Hey — do you live in Chicago? Let us know more about what’s up there with the schools in the comments — this is the first I’m hearing about it and I plan to ask more questions while in Chicago for Blogging While Brown. Thanks, Jill

From Black Agenda Report:

In May, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan declared the Obama administration’s intent to close and “turn around” 5,000 “underperforming” public schools in poorer neighborhoods across the country. Duncan’s last job was CEO of Chicago’s public schools where he shut down dozens of neighborhood schools, practically all in lower income areas, and dismissed thousands of committed and experienced teachers, the vast majority of them African American women.

When the Chicago Teachers Union made no effort to reach out to parents, students or their communities, refused to organize teachers to oppose the wave of school shutdowns and privatizations, teachers organized what they call CORE, the Coalition of Rank & File Educators. CORE has now filed suit against the Chicago Board of Education, charging that the mass dismissal of hundreds of mostly black veteran teachers and their replacement with uncertified and generally underqualified white teachers is racially discriminatory.

“We looked at the number of teachers who lost their jobs in these ‘school turnarounds,’” CORE research director Carol Caref told BAR, “and we looked at the number of African American teachers who were employed in those same schools or in the charter schools which replaced them and there was a huge discrepancy which couldn’t be accounted for by chance. The fired teachers are disproportionately African American, and the newly hired teachers are not.”

“Even if it’s inadvertently discriminatory, it’s still discriminatory because the majority of the teachers wiped out in these turnarounds are African American,” offered Chicago teacher Wanda Evans. The fired veteran teachers, CORE also maintains, are being replaced by a much younger, much whiter and much less experienced corps of instructors graduated from a handful of accelerated programs funded by Boeing, the Bill and Melinda Gates, Bradley, Walton Family, Rockerfeller and other foundations, and favored by City Hall and the Commercial Club. “The new teachers are paid half or less what experienced teachers with advanced degrees were making.”

“The fired veteran teachers are being replaced by a much younger, much whiter and much less experienced corps of instructors.”

They are forced to work longer hours. They are reluctant to stand up for themselves or their students and tend to be fearful of participating in union and other activities. A high percentage of them burn out or are not asked to stick around after their first year,” according to Jackson Potter, another CORE teacher.

“The young, mostly white replacement teachers are de-skilled temp workers, teaching test-preparation skills. They are neither connected nor committed to the communities their students come from,” added Evans.

The prospect that Chicago’s disastrous educational policies are about to go national is frightening, say the teachers BAR talked to. “We all hoped that Obama would not fall for this okie-doke of high-stakes testing, No Child Left Behind, of demonizing teachers and dismantling public education,” Ms. Evans continued. “But he (Arne Duncan) was the president’s basketball buddy. It was a slap in the face locally to even have a CEO rather than an educator in charge of our schools here, and a slap in the face for us all nationally to have such a terribly unqualified person as Secretary of Education. Mr. Duncan has not taught in any classroom a single hour, and is in fact not qualified to teach anyplace.”

Related Posts with Thumbnails