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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Serious Reporting on School Closings In Chicago

Serious Reporting on School Closings In Chicago

Thursday, 30 May 2013 05:24

The media have largely accepted at face value the claims from Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel that is necessary to close a large number of the city's schools in order to save money and improve the quality of education. It turns out that much of what Emanuel has claimed about savings and moving students to better schools is not supported by the evidence as Chicago radio station WBEZ uncovered in its analysis.

One might think that this sort of follow-up would get more attention from the national media not only because Rahm Emanuel was formerly President Obama's chief of staff, but also because its school commissioner for 8 years was Arne Duncan, the current education secretary. Emanuel's claims that the schools are a disaster would seem to be an indictment of Mr. Duncan's performance. (Several of the schools slated for closing were success stories highlighted by Duncan.)

The Post deserves credit on this one. Its education reporter Valerie Strauss did her homework.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by TK421, May 30, 2013 5:14
"One might think that this sort of follow-up would get more attention from the national media not only because Rahm Emanuel was formerly President Obama's chief of staff"

That is exactly why I don't expect much attention to be paid to this issue. The number of people who want to read bad things about President Obama and his quest to privatize schools is vanishingly small. Republicans agree with his plan and most Democrats believe he is the second coming and refuse to hear otherwise.
the ultimate neoliberal agenda
written by Jennifer, May 30, 2013 8:31
People need to understand the ultimate neoliberal agenda is being pursued in Chicago. 50 schools are being closed in the name of "necessity" while millions of dollars are being pledged to . . . a stadium for a private college that will host 18 games a year, just a few miles alway from United Stadium (where the professional basketball and hockey teams play).
People with money know that the ultimate gravy train is the "public" school system, and they want in on it. CPS (Chicago Public Schools) hearings-the ones that were supposed to be for "communication and outreach" were actually managed by Walton Foundation employees (charter school group), the week the school closings were announced parents got flyers in the mail for charter schools. Parents are supposed to be enrolling kids in schools right now, except that they are being told there is no room (but the schools are half-empty?) and in many cases if they have kids classified as "special education" the schools they are supposed to go to have no special education programs. Don't they understand the mayor is saving them?
Meanwhile the mayor goes on about wanted to decrease violence. Nearly all of the schools to be closed are on the South and West side, black/brown marginalized neighborhoods where most of this violence occurs. Do you know a good way to decrease violence? You keep schools open in these neighborhoods and give them more resources-you try to keep the union members that live in those neighborhoods employed instead of plowing money into private retail development where they will be lucky to get jobs at $10 an hour.
The best part is the CPS board, hand-picked by the mayor who had to nerve to tell parents they didn't know anything about economics. This coming from a body that hasn't released a budget for next year, (due now), that never presented realistic, accurate numbers on any budget aspect. They have also chanted the mantra-as everybody always does in the education reform debate-that these are problems that have been here a long time-you know, when Arne Duncan was around, or Paul Vallas who has also had a very successful career. Odd how CPS should be such a train wreck when the people running it have had such successful careers.
Meanwhile the mayor "negotiated" an improved private parking meter contract that would appear to favor the company. The mayor claimed this was the best he could do, as he has complained about how bad the deal was-however the city refused to take part in a lawsuit against the company. Serious people negotiate from a position of leverage. Even if the case was a long shot in a city where egregious police behavior is defended to the nth degree (with public dollars), the fact that the city wouldn't sue is not acceptable. Oh, has said company given the mayor campaign contributions? Why yes, they have. (Although I believe he gave it back after everybody fussed.)
Everything this mayor does is a "tough" decision that is for "our benefit". Really? It is telling of the ruling elites that everything that is "good for you" has be distasteful, require suffering. Kind of like the austerity hawks who think we should all bleed because it will make us better.
Time is not an entity that I have ever expect much. This is really the worst though, I can never take them seriously after this.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.