Unlike most early CPS school restructuring efforts, the new IB school at Clemente was being planned to accept all interested neighborhood students and "not look to filter students out,” schools chief Jean-Claude Brizard told reporters earlier this year.
In March, the mayor signed a deal with IB to double the size of the city’s international baccalaureate program and devote five neighborhood schools exclusively to that program to supposedly prepare 3,500 more students for college.
Clemente, in the predominantly Latino Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago has been kept in a state of instability by the board for the past few years. Last year alone, the school had 7 principals including the current one, Marcey Sorensen who was brought over from reconstituted Tilden High.
It was Sorensen who dropped the bomb on about 20 Clemente teachers Monday, telling them that their positions had been closed out and "redefined." Redefinition has been a favorite tactic used by Rahm Emanuel and CEO J.C. Brizard to fire tenured teachers without due process.
One of those teachers, Kevin Hough told me that the firings came without notice. "Many of us had superior ratings," said Kevin. He has been teaching in Chicago for the past 11 years and is currently the lead trainer for the Model U.N. program for all of CPS. Kevin is also a service-learning coach and a union delegate.
"We were working on planning a new course for seniors called Global Citizenship and Personal Finance when I got the call telling me my position had been closed. I heard that some of the teachers, mostly veteran teachers, had been called on Friday."He said that Sorensen has been steadily bringing over her favorite teachers from Tilden and replacing Clemente teachers since the beginning of the year. She actually started the E-3 removal process with no remediation plan, against several teachers who had received superior ratings until that point. She was obviously given the green light to "clean house" by Brizard, who is using the shift to the new IB program as an opportunity to fire tenured teachers.
I asked Kevin what he was going to do now. He said that he and fellow teachers were having an emergency meeting with the union on Tuesday to plan a course of action. As for his personal plans, Kevin said that his is so disgusted with the way CPS treats teachers that he is seriously considering leaving CPS.
"I love teaching but I have a family to support and we can't live with all this instability. Why be part of a system that constantly devalues you?"I had no good answer for him.