Thursday, October 17, 2013

I found some of the disappeared school-closing kids

Whitenizing Chicago

Almost half the youngsters most affected by Mayor Rahm Emanuel's school shutdowns did not enroll this fall in the new schools where officials planned for them to go. Hundreds of them are MIA.

CPS spent $233 million preparing "welcoming schools" to receive thousands of new students who never came, and millions more on "Safe Passage" routes after shuttering 50 other schools on the south and west sides. But only about 60% of the displaced students have shown up at the receiving schools. After initially over-reporting the actual numbers in the consolidated schools, CPS leaders admitted  they had no idea where hundreds of former students have gone.

I was at a south suburban elementary school yesterday with classrooms bursting with 32 students in the lower grades. I was told by administrators that lots of these kids were Chicago transplants, newly arrived from Chicago's closed schools.

CPS Liar-in-Chief Becky Carroll would have us believe that the thousands of no-shows is a good thing because closing neighborhood schools "empowers" parents to find new schools for their kids. But what does it mean for the city if school closings and other City Hall actions are forcing hundreds of African-American families out of the city and into poor, isolated and re-segregated black suburbs?

Severe budget cuts in city schools and city services, the closing of neighborhood schools and health clinics, growing food deserts, the replacement of good-paying union jobs with sub-living-wage service and retail jobs, and pandemic gun violence, are all making the city an impossible place for many poor and black families to live. That's got to change. We've got to Take Back Chicago beginning with City Hall.

Here come the feds

It's about time. The SEC is in town investigating possible securities violations involving the state’s largest charter-school operator, the machine-connected United Neighborhood Organization. But remember, UNO could never have pulled off its $98 million scam without the help of Eddie Burke, Michael Madigan, Gov. Quinn and Mayor 1% himself.

Burke, a major Quinn campaign fund-raiser, had urged the governor to restore UNO's funding after it was temporarily halted when the scandal first broke. The SEC also demanded documents regarding UNO from the Quinn administration’s Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity-the agency overseeing the group’s school-building grant. So far, the state has given UNO $83 million of the promised $98 million.

Juan Rangel, UNO’s $250,000-a-year chief executive officer, was Rahm’s campaign co-chairman in 2011 and also has close ties to House Speaker Madigan. These guys may be too big to jail but once the federal investigations begin, there's no telling how things will unravel or how high up they will go.

Interesting that UNO has hired ASGK, the PR firm founded by Rahm's pal David Axelrod, to come in and try and clean up Rangel's mess.

For starters, UNO should have its charter revoked and their schools should be either taken under CPS control or handed over to a non-criminal enterprise to run.

Best Tweet so far today
Dave Gilson ‏@daudig NSA director stepping down to spend less time with your family. …


  1. I have read that UNO has a debt per student at around $12,000.00, but wasn't able to verify the sources or get to the original research. For UNO, that means to support the debt load they will need to expand and open more schools, although that will also simultaneously increase costs. Does anyone know more about that?

  2. Mike: the migration of black families from crime-ridden Chicago neighborhoods to nearby, safer black suburbs has been going on for two decades, hence the overall decline of black population in the city. This has very little to do with Rahm's education policies and everything to do with gang violence. This trend widens the gap between the white "haves" and the black "have nots" as the black middle class leaves the city in droves, resulting in Chicago's poor black public school system. Notable exceptions are selective enrollment schools, a.k.a. life rafts of excellence adrift in an ocean of poverty and dispair.

  3. Anonymous (Why?)

    I'll grant you that black families have been pushed out of Chicago for decades. But I don't agree that this "has very little to do with Rahm's education policies and everything to do with gang violence."

    First, much of the first black exodus had to do with the demolition of public housing and the lack of Section 8 replacement housing in the city.

    Second, as I reported above, I met some of the displaced students yesterday in a south suburban elementary school. I was told by a school administrator exactly which ones had transferred from Chicago's closed schools and that the recent influx was a big factor in the swelling of class sizes.

    Yes, Chicago's pandemic gun violence has driven some families out of the city. But we can't cleanly separate that violence from Rahm's school closings, the shuttering of clinics, devastating budget cuts to social services, and the increasing blighting of many south and westside neighborhoods. It's no accident that gun violence jumped 40% in Rahm's first year in office and continues in alarming numbers.

    As living conditions for millions of Chicagoans continue to decline, as the lives of young people continue to be disrupted and destabilized, and as gang violence continues to be treated mainly as a policing/jailing issue, we can expect the problem to continue.

    To say that gang violence explains "everything" explains nothing.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.