Posts Tagged ‘Rahm’

Teachers at Rahm’s kids’ private school support ISAT opt out

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

ICEtheISATAnnounced on CTU web site:

by Maureen Schmidt – Faculty Association President, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools  |  03/11/2014

The members of the Executive Board of the Faculty Association of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools stand in solidarity with our fellow  educators in the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois. We support the teachers who are currently boycotting the administration of the ISAT in several Chicago Public Schools, along with the parents who have decided to opt their children out of the test.

We believe that their firm stance demonstrates the need for a continued and participatory discussion about the role of standardized testing in schools today.

Is “secret sauce” headed for the back burner?

Friday, February 7th, 2014

Today’s Tribune suggests that CPS may require charter schools to agree to more progressive discipline policies in order to win or renew their contracts.

CPS has been changing its discipline code in large part because of a powerful student-led campaign by Voices of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE), with the support of its affiliate community-based groups. VOYCE has been working to dismantle CPS’s zero tolerance discipline code and replace it with a more effective policy that actually contributes to student learning,

This has got to be bad news for the Noble Charter Network. The recipe for Noble’s “secret sauce” – much loved by Mayor Rahm – is three parts oppressive discipline, one part sky-high fines, and one part push-out route for the unwanted student. The sauce may be headed for the back burner.

STNobleFrom the Tribune story:

Two years ago, Parents United for Responsible Education, which is against charters, released a report that showed that one of the district’s largest charter networks, the Noble Network of Charter Schools, had raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from disciplinary fees.

CPS has “a real public relations problem with some of the charter schools” that have used such tactics, said Julie Woestehoff, PURE’s executive director.

Here’s what I said at a 2012 press conference with VOYCE where we first exposed Noble’s oppressive discipline policies:

  • It isn’t “noble” to treat teenage students like two-year olds.
  • It isn’t “noble” to impose an arbitrary discipline system in which anyone can be punished and fined for almost anything.
  • It isn’t “noble” to pick the pockets of families who are already struggling with fees, fines and taxes that go higher and higher every day in Chicago.
  • It isn’t “noble” to treat your predominantly African-American and Latino students as though they are all potential criminals whose every movement must be harshly controlled.

Try to get on the right side of history, Noble Charters.


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.

School closings traumatize vulnerable children

Monday, April 29th, 2013

strongschoolsLast Thursday, I stumbled onto a meeting of a University of Chicago group called the Education and Mental Lives of Children study group of the Society for Psychoanalytic Inquiry.

Not my usual crowd, but a neighbor was making a presentation and the topic was, “Closing Schools, Vulnerable Students.”

The evening turned into a very compelling discussion of the traumatic effects of school closings on children. The group plans to discuss the same issues with respect to the effect on children of standardized testing in a future meeting.

Besides my neighbor, education consultant Bruce Thomas, the other presenter was Erika Schmidt, a child and adult psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Institute for Psychoanalysis, where she is the Director of the Center for Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy.

Both Bruce and Erika have worked with schools on this year’s closing list, and are against the closing plan. Bruce testified at a hearing on behalf of one school, and Erika and her staff at the Institute wrote a letter to Barbara Byrd-Bennett asking her to consider allowing another school to stay open to maintain it as a crucial safe haven for the vulnerable children who go to school there. Byrd-Bennett did not respond to their letter.

At the meeting, Ericka said that children hear the school closing news as a clear statement that their school community is not worth saving, that they and their community are not valuable. To children who have already experienced multiple losses in their lives, the closing is a form of violence, another trauma and loss, another message that the world doesn’t care about them. These professionals explained that children cannot learn if they don’t believe they have a future, if they can’t see that their learning matters, or don’t trust their teachers.

Mayor Emanuel claims that he is the one looking out for the children’s best interests. His non-professional analysis is that the pain of the closings doesn’t compare to the anguish of “trapping” kids in failing schools. These mental health professionals disagree.

The uncommon CORE

Monday, April 15th, 2013

FightCity HallKaren Lewis and CORE are taking it up a few notches. Karen stated today, “I’m committing myself to putting 100,000 new voters on the rolls of Chicago and I’m committing myself and the Chicago teachers union to look for candidates who represent all of Chicago.”

As usual, Karen is the smartest person in the room. This is what we must do.

PSAT for 3-26-13: Get out your comfortable shoes

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

psat_logoTomorrow is the big one, the citywide action against school closures. Our friends at the new Network for Public Education wrote this list of actions to take, which really sums it up:

  • If you are in the Chicago area, attend the march and rally in downtown Chicago at 4 pm on Wednesday, Mar. 27 at Daley Plaza, Clark and Washington Streets. Details here.
  • Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs to hear from us. He is on Twitter at @rahmemanuel. Mayor Emanuel has a City of Chicago feedback form where you can leave  a message.

march3-27-13Here’s what I tweeted to Mayor Rahm: “Your school closings rhetoric is a sham. Take responsibility for neighborhood schools, don’t close them.”

You can retweet that if you follow me @pureparents.

Here’s what I wrote on the City Hall feedback form:

You recently said that the pain of the closings doesn’t compare to the anguish of “trapping” kids in failing schools. But it’s you who run these “traps.” It’s your appointed school board that makes all the major decisions about these “traps.” It is you, Mayor Daley, and the appointed school board who have failed year after year to give these “traps” the resources they need to educate children. We need better leaders for our schools, not more empty buildings in decimated neighborhoods. Community based school improvement through local school councils and an elected school board will save our schools.

Here’s what I e-mailed to Barbara Byrd-Bennett:

You are a real educator, which we hope generally informs your decisions. However, your track record as a Broad trainer makes it clear that you were brought to Chicago not to raise the quality of education but to do just what you are doing – close large numbers of schools. The Chicagoland Researchers and Advocates for Transformative Education, a large group of your educator peers, just released a fact sheet showing that school closings:

  • Have a negative impact on children’s academic performance.
  • Have not resulted in the savings predicted by school officials.
  • Exacerbate racial inequalities.
  • Contribute to increased violence.

Let this be one of the times when you make choices based on real education research, and not on the demands of corporate education reform politicians.


More lies from Tribune survey report

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Thanks to Diane Ravitch for picking up and sharing yesterday’s post about the deceitful Tribune public education survey report.

Catalyst picked it up, too:

CHARTER CHEERLEADERS: A survey commissioned by the Chicago Tribune and the Joyce Foundation finds widespread support—among parents of CPS students and other Chicagoans—for more charter schools in the city. However, Julie Woestehoff, of the group PURE, says the polling wasn’t exactly balanced.

Well, here’s another whopper from today’s Tribune, which continues to tout their survey “findings”:

An impressive 6 in 10 (61.1 percent) favor a law that would empower parents to take control of a persistently failing school and hire a nonprofit education provider — usually a charter operator — to manage the school. That’s the “parent trigger” law that has shaken the status quo in California.

The actual question (#29) from the poll never mentions the words “law,” “charter operator” or ” parent trigger”:

If a school in your neighborhood had a history of low student achievement despite efforts to improve those results, would you agree or disagree that parents of students in that school should have the right to intervene and hire a nonprofit with education experience to manage the school?

That’s a pretty loaded question, and certainly not an outright endorsement of a parent trigger law or turning schools over to charter management.

trappedchildOf course, the biggest whopper in today’s editorial is the “trapped student” image. That’s what the Tribune calls the students “languishing” on charter school waiting lists.

Mayor Rahm says that the pain of the closings doesn’t compare to the anguish of “trapping” kids in failing schools.

It’s public education as a Hansel and Gretel tale. The Trib and the mayor seem to think that parents are just dropping their children off at these terrible gingerbread house schools where the witches inside TRAP and probably eat their children.

Well, here are some questions about who’s trapping children.

Who runs these trap/schools?

Who makes all the major decisions about these trap/schools?

Who has failed year after year to give these trap/schools the resources they need to educate children?

Finally, let’s not forget that the most popular answer to the Trib’s question about what to do about underperforming schools was to “devote more resources while keeping the staff intact.” Only 6% thought the school should be closed and only 18% wanted to hand the school over to a non-profit.

As the Tribune says at the end of today’s editorial, “That’s what Chicagoans want.”

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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.