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The [Wednesday] Papers

1. Okay, already, Blago can't type. But has anybody stopped to ask: How did he write his book?

2. Geez, I have an almost all-volunteer staff and no resources to do proper background checks but I still Google everyone who comes my way. Give me a call, Cook County, I can help out at reasonable rates.


3. Democracy Now!'s Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez conducted an insightful panel discussion with the Tribune's Azam Ahmed, who broke the CPS clout list story; Pauline Lipman, an education professor at UIC; and Jitu Brown, a Kenwood-Oakland community organizer and teacher at St. Leonard Adult High School. Key excerpts:

Gonzalez: Other than them collecting the list, was there any indication that then there was actual efforts made with the various principals who were in charge of these schools to get these kids admitted?

Ahmed: The central office would call the principals and ask. They've been unequivocal about saying they never pressured anybody to accept a student. And a few principals I've talked to have also said they never - they were never pressured. It was a "Hey, we have this kid. We've checked out his background, pretty good scores" - or whatever the case may be - "Do you a space for them?"

Oftentimes on the list you'll see they - a student might have applied to the top one or two schools in the district and their testing scores just simply weren't high enough, and often those kids would be put in a still desirable, but not as competitive, school. So, oftentimes kids would get placed maybe not in their first one or two choices, but they would find somewhere better than perhaps their neighborhood school.


Goodman: You talk about the case of former Senator Carol Moseley Braun weighing in for a student to get in. Explain that story and who actually kept this list.

Ahmed: One of Duncan's top aides, David Pickens, was asked by Duncan to keep the list. And in this case, our understanding of it is Carol Moseley Braun was trying to get a certain student into Whitney Young, which is a very high-performing school in the city. She was getting no response from the principal. She called David Pickens, who then asked the principal to call her back. And then, whatever happened there was between the principal and Carol Moseley Braun. But ultimately, one of the two students Carol Moseley Braun was interested in having placed at Whitney Young did indeed get placed at Whitney Young.


Gonzalez: Could you talk about the significance of this list and also the battle of parents in Chicago to get into these elite schools in the city?

Lipman: Yes, good morning. I'm really glad that Azam has done this story, because it provides some evidence for what we've pretty much known on the ground all along. And as you said, I think that what it reveals is a bigger scandal.

The larger scandal is that Chicago has basically a two-tiered education system, with a handful of these selective enrollment magnet schools, or boutique schools, that have been set up under Renaissance 2010 in gentrifying and affluent neighborhoods, and then many disinvested neighborhood schools. So parents across the city are scrambling to try to get their kids into a few of these schools. So instead of creating quality schools in every neighborhood, what CPS has done is created this two-tier system and actually is closing down, as you said, neighborhood schools under Renaissance 2010 and replacing them with charter schools and a privatized education system, firing or laying off, I should say, certified teachers, dismantling locally elected school councils, and creating a market of public education in Chicago, turning schools over to private turnaround operators. And this is, in the bigger, bigger scandal, this is now the national agenda under the Obama administration for education.


Gonzalez: And amazingly, Arne Duncan doesn't have that much of a - he's not an educator by trade, to speak of. Could you talk a little bit about his background?

Lipman: Yeah, not only is he not an educator by trade, I mean, he was a functionary in the Daley administration.


Gonzalez: I'd like to ask Pauline Lipman about the overall effort in Renaissance 2010 and now in Arne Duncan's attempts to take it nationwide, the impact on the neighborhood public school, well, a public school that is not just a building with a bunch of students, but is an institution in the community where the parents know each other, where they all come from the same neighborhood. What is happening to that tradition of the neighborhood public school as an institution?

Lipman: Yeah, thank you for asking that question, Juan, because I think that's a very key part of what has happened. As Jitu was saying, we've seen a really devastating impact in many of the neighborhoods where the schools have been closed. The school is one of the central institutions in a neighborhood, a neighborhood that's suffering - has been suffering from unemployment, economic devastation, the transformation of public housing. And so, we see that these schools become sort of the core of the neighborhood.

And we have examples; I can describe one. Anderson Elementary School in the West Town area of Chicago, with a primarily Latino and African American population, one of the schools that you could say was really a good neighborhood school. And that area has become extremely gentrified. As it was gentrified, many people had to move out. The people who were still remaining and even people who moved out continued to send their children to that school, because it did in fact represent and anchor the neighborhood. And there was a huge battle over that a year ago, in 2008, when under Renaissance 2010, despite massive protests on the part of the parents - pickets, demonstrations, research that they did, busing of people down to the school board to protest - despite that, Chicago Public Schools closed it down, and they turned the school over to a school called LaSalle Language Academy, which is one of the most coveted, elite boutique schools in the city, for precisely the new, gentrifying, middle-class folks who had moved into that neighborhood.

So we've seen this happening again and again around the city. There is one ward on the West Side of the city where they no longer have a single public high school. Every high school is a charter high school. So what that means is that parents and students are looking not just in their neighborhood, but all around the city, to try to find a school to get their children into. It's a market. They're shopping for schools. And so, all the roles that those schools have historically played to provide support and continuity have been totally disrupted.

4. Matt "real life parent and actual human" Farmer vs. James "fabulously wealthy animatron sighing ho-hum that's just the way it is darling" Warren.

5. The Political Odds have changed; see who's ahead now.

6. Chicago's Worst Driver. Sort of.

7. Guerrilla Gardening and Chicago Super Happy Fun Time! In Meeting Up Now.

8. Multi-tool outfielders. Plus, Liriano and Danks. In Fantasy Fix.


The Beachwood Tip Line: Multi-tooled.


Posted on March 31, 2010

MUSIC - Millions Of New Guitar Players.
TV - "One America News" is AT&T.
POLITICS - When Wall Street Came To My Mobile Home Park.
SPORTS - Tonyball, Bears On The Run, Eyes On The Sky & More!

BOOKS - China Holding Swedish Publisher.


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