With guest, Louder Than a Bomb poet Nate Marshall

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Who will reform the reformers?

Rahm's urban removal project
Here's more on Chicago's top-down, corporate-style school reform -- the "miracle" that propelled Arne Duncan into the Sec. of Education job.

The latest study by the  University of Chicago’s Consortium on Chicago School Research finds that after 20 years of reform efforts, reading scores in the city's weakest elementary schools didn't budge. An editorial in today's Sun-Times summarizes the Consortium study, including the news that, "among African-American students, reading scores essentially were unchanged from 1990."

The predictable response from Rahm Emanuel's CPS crew is that this time around, things will be different, reform is working. This even though their reform is basically more of the same, ie. mayoral control, school closings, privately-run charter schools, mass teacher firings, salary and pension cuts. Rahm's only addition -- more seat time for kids, with even fewer resources for schools.  If that's reform, who will reform the reform?

Even the autocratic Rahm is meeting with resistance in his attempt to close Crane High School. An independent hearing officer has recommended that, no decision on the phase-out of Crane should be made until school district officials analyze a “well-thought-out’’ Crane-proposed plan for the school’s rejuvenation.  
The recommendation, a vindication for Crane faculty, came after a battery of elected officials — including Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd), Ald. Walter Burnett (27th) and state Sen. Annazette Collins (D-Chicago) — showed up at public hearings to oppose the CPS plan to gradually turn over the Crane building at 2245 W. Jackson to Talent Development Charter High School.
The high schools that would-be Crane freshmen would be routed to are “only marginally better,” David Coar, the hearing officer found. Meanwhile, Crane faculty and supporters have “put forth a well thought-out plan” that includes support from Strategic Learning Initiatives, “an organization with a track record of school turnarounds.”

Chicago Teachers Union officials and Strategic Learning Initiatives president John Simmons have repeatedly contended that Strategic Learning has produced success in failing schools with far less disruption to staff and at one fifth the cost of current CPS turnaround models.


  1. Reform nor reformers can improve the teaching of reading. Only teachers learning together with the guidance and support of their principal and teacher leaders can make that happen. The question I would ask is why isn't that happening?

  2. Obama, Duncan and Emanuel are such disapointemnts. How can they consistently be so wrong?

  3. Time to pull out the Einstein definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

  4. Moving African-American kids from one crappy school to another. That's what they call "reform" in Chicago. What's really happening here is that the mayor is just handing over schools and contracts to his billionaire patrons. Schools have become the new patronage coin of the realm.

    1. Brilliantly said, and so true.

  5. Obama, Duncan and Emanuel do not think they're wrong - they're simply doing the work of the 1%, the thing they were elected (or in Duncan's case, appointed) to do.


Agree? Disagree? Let me hear from you.