WBEZ | CTU http://www.wbez.org/tags/ctu Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Karen Lewis not running for mayor http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-not-running-mayor-110932 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/620-lewis_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, seen as Mayor Rahm Emanuel&#39;s most high-profile re-election challenger, won&#39;t run in 2015, a spokeswoman announced Monday.</p><p>Lewis, who often tussled with the mayor during the 2012 Chicago Public Schools teachers&#39; strike, didn&#39;t specify her reasons and a statement released on behalf of her exploratory committee made no mention of a recent illness she disclosed publicly.</p><p>&quot;Karen Lewis has decided to not pursue a mayoral bid,&quot; said a statement from committee spokeswoman Jhatayn Travis. &quot;Yet she charges us to continue fighting for strong neighborhood schools, safe communities and good jobs for everyone.&quot;</p><p>Lewis had been seen as the best shot so far to unseat Emanuel, who won his first term in 2011. For months, she had been circulating petitions and raising her profile at parades and political events, often harshly criticizing Emanuel and his policies. She even dubbed him the &quot;murder mayor&quot; because of the city&#39;s violence problem.</p><p>Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919" target="_blank">last week</a> said that Lewis has a &quot;serious illness&quot; and underwent successful surgery. Sharkey also said he had taken over Lewis&#39; tasks as president, but did not provide additional details on her illness.</p><p>Emanuel issued a statement after Lewis&#39; announcement Monday wishing her a quick recovery.</p><p>&quot;I have always respected and admired Karen&#39;s willingness to step up and be part of the conversation about our city&#39;s future,&quot; said Emanuel, a former congressman and White House chief of staff.</p><p>Chicago Alderman Bob Fioretti, who announced his bid to run last month, said he was praying for Lewis&#39; health.</p><p>&quot;For Chicago&#39;s sake, I hope this is not the last we see of Karen Lewis,&quot; he said in a statement. &quot;I can understand the battle with illness, and how it can change the best thought out plans. But I also know that Karen is resilient and strong and will be back advocating for educators, students and Chicagoans in no time.&quot;</p><p>Political experts said only a handful of credible candidates would be able to mount a serious challenge at this point ahead of the Feb. 24 contest. Names floated in Chicago political circles included Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who has already said she planned to keep her current job and faces re-election, and Cook County Clerk David Orr.</p><p>Any candidate would have to be able to raise big funds and already have name recognition. Emanuel has banked more than $8 million, while campaign finance filings show Fioretti had about $325,000 as of June. Also, Emanuel&#39;s implied support from President Barack Obama as a former aide would be hard to counter in Obama&#39;s hometown.</p><p>However, political watchers said Emanuel&#39;s approval ratings have been low.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s a mixed bag,&quot; said Chicago political consultant Don Rose. &quot;Many people feel he&#39;s ripe for the picking.&quot;</p><p>The February election is nonpartisan. If no candidate receives more than half of the ballots cast, a runoff between the top two candidates will be held in April.</p></p> Mon, 13 Oct 2014 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-not-running-mayor-110932 Karen Lewis hands over leadership of Chicago Teachers Union http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/620-lewis_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is suffering from an undisclosed &ldquo;serious illness&rdquo; and will step aside as head of the organization, the union&rsquo;s vice president announced Thursday.</p><p>But there&rsquo;s still no word on how that might affect a possible mayoral run against Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>At a press conference late Thursday afternoon, Vice President Jesse Sharkey announced that Lewis underwent a successful surgery on Wednesday, but declined to name Lewis&rsquo; condition, citing her family&rsquo;s privacy.</p><p>Lewis, 61, has been seriously considering a run for mayor. Sharkey said he will take over Lewis&rsquo; duties at the CTU, but wouldn&rsquo;t get into the possible political impact of Lewis&rsquo; health.</p><p>&ldquo;I understand that many people in this room and many people in the city want to know about Karen Lewis&rsquo;s health status because they care about the mayoral election in this city,&rdquo; Sharkey told reporters. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s a question that I can&rsquo;t answer.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis was hospitalized Sunday night after experiencing discomfort, but the union and representatives with her exploratory campaign refused to say why or give any details on the status of her condition.<br /><br />On Monday, CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin said in a statement that she was &ldquo;in good spirits--and still thinking of creative ways to secure the future and city our students and their families deserve.&rdquo;<br /><br />On Wednesday night, a spokeswoman for Lewis&rsquo; mayoral exploratory committee declined to comment on the details of Lewis&rsquo;condition, but said the &ldquo;exploratory process is moving forward.&rdquo;</p><p>Despite contentious relations in the past, Emanuel praised Lewis late Thursday afternoon in an emailed statement, though he steered clear of mentioning politics.</p><p>&ldquo;Karen Lewis is a passionate advocate for her beliefs and has always been willing to speak up for her view of what&#39;s best -- not only for the teachers that she represents, but also for issues critical to the future of our city,&quot; Emanuel was quoted as saying. &quot;Along with all Chicagoans, we will keep Karen and her family in our thoughts and prayers, and we hope to see her on her feet very soon.&rdquo;</p><p>Lewis has not officially announced whether she plans to challenge Emanuel in February&rsquo;s city election. But there has been widespread speculation and encouragement from some progressives for her to run.</p><p>In recent weeks, the once-fiery critic of Emanuel who led Chicago teachers on their first strike in 25 years has sought to rebrand herself as a consensus-builder, holding several community events around the city dubbed &ldquo;Conversations with Karen.&rdquo; Lewis has also started fundraising for a possible campaign, though she has conceded it will be difficult to top Emanuel&rsquo;s political machine, which has already netted him at least $8.3 million for his re-election bid.</p><p>Mayoral candidates have until Nov. 24 to file their nominating papers in order to get on the ballot for the Feb. 24 election. Emanuel already faces several declared challengers, including his vocal critic in the City Council, Ald. Bob Fioretti; Dr. Amara Enyia, an urban development consultant; former Chicago Ald. Robert Shaw; Chicago police officer Frederick Collins; and conservative activist William J. Kelly.</p><p>&quot;She is a fighter and I know that she will bounce back, stronger than ever,&quot; Fioretti said of Lewis in an emailed statement. &quot;Her voice adds to the debate in Chicago and we all get better results when there is a full and spirited dialogue.&nbsp; But right now, we should all respect Karen&rsquo;s privacy and give her the space she needs to get better.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p><em>WBEZ political reporter Alex Keefe contributed to this story.</em></p><p><o:p></o:p></p></p> Thu, 09 Oct 2014 15:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/karen-lewis-hands-over-leadership-chicago-teachers-union-110919 Chicago Teachers Union head Karen Lewis hospitalized http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-head-karen-lewis-hospitalized-110902 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/620-lewis.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis has been hospitalized after experiencing discomfort over the weekend.</p><p>CTU spokeswoman Stephanie Gadlin on Monday denied rumors Lewis suffered a stroke. Lewis recently underwent surgery designed to reduce her absorption of food calories.</p><p>In a statement, Gadlin wrote that Lewis&#39; privacy is being respected and she will determine &quot;whether or not another public statement is warranted.&quot;</p><p>Gadlin added Lewis is resting well, in good spirits and is &quot;thinking of creative ways to secure the future and city our students and their families deserve.&quot;</p><p>Lewis, who tangled with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel during a 2012 teacher strike, is circulating petitions and raising money for a challenge of the mayor next year. Lewis hasn&#39;t yet announced whether she&#39;ll run.</p></p> Mon, 06 Oct 2014 17:12:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-head-karen-lewis-hospitalized-110902 CTU, parents file lawsuit against school closures http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-parents-file-lawsuit-against-school-closures-107419 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/lewis_healy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union filed a third lawsuit to stop schools from being closed this year.</p><p>The most recent suit, filed Wednesday morning, seeks to permanently halt the planned closure of ten schools included in the 50 approved by the Board of Education last week. It&#39;s the largest round of school closings in American history.&nbsp;</p><p>For those ten grammar schools&mdash;Buckingham, Calhoun North, Delano, King, Mayo, Morgan, Overton, Stewart, Stockton, and Williams&mdash;former judges ruled that CPS was not complying with its own guidelines for shutting down schools.</p><p>But the school board approved the closings anyway, a move the lawsuit alleges violates <a href="http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/fulltext.asp?DocName=&amp;SessionId=84&amp;GA=97&amp;DocTypeId=SB&amp;DocNum=630&amp;GAID=11&amp;LegID=&amp;SpecSess=&amp;Session=" target="_blank">state law</a>. That law requires CPS to create guidelines for school closings and then requires independent hearing officers to evaluate whether district officials followed them. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re the ones that wrote your own procedures and rules. You&rsquo;re the ones that wrote the guidelines,&rdquo; said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. &ldquo;And now you&rsquo;ve broken every single one of your own rules and the procedures that you agreed to and you&rsquo;re not even following the recommendations of those retired judges.&rdquo;</p><p>Sharkey said the district broke the law and should be held accountable.</p><p>Robert Bloch, CTU general counsel, said the judges&rsquo; rulings should be the final word. He pointed to where the law says if CPS did not follow the guidelines, &ldquo;the proposed school action shall not be approved by the Board during the school year in which the school action was proposed.&rdquo;</p><p>CPS spokeswoman Becky Carroll issued a statement that said &ldquo;union leadership remains committed to a status quo that is failing too many children trapped in underutilized, under-resourced schools.&rdquo;</p><p>The lawsuit names 10 parents as well. LaKecha Green is one of them. She has three children, two who attend King Elementary and one who is still too young for school.</p><p>Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Green fought back tears describing how far her children will have to walk to receiving school Jensen.</p><p>&ldquo;You have to have a very cold heart to say they&rsquo;re doing this so they&rsquo;ll have a better education, but if you can&rsquo;t get to the education, what good is it?&rdquo; Green said.</p><p>CPS has said it will provide busing to Jensen for current King students, but Green is still concerned.</p><p>Retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Bernetta Bush did rule that the transition plan for King students did not &ldquo;adequately address academic and safety concerns&rdquo; and did not comply with the districts closure guidelines. District officials revised King&rsquo;s transition plan after Bush&rsquo;s ruling and before the Board vote.</p><p>After the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/independent-hearing-officers-oppose-14-cps-proposals-close-shake-schools-107066" target="_blank">hearing officers&rsquo; reports came out</a>, CPS&rsquo;s law department immediately posted responses to the district website. At the time, Carroll said the former judges were overstepping their role &ldquo;by opining or creating or adding their own opinion.&rdquo;</p><p>It&rsquo;s not clear what role or significance the district&rsquo;s responses and revisions will play in court.</p><p>Just before the Board of Education&rsquo;s vote last week, the union&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/teachers-union-helps-parents-file-lawsuits-stop-school-closings-107195" target="_blank">filed a pair of lawsuits in federal court</a>&nbsp;alleging that the proposed closings violate the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Illinois Civil Rights Act.</p><p><em>Becky Vevea is a WBEZ education reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p><p><a href="http://www.scribd.com/doc/144501009/CTU-complaint-to-halt-10-of-50-school-closings" style="text-decoration: underline;" title="View CTU complaint to halt 10 of 50 school closings on Scribd">CTU complaint to halt 10 of 50 school closings</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><iframe class="scribd_iframe_embed" data-aspect-ratio="undefined" data-auto-height="false" frameborder="0" height="600" id="doc_57303" scrolling="no" src="http://www.scribd.com/embeds/144501009/content?start_page=1&amp;view_mode=scroll&amp;show_recommendations=true" width="100%"></iframe></p></p> Wed, 29 May 2013 14:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/ctu-parents-file-lawsuit-against-school-closures-107419 Morning Shift: The votes are in, schools are closing. So what's next? http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-23/morning-shift-votes-are-schools-are-closing-so-whats <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/cps_2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union and others will weigh in on the CPS School Board&#39;s decision to close the vast majority of schools on their list. Plus musicians that have moved on, and more, on The Morning Shift.</p><p><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/the-morning-shift-the-votes-are-in-the-schools-are" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The votes are in, the schools are closing. So what's next?" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p></p> Thu, 23 May 2013 09:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-05-23/morning-shift-votes-are-schools-are-closing-so-whats Chicago Teachers Union vows to make school closings political http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-vows-make-school-closings-political-106661 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS6345_AP765841686009-scr.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Angry over school <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202" target="_blank">a proposal</a> that would close down an unprecedented number of schools, Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis Monday vowed to launch a &ldquo;comprehensive and aggressive political action campaign&rdquo; with the ultimate goal of defeating Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local elected officials supportive of school closings.<br /><br />&ldquo;If the mayor and his hand-picked corporate school board will not listen to us, we must find those who will,&rdquo; Lewis said.<br /><br />Lewis said union members would continue to oppose the closings through hearings and protests &ldquo;until the board rubber stamps this plan on May 22, and on May 23 we&rsquo;re going right back in the streets.&rdquo;<br /><br />The union says it wants to put a minimum of 100,000 new voters on Chicago&rsquo;s rolls. Lewis says union organizers will go door to door in neighborhoods where schools are closing and where teachers are losing jobs &ldquo;due to this administration.&rdquo;<br /><br />The union also plans to increase donations to its political action committee and vet potential candidates.<br /><br />Lewis called the dozens of public hearings being held by the district&nbsp; &ldquo;most likely sham events&rdquo; and said they&rsquo;re &ldquo;designed to provide therapy to people impacted by their decisions.&rdquo;<br />&nbsp;<br />The union released an analysis today &mdash; Lewis referred to it as an &ldquo;autopsy&rdquo; &mdash; of Guggenheim Elementary, which was closed last year.<br /><br />The union says Guggenheim was neglected, with overcrowded classrooms and just two working computers in the library. Advocates say once the proposal to shut down the school was announced, the principal improperly tried to push homeless children to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/content/parents-school-slated-closure-tried-move-students-out" target="_blank">transfer</a>. Once Guggenheim was closed, only 37 percent of students went to the designated CPS receiving school. Catalyst-Chicago has <a href="http://www.catalyst-chicago.org/news/2013/04/03/20943/losing-track" target="_blank">reported</a> that CPS has lost track of 23 Guggenheim kids, and cannot say where they ended up.</p><p>The union says other schools live in fear of being shut down. It says the district had trouble closing four schools last year, now it&rsquo;s trying to close 54.<br /><br />Chicago Public Schools spokesman Dave Miranda says the district is taking a new approach this year.</p><p>&ldquo;Unlike in the past, CPS will work aggressively and proactively to reach parents at all sending schools to encourage them to enroll their children in their dedicated higher-performing welcoming schools,&quot; he said. &quot;We want to ensure that students can benefit from the additional investments that will be made in welcoming schools for the fall.&rdquo;<br /><br />A spokeswoman for the mayor said this is &quot;simply not the time for politics.&quot;&nbsp;</p><p>&quot;Barbara Byrd-Bennett has proposed a plan for Chicago Public Schools, with Mayor Emanuel&#39;s support, that finally puts our children first,&quot; the spokeswoman said.&nbsp;</p><p><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her at <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation" target="_blank">@WBEZeducation</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 15 Apr 2013 17:52:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-union-vows-make-school-closings-political-106661 Crowds descend on downtown Chicago to protest school closings, 127 ticketed http://www.wbez.org/news/crowds-descend-downtown-chicago-protest-school-closings-127-ticketed-106311 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/8596861162_a734e7f296_z.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><object height="338" width="601"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2F&amp;set_id=72157633103902875&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633103902875%2F&amp;set_id=72157633103902875&amp;jump_to=" height="338" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="601"></embed></object></p><p>More than 100 people were cleared away by police at a Wednesday rally protesting Chicago Public Schools&#39;&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">proposal to close 54 schools</a>.</p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/civil-disobedience-revs-against-school-closings-106353" target="_blank">A group including teacher union officials, parents, janitors, lunch ladies and ministers sat down in front of City Hall. </a>Police asked each individual to leave. When they refused, police led them away.</p><p>The Chicago Police Department says it ticketed 127 people. At the rally, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis called the closings a &quot;land grab and a power grab,&quot; and said they were part of an attempt to privatize the school system. For more on the rally, see WBEZ coverage <a href="http://www.wbez.org/civil-disobedience-revs-against-school-closings-106353" target="_blank">here</a>.</p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel Wednesday stood by the district&#39;s decision to close schools, saying <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-addresses-race-chicago-school-closure-plan-106325" target="_blank">the status quo is not working</a>.</p><p>Prior to the protest, the CTU had been training parents, teachers and community organizations in civil disobedience and had said it planned for 150 people to be arrested . &nbsp;A <a href="https://www.facebook.com/events/441102002634744/">Facebook </a>announcement for the rally warned, &ldquo;They want to shut down our schools, we&rsquo;ll shut down the city.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago&rsquo;s pubic schools are out for spring break this week, leaving students and teachers free to join in the rush-hour rally, organized by the teachers union and a coalition of other unions and community groups.&nbsp; Chicago Public Schools erected barricades Monday outside its headquarters in preparation. &nbsp;A spokeswoman said that&rsquo;s common practice in situations where the district gets advance word of a protest.</p><p dir="ltr">Chicago Public Schools is also <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/leaked-memo-tells-principals-keep-eye-school-closings-protesters-106301">preparing principals for acts of civil disobedience</a> at their schools, though not necessarily today. A memo sent to principals at closing schools lists lockdowns, walk-outs, sit-ins and &ldquo;Occupy&rdquo; actions as possibilities. It outlines &ldquo;overall guidelines for the prevention of civil disobedience&rdquo; and suggests principals &ldquo;be approachable and supportive to feelings of unrest, anxiety, or dissatisfaction.&rdquo; It also instructs principals to &ldquo;observe and report all information regarding possible protestors, locations, dates and times,&rdquo; and to note which community organizations or news organizations are present.</p><p dir="ltr"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202">In addition to closing 53 elementary schools</a> and one small high school, the district wants to completely re-staff six additional elementary schools. It is also proposing 23 schools share 11 buildings beginning next fall; some of those are new schools that will just be opening.</p><p dir="ltr">The district says closing the 54 schools will offer students a better education because it will allow scarce resources to be spread across fewer schools. Many of the schools slated for closure have fewer than 300 students. For the first time in more than a decade of school closings, CPS is saying it will put significant money into receiving schools, promising students air conditioning, libraries with new books, &ldquo;learning gardens&rdquo; and iPads, along with social workers and counselors to help students adjust.</p><p dir="ltr">The teachers union has said it wants no schools closed, and parents at the individual schools slated for consolidation have brought up their own concerns, from longer walks to school in winter weather to fear for their children crossing into rival gang territory.</p><p dir="ltr">Earlier this month in Philadelphia, 19 activists were arrested at a meeting where the Philadelphia School Reform Commission voted to close 23 schools; the head of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, was among those arrested. The Chicago Teachers Union says Weingarten, who appeared at rallies here during the teachers strike in September, is not expected to be in Chicago today.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Linda Lutton is an education reporter for WBEZ. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/wbezeducation">@WBEZeducation</a>.</em></p></p> Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/crowds-descend-downtown-chicago-protest-school-closings-127-ticketed-106311 Emanuel: CPS school closures 'not taken lightly,' but must be done http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-cps-school-closures-not-taken-lightly-must-be-done-106253 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS5608_AP120518043860-scr_1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Saturday the decision to launch the largest single round of school closures in American history was &ldquo;not taken lightly&rdquo; but had to be done, and he dismissed claims the closures are racially motivated as &ldquo;schoolyard taunts.&rdquo;</p><p>Emanuel made his first public comments about the city&rsquo;s school closure plan Saturday afternoon. Chicago Public Schools officially released a list of 54 schools slated for closure on Thursday, when the mayor was out of town on a family ski trip.</p><p>In his absence, news of CPS&rsquo; plan to shutter a record number of public schools by next year has drawn threats of civil unrest from the Chicago Teachers Union and outcry from many parents concerned about their kids having to cross busy streets or navigate new gang territories to get to class.</p><p>&ldquo;This is very difficult, a lot of anguish, and I understand that and I appreciate it,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;But the anguish and the pain that comes &hellip; from making the change is less, or minimal, in my view, or pales compared to the anguish that comes by trapping children in schools that are not succeeding.&rdquo;</p><p>All told, 128 Chicago Public Schools face complete closure or other actions, including consolidation and &ldquo;turnaround,&rdquo; when low-performing schools have their entire staffs fired and new ones brought in. That&rsquo;s four times the number of school shakeups Chicago has ever tried to undertake in a single school year, and the actions disproportionately affect black students.</p><p>According to a WBEZ analysis, 87 percent of schools that are being closed or having their buildings vacated are majority African-American. In total, 80 percent of kids affected by closures and other shakeups are black. About 42 percent of CPS students are African-American.</p><p>On Saturday Emanuel brushed off accusations from the head of the Chicago Teachers Union that the closure policy is racist.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not interested in throwing terms around, or schoolyard taunts,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m interested in making sure that the schools are achieving what they&rsquo;re set up to do: a high-quality education.&rdquo;</p><p>The district has said the shakeups will save about $43 million a year, plus another $560 million in capital costs over the next decade that it won&rsquo;t have to spend fixing dilapidated buildings. But in tandem with the projected savings, district officials are also planning to spend $233 million next year on new air conditioners, iPads, books and libraries for schools that will take in the tens of thousands of displaced students.</p><p>But the closure plan is primarily aimed at getting kids out of schools marked as low-performing or underutilized, not about saving money, Emanuel said.</p><p>&ldquo;[We] did not look at this decision as numbers on a spreadsheet,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;We looked at it, and viewed it [as], &lsquo;What do we need to do to make sure that every child has a high-quality education in the city of Chicago?&rsquo;&rdquo;</p><p>The mayor also defended his decision to be on vacation when the controversial school closings were first announced.</p><p>&ldquo;I had a family trip planned. Took it. You are not far, ever, from your office, and I was on the phone and emailing with my office regularly,&rdquo; he said, adding he talked frequently with CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett and other staffers.</p><p>Chicago Public Schools is planning to hold more than 150 public community meetings before the school board takes a final vote on its shakeup plan, which could occur at its May 22 meeting.</p></p> Sat, 23 Mar 2013 16:40:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-cps-school-closures-not-taken-lightly-must-be-done-106253 Chicago proposes closing 53 elementary schools, firing staff at another 6 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/protest-big.jpg" title="Protesters hold a press conference outside Chicago Board of Education President David Vitale's house in Woodlawn. (WBEZ/Bill Healy)" /></div><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84314672&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Chicago Public Schools has announced the long-awaited list of schools it wants to close.&nbsp;</p><p>The district wants to shut down 53 elementary schools&mdash;11 percent of all district-run grammar schools. Officials also plan to close a tiny high school currently connected to a grammar school.&nbsp;</p><p>If approved, this would be the largest single round of school closings ever undertaken in the country, and quadruple the number of school shake-ups Chicago has tried before in a single year.&nbsp;</p><p>The vast majority of the 30,000 impacted students are African American and attend schools on the South or West Sides, or near former public housing developments.</p><p>Another six grammar schools will see their staffs completely dismissed, in an effort to address chronic low performance. They are Barton, Chalmers, Dewey, O&rsquo;Keefe, Carter, and Lewis. The management of those schools will be turned over to the nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership, an avowed favorite of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, boosting the group&#39;s total number of schools in Chicago to 31.&nbsp; <strong>See the complete list of closures and other school shake-ups below.</strong></p><p>Some of the proposed closings involve not only closures, but complicated relocations that will feel like closures even for receiving schools. For instance, the district wants to close May and Armstrong schools; their staffs would be laid off. Leland Elementary is named as the receiving school and would take in the May and Armstrong students. But the district is also proposing a relocation for Leland, to the May building. May would legally become &quot;Leland,&quot; and house students from all three schools, headed by the Leland principal and staff. The original Armstrong and Leland buildings would be taken off line.</p><p>Initially, CPS pitched massive school closings as a savings measure in light of a projected $1 billion deficit. Thursday, district officials used other arguments: &quot;Fundamentally this work is about improving the educational opportunities for our students,&quot; said Todd Babbitz, who&#39;s overseeing the closings for the district. &quot;We do as a district today have resources that are spread much, much too thin. We are spending way more on buildings that we believe are unnecessary in our footprint.&quot;</p><p>District officials said they estimate closing the 54 schools will bring a total annual savings of $43 million. That&#39;s in a district with an annual budget around $5 billion. They also estimate the district will save $560 million in &quot;avoided&quot; capital costs over the next decade.</p><p>But the district is following the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/commission-says-chicago-has-capacity-80-school-closings-105946" target="_blank">recommendation </a>of the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/education/independence-independent-schools-commission-questioned-104460" target="_blank">independent </a>School Utilization Commission: &quot;spend the money to do it right.&quot;&nbsp; Chicago Public Schools is <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Announcements/Pages/3_20_2013_PR2.aspx" target="_blank">promising big amenities </a>at receiving schools, like air conditioning in every classroom, iPads for all third through eighth graders, libraries for schools that don&#39;t have one, and new books. They&rsquo;re also offering schools money for tutoring and mentors. The district is stepping up efforts to create safe passages to school for kids, and providing <a href="http://www.cps.edu/News/Press_releases/Pages/3_14_2013_PR1.aspx" target="_blank">additional security </a>once they&rsquo;re there. Total one-year pricetag: $223 million.</p><p>CPS officials also said they plan to add 18 new programs to the receiving schools. They will add a fine and performing arts program to Haley school, four International Baccalaureate programs at Wells, Mollison, Jenner and De Diego, and 13 new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs at Altgeld, Leland, Nicholson, Wadsworth, Ellington, DePriest, Sumner, Hefferan, Earle, L. Hughes, Tilton, Gompers and Laura Ward.</p><p>School closings are being pushed across the country as a cost savings solution, despite studies that show they <a href="http://www.pewtrusts.org/news_room_detail.aspx?id=85899433986" target="_blank">tend to save little money</a>.</p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union is threatening major protests and acts of civil disobedience to oppose the proposed closings, which won&#39;t be final until they&#39;re approved by the school board, expected to vote on May 22. The union says the underutilization crisis is &ldquo;manufactured&rdquo; and is meant to create chaos in the system, opening the door to privatization. Parents and teachers have <a href="http://cpsapples2apples.wordpress.com/author/jeanmari/" target="_blank">challenged the district&rsquo;s calculations </a>of what constitutes &ldquo;underutilization.&rdquo; School officials have not produced any demographic projections, either for the city or the neighborhoods.</p><p>In the affected neighborhoods Thursday, parents were reacting with anger about the uncertainty ahead.</p><p>Denise White walked her first grader to Overton Elementary in Bronzeville Thursday morning, and talked about her anxiety that her school could close.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m upset,&quot; White said. &quot;We live up the street, so if they close the school, I&rsquo;m going to have to send him to live with his dad.&nbsp; And if they close the school...With all the violence? Then what?&nbsp; What do the kids do then?&rdquo;</p><p>A little later in the day, parents and community residents associated with the group Action Now took their protest over school closings to the homes of three members of the CPS Board of Education: Andrea Zopp, School Board President David Vitale, and outgoing board member Penny Pritzker.&nbsp;</p><p>Michelle Young said she&rsquo;d just found out her children&rsquo;s school, May Elementary, on the city&rsquo;s West Side, is on the list to be closed.</p><p>&ldquo;We need to elect a school board so that we can stop the cycle of rich outcomers coming to exploit low-income people like us,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;This is a plan designed to fail, and when you design it to fail, our children will never get educated. They deserve that right!&rdquo;&nbsp;</p><p>District officials said they avoided assigning students to receiving schools that were more than a mile away from their closing school.&nbsp;</p><p>Despite that, many parents are worried about the distances their kids will have to travel next year.</p><p>In East Garfield Park, a West Side neighborhood, the parents who arrived at John Calhoun North Elementary&rsquo;s dismissal time to bring students home Thursday received a map showing where the district is sending their kids next year: Willa Cather Elementary.</p><p>Cather stands less than six blocks from Calhoun but far enough to raise fears about everything from winter temperatures to the neighborhood&rsquo;s gang boundaries.</p><p>&ldquo;How are they supposed to get back and forth?&rdquo; Ardell Lewis asked, holding the hands of his daughter and grandson, both Calhoun students. &ldquo;You got a lot of things going on around in the street: People snatching kids. So what do I have to do? Buy a car now?&rdquo;</p><p>Kelly Wormley has five kids at Calhoun. They can walk together without her now, but not next year, she said. &ldquo;Especially with me working at 5 o&rsquo;clock in the morning, I&rsquo;ll probably have to get somebody to take them school.&rdquo;</p><p>That&rsquo;s unless Wormley gets them into a charter school that opened in 2009 &mdash; right across the street from Calhoun.</p><p>Some of the district&rsquo;s fiercest critics, including the Chicago Teachers Union, have charged that Chicago is&nbsp;<a href="http://www.ctunet.com/quest-center/research/position-papers/privatization-the-black-white-of-education-in-chicagos-public-schools" target="_blank">creating its own crisis</a>, aggressively opening charter schools at a time when <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/truth-squad-enrollment-down-cps-not-much-104297">enrollment has declined by 30,000</a>.</p><p>CPS has said for months it faces a &ldquo;utilization crisis&rdquo; and has room for more than 100,000 additional students in its current buildings. In December it deemed half of all its schools&mdash;330 total&mdash;under-enrolled, with 140 of them only half full. School officials say closings are a move to &ldquo;right size&rdquo; a shrinking school district and spread resources across fewer schools.</p><p><em>Prior to announcement CPS CEO Barbara Byrd was interviewed on WBEZ&#39;s Afternoon Shift</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84167002&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&ldquo;For too long children in certain parts of Chicago have been cheated out of the resources they need to succeed in the classroom because they are in underutilized, under resourced schools,&rdquo; CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett said in a statement e-mailed to reporters Wednesday night, after names of schools on the list began to leak out ahead of the planned release.</p><p>Even as it closes schools, the district has a commitment to open&nbsp;<a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-05-16/news/ct-met-cps-charter-growth-20120517_1_charter-schools-charter-movement-cps-plans" target="_blank">60 new charter schools in the next five years</a>. On Thursday, CPS also announced 11 &quot;co-locations&quot;--an arrangement where two or more schools share the same building. Five of the schools do not even exist yet.</p><p>Closures have also been pushed as <a href="http://www.crpe.org/portfolio" target="_blank">a reform strategy </a>in urban districts. The idea is to weed out low-performing or under-enrolled schools and seed new ones, often charters. The strategy has netted mixed results in Chicago, where it&rsquo;s been tried for the past dozen years.</p><p><object height="465" width="620"><param name="flashvars" value="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2F&amp;set_id=72157633052894271&amp;jump_to=" /><param name="movie" value="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" /><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true" /><embed allowfullscreen="true" flashvars="offsite=true&amp;lang=en-us&amp;page_show_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2Fshow%2F&amp;page_show_back_url=%2Fphotos%2Fchicagopublicradio%2Fsets%2F72157633052894271%2F&amp;set_id=72157633052894271&amp;jump_to=" height="465" src="http://www.flickr.com/apps/slideshow/show.swf?v=124984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="620"></embed></object></p><p>That&rsquo;s meant a wrenching annual process of closing schools, which parents and the Chicago Teachers Union have fought bitterly.</p><p>Today&rsquo;s list will come<a href="http://wbez-assets.s3.amazonaws.com/WBEZ-Graphics/SchoolChart.html" target="_blank"> on top of more than 100 prior school shakeups and closings&nbsp;</a> since Chicago <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/history-school-closings-chicago-2002-12-104383" target="_blank">began the practice in 2001-02</a>, under then CEO Arne Duncan.</p><p>It also brings a first: Chicago is closing down some of its original &quot;renaissance&quot; new schools. Williams Elementary and Williams Middle emerged from the ashes of one of Chicago&#39;s first &quot;renaissance&quot; school closures (Williams, Terrell and Dodge were the first to be shuttered, amidst mass protests, in 2002). The Dodge Elementary building will also be shuttered; that&#39;s where President Obama announced he&#39;d invited Arne Duncan to be his Secretary of Education.&nbsp; Dodge&#39;s principal, staff, and presumably students will move further west and share a building with Morton.</p><p>The district is also recommending closing a turnaround school. Bethune Elementary, in North Lawndale, saw its entire staff fired in 2009. The school was given an infusion of cash, taken over by the private nonprofit Academy for Urban School Leadership, and re-staffed. Now Bethune is slated to close.</p><p><em>&mdash;Natalie Moore, Chip Mitchell and Judith Ruiz-Branch contributed reporting.<br />Elliott Ramos produced graphics, maps and illustrations.</em></p><p><em style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-family: Arial, sans-serif; font-size: 14px; line-height: 22px;">For more updates on school closings, follow education reporters Becky Vevea and Linda Lutton&nbsp;on&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZeducation"><font color="#006896" face="inherit"><span style="font-style: inherit; font-variant: inherit; line-height: inherit;">Twitter</span></font>.</a></em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F84333172&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/SUB.jpg" title="" /></div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><span style="font-size:10px;"><i>Update: The above graphic&nbsp;erroneously displayed a neighboring library for Delano, it&#39;s been updated with the correct image.</i></span></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div></div><div class="image-insert-image "><a name="schools"></a></div><p><strong>Affected schools: Closures, turnarounds and receiving schools</strong></p><table border="0" cellpadding="1" cellspacing="1" style="width: 940px;"><tbody><tr><td><div id="map-canvas"><a name="map"></a></div></td></tr><tr><td><form action=""><a name="chart"></a>Number of rows to show: <select onchange="setOption('pageSize', parseInt(this.value, 10))"><option value="5">5</option><option value="10">10</option><option value="15">15</option><option value="20">20</option><option value="30">30</option><option value="40">40</option><option selected="selected" value="0">50</option><option value="80">80</option><option value="127">ALL</option></select></form><br /><div id="table">&nbsp;</div></td></tr></tbody></table><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 21 Mar 2013 00:54:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-proposes-closing-53-elementary-schools-firing-staff-another-6-106202 Chicago teachers sue district, claim racial bias http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-sue-district-claim-racial-bias-104578 <p><p>The Chicago Teachers Union and three teachers filed a lawsuit against the city&rsquo;s school board Wednesday, claiming it&rsquo;s practice of firing school staff to improve performance discriminates against black teachers.</p><p>The three African-American teachers allege that the district&rsquo;s practice of &ldquo;turning around&rdquo; failing schools disproportionately affects minority teachers. They&rsquo;ve filed for class-action status.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve seen an overwhelming, disproportionate harm visited upon black teachers, who through no fault of their own, are being singled out in these schools as responsible for low test scores essentially,&rdquo; said Jackson Potter, staff coordinator for the teachers union.</p><p>The teachers &mdash; Donald Garrett Jr., Robert Green and Vivonell Brown Jr. &mdash; all lost their jobs at the end of last school year when the school district approved turnarounds at their schools. The three schools &mdash; Chicago Vocational, Tilden and Woodson South &mdash; were among a record total of 10 school turnarounds.</p><p>The practice, the lawsuit alleges, has contributed to the steady decline in African American teachers in Chicago Public Schools.</p><p>It&rsquo;s true that most of the &ldquo;turnaround schools&rdquo; are in predominantly African-American and Hispanic communities on the south and west sides of the city. Layoffs are largely determined by enrollment, and those areas have had larger population declines since the city tore down many of the public housing projects. &nbsp;</p><p>Still, the lawsuit argues that comparable enrollment drops in a number of largely white, North Side schools haven&rsquo;t seen significant layoffs.</p><p>Chicago schools spokeswoman Marielle Sainvilus says that district officials can&#39;t comment on the lawsuit. But she says the district remains committed to doing turnarounds and &quot;has an obligation to expand high-quality school options ... in every neighborhood.&quot;</p><p>The percentage of minority teachers has declined significantly over the last decade. Dan Kleinman, the policy director for the left-leaning Action Now Institute, said preliminary research they&rsquo;ve done shows that the number of minorities graduating from colleges of education in Illinois has remained steady and even increased in recent years, while minority hiring in CPS has gone the opposite direction.</p><p>The lawsuit filed Thursday is not the first time union leaders have tried to take action on the issue. In 2009, when the current union leadership was an activist caucus within the union, <a href="http://coreteachers.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/eeoc-chargesfiledredacted.pdf">they filed &ldquo;administrative charges&rdquo;</a> on behalf of six minority teachers who were displaced during turnarounds that year.&nbsp;Those charges were never filed in a formal lawsuit or brought to trial.</p></p> Thu, 27 Dec 2012 09:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/chicago-teachers-sue-district-claim-racial-bias-104578