WBEZ | forrest claypool http://www.wbez.org/tags/forrest-claypool Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Classroom Cuts Move Ahead, Absent a New Chicago Teachers' Contract http://www.wbez.org/news/classroom-cuts-move-ahead-absent-new-chicago-teachers-contract-114692 <p><div><p>The head of Chicago Public Schools is going to slash money from school budgets -- in a move that&rsquo;s escalating tensions with the Chicago Teachers Union.</p><p>It comes as the district is also trying to borrow more money from bond markets.</p><p>District chief Forrest Claypool sent a letter to union president Karen Lewis that said CPS would begin cutting $100 million from schools and would stop picking up part of the teachers&rsquo; pension contribution. He wrote that the changes could take effect in 30 days. &nbsp;</p><p>The union fired back, calling the move retaliatory.</p><p>&ldquo;This is clearly a retaliatory message because we didn&rsquo;t agree with what they came up with,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not going to be bullied. We have provisions in our contract against bullying. We don&rsquo;t tolerate it in our schools with our kids.&rdquo;</p><p>Claypool said the cuts -- which could mean one position per school, on average -- could still be avoided if the two parties reach an agreement soon.</p><p>&ldquo;I would be the happiest guy around if next week we had an agreement with the teachers union and we could rescind the process on these steps,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We do not want to take these steps.&rdquo;</p><p>School budget cuts in the middle of the school year has been <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118">Claypool&rsquo;s Plan B</a> since last fall--as the district looked for ways to close its $480 million budget deficit. &nbsp;</p><p>Claypool&rsquo;s Plan A was to get help from other sources, including state lawmakers and teachers. Both have now clearly said no.</p><p>State lawmakers have made it clear there&rsquo;s no extra money coming from them, and<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-vision-chicago-public-schools-future-114545"> Gov. Bruce Rauner has continued to advocate for a state takeover and potential bankruptcy for CPS</a>. He even directed the state board of education to begin looking for Claypool&rsquo;s replacement.</p><p>&ldquo;The state should be able to take over the schools and manage those contracts properly,&rdquo; Rauner said.</p><p>State law would have to change in order for the state to legally take over Chicago schools.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p dir="ltr" lang="en">Union rejects district proposal of a four-year contract deal. <a href="https://t.co/flEwutRcdp">pic.twitter.com/flEwutRcdp</a></p>&mdash; WBEZeducation (@WBEZeducation) <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation/status/694272840162480130">February 1, 2016</a></blockquote><script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p>&nbsp;</p><p>On Monday,<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-rejects-serious-offer-district-114679"> teachers rejected</a> what both the district and union leadership considered a &ldquo;serious&rdquo; contract offer. It would have saved the district millions by having teachers pay more toward their health care and pensions, but it also promised to cap charter school expansion and give teachers more &ldquo;autonomy in the classroom.&rdquo;</p><p>But members of the union&rsquo;s 40-person big bargaining team, citing a lack of trust and what union president Lewis called &ldquo;weasel language&rdquo; on things like paperwork and standardized testing, unanimously rejected the offer.</p><p>The proposal also included a phase out of the district&rsquo;s pick-up of the teachers&rsquo; pension contribution. Typically, the district has picked up 7 percent of the 9 percent employee contribution.</p><p>Absent a compromise agreement, Claypool is now planning to do away with that pension pick-up in the next 30 days. Lewis said that move is against the law and the union could take the district to court over it and immediately call a strike.</p><p>Robert Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois, called Claypool&rsquo;s move an escalation, and explained that it could be what&rsquo;s known in bargaining as a gambit.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a kind of end move where you try to shake up the bargaining and you come up with a big play,&rdquo; Bruno said. &ldquo;It comes with high risk, but it can come with high reward.&rdquo;</p><p>The risk? A teachers strike.</p><p>The reward? An agreement in the next 30 days.</p><p>Or there could be an entirely different reward that could come from slashing school budgets right now.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/CTUBigBargainingTeam.jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Chicago Teachers Union Big Bargaining Team (WBEZ/Becky Vevea)" /></p><p>Claypool hinted that the budget cuts could also be sending a signal to Wall Street. On Wednesday, the district planned to borrow millions of dollars on the bond market.</p><p>&ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re sending a very strong signal here that we are going to right the fiscal ship and we are going to do whatever it takes,&rdquo; he said, when asked what if any role the borrowing played in making the cuts.</p><p>CPS had delayed a $875 million bond sale last week, saying they wanted more time to &ldquo;build the book,&rdquo; &nbsp;which is basically finding more investors willing to buy the district&rsquo;s junk bonds.</p><p>The abrupt move came shortly after Gov. Rauner first raised the question of bankruptcy.</p><p>Matt Fabian with &nbsp;Municipal Market Analytics said &nbsp;the governor&rsquo;s earlier statements definitely spooked the markets. I asked if that could be Rauner&rsquo;s purpose.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s just a big step, to say that he&rsquo;s actually trying to disrupt the bond deal. &nbsp;But&hellip; it could be,&rdquo; Fabian said. &ldquo;It is starting to look that way, isn&rsquo;t it?&rdquo;</p><p>CPS plans to use some of the borrowed money to make a payment on other debts, due February 15. Absent that money, the district may have to make more budget cuts.</p><p>That&rsquo;s not something either CPS or CTU would want, labor expert Robert Bruno noted.</p><p>&ldquo;Both parties are obviously invested in the ability to sell bonds,&rdquo; he added. But on the other hand, the cuts could push teachers to the picket lines.</p><p>&ldquo;We have a lot of our members that have already bought red, thermal jackets,&rdquo; Lewis said.</p><p>But she added that the union remains at the table with CPS, bargaining around the clock.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p><p><em>WBEZ reporter Dan Weissmann contributed to this report.</em></p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 03 Feb 2016 12:09:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/classroom-cuts-move-ahead-absent-new-chicago-teachers-contract-114692 Chicago Teachers Union Rejects 'Serious Offer' from District http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-rejects-serious-offer-district-114679 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/CaPIDeuWcAAjziV.jpg" alt="" /><p><div>The Chicago Teachers Union&rsquo;s bargaining team has rejected a contract proposal from Chicago Public Schools, citing the district&rsquo;s financial woes and an overall lack of trust.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Teachers union president Karen Lewis said the 40-member team went through every single article line by line and unanimously voted down the proposal midday Monday.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;What we are looking for is sustainable funding...which means serious revenue,&rdquo; Lewis said. &ldquo;That is not in this contract. There&rsquo;s no guarantee that the promises that are made are promises that can be kept.&rdquo;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The exact details were not made public, but CPS officials said the deal included teachers raises for seniority and experience and a commitment to slow charter school expansion and give teachers more &ldquo;classroom autonomy.&rdquo; But it also included a phase out of the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-president-karen-lewis-calls-potential-pension-payment-increase-strike-worthy-112598">pension pick-up</a>&nbsp;and increases in health care premiums.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>In a statement, CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said he was disappointed in the decision, but remains committed to reaching an agreement. &nbsp; &nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The two sides now begin a formal mediation process known as fact-finding that by law could take 75 days. The soonest teachers could walk off the job would be May 23.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>But the two sides have agreed to keep bargaining. A spokeswoman for the union confirmed that negotiations continued Tuesday morning.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The rejection of a possible deal comes at a time of instability in CPS.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>At the start of the school year, Claypool proposed a deficit budget -- that<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-board-education-passes-budget-banks-imaginary-money-112740">&nbsp;the Board ultimately approved&nbsp;</a>-- that left a gaping $480 million gap between projected revenues and projected expenses. Initially, Claypool sought revenue from state lawmakers to avoid what he said would be&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118">massive budget cuts</a>&nbsp;in the middle of the school year.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The district continued to ask Springfield for help through the&nbsp;fall,&nbsp;until it became very clear that it wasn&rsquo;t going to happen. Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner and republican leaders<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/rauners-vision-chicago-public-schools-future-114545">&nbsp;proposed a state takeover of CPS and a path to bankruptcy for the district.&nbsp;</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>With the second semester starting on Feb. 8, CPS officials have been frantically working to close this year&rsquo;s deficit by getting a contract signed with the Chicago Teachers Union and borrowing money through bond markets.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Last week, the district<a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/chicago-education-bonds-idUSL2N15B2L3">&nbsp;delayed a bond sale&nbsp;</a>worth $875 million. The next day Moody&rsquo;s downgraded CPS&rsquo;s bond rating&nbsp;<a href="http://cps.edu/About_CPS/Financial_information/Pages/CreditRatings.aspx">further into junk status.&nbsp;</a></div><div>&nbsp;</div><div><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her @WBEZeducation.</em></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Mon, 01 Feb 2016 18:51:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-rejects-serious-offer-district-114679 Chicago Seeks More Charter Schools http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-seeks-more-charter-schools-114346 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4532630898_ee7d309faa_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Despite declining student enrollment and dozens of&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-has-high-school-13-freshmen-113524">dramatically under-enrolled schools</a>, Chicago is seeking potential new charter schools for the city. &nbsp;</p><p>In a&nbsp;<a href="http://cps.edu/NewSchools/Pages/Process2016.aspx">Request for Proposals</a>&nbsp;issued Wednesday, CPS says it&rsquo;s looking for dual language schools, &ldquo;Next Generation&rdquo; schools that would blend technology and traditional teaching, and&mdash;in a first&mdash;it wants a &ldquo;trauma-informed school,&rdquo; where staff would get training to support students with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or exposure to trauma.</p><p>The district is prepared to give charters that already run schools approval for up to four additional campuses. And it&rsquo;s poised to grant approvals now for campuses that wouldn&rsquo;t open for several years, to allow more time for planning a school&rsquo;s opening, the district says in a&nbsp;<a href="http://cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/PR1_12_30_2015.aspx">press release</a>.</p><p>In recent years, the district had named Neighborhood Advisory Councils where community members could give input into charter proposals. Those are now scrapped, saving roughly $170,000, CPS says. Instead, charter schools themselves will &ldquo;directly engage residents in obtaining the support of their desired school community,&rdquo; according to the release.</p><p>&ldquo;It looks like they&#39;re making it even less democratic,&rdquo; said Wendy Katten, director of the parent group Raise Your Hand, which has had members serve on the advisory councils.</p><p>Katten says many considered the NACs &ldquo;flawed&rdquo; because CPS seemed frequently to<a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2015/10/cps-recommends-approval-of-noble-kipp-proposals/">&nbsp;ignore</a>&nbsp;the advice of the councils, but &ldquo;at least&nbsp;it was an opportunity to look at the proposal, to really scrutinize it as a community. To take (that) away&mdash;and to have the charter operators do the community engagement&mdash;that&rsquo;s even more of a sham than what currently has existed. The real question is, our city needs a massive debate about opening any kind of new schools in a city that has just hemorrhaged students,&rdquo; said Katten.</p><p>A CPS spokesperson providing written responses &ldquo;on background&rdquo; said CPS will host public hearings on any charters that make it through the application process. The applications will be viewable online, and a &ldquo;feedback portal&rdquo; is being set up for community members to share their views. A Board of Education &ldquo;<a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/contact">questions and comments</a>&rdquo; page already solicits public opinion, the spokesperson noted.</p><p>Charters will be required to provide evidence of student demand and community support, according to the RFP.</p><p>CPS has said it is required by state law to annually post an RFP for charter schools. In fact,&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=010500050K27A-8">state law</a>&nbsp;allows for school districts to issue RFPs, but does not require it. Asked about the distinction, a CPS spokesperson replied, &ldquo;a comprehensive RFP process is the best way to set rigorous application standards and ensure all proposals submitted for review are comprehensive.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS CEO Forrest Claypool says the goal of the RFP is to &ldquo;increase access to quality options in Chicago&hellip;.Our thorough vetting process requires applicants to demonstrate they will meet a need for additional quality seats and have community support, and we will only move forward with applicants that meet our high standards,&rdquo; Claypool said in the district&rsquo;s release.</p><p>Charters have been controversial. The Chicago Teachers Union opposes them; the union&rsquo;s membership is dropping as students shift to the charter sector.</p><p>Even as overall enrollment in the school district has been declining, enrollment in the charter sector has increased. That has been a double whammy for traditional public&nbsp;schools,&nbsp;since a school&rsquo;s funding is determined by the number of pupils who go there. Some schools in Chicago have so few students they have had trouble paying for&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/west-side-chicago-school-kids-go-without-teachers-109838">teachers&nbsp;</a>and a<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/future-uncertain-chicagos-neighborhood-high-schools-108834">&nbsp;basic education</a>. Under-enrollment was the school district&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/chicago-school-closings-2013_n_2927419.html">initial justification</a>&nbsp;for the closure of 50 schools in 2013, the biggest round of school closures in recent U.S. history.</p><p>Overall, around 14 percent of district children attend charter schools, but the percentage is much higher at the high school level. Currently, 24 percent of traditional Chicago public high school students attend charters (that&rsquo;s not counting alternative schools for dropouts, where nearly all students are in charters or privately run for-profit schools).</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s school board voted to close four charter schools this year for what it says was poor performance. The schools dispute that characterization; three have filed appeals with the Illinois State Charter School Commission.</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is a reporter for WBEZ covering Education. Follow her at @WBEZeducation on Twitter.</em></p></p> Thu, 31 Dec 2015 17:11:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-seeks-more-charter-schools-114346 Chicago Teachers Say Yes To Strike Option http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-say-yes-strike-option-114160 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/IMG_3403.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago teachers gave union leadership the power to call a strike by an overwhelming majority.</p><p>Roughly 88 percent of all members of the Chicago Teachers Union voted &lsquo;yes&rsquo; in a three-day strike vote that took place last week. That is one percent lower than the results of a similar vote in 2012 that led to the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-strike-after-talks-fail-102287">first Chicago teachers&rsquo; strike in 25 years</a>.</p><p>Under state law, the earliest that teachers could walk off the job this time around is March, but union leaders say it could happen closer to the end of the school year or even into next fall. &nbsp;</p><p>Chicago Public Schools is facing a $480 million budget hole and leaders are relying on state lawmakers to help them close that gap. In the absence of help, CPS chief Forrest Claypool has said &lsquo;Plan B&rsquo; is to make drastic school budget cuts. He has <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118">no &lsquo;Plan C&rsquo;</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not going to take it lying down that there&rsquo;s just these big cuts,&rdquo; said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. &nbsp;He said members are frustrated that the district&rsquo;s solutions to the financial crisis would directly hurt teachers.</p><p>&ldquo;We can cut from the schools by doing mass layoffs or we can cut from the schools by making all the teachers work for $25,000 of pay cuts, which is what they&rsquo;re currently suggesting,&rdquo; Sharkey said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a real crisis and it&rsquo;s a crisis our schools won&rsquo;t recover from. There&rsquo;s got to be another way.&rdquo;</p><p>In an e-mailed statement, Claypool said the district has &ldquo;the highest respect for our teachers&rsquo; work,&rdquo; but a strike is not the answer.</p><p>&ldquo;Rather than strike, we ask that the Chicago Teachers Union join us to fight for our shared goal of equal education funding from Springfield for Chicago&rsquo;s children,&rdquo; he wrote.</p><p>The talks in Springfield are slow. Republican leaders said last week that they want a budget deal for the state, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/republicans-want-state-budget-redo-school-funding-formula-114125">before addressing school funding</a>. In the meantime, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cullerton-chicago-teachers-union-%E2%80%9C-course-would-avoid-strike%E2%80%9D-113805">the only bill that has been floated as a fix</a> to CPS&rsquo;s budget woes doesn&rsquo;t have support from House Speaker Michael Madigan or the teachers union.</p><p>Claypool called the strike vote &ldquo;premature&rdquo; because the mediator currently working with both sides has yet to make recommendations for a compromise.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Mon, 14 Dec 2015 11:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-say-yes-strike-option-114160 No Plan C: Chicago Schools Brace For Budget Cuts http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/claypool-city-club.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The leader of Chicago Public Schools has two plans for addressing the district&rsquo;s budget crunch. One is pretty unlikely, the other is pretty damaging. &nbsp;</p><p>Year after year, district officials have warned of millions, even billions in budget shortfalls. But every year, CPS magically closes its books in the black.</p><p>District chief Forrest Claypool says that&rsquo;s because the district&rsquo;s done a lot of magical borrowing, from <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-public-schools-new-pension-headache-107512">teachers&rsquo; pensions</a>, <a href="http://capitolfax.com/2014/06/18/14-months-of-revenue-for-a-12-month-budget/">future property taxes</a>, and <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/cpsbonds/">actual borrowing from banks</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s like using your credit card to go on a binge and then at one point, the clerk comes over and says, &lsquo;I&rsquo;m sorry, your card has been rejected,&rsquo;&rdquo; Claypool said in an interview with WBEZ last week.</p><p>All of that debt is now eating up the revenue that could otherwise be spent in classrooms. This year, the district has a $480 million hole to fill in its current budget.</p><p>Claypool says there will be no magical solution this year. His Plan A will be to get a big compromise from state and local politicians.</p><p>While Claypool says there are many different ways to get a compromise, the mayor outlined one option: the state picks up normal pension costs for the district, restores a pension levy for teachers, gets teachers to pick up more of their pension contributions, and increases state education money by 25 percent.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re not asking for a bailout, which is the perception in the past,&rdquo; Claypool said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re talking about a dramatic inequality in funding. We&rsquo;re saying that we get $3 for every $4 that you&rsquo;re giving the suburbs and downstate.You can not ignore that. Even in the context of what&rsquo;s going on in Springfield, you can not ignore that.&rdquo;</p><p>Except it has been pretty much ignored.</p><p>So what is Plan B?</p><p>&ldquo;Well, Plan B is what we were talking about, we would have to engage in classroom cuts and more unsustainable borrowing,&rdquo; Claypool said, before trailing back to Plan A.</p><p>The budget cuts are steep and they would come in the middle of the school year. Principals and parents have said they&rsquo;re hearing anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of a school&rsquo;s total budget could be slashed.</p><p>The looming cuts have sparked protests from students across the city. On Wednesday, just as Claypool was scheduled to visit, a couple hundred students at Lindblom Math &amp; Science Academy walked out to protest the possible cuts.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m fed up with the budget cuts, honestly,&rdquo; <a href="http://chirb.it/rmrbs4">said Amber Adams</a>, a senior at Lindblom. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m tired of all the changes in the middle of the year. This is not consistent and it&rsquo;s messing with my education.&rdquo;</p><p>More than 200 other principals recently <a href="https://drive.google.com/a/chicagopublicradio.org/file/d/0B4uxdjnJl2yjUXpIbnNNdXN4dE0/view">signed a letter</a> asking the state and the city to find a solution that will avoid that kind of disruption in the middle of the school year.</p><p>Without more state money and to avoid budget cuts, Claypool may have to go to a Plan C. When asked what his Plan C is, he did not have an answer. If there is one, he&rsquo;s not sharing it with the public yet.</p><p>Parents like Roger Wilen are almost used to the uncertainty by now. Wilen has two children at Hawthorne Scholastic Academy in Lakeview.</p><p>&ldquo;I think a lot of people think somehow it&rsquo;s all going to get worked out because, how could it not be?&rdquo; he said, standing in the hallway of Hawthorne last week.</p><p>Hawthorne stands to lose up to seven teachers in the middle of the school year if CPS implements Plan B. Wilen can&rsquo;t imagine elected officials would let that happen.</p><p>&ldquo;But at the end of the day, if they don&rsquo;t get their act together, you could lose good people and programming,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;And then who&rsquo;s going to stay in Chicago Public Schools?&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s an important point. The number of children in Chicago has dropped significantly. All schools &mdash; <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-board-votes-close-50-schools-107294">public</a> and <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-catholic-school-regionalization-met-20150220-story.html">private</a> &mdash; have been impacted. But for CPS, about 13,000 kids left the district in the last five years alone. Claypool says that isn&rsquo;t going to stop.</p><p>&ldquo;In 10 years from now, we&rsquo;ll have fewer students, probably 30,000 or 40,000 fewer students,&rdquo; Claypool said.</p><p>The state funds schools based on how many students are enrolled, so with fewer students, CPS will inevitably have a smaller budget. It brings up a whole host of questions, the most important of which is just how many schools does the city need?</p><p>Claypool says he&rsquo;s working on answers to that and other questions. But so far, the only downsizing he&rsquo;s announced is <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/chicago-politics/7/71/1165101/sneed-exclusive-claypool-might-cut-cps-office-jobs-by-one-third">a $50 million reduction in central office</a> staff.</p><p>In the meantime, many schools are already under-enrolled, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-has-high-school-13-freshmen-113524">including many high schools</a> that have long been cornerstones of their communities. Under-enrollment hurts a school&rsquo;s ability to build robust academic and extracurricular programs.</p><p>Maurice Swinney is the principal at Tilden High School, which has just over 300 students.</p><p>&ldquo;One teacher in our building affects 75 children, so you&rsquo;re talking about a gap in relationships first and then if that one person taught classes, then those classes have to be shifted or absorbed,&rdquo; Swinney said. &ldquo;What does that mean for a student entering into a new classroom or losing his honors or AP class because of budget cuts?&rdquo;</p><p>But Swinney is leaning on district leaders to come up with a long-term plan. He said he can&rsquo;t let himself get distracted by the politics.</p><p>&ldquo;There are kids in front of (me) now, and the responsibility that they&rsquo;re well-equipped is the main priority,&rdquo; he said.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Thu, 10 Dec 2015 07:40:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/no-plan-c-chicago-schools-brace-budget-cuts-114118 CPS gives two new charters the green light, puts 10 on warning http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-gives-two-new-charters-green-light-puts-10-warning-113502 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/noble expansion_151026_ll.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Public Schools is giving two charter schools the green light to open next fall.</p><p>Officials are recommending that the Chicago Board of Education give the Noble Street Network of Charter Schools approval to open a 17th high school in Brighton Park and give <a href="http://www.kippchicago.org/" target="_blank">KIPP Chicago</a> the ability to open a fifth charter grammar school in West Garfield Park.</p><p>Noble&rsquo;s proposal in Brighton Park has been criticized by neighborhood activists, the Chicago Teachers Union, and students of existing high schools in the neighborhood.</p><p>CPS CEO Forrest Claypool said Monday morning that there is demand on the Southwest Side and argued that both Noble and KIPP &ldquo;operate high-quality schools and have consistently done so for their children.&rdquo;</p><p>Claypool says the district is denying the other nine schools that applied to open and putting 10 existing charter schools on a warning list. That warning list could lead to closure by the end of this school year, he said.</p><p>Of the 10 schools on the charter warning list, six are high schools and four are grammar schools.</p><p>The high schools are:</p><ul><li>Amandla</li><li>ASPIRA - Early College</li><li>CICS - ChicagoQuest</li><li>CICS - Larry Hawkins</li><li>Instituto - Justice Lozano</li><li>Prologue - Joshua Johnston</li></ul><p>The grammar schools are:</p><ul><li>Betty Shabazz - Sizemore</li><li>Bronzeville Lighthouse</li><li>Galapagos</li><li>Kwame Nkrumah Academy</li></ul><p>Three were on the warning list last year -- Amandla, Shabazz - Sizemore, and CICS - Hawkins. &nbsp;</p><p>The new schools and the warning list will be <a href="http://www.cpsboe.org/content/documents/october_28_2015_public_agenda_to_print.pdf">voted on by the Chicago Board of Education</a> on Wednesday.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follo</em></p></p> Mon, 26 Oct 2015 12:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-gives-two-new-charters-green-light-puts-10-warning-113502 Ex-Chicago schools chief pleads guilty in federal corruption scandal http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-chicago-schools-chief-pleads-guilty-federal-corruption-scandal-113318 <p><div><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Barbara%20Byrd-Bennett%20002%20By%20Bill%20Healy%20_0.JPG" style="height: 450px; width: 299px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" title="Barbara Byrd-Bennett. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" />Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s last hand-picked schools chief plead guilty to wire fraud in federal court Tuesday before <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-head-chicago-schools-pleads-guilty-kickbacks-scheme-113306">apologizing</a> to the children, teachers and families of Chicago.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>&ldquo;I am terribly sorry,&rdquo; Barbara Byrd-Bennett said after her arraignment at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. &ldquo;They <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=30&amp;v=c_Jm7r9EdL8">deserved much more</a>. Much more than I gave to them.&rdquo;&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>Byrd-Bennett, 66, admitted to steering $23 million in Chicago Public Schools no-bid contracts to her former employer, a company called SUPES Academy. In return, she expected to get 10 percent of those contracts in the form of a signing bonus when she retired from the district&rsquo;s top job.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>After entering a guilty plea, Byrd-Bennett kissed and hugged her husband and daughter and left the courtroom.&nbsp;</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>A sentencing hearing is scheduled for the end of January, but a plea agreement signed by Byrd- Bennett outlines how much prison time she could get under federal sentencing guidelines.&nbsp;</div><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/284828017/Byrd-Bennett-Plea-Agreement?secret_password=eC4Z46Uy0fZsdzH7036k" style="font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" title="View Byrd-Bennett Plea Agreement on Scribd">Byrd-Bennett Plea Agreement</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_39252" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/284828017/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="540"></iframe></p><p>If Byrd-Bennett cooperates with the investigation, prosecutors agreed to seek a sentence of about seven to nine years, which is below those sentencing guidelines. Byrd-Bennett&rsquo;s attorneys would be free to ask for an even shorter sentence -- but the decision is ultimately up to U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang. Judge Chang will not be restricted by the plea agreement Byrd-Bennett reached Tuesday with prosecutors.</p><p>The two owners of SUPES Academy, Gary Solomon, 47, and Thomas Vranas, 34, and one of its subsidiaries, Synesi Associates, have also been charged with mail and wire fraud, as well as bribery and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.</p><p>Solomon and Vranas are scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday at 2:00 p.m.</p><p><strong>The indictment</strong></p><p>The <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-chicago-public-schools-leader-charged-corruption-113246">indictment, released last Thursday</a>, outlines how Byrd-Bennett, Solomon and Vranas brazenly communicated over email about how she would steer contracts to their companies. In return, the men would put aside 10 percent of the contracts&rsquo; value into a pair of trusts under the names of two of her relatives, likely her twin grandsons.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Newly%20appointed%20Chicago%20Public%20Schools%20CEO%20Barbara%20Byrd-Bennett%2C%20takes%20questions%20with%20Chicago%20Mayor%20Rahm%20Emanuel%20at%20a%20news%20conference%2C%20Friday%2C%20Oct.%2012%2C%202012%2C%20in%20Chicago.%20AP%20M.%20Spencer.jpg" style="height: 388px; width: 250px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="In this Oct. 12, 2012 file photo, former CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett looks over Mayor Rahm Emanuel's shoulder at a news conference in Chicago. The former CEO has been indicted on corruption charges following a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract. Bennett was indicted Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015, nearly four months after she resigned amid an investigation into the contract between the district and SUPES Academy, a training academy where she once worked as a consultant. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green, File)" />One email from Byrd-Bennett to Solomon states: &ldquo;I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit. (:&rdquo;</p><p>Another email from Solomon to Byrd-Bennett explained how the money would be paid out as a &ldquo;signing bonus&rdquo; when she retired from CPS. He wrote, &ldquo;If you only join (SUPES Academy) for the day, you will be the highest paid person on the planet for that day.&rdquo;</p><p>The largest of three contracts SUPES Academy held with CPS was approved unanimously, on a no-bid basis, just one month after the mayoral-appointed Board of Education voted to shut down 50 public schools in the city.</p><p>Questions about Byrd-Bennett&rsquo;s ties to the company awarded a no-bid contract to train school principals were <a href="http://catalyst-chicago.org/2013/07/20-million-no-bid-contract-raises-questions-about-supes-academy/">first raised by Catalyst Chicago&rsquo;s Sarah Karp</a>. Catalyst&rsquo;s story pointed out that many other non-profit organizations and local universities did similar work in the past; Karp also reported on complaints from principals who felt the SUPES trainings were a waste of time.</p><p>Mayor Emanuel and his hand-picked school board did nothing when those stories broke in 2013 -- and now he&rsquo;s taking a lot of heat for failing to look into concerns, or take action. On Monday, Emanuel admitted that his office was aware of the $20.5 million no-bid contract with SUPES, and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-byrd-bennett-let-down-parents-teachers-and-students-113305">did ask &ldquo;hard questions.&rdquo;</a></p><p>Outside the courthouse, before Byrd-Bennett&rsquo;s arraignment Tuesday, a group of protesters and local lawmakers reiterated a call for Chicago to have an elected school board, not one appointed by the mayor.</p><p>&ldquo;I was appalled,&rdquo; said State Rep. Robert Martwick (D-19). &ldquo;I have never seen such blatant, overt, shameless corruption, ever.&rdquo;</p><p>Martwick is sponsoring a bill in Springfield that would change the governance structure of the Chicago Board of Education, giving citizens the ability to elect people to its members. But he said the scandal is not the reason the city should have an elected school board.</p><p>&ldquo;Corruption can occur whether it&rsquo;s elected or appointed,&rdquo; Martwick said. &ldquo;It serves to shine a light on the fact that it&rsquo;s the culture that we&rsquo;ve had there, where they&rsquo;re unaccountable, that led to this.&rdquo;</p><p>Pamela Johnson, a nurse who came out to support the idea of an elected school board, said she thinks the &ldquo;20-year experiment&rdquo; of having the mayor control the schools has been a &ldquo;flat-out failure.&rdquo; She also said she&rsquo;s not convinced the mayor didn&rsquo;t know what was going on.</p><p>&ldquo;You appoint your cronies, and you know, nobody looks,&rdquo; Johnson said. &ldquo;Nobody looks under the carpet to find all the dead roaches. You just kinda vacuum the carpet.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel did not have any public appearances scheduled Tuesday. Mayoral spokeswoman Kelley Quinn released a statement saying the corruption scandal &ldquo;continues to be a matter for the courts.&rdquo; And CPS officials said the district has put steps in place to make sure another Byrd-Bennett type scandal never happens again.</p><p><strong>Avoiding another Byrd-Bennett scandal&nbsp;</strong></p><p>In a letter addressed to Ald. Will Burns (4th), schools chief Forrest Claypool and Board President Frank Clark said their objective is &ldquo;to ensure that every possible dollar reaches our classrooms, and to assure taxpayers that their resources are being used wisely.&rdquo;</p><p>According to the letter, which CPS sent to City Hall reporters, the district brought in the private consulting firm Accenture last June to conduct a &ldquo;third-party review&rdquo; of the sole-source contracting process.</p><p><a href="https://www.scribd.com/doc/284828018/10-13-15-Will-Burns-Letter?secret_password=2mhllULjDjlzmEKNHIPv" style="font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px;" title="View 10.13.15 Will Burns Letter on Scribd">Letter to Alderman Will Burns, 10-13-15</a></p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_85055" scrolling="no" src="https://www.scribd.com/embeds/284828018/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="540"></iframe></p><p>CPS officials said they have already adopted several of the firm&rsquo;s recommendations, including publishing sole and single-source contracts online &ldquo;to create transparency&rdquo; and to alert other possible vendors.</p><p>The letter states that over the last few months, CPS has undertaken a &ldquo;top to bottom audit that may also result in further policy changes if deemed necessary for transparency and to ensure that all the right checks and balances are in place.&rdquo;</p><p>District officials indicated more changes could be on the way, like adding a requirement that requestors of single or sole source contracts share any past or present business or personal relationships with the vendor.</p><p>The letter states that the City&rsquo;s Inspector General Joe Ferguson and the Commissioner of the Department of Procurement Services will share their reform ideas with the district, as well.</p><p>Burns, who chairs the City Council committee on education, said he requested this information, and will continue to ask for updates. He said these details are an important part of aldermen&rsquo;s interest in &ldquo;making sure CPS does what it&rsquo;s supposed to do with our dollars and we begin the process of restoring the public&rsquo;s faith in CPS.&rdquo;</p><p>He noted that restoring that faith is especially important as CPS looks to Springfield to fill a $500-million budget hole.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em><a href="https://twitter.com/robertwildeboer?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor" target="_blank">Rob Wildeboer</a> contributed to this story.</em><br /><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. </em><em>Follow her </em><a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor"><em>@wbezeducation</em></a><em>.&nbsp;</em><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. &nbsp;Follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian"><em>@laurenchooljian</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 14:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-chicago-schools-chief-pleads-guilty-federal-corruption-scandal-113318 Mayor to CPS on graduation rates: ‘Go back and be accurate.’ http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-cps-graduation-rates-%E2%80%98go-back-and-be-accurate%E2%80%99-113166 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/4626481280_3e71045657_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he told Chicago school officials to go back and fix the errors in the graduation rate that were first reported in June by WBEZ and the Better Government Association.</p><p>&ldquo;Soon as there were questions raised, I said, &lsquo;Go back, and analyze what&rsquo;s going on and be accurate,&rsquo;&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;And that&rsquo;s exactly what they did.&rdquo;</p><p>Chicago Public Schools officials announced late Thursday it would <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/cps-lowers-graduation-rate-after-errors-found-113148">revise the past four years of graduation rates</a> and make sure to include students who dropped out but <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">were misclassified as having transferred</a>.</p><p>&ldquo;There was an error pointed out,&rdquo; said CPS CEO Forrest Claypool. &ldquo;We studied that information. We had to wait until the end of the summer schools to have all the data. And then we corrected it.&rdquo;</p><p>Claypool said the errors &ldquo;shouldn&rsquo;t deflect from the fact that the trendline is up.&rdquo;</p><p>The trendline is up -- officials also announced late Thursday that the new 2015 graduation rate is 69.9 percent.</p><p>But the errors raise questions about how well the district is accounting for students who are still dropping out. Under Emanuel, CPS nearly doubled the number of <a href="http://www.wbez.org/sections/special-series/meet-companies-profit-when-cps-students-drop-out-111665">alternative schools in the city</a> and opened r<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/how-do-you-find-high-school-dropouts-110816">e-engagement centers</a> to do the work of tracking down kids who are listed as dropouts. But the students who were misclassified wouldn&rsquo;t have been officially listed as dropouts and no one would have known to track them down.</p><p>Emanuel agreed that&rsquo;s cause for concern.</p><p>&ldquo;If we missed a dropout, they&rsquo;re not only dropping out of high school, they&rsquo;re dropping out of life, and their ability to earn a (living),&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;So of course I&rsquo;m concerned. I&rsquo;m concerned (about) what it means for the rest of life, not just the system and its data gathering.&rdquo;</p><p>When the errors were <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-touts-bogus-graduation-rate-112163">first reported in June</a>, officials admitted there was a problem, but said they didn&rsquo;t plan to go back to fix the publicly-reported statistics.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is an education reporter for WBEZ. You can follow her </em><a href="http://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><em>@WBEZeducation</em></a><em>.</em></p></p> Fri, 02 Oct 2015 16:01:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/mayor-cps-graduation-rates-%E2%80%98go-back-and-be-accurate%E2%80%99-113166 Dyett high school hunger strike ends after 34 days http://www.wbez.org/news/dyett-high-school-hunger-strike-ends-after-34-days-113000 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 12.24.46 PM.png" alt="" /><p><p><em>Updated Sept. 22, 10:42 a.m.</em></p><p>Protesters demanding Dyett High School reopen as a neighborhood school with a green technology curriculum have ended their hunger strike after 34 days. The end of the strike comes after protesters won a number of key demands but never declared victory.</p><p>A news conference with the hunger strikers and their supporters is set for Monday afternoon at Rainbow P.U.S.H. headquarters.</p><p>On August 17, a group of 12 parents and school activists began a liquids-only diet to protest what they said is the destruction of neighborhood schools, especially in African American neighborhoods, and the &ldquo;privatization of public education.&rdquo; The group and supporters gathered daily on the grounds of Dyett High School on the city&rsquo;s south side. They also took their protest to Chicago Public Schools headquarters, City Hall, President Barack Obama&rsquo;s home in Kenwood, U.S. Education Secretary and former CPS CEO Arne Duncan, and a town hall budget meeting in which their protest forced Mayor Rahm Emanuel to be <a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/923198/emanuel-meets-dyett-hunger-strikers-town-hall-budget-session">whisked from the stage</a>.</p><p>On September 3 &mdash; Day 18 of the hunger strike &mdash; CPS announced it would reopen Dyett as a district-run school with an arts curriculum, a move that would honor the school&rsquo;s namesake, music teacher Walter H. Dyett. The CPS plan ceded to a number of demands made by the hunger strikers. First, Dyett would reopen as a school, which was not initially contemplated. It would have a neighborhood boundary, meaning all children in the attendance-area could attend without having to first meet minimum test-score requirements or go through a lottery (nearly all Chicago high schools opened in the past decade have had citywide boundaries and require students to apply; no one is guaranteed admission). And it would include a technology component, which hunger strikers had demanded.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Related:</strong>&nbsp;<strong><a href="https://soundcloud.com/wbez/who-was-walter-h-dyett">Who was Walter Dyett?</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>CPS billed the plan as a &ldquo;<a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news-chicago/7/71/932146/dyett-compromise-reaction-rejected-praised">compromise</a>,&rdquo; but it reached the agreement not with the hunger strikers or KOCO (Kenwood Oakland Community Organization) but with a separate set of community leaders. The protesters declared their hunger strike would continue.</p><p>While the hunger strike began about a month ago, the roots of the fight began years ago, when CPS shook up the local schools in the Bronzeville-Kenwood-Washington Park area by turning the high school, King, into a test-in school. Dyett became the default attendance-area high school for the area--it had been a middle school until then--and activists say it was never properly funded. The school board voted in 2012 to <a href="http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=3258">phase Dyett out</a>; the <a href="http://hpherald.com/2015/06/10/end-of-an-era-at-dyett-high-school/">last class graduated in June with 13 students</a>.</p><p>KOCO pushed for a new high school to replace Dyett as it was being phased out, and the district eventually agreed to ask for proposals. Three were submitted: one for an arts school to be run by nonprofit Little Black Pearl Arts and Design Center; one for a sports school submitted by Dyett&rsquo;s last principal; and a KOCO proposal for a &ldquo;Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology High School.&rdquo; A vote on the proposals was slated for August. When CPS leadership changes put off the vote, the hunger strike began.</p><p>The hunger strikers received local and national support from aldermen, state lawmakers, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.</p><p>As the weeks went on, the stress of going without solid food began to take its toll. At least two hunger strikers required medical attention, one was hospitalized and another was carried out of a CPS meeting by paramedics. Last week, four dropped out, citing health concerns. The group says five new people offered and began to take their places in the hunger strike.</p><p>Flanked by hunger strikers and their supporters, &nbsp;the Reverend Jesse Jackson congratulated the group&rsquo;s efforts at Rainbow P.U.S.H headquarters, about a mile away from Dyett High School. He said the group accomplished a great deal. The Reverend Janette Wilson of Rainbow P.U.S.H. is talking to CPS on behalf of the hunger strikers.</p><p>&ldquo;We were not negotiating in a labor sense,&rdquo; said Wilson. &ldquo;The school is going to be open enrollment. It&rsquo;s a neighborhood school, it&rsquo;s a community school. We&rsquo;re trying to celebrate that victory right now. And as we continue conversations going forward, more things will be agreed to.&rdquo;</p><p>Another person who&rsquo;s had conversations with CPS is Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D). &ldquo;Certainly one in person and a little bit on the phone,&rdquo; said Raoul. &ldquo; I don&rsquo;t want to pump it up to be more than it is. As community stakeholders, we&rsquo;re concerned with all parties involved, not just the coalition.&rdquo;</p><p>Brown says they&rsquo;re not finished and as they plan for another phase, they have a list of demands to be fulfilled. Some include using the words &ldquo;green technology&rdquo; in the school name, appointing ex-CPS teacher Duane Turner as principal, and keeping the name &ldquo;Dyett.&rdquo; Walter Dyett, the famed Chicago public schools music director, taught high school music to future jazz greats Gene Ammons, Von Freeman, Dinah Washington and Nat &ldquo;King&rdquo; Cole.</p><p><em>WBEZ&rsquo;s Linda Lutton contributed to this story.</em></p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter </em><a href="https://twitter.com/yolandanews"><em>@yolandanews</em></a></p></p> Sun, 20 Sep 2015 11:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dyett-high-school-hunger-strike-ends-after-34-days-113000 Morning Shift: September 8, 2015 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/morning-shift-september-8-2015-112859 <p><p>Chicago beaches are now officially closed, the weather is expected to get cooler later this week and almost 400,000 Chicago kids are back in school today. It&rsquo;s the unofficial end of summer. We check in with the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/cps-chief-lays-out-school-year-agenda-112858">head of Chicago Public Schools Forrest Claypool</a> for his thoughts on the upcoming school year and what students and parents should expect. We also hear from the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/teachers-head-school-year-without-contract-112857">Chicago Teachers Union</a> whose members head into the new school term without a contract. Chicago&rsquo;s DuSable Museum of African American History <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/dusable-museum-gets-new-ceo-112856">has a new leader</a>. Her name is Perri Irmer and she tells us about her plans for the south side cultural institution. And we cap off the show with a look at the film <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/documentary-looks-new-ways-define-beautiful-112854">On Beauty</a>, a former fashion photographer&rsquo;s mission to redefine and challenge our notions of what it means to be beautiful. We&rsquo;ll talk with the director of the film, which is part of a film festival called <a href="http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/reelabilities-fest-brings-films-break-convention-112855">Reelabilities</a>. We&#39;re joined by two of the festival&#39;s organizers.</p></p> Tue, 08 Sep 2015 12:17:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift/2015-09-08/morning-shift-september-8-2015-112859