Tuesday, August 28, 2012

CPS stonewalling FOIA requests on Clemente conversion

Matt Farmer on Clemente paper trail
My June 25th post about "Rahm's Monday Massacre at Clemente" caused quite a stir. As readers will recall,  Roberto Clemente High School was to be the city's third public high school converted into a wall-to-wall International Baccalaureate (IB) school. The first thing that the new principal Marcey Sorensen, who was brought over from reconstituted Tilden High, did was to use the IB transition to "clean house", firing more than 20 teachers without any due process.The Clemente firings set the stage for the current firing of veteran teachers at another mainly-Latino high school, Social Justice H.S. in Little Village.

Lots of you responded with comments, many of which were heated, taking both sides of the firing issues. Then, as school prepared to open, things kind of died down. Back to business as usual? No way, says  parent-union activist-blogger Matt Farmer who is now locked in a battle with CPS as he tries to track the paper trail leading to Clemente's IB conversion. Matt posts at Huffington:
As a taxpayer and a public school parent, I want to believe that some thoughtful analysis went into that decision.Maybe a memo or two explaining why Clemente might be a good candidate for this program? Perhaps a couple of pieces of paper discussing the cost estimates associated with this proposed transformation? A few e-mails talking about things like staffing and training requirements for the new program? A summary of feedback from the Humboldt Park community?
As you might expect, CPS gives Matt the brush-off telling him where to stick his FOIA requests. Brizard says, we don't need no stinkin' transparency. But Matt is a bulldog, as any of you who heard his dynamite speech at the big union meeting in May will testify (no pun intended). 

His experience as a lawyer tells him what the rest of us know by instinct. Whether it is Romney stonewalling requests for his tax returns, or CPS making Clemente documents dissappear, there's something there, right?

Keep at it Matt.


  1. What is interesting is all of this is that there was done after a CAC (Community Action Council) with representatives from community organizations and schools made a completely different recommendation to CPS. Community input? Month and months of meetings in order to come up with a community-friendly plan were wasted it seems.

  2. http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/mayor/press_room/press_releases/2012/june_2012/mayor_emanuel_cpsannouncewall-to-wallibschoolatclementecommunity.html

    The link above is the press release for the Clemente IB program. As a member of the actual Humboldt Park CAC, I was invited.As were many of the CAC members and other community members.

  3. What is Rahm hiding and why? There have been so many corrupt deals made over the years since Clemente was built. Is this another one? Please keep digging, Matt.

  4. I do not see any connection between wall-to-wall conversion to IB and the "community as campus" idea that was proposed by the CAC. It makes no sense.

  5. As a member of the CAC, it makes perfect sense. We are seeking school improvement and school choice within our community. Providing a high quality public school options for the students of the Humboldt Park community is one of the tenants of the Community as a Campus plan. What do you know about the "community as a campus" concept? Have you spoken with members of the CAC about their support for this program? I suggest you do because both the CAC and the LSC support this idea. We were instrumental in working with CPS to ensure this option was available to all HP students.
    Wondering what the problem is with Clemente and why the author of the article is not questioning the documentation for wall to wall IB at any of the other sites? Why is he seeking clarity on Clemente's process and not that of Senn or Hyde Park? Nice response from the community in La Voz this past week though! Good job, PRCC!

  6. Wow! Circling the wagons. Sure sign that something is amiss. Why the cover up? Why the stonewalling? Let the community see. Clemente is a public school. It's our right to have access to public information about how public money is being spent. Who gets contracts. Why? Why no transparency if everything is on the up and up? Good job Matt Farmer.

  7. Circling the wagons? How about trying to provide a balance to the question about the Wall-to-wall IB decision-making process. The key to the "Community As A Campus" concept is transforming Clemente into a school of preference for community residents, particularly those that have endured poor educational options over the years. The hope was to provide parents with reasons to send their student to Clemente as opposed to other schools outside of the community. The problem was that there wasn't sufficient incentive to win parents over to Clemente. Furthermore the community noted that there was a negative stigma associated to the school based on the historical realities of the school and community and the inherant internalized racism that said said "nothing good can come out of that school". What the wall-to-wall IB program does is address the stigma directly, providing sufficient incentive and offer a new approach to secondary education for students at all levels of learning without exclusion. This ensures that Clemente will be an anchor high school in the community, again, a key component of the "Community As A Campus" concept.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.