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.

Chicago's skyline
Chicago’s skyline

By John Ruberry

On Monday Rahm Emanuel will be sworn in for his second term as mayor of Chicago. He faces enormous challenges including a high murder rate–with it comes the new nickname for the city, “Chiraq,” a crumbling infrastructure that includes pothole-strewn streets, and multiple financial crises. Just last week Moody’s Investors Services double-downgraded the credit rating not only for the city of Chicago, but also for the Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Schools–any bonds they issue will have junk status according to Moody’s. While not placing Chicago in junk status, two other financial firms downgraded the city’s credit last week too.

How the mighty have fallen. Forty years ago, when the New York Daily News’ used the now legendary headline, “Ford to City–Drop Dead” during New York’s financial crisis, Boss Richard J. Daley’s Chicago enjoyed the top credit rating from Wall Street firms.

Now what? Illinois is even worse off than Chicago, the governor of New York bailed NYC out in the 1970s, the Land of Lincoln’s new governor, Republican Bruce Rauner, believes Chicago Public Schools should declare bankruptcy. Chicago’s credit downgrades were generated by a unanimous Illinois Supreme Court decision tossing out the state’s 2013 baby-steps pension reform.

But CPS can’t declare bankruptcy–nor can any Illinois governmental body–state law prohibits it, although a Republican state legislator, Ron Sandack, wants to change that. But the status quo is the way the public-sector unions want it, because during a bankruptcy, all contracts are thrown out the window. The Democratic enablers of the government unions like the status quo too. Michigan is different–and when Detroit’s bankruptcy was concluded, retirees received modest cuts in their pensions.

A massive tax increase for Chicagoans to pay for pensions doesn’t seem to be likely, not even the politicians have the stomach for that.

There is no easy way out.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

Ironically, the junk credit announcement came on the same day Chicagoans Barack and Michelle Obama, chose their hometown for the Obama presidential library. Arne Duncan, Obama’s secretary of education, was the CEO of Chicago Public Schools prior to moving to Washington. Rahm Emanuel was the president’s first chief-of-staff. Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s senior advisor, was once deputy chief-of-staff under Mayor Richard M. Daley.

America–and Chicago–face a daunting future.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

For this post, I collected a whole lotta links on Education Expert Stupidity.  At the start, I was all geared up for apoplexy.  I’m talking outrage of the eye-twitching, blood vessel-bursting kind.

Writing is a journey, however, and the destination is often a surprise.  Certainly, idiocy is in no short supply.  But at the end of my research, the expected outrage is strangely absent.

Perhaps my own experiences, first as a student and then a parent, have already inured me to the shock.  As far back as I can remember, public education has stunk.  Why, I remember way back in nineteen-diggity-four, how my charming middle school social studies teacher defined political ideology for us young bowls of mush:

“Liberal – generous

Conservative – stingy”

Yep.  And she didn’t even have that handy-dandy Common Core standard to rely on.  She didn’t need it, because our public school curricula were already drained of actual content.  Just pop open your child’s social studies textbook, like this one, and you’ll see what I mean.

Common Core is bad stuff, but it’s not ruining education.  It’s just standardizing and accelerating the ongoing ruination.

The biggest change is in our sense of smell.  Our olfactory nerves have been activated, and we are finally noticing the stench.  And do you know what?  We have the Gun Control and Common Core crowds to thank for that.

So let me be the first to officially say, “thank you!” Thank you, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, for trying to defend your curricula by insulting the soccer moms that get Democrats elected.

Thank you, low-level bureaucrats, for continuing to act like bullies in the age of the iphone and citizen journalism.

Thank you, unicorn-riding totalitarians, for showing us how far you are willing to go in order to kick that stubborn gun culture into submission.

We frogs had been quietly simmering in our baths, but not so much anymore.  We are kind of done with you people.

Here are some more reasons why we are done:

Category One:  Public School Curricula a.k.a. The Dog’s Dinner

  1. Creepy Uncle Sam wants you to know that the government is just like one big happy family!
  2. Don’t tell your parents about this assignment because it is guaranteed to anger at least half of them!
  3. A new 4th grade primer explains why only racists wouldn’t vote for Barry.
  4. This 8th grade definition of conservatism makes less sense than “stingy.”
  5. IKEA furniture assembly instructions are easier than Common Core math.
  6. Seriously.
  7. The book 1984 is too enlightening, and not nearly disturbing enough for our young impressionables.
  8. Stuffy parents have a problem with reading assignments that include the F bomb.
  9. Also pornographic material.  Parents just don’t like it.
  10. Constitution, schmonstitution!
  11. With the child already indoctrinated in 4th grade to throw out the Constitution for his safety, he should be ready for this assignment in 6th grade.
  12. When you know that the left loves deconstructionism, it makes perfect sense to discuss the Gettysburg Address without mentioning the Civil War.
  13. This article is pro-Common Core, but notice how understanding and restating a story’s plot is out-of-fashion.  In fashion:  making up an email from a character’s point of view!  This nonsense is hailed as “critical thinking,” but it is actually another fine example of deconstruction because the reader’s interpretation and creativity is more important than the author’s meaning and intent.

Category Two:  Tyrants R Us

  1. First off, many anti-gun links are above.  They are myriad, but Mr. Mitchell collected many of them in this post.  From key chains to NRA t-shirts to toys to breakfast pastries, educators are coming after them like a Terminator hunting Sarah Connor.
  2. This anti-gun incident deserves its very own spot:  you have a concealed-carry permit, Mom?  You are banned!
  3. Who can forget the infamous lunch that Wasn’t Good Enough?
  4. What happens when the paperwork is more important than people.
  5. What happens when caloric math is more important than people.
  6. You can’t have your kid.
  7. You can’t either.
  8. No kid for you!
  9. Also, stop visiting the school so much, parents.  You are not wanted.
  10. Just drop the kids off in a timely manner, so we won’t have to fine you.
  11. And make sure all their absences are approved, so we won’t have to jail you.

No doubt, this represents only the tip of the iceberg.  Kind readers, please add your own links or personal stories of Education Expert Stupidity to my humble list.  And have a great week!


Parse error: syntax error, unexpected '[' in /home/content/46/7099446/html/wp-content/plugins/embedpress/EmbedPress/AMP/EmbedHandler.php on line 38