Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Wheels have come off Chicago's Renaissance

Poor Ron Huberman

He inherited the juggernaut that was Duncan/Daley's Renaissance 2010. At the heart of Ren10 was a plan to close dozens of schools and hand them over to private operators. But the school-closing plan was a disaster from day-one. And the moment Huberman was brought over from CTA after leaving that agency on the brink of financial collapse, to replace Arne Duncan as schools CEO, a wave of community protest was there to greet him. He hasn't had a moment's rest since. The anger and resentment over the closings, the mass firings of teachers, budget cuts, and the surge in neighborhood violence created in their wake, has been relentless and Huberman has no choice but to take the hits for his boss Daley. Oh, the life of a machine fixer/manager.

At yesterday's city council meeting, Huberman was bombarded by usually passive alderman who are now feeling pressure from their constituencies, over the closings.

School activists derided the closings as a "done deal,'' and Ald. Latasha Thomas (17th), Education Committee chairwoman, noted that packing boxes arrived at one school before School Board members even voted on its fate.

"That is inappropriate,'' Huberman agreed.

Professor Pauline Lipman of the University of Illinois at Chicago said the problem is Mayor Daley's Renaissance 2010 plan to shut down failing schools and create 100 new ones. A "growing body of research'' indicates the effort is not helping kids and may even be "harmful to them," she said. (Sun-Times)

This from Rico Gutstein at Teachers for Social Justice:

Near the end of the City Council Education Committee hearing, hundreds of students, parents, teachers, and community members from several of the proposed-to-be-closed schools showed up at the hearing...from McCorkle, Deneen, Bradwell, Phillips, and other schools. They piled into the hearing room and then went up the 5th floor to see Mayor Daley (who was "not available" to meet with them). People circled and chanted, loudly, in the large space outside the Mayor's office before filing out, with energy, enthusiasm, and determination.

More protests are planned for today.

1 comment:

  1. And today, Ron put out a memo to all CPS employees: the district is $700M in the red, will cut ANOTHER 500 admin jobs (on top of 500 cut just a few months ago-- a total of 1/3 of the central office staff in six months), as well as asking for concessions from every union partner.

    A major reason for the shortfall? There's $650M of state money (according to ISBE's own figures) that the state is welching on this year.

    So, yeah, the school closures are a horrible distraction, and also a great opportunity-- let's get that political activism and furor pointed at Springfield, now!


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