WBEZ | Education http://www.wbez.org/news/education Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en 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 Bic is on a mission to save handwriting. Does it need saving? http://www.wbez.org/news/bic-mission-save-handwriting-does-it-need-saving-113316 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/jaeden%20Alvarez%20practices%20cursive%20writing%20at%20Cleveland%20K-6%20School%2C%20Wednesday%2C%20Sept.%2018%2C%202013%2C%20in%20Dayton%2C%20Ohio.jpg" title="Jaeden Alvarez practices cursive writing at Cleveland K-6 School, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, in Dayton, Ohio. (Al Behrman/AP)" /></div><div><p>You may have seen or heard the ads from Bic, encouraging kids to &ldquo;Fight For Your Write&rdquo; to learn handwriting. The company &ndash; best known for making ballpoint pens &ndash; is on a mission to &ldquo;save handwriting.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s encouraging students and teachers to get excited about handwriting again, in this age of technology.</p><p><em>Here &amp; Now&rsquo;s</em> Jeremy Hobson talks with<a href="https://twitter.com/pamallyn" target="_blank">&nbsp;Pam Allyn</a>, Bic&rsquo;s &ldquo;Fight For Your Write&rdquo; spokesperson and founding director of the global literacy organization LitWorld, about whether handwriting is really disappearing from schools, and why it&rsquo;s important to &ldquo;save&rdquo; it.</p><hr /><div><h4><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Interview Highlights: Pam Allyn</strong></span></h4><p><strong>Does handwriting need to be saved?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;You know, it really does. I think we&rsquo;re in a moment where people feel that technology&rsquo;s going to kind of be the solution for everything, and in fact, technology&rsquo;s a tool, but handwriting is a very powerful and beautiful technique and strategy that people have used for many, many years to make ideas come alive on the page. And I think right now, my concern is that especially in schools, but just in thinking about raising our kids as parents and educators that we are very focused on, you know, &lsquo;OK, it&rsquo;s all got to be about moving in that technology direction,&rsquo; but the fact of the matter is writing by hand is a reflective cognitive thinking strategy that actually really helps kids.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>On the cognitive differences between writing with a pen versus using a tablet</strong></p><p>&ldquo;There are actually a couple of really interesting differences. Speaking as a literacy educator and both in terms of looking at the research and also being in classrooms alongside children, I see some profound differences and one of them is that making letters on the page is a lot different from pressing a keyboard. They&rsquo;re looking at the letters, they&rsquo;re thinking about the letters, they&rsquo;re forming the letters. So something from that &ndash; moving from the cognitive to the actual movement of your hand on the page &ndash; is very powerful because then when you&rsquo;re going to your own reading experience, for example, and you look at those letters they have more meaning. Just like the artist, you know, making a color on the page, then goes and looks at that painting, feels a lot differently about it, can really understand what went into it.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;And then the second thing that I think is really interesting, and I see it time and time again when I&rsquo;m working with children and even young adults, teenagers in schools, when they have a pen in their hand I see more creative thinking &ndash; like they&rsquo;ll turn the page around, there&rsquo;s more doodling, there&rsquo;s more kind of a thinking on the page going on. Whereas when they&rsquo;re especially emerging writers, when they sit down &ndash; like a 7 or 8-year-old who&rsquo;s still growing as a writer, not yet completely set even in grammar or language skills on the page or on the screen &ndash; there&rsquo;s something about having the pen in the hand that gives them more ownership, more control, they can feel like they&rsquo;re in charge, you know, that idea of authorship.</p><p>&hellip;&nbsp;And there&rsquo;s something incredible that happens with that and so I don&rsquo;t want to lose that and I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s an either-or. You know, I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s &lsquo;Well, now we can&rsquo;t use tablets. We should only use pens.&rsquo; For me, I see it as a blended world. I grew up in a world where I got to learn how to write by hand, and then I got to learn how to use a tablet, and I want to make sure kids can do both.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>On her message and Bic&rsquo;s campaign</strong></p><p>&ldquo;For myself, I am a literacy advocate, expert, author. I&rsquo;m a teacher. I spend thousands of hours a year on schools and I would never say anything that I didn&rsquo;t think was good for kids. And when Bic found me and they said &lsquo;Look, you know, this means a lot to a lot of people. Parents approach us. Teachers approach us. They&rsquo;re concerned because they&rsquo;re saying, you know, &lsquo;In our schools, or even at home, we&rsquo;re just wondering what are we supposed to be doing?&rsquo; And, you know, when you ask &lsquo;why should we believe this?&rsquo;</p><p>I think the thing is I&rsquo;m inviting people to be a part of this mission because I do believe in it&hellip; You think about how incredibly important the lives and stories of children are for me and my work, there is nothing more genuine than my mission to make sure that children&rsquo;s stories will get heard and also will get preserved. There was a story of a baseball player who the kid caught the ball at the stadium and he went over to sign the ball for the kid. And he said to the kid, &lsquo;Kid, you got a pen?&rsquo; And the kid said &lsquo;No. No I don&rsquo;t have pen.&rsquo; And the guy said &lsquo;You got to have a pen.&rsquo; You know, and that&rsquo;s it. I mean, that kind of sums it up. You can&rsquo;t lay your tablet on the baseball. You know, it&rsquo;s just moments in your life when it means something.&rdquo;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/0FF0nOVhrDw?rel=0" width="560"></iframe></p></div></div><p>&mdash; <a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/13/bic-mission-to-save-handwriting" target="_blank"><em>via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 13:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/bic-mission-save-handwriting-does-it-need-saving-113316 Ex-head of Chicago schools pleads guilty, apologizes http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-head-chicago-schools-pleads-guilty-apologizes-113306 <p><p><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Barbara%20Byrd-Bennett%20002%20By%20Bill%20Healy%20.JPG" style="height: 451px; width: 300px; float: left; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Barbara Byrd-Bennett (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></p><p>An hour after pleading guilty to her role in a scheme to steer $23 million in no-bid contracts to education firms for $2.3 million in bribes and kickbacks, the former head of&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools apologized Tuesday to students, parents and employees, saying they deserved &quot;much more than I gave to them.&quot;</p><p>As part of a plea deal, prosecutors recommended that Barbara Byrd-Bennett serve 7&frac12; years behind bars for one count of fraud.</p><p>In exchange for pleading guilty to that one count, prosecutors said they will drop the 19 other fraud counts, each of which carried a maximum 20-year term.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Addressing reporters after the arraignment, the 66-year-old&#39;s voice quivered as she gave her brief message for the city&#39;s 400,000 schoolchildren, their parents and her former co-workers.</p><p>&quot;I am terribly sorry and I apologize to them,&quot; Byrd said solemnly. &quot;They deserved much more &mdash; much more than I gave to them.&quot;</p><p>Neither she nor her attorney took any questions Tuesday. Byrd-Bennett stepped down from the third-largest school district in the U.S. in June after word spread about a federal investigation into a contract between the district and SUPES Academy, a training academy where she once worked.</p><p>Prosecutors allege the scheme started in 2012 &mdash; the year Mayor Rahm Emanuel hired the Solon, Ohio, woman to become the district&#39;s CEO. The indictment alleged that the owners of the two education service and training firms offered her a job and a hefty one-time payment &mdash; disguised as a lucrative signing bonus &mdash; once she left CPS.</p><p>The city is looking for &quot;further safeguards to help prevent this type of abuse from happening again,&quot; Emanuel spokeswoman Kelley Quinn said in a statement later Tuesday. Though Emanuel initially said his office wasn&#39;t involved in the contracts at issue, he said Monday that some of his staffers had asked &quot;hard questions&quot; before the school board approved the contracts. He added that he was never directly involved.</p><p>&quot;When a mayor gets involved in contracts, you have a problem,&quot; he said. &quot;I clearly don&#39;t do that, because I think that&#39;s the wrong thing to do.&quot;</p><p>The indictment alleges Byrd-Bennett expected to receive kickbacks worth 10 percent of the value of the contracts, or about $2.3 million. It&#39;s unclear how much money was ever set aside, though the indictment says trust accounts tied to two relatives were set up to hide the money.</p><p>In an email to one of the executives sent Sept. 10, 2012, Byrd-Bennett wrote about her apparent eagerness to make money: &quot;I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit.&quot;</p><p>CPS is facing a steep budget shortfall and a severely underfunded pension system, as well as lingering criticism after dozens of schools were closed in 2013 in what Emanuel and education officials argued would help focus resources and improve the school system.</p><p>In the crowded courtroom early Tuesday, a tense Byrd-Bennett stood unmoving before Judge Edmond Chang. She answered &quot;yes, your honor,&quot; to all of his questions. If she doesn&#39;t fully cooperate with investigators, as pledged in the deal, prosecutors can revoke the sentencing recommendation for a stiffer term.</p><p>SUPES Academy and Synesi Associates LLC owners Gary Soloman and Thomas Vranas are accused of offering her money along with sporting-event tickets and other kickbacks in exchange for the contracts. Both suburban&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;men face multiple charges, including bribery and conspiracy to defraud.</p><p>Soloman&#39;s attorney said in a statement last week that Soloman has cooperated in the investigation and stands behind his companies. Vranas and his attorney didn&#39;t comment after the indictment.</p><p>CPS suspended its contract with SUPES Academy shortly after Byrd-Bennett took a paid leave of absence in April; she resigned two months later.</p><p>As a condition of her release, the judge said Byrd-Bennett would have to provide a DNA sample. No sentencing date will be set until Soloman&#39;s and Vranas&#39; cases run their course.</p></p> Tue, 13 Oct 2015 12:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-head-chicago-schools-pleads-guilty-apologizes-113306 Emanuel: Byrd-Bennett 'let down parents, teachers and students' http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-byrd-bennett-let-down-parents-teachers-and-students-113305 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_902919343426_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s last hand-picked Chicago Public Schools CEO is set to appear in court Tuesday over federal corruption charges.</p><p dir="ltr">Barbara Byrd-Bennett <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/ex-chicago-public-schools-leader-charged-corruption-113246">was indicted</a> Thursday&mdash;and her lawyers said she will plead guilty. At the center of the corruption charges is a $20-million no-bid contract between CPS and Byrd-Bennett&rsquo;s former employer, SUPES Academy. The 23-count criminal indictment outlines how she steered a total of $23 million in CPS contracts to SUPES in exchange for kickbacks &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters Monday, at an unrelated press conference, that Byrd-Bennett had &ldquo;let down parents, teachers and students.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;She clearly took her time here to enrich herself and that is wrong, full stop,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">Emanuel also defended himself, and his staff, saying that while he had a hand in her initial hiring, he was not involved with the SUPES contract. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t get involved in contracts. When a mayor gets involved in contracts, you have a problem,&rdquo; Emanuel said.</p><p dir="ltr">As for his staff, Emanuel said they &ldquo;did the right thing by asking hard questions&rdquo; about the contract. &nbsp;<a href="http://chicago.suntimes.com/news/7/71/1020811/emails-show-ex-cps-ceo-outraged-city-hall-questioned-bid-deal">Emails obtained by the <em>Chicago Sun-Times</em></a> over the weekend show the mayor&rsquo;s office did direct a former CPS spokesperson, named Dave Miranda, to ask questions about the contract. The questions, which the <em>Sun-Times</em> , also published in <a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/284219062/Emails-regarding-SUPES-contract">full</a>, include: &ldquo;How much money is spent on principal development in total?&rdquo; and, &ldquo;Do we have any principals or third-party validators who could speak favorably about the program?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Such questions are routinely exchanged between a city press spokesperson and their supervisors ahead of a public meeting or announcement, in order to be prepared to respond to reporter inquiries.</p><p><em>Lauren Chooljian covers Chicago politics for WBEZ. &nbsp;Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/laurenchooljian">@laurenchooljian</a>. WBEZ Education Reporter Becky Vevea contributed to this report. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor">@wbezeducation</a>. </em></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 17:39:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-byrd-bennett-let-down-parents-teachers-and-students-113305 The lessons learned from a scholar's incendiary tweets http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-10-13/lessons-learned-scholars-incendiary-tweets-113327 <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/AP_793220529599.jpg" style="height: 360px; width: 540px;" title="In this Sept. 9, 2014, file photo, Steve Salaita, a professor who lost a job offer from the University of Illinois over dozens of profane, anti-Israel Twitter messages, speaks during a news conference in Champaign Ill. A federal judge ruled Thursday Aug. 6, 2015 that a lawsuit brought by Salaita, whose anti-Israel Twitter messages led the University of Illinois to withdraw a job offer, can continue. U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber dismissed four of Steven Salaita's accusations but decided that the bulk of his case could go on. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman, File)" /></p><p>A debate over academic freedom of speech was ignited in summer 2014 when the University of Illinois rescinded a job offer to a professor over a controversial set of tweets about the Israel-Gaza conflict. NPR&#39;s Kelly McEvers talks with the professor, Steven Salaita, about his experience.</p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/12/448059178/the-lessons-learned-from-a-scholars-incendiary-tweets" target="_blank"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 17:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/all-things-considered/2015-10-13/lessons-learned-scholars-incendiary-tweets-113327 Michigan tribes make efforts to save native language http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-12/michigan-tribes-make-efforts-save-native-language-113298 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1012_native-language-immersion-624x427.jpg" title="Two-year-olds at the Sasiwaans language immersion school in Mt. Pleasant get a lesson in the Native American tradition of smudging. (Emily Fox/Michigan Radio)" /></div><p>The language that was spoken by Native American tribes in Michigan is nearing extinction in the state. Some communities have no fluent speakers; others have one or two elders who still speak fluently.</p><p>But as&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/foxontheradio" target="_blank">Emily Fox</a>&nbsp;of&nbsp;<em>Here &amp; Now</em>&nbsp;contributor Michigan Radio reports, there are efforts to prevent the language &ndash; Anishinaabemowin &ndash; from going extinct, including an immersion school for young children.</p><p><strong><em><a href="http://michiganradio.org/post/what-some-tribes-michigan-are-doing-stop-their-native-language-going-extinct#stream/0" target="_blank">Read more via Michigan Radio</a></em></strong></p><p><strong><em>&mdash;</em></strong><em><a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/12/michigan-tribes-language"> via Here &amp; Now</a></em></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 14:28:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-12/michigan-tribes-make-efforts-save-native-language-113298 With dramas on the dial, 'Freedom' made history by teaching it http://www.wbez.org/news/dramas-dial-freedom-made-history-teaching-it-113285 <p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Richard%20Durham%2C%20at%20work%20on%20Destination%20Freedom..jpg" style="height: 465px; width: 620px;" title="Richard Durham, at work on Destination Freedom. (Courtesy of the Harsh Research Collection)" /></div><p>Just after the Second World War, at a time when segregation remained firmly ensconced in the U.S., African-American writer Richard Durham was taking on racism, inequality and social justice &mdash; and he was doing it all on the radio.</p><p>From 1948 through 1950, Durham and a small troupe of black and white actors produced elaborate radio dramas that helped undermine the stereotypes of the day. Every Sunday morning at 10, on Chicago&#39;s WMAQ, listeners of&nbsp;<em>Destination Freedom&nbsp;</em>would get to hear about figures like Louis Armstrong, Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells and Jackie Robinson.</p><p>&quot;My first reaction was: &#39;Oh my God, this was on the air?&#39; &quot; says Sonja Williams, a media professor at Howard University and author of&nbsp;<em>Word Warrior</em>, a biography of Durham. She had been researching the history of African-American radio when she stumbled upon one of Durham&#39;s programs.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/sw-photo-2015_sq-7e0561f663974778ecf7fd92f650906785d11a4a-s1400.jpg" style="height: 300px; width: 300px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: right;" title="Sonja Williams, media professor at Howard University. (Justin Knight/Courtesy of Sonja Williams)" /></p><p>&quot;How did this man get this kind of drama &mdash; with this kind of consciousness and insight and, in some cases, humor &mdash; on one of the top stations back in the late 1940s?&quot;</p><p>The very first episode of the show told the story of Crispus Attucks, the former slave and hero of the Revolutionary War.</p><p>&quot;It really kind of set the tone that, you know, it wasn&#39;t just, &#39;OK, here&#39;s this guy named Crispus Attucks and somehow he happened to be one of the first casualties of the Boston Massacre in the 1770s.&#39; But it also humanized this character who we may or may not have heard of,&quot; Williams says.</p><p>In an era when caricatures like those on<em>&nbsp;Amos &#39;n&#39; Andy</em>&nbsp;had been popular on radio for decades, Williams says Richard Durham was telling a deeper truth.</p><p>&quot;Black lives matter, Asian lives matter, African lives matter,&quot; she says. &quot;That the story of the Negro, as he would say, is really kind of emblematic of all lives of people who are oppressed, and that oppression needs to be eliminated.&quot;</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/coffee-cooler-1940s-publicity_custom-06036e4896240b70a634631555912c7a94d11167-s1400.png" style="height: 567px; width: 450px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px;" title="Publicity materials for Destination Freedom, which ran in the late 1940s on Sundays from 10 to 10:30 a.m. (Courtesy of the Vivian G. Harsh Collection at Chicago Public Library)" /></p><p>After&nbsp;<em>Destination Freedom</em>&nbsp;ended in 1950, Durham became the editor in chief for the newspaper of the Nation of Islam,&nbsp;<em>Muhammad Speaks</em>. He also ghost-wrote Muhammad Ali&#39;s autobiography,&nbsp;<em>The Greatest</em>, and he was a key adviser in Harold Washington&#39;s successful campaign to become the first African-American mayor of Chicago in 1983. Durham died a year later of a heart attack.</p><p>Throughout his career, Williams says, Richard Durham worked with a powerful tool.</p><p>&quot;He used words as his weapon &mdash; against oppression, against inequality, against injustice,&quot; she says. &quot;And he would write about it, whether it was in dramatic form, whether it was during his time as a reporter. He really used words to educate, to inform and inspire.&quot;</p><p>And Durham&#39;s biographer has no doubt how he would have delivered his messages today.</p><p>&quot;He would probably use the Web in some creative way, to get his point across,&quot; she says.</p><p><em><strong><a href="https://archive.org/details/DestinationFreedom">Listen to archives of Destination Freedom.</a></strong></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&mdash;<a href="http://www.npr.org/2015/10/10/447524363/with-dramas-on-the-dial-freedom-made-history-by-teaching-it?ft=nprml&amp;f=447524363" target="_blank"><em> via NPR</em></a></p></p> Mon, 12 Oct 2015 11:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/dramas-dial-freedom-made-history-teaching-it-113285 New York prison inmates trounce Harvard debate team http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-09/new-york-prison-inmates-trounce-harvard-debate-team-113267 <p><div style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Inmates%20in%20Bard%20College%E2%80%99s%20Prison%20Initiative%20beat%20Harvard%E2%80%99s%20prestigious%20debate%20team%20in%20front%20of%20a%20panel%20of%20national%20college%20debate%20judges.jpg" title="Inmates in Bard College’s Prison Initiative beat Harvard’s prestigious debate team in front of a panel of national college debate judges. (Jared Ames/Here and Now)" /></div><div><p>It sounds like a storyline out of Hollywood. A group of convicted inmates from the Eastern New York Correctional Facility, all of them participants in Bard College&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="http://bpi.bard.edu/" target="_blank">Prison Initiative</a>, challenge Harvard University&rsquo;s national championship-winning debate team.&nbsp;The inmates, who research without the Internet (because it&rsquo;s not allowed), and wait weeks for the books they need to be cleared by security, win.</p><p>But it&rsquo;s not a movie.&nbsp;It&rsquo;s what happened in mid-September on a prison stage in front of more than 150 spectators and a panel of national college debate judges.</p><p>Max Kenner&nbsp;is executive director of Bard College&rsquo;s Prison Initiative, which has granted more than 300 undergraduate degrees over the last 13 years. He joins&nbsp;Here &amp; Now&lsquo;s&nbsp;Robin Young&nbsp;to&nbsp;discuss his students and the issues surrounding the country&rsquo;s inmate education initiatives.</p><hr /><p><span style="font-size:18px;"><strong>Interview Highlights</strong></span></p><p><strong>Where does debating fit into the inmates&rsquo; education?</strong></p><div id="attachment_94039"><p>&ldquo;With respect to where debate fits into the curriculum of an undergraduate program, a student is forced to master arguments that don&rsquo;t come naturally to her or to him. When one has to go through that exercise of articulating an argument that you may not respect or may not have thought through, you&rsquo;re forced to honor the argument, honor another person&rsquo;s perspective, and I think become more empathetic.&nbsp;I think that&rsquo;s something that all students could benefit from.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1009_class-bayview.jpg" title="Students in Bard College’s Prison Initiative are pictured at Bayview Correctional Facility in Manhattan, a women’s prison that has since closed. (Peter Mauney/Here and Now)" /></div></div><p><strong>On the&nbsp;surprise when the Bard students won</strong></p><p>&ldquo;If there&rsquo;s any problem we have in education, particularly higher education, it follows from the catastrophically low expectations we have of people. So many of our undergraduates at the best colleges and universities in U.S. aren&rsquo;t surprised to be there &ndash; their parents went there, their grandparents went there, and they&rsquo;re going through the motions. Throughout American history there have always been pockets of people, think of the immigrant experience, think of the extraordinary accomplishments of the freed people in the generation after the emancipation from slavery, all these people in American history value education more and achieve more. I believe, in the U.S. today, the incarcerated population represents one of these groups.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Why should prisoners have this opportunity?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;I think trivializing or being flippant about how difficult life is for incarcerated people in the U.S. and how extreme the punishment is, is not responsible. It&rsquo;s something people do in the media and in all walks of American life all the time. And the idea that if we give people the opportunity to improve themselves, to be better parents, to be less likely to commit crimes in the future, and to be contributing members of society, we&rsquo;ll all do better. I&rsquo;ll be completely honest, I&rsquo;m not in the business of criminal punishment, and I&rsquo;m not in the business of making the kind of moral generalizations you&rsquo;re asking of me. I am in the business of education, and when I look at the U.S., I see a society with the crisis of college access, and I cannot face the question you&rsquo;re asking, when you say we finally found something that works, is inexpensive, and gets results that otherwise seem impossible. When we find something that works, the policy is to shut it down rather than replicate it? I think it&rsquo;s precisely the wrong question to ask.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image " style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/1009_woodbourne-library.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="Students in Bard College’s Prison Initiative are pictured at Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Woodbourne, New York. (China Jorrin)" /></div><p><strong>What about people&nbsp;asking why convicted criminals are getting these benefits?</strong></p><div id="attachment_94038"><p>&ldquo;I would say that violence in American society is something we have to take absolutely seriously. But there&rsquo;s a point at which responding with something other than violence might be more effective. We can go through all the typical boring arguments about crime and punishment, personal responsibility, and the terrible racial problems bequeathed to us, or we can look at the problems and say we&rsquo;re going to try to actually solve the problems and do it in a way that treats one another respectfully and with dignity and with hope for a better future. Punishment alone will not get us there.&rdquo;</p></div><p><strong>What does it mean to the Bard Prison Initiative&nbsp;that your students&nbsp;won?</strong></p><p>&ldquo;Obviously it was exciting. There was an audience of about 100 other incarcerated Bard students. We&rsquo;ve done this a number of times and we&rsquo;ve debated West Point Academy and the University of Vermont, and done very well. And we think the college we have at Eastern Correction Facility, the college we have across prisons in the state of New York, are among the best learning colleges of any in the U.S., because of the dedication and real persistent hard work our students put in and the curiosity they have. We&rsquo;ve won a handful of debates before, and we did so well we thought it was really important that we try to take on the best team in the country, so we reached out to them, not as an act of charity, but to compete with other undergraduates that have the same interest and curiosity that you do.&rdquo;</p></div><p>&mdash;<a href="http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2015/10/09/inmates-trounce-harvard-debate-team" target="_blank"><em> via Here &amp; Now</em></a></p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 13:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/here-and-now/2015-10-09/new-york-prison-inmates-trounce-harvard-debate-team-113267 On campus, older faculty keep on keepin' on http://www.wbez.org/news/campus-older-faculty-keep-keepin-113258 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/blow_npr_prof_slide.jpg" alt="" /><p><div><div data-crop-type="" style="text-align: center;"><img alt="Old professors are getting older, and it's hard to get them to leave." src="http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2015/10/07/blow_npr_prof_slide-103dea57de730f0ae16023acd4d7dad62876024c-s800-c85.jpg" style="height: 400px; width: 600px;" title="(Paul Blow for NPR)" /></div><div data-crop-type="">Ken Nickerson could have retired from his job as a professor of biological sciences at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln 10 years ago, when he turned 62.</div></div><p>He could have retired five years ago, when the university offered faculty a year&#39;s salary to step down as part of a buyout to encourage more of them to leave.</p><p>He could have retired last year, when, in yet another buyout offer, administrators dangled the equivalent of 90 percent of one full year&#39;s salary in front of faculty who would finally agree to go.</p><p>But Nickerson stayed.</p><p>After 40 years of doing research as well as teaching, &quot;I want to find the answers to certain questions before I retire,&quot; he said. &quot;I want to get those discoveries made, I want to get those publications out, and there&#39;s a pretty long list of them still.&quot;</p><p>He has plenty of company around the faculty dining hall.</p><p>&quot;My Ph.D. adviser worked until he was about 77,&quot; Nickerson said. &quot;One of my postdoc advisers was editor of the<em>&nbsp;Journal of Biological Chemistry</em>&nbsp;until he was 85. Another one is still active here at the University of Nebraska, and he must be 77. So there&#39;s a lot of inspiration to keep working.&quot;</p><p>Protected by tenure that prevents them from being dismissed without cause, and with no mandatory retirement age, a significant proportion of university faculty isn&#39;t going anywhere. A third are 55 and older, compared with 20 percent of the rest of the workforce,&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tiaa-crefinstitute.org/public/institute/research/trends_issues/ti_promotingworkplace_0312.html">according to</a>&nbsp;the University of Iowa Center on Aging.</p><p>And while 36 percent of all workers plan to put off their retirements beyond the age of 65, the proportion of university and college faculty who intend to delay stepping down is more than double that, the financial services company TIAA-CREF&nbsp;<a href="https://www.tiaa-cref.org/public/pdf/C21232_Creating-a-path-forward-for-reluctant-retirees.pdf">reports</a>. Another study&nbsp;<a href="http://edr.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/07/15/0013189X13497993.abstract">found</a>&nbsp;that 60 percent of faculty planned to work past 70, and 15 percent to stay until they&#39;re 80.</p><p>This dramatic trend foretells more than a future of campuses populated by white-haired professors in sensible shoes and tweed jackets with elbow patches. Universities say it&#39;s making it harder for them to cut costs and improve productivity exactly at a time when students and their families are balking at the high cost of a higher education.</p><p>And when those students &mdash; not to mention politicians and business leaders &mdash; are expecting a better return on that investment, the institutions say the buildup of aging faculty leaves them less able to respond to changing demand for new kinds of majors, or to declining enrollments, and that it&#39;s also blocking younger Ph.D.s from entering the workforce.</p><p>&quot;Higher education, on the one hand, is confronting constraints,&nbsp;and on the other hand, confronting greater needs that have to be met,&quot; said Herman Berliner, who stepped down in August as provost at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., and now is dean of its business school. &quot;Yet with faculty staying longer and longer, what you have is resources fixed in place, sometimes in areas where there is very little demand.&quot;</p><p>Meanwhile, &quot;in some cases some senior faculty simply may not be as effective in the role as they once were,&quot; said Paul Yakoboski, a senior economist with the TIAA-CREF Institute. &quot;A certain degree of churn is healthy and productive [and brings in] fresh blood, fresh ideas, people up-to-date on teaching techniques and research techniques.&quot;</p><p>Berliner has proposed the idea of a time limit on tenure of 30 or 35 years, after which faculty could be rehired on one-year contracts. That would give universities more flexibility to behave like private companies and make changes to their workforce in response to market changes.</p><p>&quot;I don&#39;t believe in an age cutoff, but to say that tenure goes on forever nowadays, that&#39;s not the way the system worked for a very long time before,&quot; when mandatory retirement still applied to academic faculty, he said.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s an exceptionally difficult problem to deal with,&quot; he added. &quot;Who&#39;s going to stand up and propose 35-year tenure?&quot; That, he said, would put a university at a competitive disadvantage in hiring new faculty.</p><p>Older university faculty have the same financial concerns about retirement as everyone else, and those whose retirement plans rely on 401(k) plans were particularly vulnerable to the economic downturn, said John Barnshaw, senior higher education researcher at the American Association of University Professors.</p><p>More than 40 percent of faculty who plan to work past 65 told TIAA-CREF that one reason was financial insecurity. Making the matter worse, many institutions have scaled back or eliminated 401(k) contributions for their existing employees and post-retirement health care benefits to save money,&nbsp;compelling some retirement-age faculty to stick around even longer.</p><p>&quot;Faculty are not immune from the larger economic challenges that the U.S. and the larger economy face,&quot; said Barnshaw. &quot;They maybe had planned to retire because they hit a certain financial threshold, but then they had a setback.&quot;</p><p>Besides, he said, one real reason universities want their tenured faculty to leave is so they can be replaced by cheaper faculty who are not on track for tenure, and by part-time adjunct instructors, in the same way that private companies outsource their work to cut costs. The proportion of faculty who are part-time has already climbed from 22 percent in 1969 to 67 percent today,&nbsp;<a href="http://agb.org/trusteeship/2013/5/changing-academic-workforce">according to</a>&nbsp;the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, meaning that the full-time tenured faculty who won&#39;t leave are already a much smaller proportion of the total than they used to be.</p><p>Whatever their motives, universities are trying to dislodge their older faculty with buyouts like the ones at the University of Nebraska.</p><p>A few faculty have begun to leave some public universities&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://hechingerreport.org/benefits-for-their-retirees-could-thwart-universities-cost-cutting-plans/">in states including Illinois</a></strong>, in part because of fears that their shares of massively underfunded state pensions will be at risk if they wait too long. Elsewhere, however, the buyout offers have been met with little interest. And &quot;with positions being held longer and longer, the younger Ph.D.s we&#39;re turning out have limited job opportunities,&quot; Berliner said.</p><p>When enrollment at Hofstra University&#39;s Maurice A. Deane School of Law&nbsp;<a href="http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/03/1l-enrollment.html">fell by more than 32 percent</a>&nbsp;in 2013, for instance, faculty there were offered two full years of salary to retire, Berliner said. Not a single one accepted. At the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, 79 out of 245 eligible faculty took the one-year&#39;s salary buyout offer in 2010.</p><p>Ken Nickerson was among the nearly 70 percent who turned it down, confident that he remains quite capable of doing what his job demands.</p><p>&quot;I can still publish papers, I can still participate in intellectual discussions with my graduate students,&quot; he said.</p><p>In fact, 90 percent of faculty who planned to work past the typical retirement age, meaning the age at which people can begin collecting Social Security benefits, told TIAA-CREF it was because they found their jobs fulfilling and enjoyable, and 82 percent didn&#39;t see any good reason to stop.</p><p>&quot;You absolutely see that dynamic,&quot; said Yakoboski, of the TIAA-CREF Institute. &quot;They&#39;re still actively engaged in their academic pursuits, both research and teaching, and see no need and have no desire to retire.&quot;</p><p>They also bring institutional experience and research savvy, many older faculty say.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s what I think I still represent,&quot; Nickerson said.</p><p>The question for him now, he said, is &quot;how long I&#39;m intellectually capable of doing it. What I&#39;m balancing is looking at how mentally sharp some of our recent professors are compared to what I am, and they&#39;re a lot quicker, there&#39;s no doubt about that. I can bring perspective, an historical viewpoint, and good judgment to questions, but I don&#39;t want to be occupying a space and a laboratory when I&#39;m no longer capable of doing a job. That&#39;s probably going to come around in, I don&#39;t know, three or four years.&quot;</p><p><em>This story was produced by&nbsp;<a href="http://hechingerreport.org/content/common-core-can-help-english-learners-california-new-study-says_17439/hechingerreport.org">The Hechinger Report</a>, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.</em></p><p>&mdash; <a href="http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/10/09/446568519/on-campus-older-faculty-keep-on-keeping-on?ft=nprml&amp;f=446568519"><em>via NPR</em></a></p></p> Fri, 09 Oct 2015 11:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/campus-older-faculty-keep-keepin-113258 The Latest: Chicago Public Schools mum on indictment http://www.wbez.org/news/latest-chicago-public-schools-mum-indictment-113251 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/AP_902919343426.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The latest on the indictment of former<br />Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, following a federal investigation into a $20 million no-bid contract (all times local):</p><div><p><strong>3:55 p.m.</strong></p><p>Officials with&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools have declined to discuss the indictment of the district&#39;s former CEO, Barbara Byrd-Bennett.</p><p>A statement Thursday from CPS spokeswoman Emily Bittner doesn&#39;t mention the charges against the former schools chief.</p><p>The statement says the district is focused, &quot;as always,&quot; on its roughly 400,000 students.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett, a longtime educator, was chosen by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to take over the nation&#39;s third-largest school district in 2012. She left earlier this year amid a federal investigation.</p><p>In July, Emanuel named the city&#39;s former transit chief, Forrest Claypool, as a replacement.</p><hr /><p><strong>3:40 p.m.</strong></p><p>Chicago&nbsp;Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he was &quot;saddened and disappointed&quot; to learn of the criminal activity alleged in a federal indictment charging his hand-picked former schools chief.</p><p>In a statement Thursday, Emanuel said students, parents, teachers and principals in the nation&#39;s third-largest school district &quot;deserve better.&quot;</p><p>Emanuel chose longtime educator Barbara Byrd-Bennett to lead&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools in 2012. He spent much of his hard-fought re-election bid earlier this year defending his controversial schools decisions and Bennett&#39;s hiring.</p><p>Prosecutors announced the indictment earlier Thursday. It accuses Byrd-Bennett of steering $20 million in no-bid contracts to an education company where she used to be a consultant.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett&#39;s attorney says the former schools chief plans to plead guilty.</p><hr /><p><strong>3:10 p.m.</strong></p><p>An attorney for former&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett confirms that his client will plead guilty to charges in a federal indictment alleging public corruption.</p><p>Chicago-based lawyer Michael Scudder released a statement Thursday saying Byrd-Bennett accepts &quot;full responsibility for her conduct.&quot; The statement says she plans to plead guilty to charges in the indictment.</p><p>Scudder also says Byrd-Bennett will continue to cooperate with the government, including testifying if called upon to do so.</p><hr /><p><strong>3 p.m.</strong></p><p>Chicago&#39;s&nbsp;top federal prosecutor says the former CEO ofChicago&nbsp;Public Schools plans to plead guilty in a corruption case linked to a $20 million no-bid contract.</p><p>U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said Thursday that he was authorized by an attorney for Barbara Byrd-Bennett to announce her plans to plead guilty. Fardon didn&#39;t specify what charges would be involved.</p><p>His office announced earlier Thursday that Byrd-Bennett had been indicted on several counts of mail fraud and wire fraud following an investigation into a no-bid contract with SUPES Academy, where she once worked as a consultant.</p><p>Byrd-Bennett stepped down as the city&#39;s top school official earlier this year.</p><hr /><p><strong>2:15 p.m.</strong></p><p>Chicago&nbsp;Teachers Union President Karen Lewis says the indictment on corruption charges involving&nbsp;Chicago&nbsp;Public Schools&#39; former CEO marks a &quot;sad day&quot; for the district&#39;s leadership.</p><p>In a statement released Thursday, Lewis says the union wishes former CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett &quot;well in her legal battles.&quot; Lewis says the union is now focused on securing a new contract.</p><p>The union and school district are locked in a tense contract negotiation. During the last round of negotiations, teachers inChicago&nbsp;went on strike for the first time in 25 years.</p></div><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 08 Oct 2015 16:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/latest-chicago-public-schools-mum-indictment-113251