Thursday, April 24, 2014

A Thin Line Between Love & Hate

It's been a fascinating 48 hours in the life CPS: three cash-starved schools privatized, other neighborhood schools praised for improving a never-before tracked statistic called Freshman On Track, and the Northside discovering they are, yet again, the lucky recipients of a new Selective Enrollment school to be named after Barack Obama. Do CPS & Rahm love students, families, and teachers or do they hate students, families, and teachers?

Though our heads our spinning, let's take a deeper dive into the data, shall we?

  • The three turnaround schools--Dvorak, Gresham, and McNair--will all be run by AUSL despite strong community protest. Up until 2009, David Vitale, current Board of Ed. president was also the chairman of AUSL's board. Conflict of interest, anyone, anyone?
  • While the turnaround schools were starved of cash, AUSL gets a one time profiteer fee of $300,000 for each school they improve implode. It makes one wonder how CPS can suddenly find close to $1 million dollars to give to AUSL, but couldn't find that money to fund these schools at a functional level. Yep, that goes in the hate column.
  • WCT hates to nay-say, but it's pretty suspicious that University of Chicago's Consortium on Chicago School Research "discovered" the Freshman On Track metric, and also published the study declaring such a metric, "the key to solving the dropout crisis." Sort of like a doctor diagnosing you with an unheard of ailment and then restoring you to health. Rahm Emanuel, too, was all emboldened talking about a new Chicago of neighborhood schools that can get the job done. So, we'll take the love where we can get it.
  • Barack Obama College Prep will be built near the former Cabrini-Green public housing complex. The area is now described as burgeoning and will not be a school open to the neighborhood, but instead a $60 million TIF-financed selective enrollment. Rahm has been intractable about touching TIF funds for schools, but suddenly he can loosen the purse strings for a school in Lincoln Park. The irony is lost on no one that these funds could be used to keep teaching positions at schools that serve the other 99% of Chicago. It also seems undeserving to name a school after the president who's let Arne Duncan try to dismantle what's left of the public school system. This action has to go in the psychological warfare column since they're spending money on schools, but not in any areas that are in dire need.
Emanuel, touting the big turnaround  in Chicago education, offered former Secretary of Education William Bennett, "a one way ticket" back to Chicago to see the progress.  Instead, we'd like to offer Rahm, B3, and the entire Board of Education a one way ticket away from our schools.