7. These callers usually “didn’t even know what they were calling about,” Martinez said. “They just called because they were told to call. They tied up my [phone] lines.”

We’ll be working in the coming days to help Senator Delgado pass his bill.


What is the value of work? $3,558.00 v $3.41/hr

Monday, September 5th, 2011

To put it all into perspective, let’s look at some numbers.

It was reported this week that twenty-five of the 100 largest U.S. corporations paid their chief executives more last year than they paid in federal income taxes

According to today’s Sun-Times editorial, “The vast majority of U.S. workers are fighting over an increasingly small shot at the American dream. America’s gaping income gap —the gulf between top earners and the rest of us — hasn’t been this wide since just before the Great Depression. More than 20 percent of the nation’s income now goes to the richest 1 percent of Americans. This is up from 7 percent in 1980. And the top 10 percent of earners pull in almost half the total income, a level higher than any year since 1917. Meanwhile the middle class, the working class and the poor are treading water.”

The Sun-Times’ front page story is titled “Long-term unemployed are trying to take any job at any wage.”

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is offering our teachers $3.41 per hour to work an extended day, according to the CTU. Many feel that teachers are just being greedy, and that this is the real problem with schools and society. People like Mayor Emanuel and Arne Duncan are out there every day pushing that very message, with support from Bill Gates and his PR millions.

So, it might be a good idea to compare that with the approximately $3,558 per hour Mayor Emanuel made during that amazing 2 1/2 years he was working as an investment banker between gigs in the White House. That’s more than ONE THOUSAND times what he’s offering the teachers for their critical service to our children.

Last year, the Sun-Times asked candidate Emanuel what his credentials were to go to work in investment banking after a career raising campaign funds for Mayor Daley and President Clinton, then advising Clinton on policy issues. Here’s what he told them:

“There is, in that culture, two types of bankers: a person who knows the numbers, industry specific; and a person who kind of also deals with relationships,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times editorial board. “I was what was considered, at that time, although I don’t think this is really interesting, relationship banking, and that’s what I did.”

Well, I guess it’s time for the rest of us to get out of real work and into “relationship” jobs because that’s apparently all that will keep us from the poor house. We can start calling today “National Relationship Day.”

Or, we can just get a bunch of new leaders who understand the value of real work.

Come on, come on, Emanuel

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

WWRD? Now Mayor Rahm is giving local ministers the text for their sermons this week. This morning at a clergy event organized by CPS, Father Rahm urged pastors to call for a longer school day from their pulpits on Sunday.

“I ask each of you … to speak in your sermon this Sunday about education,” the mayor said at the event at U.S. Cellular Field. “I want you to specifically speak about the need for a longer school day and school year.”

Of course, it’s nothing new for City Hall to have a bunch of ministers in its hip pocket, ready to deploy as a front for whatever soul-killing initiative our mayor wants to foist on our most vulnerable communities.

Take that “protest” out in front of CPS during the Board meeting yesterday. There were several ministers and a group of other folks with printed signs demanding not just more time in school but EXACTLY 90 minutes and 2 weeks extra – the very numbers on Rahm-Claude’s scorecard.

It’s not that I don’t want a longer school day, as long as there are enough high-quality programs to fill the extra time and enough money to pay for them. But somehow this was never a big deal back when we might actually have been able to pay for it. Somehow during Mayor Daley’s entire tenure as Chicago schools czar it was OK for Chicago to have the shortest school day in the state and possibly the nation. Somehow it’s only a desperate need now, when implementing a longer school day must necessarily involve taking an ax to teacher salaries and other critical programs. Hmmm. Wonder what the real goal is???

Anyway, as a minister’s wife, I take particular umbrage at Rahm’s edict. In light of the situation, though, I’ve selected a few texts from this week’s Common Lectionary (the list of selections from scripture that many preachers base their sermons on) that may be more appropriate:

“I do not sit with the worthless, nor do I consort with hypocrites.” (Psalm 26:4)

“Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19b)

“Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23a)

Now, go in peace.

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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.