Perhaps Chicago Public Schools should start over again

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Perhaps Chicago Public Schools should start over again

By John Ruberry

[cap­tion id=“attachment_107327” align=“alignright” width=“300”] Theodore Herzl School of Excel­lence, Chicago’s West Side[/caption]

Is a new begin­ning the only way out for Chicago Pub­lic Schools?

That’s what crossed my mind this morn­ing while I was watch­ing Mike Flan­nery on Fox Chicago’s Flan­nery Fired Up.

The show opened. with an inter­view of David Jack­son, one of the inves­tiga­tive reporters who penned a dis­turb­ing yet indis­pens­able series of arti­cles about sex­ual attacks at Chicago Pub­lic Schools.

I was flab­ber­gasted to learn the fre­quency of sex­ual assaults against stu­dents in Chicago’s schools,” Jack­son told the host. “I expected dozens of cases. There were hundreds.”

What did Chicago Pub­lic Schools do about it, Flan­nery asked?

Very lit­tle,” Jack­son replied.

Dur­ing the ten-​year period the Tri­bune inves­ti­gated those attacks, which include rape, there were 523 reports of sex­ual assaults inside city schools. That’s about one a week. Not included in that total are sex­ual attacks off property.

CPS pro­tected its employ­ees, to the detri­ment of stu­dents, as did the Chicago Teach­ers Union. The accusers – vic­tims, I should say – were aggres­sively assailed by CPS lawyers who were more inter­ested in pro­tect­ing the teach­ers, coaches, cus­to­di­ans, and secu­rity guards than serv­ing jus­tice and safe­guard­ing its students.

Over at the Chicago Sun-​Times, read­ers leaned that a “blitz” health inspec­tion of 125 schools found that only 34 passed. Rat drop­pings, filthy bath­rooms, and unsan­i­tary food prepa­ra­tion equip­ment were dis­cov­ered. The most egre­gious vio­la­tions were cen­tered on facil­i­ties Ara­mark was hired to keep clean. Who was in charge of CPS facil­i­ties? A for­mer Ara­mark employee, Leslie Fowler, who resigned her high-​paying post last week. While the bid­ding process was open for a food con­tract, an inspec­tor general’s report cited “ques­tion­able con­duct” when Fowler twice dined with the pres­i­dent of Aramark

Her ex-​employer won the bid.

Prior to her hir­ing as CEO of Chicago Pub­lic Schools, Bar­bara Byrd-​Bennett was a con­sul­tant for SUPES Acad­emy, which pro­duced train­ing pro­grams for school admin­is­tra­tors. Once in charge of CPS, the woman known as BBB steered a $23 mil­lion train­ing con­tract to her old employer. She was to receive a ten-​percent kick­back from that con­tract as well as a promise of a job when­ever she left CPS.

In an email to a cou­ple of SUPES bosses, Byrd-​Bennet added to the already volu­mi­nous lore of Chicago cor­rup­tion by boast­ing, “I have tuition to pay and casi­nos to visit.”

It’s sus­pected that such crony-​capitalism between CPS brass and their for­mer private-​sector employ­ers is wide­spread. If true, then such private-​public cross-​pollination is sim­ply a revolv­ing door of corruption.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_102100” align=“alignleft” width=“300”] Dunne School on the South Side, where your blog­ger atteneded kindergarten[/caption]

Byrd-​Bennett, along with those two for­mer big shots at SUPES, are now incar­cer­ated in fed­eral prison.

Despite the rep­u­ta­tion of CPS for fail­ure, Barack Obama chose one of BBB’s pre­de­ces­sors, Arne Dun­can, as his first edu­ca­tion secretary.

Obama’s daugh­ters attended a pri­vate school in Chicago.

How is CPS doing in regards to edu­cat­ing chil­dren? Not very well. Not even one-​in-​four stu­dents read at grade level. Yes, I am aware that unlike kids in most sub­ur­ban schools, there are addi­tional chal­lenges in teach­ing city chil­dren, many of whom come from abu­sive homes. But one-​in-​four? After years of so-​called reform?

And what about the filth and the sex­ual assaults?

If the goal of Chicago Pub­lic Schools is to edu­cate chil­dren in a safe envi­ron­ment, then it is fail­ing – and has been for a long time, despite most schools incor­po­rat­ing such words as “Excel­lence” and “Col­lege Prepara­tory ” into their names. Before their well-​needed demo­li­tion, pub­lic hous­ing high rises, which never should have been built in the first place, were derided by lib­er­als as “ware­houses of the poor.”

Most CPS schools are ware­houses of the poorly educated.

If the goal of CPS is to pro­vide a gen­er­ous income for teach­ers, main­te­nance work­ers, and of course admin­is­tra­tors, along with boun­ti­ful pen­sions for them, then it is a fab­u­lous suc­cess. Oh, let’s not for­get the bot­tom lines of those con­trac­tors. They are doing well too.

As for those pen­sions, they have long been a slush fund. one that is danc­ing with insol­vency. rather than serv­ing as a retire­ment program.

Fitch rates CPS bonds as junk.

So, by nearly everyone’s stan­dards, CPS is failing.

Does it con­tinue on its same road to defeat?

When do Chicago tax­pay­ers, who are increas­ingly angry because of repeated prop­erty tax hikes to pay for unfunded pen­sions, scream, “Enough!”

Fir­ing every­one – and start­ing over again might be the only way out for CPS, which could be pos­si­ble if state law is changed and pub­lic agen­cies are allowed to file for bank­ruptcy pro­tec­tion. Rehire the good teach­ers and the admin­is­tra­tors who fight waste and theft. Char­ter schools aren’t the answer. UNO, an His­panic group with close ties with for­mer Mayor Richard M. Daley, uti­lized char­ter schools for crony cap­i­tal­ism and graft. More pri­va­ti­za­tion isn’t the answer, as Ara­mark isn’t able to keep schools clean. School vouch­ers? Maybe. But some par­ents, sadly, don’t have the ini­tia­tive to bet­ter the lives of the children.

Floun­der­ing schools are already closed and re-​opened with new staff here-​and-​there in Chicago.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_95046” align=“alignright” width=“300”] Blog­ger in down­town Chicago[/caption]

For those of you who cry out “more money” for Chicago’s schools, keep in mind more cash opens the door to more theft, or at the very least, more squan­der­ing of tax­payer funds.

Crime, high taxes, and rot­ten schools are the pri­mary rea­sons given by peo­ple who decide to move away from Chicago. And Chicago is the only major city with a declin­ing population.

Next year there is a may­oral elec­tion in Chicago. One of the can­di­dates, Paul Val­las, is a for­mer CEO of CPS.

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit. He attended kinder­garten at a CPS school, Edward F. Dunne Ele­men­tary School. It is now the Dunne Tech­nol­ogy Acad­emy Ele­men­tary School.

By John Ruberry

Theodore Herzl School of Excellence, Chicago’s West Side

Is a new beginning the only way out for Chicago Public Schools?

That’s what crossed my mind this morning while I was watching Mike Flannery on Fox Chicago’s Flannery Fired Up.

The show opened. with an interview of David Jackson, one of the investigative reporters who penned a disturbing yet indispensable series of articles about sexual attacks at Chicago Public Schools.

“I was flabbergasted to learn the frequency of sexual assaults against students in Chicago’s schools,” Jackson told the host. “I expected dozens of cases. There were hundreds.”

What did Chicago Public Schools do about it, Flannery asked?

“Very little,” Jackson replied.

During the ten-year period the Tribune investigated those attacks, which include rape, there were 523 reports of sexual assaults inside city schools. That’s about one a week. Not included in that total are sexual attacks off property.

CPS protected its employees, to the detriment of students, as did the Chicago Teachers Union. The accusers–victims, I should say–were aggressively assailed by CPS lawyers who were more interested in protecting the teachers, coaches, custodians, and security guards than serving justice and safeguarding its students.

Over at the Chicago Sun-Times, readers leaned that a “blitz” health inspection of 125 schools found that only 34 passed. Rat droppings, filthy bathrooms, and unsanitary food preparation equipment were discovered. The most egregious violations were centered on facilities Aramark was hired to keep clean. Who was in charge of CPS facilities? A former Aramark employee, Leslie Fowler, who resigned her high-paying post last week. While the bidding process was open for a food contract, an inspector general’s report cited “questionable conduct” when Fowler twice dined with the president of Aramark

Her ex-employer won the bid.

Prior to her hiring as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Barbara Byrd-Bennett was a consultant for SUPES Academy, which produced training programs for school administrators. Once in charge of CPS, the woman known as BBB steered a $23 million training contract to her old employer. She was to receive a ten-percent kickback from that contract as well as a promise of a job whenever she left CPS.

In an email to a couple of SUPES bosses, Byrd-Bennet added to the already voluminous lore of Chicago corruption by boasting, “I have tuition to pay and casinos to visit.”

It’s suspected that such crony-capitalism between CPS brass and their former private-sector employers is widespread. If true, then such private-public cross-pollination is simply a revolving door of corruption.

Dunne School on the South Side, where your blogger atteneded kindergarten

Byrd-Bennett, along with those two former big shots at SUPES, are now incarcerated in federal prison.

Despite the reputation of CPS for failure, Barack Obama chose one of BBB’s predecessors, Arne Duncan, as his first education secretary.

Obama’s daughters attended a private school in Chicago.

How is CPS doing in regards to educating children? Not very well. Not even one-in-four students read at grade level. Yes, I am aware that unlike kids in most suburban schools, there are additional challenges in teaching city children, many of whom come from abusive homes. But one-in-four? After years of so-called reform?

And what about the filth and the sexual assaults?

If the goal of Chicago Public Schools is to educate children in a safe environment, then it is failing–and has been for a long time, despite most schools incorporating such words as “Excellence” and “College Preparatory ” into their names. Before their well-needed demolition, public housing high rises, which never should have been built in the first place, were derided by liberals as “warehouses of the poor.”

Most CPS schools are warehouses of the poorly educated.

If the goal of CPS is to provide a generous income for teachers, maintenance workers, and of course administrators, along with bountiful pensions for them, then it is a fabulous success. Oh, let’s not forget the bottom lines of those contractors. They are doing well too.

As for those pensions, they have long been a slush fund. one that is dancing with insolvency. rather than serving as a retirement program.

Fitch rates CPS bonds as junk.

So, by nearly everyone’s standards, CPS is failing.

Does it continue on its same road to defeat?

When do Chicago taxpayers, who are increasingly angry because of repeated property tax hikes to pay for unfunded pensions, scream, “Enough!”

Firing everyone–and starting over again might be the only way out for CPS, which could be possible if state law is changed and public agencies are allowed to file for bankruptcy protection. Rehire the good teachers and the administrators who fight waste and theft.  Charter schools aren’t the answer. UNO, an Hispanic group with close ties with former Mayor Richard M. Daley, utilized charter schools for crony capitalism and graft. More privatization isn’t the answer, as Aramark isn’t able to keep schools clean. School vouchers? Maybe. But some parents, sadly, don’t have the initiative to better the lives of the children.

Floundering schools are already closed and re-opened with new staff here-and-there in Chicago.

Blogger in downtown Chicago

For those of you who cry out “more money” for Chicago’s schools, keep in mind more cash opens the door to more theft, or at the very least, more squandering of taxpayer funds.

Crime, high taxes, and rotten schools are the primary reasons given by people who decide to move away from Chicago. And Chicago is the only major city with a declining population.

Next year there is a mayoral election in Chicago. One of the candidates, Paul Vallas, is a former CEO of CPS.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. He attended kindergarten at a CPS school, Edward F. Dunne Elementary School. It is now the Dunne Technology Academy Elementary School.