The [Friday] Papers
"Chicago Public Schools touted a smooth start to the school closing process this week by announcing that 78 percent of students at schools being shut down have been enrolled at another school, most at the one designated for them by the district," the Tribune reports.
"But the district's figure may be inflated, as administrators at some closing schools said that because they were under pressure to get children signed up, they went ahead and enrolled students whose parents could not be contacted."
Has any figure that's come out of CPS in the last two years not been inflated, deflated, massaged, spun, shaded, invented, fudged or conjured out of thin air?
"Tanya Saunders-Wolffe, a counselor at Owens Elementary on the Far South Side, said her school's administration was told by officials with the district's regional network to enroll children whose parents had not participated in an early enrollment program.
"She said about two-thirds of the school's students were enrolled that way for next year. Owens was one of 12 schools that CPS records show have 100 percent of their students enrolled for the coming year."
So the real number is about 33 percent. Isn't this theft of honest services? Paging the U.S. Attorney!
"'We did what we were told,' Saunders-Wolffe said. 'We were told by the network to automatically enroll students in welcoming schools where parents did not respond.'
"A principal at a South Side school that is being closed, who asked not to be identified, said staff enrolled about a quarter of their students at the CPS-designated receiving school after being unable to reach their parents through notes and phone calls.
"A source at CPS headquarters confirmed that schools were pressed to get students enrolled early and that officials were concerned about some of the enrollment figures.
"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll denied that there has been any pressure on schools to enroll students and said there was no directive to enroll students without parents' consent."
So everyone is lying - except the one person paid to do so.
"Children could not be enrolled unless their parent was there in person with ID to enroll their student," Carroll said.
So CPS will open an investigation into widespread fraud?
Separate And Unequal
"The CPS CEO also guaranteed new science or arts programs in 19 of the schools taking in those displaced children and great investments in all the receiving schools: air conditioning, libraries and iPads.
"But after the dust settles, and many school boundaries are redrawn, not all children living in the shadow of a closing school will reap these benefits."
Has CPS ever made an assertion in the last two years that hasn't been proven wrong? I'm not even sure they're giving out the right address for headquarters anymore.
"Boundaries are being redrawn for 12 of the 48 schools closing this month, so some children new to the neighborhood will not be sent to the receiving school, but to another nearby neighborhood school. In three of those cases, that neighborhood option is academically worse than what CPS calls the 'designated welcoming school.'"
In none of those cases, though, are the mayor's children involved. He just wouldn't stand for it.
"This is just messed up, it's really upsetting," said Laronda Smith, 30, who has two children at West Pullman and smaller kids at home. The family lives on the north side of 119th Street, a borderline determining where her children could be sent. "I don't know where my kids are going to go."
"With West Pullman, families who move south of 119th Street will send their children not to Alex Haley Elementary School, which has a good rating, but to Metcalfe Elementary Community Academy, which is on probation with the worst rating.
"Around Henson, preschoolers living east of Pulaski Road will not follow older neighbors to Charles Hughes Elementary School, which has a good rating; rather, they will be directed to Herzl Elementary school, which has the lowest rating and is on probation.
"And near Paderewski, students living north of Cermak Road will go to Penn Elementary School or Crown Community Academy of Fine Arts Center, which both currently have CPS' worst rating and are on probation."
"CPS says the boundary changes, along with other details of the closings, were decided with community input.
"'We heard from communities that they might have wanted a certain school to be accessible to the school community,' but under CPS guidelines it wasn't good enough to be a welcoming school, said Adam Anderson, district head of portfolio, planning and strategy."
So by "community input" CPS means they "heard from communities" and then ignored their wishes.
"CPS won't guarantee the same investments as the receiving schools for these other schools, but may send extra help to these struggling schools if enough new children show up, Anderson said, though he couldn't specify how much support or how many children would trigger some extra support."
In other words, official receiving schools win the lottery and everyone else is screwed.
"And though children too young for school now won't be guaranteed a place in any of the schools initially designated 'welcoming' schools, younger siblings will be given preference to follow their older brothers and sisters, he said: 'We don't separate families.'"
We won't separate families, though we won't guarantee that we won't separate families.
Wow! Send CPS to Washington!
"CPS officials are confirming that the plan, which is not yet final, relies heavily on one-time revenues, especially an earlier-than-usual receipt of local property-tax and state revenues. The plan also is likely to include a property tax increase similar to this year's $62-million hike."
And that comes to $1 billion how?
"Officials say the financial plan will allow schools to open on time and without major cuts in service, under the preliminary school-by-school budgets that were released to principals last week.
"But the very fact that the CPS has been able to eliminate such a large deficit will raise some questions about how real the projected $1 billion figure really was."
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Posted on June 7, 2013
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