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The [Friday] Papers

I'll be commentating on Twitter and Facebook throughout the weekend, as usual, but a column just isn't going to happen today. Energy sapped.

So I'm gonna make like the Love Boat and cruise.

Make like a tree and leave.

Make like a baby and head out.

(If it's a breach birth, butt out.)

(If it's a cesarean, cut it out.)

We do have a couple new posts today:

* A CPS Student's Green Screen Adventure.

* The Week In Chicago Rock.

And highly recommended in case you missed them yesterday:

* Golden: A Poem About Chicago Violence.

* Chicago Youth: A Poem About . . .

Watch for light sporadic posting through the weekend; Natasha Julius returns tomorrow with The Weekend Desk Report.

*

Observation: Rahm Emanuel and Barbara Byrd-Bennett act like they've just gotten to Chicago and they're the first ones to discover CPS is a mess when the mayor's pals have been running the show for 20 years while parents and teachers have been begging for textbooks and air conditioning. To scornfully wonder where those opposed to their school closings plan have been this whole time is to express an ignorance - or political cynicism - that is astonishing and amazingly counterproductive.

It reminds me of this Facebook exchange I had with CPS communications chief Becky Carroll in 2011, edited only for space and relevance:

CARROLL: I wake up everyday knowing that I am doing something to help make our public education system better for our students. Can [you] say that?

RHODES: Is your commitment to CPS students or to your political patrons? Personally, I don't think CPS students will benefit from your boss' policies. So yes, I think I'm working on their behalf every day.

CARROLL: [B]ottom-line is that our students are in a desperate situation - I think that u are woefully uninformed about how bad our students have it. 7.9% of our 11th graders tested college ready. so what should we do steve? sit on our ass and let the status quo continue because it's worked so well over the last 20 years?

RHODES: I think you are woefully uniformed about what I have been writing about our schools for many years, which is that the PR put forth by the Daley administration was total bullshit. Where have you and Rahm been on that? Weren't we told all these years that improved schools were [one] of Daley's greatest legacies? Hell, Arne Duncan is Barack Obama's education secretary! Now it turns out he did a crappy job! So I've been there from the start. You?

CARROLL: I'm not aware of how much you've been writing about cps and how f-Ed up it's been. im happy to hear that u have because believe me not enough folks have done so. I don't think u r going to find us saying that things have been done well during the Daley years, believe me. it's not 100 percent bad news, but it's very clear that strategies in the past, no matter how well intended, have not boosted student achievement. grad rates, college readiness, achievement gap, etc. especially with African American kids. it's unforgivable how bad it is and I never realized how bad it was till I got here.

*

Until she got here? She's a graduate of CPS!

And she worked for Daley, including in his press office!

Which, curiously, you don't see here.

(Her tenure working for Rod Blagojevich, where she served as "deputy Chief of Staff for budget policy and as the chief spokesperson for the budget in the Governor's Budget office," is also missing.)

So yes, I think we all know who the Johnny-come-latelies are.

And their arrogance is, well, I've already used the word astonishing, but it's the kind of half-informed confidence and zeal of yuppies with wrecking balls who leave lasting damage in their wake, felt long after they move on to greener political pastures.

*

Just the latest fact-based argument: CBS2 Chicago: Study: School Closings Won't Help CPS Students.

*

And if you don't like that study, here's another one, as the New York Times reports:

"In the 100 schools that have closed in Chicago since 2001, 88 percent of the students affected were black. Over all, black students make up 42 percent of the city schools enrollment.

"It is not clear that students displaced from shuttered schools end up attending better ones. In one study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago of 38 schools closed between 2001 and 2006, the researchers found that only 6 percent of the students who were originally enrolled in schools that closed were sent to academically strong schools."

But CPS is going to invest in all sorts of neat things at the receiving schools!

That's what they always say.

"[Researcher Stephanie] Farmer said the school under-use rationale for closing schools is right out of the playbook of pro-charter school organizations like the Broad Foundation, of which Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is a disciple," CBS2 reports.

CPS students will not suddenly be riding unicorns to their new pleasure palaces.

"When Michelle Rhee told D.C. school residents that she, as chancellor of public schools in the nation's capital, was closing 23 under-enrolled schools, she promised that a lot of money would be saved that could be plowed back into academic programs in remaining schools," Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post. "It didn't happen; an audit years later found that the closings actually cost the city $40 million."

The district won't save money and won't improve academic performance. It will devastate neighborhoods and provide a political talking point for our "tough" mayor.

At least that's what the facts overwhelmingly suggest.

*

I guess that's a column after all.

The [Thursday] Papers
"If 61 percent of the city's youth are graduating from high school, but among African-American adolescent males, it's 44 percent, but you do nothing, what does that say?" Emanuel said. "Is that enlightened? Is that progressive?"

Is Rahm for real? So many questions.

Who is advocating doing nothing?

Teachers and parents have cried for even just a share of the resources that the University of Chicago Lab schools use to educate Rahm's kids.

Is Rahm suggesting that Richard M. Daley did nothing all these years?

Rahm has been a close political ally of Daley for years. Did he ever say anything?

Did Paul Vallas, Ron Huberman, Terry Mazany and Jean Claude-Brizard do nothing all these years?

And what of Arne Duncan, who did such a great job he was promoted by Barack Obama to U.S. Secretary of Education. Rahm, you were the president's chief of staff at the time, did you ever ask Duncan why he never did anything?

Is it possible that the schools aren't to blame for the impovershed conditions so many African-Americans males grow up in?

Perhaps the city has disinvested in the poorest neighborhoods and closing schools there will only make it worse. Wouldn't it make more sense to build neighborhoods instead of destroying them?

The Great Financial Scandal wiped out the economy and left much of the South and West Sides in foreclosure. Do your Wall Street pals share any of the blame and responsibility for deteriorating conditions in our city?

Perhaps, then, it would be fair to shore up the budget through a relatively miniscule financial transactions tax.

Is closing 54 schools enlightened and progressive? Only on Planet Orwell.

Decidedly not. See The Rahmney Plan For Schools.

*

"Emanuel acknowledged the closing of scores of neighborhood schools will be 'tough' on parents and students. But he said kids will ultimately end up attending better schools, even if they have to travel farther to get to them."

Yeah, the research doesn't really back that up: "81% Of Displaced Students Moved To Schools Just As Bad, Worse."

But then, this administration creates its own reality.

*

See also the item Rahm's Wrong Again. Hint: Facts aren't his friend.

*

The Real Problem With Rahm's School Reforms. Hint: Claims counter to the facts.

*

Two Visions For Chicago's Schools. Hint: Teachers' vs. Rahm's.

*

Meanwhile, Barbara Byrd-Bennett repeated to Chicago Tonight last night that her actions couldn't possibly be racist because, well, look at her! She's black!

Is that why the school closings were announced when Rahm was in Utah? To put a black woman out front to blunt just such charges? So the video the national news networks had didn't show Rahm making the announcement?

Duh.

Of course no one thinks you got up in the morning, as you imagined to marginalize your critics, and thought to target people of color. But if you don't know better than to think that's what you're being accused of, you aren't qualified to hold your job.

Racism is an effect of institutional policies that does not require bigotry as a motive.

*

"Performance has nothing to do with our utilization plan."

     - Barbara Byrd-Bennett, Nov. 27, 2012

*

See also:

Save Lafayette: Poor Humboldt Park elementary school's orchestra is something to build on, not destroy.

Global Views Of The School Closings Protest: The whole world wasn't watching, but some of it was.

Chicago Youth: Abandoned: School? For what? These children have already been left behind.

Golden: A Poem About Chicago Violence: Drastically snatched from my reality, my golden ray of sunshine died. Father told me this was just the way the world worked.

-

More commentary following Wednesday's performance as well as some media criticism can be had on our Twitter feed.

-

And from the Beachwood toy department today: Fantasy Fix: The Top 20 Starters & Relievers.

-

The Beachwood Tip Line: Addition, not subtraction.



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Posted on March 29, 2013


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock
TV - Windy City Live Co-Host Confused About Hitting Her Kid.
POLITICS - Beachwood Radio Hour: Beat Up On Brucey Week.
SPORTS - SportsMonday: The Rivalry Is Dead. The College Football Report: Army To Amway. The White Sox Report: Ode To 2014.

BOOKS - Local Book Notes: Gangstanomics.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Dairy Queen vs. Sandwich.


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