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The [Wednesday] Papers

"CPS officials on Tuesday mostly dismissed the conclusions by independent hearing officers that the district should not close 11 schools, without addressing safety concerns and questions about the academics at the receiving schools," Sarah Karp reports for Catalyst.

"Speaking on background, the officials said that the hearing officers - who concluded that CPS did not comply with state law and therefore should not close the schools - either did not understand or over-stepped their role."

Perhaps they should visit today's city council meeting to get a better idea of what is expected of them.

"I didn't assume [I was supposed to be] a potted plant," one hearing officer said.

First time in Chicago, huh?


"CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll says the district was only required to provide a draft transition plan - which, as drafts, are works in progress and won't be complete until mid-June," Karp reports.

After the hearings are over and the school board has voted. That's like asking to be passed before turning in your final.


"She added it was not up to the hearing officers to comment on the quality or feasibility of the plan."

Just to say things like, "As a potted plant, I find your perpetual motion machine with its spinning blades and nuclear fission to be perfectly compliant with the criteria you have set out as well as a narrow reading of state law designed to allow you the easiest possible path to build such machines regardless of the danger to others."


And Rahm's statement about "the responsibility not to allow an injustice if you see it?"

No longer operative.


"Rather than addressing [one hearing officer's] concerns, in a formal written response, CPS' General Counsel James Bebley wrote 'the Hearing Officer substituted his judgment for the CEO's in applying a different standard to higher-performing schools than the one expressed in the guidelines.'"

Right. The standard being that a school actually has to be higher-performing to be defined as one.


So CPS redefined its ideal class size in order to declare more schools underutilized than otherwise, with no change in actual reality; it misoverestimated the alleged capital cost savings of closing schools by $122 million, or 20%; it plans to send thousands of students to schools that are, at best, not higher-performing, and are, at worst, lower-performing, which is par for the course; it failed to properly inventory school utilization in the first place, in part by not counting special education students; and its safety and transition plans are still only drafts that won't be finished until June, just a few months before school starts. What could go wrong?



"Take the officer who oversaw the public hearing on closing Delano Elementary," Linda Lutton reports for WBEZ.

"Delano is not on probation. The proposed receiving school, Melody, is on probation - a fact CPS had not mentioned in its presentation before the hearing officer.

"'Such an omission gives credence to those who believe the process is flawed,' the hearing officer wrote in his report."


"School district spokeswoman Becky Carroll said the hearing officers who had found the district out of compliance were overstepping their role 'by opining or creating or adding their own opinion to criteria that would determine, for example, what is a higher performing school.'"

Like presuming a school not on probation was performing better than a school on probation.


"Or, they had simply 'misinterpreted' the state law, Carroll said."

Legal scholar Becky Carroll vs. 14 former state and federal judges. Discuss.


Here is Carroll's interpretation of the hearing officer's role under state law.


"The hearing officers, retired state and federal judges, in many cases used sharp language to make it clear they felt many closures were insensitive to children, including special needs students, and even put them in harm's way," the Tribune reports.

"Carl McCormick, a former Cook County circuit judge, complained in his evaluation of Overton Elementary in Bronzeville that officials promised to send all students at shuttered schools to better ones but in this case were shifting children from one poorly performing site to another.

"'This is tantamount, using a food metaphor, to the promise of an omelet with a crisp waffle,' he wrote. 'Then what is delivered are broken eggs, whose contents are oozing out and a burnt pancake.'"


"In opposing the closing of Jackson, retired federal Judge David H. Coar wrote in his report that the safety of students in the Auburn-Gresham community was key," the Sun-Times reports.

"'There is no question that Jackson is underutilized. However, the safety of the youngest and most vulnerable children in the school system is a very serious thing, not to be addressed with generalities and vague promises.'"

CPS said Coar "exceeded the scope of his authority" because he was only supposed to decide if it the district's plans complied with state law.

I'm pretty sure there's a law about knowingly endangering kids, though. It's called negligence, which pretty much sums up this entire venture.


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Posted on May 8, 2013

MUSIC - They Flirted With Disaster.
TV - A Quincy Top 10.
POLITICS - Private Equity Comes For Janesville.
SPORTS - Big Leagues Blow Vaccinations.

BOOKS - You Think You Know What's Good For You?

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - A People's History Of Uptown.

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