Rahm Shortchanges Public Schools, Showers Charters With Cash

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Matt Farmer on Huffington Post with a story that's illustrative of the kinds of issues Chicago teachers are striking over: how Rahm Emanuel is siphoning off the money from public schools and giving it to the politically-connected, for-profit "reformers" -- while public schools have inadequate resources, overcrowded classrooms and leaky roofs. He's also willing to switch out the bulk of the Chicago public schools for a system that we already know isn't any better, because it benefits the political and financial agenda of his corporate cronies:

February was an interesting month for sixth-grade math teacher Octavia Sansing-Rhodes. On February 28, WGN-TV and St. Xavier University named Sansing-Rhodes their "Teacher of the Month" and awarded her a $1000 check for her fine work at Chicago's Herzl Elementary School.

That honor, however, was bittersweet because it came just six days after Chicago Public Schools CEO Jean-Claude Brizard effectively fired Sansing-Rhodes, along with everybody else who works at Herzl.The purge was announced at the February 22 meeting of the Chicago Board of Education. Late that afternoon, the mayor's hand-picked board voted (unanimously, of course) to "turnaround" Herzl in 2012-13 by handing the school over to the mayor's friends at the Academy for Urban School Leadership.

Bottom line -- everyone in the building gets fired, and AUSL gets to hire its own teachers, principals, custodians and cafeteria workers.Oh, yeah -- and as an added bonus, the Board of Ed (headed by former AUSL chairman David Vitale) will provide the new AUSL management with roughly $9 million for upgrades to the building.

After all, what would have been the point in wasting a fresh coat of paint, a new elevator, or a roof that didn't leak on Sansing-Rhodes and her colleagues?

Funny how those dollars always seem to follow the connected folks at AUSL.

It turns out February's "Teacher of the Month" has an unusual perspective on this "turnaround." Sansing-Rhodes trained as an AUSL teacher, did her student teaching in AUSL "turnaround schools," and said that she learned a lot from the program.This time, however, she's on the outside looking in.

But she's doing her best to take it all in stride.She'll definitely miss her Herzl students, and she's working hard to get them excited about the new management and all the good things that $9 million and additional teaching resources will mean for the kids. At the same time, though, she acknowledged that February's "turnaround" vote was quite a blow to teacher and staff morale at her school.

Oh, and here's this report from Rick Perlstein's Salon story on the Chicago strike:

Teachers trust their leadership. They don’t trust the mayor — who the union’s feisty president, Karen Lewis, claims told her at a social outing at the ballet shortly after his election “that 25 percent of the students in this city are never going to be anything, never going to amount to anything and he was never going to throw money at them.” The exchange points to a key hinge in the story: Who in the dispute, the teachers’ union or the mayor, most earnestly has the interests of “the children” at heart?

But the part that struck me is, what makes Rahm so very sure he knows which kids fit that 25 percent?

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