Chicago Public Schools head Jean-Claude Brizard announced CPS's plan to "turnaround" ten South and West Side schools, meaning that teachers and principals at those schools would be fired and replaced. In addition to new staff, CPS is expected to provide about $20 million to each of the schools.
School restructurings started under former CPS head and current U.S. Education Sec. Arne Duncan. But Duncan, working with Mayor Daley, usually restructured about three schools a year. The Board of Education must approve Brizard's plan, but they are expected to do so.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis is not pleased with the plan, releasing the following statement:
Today we learned through the press the names of 10 schools reportedly targeted for “turnaround” by the District—a decision that will impact thousands of students and hundreds of school employees. We are concerned that CPS continues to make serious decisions in isolation and without consulting and collaborating with the school communities that will be hurt by its actions,” she said. “Instead of welcoming honest dialogue, CPS only gave an illusion of transparency by telling the public to go online or attend hastily called meetings where they were limited to 120 second comments. That was nothing more than a carefully managed public relations campaign.
Our greatest concern is about how this process disruptive to students who are treated as data points and ‘seats’ to be shuffled from building to building. The desire to see change for change’s sake always concerns me. Turnarounds are expensive and destabilizing to students who live in neighborhoods already rocked by foreclosures, unemployment, high incarceration rates, violence, malnutrition and a lack of other resources. Now, the Board comes along and fires all of their teachers, lunchroom workers, building engineers and other faces they know and trust. Instead of giving students in under-resourced schools the attention they deserve, they are starved of resources, put on a hit list, labeled as failing, and then shut down or given over to private interests.
I am also concerned that six of 10 schools are reportedly going to AUSL because both the Board president and chief administrative officer have strong ties to this privately run organization. This doesn’t sit right with us and it gives an appearance of a “conflict of interest.” The appearance of such a conflict should be investigated.