JESSE SHARKEY

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Three Chicago items

Three items in today's Chicago press caught my attention this morning. The first was about Mayor Daley's ongoing sell-0ff of public space to private corporations. In this case, it's the city's 86,000 parking meters being leased to a private firm for 75 years! In these hard times, that will mean a 400% increase in parking costs for Chicagoans. We have already been shaken down big-time following the privatization of the Skyway, downtown parking garages and Midway Airport.

It's another bailout for Morgan Stanley, who will now own all the city's meters and garages, virtually controlling miles and miles of public land as well. Did I mention that the Mayor's brother Bill works as a lobbyist for Morgan Stanley?

All this leads up to the Mayor's drive to privatize all that is public, including, with the help of his faithful assistant, schools CEO Arne Duncan, the operations of Chicago public schools. A key part of the strategy has been the so-called Renaissance 2010 initiative which is all about closing neighborhood schools and replacing them with charters run by outside charter management companies (CMOs). With a year to go on the plan, there's been lots of Texas-miracle-style hype (just what we don't need over at the new Obama DOE) but no evidence of any significant gains in student learning outcomes. Yet, Duncan is trying to ride that hype all the way to D.C. to become the next secretary of education.

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So my second item is one of the most butt-kissing letters to the editor I have ever read. Its author, Elizabeth Evans, heads up the self-interested Illinois Network of Charter Schools (INCS). INCS has tried (with little success) to make the case that all charter schools are great, just because they are charters. This kind of mindless cheerleading has helped pave the way for the CMO takeover of what was once a vibrant small and charter school movement in the city. Read it and see if you can keep from gagging.

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A hat-tip to Julie at PURE for this third item, which I missed somehow when it was originally published. It's a Tribune correction to a puffy piece about one of those Chicago charters, North Lawndale College Prep. NLCP is a fine small school, mind you. This is more a reaction to the kind of dis-information coming out of groups like INCS which newpapers are all too eager to swallow without first checking their facts.


Tribune correction






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