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The [Tuesday] Papers

On the same day that Karen Lewis's campaign apparatus announced that she would not be running for mayor, researchers from the University of Minnesota announced their findings that Chicago's charter-school experiment was a bust.

The Institute on Metropolitan Opportunity, at the University of Minnesota Law School, titled its report "Charter Schools in Chicago: No Model for Education Reform."

It begins like this:

"Charter schools have become the cornerstone of school reform in Chicago and nationally. Arne Duncan, who led Chicago schools and was a strong proponent of charters, became Secretary of Education. As Secretary, Duncan has championed policies to dramatically expand the use of charters throughout the United States.

"Chicago, however, remains one of the nation's lowest performing school districts. Sadly, the charter schools, which on average score lower that the Chicago public schools, have not improved the Chicago school system, but perhaps made it even weaker.

"Further, charters, which are even more likely to be single race schools than the already hyper-segregated Chicago school system, have not increased interracial contact, an often-stated goal of charter systems.

"Finally, the fact that Chicago charters use expulsion far more often that public schools deserves further study. In the end it is unlikely that the Chicago charter school experience provides a model for improving urban education in other big-city school districts."

Tell us something we don't know!

Which is the point. We know these things to be true. Charters have been studied to death for decades now. The data is in. Shouldn't that matter?

With Karen Lewis in the race, it might have. Wouldn't you have loved to have seen that debate - not just on the campaign trail but face-to-face? Think of the ratings! Rahm vs. Karen, tonight on . . . every channel in the city! I wonder what the debate schedule would have looked like - presuming Rahm would have been shamed into agreeing to debate, which is a big presumption.

The news of Lewis being unable to run and the report on the failure of Chicago's charters also comes on the heels of Rahm's Department of Aldermen cockblocking democracy to keep off the ballot a non-binding referendum about whether voters would prefer an elected school board.

Hey, maybe we should start with an elected city council!

After all, Rahm is intent on buying up the few seats he doesn't already control.

The mayor's shenanigans over a non-binding referendum that merely takes the temperature of voters - and isn't Rahm's vision of the school system predicated on "choice?" - lead me to believe not only that Rahm fears the question and wishes to quell, like his predecessor, even the smallest hint of dissent (in a city now full of it, even if some of it is a quiet seething), but that he probably has internal polling showing he'd lose control of the school board if voters (and CPS parents) had their druthers.

"Why does all of this matter?" Mark W. Anderson asks at NBC Chicago.

"Simply this: Chicago is the only city in Illinois without an elected school board. Instead, the board is selected by mayoral appointment and confirmed by City Council. That means, for all intents and purposes, the Chicago Board of Education is a wholly owned subsidiary of the fifth floor of City Hall, and almost complete control of how the school system is run in Chicago resides with the mayor."

Think about that for a second; they have elected school boards in Winnetka! They have elected school boards in Wilmette! They have elected school boards in Lake Forest and Highland Park and Tinley Park and Orland Park and Peoria and Springfield and Cairo. The only city in Illinois without an elected school board is Chicago. And how's that working for everyone?

"That means that if Mayor Emanuel wants to shut down 50 neighborhood schools without much debate, he can. If he wants to funnel millions of dollars into privately run charter schools, he can. If he wants to pour millions into selected schools in well-off neighborhoods while starving schools in poorer neighborhoods, well, that's his choice."

And only his choice. Voters may have (mistakenly) put Rahm Emanuel into office, but they didn't sign on to radical one-man rule. After all, it was Rahm himself who said voters wanted a break from the past. Instead, Rahm has tried to hold power even more tightly than Richard M. Daley did, which was once unimaginable. Karen Lewis, in turn, is the only one who has effectively stood up to the mayor.

That's not to say that Bob Fioretti can't make the case. But how is it that no one else in a city of almost 3 million people has the stones (a few clowns notwithstanding) to challenge a guy who is more unpopular than traffic on the Eisenhower?

I know. The money. But guess what? Bruce Rauner has pumped $17 million of his own money into his campaign for governor and is on track to finish worse in his race against Pat Quinn than Bill Brady did four years ago.

Illinois is a well-documented graveyard for rich spenders who have lost campaigns. Do the names Jim Oberweis, Blair Hull, Jack Ryan, Rod Gidwitz, Andy McKenna and Al Hofeld ring a bell?

I understand those folks weren't running for mayor of Chicago, and that the dynamic in the city is different than in the state. The dynamic is also different, though, when the incumbent has had an approval rating as low as 19 percent.

Chicago is supposed to be a tough town. But all I see is a town of cowards.


A lot of people thought Harold Washington couldn't win. A lot of people thought Jane Byrne couldn't win. A lot of people even thought Richard M. Daley couldn't win. He was known as Dirty Little Richie back then. A lot of people thought Rahm Emanuel couldn't win. I'm not sure the exception isn't the rule.

Besides that, Rahm was losing in the polls to Karen Lewis. And she wasn't even the people's first choice.

If not now, when?


"Enrollments in Chicago charters increased by more than nine times between 2000 and 2013 and, with strong support from the current administrations in both Chicago and Washington D.C., the system continues to grow," the Minnesota report says.

"Indeed, the system actually uses a loophole to bypass the 75-school limit included in the state's charter law and there are now more than 120 charters in Chicago. The legislature is now considering lifting the cap entirely.

"This has happened despite the fact that very little research actually supports a central tenet of the charter school movement - the claim that charters enhance student performance.

"Prior work on this question in Chicago is mixed but most evaluations imply that students in charters do no better than their counterparts in traditional public schools. Most research also shows that charters increase racial separation in school systems."

Please read that last sentence again. And now, one more time. Thank you.

"This study, using comprehensive data for 2012-13, shows that, after controlling for the mix of students and challenges faced by individual schools, Chicago's charter schools actually underperform their traditional counterparts in most measurable ways. Reading and math pass rates, reading and math growth rates, and graduation rates are lower in charters, all else equal, than in traditional neighborhood schools. This is true despite the fact that, because students self-select into the charter system, student performance should exceed what one sees in traditional schools, even if charters do no better at teaching their students."

Wow. Charters suck.

Karen Lewis will be missed during this campaign.

The Closer
Whenever I see stories like this, I wonder if Rahm's mental health clinic closures are to blame.


The Political Odds
Updated to reflect recent developments.

Devon Allman vs. Luther Allison
Plus: Stewart Copeland and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra vs. Oozing Wound. In Local Music Notebook.

Paul Lynde vs. Halloween
Starring Pinky Tuscadero and KISS!

The Onion vs. Gone Girl
So now I have to worry about this couple?

Faye Wrubel vs. Paris Street: Rainy Day
Yellow journalism.

Todd Gurley vs. The NCAA
Getting suspended is the best thing that ever happened to him.


* Massive Oswego Party Leads To Underage Drinking Charges Against 45 Teens.

Should've had it at the Moon Tower.

* Gibson's Is The Top-Grossing Independent Restaurant In Chicago.

Pulls in a quarter of what Bruce Rauner makes each year.

* The U.S. Government Tried To Kill James Risen's Last Book.

Now they want to put him in jail.

* Condoleezza Rice Got A New York Times Story Killed.

Even worse, Jill Abramson agreed to it.

* These Are The E-Mails Snowden Sent To First Introduce His Epic NSA Leaks.

"We are building the greatest weapon for oppression in the history of man, yet its directors exempt themselves from accountability. NSA director Keith Alexander lied to congress, which I can prove."

* Robbie Fulks On Lou Whitney.

"Music is one more foul shithole of an industry, all in all, no better, no more ethical, and certainly no more glamorous than shoe repair, public accounting, or pornography. You are treated in precise accordance with your perceived value as an economic unit, and your past contributions are not esteemed. I didn't mean to end my appreciation of my friend's life on such a sour note, but that's where I leave him, standing against the foul tides there in his small shop on Main Street in Springfield, doing his best for band after band day after day for a modest rate, honoring the high performers in his field regardless of how their stock in the greater world might rise or fall, lifting your spirits on the phone."





The Beachwood Tip Line: Normals need not apply.


Posted on October 14, 2014

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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