Friday, February 10, 2012

New half-hour Labor Beat video exposes hypocrisy and lies behind the CPS 2012 Hit List

A new video has been released by Chicago's Labor Beat showing the massive protests against what critics are calling the "2012 Hit List" of schools facing closing, phase out, co-location, or "turnaround." The lengthy film discusses the entire process taking place during the 2011 – 2012 school year. The URL for the video is:
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis speaking to the crowd protesting against the turnaround proposed for Marquette Elementary School during the march and rally on the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (January 16, 2012). Substance photo by Sharon Schmidt.

The video, which features Substance News reporter George N. Schmidt narrating the background of the struggle and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis addressing a march and rally, includes interviews with teachers and students and dramatic footage from the hearings and protests against what people are calling the "2012 Hit List."

Shown among the video footage are interviews with the "Rent A Protesters" who showed up at most of the hearings after having been paid through churches subsidized, in the opinion of critics, by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The video pivots back and forth from the Martin Luther King holiday march at Marquette Elementary School to descriptions of the history and context of how the current situation developed. A lengthy description by one Marquette teacher goes over how the Chicago Board of Education, under four “Chief Executive Officers” since mayoral control began in 1995, has sabotaged Marquette Elementary. But as the video shows, the sabotage of Marquette was taking place at all of the schools on the 2012 Hit List during the same time, and the slander against the teachers and people of Marquette and the other nine schools continues, as CPS and Chicago's mayor try to label the schools as "failing schools" — rather than the society as a failing society which leaves millions of children in dire poverty (and in many cases serious danger).

One of the aspects of the hypocrisy of Chicago's latest attack on the city's public schools comes out as parents, students and teachers from the schools constantly remind the hearing officers and the public of the danger the students will face when the schools face changes. For the schools that are slated to "close" (in one form or another) that danger will be in forcing those children to cross communities to get to their new schools. For the schools facing "turnaround", the danger comes because by replacing teachers and other staff who know the communities with outsiders (supposedly trained in superior methods of teaching), the schools are left vulnerable to the kinds of drug gang problems that were often kept at bay by the flimsiest protections.

Although many people speak about the dangers facing the children, the citywide summary is provided by Substance reporter George Schmidt, who served as Director of Security and Safety at the Chicago Teachers Union from 2002 through 2004. Schmidt's job was to develop programs to keep the city's drug gangs at bay around the city's public schools. He discusses how the city covers up the fact that it has one of the most serious drug gang problems in the USA, noting that parts of the real Chicago are like scenes out of the fictional HBO movie "The Wire."

Among the many witnesses warning against the closing of the schools and the implementation of the 2012 Hit List are Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis and a number of prominent political leaders. In fact, one of the signal facts of the current debate is that not one political leader — from local aldermen to Congressmen — had spoken in support of the 2012 Hit List, while dozens have spoken out against Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plans.

The protests that are featured are against all of the schools on the 2012 Hit List, those slated for closing and those facing "turnaround."

The Labor Beat introduction to the video states:

“During January and February of 2012 the Chicago Public Schools, pressured by recent state law to do so, held open hearings on the question of whether to close or turnaround targeted schools in minority and low-income areas of the city. But, as George Schmidt ( points out, 'the hearings are basically show a way [they] are a cruel joke played upon the people from the community.'

“Adding to the fact that CPS has already secretly made their decisions before the 'hearings', another underhanded scheme has been exposed. Paid 'protesters' were bussed in to support the school board's view that the schools should be closed or turned around.

“The rent-a-protester ploy was originally unearthed by in September of 2011, and then in January, 2012 it was picked up by Chicago's corporate media, as the scandal could no longer be ignored. We present dramatic footage exposing the rent-a-protesters, along with scenes from the hearings and demonstrations defending public education.

"Interviews and speeches include: George Schmidt, reporter for; Karen Lewis, President of Chicago Teachers Union; Marcy Hardaloupas, teacher at Marquette School; Chris Beauford, Generation Y/Southwest Youth Collaborative Center for Change; Katrina Richard, teacher at Dyett H.S.; Rico Gutstein, Prof. in Curriculum and Instruction at University of Illinois-Chicago; Martin Ritter, organizer, Chicago Teachers Union; Mark Carter, community activist. "

[Length - 26:15. Produced by Labor Beat. Labor Beat is a CAN TV Community Partner. Labor Beat is a non-profit 501(c)(3) member of IBEW 1220. Views are those of the producer Labor Beat. For info:, 312-226-3330. For other Labor Beat videos, visit YouTube and search "Labor Beat". On Chicago CAN TV Channel 19, Thursdays 9:30 pm; Fridays 4:30 pm. Labor Beat has regular cable slots in Chicago, Evanston, Rockford, Urbana, IL; Philadelphia, PA; Princeton, NJ; and Rochester, NY. For more detailed information, send us a request at…”]

No comments: