Public Officials, the Elected School Board and School Closings
Over the past year, a number of organizations and ad hoc groups on education, including an elected school board, massiveschool closings and funding for pre-kindergarten. Our experiences are outlined below.
President Obama's education policies and education budget have created an environment where massive school closuresand rapid expansion of charter schools can flourish across the country. His signature Race to the Top program acompetitive grant program is designed to encourage and reward States that are creating the conditions for educationinnovation and reform; achieving significant improvement in student outcomes, including making substantial gains instudent achievement, closing achievement gaps, improving high school graduation rates, and ensuring student preparationfor success in college and careers; and implementing ambitious plans in four core education reform areas:1.
Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to competein the global economy;2.
Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about howthey can improve instruction;3.
Recruiting, developing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they areneeded most; and4.
Turning around our lowest-achieving schoolsStates must support local school districts in turning around these schools by implementing one of the four schoolintervention models turnaround model, restart model, school closure, or transformation modelStates applying for Race to the Top funds were rewarded for prioritizing charter school expansion in their applications.The program was funded for $4.35 billion in 2010, and an additional $1.35 billion in 2011. The Academy for UrbanSchool Learning (AUSL) essentially has a monopoly on turnarounds in the City of Chicago. They have reportedlyreceived over $10 million from the federal government.
AUSL gets an extra $420 per student, above the normal per-pupilallotment and CPS typically provides significant capital funding to renovate their buildings. Reportedly, 2 of 24 of their turnaround schools are not on probation. David Vitale, the President of the Chicago Board of Education, is the former board chairman for AUSL. Tim Cawley, who is the Chief Administrative Officer for Chicago Public Schools is a former managing director of AUSL.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Mayor Emanuel closed 50 schools in mostly African American communities around the country, utilizing the same tacticsrecommended by the Broad Foundation. He manufactured a $1 billion budget deficit going on for the second year in arow. He used inaccurate financial data, enrollment data and utilization data to justify the closures. He spent 9 out of the10 months in the school year on school closings, which created a negative environment for learning. He lobbied theLegislature on things like SB-7 (a bill which, among other things, reduced collective bargaining rights for teachers andincreased the length of the school day); equalizing funding for charter schools and getting an extension on releasing thelist of closing schools. He spent virtually none of his time in Springfield lobbying for increased school funding for theschool district as a whole.
Congressman Danny K. Davis
Congressman Danny K. Davis held a joint public meeting with Congressman Bobby Rush last spring to hear Chicagoans'experiences and concerns with school closings. They invited representatives from CPS, CTU, SEIU and variouscommunity stakeholders to testify. Congressman Davis is also a co-host of the Garfield Majors Show. Over the years, hehas invited a number of community stakeholders to participate as guests and to call in regarding the elected school boardand school closures. These groups include, but are not limited to, CTU, the Lawndale Alliance and Raise Your Hand. Hisstaff has participated in meetings with the Committee to Save North Lawndale Schools to develop an Alternative Plan toSchool Closures. He has also sent representatives from time to time to attend community-based press conferences onschool closures, as well as public meetings sponsored by CPS.
September 30, 2013
Volume 1, Issue 1