Thursday, December 9, 2010

Emanuel blowing more smoke on Chicago school reform

Here's the latest Rahm bomb

He promises even more arbitrary school closings in black and Latino communities, turning them over to private management companies under the failed Race To The Top policies he helped engineer in Washington. 

The so-called "turnaround" process, handing neighborhood schools over to operators like Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), has only served to widen the city's achievement gap and expand the two-tier school system we have always known in the Windy City.

While Emanuel won't commit to sending his own children to any AUSL-run schools, or to any other public school period, he giddily promised, at a press conference on Tuesday, to "turnaround" and hand over to companies like AUSL 35 more  local public schools. Where did he get the number 35? Has he studied each school (he doesn't name them) to see what their specific needs are? Are they really "failing"? Does he know the impact the "turnaround" process will have on the surrounding community? Of course not.

Victims of the current "turnaround" process are mainly hundreds of teachers and students who fell victim to the ensuing instability and chaos. A study out of the University of Chicago's Consortium for Chicago School Research showed that for all but 6% of the displaced students, there were no significant learning gains. The other 94% ended up in some of the city's worst schools and made no measurable gains in learning.

Side story: The newspapers are still blaring headlines about the trial of the teens convicted in the beating death of Darrion Albert outside of Fenger High School. But there's little mention of the fact that Fenger was one of those schools where the entire teaching staff was swept out of their jobs under the Mayor's Renaissance 2010 "turnaround" and replaced by a new, inexperienced team that was taken by surprise by the violence which occurred outside their school,

In response to the damage done to local communities by arbitrary closings and "turnarounds,"  Rep. Cynthia Soto successfully pushed legislation to place a moritorium on former CEO Ron Huberman, keeping he from closing any more schools without first creating standards and providing a strong rationale for such extreme action.

Emanuel standing up at a press conference and promising to "turnaround" 35 schools, without explaining exactly which schools or why, should provide plenty of ammunition for his mayoral opponents.

All this shows once again that Rahm is an unqualified and unworthy schools boss and therefore, and unworthy mayor in city where the mayor has total power over the public schools.

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